There is this famous experiment (legit or fake, it doesn’t really matter) in which a number of fleas are placed in a jar. Since their nature is to jump high – up to 100 times their weight, which can go up to 20cm – they exceed way above the jar limit.
But then a lid is placed on the top and the fleas, keeping their natural instincts, start hitting it hard and falling down into the jar. Consequently, they begin to jump a little bit lower, until they no longer hit the lid.
Three days later the lid is removed and guess what? Since the fleas learned the maximum height they can reach, without getting hurt, they will never jump out of the jar.
What is even more interesting is that their offspring will duplicate this behavior forever, as this new height standard will be passed from generation to generation.
Basically, the fleas have just conditioned themselves to jump lower, in order that they do not hit the lid anymore. So when they have the opportunity to jump higher again, they will no longer do it because they have already programmed their brains that it will never be possible.
‘Oh, but that would only happen to insects or to stupid small animals, what does have to do with human beings?’
Well, let me tell you that us, humans, have an unbeatable advantage over all the other species in the animal kingdom which is our ability to act and think rationally… but which makes it also our big disadvantage.
The fact that we are animals of reasoning, with our thoughts, ideas, and capacity of analysis, accumulating memories on the top, makes us having mind maps and association of ideas all the time.
So what we see around, the people we communicate with and relate to, and what we are told and taught usually becomes our reality. The reality.
Basically, the environment we grow (and also live) in dictates who we are and how we think.
The Harsh Truth
If you, like me, were born on planet Earth and you were raised in western society, then the most likely scenario is that you are not where you would like to be.
(Quick hint: Far from that!)
Since you were a little child, you were taught that you must be a nice person, go to school, and study hard until you finally reach the glory days when you will be fully ready to…apply for job.
Oh yes, that dream life of starting at 9 and leaving at 9 (forget about the 9 to 5, those are the jobs for the unambitious), arriving home later with no soul and creativity left whatsoever, but with that indisputable feeling of duty accomplished.
Every day might feel the same, but you know that you have made your boss’s life better and that’s all that matters, right?
Since your childhood you were taught that there is only one way to be socially accepted and successful, and that is to have a stable job and climb the career level, the ultimate stage of a fulfilled person.
And then everything follows: stylish clothes, a nice car, a well-equipped home, and women, who just look at you as a valuable man, ready to be a serious provider and the head of a future and lovely household.
Well my friend, I have bad news for you: you have been indoctrinated by the ones who love you the most!
Yes, since you have been able to speak and to think rationally, your father, your mother, and most likely everyone you know has just been spitting the same old formula of being successful shamelessly in your face.
As if success were defined by working for someone else your entire life, to then live the golden years when you can no longer grab your penis to pee, just because your sciatica, your arthritis, and your lack of vision do not allow you to do so anymore.
Hey, but do not blame them, as they do it to protect your best interests and give you the best possible future. They just proceed according to what they have always been told to, a truth which is transmitted from generation to generation, without anyone questioning the validity behind it.
So if you have come from a “normal family”, where none of the members is rich, then I regret to inform you that a mediocre mindset has been ingrained deep inside your brain.
Find a job and then build all your life around it
Look, I do not even need to talk about the others, as I can start with myself.
Some years ago when I came to Germany looking for opportunities that could provide me a better life, and that was everything I saw. It did not matter whether I would like the country, the people, or the culture (by the way, I never did).
No, what was important was to find a job – and subsequent jobs – which would finally give me financial security and the solid foundations for the rest of my life.
After all, this country is the engine of Europe, a social security heaven that will never leave you hanging, so what could go wrong?
And like me there were many:
The Spanish Engineer who could not find a good salary in his home country and just moved to Denmark to be paid the double.
The Portuguese doctor who moved to Canada, just because “you can not compare the conditions and the life standards the latter offers”.
Or the French husband and father who found an opportunity of a lifetime in Dubai, taking all his family with him.
I could go on and on with the examples, just to show you that 99% of the active population simply bases their life around their job. If you look around and think about most of the people you know, you will realize that their life orbits around their professional occupation.
What matters, above any other thing, is to be responsible and to do what’s best for the company you are working for, who then becomes part of who you are as a person.
‘Hello, I am John, an engineer at Boeing’. The time to be with family, friends, and to do the things you truly enjoy becomes secondary and should only be considered after all the work duties being fulfilled.
The disturbed minority
But we are not like the majority. We have always known that something was wrong in the first place and that there must be another way, a path that will you provide you a sense of fulfillment and not just a slow assassination of your soul.
When I graduated, more than ten years ago – exactly when the financial crisis of 2008 burst – my only preoccupation was to find a job or an internship that would put me in the marketplace as soon as possible.
My father, also afraid of the consequences of being too much time unemployed, started pressing me to look for all types of corporate jobs and not just the ones I had some preferences over.
This was the first moment I felt this interior discomfort as if everyone but me was dictating the course of my life.
Fortunately enough I found my first internship in the automotive industry, which allowed me to work in a very cool environment (where there were mostly men, of course), and to drive and test a lot of cars.
One year later, I got my real first job as a product manager in a logistics and shipping company. The responsibilities and also the higher salary gave me an incredible theoretical satisfaction.
But some months later, I felt again that something was not right. And in the summer of 2011, I decided to leave my job and go to Ibiza to sell some Açai on the beach and experience what the party island was all about.
I could go on and on, also referring to 2014, when I was already with a job in Germany but decided to ask for unpaid leave for three months to go to Brazil, just to have some freedom, meet new chicks, and eventually find new opportunities there.
The cycle repeated itself over and over again just to prove the simplest of the truths: that I am not a person who has been made to be a cubicle rat.
Trust me, I have really tried to believe that working for someone else was the only solution, but after almost more than 10 years I have realized that I have always been lying to myself.
Build your life around your ideal lifestyle (and not the other way around)
If you are still reading these lines, most likely you are exactly in the same situation as I was.
But maybe because you have always been told that working for someone else is the only way, or simply because you are too afraid of leaving your comfort zone and face the unknown, you just keep going with your normal life.
When deep down you know that you only feel fulfilled and happy when writing words on a computer.
When traveling around the globe and telling others about your experiences.
Or when mixing music in your amateur DJ program, something that truly makes you feel real and in charge.
So why people do this? Why do people keep living their entire lives dreaming about doing something they really want to do, instead of actually (trying to) doing it?
Individuals who have a dream of doing something and becoming someone much greater than they currently are, but who are so afraid of the ridicule, of what others think, and of being called ‘a lunatic’ that they just end up not doing anything.
But I will give you a challenge right now: stop in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Do not just see, but really look at yourself. Talk to you if necessary, so that the real YOU can come out.
Yes, the one who rarely shows up, unless all the planets are aligned or the level of alcohol in your blood is high. The powerful YOU who knows what he likes, what motivates him, and what makes him happy.
The real YOU who knows from the depths of his soul that there is another way. A way that is tough, hard, almost impossible, but whose rewards and sense of fulfillment are unbeatable.
I know that reality always has a crucial role and that without money you will be worse than dead.
But that is why I recommend you to save a considerable amount of money – to allow to “survive” between six to twelve months – to then say fuck off to your job and start that hustle you have never had the courage to, but which every cell of your body is screaming for.
You will embark on a one-way trip, as deep down you know that the pain of returning to that old, mediocre life will be much stronger than the pain of keep walking this new, winding road.
Bring the child who still lives inside you, that unformatted flea to jump as high as it can. You have many rounds in life but merely one big shot, so why wasting it on something that will only make you feel sad and miserable down the line?
You know the answer. You know what to do.