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You are not running out of time

or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Began Enjoying Infinity

Rahul Bijlani, October 2010

Hacker News Discussion


Tale of two conquerors

Early in his political career, Julius Caesar is said to have wept upon reading a biography of Alexander the Great. When asked why, he apparently said, “Do you think, I have not just cause to weep, when I consider that Alexander at my age had conquered so many nations, and I have all this time done nothing that is memorable!”

This story was seared in my memory when I read it in high school, because it spoke to my own search for achievement: I had read that at 17, Bill Gates had already created his first successful business venture. At the same age, I hadn’t even figured out where to start. It didn’t make me weep, but it did make me worry.

And so, incredibly, at 17 I genuinely wondered:

was I running out of time?

It seems amusing now – but back then I was deadly serious.

The game

You know the feeling – the feeling of being left behind in the race for achievement. Of falling back in ‘the game’. For some people, the game is keeping up with the Joneses: marrying a good catch, living in a nice house, driving the right car, having a good job, kids that do well at school. For others, it is enjoying life’s pleasures – the best vacations, the most enjoyable parties, with the most exciting partiers. Then there are people who are forever pursuing harmony and peace in their lives, resolving the discordant threads one by one, and for some the game is living up to their personally defined objective definition of personal development.

For most, it is a combination with a common thread: Am I moving up in the world at an acceptable pace, or am I running out of time? Am I maximizing my potential?

What that quickly meant to me was that wasting time and opportunities were criminal, with my own potential achievements as victims that needed to be rescued from the assault of lost hours and non-productivity. It meant becoming a workaholic. Bill Gates probably felt that way once – looking back at his teenage years and his own obsessive time spent with computers, he said,

“it was hard to tear myself away from a machine at which I could so unambiguously demonstrate success.”

I thought I was on the right track.

A moving target

Ironically, when I started to cross some of my own personal benchmarks, I discovered that something was very wrong – I kept moving the goalposts.

One counter-intuitive handicap of playing the game is that with every step you move forward, two things happen:

  1. You discover that its possible to go further than you previously knew, and
  2. The people you are left playing with are better at the game than people left behind. In other words, distinguishing yourself from your peers gets tougher as your definition of your peer group gets upgraded. It must have been easy for Bill Gates to stand out at Harvard, not so much in Silicon Valley, where he has constantly competed with Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and others master games-men.

Thats why the ‘acceptable pace’ aspect of moving up in the world keeps evolving as you discover greater and greater opportunities. When Bill Gates made his first million, it probably felt extraordinary to him and a landmark achievement. How about his 2nd? His 20th? His 100th? How did he know he wasn’t running out of time to achieve his true potential when he made his first billion? If he was measuring himself on market domination, where would he go after 95% market share was secured?

The questions I had got crazier, but they seemed logical progressions of understanding the game. For example, geneticists say that one in 12 Asian men is descended from Genghis Khan. How did Julius Caesar feel about not leaving behind his empire to his progeny? Or Alexander for not having any children at all? Does that mean Genghis Khan played the game better? What does that make Bill Gates feel about marriage and kids? Does it make sense for him to have a harem, for example? Would it make sense for me to have one? And one child showered with attention, or the risk spread over a couple hundred?

If you keep asking these questions, how can you not keep moving the goalposts? How can you not get exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious?

The journey

Eventually, I came across a thought from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’. In the story, Pirsig, a young man, goes mountain-climbing with some elderly monks. He struggles throughout, and eventually gives up, while the monks easily continue to the peak. What is apparent is that Pirsig, focussed as he is on the peak, is overwhelmed by the climb, and continues to lose his desire and strength with every step. The monks, on the other hand, used the peak only as a guide to mark the direction of their climb; they were more focused on the journey and its enjoyment, and made it to the top with ease.

This offered a valuable insight. Maybe Bill Gates doesn’t sit and ponder these definitions of success: maybe he keeps it simple – to maximize his fortune and have a small loving family – and simply enjoys programming. Maybe Alexander simply enjoyed battles, and Stephen Hawking loves physics. It would appear that they would still be active in those pursuits regardless of the relation of their endeavors to material success.

This would also suggest that the game – i.e. maximizing your potential, and what you can achieve with your time and resources – is best played if you enjoy the pursuit of your goals. In other words – if you are journey based, rather than destination driven. Pirsig’s monks probably just liked walking in the mountains, maybe they were as not wedded to the idea of standing on a peak as they were to enjoying nature.

Earlier, to me the game meant maximizing your time and potential to get somewhere, now it meant maximizing those things to enjoy the trip. That would mean that Bill Gates measure of success is how much he enjoyed his day, not how much code he wrote, or how much his businesses expanded.

A revolutionary thought! The point of my life was to enjoy it to its potential, with goals to set the direction in which I was headed.

This was my new definition of the game.

And it meant it was impossible to run out of time, because every day was a brand new opportunity to play and win.

But that still begged the question: how do you pick your destination? Doesn’t it keep moving, every time you re-evaluate the meaning of success? The monks had a fixed peak in the mountains they were climbing, most of us don’t have the luxury.

The right question

The answer to these questions occurred to me somewhat unexpectedly, through the best line in an otherwise unremarkable movie.

In Wall Street 2, right after he has cheated his own daughter out of her trust fund, Gordon Gekko, Hollywood’s favorite bad guy, is confronted by his future son-in-law, who chastises him for his seemingly slavish devotion to money. Gordon hears him out, and responds,

“You never did get it, did you? Its never been about the money – its about the game!”.

While the audience shook its head in disapproval, a lifetimes worth of questions were answered for me in a flash, and I wanted to jump up and cheer: I had the answer – Gordon was playing the game exactly right, and thats why he was exactly wrong!

