The hidden blessing of not getting what you want.

Updated to Habits, Life on December 27, 2022.

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
Dalai Lama

Sometimes I just want the damn Porsche.

This week I was in Toronto speaking about how I built my speaking business. The room was full of consultants, speakers, authors, and coaches who all wanted to grow their speaking business.

I’m pretty good at breaking down complicated strategies into bite-size chunks anyone can chew on. And I’d spent many hours working and reworking my material until I felt it was ready for anyone ready to put a foot in the speaking business. I was prepared.

What I can’t prepare for is the distraction that comes from comparisons – even envy.

Will they listen with curiosity? Are they really ready to try on what I’m teaching?

Or are they so distracted by what they don’t have they can’t listen?

I drive a 2006 VW diesel Jetta wagon. Standard, thank you very much.

The driver side window froze this winter and managed to completely disconnect itself from the mounting brackets and disappear (with a very theatrical Thump) into the door. Thanks to YouTube I remounted the window but now at speeds over 30 km/hr it makes a not-very-musical whistling sound.

The turn indicator has a life of its own and clicks continuously even though – and I do check frequently – nobody in the car is planning on turning anytime soon.

That’s my car.

In my neighbourhood cars range from exotic Porsche’s and Ferrari’s that cost a small condo to family vans with stick-figure family decals on the back window.

I notice the Porsches

I notice the Porsches.

It’s not that I really want to own a Porsche (or pay to maintain it.) It just looks like a lot more fun than listening to click-click-click in my 2006 Jetta.

It’s natural to notice what you don’t have. Call it envy, comparison, keeping-up-with-the-Jones, or projection. We all do it and advertisers love that we do.

Plunk an image of the perfect couple (bodies toned from perfect diets, perfect exercise, and perfect teeth whitener) walking hand in hand down a sun-drenched beach and we want it. After all, when was the last time you saw an ad showing a plump middle-aged couple, bellies hanging over their shorts, holding open beers having an argument?

I thought so.

The capacity for envy is hard-wired into our DNA (I made that up) – it’s predictable. When I was building Adventure Network with my partners I envied bigger adventure companies. When I stumbled into the speaking business and was charging $300 for a full day workshop I envied speakers who were paid thousands for one hour.

Now that I’m building BlogWorks and every day dealing with dozens of details and decisions I envy start-up entrepreneurs who seem to have it all figured out.

It’s human, it’s natural and it’s completely unnecessary.

I’ll tell you a little secret:

Every time I climb into my old Jetta and listen to the click-click-click of the broken turn indicator I remind myself I’m good enough, my car is good enough and today I have everything I need.

It this got you thinking…here’s a few more you might like:

How to get rich by spending less money (it’s easier than you think)
Why Your Grass is Always Greener Thinking Won’t Make you Smarter, Richer, or Thinner
How drinking tea can make you rich (and build willpower)