Don’t Be Scared into the Status Quo: Ordering Off the Menu versus Building Your Own Life

So here’s the conundrum. Life has such vast opportunities, but that means it is impossible to calculate where a choice will lead. It is scary to invite the world in, because inevitably some bad might come in with the good. It can be comfortable to stay were you are at, having reached a benchmark. But there are limitless opportunities and adventures out there! There is not 1 formula for how a life must be lived. With infinite paths, this life can be any combination of experiences, people, adventures, and opportunities you desire. Feel free to mix and match.

The “Sure Thing”

Most of us end up falling back on the sure thing… well as sure as anything can get in this life. We get a job, maybe start a family, save for retirement, and raise some kids. I am not criticizing anyone for doing that if it makes/ made you happy. I think that is an awesome choice for some people, one that can truly be a blessing. But that is one option. To make that choice for yourself is great, but it is natural to try to make your own choice look like the best one, and project outwardly how awesome your circumstances are.

So the problem becomes when enough people collectively adopt the same path, and pressure others to take the same path. Some people do this because they honestly think they took the best possible path and want to help others do the same. Some people are just programmed robots who repeat what they feel they should. Some people are pissed off about their life circumstances and misery loves company.

Don’t let other people talk you out of the typical life if that is what you want, but don’t let anyone trick you into thinking the same thing will make any one of us happy. Everyone is free to make their own choices, but it is hard for some people to resist societal and peer pressure. I am pretty confidant and happy in the abnormal direction I am taking with my life. But even I have to remind myself often that it is okay to not do the same thing “all my friends” are doing, in terms of pursuing careers etcetera.

I am not just saying play video games on the couch your whole life. Actually the opposite. Don’t use “I’m an individual” as an excuse to be lazy and go fewer places, literally of figuratively, than a normal 9-5 would take you. But if you have a plan, and it doesn’t include a cubicle, go for it! I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay that I do not work in a cubicle doing something I hate for five days, just to try to squeeze some enjoyment from the other two, overshadowed by the next 5 days spent doing something I hate.

It makes sense that the “sure thing” is what the majority of people go for. They order off the menu. If you honestly don’t know what you want, you might as well provide yourself with the means to buy necessities, and some spending money to pursue fun and adventure on the side. Even if you do know what you want, the “sure thing”might be the best path to get there. Why try to build my own sandwich when I already see a delicious one available? But some people choose the “sure thing” out of fear, and end up surviving when they should be living.

Build Your Own Happiness

So if that typical work life isn’t for you, try something else. Even just talking about jobs (because I understand we all have needs) there are countless, although most likely lower paying, alternatives to doing something you hate. It may be cliche, but they say do what you love and the money will come. So maybe you like hiking… and just walking around the woods might never earn you much money. But have you looked into becoming a park ranger, a canoe/ kayak guide, or even part of a grounds crew for a park? It might not be glamorous, but for some people the quality of life might be better earning less but working outside.

There are so many ingredients in life, why not try your hand at combining just the right ones for you?

Running is one of my hobbies, so on the side I work for a running shoe store. Is working at a running shoe store the same thing as running? No, but it is closer than working on a computer. I get to interact with runners, trade training tips and knowledge, offer advice, learn from anecdotes, address injuries, and use the stick and the foam roller while getting paid to be there. I work with awesome people, the customers are almost always happy and excited, and I’ve gained enough knowledge and expertise that this job could be a stepping stone. I could use it as a jumping off point to become a coach, a nutritionist, a trainer, or maybe even someday open my own running store.

I am that guy that likes hiking, and no I haven’t earned any money from walking around the woods. But I did pick up foraging, and reading into natural medicines. This is a skill that I practice while hiking; it adds to the fun of being in the woods to identify useful plants. I could see becoming an herbal healer some day, perhaps combining my interests in physical activity with diet, and throw in some experience working for a small business. I’ve got the background to start a natural medicine clinic. And the perfect base for customers would be injury prone runners, who may not know that some ginger and pineapple after a run will help reduce inflammation in the joints, and eating a beet regiment can help open up the blood vessels, increasing oxygen flow.

I don’t know if I am going to go into the running or natural medicine business—right now I am trying my hand in the writing industry. But I do know not to get too caught up in padding my bank account, instead focusing on the endless opportunities that life has in store.

I want to move south, at least for a while. I feel the need to change my surroundings after 25 years, live somewhere new, and experience a different atmosphere. That is scary though, and it is sad just thinking about not seeing certain friends and family for prolonged periods of time. But it is something that will keep me from stagnating, move me forward, and afford me with new opportunities and skills. I haven’t had much opportunity to try my hand at mini-farming, which also fits into my interests and possibilities for future income generation.

And I want to see the world. Again, it might be tough to ever make money on some of these things. But seeing the world gives you perspective, the kind that might impress someone in conversation, the type of someone who happens to be able to get you a job as a tour guide at a museum of fine art. I don’t know! That’s the point, there are a thousand opportunities around every corner, and doing what you love can’t hurt. The more you break outside of the status quo, the more likely things will be new, exciting, and rewarding!

Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you love. It may be safer and easier to stay at a job you hate, pay the bills, and try to squeeze some enjoyment out of life. But if that doesn’t make you happy, it might be time to take a chance, and see where it leads you. Seriously why is 95% of the population trapped in the same “this is how it has to be” mentality, when there are countless, endless opportunities for gains, adventure, fun, knowledge, skills, and anything else you might crave, desire, or need for fulfillment.

Don’t let the fear control you. Don’t be so scared to grab at an opportunity, or create your own opportunity, that you let the sand slip between your fingers. What’s that old cliche: on their death bed, most people don’t regret the things they did, they regret the things they didn’t do.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Be Scared into the Status Quo: Ordering Off the Menu versus Building Your Own Life

  1. I think your next post should be “How to break the cycle”. You may have already discussed this in an earlier post with a link to a TED talk, but I think a lot of people end up at a job they hate out of lack of direction or necessity to pay the bills and then wake up one day and they have been there for 5, 10, 20 years and at that point they have invested (or feel that they have invested) too much time to walk away. How do you decide today is the day I am done? Also, how do you harvest your talents for monetary gain? I do not plan to work for my company forever, but I think the scary part can come when you are unable to recognize that you either have talents, or that your talents are valuable to yourself or others. If you do not see value in your own skills or the things you enjoy, then how will you ever market yourself to get a paycheck out of them? Essentially, the scariness factor in leaving your job would directly correlate to your level of self-confidence.

    Nice post though, I feel inspired by these ones. Maybe the day that I will decide “today is the day” will be the day I read one of these posts.

  2. Pingback: Joe Jarvis on “Under the Gun” Radio Show | Joe Jarvis

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