A few months ago, Nabeel Azeez said, “The more children I have, the more money I make.”
At the time, Anna was still pregnant with Henry, so I technically did not have any children yet.
So, I naturally doubted the validity of the idea. However, in the 4 months since Henry has been on this planet, I’ve had some experiences and made a few revelations that lend heavy credence to this idea.
The coolest thing about having a child is how much the experience demands of you. This is obvious in the amount of time and energy it takes to simply make sure they make it through each day. But where it’s perhaps not so clear is how it forces you to prioritize your life.
Every dream, hope, and ambition you’ve ever had that is not related to having a family is now either indefinitely put on hold or fast-tracked to the front of the queue.
You either become the best version of yourself more quickly than you ever thought possible, or you become prey to the monsters of entropy and memories of your “freedom.”
I’ll elaborate on both scenarios. The theme is specific, but there is a larger lesson that I’ll elaborate on at the end.
Ghosts of dreams past
Most people live as if the next great adventure of their life is waiting around the corner.
Year after year, they do the same things and learn no new skills. Their bodies slowly rot from lack of sunshine, sleep, and exercise and a surplus of booze, processed food, and drugs. If they’re lucky enough to be in a relationship, it’s one of convenience and settling where each person does just enough to not be entirely repulsive to the other, but never enough to invite any real competition.
This sounds sad, but I know that many of you reading these words know several people like this. Many of them manage to get into a situation where they reproduce.
Now, this post isn’t a commentary on the stability of the home for the child. If it comes down to a choice between going after the life you want and providing a stable two-parent household for a child, then you better be as boring as paint. This post isn’t about that choice.
This post is about how a child makes you consider what the next 20 years of your life looks like. If you’ve been living a life of “what if,” “maybe,” and “one day,” then your odds of ever making any of your dreams come true fall to just above zero. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the biggest one is this:
You will never have more time, energy, and resources than before you have a child. If you weren’t in the process of making things happen before you had one, you will not magically find the motivation now that you are pressed.
The express train to success
“An object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by an external force.”
This is Newton’s 1st law of motion from physics. It also applies to our behavior.
Looking closely at the wording of this law, you can see that it doesn’t say if the object in motion will slow down, speed up, or change direction entirely. Just that it will “change its state.”
If you’re already in motion, starting a family will not slow down your professional ambitions. Instead, it demolishes any distractions that you were letting stick around because you had the time and energy. Although you now have the demands of a family weighing you down, you have nothing else but your ambition.
There are no hobbies or arguments on social media. Your being gets focused and dialed in. Even the weight of your responsibilities functions like a muscle, generating force as it requires energy. But this only works if you’re in motion.
If you aren’t already in motion, I fear the inertia of your new responsibilities and lack of energy will prevent you from speeding up and taking a shorter path to your goals.
Not the only path to progress
There are many other motivations for and impediments to progress besides having children.
I don’t want people to think I’m saying that having kids is the only way to fast track your goals and progress. More importantly, I don’t want people to interpret this email as me saying that not having kids dooms you to a life of stagnation or regression.
My life, and the life of countless others constantly demonstrate what is possible when you decide that enough is enough.
And that brings me to the final point of this email: deciding when enough is enough.
If you aren’t already on the path to make more of your life, leave a mark, and beef up your obituary, then the introduction of any obstacle or responsibility won’t make that any easier. To use another example:
It’s never too late to change your life. But the older you get, the harder it becomes.
Even if your life is terrible, you get used to it, and change is hard. So you won’t change.
Because even shit stops stinking if you sit in it long enough.
The rest is up to you.
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I’m a former heavyweight pro-boxer (13-1-1) and alcoholic (Sobriety date 12/23/13), current writer, and aspiring chess master. I was raised in the projects by a single mom and failed high school, but I eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics.More Stoic Street Smarts Newsletters!