Yesterday, I went for a stroll in Madison Square Park with my friend Dan Kimmerling who was visiting from the west coast. Dan one of the most thoughtful, intelligent and empathetic seed investors I know. Every time I get together with him, I walk away with nuggets of wisdom, insight and/or inspiration about a range of topics including the venture business, startup life and philosophy.
We were discussing that nagging and unsettling feeling that many of us often experience when things don’t seem to be perfect in life. It’s that feeling that ultimately forces us to start considering big life decisions such as making a career change, starting a new venture, leaving a relationship, moving to a new city and so on.
Dan said something that stuck with me and has been on replay in my head over the last twenty four hours:
“There is no perfection. Don’t allow the desire for the future perfect to be the enemy of the present sufficient. Because the future perfect is an illusion, once achieved, will suggest yet another future perfect.”
I’ve fallen into this mental trap more times than I’d probably like to publicly admit. It’s so tempting and easy to find dissatisfaction in our lives especially living in New York where the markers of success are always in our face and constantly moving higher and higher.
That voice in our head is incessantly chirping away: If only I had a better job. If only I made more money. If only my company made these strategic changes. If only I were able to buy that fancy shirt. If only I could date that perfect person. If only my boss didn’t Slack me at 7am. If only I had my own fund. If only I could go to yoga in the middle of the day. If only. If only. If only.
As Dan pointed out, the future perfect is an illusion so once we arrive at that destination yet another one will emerge. We eventually find ourselves in a never ending quest to chase perfection. We never feel at home.
I’m not suggesting that we get complacent and put our hopes and dreams aside. I hope every single human on the planet is able to create a life that is filled with joy, happiness and fulfillment. I genuinely do. I’m purely suggesting that we become aware of when our future perfect is clouding our perspective and simply acknowledge that some goodness does exist in the present sufficient.