Don’t Be a Victim of Your Own Life

Well- this is my first foray into the world of blogging.  The goal of this blog will be to address the importance of getting the most out-of-life rather than letting life get the most-out-of you.  I know what you are thinking- there are probably thousands of “Tony Robbins” out there, and you have either listened or read their “miracle steps,” with nothing but a lighter wallet to show for it.  I know, I fall into that camp myself.  In fact, I am there now as I write this, and maybe that is why I am writing this.  I subscribed to and read some of the luminaries in the “take control of you life and finances.” department.  And to be clear, I unequivocally believe that their steps can be followed and with success.  The difficulty is putting it all into practice.  I know I need to TAKE ACTION to prevent the inevitable soul-crushing weight of a “routine life.”  Instead, I need to make a “life routine.”  Mainly, do not let life ever become routine.  Not one aspect of it from my marriage to my career, and even my fitness regiment (whew that is what Crossfit is right?).  This is the first-step for me, actually putting my words to paper (so-to-speak) and maybe creating a tool or product that others can use.

The genesis behind the name of this blog is to do just that- leave the routine behind.  Routines are comforting; they bring a sense of security and familiarity.  They are a known-entity in an world where certainties are becoming fewer and far between (do you even know your neighbor?)  But there is a downside- and it is insidious- that routine will anchor itself into your life.  It will integrate into your day and become part of you, not unlike a virus that inserts itself into your DNA.  You will learn to live with it, and will never be without it.  You may be thinking, “there is nothing wrong with getting into a routine.”  But there is-  it will hold you back.  Like we used to say on the Street, “You’re either an order taker or an order maker.”  A routine makes you the latter, a person who takes what life gives them and chalks it up to some external locus of control.  An order maker says, “I am going to make this happen, I am going to create my own business.”  Or applied more generally, someone with an internal locus of control.  Someone who realizes that life will only give you what you take from it.  Listen, I am going to wager that the vast majority of us don’t have a routine in life that affords us everything we truly need (professionally, physically, emotionally, personally, or other).  Sure- there may be very well-to-do (the 1%?) individuals who are able to have a routine that is routinely not of ordinary accessibility.  Someone like Dan Bilzerian, who has unlimited financial resources, and everyday has some outrageous event, party, trip, or stunt.  Who I am really targeting here are people like myself or the career professional.  The person who worked hard through school, got a great job (paying next to nothing initially), worked their way up the corporate food-chain, got married, had kids (okay we don’t have kids…yet), and picked-up ever increasing amounts of responsibility that have forced a routine to ensue.  Think about it.  First there is college- sure you have your class schedule, but your life there is anything but routine.  You are exposed to the world on your own for the first time.  You meet all sorts of new people, join clubs and programs, explore your campus and surrounding areas, etc..  It is a time of tremendous growth and excitement!  Yay!!  You are an idealist (or maybe an idea-ist- you know that person that comes up with a million ideas and thinks they will all be lucrative/feasible).  You may have passions you think you can turn into a career, but what you will learn is that you need to enter into a professional field and build your name/credibility.  You will  have to earn your stripes.

Then you graduate and you have to entire the “real world.”  This will be your first strike against your freedom.  You will enter into a career at an entry-level wage (particularly after for most an expensive college tuition that has put you $100-$150k in the red to start your life) making something like $30 or $40k).  You then take on additional financial obligations (beside the student loan repayment) such as a car, and moving into your own apartment.  You work for a few years, and even if you standout and show you are a huge asset to your craft or profession, you will be making a moderate wage (call it $70-$80k).  During that time you met someone and decided you wanted to get married.  After a few years you both are ready for children, and then have a few kids.  These are just the major life events that take over your ever dwindling allotment of time.  Then there are the activities/hobbies that bring you joy or reprieve.  Your music, dance, writing, singing, running, swimming, fitness, rock-climbing, yoga, cars, traveling, adventures, etc…  You know, the things that vary our life and make us feel alive.  What becomes of all those activities, pursuits, interests?  The things that REALLY define who you are?  Will  you wake up in your 40s only to realize you never got to try your hand at a musical career?

Do you see how it starts to pile-up?  The choices you have open to you become less and less.  Sure- you can entertain concepts such as “work-life” balance and “personal” time, but ultimately YOU take a backseat to the obligations in life you have entered into.  Again, some people may read this and ever the cynic comment, “that’s life…”  But is it?  Where did you or I ever agree to that definition?  That has become the convention of life, or maybe the conventional life, but that is not life.  Those are the things you do for the life you have chosen, and here we come to the crux of it.  If you choose to follow that path enumerated above, you may find yourself in this camp.  The thing I often wonder about is does the younger version of you truly understand the way of things when these choices become so critical?  Does an 18-year-old really understand what the onus of corporate life will truly entail?  Or finances? Or family?  How do you prepare a young adult who has no previous experience with these obligations to understand what may lay ahead?  The answer is you simply cannot.  Experience is the best teacher, that is a tried-and-true moniker, and one that has stood the test of time.  Only when you find yourself at the horizon of these life events above do you truly understand what your life has become.

So, my hope with this blog is to prepare the younger generation now is to “storm the norm.”  To understand nothing is set-in-stone.  You can change your circumstance and your stars if you have the moxie, the determination, and the foresight.  My hope is that by sharing my experiences that have taught me so much that some young person can start building the life they want to have, not the one that everyone else told them is normal.

So stay tuned!

-Jon

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