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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about “the deferred life program” that people often find themselves living.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Amazing things are happening around us every day, but all we can think of is the thing we need to be doing instead of being present.
  • Are you deferring the moments in your child’s life assuming you will have another chance in the future?
  • Everything is temporary. If you spend your life deferring everything, what will you regret when your life is ending?
  • Some of us have deeply embedded programming that encourages us to defer life
  • Society sees nobility in the deferred life program. There’s nothing noble about designing life the way you want it.
  • People who create the lives they want are seen as lucky or selfish.
  • We have more control over our day to day lives than we think.
  • “Real life will begin sometime in the future. I need to suck it up now, but things will be much better in the future.”
  • People will tell you to stay present with your children because they grow up so fast. That is considered a noble occupation.
  • There is less messaging in society that you should quit a job that makes you feel miserable.
  • People see nobility in the struggle of working a job that supports the family even if you are miserable.
  • “Life begins at retirement.”
  • Deferred life propaganda can rob you of your life and add needless stress
  • It’s not whether you are allowing indulgences in your life, it is whether you are in your life right now.
  • Are you living the life you want to be living?
  • “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
  • This life is real. Stay present instead of waiting for life to begin.
  • Some paradigms teach that this life isn’t the real life. That believers need to spend their time today preparing for a future paradise.
  • It is a skill to take your circumstances and make the best of them, which is something we can learn from these paradigms.
  • But some paradigms teach that nothing is good, so there’s no point in changing things for the better.
  • We settle into unhappy situations because we don’t think we have the permission to change.
  • We believe that making meaningful choices to suit ourselves is somehow bad, so we become more and more under-resourced until we can’t function.
  • “I’m supposed to be living this.”
  • “If I’m going to be a good person, this is what people do.”
  • We can architect our life, but changing direction and architecting something different is difficult and time-consuming.
  • “I don’t like my life! Who is responsible for me not liking my life today?” You are responsible
  • Wanting something different means architecting something different which requires permitting yourself to want something different
  • Stop kicking the can down the road
  • The deferred life program involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for someone or something to come along and rescue you.
  • We are actually waiting on ourselves.
  • There’s no board of directors for our life that is planning the next phase for us.
  • Maybe it is selfish to allow yourself to become so unhappy that you can’t be present with your children
  • Suck the marrow out of life!
  • We aren’t talking about delayed gratification: work hard now and get a better return in the future
  • Deferred life is a different mentality: it is a lack of permission to live the life you want
  • The first step is the awareness that you tend to think this way
  • We wait for the movie moment that kicks off the life we want: wedding day, 21st birthday, the birth of our first child, etc.
  • We keep waiting for the epic scene where we are the hero of our own story.
  • “If it is to be it is up to me.”
  • It is hard to design the lifestyle you want.
  • Sometimes when we honestly look at our lives, we see that we live an enviable life, but we are still kicking the can down the road
  • We get addicted to the future paced viewpoint
  • Some types may struggle with the tendency to defer to the future more than others.
  • What are the things you are deferring in your life?
  • Slow everything down and take the time to get present in your life
  • What would happen if you didn’t fulfill your promises? What is it you want to do? What is the ROI?
  • There is a lot of work to make sure you are truly in your life.
  • If you don’t want to live a deferred life you are going to have to go down to the wiring of your life and ask yourself the questions you don’t want to ask

 In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about "the deferred life program" that people often find themselves living. #podcast

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We want to hear from you. Leave your comments below…


  • Heather ENTJ
    • Heather ENTJ
    • February 24, 2023 at 7:22 pm

    I know I am late to the party on this one, but that is one of the beauties of evergreen content. This is SO relevant for me right now. I’m surprised by how much I resonate with Antonia’s feelings here, and I identify with Joel’s wisdom about wanting a highlight reel life. I am a 44 year old ENTJ stay-at-home homeschooling mother of 6. Since my early 20’s I’ve been in a really controlling religious community. I totally resonate with the messaging that having a life that plays to your strengths and desires is somehow morally wrong. I’ll even go so far as to say that the messaging I’ve gotten is – being a frustrated nobody who perpetually puts themselves in the context of their weaknesses is somehow morally righteous. I’m questioning very many of my most basic assumptions these days.

    I have an awesome life by all accounts of what someone looking back from their deathbed would say life is truly about. If I gave you a romantic rendition of my life I could make you sick with envy. (Truth be told the romantic rendition of many people’s lives makes others sick with envy. Hello social media.) You could write the most reassuring, heart warming, down home country song about my life. Yet, I feel chronically dissatisfied. I’m trying to figure that out. Some of it very likely has to do with being ENTJ. I think dissatisfaction is pretty common amongst us. That said, I am sure I also have many of the same things going on here as Antonia. I keep a 3×5 card in my pocket each day with an idea that I need to focus on and today my card says, “I can choose how to spend my time and energy. I am not obligated to have a certain kind of life.” I have the power to choose.

