A world based on rules is inherently limited. It’s limited by the structure that the rules impose on us. From the time we’re old enough to understand what people are telling us we start getting a series of rules to follow. The other day my best friend was telling me about her 2.5 year old daughter’s confidence and charisma. Apparently at her day care she had one of the boys holding her water and feeding her grapes. I couldn’t help but laugh, but as I write this I can’t help but think “maybe we could learn from her charisma.” Sure she might need some discipline but too many rules might not be such a good thing.
We get to kindergarten and there’s a set of rules on the chalkboard. As we get older we get even more complex sets of rules. In college you get a student handbook that is the size of a novel and you’d need a lawyer to interpret. When you get to work there are entire departments designed to do one thing: make sure you follow the rules. Let’s look below at a few “rules” that we’re supposed to follow throughout the course of our lives.
- Don’t talk to Strangers:
- Go to school
- Get good grades
- Go to college
- Choose a major that makes sense and will get you a job
- Get a good job
- Don’t challenge authority
- Hang on for dear life to that job
- Get married and have kids since all your friends are doing it. (Food for thought: Remember when your parents would say “if all your friends jumped off a bridge would you?” So now I should jump off a bridge because they are all jumping?)
- Take less risks as you get older
- etc, etc,
This structure and a world based on rules has limitation built into it. To make it worse more and more limitation keeps being built into it if you look at the pattern above. The more rules we create the more limitation we create. Too much structure and too many rules actually get in the way of a person’s ability to tap into their true potential. Too much structure seems to be at the root of many problems. Imagine if you had went to college and approached it the way Van Wilder did. If you haven’t seen Van Wilder, I highly recommend it because it is actually a very inspiring comedy.
Imagine if you got to spend a month surveying what was of interest to you and based on that you developed your course schedule. Imagine if you spent more time on social and extracurricular activities at college and got involved in everything that really interested you. Could we all be Van Wilder’s? I’m not saying we should be in college for a decade, but I think we could learn from his philosophy. I think that we would really find what we’re passionate about much earlier in life.
Have you ever noticed that when companies give their employees freedom to operate, remarkable things happen? Last week I wrote about why the 8 hour work day doesn’t make sense and I’m guessing it will be my most popular post in a matter of time. There’s this small company you have may have heard of called Google that embraced the unlimited potential of its employees. Many of the Google products that are used by millions of people everyday were projects that employees worked on as part of the 20% time program at Google, which allows people to work on projects of personal interest for 20% of the time they are at work. It’s hard to argue with those results. I’m in the fortunate position where I’ve been given a ton of freedom to operate and everything I do on my personal projects fuels my ability to do my day job. In fact I’m better at my day job because of my personal projects.
It’s time for a change. Throw your rule books away and start rewriting them with your own rules. Remove the limits that are built into the system and join the revolution that is occurring or get left behind. Wake up from the Matrix, Unplug and shape it all the way you see fit. - srinirao.
Now here comes the epic post from the middlefinger project by Nina Yau.
We’ve all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living, but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining.” – Julia Cameron
Freedom does not come without a price … and pain.
Why would people not want freedom though? The freedom to choose to do what they love to do. The freedom to choose their careers and line of work. The freedom to make a difference in this world in however means they can, as unconventional as it may be. Unapologetic, pure and raw freedom.
The thing is, however, that when one really and truly wants freedom in their lives, there will almost always be a price to pay. Those who are willing to pay the price by standing firmly and boldly with the decision they’ve made in their lives are the ones who will ultimately realize this freedom. Those who deem the price too high will just have to settle.
Which will you choose?
I have experienced much pain, heartache, and sorrow due to my decision to live my life the way I need to live it in order to be happy. In order for me to realize my full potential. I am the only one holding myself back. No one else. And I need to be held accountable for my own happiness.
Before I go into the 3 obstacles one encounters on the path to freedom, let me give you some backdrop of how these 3 obstacles came to be.
I’ve quit a corporate day job once already, back in November 2008. And now, I’m quitting another corporate day job. Soon.
Can you possibly imagine the grief and confusion I’ve caused my family?
“But you’re so educated! All the years of schooling, what a waste to just quit just so you can “write” and “do art.” Those are just hobbies, not careers. Why can’t you just do that on the side and hold a respectable job at the same time?”
“Do you know the shame you’re putting on this family? What a disappointment.”
“I cannot believe you would do this again. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Are you insane? Look at the economy out there! Your cousin can’t even get a job and here you are, quitting! Why do you have to do this?”
“You were not the daughter we thought you to be
And the list of berating continues.
Of course, I could have completely avoided this by locking my dreams up in a box, telling it to be very, very quiet and not make a sound, while I turn my back to it and walk away, never coming back to unlock it.
I could remain in a dead-end corporate day job, in an 8×10 cubicle breathing stuffy, stale air, deadening under a fluorescent light, and gazing out the windows to where I can breathe again.
I could remain in a position where I have to maneuver my meager vacation days just so I can take a break from something in which it pains me to remain in.
I could remain in a position where I am not much different than a pig in a caged pen ambling toward its trough for what little food it gets. This, I liken to The Trough Effect.
I could do all this and thus, ensure everyone is pleased and happy. Everyone … except me.
I’m Scared, But I’m Also a Believer
Truth be told, I’m scared to death. I’m scared of losing everyone that I’ve ever cared about because of a decision I’ve made that looks selfish and stupid to them. I’m scared that they are right, that this was all just a bad idea. I’m scared that I’m wrong, that I’m making the worst mistake of my life.