He wasn’t running out of time, and he genuinely enjoyed every day of playing the game. He didn’t even care about the money, which he made and lost and made back. And yet, he was unhappy and it was clear that something was very, very wrong.

What I realized was that playing the game the right way isn’t good enough – it needs to be played for the right reason: it has to be played to build something, to see something grow. Gordon wasn’t building anything at all, not even a family, and his emptiness showed dramatically.

The destination

The answer to how you pick the destination: by asking yourself, what do I want to see grow? What do I want to build?

Even Bill Gates seems to have an opinion on this. “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.” And sure enough, he’s been building these tools all his life. All the money he made doing it? He’s giving it away. And he’s enjoying that process too!

Einstein wanted to build a theory that unified the physics of very large objects, like planets and the physics of very small objects, like atoms. Did he complete his project, before he died? No – but he left a legacy and a foundation for generations of future scientists to keep building on. I doubt he felt like he had run out of time.

A couple years ago, Steve Jobs built a phone that he wanted to see exist, and changed the world forever. Did he really need the money? Or the influence? Or the acclaim? Or was he simply trying to create something, and enjoying the process of seeing his vision come to life?

All of these examples suffered numerous setbacks as well as many opportunities to retire early in life, but chose to keep moving, because of what they wanted to build. The examples that they offer suggest that if you know what you want to build, and play the game to enjoy the journey, you are probably on your way to the good life. All of a sudden, the ‘Am I running out of time?’ question becomes meaningless.

Imagine building a house – would you really want to rush it? Lets imagine you faced an interruption – perhaps a snowstorm halted construction for a week. Would it make sense, or even be safe or wise to continue at the same pace during the storm? You wouldn’t feel bad about the delay, you’d just wait till you could resume. Or lets imagine you ran out of funds. Would you abandon the project because it was running behind time? Or find a way to continue in the future? If the foundations were poured and then you were diverted for a year, would you consider the construction to have moved backwards, or merely paused?

Now imagine building a family, or a skillset, or any object or business. Is it more important to do it rapidly and compare it to others or to build something that will last, and bring your vision to life?

A recipe for life

These questions are also why comparisons don’t really make any sense. Julius Caesar was weeping for all the wrong reasons. Alexander and he had different visions, they were looking to build different things in different times. Similarly, it was meaningless for my 17 year old self to measure myself against a very different person’s desires at a completely different time and place. In doing so, I was denying my own dreams, and trying to live someone else’s – and that too, dreams I imagined that person to have, without knowing what their dreams really were. Maybe all Bill Gates was trying to do at 17 was impress his high school crush. Maybe Alexander was trying to live up to the dreams of his father. The reality is that nobody will ever know!

Work, spouse, kids and family are not items to be checked off a list – they are directly based on the vision of the life you are trying to build, and settling based on a clock is merely a guarantee that the vision is being compromised. On the other hand, realizing what you want to build, as opposed to solely playing the game, may dramatically impact the choices you make.

In fact, answering the ‘what do I want to see grow’ question impacts all decisions, from what to do on a Saturday afternoon, to whether you should move to a different city for your work. It makes near term and long term destinations clear, and then all that is left is to play the game, or maximize your potential, to enjoy the journey of getting there. It also explains why the Gordon Gekkos and Julius Caesars of the world, who play the game just for its own sake, are generally unhappy and unsuccessful in their own eyes, even though they appear to be doing everything right.

A wise man once said happiness is the ultimate currency. The phrase resonated with me, but ‘the game’ didn’t help me maximize the currency that mattered most. Now however, at 30, I think I have the ultimate business plan, and nobody is running out of time any time soon.

Hacker News Discussion

150 Responses to “You are not running out of time”

  1. Abhijit says:

    Hi Rahul,

    This is a very well written essay… Just like everybody else I had same questions bothering me. And I was really glad to read your article… I really like how Wall Street 2 helped you realize that its about the game!

    Well, just wanted to thank you for writing this up and sharing it on your blog for everybody to read… it played an important role in streamlining my thoughts…


  2. Steve says:

    Well well-written!

  3. Ricardo says:

    Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

  4. Derek says:

    Great essay. Just wanted to say so. It provided a much needed perspective. Thank you.

  5. Andy says:

    Or, as I like to think of it – be a part of something greater than yourself. Devoting yourself to a spouse, children, an idea of how to make the world a better place, all are something greater than yourself.

    • Oumo says:

      That’s the stuff, dude, that’s the stuff!

      (PS. The post starts with Julius Caesar but then lowers to B. Gates – how come?)

      • badabing says:

        Well i guess even you ought to have noticed this you missed the point didn’t you. Alexander was distructrive for the sake of having a good fight Bill on the other hand is constructive.
        Anyone can work with himself it takes a genius to work with many competing ideas and still get them all to do what you want to get done !

  6. Akshar says:

    Wonderful. Good insights.

  7. Ashish says:

    Nice realization(s) ! The theme of finding meaning in the journey (vs. goals) is has been around but this is a very fresh perspective and something many young ambitious folks can relate to ! the thought of “what do I want to grow” is an inspiring one. However how do you define “what is worth growing” ?

    “Radical Happiness” is another book that goes deeper into this (would recommend).

  8. Rahul, I loved it. Brilliant piece of work 🙂 I would say that we will always lose the game because the destination will always change so we never win. But losing/winning doesn’t matter, so long as you are playing the game that is right for you.

    Thanks for this 🙂

  9. Marco says:

    Greetings from Brazil mate, thank you very much for this amazing essay. I really needed to read this!

  10. Assil says:

    This essay is the wake up call I’ve been waiting for. I feel a lot better now thanks to you, and I’ve finally realized that there is absolutely no rush. Time is abundant; infinite even. Therefore, one should live his/her life to the fullest and not worry about accomplishing goals as soon as possible.

