Years ago, the most important question you could ask yourself is what you’d do if money were no object.
If all of your basic needs were taken care of and you had disposable income to do with whatever you pleased, how would you spend your time? What would you do with your days?
The answer is supposed to shine a light into a corner of your psyche. It’s intended to reveal your true values, intentions, and dreams.
But that question is no longer thrown around in self-improvement circles because it doesn’t matter anymore.
For many people pursuing their dreams, money is no longer the prime motivator. People do not idealize 9–5 office jobs the way they once did. People are passionate, if not obsessed, with creating a life they’d want to live even if they didn’t have to work.
You probably already know what you’d do if you didn’t need money.
But what would you want to do with your life if you didn’t have social media?
At first thought, you probably don’t imagine life would be much different than it is now, albeit a bit more relaxed and at times, less connected to your family and friends.
But really think about it: What would you do if you could no longer have a social media account, ever again, for the rest of your life? How much would your hopes, dreams, plans, and anxieties shift? Would you really care about getting new clothes? Would you really be that hung up on how your house looks? Would you really want the responsibility of that new position if it didn’t come with the two-line bio atop your public profiles?
The truth is that when we dream up the lives we’d like to live, we imagine how they’ll look online. We are so uptight about how successful we are because we know we are graphing together a message to the world about who we are and how well we are doing. We are building lives that we love to look at, but maybe not ones we really want to exist in.
If you’ve ever wanted something really, really badly and then got it and found you were no happier, or that your mind was simply onto the next thing to obsess over, you’ve already experienced this.
You thought that thing was going to change your life.
You imagined a whole new self, based on those put-together clothes or that position of authority or those bragging rights at the reunion or that significant other you couldn’t wait to make FBO.
The odd collateral we pay for documenting our lives online is that we end up creating what we want to share, not sharing how we really live.
But the answer to this question is who you really are and what you really want.
So pay attention. Because if something, or someone, is no longer appealing to you if you couldn’t tell the world about it, you shouldn’t have it in the first place. And if you’d be more relaxed about how you look or what you do each day if you didn’t think you had to be sharing pieces of it publicly, that’s how you really feel.
And if you’d be more content, and less anxious, and more disinclined to cook perfect meals and get washboard abs and travel to certain places and always stay starving for the next ring in the career ladder, that’s how you should really be living.
When performing your life for other people is no longer an option, you begin to learn who you really are and what you really care about.
And if you don’t, the person you‘d like to be will begin to eclipse the one you really are. And in the shadows of the darkness, you’ll wonder why the closer you get to what you think you want, the more insatiable you become.