- Don’t leave a job until you have another offer
- Don’t break up with a girl until you know you can find someone better
- Don’t move abroad until you know what job you can take when you arrive
The common thread is this: have your next step locked up before taking the leap. Guarantee that you’ll be moving to a better position. Eliminate risk.
Now, I’m no expert. I’ve not run a statistical analysis on decisions and their outcomes. I’ve only lived life once, and then I’ve only done it for 25 years.
But I have some experience dealing with risk . . .
Back in 2010 I was living in Washington, DC and I hated it. I wanted to be in NYC with my friends. But I wouldn’t move until I had a job in NYC. I couldn’t just quit. I needed a paycheck.
Two years passed. I couldn’t get a job in NYC. It’s tough to build a new life when your time is so consumed with the business of maintaining your current one.
But after 2 years and 6 months, I FINALLY got to NYC. What new job did I take?
None. I didn’t have a new job.
I got to NYC when I decided I was going, come hell or high water. With only a 6 foot slab of floor in Ben’s room waiting for me. WITHOUT a job, a paycheck, or a risk-free plan.
I got to NYC when I stopped insisting that life guarantee me safe passage.
I went for the guaranteed safe route AGAIN in January 2012.
I dreamed of being a writer. I even had a few posts up on Kickass Academy. Nice posts though. Posts without swear words, that didn’t deal with attracting women.
I also had a Google Drive full of racier blog posts. Juicy ones on transforming your personality, having good sex, and general “Damn the Man, Save the Empire” type shit. Stuff that might have made the right kind of dudes come to any classes I taught.
I shared none of those posts though. I was terrified of what people might think.
Plus, I had a gig as a consultant. It was a suit and tie, MBA, traditional family type place. Steady paycheck. Why rock the boat by posting swear words and advice on meeting girls online?I didn’t publish. Until the steady paycheck went up in flames, that is. Funds dried up and the project I was supposed to work on was shuttered. I was out of a job. My safety net was stolen. I had rent that needed to be paid, student loans that would follow me beyond the grave, and NO income. Straight fucked by most people’s standards. That was on January 15th. On January 17th, I published my first class on meeting women during the day.
What’s the point of those stories?The point is that IN MY ANECDOTAL EXPERIENCE the best, gutsiest moves of my life happened when I eliminated the comfortable escape route (or it was eliminated for me). My life took its BEST turns when I burned the ships. When I had no choice but to make the thing I wanted most a reality. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to have a Plan B though? That way if things hadn’t worked out at least I wouldn’t have starved to death. I could have made the same choices and still had the comfort of a back up plan. Maybe. But I don’t think so. Repeated experimentation has proven to me that there is a psychological cost to having a Plan B. You see, guaranteeing a safe way out before making a move is a tacit admission that YOU CAN’T count on yourself. That you can’t rely on your own resourcefulness to make things work. That you need an escape plan. How are you supposed to succeed when YOU won’t even give yourself the vote of confidence!? When you are basically saying, “I’m probably going to fail, so I’d better set up my retreat beforehand.” Monthly paychecks, the guaranteed affection of a significant other: these are escape plans. Plan B’s when your entrepreneurial endeavor goes under or you are incapable of finding a new girl. They’ll keep you content. But you’ll never achieve your potential as long as you’ve got one eye on the fall back plan.
So set up plan B or burn the ships?If you’re living your dreams with a risk-free Plan B, stick to it. Be my guest. Enjoy the safety net. Don’t add risk into the equation. But if you’re like I was and you’re not making progress in the MOST IMPORTANT areas of your life after months or years of half-assing it with one foot in, one foot out . . . . then maybe it’s time for a change . . . Maybe it’s time to give yourself no option but to succeed (or die). Maybe it’s time to burn the ships. Burning the ships sends a message. You are all that is left. You will make it on your own. You are enough. Is it risky? No doubt. You’re relying only on your resourcefulness to make it. And that’s why burning the ships is so awesome. It is a massive bet on yourself. It is the most self-affirming decision you can make. It also has these benefits:
- It fires you up. Sure, it’s hard to get a job at a mid-tier company you don’t care about. But it is actually easier to start your own dream company. Because you’ll bust your ass and pull out all the stops.
- It gives you an insane amount of self-esteem. Burning the ships is a vote of confidence in yourself. It says that you are enough. `
- It forces you to push past fears. You’ll have to do things that scare the piss out of you. Things you would have avoided if total failure wasn’t a possibility. Those terrifying things are precisely the things that you NEED to do to be successful. (like posting the real stuff on KA)
- It raises the stakes. Dire circumstances are the mother of resourcefulness. You will be shocked at what you come up with when your back is against the wall. There is NO MOTIVATIONAL SUBSTITUTE for necessity.
- It gives you focus. Everything in your life gets run through the filter of your ultimate goal. And you’ll find resources you totally would have overlooked.
HERE’S MY PITCHI don’t know you. But I have suspicion. Your career is a compromise. You trade your time for money, stability, and approval. And you are capable of so much more. You could be spending your short time on this planet doing something that matters to you. You don’t need to take what’s been given. You can do better than where you are today. And if push came to shove, you would fucking push back. You would make it work. You’d find a way. You wouldn’t die. So burning the ships vs. having a backup plan . . . what is my advice? Burn them. Burn them to ashes. Pursue what you really want as if it were the only way. Because once you’ve burned the ships, It IS the only way. So . . .
- Quit your job
- Buy a one way ticket abroad
- Dump the significant other you are only content with
If you only make moves that are in the bag . . .
If you never face life-altering stakes . . .Your life will be a shadow of it’s full potential. That is my guarantee.
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