    We should savor every moment leading up to our goal in life, and the more the moments, the more the enjoyment.

    After all, we only have one life.

    Thank you, Rahul.

  11. quentez says:

    Exactly some of states of mind I’ve been in recently. Loved reading you essay.

  12. Michael says:

    Glad I found this; very good timing! Thanks for sharing, Rahul. Your thoughts really resonate with me.

  13. Shun-Yun says:

    Great essay!

    Much needed I think in a time where competitions and personal glories are being pursued in their own sake. The “what do I want to build?” question is indeed a more meaningful and lasting question to ask.

    It reminds me too of a question Peter Drucker’s teacher asked his class: “what gift do you want to give to the world?” which supposedly impacted him for his later career.

    Thanks again!

  14. Chae says:

    I found this after being linked from Paul Graham’s site. What a brilliant essay. Thank-you for opening my mind to a new perspective. The world is confusing to 17 year olds like me, and I feel a sense of relief after reading this.

  15. Raj says:

    So have so clearly answered some of the questions that have been bothering me as well.

  16. justin says:

    I can totally relate to this. As long as I can remember, I’ve had this feeling like my time is running out and anything I do that isnt directly related to work or the pursuit of goals is time wasted.

    You know something isnt right when you cant even enjoy a lazy day without feeling guilty. Thankfully I married a great woman who has shown me how to live in the moment and not worry so much about tomorrow.

    I still feel anxious about my time and accomplishments thus far, but reading this is great because it shows I’m not alone.

    Thanks for posting this!

  17. Jeff says:

    Very nice essay. I’m 41. I married my wife when I was 37. We now have two children, were building our dream house and I recently started my own business. In my opinion, my life is exciting to say the least. I’m definitely enjoying each day for the challenges and rewards that my it presents me. For me though, I do sense that I am running out of time. Having children later in life, I’ve been able to appreciate all the comments from older parents. They say “Enjoy every minute, before you know it, they’ll be going away to college.” My wife and I are very aware of this and we try to maximize our time together and with our children, but no matter what we do, it’s like sand slipping through your hands, you can’t hold onto these moments. Before you know it, your sons walking, then talking, then negotiating with you like a New York lawyer.

    So for me, time is running out. But that fact that I realize this, I am motivated to center myself and live in the moment.

    Thanks for the article.


  18. Some guy says:

    This is what I have been going through for the past few years! I set out to build my own company and while trying I was being overwhelmed by the difficulties on the way. I was getting frustrated that why I’m not achieving my goal and when would I reach there.

    But this is not the way I should have been thinking.. if I start liking the journey itself of reaching at my goal, then life becomes a lot easier 🙂

    I believe now, that life is full of journeys and all these goals just last few seconds probably. May be, you don’t enjoy the goal as much when you achieved it as you thought you will when you started dreaming about it!

    So, for me, the life is full of journeys and I should learn to enjoy/appreciate every journey.

    Thanks a ton for these thoughts Rahul.

  19. Steve says:

    Very well written, and many of your insights have hit home. Thank you.

  20. Kevin Pruett says:

    THANK YOU! You have really helped me out. I have been struggling recently and this has been such a inspirational essay. It has provided me with much needed clarity. Great words of wisdom.

  21. Mike Manzano says:

    Beautiful essay! Thank you for writing it.

  22. Alex says:

    Great post, especially in this day and age.

  23. pandu says:

    Very nice essay. I enjoyed every moment of reading it. Thanks for sharing this to all of us…

  24. Ian Johnson says:

    Echoing the well-written sentiments, but it’s more than well written it hits the nail on the head. I’ve had these thoughts in different times and less clear situations and you’ve put them together in a concise and elegant way. Just wanted to say thanks and it let you know it helped me in a time where figuring out what I want is both important and difficult.

  25. Joel says:

    You’re a good writer, and this essay contains a great message–a message directed toward the person who is relatively aware of himself and his goals, and who has some sense of how to practically pursue them. Understanding the importance of the journey is a persistent challenge for this person.

    However, I think the bigger challenge is the large population of people who either have no goals in mind or who can’t see any way toward the goals they may have, and so just drift aimlessly and unhappily through their lives.

    • anirudh says:

      is it necessary to have one defined goal which one must pursue ceaselessly?
      can we not change our goals?
      but is changing a goal one times too many regarded as wandering aimlessly?

      i think we have diff goals, but are trying to achieve them all at the same time, which makes those goals seem impossible to achieve and hence we change them.

      if we savor each accomplishment before moving on to the next, we wont find that we are running out of time…

  26. Nikhil says:

    Great article. The views are expressed beautifully.

  27. Danny says:

    I’m reminded of the song “Successful” by drake.

    Thanks for that story of Julius. I plan on becoming a knight at some point, and it’s good to know that even giants like him can be humbled.

  28. Parth Venthi says:

    Wow! I am 19, going into my second year of college. I’ve been struggling with the same questions. I’m majoring in finance and computer science. I have no clue what I really want to do with my life. I’m going to try to find what I want to grow. Thanks for the tip, my friend.

  29. You Sir, have hit the nail on the head. And @joel, very correct. Just so many of them wander aimlessly!

  30. Sai Vignesh says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Thanks 🙂

  31. jimbocortes says:

    It’s so good, I read it twice…

    “settling based on a clock is merely a guarantee that the vision is being compromised”

  32. Vikram Mehta says:

    This indeed is a self awakening, and self instigating article. This makes you get up and open up your mind 🙂
    Loved it man.. 🙂

  33. Prafulla says:

    The way i see it, this article will go down in history like those inspirational videos by Randy Pausch of MIT.

    Articles like these “save lives”. I mean it. Its sometimes impossible to convince our own selves about some subtle points about life.

