Please draw your attention to the graph on your left. The y axis is a difficulty rating scale with 10 being the highest, and 1 the lowest. On the x axis we have the years of a person’s life, starting with 25 and finishing at 75. The blue curve is the theoretical chart of a person who, faced with a life changing opportunity at the age of 25, decides to stick with the path they know (easy path). The red curve charts that same person’s progress if they were to grasp the opportunity and screw the system. Let’s explain.
Before any analysis can begin it must be noted that 25 is a generalised age. Your life changing opportunity may come earlier or, in all likelihood, much later than 25. This age was selected simply because it gave us many years to play with.
So, for arguments sake, we have a 25 year old who has an idea or opportunity that could significantly change their life. Of course, they feel inspired and excited and these strong feelings urge them to pursue this new avenue. However, as the euphoria dies and they are faced with the reality of making some important changes, a new feeling emerges.
Fear enters their consciousness. What if they fail? Will they go broke? What will other people think? All of the outcomes the system teaches us to avoid are brought to the fore when we make an attempt to break free and pursue an independent destiny. As a result, this hypothetical person may do a quick mental check, comparing the two options (Screwing the System vs. Easy Path), evaluating what each one entails.
The classic mistake people make when comparing these two options is that they tend to only focus short term. Yes, the initial stages of pursuing your independent destiny are infinitely harder than sticking with what you know. You’re swimming against the tide so expect to be short on money, don’t be surprised when your decision is questioned by colleagues, peers and loved ones and brace yourself for initial failures. This is why the path of screwing the system starts at a difficulty level of 9 – It tests you to the limit. But note that it is not a 10. No matter how hard times get, they will not break you so long as you remain faithful and believe in whatever prompted you to make the initial decision.
Of course, you could just take the easy option and continue at a difficulty level of 4. You’re in a newish job, you’re paid enough to live in comfort and your future seems secure. And if you’re looking short term, the next 10 years or so will play out in a very similar fashion. Marriage and children are on the horizon, as well as a house of your own and a reasonable disposable income. Sure, you’ll have to work hard and deal with a fair share of stress but it’s more than likely that you will avoid any significant life challenges.
Even before 40, the two paths will merge. Research suggests that it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to become a master at any given field. This means that by 35, the person who decided to pursue their dreams is beginning to reap the rewards of their decision. Perhaps their new business has experienced a few years of profit or their book has been warmly received and touched the lives of many people. As a result, their life is getting easier. Not only are the beginning to be rewarded materially, they are experiencing true success. The feeling of joy that accompanies beating all the odds washes away the memories of the initial hardships.
The reverse could be said of the person who has stuck with the easy path. For them, the cracks are starting to appear. Maybe it’s at 40, 45 or even 55, but there comes a point in most people’s lives when they question its meaning. If the answer is little more than making money, doing enough to survive or what has been expected of me, then expect a loss of vitality. This is why the difficulty level rises for the easy path. You may still have your job, marriage, house and reasonable income but the slow decay of your spirit will take its toll.
For many, old age is something to be feared. A loss of health and ability can lead to a sharply decreasing quality of life. However, for the person who follows their dreams, age can have a surprisingly minimal effect – If your mind stays young, then your body has no choice but to follow. This is because of a commitment to pursue a life that stimulates. By the time you reach 70 you may have taken on 2 or 3 life projects but the same principle underlines all of your endeavours. You do what you do because it makes you feel alive, and for this reason life will remain a blissful adventure until the time of your passing.
The same cannot be said of the person who follows life’s easy path. What, at first, appeared to be the hassle free option now presents you with a mountain of difficulties. There’s an ever increasing chance, that at 65 or even 70, you still have to work to put food on the table. However, you are no longer a youthful 25 year old. Forty years of working at something that offers nothing more than financial reward has taken its toll on your health and energy. As a result, life is hard. Not only do you have to contend with physical deterioration, you must also carry the spiritual burden of unfulfilled potential.
This is a highly generalised analysis (with a 1000 word blog it had to be!). Your screw the system moment may happen earlier or not until a mid-life crisis sparks a dramatic change. You may be relatively happy with your life even without a great quest or passion to follow. However, if you hear the calling, yet are having doubts about taking the leap, then remember this one thing – hiding from who you really are, and what you’re really here to do, will not remain easy forever!
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