Focus on the future

In Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter, 50 Cent writes about buying Mike Tyson’s mansion, which cost him $70,000 in monthly utility bills. It was no longer practical for him to own (emphasis added):

I’m not sure why I even waited so long to make the move. At first, money was part of it. At one point I’d been talked into listing the house for over $15 million, which was an unrealistic price. When someone puts a number in your head, every time you move off that number, it feels like a loss. You can’t get tricked into thinking that way. 

An expected price, anchor, or other milestone of success can get in the way of us actually making progress. Sometimes, it’s someone else putting the number—or the vision, or the plan, or the expectation—in our heads. 

Other times, we put our own expectations in our heads, based on what we see and hear. If someone who’s doing something similar to us has achieved something, it’s natural that we would want that too. (See the obviousness fallacy.) While it can be helpful to have an imagined reality, we must also assess our work with cooler heads and stay focused on our paths.

He illustrates a variation of this principle with another example, of a recording artist he was willing to walk into a record label. The artist was inflexible with the deal the label was offering, possibly because the deal size represented a social status or prestige that would be compared to other artists. If a similar artist from the same city got a million bucks, you deserve nothing less, the train of thought goes. (There’s a version of mimetic rivalry here; the artist wanted something because another artist got it.)

50 doesn’t believe this is the right way to assess the situation; he writes, “The first check you receive should never be your biggest concern.” If you make the most of the opportunity, then the amount of your first check will probably become irrelevant.

In 50’s case, he ended up moving past the expectation by selling the house for much less than he was asking for it (and less than he paid). He writes:

I might not have gotten what I wanted for the property, but in the end I didn’t care about losing money (and I ended up giving my proceeds to charity anyway). I had won by moving on with my life. I’d cleared my plate and refocused on the future, instead of being held down by a relic of the past.

Amidst the tint of self-justification there, this closing point resonates because of the focus on a better future—not the sunk cost of the past.

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