Getting Wiser Or Just Older?

I turn 44 today. Thankfully I don’t look as old as that number does when it’s written down. But I’m certainly no spring chicken anymore, so as I get ready to spend the day with my family, I’ll be pondering a few questions…

Am I Getting Wiser or Just Older?
Getting older means my left heel started hurting like hell this Fall, and most nights I’m ready for bed the second my last bite of dinner is descending. I can’t explain why “my ankle is just sh!tty now,” but at least I know why I’m so tired as the clock approaches 9:00 pm. I now wake up at least two hours earlier than I have most of my life.

It’s the only way to stay ahead of family and work routines, and the great wisdom I’ve respected in others over the years boils down to this: just don’t get behind. If you’re even halfway smart and stay in your routines over months and years, you can do anything you want to do. That last sentence is a reminder to myself when I blow certain routines in the coming weeks and months.

Do I Actually Appreciate What I Have?
Nobody is immune from wanting more than they have, so it’s pointless to pretend you’re all Zen and don’t want stuff in a capitalist society. But there’s a difference between working toward what you want and measuring yourself against what you don’t have. It’s the difference between joy and misery. I slip into measuring myself against what I don’t have on a daily basis, and there are two things I’ve been working on to avoid this.

First, my friend Brad recently reminded me that envy is the only one of the seven deadly sins that has no upside. None. Just misery. Remembering this is especially handy when it comes to the pursuit of crap like clothes, cars, and homes–all of which I covet just like the next person.

Second, I started writing down Three Things I’m Grateful For seven days a week. It was prompted by Tim Braheem, a coach who specializes in my industry, when he was speaking at a conference this summer. He said to do it for 30 days. As of today I’ve done it for 201 days and it’s changed my whole perspective on sh!t. As Tim said that day, in order to have what you want, start by wanting what you have.

Can I Have A Great Family, Career, And Entrepreneurial Pursuits?
My wife and I have been very happy together for almost 20 years as we’ve both worked constantly. It wasn’t until we had a kid that things got more difficult. I’ve really struggled with building other endeavors on top of my job because being a good family man is more important. But as noted above, it’s all about routines, so my 44th year is when I plan to figure this one out without sacrificing the family routines I’ve built.

Is What I’m Going After All I Am?
As Louis CK says in the ankle video linked above, I’m forty so I’m half dead basically. Which begs the question: what’s the point of all this routine? I have no idea honestly. For most of my life, I’ve subscribed to another pop culture gospel spoken by Al Pacino in the movie Heat: “All I am is what I’m going after.”

From the time I heard these words in college, it was about putting myself through school, then getting a job, then stop living paycheck to paycheck, then finding a real woman, then building a career, then buying a house … and on and on. Wouldn’t it be nice if being a parent changed my view and made me deeper than what I’m going after? But now I’m just going after things that will help my kid build all of those things faster than I did.

The only difference now is that I try harder to be happy along the way. And maybe that’s all the difference.