We will always be the sum of all that we have lived through, the sum of all the people who came across us at some point in our lives, the sum of all that they were able to bring to us, both good and bad. But we also have the power within us to rebuild and relearn and reconnect to our deepest parts, to who we know ourselves to be and who we aspire and are always able to become.
I always believe experiences define expectations. We are the sum of all the experiences we have had so far. I love that because it means that we are always a work in progress, instead of a finished product. Finished perfect products are boring.
The beautiful thing about a work in progress is that we get to constantly evolve and change. In the process, I am able to observe my changes and appreciate it. 5 years is a hell of a long time, and changes within 5 years can be massive. I would say that in the recent 5 years, I have seen myself change drastically. For better, of course, although I miss the old me.
That is how I was and still am living life. You experience the extreme ends, and then come back in the middle to find the right zone. I have been figuring the various ends in my life journey thus far, and now, it is to make a stand on the middle zone that I like. And I know I am in the process of making this decision now, at the same time, I am still overwhelmed with the past information to make the most informed choice. I’ll break it down.
The Extreme Fun and Travel
For a good ~7 years, my life was in maximum overdrive of fun, travel and good times. I love this period so much. It made me who I am today — I had the luxury of time and freedom to explore what the world has and can provide. Today, my life is full of great stories to be told, I rarely have the FOMO feeling because my life is absolutely amazing and I am sure of who I am.
I’m lucky to have a life full of amazing experiences and stories to tell. It was extremely fun. No months are alike, I meet people from all over the world, my life is full and free. I had less obligations then, and could divide my work and life in clear and distinct chunks. I remember working hard for months, then summer in Europe for a bit. Or working hard on the weekday and when work ends in the evening, work really ends. I could hike on the weekends without a care in the world. It was so free, so easy, so light.
That was the extreme fun end.
Right now, in this moment, I do not want to go back to that life. I want to take a time machine and experience snippets again, but I do not want to relive those. In part because I’ve already done that and I want something new next. In part also because I am keen in more meaningful and purposeful activities now.
The Extreme Work and Professional
So in the recent 5 years, I shifted towards the extreme work end. Covid might have accelerated everything, but it was exactly what I asked for, from the universe. I worked so much, 7 days a week, more than 14 hours a day. In fact, I only spent my time either working or working in one form or another. I had no social life — it was covid anyway — and focused just on work. It was hard at first, but I learnt to lean into it and made the best out of it.
My life is AMAZING though. It is everything I actually dreamt about. I know no one really dreams about work per say, but I’m literally working my dream job, running my dream company, doing everything I’ve dreamt of. It’s not to say the free and carefree life is bad — but I realised doing it all the time bores me. I need to do something — I need to make a change, to create a legacy, to make a difference during this period I exist on earth. And there is nothing better than to create value via a company and be great.
But being GOAT is hard. And I’m still working towards it. There are super highs and super lows. I got through them all, and will get through them again, of course. And my life shifted from working fixed hours to working multiple hours and flexible time. It went from 7 days a week to 6 days, to 5-ish days with work-life integration.
I love this period of my life so much. It is everything I wanted in this age. I longed for this for a very long time. To run my companies, work across timezones, finding equals in professional life where they become personal friends, and to create so much value during my lifetime. I have the luxury to be learning, researching, experimenting and solving problems. Can life get any better?
It actually can. Which is this new period that I am embarking now.
Life is all about balance and equilibrium. It is going back to square one on axis-x and y but a new level on axis-z. Inspired by this essay, work is for the sake of leisure, not the other way around. Leisure, according to Mr Aristotle, is the freedom to pursue studies and aimed at the cultivation of virtue. On the other hand, work is a means to get something, an end. Leisure is an end on its own — intrinsically good.
Looking from this perspective, my current life period is intrinsically good. I love watching documentaries, reading books and papers. I like the consumption of intellectual knowledge — just because. It is leisure, for I love it for the sake of it. If I apply it to something — which my brain automatically does — then that is great. Otherwise, knowledge on its own is just fun.
The balance I am striving for now is the division between being occupied with time to work as a means (which I do more now too) and other activities which relaxes me, a cross between my weekends now and my weekends in the previous years.
It’s a weird balance to learn a lot and have extensive knowledge on issues, while realising how insignificant a person is in the grand scheme of things. At the same time, this knowledge can change the direction of what the future looks like. I feel stressed when I am in the process of accumulating extensive knowledge and feel great when I am using those knowledge and applying it — just because it is fun. It is a constant cycle.
As this new period begins, my intention is to find that balance between extreme fun and extreme work. I’ve done them before, so I can do them again, better this time. I want a structured and intentional work period, sprinkled with some leisure. And then time for leisure, with sprinkles of work. I can foresee that. And in my own way, I love it and can’t wait for it!
A transitionary period. New habits and routines. More responsibilities with greater flexibility to move towards those goals. Baby steps. I’m excited!