Sometimes I think there is something wrong with me. I live a great life. Actually, I live an amazing life. Yet, it’s not enough.
I have a great job. I work for a great company, have a great boss and co-workers, I get 5 weeks of paid vacation plus holidays. I can go hike, bike, ski during my lunch hour and I make a good living. I am very lucky. I say thanks every day. Yet, I struggle. I need more. More vacation time. An even more flexible work schedule. I like what I do. I am good at what I do.
Why can’t I make that work for me? Why can’t I settle for that? What is wrong with me?
Then as I talk to people I learn many feel exactly the same way. They are in the same situation I’m in. They like their job and have a great life but it’s not enough. They feel restless. They feel confined. They need something different. They need more.
I don’t need more stuff or material things and neither do the people I talk to. What we crave is freedom. The option to set our own schedule instead of literally running in a hamster wheel from dawn to dusk with 8-5 work, chores and obligations.
We crave to design our days just the way we want to and also have the option to pursue our passions, not have someone else design it for us. We are trying to fit into this box society wants us to fit into but can’t. It just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t make us happy even though we really want it to.
But is us wanting to design our own days realistic? Or are we just a spoiled generation of dreamers that grew up being told we could do anything we wanted? Should we just give up on that and accept that adult life really isn’t as much fun as we thought it would be? That this is what it’s like and deal with it? After all, our parents and grandparents did.
The answer to that is: No, we shouldn’t settle. Our parents and grandparents did mostly out of necessity. They worked inside that box so that we didn’t have to settle. To settle would be to dishonor all the decades they quelled their dreams for just so that we could have a better life.
What we need to do is to keep the work ethic they had but change the box that society created.
We need to break the box and re-build it. Not just think outside it. Make it moldable. It’s already happening. More and more employers allow telecommuting, flexible schedules and focus on results instead of hours worked. Start-up businesses are on every corner. The word entrepreneur and solopreneur are now commonly heard. Dave Ramsey put the word EntreLeadership on the radar a few years ago with his best-selling book.
Becoming an entrepreneur or finding a way to break and mold that box isn’t easy, it takes hard work and guts. Our society is still very much a “one fits all” box and run on the “don’t rock the boat” mentality.
I’m working on breaking and molding that box but it’s scary. The box I’m working on isn’t that bad of a box. Opposite, it’s quite good! What if it doesn’t work out and I end up losing something great?
What if life outside the hamster wheel really isn’t what I envisioned? What if all the encouragement and tips I share here still being in my hamster wheel while helping others get off theirs were just big, fat lies and I should have never told you to go for your dreams? Do I then shamefully need to start a blog called “Stay In Your Hamster Wheel” even though the majority of people I meet want to leave theirs?
Naturally all the “what if’s” are coming out of the woodwork. But then it’s a whole lot easier to focus on what can be lost (the known) instead of what can be gained (the unknown). Too often we limit our mindset and we end up telling ourselves we’re going to fail before we even try.
I love to hear your thoughts on this. Please share in the comments.
Steve T says
I’m trying to break out of this box myself.
I know I can do it it’s just fighting fear to do it!
Fear is definitely part of the process but like you said, you know you can do it! But in this society it’s not an easy battle…
Rick Theule says
“What if life outside the hamster wheel really isn’t what I envisioned?” – BUT, what if it is, and MORE?
My box was broken apart a year ago. I didn’t want it to happen, but it did. I’m still trying to put the box back together. It’s hard. But, oh the wonderful process it has been!
Rick Theule recently posted…Fear and Trust
You’re so right Rick about the more part. After all, look at how your first box being broken launched you to where you are today. Keep inspiring!
Megan Starbuck says
Yes! I never wanted to grow up (& in many ways haven’t) because I saw adults who were either “stuck” in a job or didn’t have enough money. Sometimes both. I was just thinking I’d use this topic when I speak at a youth camp. For the longest time, I never wanted to run my own business either because that requires endless hours, but I’m seeing that hustling is fun when it’s something you’re passionate about, when it’s pushing you towards your goals. I just want to figure out how to balance a business focus with rest & family & hobbies & God.
Megan Starbuck recently posted…Living in a Tiny House
Growing up is overrated. I think the generation that is just now finishing high school or college are speeding up the change, which is good. They look at the old ways of doing things and just shake their heads. Great topic to talk about at youth camps. It’s a struggle for balance but when passion fuels your life that somehow just falls into place a lot easier.
I’m in the midst of the “boxless” revolution in my own life – stepping into a world where flexibility and creativity are both the rule and the goal. Neither one are about starting a new business, but rather redefining career roles and paths as I live out purpose and calling. I couldn’t be more thrilled and frightened at the same time. Then again, I have a friend who calls our faith-journey “exhilerating terror.” And that definition fits well.
Ronne recently posted…Living on a Prayer and Banana Nutter Butter Cheesecake
What a great revolution to have! I love that you are doing that. The world needs your words and stories. Exhilarating terror – what a great definition for this.
This post really resonated with me. It’s as if you read my mind when you wrote this! Our parents and grandparents worked hard to create this opportunity (and also dilemma!) for us to question the status quo and redefine the way we “work” in our own terms. I have always struggled with this until the last year or so when I realized that if I didn’t start thinking about where I want to be in the future, that I would continue to work inside the box. Granted, I have molded it somewhat to meet my needs, being a teleworker and having a ton of flexibility in my day. But to break out of it requires a much bigger mental shift, which includes planning for where you want to be and figuring out what changes you’d have to make to get there. As part of that, I’ve realized I’ve got some more breaking down to do! Thanks for sharing your challenges and your words of encouragement!
Thanks! You are so right about that unless we decide to have that mental shift and make a life plan we will still stay in that box. After all, if we are going to for example New York City from Los Angeles we are not just getting in the car aimlessly driving around until we might get there. We make a plan on how to get there and execute. So glad you are on that journey!
Amen!!! Great post!
Tammy Fuller says
Dana Brown says
Well written and lots to think about. I’m on the other side and there are things I miss about the ‘hamster wheel’ – there’s something comforting about knowing what to do each day, the consistent income and one thing I miss most is sick and vacation days. Do I regret my decision – no but there are advantages to both.
Thanks! There are always positives and negatives to both scenarios, for sure. Working for yourself certainly has it challenges but in the end I think the reason why people do is that drive to make a difference and have the freedom to set their own path. But yes, that guaranteed income for basically just showing up can be nice.