My favourite characters in Modern Family are Phil and Claire Dunphy. Phil’s a nerdy real estate agent with a penchant for magic and lame puns. He’s married to Claire, an ambitious OCD career mom with daddy issues.
Every Valentine’s Day, they act out a fantasy where they role-play their fantasies of “Juliana and Clive Bixby”. They pretend that they’re strangers who meet at a hotel bar, and exchange painfully obvious sexual innuendos like:
Clive (Phil): I design high-end eletrocacoustic transducers.
Juliana (Claire): Wow, that is very… specific.
Clive (Phil): That’s just a fancy way of saying I get things to make noise.
Clive (Phil): I-I may have to make it an early one.
Juliana (Claire): Are you sure? Because you only have one night with me, tiger, and I’m as flexible as a government-insured, zero-down, variable-rate mortgage.
Then they go up to their hotel room and have a rompy night of wild sex.
In this week’s episode of Modern Family (spoiler alert), they reprise their Juliana and Clive roles by flirting in a hotel bar, stealing a bottle of champagne, skinny-dipping in the hotel pool, and yes, having rompy wild sex in their hotel room.
But right after they’re done, Phil snaps back to reality: He has to work early the next morning. He rushes Claire to get dressed and head home with him. But once Claire puts on her “Juliana” dress, Phil gets turned on and wants to get down and dirty again.
Which annoys the crap out of Claire, because she realises that Phil is more in love with his fantasy: Juliana.
Not Every Fantasy Should Be Pursued
How many of us are in love with our fantasies?
A lot of the (annoying) self-help / financial gurus out there love to rah-rah their audiences by starting out with fantasies. They’ll tell you visualise 7 figures in your bank account, imagine that you’re cruising down the highway in your bright yellow Ferrari, and having girls stare lustfully at your beautifully-sculpted body.
They’ll tell you that if you deserve those things. You owe it to yourself to pursue them, especially if you want them bad enough. Chase your dreams! Live your best life! Carpe diem!
Here’s what they don’t tell us: Turning dreams into reality comes with a price.
Not all fantasies should be pursued. Sometimes, we’ll look at the price tag and decide that we don’t want to pay it. Mark Manson, who wrote a great article on this topic, said:
The reason not every fantasy should be pursued is because fantasies never have negative repercussions. Reality does. You can feel excitement and adrenaline without ever actually risking anything. You can experience the joy and pride of a great success without actually suffering through the hard work.
Many of us are in love with our fantasies, but we don’t really want to pay the price.
Figure Out The Price And Pay It
Still, there might be some fantasies that we DO want to achieve.
Maybe you want to retire with $3 million dollars. Maybe you want a six pack. Maybe you want to start your own business. These are all fine fantasies, but it’s not just about how badly you want them.
If you really want something, figure out what the price is, and then pay it.
Anyone can create fantasies in their heads. It’s another matter to actually sacrifice other parts of your life – even some important ones – to get them. Here are some fantasies and the (minimum) prices you might have to pay to turn them into reality:
The fantasy: Retiring with $3 million dollars
The price: Investing 25% of your salary for decades, taking the time to learn investing, directing a large chunk of your bonus to growing your wealth instead of splurging it all on a car
The fantasy: Getting a six pack
The price: No nasi lemak / fried bee hoon / beer, forcing your friends to eat at a restaurants with no-carb options, more expensive meals, doing crunches and intervals even when you’re exhausted from work
The fantasy: Quitting your job and becoming an entrepreneur
The price: Working harder than you ever have in your life, potentially having no income for months or years, reaching dead ends, annoying your friends because you keep blowing them off, getting your pitch rejected over and over again
Some of you may look at the price and decide that you don’t REALLY want to pay it. And that’s okay.
But if you DO want to turn your fantasies into reality, then get ready to buckle down. You’ve got some work to do.
When It’s Worth It
(spoiler alert again!)
This week’s episode of Modern Family ends with Phil “breaking up” with his Juliana fantasy. (which is funny because he’s saying it to his wife Claire):
Clive (Phil): I can’t see you anymore.
Juliana (Claire): What?
Clive (Phil): I can’t believe I’m saying this because you’re the most intoxicating woman a man could ever meet. But, by some cosmic miracle, there’s a woman in that house I still find as sexy and exciting as the first day I met her.
I should probably let her know that more often than I do. That’s my bad. But, point is, a guy like me gets that lucky, he quits while he’s ahead.
Juliana (Claire): Well it sounds to me like she’s the lucky one.
Clive (Phil): Goodbye, Juliana.
If you’re in a marriage or a long-term relationship, raise a glass to yourselves. Not because you’re living some imagined fantasy of romantic dinners, long walks on the beach, and amazing sex every night.
But celebrate the fact that you paid a price to get to where you are: The heated arguments, the bickering over household chores, the Saturday nights watching over your sick child, and the breaking up with all the other “Juliana”s in your life.
Savour the moment, remember the price you paid, and smile knowing that it was all worth it.