Brad Feld wrote a post on contentment this past week that I continue to think about. I talked to a reporter this past week who is writing a piece around businesses that are started by people over 50. She wanted to know if I was seeing more of them and if they are getting funded. This is a loaded question and the answer is not simple but I am going to tie it back to contentment because we are living in a time where people are looking for more contentment in different ways.
I have funded people who are older that are building businesses but the majority of them (perhaps all) are serial entrepreneurs. They know exactly what it takes to build a business from scratch. The truth is some are up for it and others are not when they get to a certain age. It is mentally, physically and emotionally draining to build a business from scratch and all aspects of the business invade you 24/7. When you get to a certain age, particularly when you have a family, kids that are teens, other distractions, it is hard to drum up that selfish focus. It is not for the faint of heart.
I’d also add that as much as parents today who have teens and young adults believe that they are more in tune with their kids than their parents I am not convinced that they really understand their children’s generations connection with technology and how they see the world. I have talked to so many young adults who are graduating college and the advice that their parents have given them is disconnected from how their generation grew up. Different priorities and those priorities connect back to contentment.
The sentence that stuck with Brad that evening was“Contentment used to be a virtue. Now it’s a vice.” I do not necessarily agree unless you happen to be in the start-up craze and are in the 24/7 full-on down in the weeds build a business then contentment is a vice. People who are 50 and over are starting to think of contentment as a virtue much earlier than the last generation because they realize that it doesn’t have to be a vice. They can stop striving, they can take a breather and it is accepted. Many millennials who are more in touch with their emotions and how they want to live their lives are beginning to think that way too.
Content gets a bad rap. Fred and I were talking about this the last time we were together. I don’t get why it’s scorned upon. But, it def is. For some reason content has become synonymous with lazy. Hogwash. The happiest people I know are content. That part of content has gotten lost in the discussion.
Agree. Contentment is good
I have been thinking about that post too. It really resonated with me. I am intrigued about the older women starting businesses though. Just last night I met a 50-something woman, a physician, who started a medical products company a bit more than a year ago. I meet women like this all the time. I think a lot of us did our career/family thing and now that our kids are out of the nest, we feel it is time to do the things we’ve been putting off to meet the needs of others all these years.I was only 12 or 13 at the time, but I recall someone asking my Grandma, about a year after my Grandpa died, when she was going to start dating again. My Grandma said, “I’m never dating anyone after Cliff (my Grandpa). I spent my whole life working and taking care of everybody else. Now it’s my time to do what I want and I’m going to start by reading a book a day.” I recall laughing about the book a day at the time. I’m still laughing. She really did read a book a day and she lived for 30-something more years after my Grandpa died. So, whatever your goal is, you should do it. That’s what leads to contentment.
It is mentally, physically and emotionally draining to build a business from scratch and all aspects of the business invade you 24/7Another key factor is that you typically have something to lose. And people, as you’ve noted, who depend on you. As a result the risks you can take are drastically reduced (or they should be unless you are foolish). Another important factor is that you are probably going to be less idealistic because you have been around the block once already so you know what can go wrong. Different priorities and those priorities connect back to contentment.That is because they have been spoiled and given things that their parents have not typically. Plus they have a safety net ‘extra gas in the tank’ which is their parents. The parents in many cases did not.The other things is how they look at material objects because of not having to work particularly hard for those things. So they don’t value them as much. Plus things are more throwaway so if they break no big deal. Not the same when I was growing up.A small example my stepson (15 now) banging away on his laptop while playing a video game. No concept of if it breaks he is SOL. Another example is my much younger brother in law (25 years younger) renting out his place on airbnb. No fear of a stranger going through his possessions at all. He didn’t work particularly hard for them and besides they are replaceable. And you know what? After getting married his beautiful wife (and I do mean that, like a model) told him she felt uncomfortable with strangers (while he was away traveling and she was alone) being at the house. Imagine having to be told that by someone?I grew up in a different world. You didn’t let people borrow your car because if they got into an accident it was your time, trouble and money to get the car back in working order and your insurance rates would go up. You know a world where you get the house in order before the cleaning lady comes to clean it. Like getting married a 2nd time.
I will tell you what the problem is. The people who are trying to build a business (or work for one) who work all the time and aren’t cut out to work all the time. Just like some people aren’t physically able to run a marathon. So it’s as always the competition. Now in the past this was less of a problem. People didn’t know what everyone else was doing or what they were enjoying. So they were more content with what they had without feeling they had to work toward a goal that, once again, they weren’t really suited for.There is a group of people out there that truly enjoys working all of the time. And it’s second nature and they are happy and fullfilled. They don’t get excited being at back yard barbecues or sitting on a beach. And they do not feel they are missing anything in life and don’t want or need to do anything different than work and enjoy whatever time off they decide they want to have.
Envy can crush contentment. With social media, lots of envy. Heard about another teen taking their own life last week. Crushing. Don’t know if it’s happening more-or at the same rate and we just hear about it more now. I don’t like it.