If I had bad grades, my dad would hit me. Later, when I was thrown out of school, I lost my friends. When I was fired from a job, I became a recluse. When I was kicked out of my business, I lost my home.
When I lost my home, I was ashamed to tell my friends. I hid. When I was afraid to lose money, I spend more and more time traveling for business. I lost a marriage. I lost my kids.
I kept trying to do the things we HAD to do. School, safe job, grow older, stay married. I wanted to do all these things. But I kept messing up and getting depressed.
It never stops. You have to go to that wedding. You have to buy a home and have roots. You have to send your kid (she used to be just a baby!) to college. You have to return those five phone calls. You have to…you have to…you have to.
After so many “have tos” I sometimes found myself googling “suicide without anyone being aware of it” because then the insurance company won’t know and will do the full payout to… my kids. Because my kids have to… and have to… and have to… and it costs money.
I don’t like to give advice. I just say “this works for me.”
Like when your therapist tells you to do something (“don’t go out with that woman!”) and you do it and you have to break up with the therapist for awhile but then you get back together with her when the relationships is over.
(Hmm. That was a strange tangent.)
OK, I did this:
Every day take out a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle.
At the top of the left side is the HAVES. At the top of the right side is the WANTS.
I want to write. I have to make some business calls. I want to spend time with my friends tonight. I have to go to a networking dinner. Etc.
Each day write down your HAVES and write down your WANTS.
Sometimes they are the same thing. If they are, then erase it from the HAVES list. WANTS > HAVES.
Every day, try to make the WANTS list a tiny bit bigger than the HAVES list. The SKILL is having the ability to do that.
Sometimes you can change a “HAVE” to a “WANT.” That’s OK also. But make sure you are being honest with yourself. Like, “I have to take care of a parent” becomes, “I want to take care of a parent.”
It takes a long time. You can write notes on the bottom. What would it take to remove just one have. What would it take to add one WANT.
And some WANTS are greater than other wants.
Maybe I won’t binge watch “House of Cards” tonight so I can work on the children’s book I want to do.
Maybe I won’t make that business call I feel I have to make. Let’s see what happens.
Skills aren’t easy to learn. They take time. They take resilience when things go wrong. They take discipline.
No skill lives in a vacuum. Be healthy, sleep well, practice creativity, be around good people, be grateful. This makes it easier to have more wants than haves.
I want to feel creative today (and maybe even make money from that creativity). I want to be around friends today. I want to kiss someone today. Maybe two out of three of this isn’t so bad.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Bela cheers.