In The Pursuit of Your Dream, Time is Irrelevant & Age Doesn’t Matter

by Alexander Heyne · 12 comments

Old dude

Time scares the shit out of me.

You see, for a long time getting older was a reminder that I lost a year. In my head I was saying “You’ve got one less year to start doing the really important stuff in life. One less year to piss away.”

It’s not surprising then that most people also hate getting older. The clock is ticking, slowly counting down.

I’ve addressed this feeling of life passing you by before, but here’s another revelation: the people who are scared shitless by time are those that aren’t living the life they actually want to be living.

Makes sense right? If today, tomorrow and the next day you aren’t enjoying life, one less day is one less day.

But what about people who do feel they’re on their path?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently – the same one I profiled in the manifesto.

When you find your pathwhen you’re in a life that you feel like you’re supposed to be in, time intrigues you. You think, “Wow, this stuff is awesome, I can’t wait to see how much I know (or how good i’ll be) in 5 or 10 years.”

It’s exciting! You look forward to the coming years. You can’t wait to keep following the path and see where it leads. It’s the exact opposite of what most of us live. Everywhere around me I see people dreading that next birthday. It’s a cultural joke now, “Ahhh christ, alright It’s my 5th 25th birthday!”

When you’re not “on your path” time feels like you’re going away from something important.

But when you’ve found it, you’re sprinting down a path and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Everyone else is irrelevant; competition doesn’t matter

The alchemist is my favorite book for a reason – the premise being that we all need to find and pursue our personal legend.

When you find your personal legend, time becomes irrelevant.  Many people (myself included) have this whacked out idea that “if only I were <something> NOW, life would be good.”

“If  only I had my own business and could quit my job now, life would be good.”

“If only my wife and I were living in Paris for a sabbatical, life would be good.”

“If only I switched jobs and were working an awesome new job, life would be good.”

We want to skip to the finale. We want to bypass all the bullshit and jump into the meat. Obviously that can’t happen though. You need a beginning and a middle for there to be an end.

Time doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because you can’t rush finding your “path.”  Three years ago I wanted to be fully self-employed. Life had other plans – three years of failures, which led me to my current self employment path.  You can’t rush it – since life rarely goes according to plan.

Competition also doesn’t matter. You don’t compare yourself to anyone because you have found your path. it’s no one else’s but your own. You know you were born for it.  Do you think young people that go into the priesthood compare themselves to their 29 year old buddies making 6 figures in New York City?

Doubt it! Different paths. Different ambitions. Different dreams.

The problem is that sometimes we convince ourselves we also want what other people want (even when it’s not true).

So when you’re on your path, when your dad asks about your lawyer friend making 120k his first year out of grad school, you feel confident rather than insecure. “Not my path,” you say to yourself. And you know it to be true.

I’m just doing my thing. You’re just doing yours.

Why you keep getting lost


The other day I was in New York City meeting two friends just to catch up about life.

I also have been thinking of making a move to the big city recently, so I figured I’d ask them each some questions on what New York city life was like. I wanted an insider’s perspective.

And you know what’s interesting? They both told me exact opposite things.

One told me something that scared the shit out of me, and made me feel like I was going to be eaten alive and have my entire personality changed. He said I’d become a manwhore, workaholic, then an alcoholic. Then leave the city once my health, prostate, and dreams were ruined.

The other said: “Look, the city is what you make it. It eats you alive only if you let it, only when you lose focus and let it eat you up, and only when you associate with people like that, too.”

How could that be? Two people, same place, same people, different perception. Almost 180 degrees.

It made me realize something important: the people who get sidetracked and lost in life are the ones that lose their focus on the important stuff.

They’re the ones who let their friends and family (or the city they live in) determine their life path.

New York city is a lot like life – it’ll eat you up if you let it. If you lose sight of the really important stuff, you’re just going to get swept into everyone else’s plan.