    “‘Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. If he abdicates his power, he abdicates the status of man, and the grinding chaos of the irrational is what he achieves as his sphere of existence – by his own choice.’” – Hugh Akston (Atlas Shrugged) And “With careful thought and language, the singular, stellar destiny that justifies existence can be extracted from the multitude of murky and unpleasant futures that are far more likely to manifest themselves of their own accord.” – Jordan Peterson.

    I am in the process of working daily on designing my life, not only to be some product I achieve someday, but to be something I want to be doing everyday until someday happens. I am currently reading “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, along with trying to develop my co-pilot of Ni (it’s a slippery bugger) as a means to these ends, among other things. I am looking at my programming, and my environment, and my musts and reevaluating everything.

    I would love to hear a follow up “Life Deferred” podcast to hear your perspectives on this in your lives now that time has gone by.

    Thank you, again, for the great content.

  • Devin
    • Devin
    • October 23, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    I just came across this episode from over a year ago and I relate so much to what each of you shared. I feel really validated after listening to this. After being in a dark place for several months and shaming myself for always asking for more from life, I’m realizing I don’t want to defer my life.

    Though I want to be present and enjoy the space I’m in now, I also feel really energized to put in the effort required to architect the life I truly want.

    The life I want won’t happen by accident. It takes constant presence, honesty, awareness and sometimes a lot of hard work.

    Thank you,

  • Erik Bland
    • Erik Bland
    • June 26, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Hi Joel and Antonia – thank you for sharing this content. I realize my comment is late, since I didn’t listen to this until the video was posted to Youtube.

    I greatly appreciate Antonia’s courage in sharing her story – I think it was a good example of what it means to question our baseline assumptions that may be preventing us from living how we want to. I don’t have any specific insights to share, but I can atleast add my own experiences.

    For reference, I am a 35 year-old [likely INTJ] American male. For a while I have realized the value in not deferring life, as Joel and Antonia mentioned, but I only practiced it to a moderate degree. For example, I am pretty dedicated both to my career and to martial arts, but I have never allowed myself the excuse of being unable to practice martial arts due to the demands of my career. I’ve sculpted my career and the rest of my life around being able to practice martial arts. More recently, I’ve reduced how much I will attend events that I don’t want to do (such as visiting in-laws), realizing that “I should do this” is not really a sufficient justification. Of course, I still attend important events (e.g. if my mother-in-law wants us there for her birthday, I will be there). But I’ve learned to make more space for myself.

    I think Antonia’s example demonstrates the depth of which we must analyze our own lifestyle. Very recently I shut down a lot of my hobbies and other activities because I realized I had very little free time, and that was interfering with some forms of personal growth such as meditation and being present. So I took a couple of months to evaluate which hobbies were serving me and which weren’t, resumed the useful ones and abandoned others, and I think I’m in a better place now.

    But I know there are a couple of big questions that I haven’t fully delved into yet as well. For the past several years I worked in a technology field that I was very interested in, but which was new and didn’t have a lot of job opportunities. I was working at a start-up that recently ran out of money, forcing me to seek new employment. I had fortunately been considering alternative career options just in case, and was even more fortunate to get the opportunity shortly afterwards to start working in said new field of my choosing. This new career field has been pretty good – it’s interesting, it fits my strengths and doesn’t force me to do things that really tax my personality type (e.g. interacting with strangers…). However, I also realize it’s not completely what I want to do with my life.

    So I realize there are two really big related questions that I’ve been putting off answering…I know that I want to go back into my previous technology field. But to do so may mean that I need to start my own business. I know that in theory, I have the experience and education level to do it. But I also have many excuses holding me back. “It’s really tough. It’s not just starting a business, it’s developing a new technology.” Or “I don’t like interacting with people. Will I be able to handle running a successful business, or I will I just make myself unhappy by trying?”. Of course, these are just excuses, and as Joel and Antonia mentioned, I need to ask the question, regardless of whether the answer is “yes I should, or no I should not, start such a business.”

    The second big question is related to balance. Ultimately, whether or not I start a business, how should I balance personal growth and my career? Even if I start a business and it does well, that alone would not make me happy. My ultimate goals are more abstract, and are related to inner peace and perfection. So I can’t put 100% into my career, however developing skill and having an impact is relevant, so I can’t put in 0% either. I tend to have high standards for myself in my work, which is good for my career but leaves less time for personal growth (e.g. meditation retreats, or even meditation in general). I haven’t really addressed this yet, and I realize that unless I seriously question where that balance is for me, the chances are minimal that I will find it by chance.

