We spend so much time waiting. Some of us are waiting for the "right" job that someone will pick us for, the "right" man or woman to spend our lives with, the "right" opportunity to leave a bad situation, or the "right" time to take that life-changing vacation so we can de-stress. We also spend a lot of our energy and money trying to live someone else's instruction manual on "how to" be more productive, "how to" do more with less, "how to" run more effective meetings, "how to" get ahead and "how to" do what we love.
Why are we so obsessed with the rules? Why do we seek out other people's seven-step program and toolkits on how to work and live? So many people are stuck in doing what is expected, waiting to fit in and waiting for someone else to validate them. It probably comes from the school system where for the very first time, our behavior and performance is graded on a scale from 1 to 5 or A to F. We are introduced to the mainstream with the dreaded bell curve of how we rate compared to other kids. We get conditioned to fit into the standards of what is expected.
There is a plethora of articles and books to make us more like everyone else. They range from "the five things to say when you hear a new idea" to "the five things your iPhone can teach you about happiness" and the "seven things you should not ignore to be successful." How can anyone else know you and what you need? Are you living your life or following a recipe in a cookbook? Why is it so important to fit in as a brand, a service or a human being?
This is how we have been trained and educated to operate. Authority figures and institutions instilled in us that we need to earn the right and wait to be recognized and acknowledged. Society is so obsessed with external validation. We are surrounded by people pursuing celebrity status and fame; being "known" is how so many measure their self-worth and success. And today celebrities go beyond athletes, musicians and actors to celebrated experts in yoga, self-help and even our very own social media "gurus."
In this world, success is determined by how we get chosen. The past decade has been a time of introspection and there is a shift today to becoming more mindful about what we want vs. the cookie cutter approach to life.
The good news is the world is changing. We have moved from scarcity to abundance and many people are more willing to try and fail fast or succeed (how ever they choose to define success). The sense of loyalty is shifting and there are those who can no longer simply follow a singular leader who limits their dreams. That's why we are witnessing an increase in entrepreneurism and people opting to take more risks. We are starting to realize that safe can be very risky.
If we can unlearn and get unstuck, we can start simplifying our lives and not give in to how others need to define us. Personally, I don't want to be in a box with a big label on it, even when I am dead. I want to unleash my curiosity to try new things and learn from every experiment and that's what my virtual tombstone should say about my life.
We can't wait for everyone else to change. The only one who you can fully expect to change is you. You have the keys to knowing what works and what doesn't work for you. As yourself:
- Do you want more than just to fit into someone else's manual?
- What do you need to do to craft your own map?
- Do you ever admit to yourself what absolutely terrifies you? And do you know that most of what we worry about never happens.
So please celebrate yourself and what you bring to the world. The label may read "one size fits all" but in reality, you are powerful in whatever size and shape you come in. Throw away the label and the expectations and do the hard work for your own peace of mind.