As I approach the point in my own life now where I begin to consider having children, I can’t stop thinking about my dad. What went through his head just before he died?! Did he feel like he’d spent all the time with his kids that he had always wanted to? It pains me to know that he probably didn’t.
This begs a question which has been a continual source of motivation for me of late. The question being; What will your children remember about you when they grow up? I haven’t even got kids yet, but round and around and around this question goes.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and looking back on my childhood days, at the age of 31 I know and fully understand the importance of keeping a roof over one’s head as well as the importance of making enough so you and those close to you can survive. For this reason, I feel completely indebted to my old man for raising me on his own, even if we didn’t see eye to eye, very often. As I approach a time in my life where I look at these years ahead of me as my time to have children of my own, I realise that the way I want to do things is really rather different to how my old man did it. My earliest memories consist mostly of waking up with my dad already gone to work, walking 45 minutes to school each morning, walking home, experimenting in the kitchen and waiting until my dad arrived home at 7pm to cook us a very bland meal. My old man was not a gifted chef bless him. Enthusiastic sure, but far from gifted.
Working 12 hours a day and doing his domestic chores on the weekend, my old man to my knowledge spent the last 23 years of his life without pursuing a single hobby or passion. This I struggle to relate to as my passions are all that drive me, but I know that living like this wouldn’t have affected the old boy. However, on top of this, he also spent his last 23 years too busy to take his son to football training, athletics, watch him ride a bike for the first time, learn to play guitar or ever play a single gig. This, where I am right now in my life makes me feel pretty sorry for my dad, and I know that this would have affected the old boy throughout the last leg of his journey.
Time. It all seems to come down to time. Time spent doing A is time that can’t be spent doing B and vice versa. When we inevitably lay down on our death beds we’ll no doubt be devastated that we didn’t take our children to football practice and watch every minute of every game.
And so, my dad’s life went as follows:
- Get a job
- Have kids
- Get divorced
- Keep working until you retire and then die straight away at aged 67 from continued exposure to asbestos.
It seems there are also literal meanings to the term I hear so many of my friends use which is ‘this job will kill me one day’, to which my response is always “I hope it doesn’t mate”.
I was 23 when my dad died and I’ve ever since seen a stark symbolism in how his life played out. To this day I’ve always thought, had he have lived another 20 years, his life would most probably have played out exactly the same.
So what’s the answer here?! Well, I think it differs from person to person, the sheer idea of ‘happiness’ or ‘a life well lived’ is a non definitive term as each person’s viewpoint is subjective. But for me, the idea of ‘happiness’ is largely about time. The time I have in this life, how that is spent, whether the sleep-work-play ratio is anywhere near balanced.
This notion of time has been a continual source of amazement to me. Having worked a job in the UK public sector for almost a decade, which came fully equipped with a commute of up to two hours each way at times, I’ve felt first-hand the deep unrest and discomfort that this lifestyle and routine produces.
They say that we learn the most from the people we decide we don’t want to end up like. Well, a time in my life came where I decided, against my old mans final wishes, that the secure life just wasn’t for me. In fact, I’m not sure how ‘secure’ any jobs within the public sector really are right now, when you consider that some 40% of jobs are predicted to be taken over by Artificial Intelligence over the next twenty or so years. Technology is at the crux of the working world that we live in, and this only looks to become more prevalent in the future, so we might as well make the technology work for us.
When deciding to re-skill and learn a digital education I was introduced to a model of online income through the academy I studied with. This model involves a largely automated process, which means that not only can I be paid without needing to be at a computer, but I can be paid numerous times without needing to work more. One of these systems is referred to as ‘affiliate marketing’, and involves placing other people’s products and services in front of who you think would benefit from them the most. To say that this is a booming field of work would be a bit of an understatement… we only have to look at the state that Toys R Us has been left in by Amazon to understand the power of online marketing and E-commerce. One of these stores let affiliates sell its products, one didn’t.
And so my quest continues. As I continue to grow my largely automated online income streams, I do so with a clear vision as to why I’m doing it. When I have kids, I don’t want to be working 12 hours each day and miss every single milestone in their journey. I want to be that dad with the camera, filming every second of their childhood and playing it back to them when they’re old enough to find it funny. The dad who dresses up as Santa at Christmas, makes enough money so the kids can go on all the school trips, always has time to take them to football training and practice with them in the park every day. Above all, I want my kids to know that I’m always there and will always be able to have the time for them that they truly want.
I want my kids to experience everything I didn’t have growing up.
So, here’s a question. What’s your why? Can you relate, and do you want your children to also experience a different life to that which you did growing up? If so, have you thought about creating your own largely automated digital income stream to free up that time? If you haven’t, then I advise that you at least consider it.
Whatever your strategy in going forward into parenthood, I feel it would be wise that you keep that picture vivid in your mind of how you want your children to remember you when you are gone. For one day you will be, we all will. And all that will be left are memories.