Get your damn priorities right! (Day #9)

Hello there, today’s post will be a little different. I’m not sure what I want to tell, or more like, I have conflictive emotions about what to say.

So as my friend Anca says, find a cozy place, get a cup of tea and ride with me for a while.

I started working on my first startup when I was 23. It was a great experience. I learned many things, but one lesson in particular stuck with me and changed me forever.

For one year I worked non-stop with an incredible team of people. We did magic. We worked during the weekends, during the holiday, during summer. It was a gruesome year, but it was worth it. We launched the product, and it was a fast success. It’s hard to describe what you feel when customers are using your product. It was a breathtaking experience.

But it came at a cost. Unsuspected by me, I was putting incredible strain on my relationship with my girlfriend at the time. One day I got a call from her. We met, and I was handed one of the most chilling conversations I’ve ever had in my entire life.

“Look, Alex, this is simple, it’s either your work at the startup, or it’s me. You choose.”

I felt the world disappearing under my feet. I still remember the shock of the moment. It caught me so off guard that it really rocked me. I had been so immersed in my work that I hadn’t seen that one coming.

Yes, I knew my girlfriend was pissed that I couldn’t meet with her as often as before, but hell, this was my first real job. A job where I was learning more than many degrees put together. I was also making a name for myself.

The guy was a rock star but ended up on their 60’s, wealthy, famous, respected, but alone.

I don’t remember the exact details, but I do recall that something clicked in my brain. I had been reading all these biographies from great men, and all of them displayed a typical ending. The guy was a rock star but ended up on their 60’s, wealthy, famous, respected, but alone.

That loneliness chilled me to the bones. If the price of fame was to be alone, I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay it. So when I started thinking of my girlfriend’s ultimatum, everything just clicked.

Whenever I have to choose between the people I care and my job, I will ALWAYS pick the people I care.

I decided to make a life-changing decision. One that has accompanied me all these years. One that I still honor to this day. Whenever I have to choose between the people I care and my job, I will ALWAYS pick the people I care.

Sometimes I’ve had to take hard decisions in my life. I’ve taken the weird path. Most people look at my life now and tell me how lucky I am. I’m not. I’m driven.

This path has lead me to incredible places. I once remember when someone asked me how it felt to be a dad. Has your life changed a lot? I chuckled. I said it hadn’t. It was the same as before. Their face at my response was priceless.

I tried to explain that kids didn’t change my life for the simple reason that I had already committed my life to put my people first. For me it wasn’t about my children changing my priorities, I already had them there in the first place.

The links we create with those around us are to be cherished, to be nurtured, not used and abused.

More people should meditate about their lives. What do they want them to be? How do they want people to regard them? It’s not about the short-term, it’s about the long-term.

On the short-term, taking the time to go and visit a friend in need when you have a deadline the next day, might look crazy. On the long-term, that friend will be there for you when you’re old and forgetful.

The links we create with those around us are to be cherished, to be nurtured, not used and abused. If you don’t take care of them, if you prioritize the short-term for the long-term, you will end up alone, lonely and sad.

Be warned.

This post is part of my 30 Days Writing Challenge. If you want to check out the previous posts, here you have an index.

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Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at Press42.com, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.

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Alex Barrera

Alex Barrera

Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at Press42.com, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.