Mark Manson is on to something with his popular post, The Four Stages of Life. The article is here – I recommend you read it before listening to our podcast. I’ve read other “life stage” articles but this one very nicely explains why it’s important to mature and how we can move from one stage to the next. In the beginning, we learn through imitation and we seek approval. By late adolescence, we’ve hopefully moved on and formed our own identity and accepted that we will not always be liked by all people. Stage Two is Self-Discovery. This is where the article got personal for me, and why I had to do an episode on it. We start out by trying all sorts of things – experimenting – but eventually we come up against our limits: what we can and cannot do. Mature folks accept this. They focus on the few. For me, however, it’s taken until 41 to move on, and I’ve paid the price. I explain why in this episode. Part of the reason, as Pete and I discover, is that a creative mind which generates a lot of ideas must also develop a ruthless elimination mechanism: following bad or unsuitable ideas is a huge waste of time. I’ve always had a hard time killing things. My Harvard experience didn’t help, either, as I explain to Pete. Opportunity came knocking, and I was exposed to so much stuff; the sampling of life was intoxicating. Career choices were plentiful – who turns down six figures and glory on Wall Street? – so it took years to definitively eliminate options from my list. And, I had to do this “research” on my own, because I didn’t trust second-hand advice. As a result, I became a Peter Pan and now at 41 I can see that. Marriage has a way of shaking the tree. Peter offers consolation by way of comparison: many of the successful, middle-aged guys he coaches put their heads down at 20 and are only now looking up to realize they’ve got major gaps in their lives, particularly around women and sex. So, there’s a risk in committing too early, as well. In Stage Three, we’re done searching and we commit, and in Stage Four we protect and preserve our legacy. What I found most interesting is the payoff for maturity. Many people defend not growing up, but Mark has made explicit the risks: if we don’t mature we’re destined to be unhappy, at the mercy of others and the vagaries of external events. If we are able to mature, our “happiness becomes based more on internal, controllable values.”

Diapers Off! © 2017.


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