Whenever I ask a random person what they need, the answer is pretty universal: “More money! They say this because they have confused a tool with a solution. Most people do this with their dreams:
“If I could only ________ then I wouldn’t have to worry about ________.”
Note that the problem is worry, not whatever is in blank number two. This would be an actual solution: “If I could only stop giving worry permission to enslave me, then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.” That’s a solution that would actually end worry, rather than increasing it like more money tends to do.
The most notorious dream along these lines is winning the lottery. “If I could just win the lottery, then…”
But a different notorious – The Notorious B.I.G – famously rapped about Mo Money, Mo Problems in 1997: “The mo money we come across the mo problems we see.” Or, take Jim Carrey who said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” King Solomon wrote an entire book called “Ecclesiastes” that described how when he denied himself no pleasure on the earth, he found it was all chasing after the wind, a waste of time.
Listen to Joe Elliott, lead singer of Def Leppard, who said he got in a band specifically to get rich and have all the women he wanted: “It got really boring after a while. It was just too easy. Women throwing themselves at you every night.” I know, I know – a devastating reality check for aspiring band members and, well…men…everywhere.
What about Will Smith?: “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.” This from a man who had a hit single before he graduated high school. He purchased a giant home, gave money to friends and family, and said he did stupid things like buy 22 pairs of the same shoe, in all different colors. He was often paid in cash and paid no taxes, as almost every high schooler would do, I’m sure, seeing as receiving large amounts of cash does not suddenly make one an expert on taxes or investment. When the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air came on, Smith was paying 70% of those earnings to the IRS for the first three years of the show.
And after all that, his advice was: “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.”
What’s the deal with all these guys? A lot of times, we tend to say, “Easy for them to say – they got what they wanted!” But we give ourselves way too much credit for thinking we would act any differently. See, there’s a secret about waiting for your ship to come in: nothing really changes about you.
If I move you into a bigger house with servants to take care of your daily needs along with a budget to match, nothing has really changed. You’re the same person you were minutes ago now suddenly thrust into a new scenario you’ve never even been close to before. You haven’t earned the ability to maintain the gift, so you’re destined to squander it. We aren’t wired for sudden maturity. Think about what would happen to your body if you went from age five to age twenty overnight. It hurts enough going from 11 years 20 says to 11 years and 21 days, as growing pains testify.
The best way to enjoy something is to court it, learn about it, prepare for it, then commit to it. Sometimes this is referred to as “work” or even “hard work”. However, a better description is “patience”. Indeed, patience might be one of the most impressive things you ever accomplish.
I love flying. I’ve entered sweepstakes to win airplanes. Truth be told, I was scared of winning. After winning there are sudden responsibilities that I know about, but have never had to exercise, like renting a hangar, purchasing aircraft insurance, and paying for maintenance. Thankfully, I’ve never won. I also decided to quit entering those contests until I had the resources to actually enjoy the gift rather than worry about it.
Committing to the pursuit of something you want without considering the cost of achieving it is sentencing yourself to a life of cruel and unusual punishment. This would be like a girl spending all of her growing up years planning her dream wedding, only to find out that there’s a whole lot of married life to be had after the wedding that she never planned for.
Not that such a thing ever happens.
If I were give you the desires of your heart this very second, what would you do? Would you be able to keep the gift and care for it, or have you not thought past the getting?
We imprison ourselves for years trying to achieve something that we have never learned to maintain because we spent all those years getting it rather than earning it. When all of your energy is spent on access rather than training, it’s a recipe for disaster.
If I actually won that sweepstakes airplane, and jumped into it without training, I would increase the number of wrecked airplanes on the planet by a factor of one. So then what should I do? Start saving up for an airplane over time so I don’t rush into it?
No! All that becomes is a slow-motion lottery.
What I really need to do is spend a little money on some flight training. Then maybe learn how to wash an airplane properly so I don’t break anything. It might be a good idea to talk to long-time pilots about the long-term effects of owning an airplane. Maybe hang out in that community constantly and meet people and make friends. Each step actually brings me closer to owning an airplane the right way: by earning it. Not monetarily, but through actual steps that train me in the art of being an owner-operator, and not just a dreamer.
The goal, then, is not really owning an airplane but flying an airplane myself. Once viewed that way, the path to the goal changes into something achievable.
When I was a boy with posters of airplanes on my wall, I imaged what it was like to fly them. As I got older, I got some flight training and even earned my Airline Dispatch ticket, which is flight planning for the airlines. Once I got to see what aviation was really like, the romance of it all faded away. When I realized I still loved it even without the romance, I knew for sure that I should somehow continue to pursue it as life allowed. But it no longer possessed me.
Few people have been able to pilot an airplane during their existence. At some point I have to be satisfied with that, and let everything else be icing on that cake.
Your goal should be to not waste your time on something that ultimately disappoints. You have to spend a lot of time as a wannabe to figure that out before commitment. That takes patience, which we don’t like, especially in America. But it’s far better to learn how to be content while exploring your options, than suddenly having all things given to you, only to be disappointed when nothing changes.
Avoid the mistakes of those who thought accomplishing their dreams would solve all their problems. Learn first how to be a person that solves problems while being content. Then when mo money bring mo problems, you’ll be ready.
Don’t count on your dreams to fix things. Count on you. And if that’s harder to accept than believing in some fictitious ship to come in, start there. After all you’ve been through, you’re still around to read this. Do you understand yet how strong you are?
Jesus was right: you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.