Optionality

Years ago, I met a man who ran a small charter boat on the Island of Maui. Perhaps at the time, he was a bit older than I am now. He was tanned and spoke with a southern drawl. I boarded his 31′ Bertram and we were ready to troll with hopes of reeling in a trophy fish. The man asked me about the temperature in New York, which at the time, was warmer than usual. I told him that I heard the temperature was somewhere in the mid 50’s. The man smiled. He told me, “Son, I haven’t felt weather in the 50’s since I left my real estate business back in Maryland.”

Apparently, this man took his family on vacation to the Islands of Hawaii and fell in love with the beauty. They went back, sold their home, closed the family business and then he and his family moved to the Island of Maui.
Could you imagine that?
I can.

See, the reason we work is for more than a salary. We do this for more reasons than a 401K or a good retirement plan. We work for more than an annuity or pension. Our work is more than our healthcare package; and it’s more than our benefits or whether we have a good network with a low co-pay or dental. All of this is important and yet, the reason we work is more than this.

This is more than paying the bills or having a car and a place to live. In the end, the reason we work the hours we do is to have options in life.
We want “Optionality” as in being left to one’s choice.
I did not know anything else about the man who I met when I was in Maui. I only knew that he ran a charter boat service for tourists. I know that he made a decision about the way he wanted to live. I know that he had a small business on the side. He did not come off as independently wealthy. He didn’t seem like someone that could skip work. No, more accurately, it appeared that this man worked every angle. He did what he could to afford himself the options to live his life the way he chose to.

I say this is brilliant.

Someone was telling me about the difference between a white belt and a black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu. He said the difference between a white belt and a black belt is a person that never gave up.
Keep looking for the opening. Keep working. Keep moving.
Don’t stop. This is his way.

There are people who enter their careers and work their entire life. They work long and hard; only to find themselves at the end of their career with no plan or no options. Rather than live the life they want, they are stuck in a life they couldn’t get away from.
I don’t want that to be me.
(Do you want this to be you?)

Optionality — I like that word.
I like what this means. I also like the motivation because as I write to you, I am a person who already began his day before the hour of 4:00am. I have an article to consider for a column next week in a labor publication. I have wellness programs that I am nurturing with hopes to get them off the ground.
Meanwhile, I have my day job which is a minimum of 40 hours but overtime is often added to the mix. This is why I make sure to wake up early so that I can write in my journals. I have to do this because there’s a time clock that awaits my attention at 8:00am.

There are programs of mine that have been closed since the pandemic. Although, it looks as if some of them might reopen at some point—or at least in a hybrid sense, my role might change but my attention to these projects; such as my Sunday morning jail program and other support services might come back into play. I am a co-host on a podcast called Breaking The Vow. To be fair, not all of these are paying jobs. Some are to gain experience and some are done to pay my heart. At the same time, the life I am building and the resume I am crafting is designed to afford me the one thing I want most: Optionality.

The fact is I do not know how many hours are spent working on one thing or another. I am fortunate that I have the life I have. I am fortunate that I have the ability to work and adapt. I cannot say this is easy. I cannot say this is stress free. I can only say this is necessary.

Could I leave tomorrow and move to the Island of Maui and start up a small charter service?
The answer is no. Not today.
I admit the idea is attractive but then again, this is what I am working towards. This is my reason for everything I do.
I want to create a life for myself so that when my time comes; — or, if and when an opportunity arises, I can take a chance on more comfortable options. And I can do this without worrying if I’ll make it or not. This is the reason why I go to work every day.
I want to invest in myself. I want to do this wisely enough, so that when my chance comes; I am able to create a parachute that is big enough to help me land softly—just in case I touch the ground.

I don’t want to have to worry. Besides, it’s late in the game for me. I’m behind schedule, which means I have work to do. I have plans and relationships to build with hopes to create the bigger picture.
I have a time clock to address in a few short hours. I have options to pursue. I have plans, dreams and hopes to build because this is why I do what I do.

More than my passion to create a new professional path for myself; I am here because I gave in for way too long. I bought into a lifestyle that was never fitting for me. I bought into the ideas that this is it; or, this is as good as it gets. But this was wrong.

No one has the right to stop us from improving. No one can stop us from gaining an education. No one can stop us from training and no one can stop us from advancing in life.
There is always an option but keep in mind; not all options will always be attractive. For example, waking up and setting a rule that when the alarm goes off; no matter how tired, we get up and put both feet on the floor is not an easy chore. Stepping forward when you know there will be an opposing force is not an easy option. Working for a living is not easy but then again, creating the life you want is not going to be easy either. I say it’s not easy but it is worth it . . .

At least, I think so.

I don’t know if it’s Maui or the shores along Positano, which by the way is a place that I have only seen in pictures—or, maybe there’s a place I heard about called Crystal Shores or even somewhere in Bermuda — either way, whichever my destination might be; the reason I am ending my journal entry here is so I can go to work and make this so. I want the option to build my dreams and a parachute so that my feet won’t ever touch the ground. Because to me, it’s worth it.

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