Call it a post-music festival tailspin, but I want to go back to Austin City Limits (ACL).
But then again, I actually don’t.
For those who aren’t familiar, ACL is a three-day music festival held at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, similar to a Coachella or Bonnaroo. Bands play from noon ’til 10pm, and people bounce around from stage-to-stage, sipping beers while trying to stay out of the heat.
It’s a great weekend if you’ve never been to one. Austin is an amazing city, the music was great, and I had the pleasure of hanging with 10 of my closest friends.
It’s anything a guy could want. It’s an experience you work for, literally.
But then the weekend ends, and after three sleepless nights and early mornings, it’s all your body - and mind - can handle.
And, of course, in that moment, when you want nothing more than to recover in bed, you’re thrust back into the workweek on Monday without the support of good people and good times. It’s a culture shock. One that’s surprisingly jarring, seeing as music festivals only span Friday through Sunday.
Then, as I’m sure you know, it takes a while to reboot and get back into the swing of things. You essentially lose a few days of productivity.
Is it worth it? Hell yeah.
But that doesn’t change the fact that you sacrifice upwards of a week - if not more - that could’ve been used to push you closer to your future goals.
So, how can we enjoy weekends like the one I just had, while still remaining diligent and focused?
Read above. It is, isn’t it?
But what is happiness? Because I see it two ways: It’s the enjoyment of the moment but it’s also progression toward a higher goal.
We need both. We need fun experiences with no responsibility but we also need times of diligent focus. Unfortunately, it’s hard to have both in succession.
So what do we do? Do we give up one for the other?
No, of course not.
But we have to be honest about what’s important in our lives. If there’s a goal you want to achieve within a four-week period, and you want it above all else, you might have to forgo a raucous weekend like the one I described above. However, if there’s a momentary experience you desire, it might make sense to sacrifice a week of productivity to have it.
I suppose the bottom line is to define your happiness. What’ll bring you the most value and joy? And not only that, what will give you the most lasting value and joy?
Experiences are great, but it’s not uncommon to give up long-term satisfaction for a short-term thrill. Conversely, it’s common to focus too much on the future, thereby giving up the joy of the present moment.
Therefore, outlining what makes you happy is the first step to balancing your current happiness with the achievement of your future goals.
I’ll give you another conundrum.
Here I am again, obviously, back in Austin, for the second time this year. I’ll be staying for another month, bringing my total to 60 days in 2016, and counting.
From the outside looking in, that's an amazing way to live life. And honestly, from the inside out, it’s pretty great, too.
But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not "giving it my all" in regards to my future goals. Sure, it’s up to me to be diligent in my work, but when you live in a new and exciting place, it’s easy to feel as if you’re on a long-term vacation.
So I worry that I’m giving myself the joy of the present moment at the expense of my future.
But even as I write that I laugh at how dumb it sounds. i work hard and I know it. The fact that I do it in Los Angeles one month and Austin the next doesn’t change that fact.
And in actuality, after I achieve all my lofty goals, do you know what I want my life to look like? I want to split my time between Austin and Los Angeles. But…I’m already doing that. I’m literally living my dream.
Of course, things would be slightly different if I’d already achieved all my long-term goals.
I’d probably own a house out here instead of renting Airbnb’s and staying in friends’ spare bedrooms. I’d have a book deal so my job would literally be to work on my creative passion. And I’d have more free time since my fiction writing would be paying the bills.
So yes, it could be a little better, but at the same time, I’m still living my life now, exactly as I want to.
Which means you can still live for short-term thrills and work toward long-term endeavors. I’m literally doing it as I type.
It’s up to you, really.
Define what you want in the present and outline what you need to do to achieve your future goals. Weight the importance of each against each other.
Then, work toward achieving both: short-term contentment and long-term happiness.
You’ll have to prioritize one over the other every once in a while. But ultimately, if you plan, you can work hard toward your future goals, and at the same time, live the exact life you want each and every day.
Trust me. I’m doing it.