Automation and Leverage
I’ve always loved the idea of automation. I remember when I was about twelve years old, I loved dreaming about how, in the “future”, we’d simply press a button, and we’d have our food. We’d press another button, and we’d be dressed. We’d press another button and we’d be clear across the world. Well, that hasn’t really happened, and arguments could be made about why these wouldn’t necessarily be good things. (Note: I just saw “Wall-E” for the first time yesterday, and had to laugh. Yes, pushing buttons all day would probably just make us all fat!)
While constant and never-ending leisure wouldn’t make for a very fulfilling life, I still like the idea of “minimal effort, maximum result” – leverage – mainly because it frees up our time to do things that are more meaningful to us (if we choose to).
I’m not one to say that every moment of our lives should be spent only on activities that we deem “most important”, just as it all shouldn’t be spent on leisure. We need regular periods of work and stress, as well as periods of renewal – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – in order to keep happy and healthy.
And I believe that value and enjoyment can even be found even in the “mundane” things of life, such as daily hygiene, getting from one place to another, preparing food (some people really enjoy this), or working at a repetitive task. This all depends on our attitude. Are we grateful for what we have? Even still, I find my greatest fulfillment in working toward accomplishing some goal, and eliminating as much mindless or unproductive repetition as possible.
As a child, my only aspirations for a career centered around becoming either a music teacher or a computer programmer, both of which I’ve done to some degree. But after a while, my eyes started to open up to other possibilities. I realized that there really are no limits to where we can set our sites. And I began asking myself some questions, which you may want to ask yourself as well.
What would you do if you had all the time and money you could ever want? Would you travel the world with your family? Would you buy mansions and yachts and play all day? Would you move to the country and live a simpler life? Would you fight poverty and hunger? Start foundations to preserve peace or protect the environment? Would you improve your talents or skills? Learn to play an instrument or paint or build something? Increase your knowledge in an area of interest to you? Invent something? Run for political office? Spend more time serving neighbors and friends? Would you teach others? Would you serve a mission? Would you do a combination of all these things?
Again, if you didn’t have to work 8 hours a day to make a living, and had time to pursue whatever you wanted, what would change? Or would you choose to do the same things you’re doing now?
This is a personal question and everyone’s answer will be different. I still don’t fully know my own answer, but it’s beginning to form. I certainly don’t have an unlimited supply of time and money, but I have begun to realize that you really don’t need it, in order to begin accomplishing what’s most important to you. And even better, if you focus on doing what you feel most driven to do based on your values, time and money will take care of themselves, or at least, they won’t matter as much to you.
Gratitude and Persistence
I feel so grateful for what I have been given, in so many areas of my life. It seems much more than I deserve. I want to make the best of what’s been allotted to me – living my life to the fullest – not wasting it, but putting it to good use in ways that bless others as well as myself. It’s a constant learning process, and I feel like I’m just at the beginning. And who knows what the future will bring? So right now, I’m taking advantage of opportunities while they’re available to me, and giving my family an experience we’ve been dreaming about.
So, let me ask you – if there is something you want to accomplish in life, are you taking steps to accomplish it now? If not, ask yourself why. Determine what the next step would be for you, and do it! Then take the next step, and keep moving. Persistence does pay off.
P.S. Speaking of work/renewal cycles, I have to promote another great book. Check out “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. It talks about the importance of these and other cycles in our lives (among other things). For example, how we work so much more productively if we take regular breaks throughout the day, where we completely separate, mentally and physically, and in all other areas, from work. Then when we come back, we’re more refreshed, and have more energy to enjoy the rest of the day. And how pre-determined routines can help you reach your goals. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.