What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?
As a young man, I thought the answer was having a million-dollar net worth.
I was wrong, five-years living expenses was the key point, ~$125,000 in the mid-1990s.
For 15 years, everything beyond that point merely generated lifestyle inflation.
Later, as an elite athlete, I spent five years acting as if the answer was “winning Ironman Canada.”
I was wrong, the choice was switching from mountaineering to triathlon.
September 1998 was the moment of change, or perhaps leaving my house for a walk in the fall of 1993.
1986 => I made a choice to study finance over law or medicine. This was key, and I spent 15 years learning about money.
The lesson here might be to assume, coming out of high school, you are going to work your tail off for ~15 years in whatever field you choose for your major in college. You might not, of course, but it’s a fair assumption.
1999 => I made a choice to exit my marriage and leave Asia.
Career, friends, life structure and geographic location – all different in the space of 18 months. I was working remotely as a financial consultant and learning how to become a triathlon coach.
It’s tempting to tell myself that remote work in an exotic location was useful. It was fun but it didn’t transform me.
Here’s what I got right – incidentally, it paraphrases advice given to me by a happily married woman after my divorce.
Marry someone who lives in a way, and comes from a background, you’d like to emulate.
My marriage contains different reflections of the same principle. The principle is how I choose friends, advisers and coaches.
Field of study, relationships, where I live, how I spend my time… all traditional areas for change.
The birth of our second kid was another key inflection point.
Fathers think our lives are changing with the birth of our first child, and they do, but they don’t REALLY change until the second one arrives and we’re faced with a choice in how we will support our wives and marriages.
My choice was to drop racing to free up time, and energy. It was a big change but it didn’t “change everything.” Roll forward a decade and my life feels similar to how I lived as an athlete, just less training volume and more housework!
For 30 years, I thought powerful changes could only be driven by major adjustments in my external life => Winning, Work, Wife, Wealth and Geographic Location.
Then the Pandemic arrived.
The hard lockdown of Spring 2020 had me running home school, without tutors and with a lack of experience.
For the first time in my adult life, I was locked into a two-block radius of my home.
Most my discretionary time disappeared in a flash.
Eventually, I made a choice to do whatever was required so I could train before my kids woke up – my choice grew out of a decision to wake up before my kids.
Waking up before my kids was good, but I found I was simply scrolling Instagram and drinking coffee. Certainly, better than drinking beer in the evening (and scrolling) but it didn’t change my life.
The second step, exercising every morning before my kids wake up, proved transformative => self, spouse and kids => one year later we are all in a better place from the cascading impact of one choice. Through my writing the benefits of this change flow into the world.
I wanted to pass the observation along.
Because my ego taunts that I’m trapped in a never ending Groundhog Day of cleaning toilets, meal prep, dishes and laundry!
It’s easy to talk myself into a mild depression about the grind of fatherhood.
Positive, significant, transformation remains possible…
…and I know there’s a lot to be achieved with my internal experience.