“I’m too busy.”
“I don’t have time for that anymore.”
“I love [insert activity/hobby/dream here] but I haven’t done it in ages. It’d be too hard to get back to it.”
Sound familiar? I hear these complaints everyday. Remember that Rolling Stones song? Time is on your side.
Almost 10 years ago I got hired by the Regional Director of Merrill Lynch. He was California’s head guy at the company. A tall, skinny dude with a charming southern accent, he was extremely high status, internally and externally. He always played it cool. He’d even jam on the drums with the bands at the holiday parties.
Everyone was impressed by him and he became Merrill Lynch’s Regional Director of the Western US. Then he went through a nasty divorce at the same time as the company almost went bankrupt. I remember we had a conversation about how bad he wanted to go back to his roots and play music. He ended up getting promoted to New York City where he ran the company’s wealth management division across the country.
More importantly, he started playing music again. In the last eight years he’s released five albums, played hundreds of shows, and has a large following on Spotify. At the end of the day he became a rockstar and still runs a fortune 500 company.
Along those lines, my first year at Merrill Lynch, a different guy from the man mentioned above, top financial advisor stunned everyone when he quit his job to help his daughter become a rockstar. He left a business he’d put a lot of time into to help his daughter pursue her dreams because he believed in her and it was what he loved. He knew nothing about the music industry, but started spending a lot of time, many years, learning about it. It was a huge shift, but he learned.
I was in a pop-punk band in college. We played shows and released an album. I loved it and it was a huge part of my life. Then I stopped playing guitar for like nine years. Crazy, right? In just the last three months, I picked it up again. I’m jamming and I even wrote a song. It feels great.
So what happened? Why did I stop playing for so long when I could have been a lightning fast guitarist and song making machine by now?
Well, during the past nine years I prioritized another passion and skill. I focused on becoming an expert in social intelligence and created Jaunty. I love helping people overcome their social anxiety and become social dynamos. That feels really good. But who cares about our reasons for putting things off?
What’s important is realizing that time is on our side. We have more than enough future hours.
My girlfriend’s professor, Loretta, is helping Jaunty create a social intelligence class for kids. When Loretta was 36 she felt she wanted to continue her education, but worried she was too old. She told her dad, “When I get my PhD I’ll be 40!” And her dad said. “Well, do you want to be a 40-year-old with or without a PhD?”
It’s not too late. We can keep making excuses for not following our dreams. Or we can bravely take steps towards them. We can shift our priorities and we can get past our fear of failure. You can get better and better at any skill.
According to Josh Kaufman, bestselling author of “The First 20 Hours,” we can get reasonably good at something after just 20 hours of focused practice. That’s about 45 minutes a day for a month. If you took the next 20 hours you use on mindless TV, web, movies, or even getting shitfaced, and put it towards something more creative or productive what would it be? Music, writing, social skills?…let me know, I’ll hold you to it.
Oh, and by the way, the daughter of that financial advisor that quit isn’t doing too shabby. Her name is Taylor Swift, you should look her up.