If you lose site of your plan (or you don’t have a plan and don’t know what you want), then everything can easily sidetrack you.

Your parents’ plan. Your girlfriend’s plan. Your friends’ plan.

You have no center to go back to and check up on.

You decide to ask other people for their opinion. You crowdsource decisions. You read lots of books and essays. You try to get a massive amount of information, which gives you the illusion that you’re making a smarter decision, but you’re not.

You’re ignoring you.

How to find your path again, and why you should ignore pretty much everyone

Virtually everyone gets sidetracked at one point or another. But some people never end up finding their path, and one day wake up thinking “how the hell did I get in this life?”

In fact, this is one of the most shockingly common emails I get from people over 40: “I’m stuck in a life I never chose. It just happened to me. And here I am.”

And here’s why: they listened to everyone else.

I’ve often talked about how, in life, it’s the blind leading the blind. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just that no one has it figured out – we’re all at the mercy of the seas.

If I listened to everyone else, here would’ve been the moves I would’ve made:

For relationships: “If you found a great girl, stay with her and go get a good job and start a family! I’d hate to see you leave her behind.”

Another: “Don’t ever let a woman prevent you from doing everything in life.”

For work: “Go get the nice stable job and get that $$$. Make bank now and become a workaholic so you don’t have to later.”

Another: “Go off and go on adventures, work in hostels, take jobs as they come, live an adventurous life. You only get one!”

For life: “Life is tough, you gotta be realistic, hunker down and work hard.”

Another: “Dream. Do all the stuff you want. Travel, learn languages, check things off your bucketlist. Do it all. Take it easy. Have fun. You only get one.”

If I listened to people, I would’ve been pretty fucked in the head by now. Everyone says something different. Who in the hell am I supposed to trust? Do you see how that works?

You’re getting lost because you’re listening to everyone else.  Stop crowdsourcing your deepest questions about life.

Ignore Everyone. Ignore Age. Ignore Time. Do what you need to do for yourself – and listen to you

Stop worrying about time.

Stop worrying about people.

Stop worrying about your age.

Start doing what you know you need to do for yourself.

Stop asking everyone else to answer the tough questions in life. They’re just as lost as you are.

Stop asking outside of you for the answers you probably already know within you. It sounds cheesy as hell but western folks really suck at using their intuition. We consider logic and rational analysis to be the king of all skills.

But most of the time we have an intuition about every situation and every person, but we ignore it because we don’t trust it.

Oh, and don’t forget to repeat this to yourself… “people only fear age because they aren’t already enjoying life and haven’t found meaning, so age reminds them that they have one less year to start doing the shit that really matters.”

Time is irrelevant. Age doesn’t matter. The only important thing is that you start doing for yourself what you intuitively know you must do.

– Alex

Image: Old dude

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie May 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm

It is incredibly easy to get lost when you rely on other people’s input (I know!). Sure people can be helpful, but they also measure your situation against their own and start applying their own pressures onto your situation. Time is a big factor here, with certain expectations and labels being thrown around – “You should be doing XYZ by now”. Time is relative: the focus should not be on when you do things by, but what it is you want to do. I’d far rather spend longer getting to where I want to be, than rushing into something I’m unsure of.

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Alexander Heyne May 26, 2013 at 10:29 am

Hey Jamie,

Yeah you’re totally right. I’ve experienced this phenomenon many, many times. I think it’s one of the problems with people too logical – we seek out rational, systematic explanations.

Haha I’m with you on the “You should….” I feel like that’s how all dangerous statements begin.

On the other hand, you never know what happens when you rush into something you’re unsure of. Sometimes it’s that random mountain peak that lets you clearly see the terrain down below.

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Mike May 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Finding “the shit that really matters” is hard enough on its own!

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Alexander Heyne May 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

Hey Mike,

You’re totally right man… no disagreement there.

But if you ask me (after thinking about this entirely too much for a 26 year old), there are 5 big things in my own life:

(In no particular order).

