Have you ever had a good idea? I once did.
And I almost let it crush my dreams. Sometimes that’s what good does. It makes us complacent. It keeps us just happy enough to stunt our growth. It traps us in a way that bad cannot.
If I were normal I would have gone through with the idea mentioned above. Because pursuing a good idea is normal. It’s safe and logical and right. Right? So, why not?
Good can have a vicious impact on our lives. A kind of negative impact that bad can’t have.
See, bad is safe (as long it’s not too bad). We usually don’t pursue bad. But even when we do, it quickly reveals itself to be bad and we abort. There’s little long-term damage done from most bad.
(With some exceptions) we quit bad jobs. We distance ourselves from bad relationships. We leave bad parties.
But good is dangerous. Good jobs. Good professions. Good houses. Good cities. Good beliefs. These are all things that many people stick with for their entire lives.
Smart, talented, creative people with plenty of options spend their entire lives working one job in one location, owning one house and repeatedly going on the same one vacation. Watching the same handful of TV shows and doing the same 45-minute cardio workout. Because of good.
Sure, maybe they spend 15 hours of their 45 hour work weeks longingly staring out the nearest window. But it’s still, by almost every measure, a good job.
I’m not knocking that life. I won’t knock any life that anybody wants. But do we want that life that we’ve all seemed to adopt? Or are we settling?
Imagine a person who uproots her life and moves across the country. The type of person that most people claim to admire. She moves to the mountains or the beach to start snowboarding or surfing every day. Because that’s her dream. Do you think she left a $140,000/yr job to make that move? More often than not, no. Because good is hard to get away from.
Good is comfortable. Good keeps us from taking chances.
Before I talk about my aforementioned idea and why I decided against it I need to acknowledge how I was able to decide against it.
Mindfulness is a beautiful thing. A wild journey. For me it’s been a journey full of twists and turns and never-before-felt emotions. It’s been a year of fears more crippling than I thought possible and smiles of the same magnitude.
It’s been a journey with appreciable byproducts. Heightened self-awareness and self-acceptance being among them. I know myself better than I knew myself last year. I accept myself more than I accepted myself last year. And it’s not even close.
I’ve thought more about death this year than in my previous 28 years combined. And I’ve thought more about life. About how precious it is and how insignificant it is. About how much I love it. About how truly short it is, and about how little the words "how truly short it is" can even begin to describe how truly short it is.
I’ve felt more alive in the past year than I ever have. And simultaneously I’m more aware of my imminent death than I’ve ever been. So it’s probably not a surprise that I’m a fan of time. Or a fan of having time, rather.
Time & Direciton
Time means more to me now than it ever has. Wasting time means more to me now than it ever has. Spending time living less than optimally sparks change in me that it couldn’t have sparked before.
Finite time means finite output. Passion. Creativity. Love. I can only be so passionate in my life. I can only be so creative in my life. I can only give so much love in my life. I’d like to maximize those things, sure. But more importantly, I need to make sure I direct those things toward worthy subjects.
Good enough isn’t good enough anymore. Great, even, is no longer good enough if it’s not great enough. If it’s not as great as I know it can be.
This isn’t to say that I need to be hiking and skydiving 24/7 for the rest of my life. Not at all. Sometimes laying on the couch, drinking a beer and watching the US Open is what I want to be doing.
What it means though, among other things, is that I want to be careful about the paths I choose. I want to choose the right path for me, regardless of whether conventional wisdom deems it a good path.
Usually I like to talk about how we should be taking risks and trying new things and saying "yes". Which I’m still in favor of 99% of the time. But not always. Sometimes we have to say "no".
If ever there is an idea for me to second guess, it’s a good idea. Because a good idea is an idea that I will be committed to, and that I will still be involved with in ten years. A bad idea will fail in three months, and I’ll be on with my life. A good idea will change my life forever.
Unlike the me of a year ago, I’ve figured out that I don’t have to chase every glimmer of sunshine. I don’t have to pursue every good idea. There will be another.
This particular good idea was for a new business derived from my favorite past-time. A website/marketplace to buy and sell used disc golf discs. I won’t get into the fine details of it. Nor will I get into exactly why it’s a good idea and why there’s a need for such a service. That’s not relevant to this post. You’ll just have to trust me.
I did the market research. I did the competitive analysis. I made a business plan. I have the requisite skill set. And I’m a hard worker. All the boxes were checked. By all accounts, it was indeed a good idea.
It would have worked. Fiscally, it would have worked. I’m pretty confident in that. And the risks were relatively small so even if it didn’t work, no big deal.
But I decided to pass on it.
Sure, self-employed financial freedom is one of my near-term aspirations. Sure, disc golf is one of my biggest passions. But just because I have an idea that incorporates both doesn’t mean I have to jump on it.
My idea would have involved people shipping discs to me, and me shipping discs to people. It would have required a permanent physical location. It would have required that someone be there every day to accept packages from various postal carriers.
Either I would have to be in town every day to accept and ship packages, which I don’t want to commit to, or I would have to hire someone to do that for me. And I don’t want employees.
Equally bad, it would have required me to work every day. I would have to process each disc as it came in, and prepare each disc for shipment as the orders came in. I don’t want to work every day. I want to work when I have work inside of me.
It would have crushed my freedom.
Lastly, I’m wicked passionate about disc golf. But that doesn’t mean I’m passionate about buying and selling discs. It took me a while to realize that that’s not the same thing.
No. From a work perspective, I’m passionate about making things, not processing and packaging things. And in five years I’d hate disc golf if I had gone through with this idea.
In five years I’d still be living in the same apartment in the same town in the same state. Going to the same restaurants and walking the same trails. Playing the same disc golf courses. Being comfortable.
Not that that would be a bad life. Not at all. But it’s not the life that I have in mind. This time, I’m not falling for good.
TL;DR Be careful with good. Don’t avoid it, but double check to make sure it’s what you want.