Are You Alive?

I’ve always felt the weight of passing time. Every moment fleeting.

When I was 8 years I old I wrote in my journal about how fast the past year had gone. How can I be 8 already?

This week I turned 34 and realized I’m as close to 50, as I am to 18.

In 2017 Alex Honnold climbed the 3,000+ foot rock wall El Cap without ropes (what’s known as free soloing)! It is one of the greatest, if not the greatest human feat I’ve ever seen. I was so blown away by Alex’s mastery preparing, and then crushing the climb in the documentary Free Solo, that I saw it 3 times in theaters!

Alex is the same age as me. Whenever I encounter someone who is my age I naturally compare myself with them. While it’s distinctly human for us to compare ourselves with others, I often only do it when someone is the same relative age as me.

I try to see who they really are. What makes them tick? What’s their obsession?

The Mirror of Time

What have I accomplished with the same amount of time on earth? I don’t compare how much money they have or things they own. Instead ask myself: Am I truly living?

I feel the increasingly frenetic pace of all that is. The immensity of existence. The speed. Since I got my first laptop at 8 years old I’ve been tethered to the internet. Even when we aren’t connected, we’re still connected.

I disdain the mundane. If I’ve done something a few times, unless I’ve enjoyed it, I rarely want to do it again. Posting on social media consistently? No thanks. Editing blog images. Writing on a set schedule? Uhh…

Like many people I’m good at starting things, but struggle completing them. If I’m inspired or curious then I’m insanely driven. I don’t need schedules, or structure, or even goals to make it happen. But if I’m not interested it’s tough to go through the motions. Time is too precious to waste.

This has generally served me well in life, because I don’t waste time doing things I don’t enjoy or pursuing things I’m not into. Instead of sticking to a rigorous schedule I follow my intuition and end up getting a higher ROI for my time.

ROI in this case is highest level of joy and impact. Sometimes that means making more money in less time, and sometimes it has nothing to do with money at all.

Does Practice Make Perfect?

But we live in a world where the routine, habits, and repetition are often viewed as the path to success. Repetition and consistency are sold as the path to mastery (“practice makes perfect” “It takes 10,000 hours to master anything!” “put in the time”).

But there is an immense difference between repeating and becoming. Sure you can repeat something and get good at it, but mastery comes from becoming.

Mastery comes from obsession. Masters become the thing, the idea, the practice. They are always getting better because they have no other choice – it pulls them. It becomes them.

Alex wrote down and practiced thousands of hand and leg movements, ensuring that he felt comfortable climbing without ropes.

Alex spent his entire life preparing for that climb. It was the convergence of so many moments, starting back when he first started climbing as a kid.

Yes he had repetition and practice, but above else it was his obsession that made mastery possible.

Are You Truly Living?

Obsession is when everything else, the mundane, the noise, and the everyday fade away and you’re left with your true self. Alex feels most alive while climbing mountains. He’s playing with nature, connecting deeply with the essence of all life.

When Alex climbs you can see into his soul. He’s connecting to something deeper. He’s truly living. He’s fully alive.

But with all of the opportunities to connect and make money online, what we’re giving up is often greater than what we’re getting. We’re trading our precious time. Time that we’ll never get back.

The internet never sleeps. Neither do we.

We All Disappear One Day

So much of our time and what we create in today’s world disappears so quickly. This is the vacuum of the internet. The speed that connects us, also erases us. We all disappear.

I don’t feel alive when I’m scheduling Tweets, scrolling through Instagram, or writing a Millennial Money post that I know won’t rank on search engines.

I feel most alive when I’m creating, growing, and spending time with people I love. If it doesn’t fall into those three categories then I don’t want to spend my time on it.

How much time do you have left to spend with those you love? Not as much as you think. Check this out:

How are you spending your time?

One of the reasons I wrote Financial Freedom, was because it’s a physical book. It’s an object. It’s me outside of me. You can hold it in your hands. It doesn’t require an internet connection. It will hopefully be on some bookshelf and in libraries long after I’m gone.

The ripple of the ideas through time.

I was watching a documentary on Netflix “The American Meme” about the dark side of social media and the evaporation of content.

So much effort lost in an instant.

This moment is all there is. All there ever will be.

So how do you transcend the mundane, the routine, the blah?

How do you find your obsession?

How do you know if it’s worth your time?

Just ask yourself a simple question:

Does this make me feel alive?


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  • Comment Author image blank
    As a climber myself I can see that Honnold has an intense (probably unhealthy) obsession with the sport and quite literally thinks about nothing else. Luckily for him, as a society obsessed with human achievement he became rich on sponsorship from consumer brands but otherwise would be just another dirt bag climber living in a van eating Raman noodles. Also, although climbing brings intrinsic value for the individual it, like digital, it is completely ephemeral and changes nothing in the external world. However, what you did is create a book that as you mention is 'tangible' and will help ordinary people all over the world improve their lives, arguably much more than climbing a chunk of rock.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Amazing post, Grant. I do the same thing you do, compare myself to others based on age, especially if they're the same age or younger. I'm trying to find a way to feel alive all the time, no matter what I do. I've had many obsessions that faded away, along with the drive to do anything, once I realized them.
  • Comment Author image blank
    This one hits me in the feels. Going to go hang with my daughter now. Have a great day, -Chris
  • Comment Author image blank
    Grant, I find myself getting drawn to your words more because you say about finding meaning in moments, so inspiring! I'm glad I opened your email that put me to this blog post. Yes, it's intense but love the energy in your post :) Suma
  • Comment Author image blank
    Great article. Really makes you think. I'm glad to hear someone else felt the pressure of time at a young age. Ever since I can remember I always felt like I should be further and doing more. P.s. We are the same age, and you are definitely winning :)
  • Comment Author image blank
    Great stuff Grant. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut where you’re just going through the motions and doing what everyone else expects you to do. Sometimes it helps to stop and think for a moment, “Is what I’m doing really what I want? Does it make me happy?” I’ trying to be more intentional and thoughtful in how I spend my time. Family will always come first and I do everything I can to be there for them, whether that means date night with the wife or juggling things to make it to a track meet or soccer game. I also watch way less TV (gotta find to build my site somewhere!) and here you are sharing trailers that totally make me want to reach for the remote LOL. Both Free Solo and The American Meme will be on my watch list now.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Great stuff, Grant. I look forward to following along with your thoughts here. Hope you have a great holiday season.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Intense. Obsession can be a scary thing, especially for those who deal with OCD daily. It’s hard to clear the static from the ocd obsessed idea and real obsession. What do you think?