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Beware of the deferred life plan

‘It is foolish to postpone enjoyment of your ordinary life until you are more successful, more secure, or more loved than you are today.’  Timothy Ray Miller

In his book The Monk and the Riddle, entrepreneur Randy Komisar warns against going for what he calls ‘the deferred life plan’. The term, as Randy Komisar uses it, refers to choosing careers, projects etc. that we think will lead to financial stability, and postponing what we really want to do with our life until an undefined time in the future when we finally feel we can afford it.

According to Randy Komisar, the deferred life plan does not pay off, regardless of how driven you are. For starters, what happens if despite all your effort and hard work you do not reach the big promotion or the big salary you were hoping for? Also, is financial security really worth sacrificing the best years of your life for an indefinite time in the future? How much is your time worth? And when will you consider yourself to be financially secure? Bigger paychecks often lead to a more expensive lifestyle and therefore higher expenses – financial security is relative. Most importantly of all: why not work hard because you find the work meaningful, rather than so you can move on to the next thing?

The concept of the deferred life plan is highly relevant to thinking about your legacy project, particularly in light of our discussion of failure over the last few blog posts. It is often the case that when a legacy project fails, the legacy creator starts having second doubts about dedicating their life to creating legacy instead of settling for something safe and predictable. Seeing your peers in cushy jobs and going on expensive holidays doesn’t help - especially when you’re barely making ends meet while having to deal with failure and the ‘I told you so’ stares of those around you. And worse than that, you start doubting yourself, your own abilities, your vision for the future.

So amidst all this, the deferred life plan starts looking better by the minute. ‘I’ll go back into a safe job for a couple of years - once I’m financially stable enough, I’ll go back to creating legacy’, you tell yourself. There’s nothing wrong with wanting safety and predictability in your life – most of us do. And if going into a safe job will tie you over for a while, fine. But don’t postpone creating legacy until that job is over, or until you feel you are financially stable.

Start your next legacy project as soon as you can mentally handle it – in parallel with your safe job, if you must. Don’t let a single day pass by when you are not working on creating legacy, when you are not either planning for or doing work on a legacy project. Otherwise, you are not using your safe job to make creating legacy possible – instead, you are simply deluding yourself by adopting the deferred life plan. The couple of years become a couple of decades, and a couple of decades more – and before you know it, it is too late.

The time is now.

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  • Simon McCay March 2, 2010, 1:36 pm

    Hi Alexa

    I’m really enjoying your Blog and this piece on “Deferred Life” rang true with me – seems like the past 10 years of my life! What I have found though is that although being true to yourself and your dreams is difficult (those Dips sure can drag)the successes are so much sweeter and one’s feeling of self respect is much greater than ever before. See you in class!