Are you tired of your days feeling like copy-and-paste-jobs of each other. Especially because you don’t like what’s being copied. The problem is, it seems like that’s just what life looks like for the foreseeable future?
I’ve got good news. You can stop the repetitive, boring, drudgery of copy-and-paste days. I’ll get to the three steps it takes to get it done in a second, but before you skip down to the tactics without reading about the causes, let me warn you.
WARNING: If you just try to implement the tactics without recognizing the root problem they are meant to solve, you will almost certainly fail. But, if you take the three minutes it will take to read below, you will be in perfect shape to start having uniquely crafted days instead of drab repeats. Up to you.
So what’s the deal with the continual day-to-day loop?
You are wired to attempt to fulfill your needs (water, food, shelter) in the safest and most consistent way. That was the best and most reliable way for our ancestors to pass on their genes to us.
Imagine our ancestors were faced with two paths they could take “Path A” and “Path B.” If they knew there were safe, edible plants down Path A and knew nothing about what was down Path B, why go down path B where there might not be plants, but instead could be some threat (probably some kind of man-eating predator, at least that’s what I picture)? There’s no real good reason to take Path B with survival at stake. So, they just kept going down path A. It was a great plan. It worked.
You do the exact same thing. You don’t live in the same world as our ancestors, but you have the same drives. You still need to fulfill those same needs. And, you have found a Path A that safely and consistently provides you with the means to fulfill your needs and likely quite a few of your wants. So, you just keep doing it.
Although Path B may look tantalizing, when it comes down to it, you just stick with what you know works. And so day in and day out, it looks the same. Wake up, go to work, do a few things, go home, eat, watch TV, go to bed. Luckily, it doesn’t actually have to be that way for us.
To take path “B,” we don’t have to walk blindly into the unknown. We have as much information available to us as we want about all the various paths we might take. It’s not a survival-depends-on-it choice.
For example, imagine you are bored with your job as a human resources manager and want to become a photographer? You don’t have to just quit your job, buy a camera, and then hope it works out.
There are tons and tons of resources that walk you through how to become a photographer. And they are created and provided by people that have been successful as photographers. You don’t have to wing it. It may not be easy, but the path to success has already been laid out for you.
My point is this: the risk you perceive with switching up your day-to-day, whether that be a new career, new hobby, new friends, or a new relationship, can be mitigated or completely removed, if you are willing to spend a little time learning how others have done what you want to do.
How To Pop Out Of Your Rut
Step 1: Identify your Path B.
What is it that you want to try? What is that thing you would do if you were guaranteed to succeed.
Step 2: Find a blog, podcast, book, or other source of information on how to go down Path B.
Step 3: USE THE INFORMATION.
Too simple you say? I didn’t say it was complicated. In fact, the title of the article is “3 Simple Steps.” It’s not complicated, but that doesn’t make it easy.
Step 1 is a little challenging but pretty fun.
Step 2 is pretty easy and quite fun.
Step 3 is hard.
Don’t Fall In the Common Trap
Most people don’t get through all three steps, no matter how simple they may be. Step 2 is usually where people stop. They fall victim to the good feelings they get when they are finding all those sources of information about their new and exciting path.
They believe that finding and absorbing all that information is actually moving them down Path B. It isn’t. Don’t do that. You need to do Step 2, it is critical, but it only matters if you move on to Step 3.
Step 3 is where the rubber meets the road. It is where you will decide if you really want to be the craftsman that creates your days or if you want to just drive in round-about (National Lampoon’s European Vacation style) for the next few decades.
There is a huge amount of fear associated with Step 3 because moving to that step means you are actually heading down that oh-so-scary Path B but as we discussed above, the fear is misplaced. It is tied to our history, but not our present.
If you do your research on Step 2, find a plan that has worked. And then follow that plan on Step 3. There’s very little reason to have much fear.
Don’t Burn Your Boats
I should also say, don’t “burn your boats.”
Here’s what I mean. There is a story (I’m not sure if it is true but the veracity of the story is irrelevant to the takeaway) about Hernán Cortés, the conquistador that claimed Mexico for Spain. Legend has it, that when, in 1519, he arrived on the shores of Mexico, he ordered his men to “Burn the boats” (he probably said it in Spanish).
The idea being, that if there were no boats, the only choice he and his men would have would be to march to the interior and conquer the Aztecs, taking the land for Spain.
It’s not clear if he did in fact burn his boats, but he certainly did defeat the Aztecs and take Mexico for Spain. Often times this story is used to advise people that to truly accomplish a goal, you have to take away your ability to retreat. Go all in. I don’t buy it.
It is too context specific. If you are married with a mortgage and kids, burning your boats to chase a dream may not be the best choice. That doesn’t mean don’t chase your dream, it just means be smart. Follow the path that you found in Step 2. But do so in a way that makes sure you aren’t going to completely disrupt the lives of everyone you love in the process.
I didn’t say it was easy. If it was, the vast majority of us wouldn’t be living a copy-paste life. It’s not easy, but it is simple. And you can do it.
Let’s start now.
Take Step 1 and identify your path “B”. Soon enough your life will be more like the craft beer from that local brewery everyone is talking about, and less like Bud Light.