You must build interests or die tryin’ – preface to Interest Mapping
In 2014 I had all of my eggs in one basket. Then something crashed into me and I dropped the basket.
The eggs broke.
I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to put all my eggs in one basket. Despite the conventional wisdom.
It’s easy to fall into the trap when everything is going well – an example that will keep repeating itself is housing. When the market is hot, it’s hard for people who have never put eggs in baskets before to understand that the temperature will eventually change.
They stretch themselves more and more to get into more and more properties, taking out too much debt but then all-of-a-sudden…
A Global Financial Crisis or Great Depression comes along. All that progress is lost overnight. It had been sunny everyday, and then one day there was a thunderstorm out of nowhere.
But my dodgy investment was not a financial one
In 2014 I was only recently out of school and was not investing money at all. But self-esteem, fulfillment, meaning… these were things that I had to build. But I did not know how.
When the property market is hot, people who don’t understand investing or diversification resort to the default – they look at and copy what everyone else is doing.
Margaret and John next door bought another property… so shouldn’t we?
For me this was the very bare-minimum university and partying lifestyle. I cared a lot about film-making but only did the odd course here and there – very little creating. To be quite frank, I placed a lot of emphasis on trying to fill the meaning void with Romantic Relationships…
That was a recipe for disaster.
Other people put their eggs in other baskets.
An inability to build meaning leads many people to make the same mistake I’ve made: Placing too much expectation on one area of life. Relationships are a common and risky one, often manifesting in neediness and ‘clinginess’.
For other people it is work. It is what I refer to as busyness – distracting oneself with long hours on the Pleasure Treadmill and putting off the emptiness inside until Sunday comes around.
On Sunday, you get a break and your mind catches up with you. And Astro, the dog that runs your brain, starts barking wildly. It’s what Victor Frankl referred to as Sunday Neurosis.
“That kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”
– Victor Frankl
Diversify your sources of meaning and fulfillment
Imagine you had $10 million. Would you buy a $10 million mansion, put in a celebrity tenant who pays you rent and continually provides you income?
You could, but what if a meteor fell and destroyed the home? Are you insured for that?
Instead, you might buy ten houses each worth $1 million each. And each of these will provide you income. And it is far less likely that ten meteors will fall on all ten of your properties.
In the same way, please, for your own sake, diversify the things that give you a sense of fulfillment. I’ve talked already about the importance of other people and this cannot be overstated. We discussed that here and here.
Being connected to others is a vital cog in the machine of your life. The science on that is pretty clear – but you don’t need the science. Audit your own life – what is common amongst the high’s and low’s?
What I’m about to show you next will not only provide you a different ‘asset class’, but make it easier to really connect with people.
But first I want to touch on the feeling of having all your eggs broken. If you recall, this is what happened to me in particular around 2014-2015 most painfully.
The eggs analogy is a good one. We think of eggs and what comes to mind is some form of meal. Scrambled eggs. Poached eggs with a side of salmon. Egg mayo even.
But to a bird, her eggs are her children, waiting to come into the world.
To a bird, her eggs are the most significant part of her existence – her contribution to nature, her purpose.
The eggs are new life, the future.
It is these eggs that were crushed. My hopes for the future, my biggest reasons for breathing and being.
And when they were gone I felt for a moment like I had nothing. No passions, no interests, nothing to pursue.
Just broken, worthless egg shells to sulk over – fragments of a life that could have been, but never quite was.
The worst part was that I was sulking for a long time, time that I can’t get back.
And so we must build interests or die tryin’
When you hit a tightrope, it will flicker momentarily but then come back to firm tension. It is not perturbed for long.
We want to be the tightrope.
If your eggs are stowed in different baskets, and if you have multiple properties, it is still disappointing when an egg is broken or one of your houses is struck by a meteor. But it doesn’t break the rope of your life… it just wriggles it momentarily.
Interest Mapping was introduced to me by my good friend Scott McKeon – it is a ten-minute life-changing exercise that helps you discover interests and diversify the many ways you find joy, fulfillment, meaning, new people and new opportunities in life.
What is an interest?
An interest is a very broad and vague term. It can refer to almost anything you see yourself passionately engaged by or curious in.
Interests canvas (but are not limited to) sports, hobbies, discussion areas, industries, artistic creations, ideas and any range of things.
Another way of answering this question is to point out that interests, in the context of your life, are passive assets that deliver ongoing value.
The same way a tenant pays you rent to live in your property to provide you income, these ‘interests’ act as assets. Unlike a property, you don’t need to save your pennies over years to buy-in. The interest mapping exercise takes around ten minutes.
If I’d done this ten minute exercise when I left school, I probably would not have hit such a crisis point in 2014.
What is Interest Mapping?
Check out the full dedicated post on interest mapping here. The simple overview is pulling out of your head a list of of your truest interests.
The upside of this seemingly simple task is significant. Interestingly most people struggle to identify a healthy range of richly defined interests!
How does Interest Mapping change life?
But the value of writing out and ‘mapping’ these interests, even just once, changes your journey through life’s doors. It locates interests you didn’t realise you had, draws them out of hiding and then…
Newer and better doors reveal themselves to you. The opportunities to dive further into these interests becomes your reality.
This is the very process that extends the balance sheet of your life, which gives you more lines and ideally more ‘green’.
When one avenue is blocked off, new ways out of difficult times remain available – things, projects and activities that you can supplement from when one asset is suffering or underperforming.
You must build interests or die tryin’
Start the Interest Mapping Exercise today.
Who do you think of when you read this piece? Would this ‘open a door’ for someone you know?
Don’t forget to share it with them. After all, the best way to open a thousand doors for you is to open doors for others.