Most people live their life according to “The Plan”: finish school, get a job, get married, have kids. Stay in line, stay out of trouble.
Even if you’re not explicitly trying to follow this path, chances are that the choices you make are still influenced by this hierarchy. Your school is going to be a priority over getting a job. Your job is going to be a priority over getting married. Getting married is a priority over having kids.
This kind of life leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, some may find it satisfying, but what if you’re not one of those people? What if you want to travel before you settle down? What if you want to start a business instead of getting employed? What if you get knocked up in high school or if it turns out you can’t have children? The whole “Plan” goes right out the window.
Everybody is different. To me, this kind of a “normal life” sounds horrifying. Who in their right mind would want to aspire to it?
I mean, it’s not the end of the world if I end up in a job I dislike and a kinda boring marriage, but that’s not something I want to actively aspire to. Getting a job, getting married, or having kids are not bad things to go through in life, but if you constantly feel obligated to do each of these things as soon as possible, in the order society tells you to, your life starts to feel like one long day at work.
“This is the only way to live your life”
“The Plan” is a norm: an informal understanding that most of society follows. Like a general guide for living life. Not all people can be adventurous explorers who push the limits of humanity. In fact, most of us are just looking to make the best out of our current situation and be satisfied with the choices we make.
That’s totally fine if you’re fine with it — but are you really fine with it?
If you think I’m making a big stretch, try telling someone you don’t want to have kids or that you don’t want to get married. Try telling them you’d rather work weird jobs while traveling the world than hold down a steady job at a boring company. I’m not saying you should actually want any of those things, but watch as people’s eyes open up with horror and dread. The further you step away from “The Plan”, the more of an outcast you are perceived to be.
As a result, you fear breaking away from any norms of society. This fear is one of the biggest challenges in your personal development. It’s why you are afraid of approaching strangers or following your passion. It’s why you think it’s impossible to change or improve on your own.
This fear of breaking away from this norm is why people often commit to the first person they end up in a long relationship with. I’ve witnessed first-hand how people are visibly miserable and dread their wedding day, but when asked why they are getting married in the first place, they say something along the lines of: “We’ve been together for a long time and that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Think about that for a moment: They would rather commit to a person that doesn’t make them happy rather than break away from norms of society. The social pressure is that scary.
The worst part is that you are probably doing the same thing in one form or another. Being stuck in a job you hate. Being stuck in a relationship you hate. Being stuck in a personality you hate. Since you don’t know how to do things differently, you just keep going with the flow.
The main reason most people don’t even try to do things differently is that they don’t even believe that things can be done differently. The first step in changing your way of thinking is to know – not think, know – that it can be done.
Your life should be lead by… you
Ask yourself this: “Am I satisfied with my life?”
Take a moment and think about it. If the answer to that question is anything but a sound “Fuck YES!” then you’re in an obvious need of a change. Before you can take any steps to actually make that change, you first need to look at yourself in the mirror and admit that change is necessary.
Living the life other people want for you will make those other people happy, not you, and that’s not really fair. They have their own lives to be happy, isn’t it fair that you do what’s best for you?
After all, you’re the one who is going to have to live with the choices you make, for better or worse. And if things don’t turn out as expected, they most definitely won’t step up to take the blame. In the end, you are the one who makes the final choice and has to live with it.
Breaking away from social norms is scary and you will most likely be judged by everybody around you, but so what? I bet that most people who are quick to judge you — be it your family, friends, or complete strangers — are those who constantly complain about being unhappy with how their own lives turned out. So why even listen to them?
Never let anybody else dictate your life. After all, whether you take other’s advice or not, you are making a choice either way.
NOTE: This is an excerpt from Develop a Mind of Steel, the complete guide to a strong mindset. Give it a look.