You’ve likely heard about the tale of the ant and the grasshopper, right? The grasshopper was all about fun and games during summer, while the ant was busting its butt getting ready for winter. When winter finally came, the grasshopper was starving, but the ant was surviving. If you think about it in today’s psychology terms, the ant is a master of delayed gratification, while the grasshopper is a “you only live once” kind of person.
In the realm of work, our society has for too long championed the concept of delayed gratification — work hard, make money and save for the future (a future that might never come). While living every day like it’s your last is a foolish option, delayed gratification can come when it’s too late.
How do we find the balance between these two? How do we find balance between work and play, so that we not only survive, but thrive?
In his book Die with Zero, Bill Perkins emphasizes viewing life as the sum of experiences. Your daily, monthly, or once in a lifetime experiences are what make you, you. Recognizing this paves the way for a more purposeful investment in experiences, ideally as early as possible.
Regardless of the wealth you accumulate, if you devote endless hours of your life to its pursuit, only to leave it all behind when you pass away, it will be wasted time. That’s why shifting your focus to investing in experiences early on, rather than later in life, can be such a transformative mindset. You may wonder, “What if I’m young and don’t have much money?” The beauty of youth is that you need less money to create memorable experiences. Sharing a hostel room with 15 strangers may not seem appealing in your 40s, but when you’re in your 20s, it can be an adventure of a lifetime.
Experiences can be anything that brings you joy: traveling, having a quiet day at home, spending time with your family, starting a creative project or contributing to a cause. They can be simple or spectacular, depending on the person and also on the season of life.
We all need to be mindful of how much life energy in each age we want to spend on having joyful experiences and how much on making money. Remember, a high salary doesn’t equate to more income if it demands too much life energy, leaving you little time for other activities. Always factor in this hidden cost.
When you choose to invest in experiences, not only does it bring joy in the moment, but it also pays a beautiful memory dividend. Each time you recall these experiences, they’re re-lived, shaping you into the person you are today. While material objects may come and go, memories are irreplaceable. Plus, sharing your memories with others is a delightful experience in itself.