I Wanted the Best
After I started my career and had done some traveling throughout the US, I came to the conclusion I wanted what I viewed as the best — city to live in, friends, job, pay, entertainment, skill levels and activities (skiing, hiking, rock climbing, reading,etc.), restaurants, trips, etc.
I always wondered why most people lived where they grew up. It could be a city or town with very little of note, but they would stay. Maybe it was the friends. That would make sense.
But in my case, I grew up in Portland OR and then went to college in another Oregon city and took a job with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. So where I grew up stayed behind, many miles away. That eliminated any hometown bias.
As I traveled, my job often had me staying in many large cities for 4–6 weeks each. Long enough to get a good look at them. And I traveled alone so if I wanted to enjoy myself, I was going to have to meet people, to put myself out there.
And after doing that for a few years, I could see a big different between cities and what they offered. So I made a conscious decision:
- When I wanted to change jobs and leave Cincinnati, I would only live in cities that I loved: Boston, NYC, New Orleans, Chicago, LA, SF or Portland. I never understood why I should ever move to where my company took me or where the opportunities were. I chose SF since it had everything I loved: beautiful, small, great restaurants, fabulous entertainment (the second best jazz city in the US, the best restaurants, one of the top five symphonies, good theater and the second best opera city). World-class views from high-rises. Hard to beat the weekend trips (Carmel, Yosemite, Tahoe, Gold Rush Country, wine country). Great large city park for running and walking (Golden Gate Park). And a large number of available women. There seemed to be more women than men in my age range (late 20's). So that’s where I lived for 40 years.
- I loved great food and dined in the best restaurants.
- I loved entertainment so went to the great jazz clubs, the SF Symphony, The SF Opera, etc.
- SF had one men’s store that experts felt had the best clothes in the US. I found that was true and bought all of my clothes there.
- I felt the same about the car I drove, the office I’d work in, etc.
- And, or course, I felt the same way about the men and women that I met and associated with. I tried to hang around with those that were more successful than I was. I did not spend any time with people who were toxic, negative, overly selfish or clearly weren’t going anywhere.
- And while we’re at it, why not get some good mentors? I had a few. They were truly the best. One gave me a spiritual life and another helped my career path. Invaluable. Both are listed in the only book I wrote: A Fool’s Errand — Why Your Goals Are Falling Short and What You Can Do About It. Published in January, 2021. That book will give you a different side of me for the first 35 years. Let’s just say that I was a failure. But that’s another story. A good story as it turns out.
- I felt the same way about travel. I couldn’t afford to travel the way I wanted until I was in my mid-thirties. But from then on my goal was two European trips per year and I wanted to stay and eat at… Well, you know.
- My wife and I had a goal in all of our travels. We wanted to understand how the West became dominant. Not the best, just dominant. How did that happen? So we traveled almost exclusively in an area bounded by the Silk Route on the east, Ireland on the west, northern Africa (Egypt) on the south and Russia and Scandinavia on the north. That was enough for one lifetime. That leaves out some wonderful countries in Asia and the Americas. We made a few exceptions but very few.
I’m not talking about wanting something because it’s high status. Nor am I suggesting coveting things because others will be envious. Nor because they’re expensive, large or flashy. That often reflects personal weakness and a poor self image.
Once someone called me an elitist. And I wondered “what’s wrong with that?” I interpreted that to mean that I wanted “the best”. Now who wouldn’t want to hang around with people who they determined were “the best”. Unless they were phonies or folks with oversize egos. Or who wouldn’t want to do “the best”? So I ignored that comment.
Of course, budget was initially an issue. But that just meant that I’d do less of the costly things.
It matters a great deal whether or not you have to plan for children and grand children. We didn’t. That, of course, makes a big difference in money and time.
Don’t you think the same way? Don’t you like the best (defined as the best for YOU)? If not, why not? If cost is the reason, that’s a very good reason until you rectify that situation. You just do less of the expensive stuff. You buy fever suits. You get the picture.
And then if you work on your “future self” (look that up and read about it). Your future self can be programmed with how you want to live.
So you read some self-help books and blogs. And you read high level literature, Great Books, philosophy, bios and history. I had to do that since I only studied math and engineering physics in college and knew nothing of literature.
If you don’t understand the importance of high level and extensive reading, then read about that on Medium.com.
Read 30–50 books a year but only high quality books. Why do this? Because reading is the best way to grow, get better, get smarter, make better decisions. This is the best prep you could ever have for having a future self that will live the way we described earlier (if that’s what you want). If it isn’t what you want, stop reading now: you’re wasting your time.
Everything in this blog has one or more books supporting these statements. They are required reading for those that want a great life as they define it.
Don’t you want — the best career, the best spouse, the best family, the best city, the best home, the best entertainment, the best health, the best friends, the best continued learning, the best mentor(s), the best weather, the best give-back programs? You decide.
So my closing question is “why not the best?” For you? Not my best. There is something to the mental practice that results in folks getting what they wish for, what they imagine that they will get [“it’s 2030 and I am (insert goal)” Always written or stated in the present tense. That’s what your future self wants to hear.]
Why not have such an ambitious goal in life? Why not “go for the gold”?