[This post is part of a series on internal objections and blocks and how to overcome them. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
People often say things like
I have to take care of “real-world” issues like earning money first.
or their bosses, parents, or teachers say things like
You have to take care of “real-world” issues first, like getting a job or paying your bills.
or they believe things other than “real-world” issues are indulgent. Or they have to be “practical” or “pragmatic.”
My job doesn’t allow it or give me time to do it.
That’s fine and well for others who have more resources than I do and have the luxury to participate in more fun activities. I don’t have that luxury and have to deal with real life, which isn’t so much fun.
Many people’s parents or teachers have told them forget about a major or profession they loved in favor of one with a more dependable income or more likely job prospects.
Many people have made the same decisions themselves without anyone directly influencing them.
Many people work 9-5 five days a week or more for decades of their lives, preparing for a future decades away, enjoying themselves and relaxing only a few times per year.
The underlying belief to this objection is that other priorities are more important than what you want to do. It means you accept values often defined by others.
These people believe something external to them can define their values for them — often another person; institutions like government, school, or church; or society in general. Or that some abstract or objective ordering of priorities and values exists that is more important than theirs.
It sounds obvious when describing someone else. When it’s you, the effect is insidious because it’s hard to identify a belief you believe as something worth questioning and possibly rejecting. It will feel as right and true to you as the Earth being at the center of the universe felt to people who believed it was.
You don’t have to accept other people’s values. You can believe
My priorities are my priorities and I work on them in the order that’s right to me.
You may consider saving for the future important now. Or you may consider having fun important now. Or whatever. If so, you can make your choices for yourself. You don’t have to adopt others’ choices for you.
Yes, money invested in your retirement now will compound to a large amount. Well, if you want to play in a band now while you’re young, you may not be able to do that later. Or play sports or write a novel or whatever. You don’t get that time back later. If you find your choice doesn’t work out how you wanted, you’ll get to make new choices later and fix your new situation.
You can always do new things later. That’s how you learn. That’s how everyone learns, including whoever is telling you to adopt their values over yours.
If you like working, you don’t have to do the other things either just because you’re young.
I propose to
Know what’s important to you and work on your things in the priority you choose.
This strategy starts with knowing your priorities before action and behavior. Delaying action and gaining awareness can both be hard.
While reading this post or giving advice to others about their lives people annoyingly say things like “you shouldn’t care so much what other people think” when they want you to be independent of values they’re independent of, as if they didn’t have values they want to be independent of but haven’t figured out how to. Those same people (sometimes you), I guarantee, when facing values they haven’t learned to make themselves independent of, have the same struggles.
So when someone acts superior, like they’ve grown past all this, think twice before believing they couldn’t benefit from examining and understanding their priorities better. That person may be you at times.
Only you can know your priorities. The other things may actually be more important. Your priorities may also change over time.
Watch for evaluative words from others, or part of yourself, that imply they’re imposing their values on you like
- Ought to
and so on.
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