A. Work that gives meaning to your life. This is one of the hardest things to find/succeed at.

B. People. Friends, children, the people we marry, relationships we make throughout life.

C. Some deeper belief about life – whether you call that religion, spirituality, or just call it soccer. Some pursuit that helps you feel the really “deep” stuff in life that leaves you in a state of awe.

D. What I leave behind. Is “my work” something that wouldn’t have existed in this universe without my life? And does “my work” somehow help someone else improve their life in an important way?

E. Flat out life satisfaction. I love this entry from “Tuesdays with Morrie” where he says: “If you realized just how unimportant the things are you do every day, you might live life a little bit differently. You might realize that some things (like your work, hint hint), are really not that important.” Am I doing what I want to be doing every day? Do I want that pay raise, or an extra 3 weeks of vacation where I can take my spouse to southern france and drink wine?

Just some of my own ramblings… haha

How about you?

Cheers,
Alex

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Ly August 14, 2013 at 5:49 am

You have been a big help to me, you just don’t know how much. Every post you make inspires me and gives me the advice I didn’t know I needed until now.

It’s really easy to get stuck and get lost. I was just looking for a reason why my knee hurts, and here I am at your site! The exact time I was being doubtful of the things I’ve been doing in my life, and need great support!

Thank you for doing what you do. I’m pretty sure you have inspired a whole lot of other people.

Btw, since your post is about time and age and you’ve been helping people in their 20s, may I know how old you are? You seem really wise for a 20 something someone. Good luck in your life! :)

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Alexander Heyne August 18, 2013 at 10:24 am

Hey Ly,

Awesome, I’m glad I could help!

I totally agree, getting lost and getting stuck happens really easily. Almost by default if we aren’t making moves.

I’m 26 :D but I’ve experienced a lot of life and have been fortunate to travel a lot, so I tend to see life a bit differently.

Also, for your knee pain, check this out: http://modernhealthmonk.com/ultimate-guide-to-chronic-knee-pain-runners-knee/

Cheers!

Alex

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Sam August 19, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I absolutely love this post and revisit it frequently.
“The problem is that sometimes we convince ourselves we also want what other people want (even when it’s not true).”
This has been painfully true for me. I’ve known since childhood what my path is. But it’s easy to get sidetracked when it feels like it’s taking too long for things to come together, or it’s too much work, or someone else’s path seems to have come to fruition so much sooner than your own.
I adopted a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality. I started doing the things everyone else seemed to be doing –even if they didn’t interest me at all. Absurd!! I look back now at the past year and think, “Well, I’ve done x, y, and z but I’m no closer to accomplishing my goals.” For me, ignoring people has been the hardest part. It’s terrifying to invest time in something, even when it’s something you love, when you have no guarantee of a return on investment. In fact, it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

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Alexander Heyne August 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Sam,

It’s true – the scary part about life is that, when you go with your intuition, you have no idea how life will pan out because you’re in uncharted waters. And I don’t really have a good solution for that. But I think you and I intuitively both know what we must be doing. And it’s a little bit less scary when you “know” you’re on your path, even though you don’t know where you’ll end up.

So what’s the intuitive next step for you?

- Alex

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SD September 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Why is your advice so good? I really appreciated this piece! It made me realize that I can listen to myself more, instead of looking for outside “answers” or “how it should be.” I’m qualified enough to know what is right for me! And I feel joyful believing in that again. Thank you.

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Alexander Heyne September 28, 2013 at 9:34 pm

No problem SD :)

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The funny thing about this is April 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Ignore Everyone. Ignore Age. Ignore Time. Do what you need to do for yourself – and listen to you

Why am I reading this then? Because it was just there and it existed.
Fuck finding stuff. What the hell are we looking for anyway?!

Simply, nothing.
That is time. Absolutely nothing.

“You’re late.”
> For what?

“How long ’til you get there?”
> I don’t even know that.

“How old are you?”
> My birth certificate says…

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