You Can Always Opt Out

Is it possible to live in a way that conforms to your values, enriches your life, and dignifies you as a human being while being chained to a desk 10 or 12 or even 14 hours a day?

Probably not.

Opt Out

Especially if the desk is in an office you hate, at a job you despise, next to people you cannot stand.

Most of us were raised to believe that it was necessary to give up control of your time. You were supposed to live like this for the majority of your days on earth.

And why?

So you could eke out a marginal existence between work and sleep. And (maybe) get to rest two days out of every seven.

In fact, if you do not opt into this kind of lifestyle, society brands you juvenile, naïve, reckless, or just plain lazy.

Here is the truth.

You do not need to live your life this way.

You can opt out.

In fact, I hereby give you permission to opt out of this unnecessary, dreary, and fatalistic view of life.

(Just in case you were waiting around for someone to give you permission.)

You can own your own time. You can stop doing the things you hate and focus on the things you love. You can provide value to others. You can create agility in your life. You can design your lifestyle in any way you see fit.

But first you must opt out of everything that’s been holding you back.

How to Opt Out: The Ridiculously Easy 2-Step Guide

  1. Ask yourself, Do I have to do this?
  2. If not, is this bringing value to my life?

Whenever the answer to both of these questions is no, then it’s time to opt out.

Opt out meaning quit. Right now. Seriously.

It’s really that simple. We overcomplicate the process when we feel like we owe something to others. To our families. To our coworkers. To society.

You have to be brutally honest with yourself.

Do I really have to do this?

Do I really have to believe what I have come to believe?

Will I be out on the street or dead if I stop?

And if I don’t have to do it, am I really gaining anything of lasting value from doing it anyway?

Or are these obligations and beliefs I’m accumulating hurting me more than they are helping?

The answers can be surprising. I know it was for me. I used to believe in a lot of the conventional wisdom when it came to success and living the good life.

Like many of you, those illusions were shattered. If the financial crises of the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that most people don’t know what the hell they are talking about, even the people in charge.

There are many beliefs we carry that go unchallenged.

There are many actions we take based on unexamined assumptions.

It’s time to opt out.

Here’s a short list of things I’m opting out of:

  1. Signing up for 30 years of debt in order to pay for a house.
  2. Spending 40 years climbing other people’s ladders.
  3. Consuming as much as I can afford (and even more than I can afford, on credit).
  4. Letting other people define my hopes and desires for me.

I know what some of you are thinking.

“That’s easy to say if you are already mega-rich!”

Or in the opposite vein, “Yeah, if you are happy being dirt poor!”

These two positions are not the end-all be-all. In fact, they are not even all that accurate. There is a vast and rich continuum of experiences in-between enormous wealth and crippling poverty. But our psyches imagine the extreme scenarios in order to inhibit our actions.

We are great at defending the status quo out of fear of change.

This is a harmful and ugly byproduct of hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. But like any childish thing, you can set these beliefs aside and become the type of person you want to be.

You just have to start by opting out.

Image by mzarzar.

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