Over the past 18 months, I’ve been conducting a highly un-scientific survey of middle-aged men between the ages of 30-50*.
*Yes, I’ve lumped 30 year old men into the category of “middle aged” mainly to tweak you younger guys from my bully pulpit (for my amusement.)
These men have important titles, dependent families and an insatiable desire to keep achieving.
They also have bags under their eyes, no white space in their calendar and carry an emergency supply of Imodium AD tablets.
The survey consists of one question:
“What’s the biggest fantasy in your life right now?”
I expected to wade through some murky responses involving safe words and Tijuana.
But what I got instead surprised me…
The #1 Middle-Aged Male Fantasy Is…
“I wish I could go live on an island somewhere that no one wants or needs anything from me. I just want to escape…and relax.”
One of my clients – the International Director of a prominent investment fund – said he was ready to trade places with the Tom Hanks character in Castaway.
All he wanted was to be assured of a couple of coconuts, Wilson (the volleyball/ imaginary friend), and complete uninterrupted solitude.
In a world that includes Mila Kunis, it’s quite telling that “I want to escape to a deserted island by myself” is the prevailing fantasy.
Telling, but not surprising.
Why It’s Not Surprising
Your work is never done. You finish one thing only to have 20 other things waiting for you. Your inbox taunts you with notifications of mounting unread messages.
You’ve heard of “inbox zero.” It exists in the same realm of reality as Narnia and King’s Landing.
Your responsibilities at home are never done. There’s always someone else’s needs to take care of. A broken thing to fix; an errand to run; a to-do list that never seems to shrink.
After unloading on everyone else, all you want to do is collapse into a couch with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and disappear into a Family Guy marathon.
There is a Better Way
The bottom line is that when “escape” becomes your biggest fantasy, you’re living a life where you feel little no to semblance of control over the world in which you operate.
You can pout and point fingers and justify why your life has to be this way.
But the reality is you’re here because you’re avoiding making difficult decisions and having uncomfortable conversations that piss off important people in your life.
This is hard and scary, no question.
You know what’s scarier?
Continuing on the same path you’re on.
You have Ultimate Authority to create the conditions you want in your life. Hell, the choices you made led you here. New choices can lead you out.
Start by asking yourself these zingers:
- Who in my life am I most afraid of confronting, which is keeping me stuck here?
- What am I afraid of losing/giving up by making these difficult changes?
- How much longer am I willing to live like this?
- How truly important is getting control back?
- What am I willing to go through to get it?
I’ve asked #4 to lots of people. Everyone says “critical.” But less than 10% make a move on it. Mainly because they’ve normalized the experience of their current reality, and changing that is difficult.
That’s why getting real on question #3 is so important. If you can start to grasp that the next decade (or decades) will only lead to More of the Same, then #4 and #5 will catalyze you into taking action.
My Hope For You
I want to live in a world where “what’s the biggest fantasy in your life right now” generates weird and fantastical eye-brow raising answers that don’t belong within miles of your mother’s virgin ears.
That questionable future can be yours, and sooner than you think.
If you Take Command.
PS – If this struck a nerve with you, and you want to take action…I write extensively and provide more action-taking guidance on this subject in my book Design Your Future.