In chess, it’s checkmate. In sports, it’s winning the championship. In the First World War, it was the crippling of the German economy.
What’s your endgame? What do you want your life to be like?
As I was thinking about this yesterday, I drew two columns in my notebook. The left hand side was titled, “What I want.” The right hand side was titled, “Why is that valuable to others?”
Yes, you have to spend time reflecting on where you want to go and why. But to a certain extent, it’s useless. Selfish even. This is something I picked up from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You. Thinking about what you want is selfish. You’re focused on you. You’re asking, “what can the world give me?” Instead, you should be asking, “what can I give the world?”
If you want to attain all the things listed in the left column, you need to answer the question in the right column. What you want doesn’t matter if it doesn’t provide value to anyone else.
I may want to have a location independent job and be able to work from anywhere at anytime. But to do that, I have to figure out how that can be valuable to others.
I may want to read and write for a living. Great. But it’s a useless ambition until I discover how that is beneficial to someone else.
I may want to spend my time meeting and connecting with interesting individuals. Sounds good. But unless that is something that helps another person, it remains a dream.
Frame what you want from other people’s perspective. If X is what you want, great. But how does that help? Why should you get it? Why do you deserve it?
Your success is tied to your ability to create value for others. If you create value, you get to keep a slice. If you don’t create value, you’ll have a hard life.
So for everything you desire, spend some time re-framing it. Figure out what you want. But more importantly, seek to understand why and how it’s valuable to others. Then you might actually get it.