Ever get the feeling you were meant for more than this? I think I’m having a mid-life crisis lately.
A couple weeks ago, I turned 37. ZOMGZ. I’m almost 40. I don’t own a home or any land (thanks, student loan debt), depend on The Man’s fickle, 3%-a-year-if-you’re-lucky, goodwill to put food on the table, and drive a beat-up, 25-year old truck (which I love, to be honest) without air conditioning to and from work in the Arizona desert. I think the world of my 18-month old daughter, and I want her to grow up happy and healthy, trusting mom and dad to always support her decisions and treat her fairly. The dream is twofold: to work for myself doing something that matters, and providing better for my family as I invest more in my efforts. Easier said than done, though! Here’s a look at what I’ve figured out causes the infamous mid-life crisis.
WHY WE EXPERIENCE MID-LIFE CRISIS
We’re exposed to a firehose of marketing over the course of our lives. From the toy and junk food commercials during after-school cartoons to the car and brand name pharmaceutical commercials during prime time dramas, we’re sold the idea buying more stuff is the solution to all life’s problems.
We go to school, focused on getting good grades so we can get into college and land good jobs. I don’t know about you, but when I was in college, I was under the impression a “good job” was high paying with a minimum of physical labor.
Why do we pay teachers, truck drivers, cooks – people who directly impact our lives – so much less than we do the suits who fly private jets, order layoffs to appease faceless shareholders, and continually obstruct the political will of the people? Why are people who literally do jack shit of lasting value to the masses paid hundreds of times more than our friends and neighbors?
Face it. We’ve been institutionalized. We want more than a Pepsi – and they won’t give it to us.
They’ll give us that Pepsi, though. And a 52″ HD TV. Free with purchase of $6,000 or more on approved credit if you take it home today. (Hurry. This deal won’t last!)
WAKE UP CALL
One day, we wake up, look around at our lives, and realize none of it satisfies. The things we own actually own us. It’s all one big lie. We’ve got a huge house in a “safe” neighborhood. Our garage is full of stuff we can only use after an hour cursing at all the dusty crap we have to dig through to get to the last place we remember seeing it. Our closets are full of clothes we never wear anymore. And look at all the chores we have today! Dishes, laundry, yardwork, home and vehicle repairs. The list never ends. The more stuff we buy, the more time we have to spend taking care of it. We’re running out of time to do all the things we wanted to do with our lives. That’s the day mid-life crisis sets in. We’re pushing 40, realize we’ve spent all kinds of money acquiring things which we see ultimately own us.
HOW WE START DIGGING OUT (AND A WARNING)
Fortunately, we’ve got friends and hobbies. We love being gearheads, if not spending every night and weekend brute-forcing those filthy pieces of shit into reluctant submission. We find spending time with friends simply talking, eating, or exploring more rewarding than buying more crap. We start looking for experiences, for things built to last. We decide it’s time to live life on our terms. We buy that red sports car.
Therein lies the warning. You might be thinking, “What better experience than buying and enjoying a timeless, red sports car? It’s an investment in something which lasts, right?” Perhaps, but isn’t that just buying another thing to be cleaned, protected, maintained? Are you in a position to plunk down five-figures cash on a plaything? And will this mean you’re stuck working for The Man a while longer?
Personally, I find myself wanting to see more of the fruits of my labor. If I own my own business, busting my ass means I make more money. And if my company makes a difference in the world, even better. That’s what I’m after. I’ll gladly trade paid vacations, company healthcare contributions, and 401K match – and the maybe 3% annual raise if I’m lucky – for more personal responsibility and the freedom which comes with it.
WHAT I’M DEALING WITH, HERE
I want to work for myself. I want the freedom to call the shots, to make more money when I need it, and to spend more time with my family. That little 18-month old girl I tuck into bed every night? I want to make her breakfast and take her to school everyday. I want her to grow up seeing she doesn’t need some profiteering, corporate parasite to make a comfortable living, to know she doesn’t need stuff be happy, and to define success as helping others achieve success for themselves.
Looking around, I’m really quite happy with my life (save that student loan debt and a growing dislike for Phoenix summer weather). I’m ready to work for myself. 4+ years after starting GBXM, I know we could do good things if I worked on this full-time. Unfortunately, we’re not making any money – and I don’t really know how we will at this point.
Magazines – in whatever format – are on their way out. I’m thinking I’ll still do some kind of yearbook of the stories best reflecting our GBXM|united mission regardless, but unless 10,000 people buy copies at a $5 per-unit profit each year, it’s not enough to quit the day job, ya know? We could promote the shit out of merchandise like shirts and decals, but that’s not going to cut it, either.
I FEEL LIKE I WAS MEANT FOR MORE THAN THIS
I want more from life, ya know? Part of me wants to start a business, but part of me says, “You already have!” So how do I take GBXM – which I love, but which makes all of zero monies right now – and turn it into at least US$36k/year after taxes for a team of three people? Quick math says, $36k after taxes means $48k before, times three, equals US$144,000/yr. That’s a shitload of magazines and stickers! Moreso than that, if I’m making almost $50k/year, I’m not going to be comfortable with that until I’m contributing at least $100k/year in value to the gearheads of the world. So how is this supposed to work?
I don’t know, but that’s part of the fun. It’s also part of why I feel like I’m in a mid-life crisis. I want more. I want to do more. Gearhead training programs to help gearheads build high performance machines & lives. Gearhead events to get us together and showing the world how much we contribute to society. And I want a sports car. But the only way I’m getting one is if I build it myself. From scratch. Some things are worth it. You’re worth it.
How about you? Got any experience with mid-life crisis? Ever feel like you want something more, but can’t quite put your finger on why? Leave a comment. Let’s see if we can figure it out!