    This article gave whole new meaning to the never-stop-being-you thingy.


  34. Mahesh Singh says:

    Hi Rahul, Really enjoyed reading this.

    While I was practices for 10K and struggled a lot. One of my friend suggest don’t look at 10K just try to enjoy running everyday, try to enjoy the whole process of running not achieving 10K and it change the game; within 2 month I was able to reach 10K.

    • Ivan says:

      Absolutely right thing to do. I have found the joy of running in many ways, doing speedwork, running up the hills… Within 1 year I have succeeded to run a marathon (full 42K) 🙂

  35. Vivek says:

    I think if your not actively pursuing your goals then you are running out of time.

    Life IS limited so if your at a point now where your complacent and not taking action because of fear of failure then I believe you really are running out of time.

    But if you actively pursue your goals and you try to change your circumstance every day towards living a greater life then I think you dont need to worry about time or comparing yourself to others.

  36. Sometimes it’s just too easy to play the game because the rest of the world tells you it’s the best way to get somewhere. In fact, have you seen the movie “The Game” with Michael Douglas? Once and if you start playing, it’s kind of like in the movie, weird things keep happening and you’re not sure why or where you’re going.

    I am currently on the path to figure out where I am going and why, and I think I am beginning to get an idea. It doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but it does to me, and it makes me wake up in the morning and look forward to the coming day. It just works!

    Thank you for writing this, very good essay and very inspiring.

  37. Quang says:

    Great post! Inspired me to start my personal blog. Thanks.

  38. G Ji says:

    Thanks Rahul. Your article reminds me the number one rule of starting anything and reduced my anxiety level.

  39. MQH says:

    I clicked on a link (of your essay) that a friend of mine just posted on his FB. I was interested because I just finished first year of grad school and I am looking for options post-grad. I read the essay, really liked it. The ideas and the general outlook on life are very wise and accurate. The quote from Wall Street II: “It is not about money, it is about the game” is also my personal favorite. I enjoy the idea of “gaming” the system, there is a certain level of rush to it. I decided that I should comment on it.

    Also, I totally relate to the idea of the burning desire to achieve and the need to maximize. I just wrote a mini blog on it – the importance to stay calm and patient.

    I clicked on your home page and saw your profile picture. I have seen it somewhere! I finally realized where I had seen it when I saw your interest in the Keirsey Temperament Sorter Analysis – I have seen your posts in the forum.

    No wonder I liked your essay, a fellow ENTJ lol.

  40. anonymous says:

    what you are really writing about is search for meaning. in the keeping up with the joneses phase, meaning was derived from how you compared to others. in the “game” and “what you want to see grow” phase you are focusing more on personal development, and maybe a little bit of societal altruism. i think as far as meaning goes, naturally people are inclined to find meaning from reproduction and family (or else we wouldnt be here), self, and society. the problem is that society isn’t what it used to be…so we value it less. self may fill part of this void. perhaps accepting the world for the imperfection that it is in a zen like way is the only real way to be fulfilled.

  41. ss says:

    Wow, excellent thoughts and very timely for me personally. I predict a book in your future 🙂

  42. Jose says:

    Someone that reads your article is going to read this:

    Me…blah, blah, blah I …blah, blah, bla, I blah blah blah, me, blah blah blah I balh blah blah.

    Is not about you, your business plan, whatever, it is about others. What made Alexander great was not him, it was the circumstances, their people. Also, not many people are going to be raised by Aristotle, who were taught by Plato who himself were taught by Socrates.

    This is very well understood in sports, really great athletes are those that feel that what they do have a meaning, a mission greater that their selves. Those that make it because “they want to be rich”, do not become so good and if they got there they become unhappy.

    My father had a friend who was the best student in school, the best student in University, won a place in Administration of the state(something like a tenure) and the next day, he committed suicide.

    Alexander thought had a vision that includes others, Bill Gates had it too(a computer in every desktop), Steve Jobs(change the world with computers). Larry Ellison’s live had been a drama,he had suffered more than 10x what a normal person had and I do not believe he is a model for anything(he had done really bad things for being where he is).

    It is not getting 1M or 100M dollars. I know really rich people that are unfortunate and miserable because they are alone, and they are alone because they only think about their selves and think about other people like things, objects they could buy once they are rich(they can’t).

    It is not even the business plan, burn the plan on paper or eliminate the plan that is in your head. You need to get out and talk to real people and understand what they, not you, need. You need to test is with actions in form of services or products and then get feedback from them because odds are what you are thinking about is you not them(if you read your own words you will see you are only looking at yourself).

  43. I loved this post rahul. Lots of people out there I think don’t realise they are playing the game already very well and enjoying the journey already. At the end of the day, aslong as u have positive interactions with those around you on a daily basis you build up a circle of trust and friends which are the keys to felling truly rich. I forgot who said it but there was a quote I saw ages ago which said a truly rich man is one who leaves behind lots of friends.

  44. Cantemir says:

    Hi Rahul! I REALLY enjoyed reading your essay. You marked a good point there, especially the ‘building’ part. I too think this matters most and have felt this all my life. Thanks for putting these words down and reminding me we’re all in this together, mate. Have fun at building!

  45. Andrey says:

    “What I realized was that playing the game the right way isn’t good enough – it needs to be played for the right reason: it has to be played to build something, to see something grow. Gordon wasn’t building anything at all, not even a family, and his emptiness showed dramatically.”
    Gordon suffered because of split personality: one was enjoying the game he played, another was generated by social pressing – goals like family, relationships and so on.
    When you see something grow, you are measuring that. When you measure something, you compare that with similar things. When you compare, you trace your progress balance. When you trace, you predict wanted future. And whole this way leads to “moving goals”.
    You began from right point – it’s all about feeling and enjoying moment. That’s all.

