When You Should (or Shouldn’t) Spend your Time doing Something (feat. Fancy Chart!)

flowchart of life

I write to you today because I think we get so bogged down by our external and internal expectations that we are ever more susceptible these days to run out of steam or end up worse off than before. We get excited about an idea (or several), attempt to execute on it (or them), and end up with disappointing results. Why is that?

Well, for one, I think we are all on the receiving end of an endless barrage of expectations of what is “right”, “useful”, “cool”, or “success-producing” to do. We take up ukulele lessons because we saw a guy play one at that party that one time and it was just so sick, so we want to be like that so we can randomly do that. We see our friends skydiving on Facebook and want to be that badass. I mean, who doesn’t want to be known as “that dude/lady who jumps out of frickin’ airplanes”?! We want to invent apps like the guys in Silicon Valley and make millions just like they do and spend our time on yachts having fancy parties, because that’s living the high life, right? Or is it?

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a big believer in the “power of why”. Maybe because my last post had that word in it. Thus, it should be of little surprise to you that I’ve made an extremely high-tech, cutting-edge diagram with the help of my bros at LucidChart to help guide you in deciding whether or not to do something. See below:

Flowchart of Life - New Page copy

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward despite it obvious technological superiority to other flowcharts (note: if you haven’t caught on yet, sarcastic self-deprecation is the norm here). In fact, it’s probably a little too simple, and I’ll probably change it over and over again. I refer to the things we spend doing as “time/money investments” since I have trouble thinking of anything we do that doesn’t involve an exchange of one or both. Reading, for instance, is an investment of both – we buy books, we spend time reading them. Same with getting your private pilot’s license, buying a dog, or purchasing an investment property. Taking a walk may only be an investment of time, but pesky economists with argue that there’s an opportunity cost with taking that walk: you could be making money instead. Not that I disagree, but that’s  about as far as I go with economic theory after being scarred by my macroecononomics class back in my sophomore year. *shudders*

If you’re doing something for the wrong reasons, your work will suffer and your relationships, health, and other time/money investments might too. At the end of the day, your values are your own, but you should always strive to keep them in mind for every decision you make – even the minor ones. Because I value family/friends/my partner, my health, and personal creative fulfillment, I try and fill my life with activities that enhance my relationship with these things and eliminate the rest. It’s not easy, but I know it helps me get better. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with trying things – try away! But persistent dabbling with no direction and little regard for consequences is a recipe for staying at the drawing board.

Later tonight, I’m going to go to pole practice for a couple hours. After that, I’m probably going to come home, eat a gigantic dinner cooked by the best chef in Long Beach (my beloved partner, duh), and then rest. Since I try to practice what I preach, I promise not to stay up late on google searching about how to invest in stocks. Or join the Peace Corps. Or play the theremin. Promise.

– H

p.s. I should probably add that I’m not one who believes that every last decision in our life needs to be incredibly productive, despite what the chart may imply. Things like resting, playing video games, or just sitting around and thinking are incredibly necessary and beneficial for us and can help make us better people. Especially video games.

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