I had lunch recently with the managing editor of Keith Ferrazzi’s company Ferrazzi Greenlight. She asked if I could put together a small piece on what quality of life means to me.
It’s funny because you would think I would have written something along these lines given our organization. The thing is we always see ourselves more as a “manager” in this project so it’s not our tendency to tell you about our personal practices.
Anyway, here is what I came up with. It was actually a very cool exercise.
WHAT DOES QUALITY OF LIFE MEAN TO ME?
Quality of life to me is living in a way and doing the things that makes me enjoy life.
I guess these are the things that get me there, at least at this stage in my life.
I have an incredible wife and two great kids that I love very much. I’m also lucky to have parents and siblings and extended family that I love being around. The love I get from my wife and family makes me feel confident and secure; and everything springs from there for me. I also think that one of the great things in life is to be able to share experiences with people you love and respect. Whether it’s a day at the beach or a nice bottle of wine, being able to share it with someone you enjoy being with makes it that much better.
Being in tune with myself
I have always been an introspective person but when I was 20 I had an experience which set me on the path of examining myself. It’s a long story but that experience led me to better knowing myself (which certainly included some discomfort) and ultimately having a more confident approach to life.
I need to carve out reflection time so I can assess if I am on the right path. This can be big picture stuff like spending enough time with friends but it can also be small stuff like remembering to mark my calendar for something I ought to do.
Doing the things I like
To me, it’s spending time with people I love and enjoy, doing meaningful work and surfing. Those are the things that I love to do the most so I plan around that.
Managing the mix
It is dificult because not only do things evolve over time but at a given time there are multiple and sometimes overlapping quality of life drivers that you need to prioritize. It becomes an art form, for example, to know how much to focus on work given the quality of life dividends of financial success and the flexibility it can allow later.
I don’t feel good unless I have interesting work that keeps me busy. While I enjoy work, I believe that there have to be periods of stress and flux to ultimately achieve progress.
Being in nature
Spending time in nature is a key part of my enjoying life. It’s where I have the most fun but I also need to be in nature a lot to just feel right.
To me, this actually means taking offense when others try to tell me how I should live. The reality is given the extent of product and idea marketing out there that does NOT have your personal interests in mind, you HAVE TO BE skeptical in order to live your best life. Don’t let someone bring down your quality of life because they want you to buy their shitty salad dressings.
Enjoying the contradictions in life
I don’t want my life to make perfect sense. Walt Whitman in Song to Myself said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” I believe getting the most out of life means allowing dichotomies to exist. I can’t live without being mature but I also can’t live without being immature.
Working hard at relationships
I have relationship issues like anyone but I work hard at doing what I can do to effect the happiness of those close to me and to minimize family and relationship problems overall. Call me crazy but I don’t like drama and stress and using my time on repair issues when I could be using that time on other stuff. I find it helpful to invest the time to think about what are some things I can do to make those close to me happy. I have a tendency to be controlling though, and I need to work on that.
I feel my best when I am on top of my tasks. I have a system for managing my tasks and I am good about sticking to it. One of the most common traits I’ve observed in people that enjoy life is a “make it happen” approach. Being organized and doing the things that makes you happy work hand in hand.
What I want in life is to have freedom of movement. To go where I want to go when I want. Money helps on this front; doing well financially is a goal of mine for this reason. I am in the camp that does not believe that money brings happiness. But I am firmly in the camp that believes that if you have the other things in order (being a positive, secure, non-materialistic person), financial security can definitely help on the quality of life front.
Getting what you want
People don’t like to talk about this quality of life driver because they don’t want to seem aggressive. We all want to make things happen. If you get the best table in the restaurant and do it in a cool way, that is a noble approach to life in my opinion.
Guarding my time
Time is my most precious resource. I exercise in a way that minimizes time. I plan phone calls before I do ten minute plus drives. I always have reading material with me when opportunities for lines or delays exist. I also realize there are some people out there that don’t get me or appreciate me and I am good about not prioritizing my time to be with them. Back to the point of letting contradicitons exist, I am also a big fan of idle time. I have been called a “football thug” by my wife on more than one occasion.
What are the things that contribute to your quality of life? If you put yours together and submit via comments, I will include in a follow up post.