  46. Devendra says:

    Made me to think of own once again. Thanks for Posting such challenging put.

  47. Very well put together, interesting despite its length. The thought of enjoying the journey instead of aiming for the peak sounds rather Buddhist/zen to me, but it makes sense. Definitely food for thought. I don’t have it all figured out yet. Many of my goals are short term, but I miss the life umbrella goal, the general compass. My North is there, but what exactly does it entail?

  48. john conroy says:

    Rahul, this is an important piece of work which I hope will provide inspiration to people for years to come.

  49. Madhu says:

    The topic discussed here is exactly what had me bothering for a couple of months. Now at 20, I can make sound judgment after these considering your thoughts.
    Thanks for the brilliant essay.

  50. Madhu says:

    The topic discussed here is exactly what had me bothering for a couple of months. Now at 20, I can make sound judgment after considering your thoughts.
    Thanks for the brilliant essay.

  51. Ivan says:

    Very nice reading, thanks so much Rahul. Greetings from Serbia 🙂

  52. Great Article 🙂 Thanks 🙂

  53. Ilesh says:

    Excellent!!! this resonates with a favorite quote of mine — What’s the point of running if house are not once the right road

  54. ravikant says:

    Hi Rahul,

    Million thanks for sharing your thoughts !! Putting them in exact words like those above is what most of us (people who put comments) wanted.. these words are tranquilizers !!

  55. Varsha says:

    Thanks Rahul.

    I happened to read just at the right time 🙂

  56. Gaurav says:

    Thank you 🙂

  57. Thanks for this great piece of writing.

    You’ll always find people bigger and smaller than you, and it is a “waste of time” to compare you against any other.

    You are just not achieving your own goals, while comparing with others.

    Thanks again.


  58. Jack says:

    This essay is truly insightful. Great clarity of thought. Thank you very much for this.

  59. Josh says:

    Fantastic and inspiring article, thank you!

  60. A very well, inspiring and motivating essay, not only yours but the write-up solved many puzzles of mine also.

    Weakest Link: Personal
    News Not Making News: Dream

  61. Jayant V says:

    I’ve had this same question haunting me for a while, nice perspective

  62. Calvin Han says:

    Wow, stellar articulation Rahul! My brother and I were actually having a discussion about this the other day. We asked, “Do you think people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. wanted to become rich and famous? Was this their ultimate goal?”

    Your essay provides an answer to our question above. From my experience, it’s usually the people who are passionate and love what they do that are the most successful in their field. To them, what they do is not considered work opposed to folks who only focus on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. These folks usually fight an uphill battle and are not as successful as the folks who do the work for the enjoyment.

    Again, well written and I hope to see more posts from you!

  63. Craig says:

    This is a brilliant and well crafted essay.

    I am bookmarking this for inspiration 🙂

  64. Hashname says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to read this.
    Really well written and a revelation.

    Thank you and good luck.

  65. Nathan Sobo says:

    A truly inspiring essay. Thank you for writing and posting this.

  66. Robi Ganguly says:

    Rahul: wow. Excellent thoughts, writing and analysis. While the ideas and experiences resonated deeply for me (I’ve gone through much of this process as I moved into my 30’s) the writing is what really got me. Way to communicate yourself and your ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  67. Julius says:

    Hi Rahul, I really liked this essay. If you have not read him already, may I recommend a book by James Carse titled “Finite and Infinite Games”? The ideas from that book struck me in the same way that your essay did; the vision is of life as a field of play and possibility stretching to infinity, rather than of a game terminated by winning ..

  68. Jackie says:

    My favourite quote: Be journey based, not destination driven!Thank you, great insight!

  69. Zeno Arrow says:

    Great article, needed to read this, have been concerned about my wasted time for a number of years now. Good thing for me is I have fairly clear goals, my challenge is building up my energy to achieve them, feels like I’ve got a lot to overcome before I properly start, but I reckon I’ll get there.

    I agree that it’s not just about achieving a lot, your goal matters too. If you’re running somewhere, does it matter how fast you ran if you didn’t know the direction?

  70. jan says:

    Thank you very much for this insightfull blog posting.
    I also really enjoyed reading the quotes from amongst others Bill Gates.

    What really strikes me is the conclusion : there is more happiness in giving (to the world or society) than there is in receiving (wether it be money or a high ranking among ‘peers’).
    Funny to see this old wisdom still holds true today (the quote above is from Acts 20:35, written about 2000 years ago as an acclaimed quote of Jesus).

    Keep up the good work.

    Greeting from Holland.

  71. Kenny Luna says:

    Great post. I wish I had read this in 2007 when I was a senior in college and comparing myself to everyone else and not focusing on what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be.

    This is great. Thanks so much.

  72. Adithya Rao says:

    Enjoyed reading your article.

    Just added zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance to my reading list.

    Problems often are ill defined, therefore unsolved and the way you see it forms the base for how you solve it.

    Thank you so much for the sharing.

  73. Anil Singhal says:

    Thanks for sharing this piece. I have read “Zen & The art of motor cycle maintenance” and really understand and appreciate this perspective.

  74. Sandeep says:


    Just like we don’t know what Caesar or Alexandar had in mind, don’t get carried away by Rahul’s thoughts too !
    He has something in mind, he is in his situation, he realized these things at this point of time.
    We are in some different situation, we think something else, so we must be finally doing that which we like and eventually this is what is going to happen.
    So, just don’t blindly make Rahul’s ideas a role-model.

    And Rahul, I hope you don’t find my comment derogatory to your article coz in a way ,my comment also says something similar to what you said !

  75. Sourabh Mundhra says:

    Nice Read! Thanks. Sometimes people just know certain things but those things need to be retold in a manner which makes it mark on the psyche and you have done it beautifully.

