“The most dangerous risk of all—the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”- Randy Komisar
If you’re like most normal people there are probably quite a few things you would do with your life if you had the ability to do exactly what you wanted, instead of what felt you “must” to do.
Generally these “changes” fall into four general categories: health, vacation/adventure, work, and family/friends. And for good reason; together they compose the vast majority of what our time is spent doing, where are experiences are made, and largely, where our thoughts are trained on a second-to-second basis.
Yet, despite their importance in our lives, many people don’t take seriously (or recognize) the opportunities to improve upon each one of them. Even worse, many are convinced that there is nothing that can be done to improve upon their situation.
Instead, most people live in a constant state of discomfort and annoyance; complaining about their work, their health, their lack of vacation, and their absence of passion and higher purpose. They wait for things to change, their circumstances to improve, or for some miraculous stroke of good fortune to fall into their lap.
When it comes down to it, most people aren’t in control of their lives. They are simply creatures of circumstance who do what they are told, what they are expected to do, or what society deems as a “normal” course of action. They do this all in-spite of their greater wishes, dreams, and passions and often in direct opposition to what they really want to do, “if they could.”
They speak of their dreams and desires as things that are unreachable or just not “practical” for people like them. They put up with their own (often daily) suffering to keep themselves within an illusion of relative comfort and security (if dying slowly is your idea of comfort).
What’s even more frightening is that pretty much all of these people will go on thinking these things until the day they die, and then, they’re no longer dreams, but regrets. There will never be that day that frees them of the job they hate (or simply survive from day-to-day), the poor health they hold, or the excuses that keep them from doing all the things they really want to do.
Especially with the terrible food that most people are eating and the increasing working age, it’s a wonder that anyone really gets to enjoy life at all before chronic disease and/or weariness catch up with them.
All for what?
If your work isn’t fulfilling, what’s the point? How many times do you have to catch yourself wishing it was the weekend already before you realize that a change must be made? Ten? One Hundred? Ten Thousand? How about creating a life you don’t have to run away from?
If your health isn’t where you want it to be, why isn’t it? How many diets have you copped out on or trips to the gym have you skipped this week? How many more excuses will you make before more serious problems arise? How about creating a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t require absurd eating habits or extreme workout routines but instead simple tenants that deliver results?
If you daydream of exploring some far off exotic lands, learning a new set of skills, or taking up an interesting new hobby, why haven’t you done it already? How many times have you seen someone else doing something amazing and thought to yourself “I wish I was that lucky?” How about creating a lifestyle that allows time for adventure while fostering continual learning and growth?
What is your excuse now?
What will be your excuse tomorrow?
What will be your excuse during your dying breaths?
Originally coined by Randy Komisar in his book “The Monk and the Riddle,” deferred living is basing your life path off of things and goals that don’t really matter or do little to contribute towards your ideal lifestyle (what ever you choose that to be).
The Deferred Life is doing something you don’t care about; something you don’t value; something that fails to express who you are.
The Deferred Life is accepting what society has deemed as the “reasonable” choice for an “average” person just like you.
The Deferred Life is portrayed as the “safe” decision despite living in a world full of change and unknowns.
The Deferred Life keeps you hidden in the crowd; out of the spotlight and safe from your fears of potential ridicule and judgement.
The Deferred Life allows you to freely live out your days within the grand illusion of stability, comfort, security, and predictability, that the façade of this lifestyle promises.
The Deferred Life is probably what your parents pushed for (with good intentions, of course) and what society has been convincing us is the “smart” choice for well more than a century.
In its entirety, the Deferred Life is nothing more than an illusion to keep you complacent with living a life far below your potential.
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”-Seth Godin
The deferred life makes a promise:
-The promise that if we put in our time, work hard, and do what we’re told during the most active years of our lives– that some day we’ll be able to retire do what we really wanted to do all along.
-The promise that schools and universities will take care of our educational development, and that a degree is the biggest part of success.
-The promise that our health and well-being are taken care of by food companies, the government, research institutions, and other powerful organizations who put food on our shelves and tell us what to eat.
-The promise that there will always be someday (besides today, of course) to improve our health, turn our lives around, go on that trip, start that project, or to live passionately.
-The promise that if we follow protocol, do what we’re told, and don’t fuck up too obviously, that one day we’ll be rewarded (if you make it that long, that is).
…and on and on….
In essence, deferred living exchanges the personal responsibility we have for our own future and failures for the comfort of being able to say:
“It wasn’t my fault,”
“I didn’t fail, the system did”
“I did what I was supposed to, it was beyond my control.”
So people work and live for some far off goal of finally getting out of the “rat race” to do what they really want. In the meantime, they bitch about work every day of the week, make excuses about their health and body, and live for the weekends or for the rare vacation that allows them to escape from the boring reality of the life they have created for themselves.
Every day is a struggle, every day is wasted potential.
And death creeps ever closer.
“When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude.” -Viktor Frankl
When someone chooses (either actively or passively) to live a deferred life, they will (by definition) contribute far less than their true potential to the world.
When we realize that each one us holds a uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes us from every other human that has ever, and will ever, live, it is all too easy to see the loss in such a choice. Not only for the individual, who gives up potential happiness and meaning in their own life, but for humanity as a whole, who will now lack the contributions that person was capable providing.
Those lost to the deferred life have chosen to deny the opportunity to grow into their full potential. Instead, the true fruit of their life, and often the meaning behind it, lies dormant in complacency and helplessness (and in the rare case, utter laziness). This leaves the person in question in a place of despair and unhappiness and the world lacking a vital contribution to the beauty of our existence.
As Vikor Frankl most eloquently put,
“it did not really matter what we expect of life, but what life expects from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life–daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” (emphasis his)
Living the Deferred Life leaves little room for anything but existing and surviving, essentially denying yourself and the world, the true potential of your contributions.
Too many people are trapped in this illusion that only a few specially chosen people get to live the dream that so many envy.
-Only a few people can have their dream jobs.
-Only a few people were born with the right genetics for a perfect body or great health.
-Only a few people can travel overseas or go on extended adventures for months at a time
-Only a few people have the right “traits” to start a company or rise to the position of CEO.
While it is true that many individuals do have some predisposed traits or conditions that assisted in their rise to the top, the remaining 99% of people living “the dream” or “changing the world” are completely average people, just like you and me.
There is nothing innately special about them besides their drive and relentless pursuit of what they want in life. They weren’t “born to be great,” they brought it about through their own hard work and steadfast determination.
The reason most people aren’t doing what they are passionate about isn’t because they weren’t “chosen,” it’s because they aren’t willing to take the actions needed to get there. Instead of taking the vital first steps towards their goals and dreams, they freeze in the face of their fears and insecurities and find another excuse to resist moving. Without this initial action, there is nothing to produce the momentum needed to fuel the final leap out of their comfort zone and on to a better life.
Fortunately for us, these “first steps” have become easier to take and involve less risk than ever before. Modern communication and technologies have opened the doors for nearly anyone to make the “leap,” and with the onset of the digital age, there really isn’t an excuse for not doing so.
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(Photos: Cover-daveynin, Above- mboprtr) “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” -Albert Einstein -Symptoms of...