‘Stop Shifting The Goalpost’

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20th September, 2022

Warren Buffett once told a group of college students that they all lived better than John D. Rockefeller:

“I mean you’re warm in winter and cool in summer and can watch the World Series on TV. You can do anything in the world. You literally live better than Rockefeller. His unparalleled fortune couldn’t buy what we now take for granted, whether the field is—to name just a few—transportation, entertainment, communication or medical services. Rockefeller certainly had power and fame; he could not, however, live as well as my neighbors now do.

This is one of those technically-right-but- contextually wrong problems. Rockefeller never had Advil or sunscreen or penicillin. But nobody today wakes up feeling richer than Rockefeller because everyone judges how well they’re doing relative to those around them. And since somebody is always getting richer than you, faster than you, with what appears like less effort than you’ve put in, and what looks like more enjoyment than you’re getting, it’s so easy for the goalpost to move even if you’re technically doing well in life.”

Managing expectations and getting the goalpost to stop moving is one of the hardest tricks in life. But it’s so essential.

A big part of it is realizing that managing expectations doesn’t have to mean being conservative or unambitious. It’s just realizing that an insatiable appetite for more will always push you to the point of disappointment and regret – always, every single time.

So having some ability to deny an extra dollar of work, or a potential opportunity, a bigger house or a nicer car, is essential if you want to use money to make a better life.

As Aldous Huxley writes, “Man has an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

The goalposts of success constantly shift. A new innovation can go from unfathomable luxury to baseline necessity in a few months.

So progress is always a step ahead of contentment. That fuels the need to keep innovating, which is great. But it creates a world where people who are exponentially better off than their ancestors have little added happiness to show for it.”

Hence, to really enjoy the luxuries that life offers, stop moving the goalpost, be grateful for your blessings, be contended & stay blessed forever.