You Don't Need Goals When You're Driven By Vision
When you're in alignment with your why, other opportunities will come along. Sometimes it feels like you're making a sacrifice but it actually becomes a better set up for success. Crafting a vision lets you peer beyond the horizon so you see that wherever you’re at, what’s more important is who you can become, rather than who you currently are.
Fire and brimstone won't stop my morning ritual. I have an obsessive desire to grasp back control of my time, day-by-day, hour-by-hour. When anxiety throws jabs, it's a reminder that I'm focused on the worries of the future. While I'm not able to predict the future, I can ease the mind by living in day-tight compartments. I know what’s on the other side of the horizon. When I own the day, I own my life.
Constant work without intention will fracture our minds. And whether you're hell-bent on world domination or attempting to keep up with peers, pausing for moments of reflection can seem like wasted time. But longevity of any sort requires an understanding of personal limits. Do we truly even know what our limits are? They're so often tied to the superficial, rather than to a living and breathing vision.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life," Steve Jobs said in his infamous Stanford commencement address. Time and energy are the two most important resources you own. Period.
The president of online services for Microsoft, Qi Lu, is on the extreme side of things. The man works 18 hour days, 6 days a week. That sounds like my personal hell. But then again, Qi’s childhood and mine are as different as a Tesla and a Pontiac Sunfire. Sure, they're both cars, but that's about all they have in common.
Qi Lu grew up in a rural village outside of Shanghai, China, with no running water or electricity. In his late 20s, he was making what was considered a good wage in China – about 30 cents a day.
My first taste of the workforce came when I dropped out of highschool. I'd jump on the bus at 5:30 am. Half awake, I'd arrive at a dingy old factory that stunk like sweat and grime as thick as a deck of cards covered every square inch of the building. The lunchroom doubled as a potential murder scene.
For eight hours, I stood at a table with a mountain of screws towering above me. One-by-one, I'd hold each screw up to a tiny measuring stick. Then I'd toss each screw in a pile on the left, or throw it in the wheelbarrow on the right. I still have no idea what the hell the screws were for. Maybe it was a scientific experiment on torture. It was an endless buffet that only closed when you were sent home for the day. I made $8 an hour. More than Qi made in an entire month. My hell was his dream job.
That job was enough to light a fire under my ass. I realized life without an education held a future that I wanted no part of. So I can only imagine the hunger that Qi had for changing his circumstances.
All that stood in my way of enrolling in school again was pride. Qi needed $60 to fulfill his dream – the equivalent of eight months salary to take the entrance exams for studying in the US.
Qi's alignment with his why was further driven by a ferocious desire to change his life's circumstances. He had a realization that changed his life when it came to thinking about time. While others slept, he worked. He did the math, and if he cut a typical eight hour sleep to four, it would mean an extra 1,460 hours each year to get work done.
Qi found his unmistakable advantage in a freakish output of reading, research and producing papers. When a visiting professor from Carnegie Mellon University gave a guest lecture, Qi by happenstance was in attendance. He was asked to fill empty spots, as a rainstorm had meant a poor turnout.
Qi realized that any attempt at action is better than inaction when it comes to creation. It enabled him to be the most prepared person in the room. The professor took notice of his insightful questions and asked him to share his work. The professor was blown away, and waved the qualification entrance fees. Qi's sacrifices led to a full scholarship offering from Carnegie Mellon.
His tireless dedication is an ode to doing the right thing is all that matters, whatever the condition, whatever the risk, however unlikely the desired outcome.
Not sure what to do next? That's okay too. Ryan Holiday's sage advice in the Daily Stoic Journal provides a prompt. "We are the product of our choices, so it is essential that we choose well. This week, consider and reflect on the choices you have: about your emotions, your actions, your beliefs, and your priorities."