I am constantly thinking about how green the grass is on the other side — a life with full freedom to spend my time the way I want, with who I want and however I want.
In the internet era, you are never far from a rags to riches story, which inspires you one minute but then makes you hate yourself for being stuck in a rut and not moving fast enough.
And for most of us, life seems a lot like an infinite loop. We are running on this treadmill which stretches from our homes to our workspace with us just going back and forth, back and forth.
We are all kings in our own backyard, always wondering how life will be on the other side while not realizing that the fence around us has been built by us — brick by brick.
Your gut tells you you’re capable of much more. You have these hopes and dreams of a version of yourself who can pull those dreams off. But you are not able to muster the courage to jump over the fence.
If I were to lay down the blueprint for this fence, here is what is preventing you from jumping over.
The Assurance Of A Monthly Paycheck
Remember those $5 lattes? Or the avocado toast on the weekends for brunch? Or your last trip to Japan?
Your paycheck helps you pay for all those. I am not going to lie — my happiness and stress is close to zero around the time when I get paid but as the month progresses, it starts to climb. Its like the beat in music — constantly going up and down.
There is something about the surety of getting paid which makes the prospect so damn charming to get out of! After all, everybody likes an investment that guarantees return — which in this case it does.
I definitely sleep better knowing I can still afford peanut butter, goat cheese, organic milk, quinoa and other extravagances in life thanks to this monthly paycheck.
Good or bad is a discussion for another time.
Change is hard. Facing the devil we know is easier than going after the unknown. We get used to the life we build. Most of us adapt and evolve to fit our lives around our jobs.
We like going to the same Starbucks, standing in the same line and getting the same drink from the same person day in and day out because it makes us seem in control.
Try going to a new place and ordering something from the menu when you haven’t been there before. So much more taxing and mentally draining right? And god forbid if it is not a good experience…
I don’t know what I would do if one day, I wake up and have complete freedom of how to spend my time. I am pretty sure it would involve lazing around and Netflix. I have tried it. In my imagination, I see myself walking around with a lot of purpose, accomplishing tasks which will take me closer to my goal but in reality, that has definitely not been the case.
In reality, I start longing for familiarity a couple of hours into my day.
The Fear Of Making Decisions
We don’t like making decisions. Most of us are afraid to pull the trigger.
Jumping over the fence means a lot of decision making. And in most cases, it is not the decision but the consequences that follow which prevents us from jumping over.
Instead of thinking about the possibilities our brain keeps warning us and scaring us by putting the worst scenarios in our head. At this point in your life, you have probably already automated a lot of the small decisions but now, you will have to start over!
And starting over is hard. Anxiety inducing hard.
It’s the small daily decisions you don’t have to make which stop you from taking the leap — they did to me. I don’t have to worry about how to get to work or what I am eating for breakfast and lunch. Heck I don’t even need to worry about going to the gym because we have one at work!
Now imagine having to think about all of this on a daily basis. Having to plan when to go to the gym every single day!
Your Deep Seated Anxieties
In the last 5 years, I have thought, spoken, dreamt about life on the other side and yet here I am still holding on to my corporate job.
The longer I hold on to it, the longer the list of my anxieties grow. Writes James Clear, the NY Times Bestselling author of the book Atomic Habits
The longer you wait, the more deeply embedded you get in your current lifestyle. Your habits solidify. Your beliefs harden. You get comfortable.
The longer I wait, the harder it is to give up what I have — access to gym, food, massage chairs, insurance and coffee — all for free!
Life is tough and all of us carry scars. The healing is often harder and more painful than the wound itself. The trauma from losses, bad decisions and failures pushes us to protect what we have built. It sends us deeper into our own four walled fort prison.
Our anxieties push us to procrastinate, slows us down. We lose sleep, have a couple of bad days and then give up — the same damn loop again and again.
And before you know it, your entire life has passed before you and you haven’t moved much.
Letting People Down
No matter how much you read about choosing yourself or going after your dreams or taking big, bold risks — it is easier said than done.
And throughout the process, you will be letting tons of people down, more so if you fail. I don’t know about you but I hate to let people down. I hate it when I don’t deliver.
This can be a huge deterrent.
It has taken me years to be financially independent and to make my parents proud of where I am. Just thinking about the amount of work I have had to do and the time it has taken is enough to stop me.
Trust takes years to build but a moment to lose. And over time, the stakes become higher.
Ten years back, I would have only let my parents down but now — my parents, my wife, my cousins, my in-laws, my peers, my colleagues.
…The list keeps growing.