Don’t Retire and Don’t Settle
Good morning guys. I’m a little bit early to a meeting I’ve got here, so I’ve got a little bit of time. Just recorded a Junk Removal Made Simple episode on the worst mistakes we ever made running our junk removal business. My hope on it and my goal is that when you all watch that, you’ll avoid making those same mistakes we made. I’d love to know where our business could be if we had avoided those mistakes early on.
When I first reached the point at which I didn’t have to be on the truck all the time, I relished the fact that I had a new freedom to do what I wanted to do. I was making a decent amount of money. I started to settle. I stopped improving the business. I stopped pushing as hard. It only lasted for a month or so, but over just that one month I noticed a decline in business. I noticed I was sleeping in later and I really wasn’t as happy. I went to the beach more and I had more time to spend on my hobbies, but I wasn’t as happy as when I was pushing hard and working towards clear goals.
Growing up, I got into aviation through my dad. Because of the expensive and time-consuming nature of the hobby, most people in aviation are older. As a result, I had the privilege of being friends with a lot of older people. Most of them were in their 60’s when I was a kid. As a grew into a teenager, they grew into their 70’s and 80’s. Many of them have since passed on, but what I remember most about them was their passion and uncompromising determination. These guys were out at the airfield every day, honing their skills and talking about the things they loved and the goals they still wanted to accomplish. Then there was my grandfather.
He had goals and ambitions when he was a younger man. But those days were long past. I began to see the signs as soon as he wasn’t working anymore. Even as a kid, I could tell that the TV had replaced his ambitions. He wasn’t striving for anything anymore. He was retired.
He stopped engaging his mind. He stopped engaging his body. He stopped striving for things that mattered to him. Most importantly, he no longer had goals to strive for. And that’s ultimately what people live for. We’re a species meant to hunger for constant improvement, and though the type and degree of improvement differ from person to person, everyone has to have something to work towards. As soon as we allow ourselves to lose that hunger, that yearning for the thrill of achieving our own goals, we start to lose our purpose.
Without a purpose, a motivating reason to get up every morning, we start sleeping in. Why should we get up when we won’t accomplish anything meaningful? When we start sleeping in too much, we get lazy. Sick. Our energy levels go down. We don’t find joy in the things that once fulfilled us. We’re not happy. Our work, families, friends, and hobbies all miss out on our much-needed attention. We’re still alive, perhaps. But we’re not truly living.
This may seem like an overly bleak or fatalistic outlook, but it’s the truth. Though it may seem like the simplest and most obvious thing in the world, having a purpose for your life is absolutely essential to living a good and enjoyable life. That’s why it’s so important to stay hungry and never settle.
Don’t settle on your income when you hit your target. Set your sights higher – make it five or ten times the amount you’re currently making. Make it a goal that you have to work for – one that makes you a little nervous. After all, if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. Write that goal down once or twice a day at the beginning. I write my goals down at the beginning of the day and again at the end of the day. Long-term goals, short-term goals, goals that you want to accomplish that day – write them all down. Remember them. Want them. Be hungry.
Let’s say your goal was to own a home. Once you buy the home, you’re happy. And you should be – you’ve accomplished a very big goal you set for yourself! Chances are, however, that you settled for something about the home. Maybe it was the neighborhood, the layout, or the funky column jutting into the living room. Maybe you discover that the grocery store five minutes down the road doesn’t stock avocados (which is obviously unforgivable). Don’t settle. Make it your goal to fix that funky column, move to a better neighborhood, or live closer to the grocery store that somehow only stocks perfectly ripe avocados.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy with your home. After all, if you’re never happy with the life you’re building, there’s no point to building it either. There’s a balance to be struck here. Enjoy the present and remember all the work you’ve put in to get where you are. Just know that as corny as it may sound, life really is about the journey more than the destination. Remember being a kid and staring at the toy catalog for weeks, saving up pocket change and birthday money a little at a time to finally buy it? Oftentimes the excitement of wanting the toy, obsessing over it, and imagining it was greater than the feeling of actually possessing it.
If you’re completely happy with your home and it’s everything you want, do you just stop and rest on your laurels? Of course not! Just find the next part of your life you want to improve. Maybe it’s your vehicle. Maybe it’s your body. Maybe it’s your relationship; that’s the hard one. With everything else going on in your life, you have to make sure you’re not being complacent in your relationship. That you’re not taking the other person for granted. That you’re really pushing hard and that you’re trying to keep the heat in that relationship going. You’re intentionally setting aside time just for that person and for your relationship. When I plan my day out (and I plan the entire day in advance), I plan out the time that I’m going to spend with my wife.
Then there’s your business. I enjoy flying. I enjoyed cars. But growing my business, seeing it flourish, seeing how many people I can help through my work – that’s what gives me the most pleasure in life. So I’ve poured my heart and soul into this business and it’s done wonders for my goals. I achieved my five-year goal a couple years early. I’m on track to hit my ten-year goal by year five. When I hit that, I’ll be setting another ten-year goal. I’ll be doing that at least five or ten times – and hopefully even more than that!
You see, the only reason you ever settle is because you convince yourself that your dreams and ambitions are unattainable. You may have gotten sick and tired of all the disappointments along the way. That’s tough. But disappointments happen all the time, and they’re simply teaching tools; stepping stones on the path to success. There may be hundreds of these little steps, and with so much to accomplish it’s possible to psych yourself out, to start believing that your dreams can’t happen. Break that long-term goal into little pieces and tackle one at a time. Sometimes they won’t go so well. Sometimes they’ll hurt, bad. Disappointment might last days or weeks. But you can’t settle, you can’t give in to the easy way out and give up. Because if you choose to be hungry, to chase those goals and keep pounding even through the really bad days, you’re gonna get there. And you’re going to be at your happiest through it all.
You’re going to feel your best and have the most energy when you’re working towards a goal. As they say at Men’s Wearhouse, I guarantee it. Everybody, have a wonderful day. Don’t settle for a good day. Chase after that great day, that extra one percent. Be hungry. Chase after your ambitions and make all your dreams and aspirations come true. When they do, set more goals. I’ll talk to everybody soon.