Breaking Conventions Lesson 4: This is how can you break your monotonous life patterns

A major chunk of our lives is filled with repetitive and ordinary activities. You’ve to do the dishes every once in awhile. You’ve to bathe every day (don’t you?) And you gotta pee 6 to 10 times a day — you know your bladder better.

I can understand if your circumstances don’t permit you to quit your day job. But what’s astonishing to me is that except for the work-hours, most people don’t pursue any major meaningful activity. Once the clock strikes 5, they welcome mediocrity into their lives.

Does that sound exciting?

Look, I am not against mediocrity. Except for a few skills, we’re average in most aspects of our lives. And sure, there’s a place for embracing your flaws.

But there’s a deeper issue with such a 9-5 life…

Once you step out of work, you let go of control. You live reactively (probably to social media, news and your friends). Your life revolves solely around the weekends.

Guess what?

Distraction and recklessness can slowly seep in during 9-5. There’s nothing to look forward to. You find your work boring and monotonous. In such a state, can you expect to achieve peak performance?

Some day you might gather the courage to break out of your ordinary lifestyle…

But you’re still fearful of the pain you’ve to go through. So you give in to the resistance and delay taking the first step.

When you gather courage, you might fall prey to information overdose. The internet is a garden of how-to articles, videos, and courses to satisfy your quest for knowledge on…Every. Fucking. Thing. That. You. Can. Imagine.

Google returns 2.24 million results for ‘why do men have nipples?’ (See for yourself here).

What’s a better way to procrastinate than reading well-written articles on building a habit? Stories of Zuckerberg reading 40 books in a year give you the feels and adrenaline rush — sans the effort and without going through the pain.

Ironically, even right now, you’re reading one such ‘informational course.’ In my defense: I’ve kept the course crisp and actionable. And I encourage you to work through the exercises along with every lesson for seeing results.

Anyway, so to break your life patterns and bring the dazzling sparkle back in your life…you’ve to take charge. Among many others the two most common ways people try to change their lives while pursuing a 9-5 job are:

  • going back to college for a master’s degree (which can put you in debt)
  • changing their jobs (brings short-term change before you go back to zero)

I would call these two as the conventional ways to get an income raise and delay addressing the real problem you’re facing in your job lifestyles.

So today, I want you to pursue something that’s uncharacteristic of you.

Not a one-time activity like hiking a mountain or dancing on the street. Think of a week to 3-month side-project (the longer, the better).

Are you socially awkward? Then try to engage in a 5-minute conversation with a stranger every day for the next 30 days. Are you a compulsive fast food eating person? Then commit to a healthy diet loaded with nutrients for one week.

You can also attempt to learn a new skill (like ballet dancing, playing an instrument or cooking your 3 favorite dishes). You can explore courses on Udemy. But it’s better to pursue your side-project alongside a friend who you get in touch with most days. Physical proximity to your accountability partner might help in better enforcement.

Before you shout, “what’s the point of this ridiculous project, Chintan?”, let me answer:

It’s to inculcate stepping out of your comfort zone and taking action. Even your larger goals won’t seem as daunting if you learn to break them down into achievable time-bound steps (that you’ll do in the side-project). You’re cultivating the skill of how to plan a project from scratch.

The side-project is a systematic way to break conventions. And it gives you a preview of the life on the other side of fear. Who knows where life might lead you with your newfound music skills?

In fact such side-projects can result in breakthrough ideas, changing the course of your life. Do you know that Google Maps and Gmail (two of largest Google products) are a result of the company asking its employees to pursue side-projects unrelated to their job descriptions?

I’ll share one more such remarkable side-project story of a young lad in the bonus material for the lesson tomorrow.

For right now:

Are you brimming with side-project ideas, but confused about structuring? Else, are you unable to come up with interesting side-projects?

Then here’s a pdf with 5 mini-project ideas. The file also contains a framework you can use to design your project.

Worksheet for Lesson 4: Mini-project.

I’ll be back in a couple of days with the last lesson on KICKING ASS. See ya!