The Advantages of Viewing Your Life in 4D

Any time I take a step back and assess my life, I arrive at one of two conclusions:

  1. Stress: I’m overwhelmed because I’ve been trying to balance too many things at once
  2. FOMO: I’m missing out on so many things in an effort to focus on a few important things

And I’m sure I’m not alone — FOMO (fear of missing out) and stress are two of the most common symptoms of the common (wo)man. Not surprisingly, there’s a simple solution to both: viewing your life in 4D. To view your life in 4D, you have to incorporate the dimension of time; after all, your life exists along the continuum of time, not simply in the present. Let’s take a look at each issue adding in the perspective of time and see how it changes things.

Stress

If I can’t dedicate sufficient time to each project I’m working on to do it well, I’m too bogged down and obviously need to simplify my life. But there are so many enticing things to do that it would be a shame to only do one or two! So if we can view our life along a timeline, suddenly we remember that we have another 50, 30 or 10 years to do something new. Assuming it takes Malcolm Gladwell’s estimated 10,000 hours to become a master at something and we work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks out of the year, we can become a master in 5 years. So in a 30 year span of time, you could potentially master six different crafts! Looking down the timeline of your life suddenly opens up a host of possibilities and frees you up to focus your energy and resources on one or two things in the present.

Fear of Missing Out

The second issue — fear of missing out — happens when we get too focused on one or two things, saying “no” to everything else in order to do those things well. So while we’re becoming an engineer, our friends are off becoming nurses, chefs or designers and suddenly, we’re wishing we had chosen one of those career paths.

I’m the type of guy who will become easily fascinated with something completely random (this month’s particular fascination is biotechnology) and will dive down the rabbit hole before I know what I’ve gotten myself into.

"I don’t want to miss out on all the cool things happening in biotech!"
"I should start a biotech business while it’s still an emerging market.”
“Maybe I’ll go back to school.”

While fascinating, a career change just when you’re shifting into 3rd gear isn’t the best move. But when you look down the timeline of your life, perhaps there’s a place for that passion in the next 10-year block of time. Don’t write it off just yet. Looking at our lives in 4D is fun way to play around with dreams and ambitions while maintaining a realistic outlook on what we can handle at any given time. Happy dreaming!