Doing vs. Owning

I think I am still in the middle of a cross-road in my life. I am finding it increasingly interesting assessing and challenging many assumptions that I have held for most of my life. I am still not really sure what sparked it all. Maybe being involved in one Company for more than 10 years, or just the stimulation from reading books like Steve Jobs, A Million Miles or 4-hour workweek. Or it could just be some unresolved sense of seeking a purpose in life.  It is also videos like this one that sparks these kinds of thoughts:

What do I desire? I have been watching it every day for a week or two now.

So try and follow this train of thought.

I would like to be able to tell a great life story in my old age that can keep my grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren on the edge of their seats. As Donald Miller said in ‘A Million Miles’ living a great story requires a little more intend, and more action.

So I think that Timothy Ferriss hit the nail on the head when he says in the 4 hour work week: The opposite of Happiness is not sadness but boredom. So what I should be doing is seeking the things that would make life exciting. These would also be the elements that would make the story so much more worth telling!

These thoughts have led me to consider the contrast between doing and owning things. Let me explain.

The path that I was on looked something like this: Work very hard, hopefully be increasingly successful, and earn more money every year. As my income increases every year, I acquire more and more possessions (mostly not assets). Cars and houses get bigger and more expensive, our lives get increasingly more and more cluttered by things that serve as distractions for a little while but then quickly start to gather dust in some corner of the house.

It becomes more and more challenging to balance all the competing priorities in life, work, marriage, kids, health and my own personal needs demand escalating amounts of time and attention. If all goes well in 30/40/50 years we are financially well enough prepared to only do the things in life that we really want to. Only to find that many of the things on our bucket list is now not really within our reach.

It feels like this would be a life mostly about gather and owning possessions. I am not sure this is the story I would like to tell. I don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the previous generation and get to the promised retirement only to find that the best year of my life was spent working to pay off debt in a job or business I don’t like. It is like Alan Watts says:

“Forget the money. Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing; you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is STUPID?”

The crazy thing for me now looking back at the last three or four years is that I would have argued ferociously that I loved what I was doing and could not have imagined doing anything differently.  The other day I was doing my logbook for my tax return, and realised I did about 70 trips to the airport in one year. That must have been more than 100 flights in one year. What was I thinking?

Hindsight is a perfect science. I hope to one day put the pieces back together of how I’ve managed to get off that road. I think one thing is for sure, it would never have happened if I didn’t read as much as I do.

So here is my current take on the future.

I am going to strive to do more things rather than own more things. I want to show our kids as much of the world as I can. Maybe we home school through primary school to give us another 10 years to travel as much as we can, do as much as we can and write a story better than what we can even imagine now.

Allot of the details is still sketchy, I need to find how to generate income no matter where we are in the world. For now I am going to teach myself how to code while we are in Fernie and see where that leads me.

Many things are unknown, but we will figure it out over time… What do you think about doing vs. owning? Am I going crazy? Please comment below and let’s chat about it.

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