But I’m also a firm believer. I believe my life was meant to play out like this, that I was supposed to be thrown in the fire and figure out how to get through the burning flames alive. I believe I was meant to be extraordinary. I believe my life was meant to be more than just sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, 50 weeks a year, 40 years of my life. I believe I was meant to do great things and to inspire and help others along the way. I believe I was meant to make a positive difference in this world, that I could somehow, someway, leave a legacy behind me when my life has come to an end. I believe.
One of the truths I’ve discovered while exiling myself from mediocrity so I can live an extraordinary life, is that one must truly want freedom in order to actually do anything about it.
If you just think “Oh, that would be nice … but I can’t. I’m too old/young/uneducated/educated/broke/rich to do that” then freedom’s path is not one for you. You must listen to yourself and what you are saying. You are the only one holding yourself back.
You may think it is your parents, your significant other, your relatives, your friends, your colleagues, and your peers that are holding you back from your dreams. But they are not.
You are your own person and so you must live your life the way you see fit. If that means upsetting a few folks along the way, it is the price you have to be willing to pay in order to realize true freedom.
The 3 Obstacles
Obstacle #1: Society
Society has led us to believe certain things about the way the world works and how we are to live our lives.
“Get good grades, and go to a good college.”
“Find a respectable job.”
“Get married and have kids.”
“Buy a house.”
“Now buy stuff to fill your big house with.”
“Work 40 years in a job so you can have enough in your 401(k) to retire comfortably. Then you can travel and have a good time.”
Is this all there is to life? Going by the books while each of us has cookie-cutter versions of one another’s lives? Whatever happened to living life radically, extraordinarily, passionately?
This doesn’t mean those who do lead such radical lives are all traveling nomads who live out of a backpack, have not a care in the world, and are in their 20s and 30s.
Those who do want to lead such lives can be at any age, any race, any religion, any country. Because when it comes down to it, it is your life and society be damned. They don’t know a single thing about what is innately good and best for you. Only you do.
Now go with your gut instinct, follow your heart, and never look back to the status quo. That’s where society wants you to be in. Resist.
Obstacle #2: Fear
Fears can be extremely debilitating. They can have us fail before we’ve even started anything.
Fears of the unknown, the ambiguous, the extreme. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of abandonment. These are all legitimate, and oftentimes, very real fears.
We must first acknowledge these fears. Ignoring them won’t do us any good but to prolong the agony and anxiety.
Then, and only then, can we start to take proactive measures to address these fears.
Say you wanted to quit your soul-deadening day job where you were absolutely miserable in. You wanted to follow your dreams of becoming a professional chef. You were always a foodie and loved cooking. At any given time, you were found in your kitchen, creating delicious concoctions, and if you weren’t there, you were at your day job, doing something you hated but because you had to in order to be a good little worker bee and please others.
But you had fears. You didn’t want everyone you loved to abandon you, to not support you. You didn’t want to fail horribly and come crawling back, now with your head hung low in shame while others jeer at you saying “Told you so! Idiot.” You felt you couldn’t handle these rejections. So you stayed where you were at. Unhappy but at least you didn’t ruffle any feathers.
These fears are real and must be battled fiercely. If you don’t, self-doubt and negativity will envelope you and slowly suffocate the creative self you were meant to be until nothing remains but the empty shell of your former self.
Obstacle #3: You
We give a thousand and one excuses as to why we can’t do something when that same energy could have been channeled towards finding ways we can.
Such excuses include:
“I’m too old to start my own marketing business. Don’t you see? I don’t have youth on my side.”
“I’m too broke to fund myself if I branch out on my own. I don’t have enough saved and I have too much debt to pay off still.”
“I’m too young and inexperienced. No one would want to hire me as their consultant when they’re twice my age.”
“I’m not tech-savvy and just can’t understand what all this “social media” is. How am I supposed to connect with my customers if I can barely use my Outlook?”
“I’m comfortable where I’m at. I may not be totally happy but at least I have my retirement taken care of, insurance, profit-sharing, and other nice benefits.”
You must realize the underlying true reason of why you feel you can’t do something. There’s a common thread to such excuses: you.
You, and only you, need to decide what’s best for you and what makes you truly happy. Not your family, not your parents, not your peers, not anyone should tell you how you are to live your life. Their standard of happiness is not the same as yours.
If going to a 9-to-5 job every single day for 40 years of your life sounds like a really bad plan and way of living, then it probably is. Do something about it. Though you may upset many folks who think this is the proper way to make a living and take care of yourself and your family, realize that if you never even tried, you will never have known whether or not following your dreams was worth every risk, every rejection, every negative response. You could be living an extraordinary life rather than just dreaming about one.
The Realization of These 3 Obstacles
Realize that all 3 obstacles are inherently deep-rooted fears. They won’t just go away and they won’t be dealt with in just one day.
It is a continuous battle one must fight in order to realize true freedom and happiness. Is it worth the price you have to pay? You must decide whether or not it is indeed worth it.
And once you’ve decided, go. Go all the way, through and through. And never look back. Those who have done it before you – and have made it – are waiting on the other side for you.
From the middle finger project, post Fear, Exposed – Featuring Nina Yau
I'll be honest with you. Many times in my life, going to a 9-to-5 job every single day didn't sound so bad.
In fact, I might have thought that was the best option available. Especially in an economic environment such as today's.
But that's not my point.
My point is this... Avoid negative self-talk. Do not place artificial limits on yourself. Face your fears. Think you can.
Action today is the only course to success tomorrow. Get started.
Trust yourself first. Become your own hero. - JDW