    Anyways, thank you for reading – I hope this story is of use to someone.

  • Jessica Wilcox
    • Jessica Wilcox
    • May 14, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Joel and Antonia!

    I’m 36 years old, INFP, female. I treated my life as a dress rehearsal until i was 31 years old. At that time I had the distinct realization that my life was in full swing by now, and it was time to take drastic action to make my dreams happen.

    I never had the luxury of living my life more fully than I did before I was 31 simply because growing up I went to traditional public school which didn’t allow any time or freedom for projects that would make any difference in the world, and during my 20’s I was honestly using all my energy and resources just to survive in the world as an adult and cover my basic needs.

    When I was 31 I had enough experience and money to say “Welp, I guess I’ll quit my cushy career and write and produce a musical comedy.”

    So I did!

    …As an INFP I am not afraid of diving head first into crazy projects or plunges into adventures (usually asking questions later). When I dive into life I feel alive and embodied.

    There is a flip side to the coin though…

    Presently my long term writing projects are on a temporary hold because I’ve had to take time off to calibrate and make some practical career choices so that I can afford the flexibility to continue writing and producing theater work and still pay my bills.

    It’s taken a long time to figure out how to get everything to work all at once so I can be present in my life and afford to do projects that matter to me while covering my basic needs and still being free enough to get into life and have adventures!

    Thank you for your content because it does help me get clarity about what I am going through with my growth. It is very validating. Thank you!

  • Samantha Donndelinger
    • Samantha Donndelinger
    • January 22, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Hi Joel and Antonia!

    I’m a new listener to the podcast, and excited to dive into these topics you cover. Such lovely stuff.

    As soon as I read the title of this podcast, I immediately pinned down what you were speaking to — the concept, the reality, and the feelings behind it. And what you had to say really spoke to me!

    I’ve been feeling discontent in my life for a few years now. I’m eighteen-years-old, and for a long time I used college as my “kick-off” to life. I think because school years are so concrete — high school, college, graduate school, etc. These clear timelines are easy to cling to for comfort. There were of course moments I felt content and present and living a good life. But when those times struck when it seemed like I wasn’t making a difference, I wasn’t going anywhere, I felt unhappy, I used college as a way out. Language like “Oh, well, once I start college I’ll make friends that really count. Once I graduate high school, I’ll become more confident. In my career is when I’ll really find my voice. I’ll make a difference in the world once I grow into adulthood.” This criteria I projected onto the upcoming experiences made choosing a college, a major, what I expected to be the perfect start to my life, an impossible decision.

    I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Nothing was perfect, nothing fit my dream. Nothing as simple as a degree would make my life the life I wanted. Because the truth is, deep down, I knew my college experience wasn’t the answer to living my best life.

    This past year has been tough.

    I decided to take a gap year, to really look at what I value, what I want, when I feel present. Veering off this path I’ve been deferring to for the last five years was such a difficult choice. Somedays I thought I was depressed, stuck, not going anywhere. I had been working toward this dream, fantasy, but I could feel it was going to keep snowballing. There was a point when I almost carelessly picked a major, thinking my career would work itself out, no matter the major. That’s when I would be happy. That’s when I could start putting in real work and dedication. That moment is when I had to sit myself down, re-examine my thoughts, and ask a question — what if… just maybe… my life had already started.

    This feeling of sculpting your own life, is terrifying in a way. All the responsibility is now on you. But! Working through that, embracing some of that fear, shines through with relief. And excitement! Yeah, so I could screw up. Pick the wrong major. Take three more gap years. Marry the wrong guy. But I am constantly in my life, living. I have choice right now. Heck, I get to chose how I greet the next person I see. What I make for dinner. Things as simple as that, to things more extreme. Every day I can recommit to my studies. Or change them.

    Even though this concept showed up a lot to me through school, I see it in my life in many ways. And as an INFJ, it feels so empowering to know other people feel or have felt this way too. As an enneagram 9, it made this more real and harder to sweep under the carpet. Comparison comes into play in these feelings as well. Looking at other people’s lives, envying them, but then starting this conversation, and hearing that these people feel a similar way about one thing or another brings so much relief and acceptance.

    I think it’s important to talk about. It’s important to address, dive into, and see what’s there to uncover.

    Thank you for helping bring some more clarity to this interesting subject!

    Can’t wait to keep uncovering.


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