  76. Bryan Hundven says:

    Mike from an earlier post – also thanking Rahul for this essay – pointed me to this. Wonderful Essay!

  77. This is perhaps the most insightful thing I have read recently. The idea of defining a personal vision to try and navigate towards rather than focusing on materialistic/aspirational life stage goals really resonated with me.

  78. pakipakindu says:


  79. Krishna says:

    I came across your article thru’ a friend’s tweet and the subject seemed to resonate with a worry that has been running a background music in my head for some time now.
    Serendipity? I dunno. Some semblance of solace and clarity? Definitely. Thanks.

  80. Marcelo says:

    I haven’t read ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Manitenance’ yet, but it is definitely on my list now.
    And a book (on the same subject) that I suggest you to read is “Mastery”, by George Leonard.

    Thank you for the post! It was the first thing I read this morning and it made my day better already.

  81. joel says:

    As a recent college grad struggling with some of these very questions I found this essay very refreshing. Great article with a great perspective!

  82. Adam says:

    “Life is a journey, not a destination”. Sometimes philosophies can exist for a long time before one has enough life experience to truly understand them. I’m 31 and have been reaching the same conclusions you have recently. As I work on growing my idea, I have finally put aside worries and deadlines and have just tried to enjoy the process and do it right. This article and all the comments below let me know there are others out there like me. This was a great essay and I hope many others get the same value from it.

  83. AJain says:

    Very nice essay mate..really good perspective..

  84. Varun says:

    Very well written essay and it really gave a very good perspective of goals and life in general. Thank you Rahul for this post.

  85. Ayush says:

    Really nice eassay and some profound insights, this is going straight to my list of things to read when i hit a rough career/life patch

  86. Jaikishan says:

    I also believe in Steve jobs and what he said – you can only connect dots looking backwards and not forward.

    I think you really conclude the blog with right question – what do you want to see yourself grow into – which I believe is very difficult question to answer.

    Personally, I like to do n ( be an executive, be an entreprenuer, be a socialist, be a family guy, be a hiker, be a speaker, be a developer, be a wall street investor) different things which may not relate to each other completely. But I keep doing them as I believe that they will connect somehow at some point of time. I believe this exercise would help find out what I like the most and pursue / master it and hopefully all these work would connect. During these times, I still suffer from the same problem – am I running out of time ? am I not doing good enough ? can I still do things differently (maybe do MBA from top schools ), build contacts/money and figure out what I want to do *faster*. Would pursuing path X would help me figure out what I want to do finally in my life ? I end up pursuing many times half of path X, quarter of path Y, and so forth.

    Don’t judge though whether its good or bad.

    Don’t you feel like if you didnt figured out by 30 (or age x), there is something really wrong ? Do you think bill gates was first lucky, secondly curious and lastly focused ?

  87. Mike says:

    As an 18 year old who started entrepreneurial activities at a young age and shared distant perspectives than my fellow peers growing up — These were always the questions I would ask myself.

    Am I really excelling by entering commerce at an accelerated age at the cost of a ‘normal’ teenage experience?

    When I was younger, I always thought wealth determined success. Wealth, as a whole was my ‘destination’, my guidance peak.

    Now, I realize currency, money, wealth — although the fundamentals to freedom; is not what life is about. It’s artificial. Life is more the journey, and the human interactions/bonds you create and share.

    At the end of the day, excess money is just a number on a piece of paper (Your bank statement)

    Thank you for this well written, extremely insightful outlook on life.

    Take a look at this video (not created by me nor am I affiliated) — I found on HN and its worth watching. Its 2 minutes.

    Drop me a line @

  88. Amazing read! Hope I too can put things in the correct perspective and enjoy my game of life 🙂

  89. adrianmg says:

    Really awesome, inspirational and rational post.

    Thanks for sharing!

  90. Ajay Malik says:

    One of the best and most inspiring essays that I have read in a long long time! Thanks so much.

  91. Sovereign B. Human says:

    Great thing you have here, it’s gold(en), and an important life lesson, that has been wrapped up so neatly! With all the proper mental paths taken to understand it completely. A journey unto life in it’s own right.

    I think you’ve really figured out something important that should be shared (and I’m glad you are sharing it!), but as with all things, more questions await! Sometimes, finding answers will get you nowhere, sometimes, you have to find the questions to really find what you are/should be looking for.

  92. Nick says:

    Thank you!

  93. Ajith says:

    I suppose that your message will impact me some time later in my career,
    Thanks Bro for your awesome and inspirational Essay.I suppose this is one of the best essays i have ever read,
    Thanks for Sharing,


  94. Swati says:

    Amazing read.. it handles life’s BIG question very rationally 🙂

  95. Anonym says:

    I wanted to make my first million at 25, it didn’t happen.
    I was barely ilegal in the US, getting paid under the table $2k a month to program for a startup. Eventually I got out of that situation, went to NY, and in two years I married a good catch and made my first million dollars at age 27.

    Now I’m 31, I’m a millionaire several times over and the money is not exciting anymore (it’s great don’t get me wrong, but it’s not exciting), now it’s all about achieving meaningful things, moving the world forward.

    I’ve bought several homes over the world, own several companies, but nothing has made me more happy than having my daughter. My daughter and my family is the one thing that truly makes me feel rich.

    Laugh all you want, but in my case, I still live frugally, none of my friends know I’m rich, and I don’t think anyone should, it only brings bad energy (envy) from people. I try to help those around me as best as I can and that is pretty fulfilling.

    Coming into money is an eye opening experience, it’s like standing at the top of a hill and understanding a lot more. Money is fake, and incredibly most people will do anything for it. When you have lots of it, everything in life feels like it’s free, and it feels like a super power being able to get other to do shit for you for the fake paper.

