This is a guest post from Steve Scott.
Even though we’re living in a world of uncertainty and the economy is worse than it’s been in ages, most people assume that in order to be happy and successful they have to conform to society’s unwritten rules.
You know the rules I’m talking about, you might even be guilty of believing them yourself: go to college and get a good job, get married and start a family, buy a house, etc. Sadly, that little routine is drilled into our heads from childhood on, and most of us are afraid of somehow winding up with the word “Failure” tattooed across our forehead if we go against the grain and do things differently. Why are we so scared to fail??
I recently read online that college students are going into such extreme debt in order to pay for school, it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be able to make their loan payments after graduation. Grim news, but a college degree represents a golden ticket to success for most people, so it’s a risk they’re willing to take.
Sadly, college doesn’t always equal success.
A few months ago, Karen asked me to write a guest post that described how I got to the point in my life where I walked away from the rules I just described. The reason this story is important is because it shows how it IS possible to move away from what society wants and move toward what YOU want.
Here’s my story…
Inspiration from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
When I was a kid, my favorite movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark. Why? I wanted to be like Indiana Jones so I could explore the world, too. I’ve probably seen that movie more than ten times, but it never gets old.
If you haven’t yet visited my blog, the SteveScottSite.com, you might not be aware that as I write this guest post for Karen I’m traveling through Europe. So far it hasn’t been quite as adventure-packed as Indy’s experiences were, but I’m having a blast and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.
I’m a lucky guy because I’m honestly able to say that I’m happy with my life. There’s a reason that self-help books and advice columns are as popular as they are—most people aren’t happy with their career and their life.
My friends and family back home in New Jersey had mixed reactions when I told them I was leaving the country for a few months. Well, okay, let me be honest— they didn’t have mixed reactions, most of them thought I was downright nuts.
Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. As long as I have access to a computer and an internet connection, I’m able to run my affiliate marketing business from anywhere in the world, which is why I see nothing wrong with travelling if I’m able to. Most of my friends back home, though, are the type of people I described in my opening paragraph—people with “normal” jobs who think success is defined by their occupation and the type of car they drive.
Inspiration from “Office Space”
I’m still a fan of Indiana Jones, but another movie I absolutely love is Office Space, because it reminds me why I used to hate my life back when I was stuck in the 9-to-5 rat race the way most of my friends are. If you’ve never seen it, you should. The movie takes a satirical look at a guy who absolutely hates his corporate job and all that it has to offer.
It’s a hilarious movie because it makes fun of every aspect of working in a cubicle all day— everything from rush-hour traffic to a boss who writes memos about memos and hand-delivers them to ensure that they’re read— without really trying too hard. It’s actually simple to make fun of things like that because they’re pretty pointless, and if you’ve ever worked in an office you’ll start cracking up because you had to deal with the same stuff at work.
I’ve been running my own business for several years now, and as I mentioned earlier I’m able to work from anywhere I choose. For the most part, things have gotten to the point that they’re almost completely automated—aside from the blog posts I write each week, of course—and I no longer have to spend forty, fifty, sixty hours a week chained to my desk. I can make my own schedule and actually get out there and enjoy my life.
Don’t mistakenly think that I live a life of leisure a la Paris Hilton or someone else who was born into millions. It took a lot of effort for me to get this far; I worked my butt off for several years. I just think it’s sad that so many people in the world hate their careers so much that they assume anyone who enjoys life must have been “lucky” somewhere along the line.
I receive a lot of emails from people asking me how I’ve gotten to the point I’m at now: working for myself and running a pretty successful business, so let me tell you a little story.
I Simply HATED My Life…
About eight years ago, I had a breakthrough moment. I was pretty much a living example of the Office Space guy, and one day while I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home from my “professional” job I realized something: I was sick of it all. I was sick of everything.
Looking back, I now realize that I always hated the idea of being confined to an office all day long and doing what someone else told me to do just because they were my boss, but I tried my best to conform to those “rules of society.” I didn’t want to be a failure and I wanted to make my Dad proud, but I couldn’t stand it.
I had always done everything I was supposed to do, and where had I wound up? I had graduated from high school, gone to college and graduate school, and I spent a few years in the military … looks good on paper, but even the military wasn’t as impressive as it sounds. I was in the Air Force and sometimes I was “tapped” to be a temporary augementee for the police, which meant that I got to direct traffic all day long in the 90 degrees-plus Mississippi weather.
The Day that Changed EVERYTHING
I can still remember sitting in my car that day, the day it all happened, that one specific moment where I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. It happened in an instant. I had just spent the last nine hours doing work that a trained money could have done for me, and now I was looking forward to a pleasant hour stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, crawling home only to wake up and do it all again the next day and the day after that.
I realized that this was what I had to look forward to for the next forty years of my life, and I got furious. Normally I’m a calm, rational person, but at that very moment on that typical day, I got so angry I yelled, “Why does my life suck so much? I did everything I was supposed to do, and look where it got me!” I’m sure the people in the cars around me locked their doors and felt a little scared, but that moment was the catalyst that made me want to change my life.
Inspiration from My Favorite Book
I love to read, but of everything I’ve read in my life, my favorite book is Replay by Ken Grimwood. I’ve probably read it twenty or so times in the last decade. The premise of the book is simple: imagine if you woke up one day and got to live your life over? What would you do differently? What would you change?
In Replay, the main character, Jeff Winston, gets to live part of his life over and over and over. Every time, he chooses to do things differently.
I recommend this book to everyone I know because it makes me think about life. We can’t rewind our lives and take back the past like Jeff does in the book, but we can control our futures.
We only get one shot at getting what we want out of life. That’s why I decided to quit pretending to be someone I’m not – a corporate professional – and take matters into my own hands.
We shouldn’t have to do what society tells us to do, and a lot more people are starting to realize that.
How to Get Your Personal Freedom
Okay… by now you’re probably wondering why should care about MY journey towards personal freedom. What I’m hoping is you’ll see that it IS possible to change your life and do what you want.
I’m saying you have to travel the world like I do. Instead, personal freedom might be about having more time with your family, or simply being able to have time to enjoy your hobbies.
In my opinion…personal freedom starts with a simple decision. You can either choose to do what you’ve always done OR make the commitment toward change. I can’t promise things will be easy. But I will say that it will be worth it when you choose to follow your own path to personal freedom.
Another technique is to find one reason why you want more freedom. Then hold on to this image whenever things get difficult. I call this a catalyst because it’s usually the driving force that makes us want to make a change.
So as we close this article, I have a few questions for you: What is the catalyst in your life? Is there an event or circumstance that’s caused you to want to change things? Where do you find inspiration when things get difficult?
I’d love to your thoughts in the comment section below…
Steve Scott writes about Lifestyle Design, Internet Marketing and Personal Growth at his site Steve Scott Site.
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