In 2009, the average employed American spent 8.7 hours of his day at work.
We work more than we sleep.
We work more than we eat.
We work more than we cook, talk with friends, have sex, take walks, paint pictures, eat ice-cream, write books, play with children, pursue hobbies, make sports, drink in shabby bars, and think about our lives.1
If we work that much, it should better be worth our time. If we spend more than 40 hours a week at our jobs, we should better make sure it’s leading somewhere good.
But is it?
Often enough, I highly doubt it.
Often enough, work is boring, stressful, or meaningless.
Is this really what we should be doing? Is this the way to spend our lives?
I wouldn’t bet on it.
As kids, we have a great time playing and having fun with pretty much everything we do. But as we grow up, we are taught to be more and more serious. After finally having learned how to walk and talk, the next big lesson is to sit down and shut up. We are taught to be silent when the grown-ups are talking, we are taught not to disturb our school teachers – and suddenly, time starts to run faster and faster: We are taught how to clean our teeth, how to tie our shoes, how to behave at the dinner table. We are taught how to do our homework, how to prepare for exams, how to make good use of our time. Next, we start to do internships or apply for college and trainee positions, because that’s what our career advisors tell us to do.
20 years later, we find ourselves in a job we never wanted, doing things that don’t really matter to us, and wondering if that was the way we were meant to live the only life we got.
Where did we take the wrong turn?
We were domesticated. We were put into a game without ever agreeing on the rules. We were taught to play it safe, in order to fit in.
Our society teaches us to prefer consumption over real leisure, so in order to be able to consume a lot, we work a lot – no matter what, as long as it pays the bills.
Rules and Dependencies
We live in a world of unprecedented freedom – or so we think. In reality, most of us are born into a multitude of rules and dependencies, even if we weren’t born as slaves, nor into absolute poverty.
- We depend on corporations to feed us – thus we play by their rules.
- We depend on the media to inform us – thus we play by their rules.
- We depend on counselors and advisors to think for us – thus we play by their rules.
- We depend on teachers to educate us – thus we play by their rules.
- Most of all, we depend on money to buy what we need, day after day – and thus we play by its rules.
All of these rules come with some advantages – and with many strings attached.
Instead of simply accepting them unquestioned, I propose to become a personal sovereign and look behind them: Become your personal king, your personal queen – a micro-monarch, if you want – and transcend the rules that are keeping you back.
This kind of sovereignty is about expansion – but only on a personal level: Instead of subjugating others to your will, you become a leader only of yourself. The idea behind that is that it will be easier to fix the world, if we fix our own lives first. Don’t underestimate that: Becoming a personal sovereign is a lot of work – but it’s most certainly worth it!
The Grand Plan
- Get clear about the rules you live by.
- Opt out from unwanted systems.
- Travel to space.
- Enjoy the silence.
- Connect with your values.
- Define your own success.
- Experiment, play!
- Don’t go for rewards!
- Create new things.
- Remember: Creativity isn’t just “imaginativeness!” It’s doing things.
Drop the artificial adventure of Disneyland and Netflix for a real adventure inside your mind, and outside your front door.
“Why?” you ask, “isn’t adventure reserved for children and heroes?”
Yes, it is. But deep inside yourself, you are both.
The Book, Beta
Here it is, for you: Beyond Rules, in its first iteration.
Update: The free PDF edition of Beyond Rules is no longer available. You can get the revised and improved edition for Kindle at Amazon.
Written with love. 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. No strings attached. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!
- Unless one of these things is our work, of course. Put honestly, who is getting paid to drink in shabby bars, other than the barkeeper? [↩]