    Slavery is still out there, most people spend an entire month working for others to get less than $10k, getting out of their freaking beds every morning to take shit from others, but they don’t realize that if they had the balls to work for themselves they’d make that many times over, and why not in less than a day.

    anyway, my 2 cents are basically, put meaning to your life, don’t get caught up in the routines, start doing something for yourself, and truly believe that you can do it, there’s billions of dollars around you, you don’t have to be a slave.

    • Sam says:

      “anyway, my 2 cents are basically, put meaning to your life, don’t get caught up in the routines, start doing something for yourself, and truly believe that you can do it, there’s billions of dollars around you, you don’t have to be a slave.”

      Thank you so much for your above words. This helped me a lot to start thinking about where I stand in my life right now, as I keep getting caught in routines. And also about working for yourself rather than for someone else!!
      By the way, how did you make your millions, any advice for a 27 year old ? 🙂

      Also, thank you Rahul for a brilliant essay, helped me a lot to put things in perspective.

  96. Ben says:

    Excellent essay! I loved reading every bit of this, and it helps a lot to put things in this perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights!

  97. ravi says:

    Awesome post !!!

  98. Vespers says:

    Wow. What an honour to read this article. Thanks for putting this all in perspective. This will help many, many people. Love and light out to you for sharing this.

  99. Siobhan says:

    I enjoyed reading your veiw on the race such as life, well written and so many different people can relate to this living or travelling on so many different paths, but we all seek happiness. Me i dont set to high goals, i live in the now day by day i experience the now and not what can be so for me THERE is no race or running out of time, i love my life, and all it brings the bitter and the sweet, the clear and bright with the dull, life is too short a time for deadlines and i beleive we are here for experiences , life is to be enjoyed. For me sucess is contentment and not to let life or now pass me by looking at a peak in the future or a slave to society’s idea of what it is to be sucessful.. living your life here & now (Sucess) its great to acheive somthing amazing in life and to have dreams, mine is to part this world without regret. We are here for short time, maybe the best legacy we can leave behind is what we once gave to someone or somthing shared. Ref family loved ones , raisng children to be good people, etc But in Ref to Bill Gates opinon i agree, as what are we alone with out others, how would we know. SUCESS, love, hate , resentment, sorrow-loss, Happiness experience’s best shared with others, how would we reproduce etc we would not exist with out others so there for Im a great believer that any tool that enhances commincation has a profound effect’s in terms of how we can learn from each other……I RECKON HOW WE LEARN WHO WE ARE AND WHAT IT IS WE DESIRE, AND WISH TO ACHEIVE IS THROUGH OTHERS, after all not much of a race with only on participant.. PIRSIGS MONKS i believe intunned. life here & THE now to be enoyed & not to be taking to serious as it dosnt last, and after all what u build you cant take with you, only your experiences will make for the person you are on your parting and go with u.

  100. Jon says:

    Interesting, but I think if you did a bit of research on schools of philosophy then you’d find the answers you seek in

    But indeed it is often the journey that is more meaningful than the answers, and it is very good to see people being inspired by your message

  101. badabing says:

    Well Rahul nice intellectual M word here. As in all philoshopy its nothing more than intellectual M ing oncself really.

    Comparing Alexander the great yes lower case here Julius Ceasar and Bill Gates. The first two war mongers Victors hence story as told from their point of view, history is just onesided bs if anything.

    Depending on what one values if Is time running out a question in what context leaving a last legacy ? to whom are you leaving it, whats the cost. What would you do to make this legacy. The first two in your article were war mongers so no secret as to what they had to kill a few million and scare the rest to achieve their legacy.

    Bill is the same thing its modern warfare, you can slaughter who empires with digital creations. Stifle OS development, Application development and get everyone suckered into the new kingdom of Bill.

    Why you would consider these people as high mark of human civilization is beyond me. The only memorable thing or lasting legacy is your family and friends. Who hopefully will recall what a wonderful ass your were when you were around and hopefully your neighbours arent still cursing you after your gone heheheh.

    Its all only now, all events even ones considered the greatest are just momentary lapse of reasoning if anything.

    Humans are born with an evil streak to kill everything including themselves the only upside is how creative the human mind is to create new ways of doing it. It really has no reason, being an ape was more peacful being human is a radical eveloutionary step that has changed a peacful ape to a violent ape.

    Peaceful people are apes with some remanents of the old peaceful ape. They too attack and kill only when their group or self is threatened not driving around in Humvee’s dropping cluster bombs to control Oil hey who knows we might need it in 25 years if we cant come up with a better plan B for oil driven economy.

  102. uisv says:

    Thank you. You are about to change my life.

  103. Gagan says:

    just when I needed it the most!

  104. lacee says:


  105. Prashant says:

    Nice one

  106. Tess Elliott says:

    At 60, I am a fairly unknown artist living frugally in New York City. That said, I am probably the happiest person you are ever likely to meet. My heart called the shots, doing the work was like living in heaven, and the freedom to follow my own star has been an incredible spiritual journey. I still entertain notions that if Grandma Moses can become famous in her elder years, then I still have a shot. But fame just isn’t a reason to do anything, nor is fortune. It’s just me and my honey against the world, but we live in the midst of loving friends and family that make every day interesting and email a fun chore. It’s okay to count pennies, if this kind of freedom is the result, though there are some who think it the height of irresponsibility to have no IRA (I am resourceful but live hand to mouth), and have likened my love of making art to a heroin addiction. Risk is what like demands, and those safe people with big IRA’s often don’t know squat about living.

