It’s today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not after you’ve gotten the promotion, renovated your kitchen, or made a million dollars. Today.
“I don’t believe in the deferred life plan,” Sam Altman says, criticizing people who say some version of the following: “‘My life’s work is to build rockets. So what I’m going to do is make $100 million in the next four years trading cryptocurrency with my hedge fund, because I don’t want to think about the money problem anymore, and then I’m gonna build rockets’ – and they never do either.”
2020 was the year I made the most money so far, but it was also one of the years in which I was the furthest away from my dream. For a few years now, I’ve wanted a life where I get up, write, do a few admin things in the afternoon and clock out. Back then, I was doing all kinds of random stuff to make money, but my writing wasn’t going anywhere.
Now I make less than half of what I made that year, but I’m finally graduating to writing books. I spend my time working on the projects I care about, building the career I want to build, rather than some proxy that supposedly will make my dream come easier down the line.
“Doing anything worthwhile takes a long time,” Sam reminds us. “It takes a lot of emotional trauma, a lot of people telling you you’re an idiot, or wrong, or whatever, and if you’re not willing to sign up for that, you’re not gonna succeed. And people can also kind of sense when you’re not willing to sign up for that.”
When I talk to my writer friends, many of whom make enough money to sustain themselves one way or another, they often tell me they “just want to write.” They want to spend the majority of their time writing, and they want to write what pleases them, what excites them, what they are passionate about, even if it might not be the most commercially viable or popular piece of text.
That’s a fair dream to have, but especially given that it’s hard to get paid to “write what you want,” why don’t they start right away? What follows is often some explanation of how they’re only doing this online course business, or coaching business, or freelance work to make enough money to retire – and then write what they want.
Do you see how backwards this is? How can you expect to achieve your dream if you treat it like a second-rate hobby, if that? When it comes to your dream, success is a much of a trap as failure is, maybe even worse.
Going back to the “$100 million vs. rockets” dilemma, Sam says: “I believe if these people would just pick one thing or the other, they would succeed at either.” But if you’re not committed, if we can’t feel the authenticity of your dream, why would anyone support you in accomplishing it? If your dream is one you can’t achieve alone, the deferred life plan goes from bad to impossible.
But even if your dream is a dream you can chase all on your own, I suggest you stop delaying. Stop telling yourself a story that doesn’t serve you. There is never a good time to go after your dream, which makes today the best day there’ll ever be. Don’t wait. Start today.