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How To Apply "FastPass Mentality" To Your Life

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Don’t ride the craziest rollercoaster first. Rookie move. You’ve still got a full day at the park and the rest of it might include Sprite, crackers and trying not to puke. So much for that chili-cheese dog you wanted. Save the spinning, twirling and gravity testing until later in the day so you can enjoy the Hall of Presidents on its merit and not simply because it’s dark and air-conditioned. You’re welcome.

As solid as the above life lesson is, it’s not the only one I want to share in this post. A few years ago, my family started talking about taking a “special” trip each year to see a part of the country or world we had never seen. As we agreed on the first trip, I could feel the weight of the dollar signs on my chest. My mind would only let me feel what I was spending instead of receiving.

As I began to feel my brow furrow, I suddenly had an epiphany. My family has experienced some significant health struggles over the years and I said to myself “Jim, figure out the money because you’ll NEVER regret spending this time with your family – creating memories that will last forever.”  

I started to fill out an itinerary and passenger profile for the trip we were taking. I entered my username and then created the password “f*ckittrip19”. My youngest daughter Anna was looking over my shoulder and said “DAD! Did you just type what I think you typed?” I said “Yep” and she immediately picked up the phone to call my oldest daughter Bailey to say I’d come off the rails. Bailey paused and very flatly replied “FastPass mentality Anna. FastPass mentality.”

Anna and I looked a little perplexed and were then reminded of the story which gives this post its name. Circling back to my theme park lesson - when the kids were young, we went to Disney World and wore ourselves out by the last day – which was a trip over to Universal Studios. Exhausted, we powered through to make sure we digested all of the park we could. The last day was significantly more crowded and the lines were brutal. I walked away from our group and Bailey followed me to a kiosk selling their Express Pass program (like Disney’s FastPass), which allows you to schedule a time to skip the long lines. The attendant told me the price – which seemed ridiculous to me – and I handed her my credit card and said “I’ll take four.”

Bailey had been learning about money and getting an idea of the cost of different things. Her eyes widened and she sprinted back to my wife Beth and Anna to say there must be something wrong with me. “What’s wrong with Dad?   I think he’s lost it. Do we even have that much money? Will I still be able to go to college?”

Beth assured her we would be ok and despite it being out of character for me at the time, I must have felt it was “worth it.” Fast forward fifteen or so years - Bailey got her theme parks and pass programs mixed up - but coined the term “FastPass Mentality” and it shapes much of how I experience life now.

In a nutshell, FastPass Mentality is creating or recognizing an opportunity to do something that may not make total financial sense on the surface, but on a deeper level is definitely worth it in the grand scheme of life. It’s not about material gains that you can’t afford. It’s about creating or taking advantage of a situation that is or will be truly memorable. In most cases, these are going to be experiences and/or places where you really connect with the people you care the most about. Ask: Does it make life better? Does it feed my soul? Does it feed someone else’s soul? Does it bring those I love together?

I’ve told this story to many people and they say they support it, but I can tell not everyone fully buys in. It sounds good, but they won’t pull the trigger. I ask them “why?” or “what are you waiting for?” I get responses like “well, that’s great if you have the money and time to do it.” That’s missing the entire point! I’m not suggesting we become irresponsible and put our lives or family in financial peril because we want to go to Fiji for 6 months. What I am saying is we prioritize what’s important and figure out how to make it work because it’s worth it.

Ok, so you ask what’s “worth it.” That may be different from person to person or family to family, but it simply needs to be rooted in experiencing life – experience being a verb. Instead of watching life happen, we gather those we love and DO it together.

I can hear financial planners and penny pinchers grumbling as I write this. Whatever. I know very few people that have life go just as they planned, so remember that when you pass on that “experience of a lifetime” because you think you’ll have the time/money to do it later. Don’t be stupid, but remember what’s really important and meaningful. We work to live, not live to work. If you die tomorrow, most places will have your job listed on LinkedIn the next week.

If you’re hung up on the money part, remember FastPass experiences don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. I do understand it takes time and money to fully embrace FastPass mentality. But you get to decide how much time/money makes the experience worth it. Often, it’s more about committing to the time away from work, hobbies, Netflix, etc. If nothing else, make yourself more open to looking at the value of the engagement versus the cost. Twenty years from now, how will you look at that moment and how did it affect your life?  

Life is short. It’s not guaranteed. What have you always wanted to do? Where have you always wanted to go? Who do you want to do it with?

Go ahead. Step up to that kiosk and say “FastPass please.”



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