I have ambition. To have no ambition.
This is the perfect summing up of a process I’ve been going through of late.
It doesn’t mean having no sense of purpose. It means that I don’t want to be so tired with where I’m headed that I’m not experiencing, feeling, where I am.
The ambition line is something James Altucher also says. He’s done the extreme version and a few months ago shed all his possessions bar 15 things that fit into a carry-on bag. You can look them up.
Talk about downsizing … and freedom.
Freedom vs finance is what my children and I were talking about on Sunday morning.
The conversation came about because we’re canary-sitting at the moment. This is relevant – I promise. The boys want to set her free. We ended up discussing compromise. We all give something up for the sake of something else more important at the time.
The canary’s compromise goes like this (not that she has a say in it): Zhuzhu has a beautiful home, she’s safe, never goes hungry or thirsty. But she’s confined. What would they prefer, I ask, somewhere clean, safe, where they always have food, toys, and when they’re older they can make money – or somewhere where there would be less money, less fancy stuff, but they could walk around, walk to school or bike to work?
Bereket, six, chose the more money place straight off the bat.
Keanan, nine, said he’d go for safety and making money, work very hard, until he had “enough” (his word), then move to the place of freedom.
So what’s “enough”?
To buy a nice house is his answer.
He then stated he’d start his own company, keep at it for, say, 10 years and then move to the other place where he would be more “free”.
I put to him that he might want to buy nice things in the place where he can make lots more money. But if he spends what he earns, he’d be stuck having to make more money. He said he would save. Phew.
Bereket piped up that Keanan had given him a great idea and that he too will go for working in a place that offered more money for a few years, then move to his place of freedom.
What I didn’t say to the boys is “what if?” What if they got very ill during those 10 years? What if they might not survive? Would they still make the same choices and bet on living beyond the 10 years to enjoy their best life? I didn’t put it to them, but I put it to you.
For me, my freedom is in being able to enjoy and do the little things. Daily joys, where living in the now is so important – let me explain with the words of a tweet I recently read:
Don’t waste 95 per cent of your life to weigh 5 per cent less.
Wow. Powerful stuff I thought.
My interpretation is: be inside what happens in your life and fully “feel” your lived experiences.
That elusive 5 per cent of anything – bigger house, better car, fancier hotel room – just isn’t worth the focus or the sacrifice that goes with it – sacrifice doesn’t have to be paying more, the time and energy that goes into dreaming about it, wanting, searching the web for hours salivating. That’s more precious than the money because it takes you away from your other joys, from your “now”.
Letting go of what’s next is a powerful thing. This was brought home to me by a Ted talk that the world champion freediver Guillaume NÃ©ry gave.
In it he explains that his ability to focus on the “now” of a rope that he gazes at as he ascends is the thing that keeps him alive – just as his lungs and insides are bursting for oxygen and to take in a deep breath. If he shifts his thinking towards the surface, air, friends waiting, the finish, he is doomed.
I started implementing this in daily life. Thinking of the “rope”. Reflecting on, feeling, processing, experiencing the “now”. It has been fantastic.
I so don’t want to sound like a self-help book, but I mean this: really be “in” the moment. Think about what gives you more joy: a new phone, car or wardrobe, or reading a book you’re interested in, or buying great quality coffee and a super machine that makes you your perfect cup every time.
Don’t let the big stuff take over your ambition and life. I don’t mean be reckless. I mean love the small stuff and stop hankering after the future 5 per cent. I have ambition: not to be a caged observer of life. Sorry Zhuzhu.
Nima Abu Wardeh describes herself using three words: Person. Parent. Pupil. Each day she works out which one gets priority, sharing her journey on finding-nima.com
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