  107. Tess Elliott says:

    At 60, I am a fairly unknown artist living frugally in New York City. That said, I am probably the happiest person you are ever likely to meet. My heart called the shots, doing the work was like living in heaven, and the freedom to follow my own star has been an incredible spiritual journey. I still entertain notions that if Grandma Moses can become famous in her elder years, then I still have a shot. But fame just isn’t a reason to do anything, nor is fortune. It’s just me and my honey against the world, but we live in the midst of loving friends and family that make every day interesting and email a fun chore. It’s okay to count pennies, if this kind of freedom is the result, though there are some who think it the height of irresponsibility to have no IRA (I am resourceful but live hand to mouth), and have likened my love of making art to a heroin addiction. Risk is what life demands, and those safe people with big IRA’s often don’t know squat about living.

  108. Rami Kayyali says:

    Well written Rahul. Our generation suffers from a quarter life crisis. Our pace of life is increasing very quickly and keepin up is becomin a chore.

    It definitely is about the journey.

  109. Deepak says:

    Hey Rahul, excellent, thought provoking article. My life is very much on the same lines as you have so eloquently narrated in the article. After a lot of miss-steps when I finally found some bearing in my life, I thought I need to lead life in my own terms rather that get into the mindless rat race and that is exactly how I am doing it. It does not always meet with success (but then these are battles, ok to lose some) ultimately it gives me immense pleasure when I do things at my pace with excellence in mind. Thanks again

  110. JP2GMD says:

    please provide a tl;dr

  111. Ananth says:

    I have come across your article at a time when I need it the most! I guess I needed to hear it from someone else that it’s okay to go slow and enjoy the journey. I had wound myself up by constantly changing my goal posts and literally started to tick things off a checklist.

    This is going to help me focus on the things I truly believe in and want to see grow.

    Sometimes a person needs a sanity check, and your article did that for me. Thank you my friend!

    I really am not running out of time. 🙂

  112. Abhishekam says:

    Brilliant… in fact, this article read at any time would be read at the right time. Even though I have much thinking to do now, this piece really has shed some light on a very dark path for me. Thank you very much.

  113. Ramesh Babu says:

    Excellent. Wonderful and coherent thoughts (shows the amount of work went into writing this article)


  114. Diana says:

    I have to give you one more thanks to the long list of people who’ve done so. Your essay struck a chord with all of us ambitious individuals, we think that we are working towards something great, so the processes does not matter as long as we get what we are chasing. We’ve seen the amazing work of others and we believe we can do the same, but is an endless escalation. What is the purpose of it all? we don’t know anymore. This chase and pursuit of meaning maybe a luxury we can afford to have thanks to previous generations that had set the stage for us. At the end of the day you ask yourself what is the yard stick that you wish to be measured upon? once we answer our ancestor may be rolling over their graves or perhaps none of that matters. Joy is in the making less so in the product

  115. Pearl says:

    Thank you so much for this, it was much needed and really hit home.

  116. Sunny Peirce says:

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to grasp a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I think that you could do with a few percent to pressure the message home a little bit, however instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

  117. Bhuvanesh says:

    Hi Rahul,

    Thanks for writing this article.
    It has given me the answers to the questions that pondered me day and night.
    I’m getting ready to enjoy my journey! 🙂
    Thanks once again 🙂

  118. Swathi M says:

    Thanks for your essay. I too had the same problem as you had in your 17. After reading the essay, i feel really comfortable.

    I am going to enjoy every moment of life 🙂

  119. Dan says:

    Well written, needed this perspective!

  120. Shailesh says:

    Indeed a very good piece of work. Very nicely articulated and kicks one at the right spot. As i progressed i was thrilled to read it however i indeed felt a need to read some conclusive text which may not be very practical. The joy while reading text was immense for sure , keep sharing!!

  121. Katharine says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  122. jerry says:

    please answer these:
    what do you do before school, during the school and after the school

  123. Hmmm says:

    Your running out of time if your resources is almost depleted. Bill Gates don’t worry about this. He was born rich. So for the people with limited resources like me, dreaming is expensive.

    Yeah that’s the reality.

  124. subha says:

    Thank you, you articulated the message very clearly.
    After all, one should plan for a bigger goal, a goal for the well being of a larger number of people, not just himself. Life is the sum of all the events; a day may seem a complete waste, another will bring success. This life is successful if one can make the lives of others a little bit easier, in some sort of way…………

  125. Alex says:

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  126. Manish Poonia says:


  127. Tony says:

    Thank you for writing this, I have struggled all my life with the feeling of always running out of time and leaving everything half way, now I know it’s not important how far you go but how much satisfaction you get out of things, this article is to me like wallstreet 2 was to you, I’ll sart living differently from this point on…Thanks again.

  128. Pebbles says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article and sharing your knowledge. Before reading this I was living day to day in an anxious environment, but now my eyes have been opened. I can see clearly now. Thank you so much, I feel like a whole weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Bless you.

  129. I am experiencing a similar situation, that is why i googled it and landed here.Beautiful explaination.Will try to incorporate this and be MORE HAPPY 🙂

  130. DNP says:

    Good article.

    I bookmarked it and will probably read it multiple times, as I’m struggling with this right now.

  131. Obinna says:

    I wish I could reread this… thank you for the insight.

  132. Harshit Srivastava says:

    I believe that balance in anything is most important, like enjoying your journey so much that your destination is left behind or focusing on your goal so much that you didn’t even start your journey both are not good

  133. It was a bit of serendipity that I came across your article. At twice your age 60, I’ve been taking stock of trials and turns of events of late and you are most blessed having discovered what you have so early on. Thanks for this essay, its incredibly grounding and has brought much value to those who’ve read it, like myself. And there in lay’s one of the key’s I’ve been reminded of lately, we are valued by what we can provide or offer to others. – Thank you.

  134. THX says:

    Bolivar Fuerte

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