The Blue Flame Years

blueflameLast week, I might have left you with the impression that it’s always a good idea to trade money for time. Here’s a counterpoint.

What do you plan on doing with that time?

As a young adult, I had the opportunity to travel before graduating college. I spent much of that summer drunk. A dangerous trade for a young man with a family history of addiction and mental illness.

Later, I dialed down my drinking and discovered a big increase in time on my hands. I was fortunate to fill this void with sport.

As a coach, I often saw athletic performance decline when an athlete gave themselves more time to “get serious” with their sport.

A high-powered lawyer shared his fear of retirement. He was terrified at the prospect of increasing his non-working lifestyle (sleep, booze and high living).

With a bit of luck, your parent’s helped guide your focus. If not then you would be smart to channel that energy into areas that you’ll value in later life…

…but what the heck are those things?!

Here’s what the young man (in the picture above) got right.

An education that you can apply to help other people – this could range from finance (helping myself) to engineering (building things with others) to medicine (helping others).

A habit of lifelong physical activity – if your parents didn’t pass this on to you then you’d better start immediately – don’t get wrapped up in performance, focus on touching nature every day.

World-class peers and mentors – when you are burning bright, it is more important to learn, than to earn. During a two-year apprenticeship, I was paid peanuts by one of the best firms in the world.

An ability to live cheaply – this accomplishes three things: (a) gives you the flexibility to take any type of work; (b) minimizes debt from your education; and (c) enables you to continue an early habit of saving money for freedom.

A fear of debt – assume that every $1 you borrow before 25 is $10 that you won’t have at 40. Frankly, if you don’t quickly establish a habit of living within your means then it will never take hold. Ask your parents and study their friends.

A love of work – here’s what my wife gets right about endurance sports for kids – growing up active, my kids are associating output with fun. If you have an alpha child then sports are an essential part of not ruining, or drugging, what makes her great.

I have made a ton of mistakes.

A handful of good habits mitigated the damage.