The great escape
“The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Why do so many people live lives that are so deeply dissatisfying?
So many people are driven by the status quo and hierarchical symbols of material conquest. Fighting daily battles, waging daily wars to differentiate themselves, to stand apart from the clutter. To become something better, something more. To achieve excellence and be exceptional to keep rising up in society’s cataract eyes – in a blind leading the blind, three-ring circus grind.
Yet, the brutal, cold irony of truth is that the system is conceived so that the harder we work to stand apart, the more we become a part of the communal fabric of the mundane formula and pattern of transforming into just another toy soldier tilling the wartorn soil for someone else’s gain – without question, without any doubt, without any inhibitions.
Many corporate industries are built to hold a carrot out so that the donkeys will be inspired to follow the carrot through the rabbit hole and to the distance beyond.
Dangle the right carrot in front of the right person. Set the benchmarks, teach them obedience, reward them for their obsequiousness, and start their programming.
They will aspire to be as ambitious and disenchanted as their predecessors.
Forever chasing rainbows in the sky. Infinitely hunting fool’s gold.
In a nutshell, you belong to someone else – Santa’s elves in servitude – so others may benefit from your lifetime of blood, sacrifices, sweat, and tears.
Slaves to the corporate grind
“If you want to buy things without looking at the price. Work without looking at the clock.” A famous meme top brass in companies love to share with their junior staff.
We are programmed from a young age to become infatuated with titles and designations, numbers and profitability, successes and triumphs, to network and affiliate ourselves with those of influence, to work for power and fortune.
That thrill of greedily tracking grandiosity, the fictional fulfilment of satiating egos.
Failure is unacceptable. Be accountable for success. Be profit-driven. Shareholder value is the penultimate goal. Customer satisfaction at all costs is mandatory, providing, of course, that the consumer is gullible, fallible, and willing to purchase whatever it is that we have to sell.
Be what your company needs you to be at all times.
It is the unspoken corporate mantra across the board in conventional and traditional organisational cultures to ingrain, embolden its workforce to be slaves to the grind.
Never to question how or why things are done, but to just get them done and pass it onto the next generation.
But that’s okay.
‘Cause you can tick off the grand checklist for your hard work.
- Loans and leases
- Robust credit facilities
- Perfect simulation
- Absolute misery, grief, and dissatisfaction
- A life not fully lived with meaning
We’ve seen the rise of autonomy and agility to scale cultures incorporated into more companies worldwide, even to those with cross-functional, matrix organisational structures. Ever wondered why this is? Because, organisations are beginning to understand that the new generations will not remain in a company if they aren’t satisfied – unlike the generations before them, who were conditioned to spend decades in one place without any depth, purpose, or self-value.
Say what you will about Millennials and Gen Z’s, but they are not afraid to shift from one job to another until they find something that is satisfying, rewarding, and inspiring with short and mid-term benefits and prospects. They won’t bother sticking around long term with anything dangled before them – because what they seek and aspire to aren’t the things that mattered to the generations before them.
For companies to retain employees they need to facilitate a work space that is motivational, offering freedom from the clutches of bygone corporate trappings, aboding a cultural environment which is flexible, encouraging independence resulting in greater productivity, inspiring higher levels of performance, and finally ascertaining job satisfaction.
One of the key benefits is possibly how it gives the workforce flexibility and freedom to follow other creative pursuits whilst finding a stellar work-life balance.
The struggle is real
Sure, we have conditioned and effectively programmed ourselves to be a part of the perpetual grind, to be a cohesive cog in the ever-grander wheel of the matrix we call existence.
By we, I mean the older demographic.
So, many of us work to a fault. Caught in systematic servitude of chasing money for survival, perhaps the greatest necessary evil known to humanity.
How many are stuck working in a job that they secretly and silently loathe? Caught in the corporate rat race of working like dogs for the upper echelons of the commercial stratosphere with nothing but grief, stress, and discontent in their lives? Day after day in torturous tedium.
Too many suffer with frustrations and negativity. Everything is pre-programmed and processed to stark perfection. And so many accept it and schlep on.
To support and look after one’s family and self.
To feed your kids, to keep your spouse happy.
To pay off credit card bills, loans, and leases.
To be worshipped as a role model.
To be adorned on a business magazine cover.
To be a major player invited to the big boys’ and girls’ table B.O.D. feast of corporate Game of Thrones.
To raise the financial resources that one hopes will pay off in the future and lend to one’s sustainability, stability, and solidarity.
That what you finally have to show for all your hard work might be worth it.
Accept it’s at the price of losing your conscience. Your soul. Your wellbeing. Self-value.
How long has it been since you forgot how to dream?
Plan your change
“Feelings of failure are critical for your motivation.”
– Joe Rogan
Find one thing that’s a passion project. Give it some of your time. Invest in it every day and night even in the smallest opening and window of time you can find. Keep doing it until you build it into your routine.
It’s infinitely more satisfying than working in a cubicle. Stuck in traffic. Getting blasted for problems not your own. Slaving away to make someone else richer while you struggle to pay off debts and bills.
Know that you aren’t trapped in a bad situation without escape.
You just need to plan your change.
I am going to tell you how.
First sow, then reap: It all starts with an idea. You need to feed your ideas. Water them. Nurture and nourish them every day to watch them grow. No plant will grow without you sowing the seeds in fertile ground, without constant water and sunshine – consistent nurture and care
Make meaningful choices: Discipline yourself. Organise your schedule so you make your time more productive and resourcefully manageable. Start making every moment count and stop counting your moments.
Burst the bubble: Crushing the paradox means you need to actively pursue which you love or have secretly craved but never had the impetus, opportunity, or time. Incentivise yourself. Create the opportunity. And make the time.
It’s cool – be a little self-serving: Spend all your waking hours and free time getting out of the rut and planning your change. Whatever time you have, you need to keep attacking it. Take a risk. Take a leap.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone: Start to work on something…anything you are deeply passionate about, whether it’s learning to surf, play chess, paint, play an instrument, trying out mixed martial arts, working out, taking a crack at yoga, horse-riding, or trying your hand at pottery or carpentry. Doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that you give that something/anything a go.
Failure is a valuable life metric: Failure gives you an opportunity for self-improvement. To give you a perspective and KPIs (key performance indicators) in life to learn and grow. To adjust and align and evolve. Whatever doesn’t work out in your favour teaches you lessons of what not to do.
Surround yourself with people who add value to your life: It’s integral that you distance yourself from: a) The “yes” men and women who are only around to feed your ego and b) those cynics and pessimists who keep demotivating and bringing you down. It makes a colossal difference when you start to associate with those who bring out the best version of yourself, push and drive you, inspiring you to venture forth with courage…and not be intimidated to call you out when you need a sound reality check.
Live your life, don’t let life dictate how you should live: Follow your heart, your gut, your dreams and desires. We know what we are supposed to do in life to become better versions of ourselves. Take care of your mind. Take care of your body. Be more attuned to the things around you. Find harmony in yourself and your environment. Trust in yourself and place value in your healing, growth, and enlightenment. Get a better sense of living your life to the fullest, with fulfilment and value. Relieving the tension. Enjoying yourself. Engaging with communities outside your circles. Enhance your skill set and talents.
Remember these motivational words:
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.”
– Marcus Aurelius
And so, I say: go ahead. It’s time.
Make your great escape!