Million Dollar Camaros
On the office wall of my junior high school guidance counselor hung a poster featuring a bright red 1969 Camaro RS. The caption below read something like, “Is this car really worth the $1.2 million it will cost you?” Then in smaller print below was the explanation and the point of the poster: “If you buy it instead of investing in a college degree, it will cost you $1.2 million over the course of your lifetime.” In smaller print below that, the poster explained how $1.2 million was the difference between the average lifetime earnings of a person with a high school diploma and a person with a college degree. At that time, the sticker price of the new Camaro was roughly the same as a college degree. Of course, the poster’s purpose was to encourage students to go to college and earn a degree.
The principle, however, extends into the deepest recesses of every part of our everyday lives, and this post is not about getting an education.
It’s about having a life.
And more specifically, having the life you really want.
In the past I’ve posted about the importance of learning to delay gratification. (The Best Crystal Ball…is a Marshmallow) But delaying gratification is pointless unless you have two things: A picture and a plan. Unless you have a clear image of your preferred future, learning to wait for things is just an exercise. And pictures without plans are nothing but daydreams.
Some of the wisest words ever spoken to me were these: “Good things are the worst enemies of the best things.” Doing good things give us a temporary sense of satisfaction or enjoyment. Doing best things gives us the life we want.
Doing good things does not require a picture or a plan.
Doing best things is not possible without both.
Having a picture and a plan allows you to roll out of bed in the morning ask yourself two questions: “What needs to be different at the end of this day so I can claim progress toward my picture?” And “What behaviors do I need to plan in order to make that difference happen?”
Doing the “best” things moves you toward your goals. But without a picture and a plan, there are no “best” things. Only good things. And good things are the worst enemies of the best things.
Get a picture and a plan, and every day, every hour, do the things that best move you toward your goals. That’s how you have the life you really want.
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