by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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As you may have noticed if you’ve read any of my other blogs, I am all about Optimization.  This started out as a self improvement process, and led to an array of amazing adventures, lifestyle, and a growing list of accomplishments.  I now work hard to help others see the best version of themselves, and how to put the habits and patterns in place to achieve that.  In this blog, I wanted to share some thoughts on things I have learned both on my own journey and also walking with others on their own version of the same.

Here are my Top 3 thoughts to share on how we optimize for the wrong things when we’re young.

  1.  Beauty over substance –  When it comes to relationships, we pick the wrong things to focus on and prioritize, and this becomes problematic as you age.  Speaking from the male perspective and my own experience, I prioritized beauty in a partner over more substantive things like groundedness, practicality and alignment of values.  It is easy to see looking back on it that I was trying to have the hottest girlfriend in order to have more social status.  In a society where superficial beauty is an easy ride, so many of us end up focusing on this and its associated benefits.  In other words, if I was “worthy” of a very attractive partner, that meant that I was of “higher value” than others.  I could date her while others couldn’t.

There are several flaws in that theory, and I’ll go through them quickly.  One is, someone who has              had the good fortune of being born aesthetically pleasing to others has been treated differently all              their lives.  Just like the super talented athlete that is given more leeway for poor behavior versus the        average person, hot chicks are the same way.  They are not always the most centered and grounded            of individuals, and they know they always have options.  They will, knowingly and unknowingly,                hold this over your head.  Maybe they don’t know any better, as this is just the reality of their lives,            they have options others don’t.  It doesn’t excuse it, but maybe it explains it a bit.

If you want to choose a partner for long term and successful relationship, take it from me, you                    need alignment on some key issues more so than anything else you prioritize.  Once you find                        someone that you align with on major issues like your religious convictions, lifestyle you wish to                lead, whether or not to have kids, etc., then you can start to think about building a life together.  Of            course you need to be physically attracted to them, but this cannot be the basis of your                                relationship.  Takeaway:  When choosing a long term partner, remove sex and money           from the equation and see if A. you still want to be with them, and B. they would                  still want to be with you.  If the answer is yes, you’ve got a real good shot at a                        successful relationship.

2. Lifestyle – This is a big one, because we are all exposed to such much excess through social                    media that we grow up thinking if you don’t hit a billion in your bank account that you’ve failed.                  Not. Even. Close.  Currently there are about 3300 billionaires in the world.  That’s right, on a                      planet of almost 8 Billion people, 3381 people have managed this feat.  The divorce rate among                  billionaires is the same as it is for the rest of the US population, right at 50%.  Clearly money is not            solving the same set of problems everyone else is facing.

If you want to have a real shot at a happy life, you need to figure out what YOU want to do.  Forget              what the rest of the world thinks you should do to be happy, find your happy place.  That might be              living the van life, traveling the country and barely making enough money to get by.  It might be                  starting a business while you are working a day job, doubling up on your hours to help create a                    business that you run for yourself.  Maybe it grows to the point where you employ lots of people,                who knows.  If you want to accomplish something big, you’re gonna need time and a bunch of                      failures before you taste success.  This likely means a rollercoaster of a ride financially, if you can                handle it.

Here’s a thought, based on some recent studies.  According to a Princeton study that was done a                  few years ago, the “sweet spot” for income is right around $75,000 a year.  I do not know for sure,              but I believe this was for a couple or family, not just one person.  Yes, the economy has a big                        impact on this number, but let’s go with it for now.  The conclusion was that at this income level,                you have options of where to live, where to send your kids to school, a vacation or two a year, etc.                This is a reasonable lifestyle for most people to aim for.  You’re not traveling by private jet and you            are not going to party in Ibiza, but do you really need (want) that anyway?  Maybe aiming for your              realistic goal is the way to help create a happy life.  Don’t get me wrong, setting lofty goals is                        necessary, but if you think that a bunch of material possessions are going to calm those voices in                your head from telling you that you’re not enough, you are flat out wrong.  Takeaway:  Figure             out the things that are important to you, really important, and then aim for that.              Money solves some problems in life, so not having it must be considered carefully.              However, having lots of money has its own set of costs, including the heavy burden           of running a company, may not be a great tradeoff for the financial benefits.

3.  Instant Gratification – This is a tough one, but maybe the most important one of the three.  I                 am basically the last generation that has grown up without internet access.  I have a foot in both                 camps, I know what life was like before the extreme exposure and access that today’s world                         provides.  I really feel like I was lucky in that sense, as we are seeing more and more of the issues               that go along with the instant gratification lifestyle so many have grown up in now.  You hungry?               UberEats.  Want to watch a movie, any movie at all? Netflix and other platforms make it simple.                 Like Dua Lipa’s new song? Download it on iTunes and listen to it ad nauseum.

Here is the problem with this lifestyle…many things do not come easily or quickly.  Earning your way onto the team or a promotion at work takes time, and waiting for things is not built into your lifestyle.  This is a skill you need to acquire, as it will serve you well.  I hear it all the time, how the younger generation employees are impatient, want a corner office after a year working for the company, or will quit if they feel like they are not making an impact.  It is not that these things are untrue, but it is very much true that the timeline in your head is off.

If you can learn to be patient, to build the base of skills that will serve you once you do reach the corner office versus leapfrogging there and then failing miserably, you will win in the end.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint, pace yourself accordingly.  Assume you are going to live forever and work on that timeline.  Don;t be in such a hurry to get to the top of the mountain as soon as possible, but rather both learn from and enjoy the ride on the way there.  Easily spoken, but not easily done, I know.  But if you can learn to live this way, you will be happier and live a better life overall in my opinion.

 

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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