Saturday, July 9, 2011

Axiom 7: Life is a Casino - How Do You Play Your Chips?

"A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.
- Dwight L. Moody

"Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.
- Benjamin Franklin

In Axiom 6: Life is a Race - How Do You Run It? I gave the analogy of life being like a race. An analogy to prove that over a person's lifetime the pattern of their actions (or in-actions) shapes how their life will turn out. Axiom 7 is to take that concept and apply it to setting priorities for the long and short term.

If you were to spend everyday living only for today your life would descend quickly into chaos. Bills would go unpaid, you might be partying at the bar every night, or hell maybe you might decide to pack up and move to far away on a whim. No doubt that living everyday with a carpe diem attitude has an air of romanticism to it but for all practical purposes the people that fail at this type of lifestyle far outweigh the successful ones. 

Then on the other end of the spectrum imagine only living for tomorrow. Sacking away money in a savings account that never seems to have enough, waiting until you're retired to take that dream vacation overseas, always talking about future plans instead of doing them. I also like to think of living for tomorrow like living each day as a routine rather than an adventure - just going through the motions, almost dead to the world.

I think most sane people would agree that everyone needs a happy medium between these two lifestyles. I know at times we seem to wonder too far to one side or the other but that's where common sense should strike and bring you back to the middle. 

Choices in life are much like gambling in a casino. If you play only the high risk bets like betting on black #17 in roulette you'll most likely be broke very quickly. On the other hand if you only play the safest games and bet the minimum you'll probably never experience the thrill of striking it rich. Why not compromise and do the safe bets mostly but take the occasional long shot?

One thing you can do to sort out choices in your life is write out a good old-fashioned pro/con chart. Make sure you examine both the emotional and logical aspects of the choice you are facing. Also examine the possible outcomes chronologically. So if you are thinking about taking a new job, for example, think about the immediate possible outcomes as well as the ones years down the road.

Careful risk assessment is the key to success.