I settled. I was comfortable. And average just wasn’t good enough anymore.
So, why did you quit? Naturally, that is the first question I’m asked when I tell people that I quit my job and am traveling through Europe for 3 months. After testing various answers, I’ve now simply dumbed it down and rotate between “to travel”, *shrug* “to find myself”, and “I’m a millennial, lol”. While these replies are easier for conversation, none of them touch the starker underlying reason: my (then) career path wasn’t good enough. Settling for average was no longer an option. I knew I could do better.
As a side note, when people in/from Southern Europe appear to be concerned by the length of your vacation you know you’re either being completely reckless with your life or living it at 100% (so far I’m hoping it’s the latter).
The need for a better framework. While the path was long, winding, and frequently unclear, I came to two important conclusions over the past 5 years. Conclusion 1: I had settled on my current career path. I had become comfortable instead of striving to pursue my ultimate goals. Conclusion 2: For various reasons, the optimal path forward was to make a bold bet where I ended significantly closer to my goal or in a position where my only option was to try again – no more settling. My new framework of Epic Binary Outcomes (EBO) was born.
I wrote 600 words detailing the journey and thought-path of how I came to realize I needed a better life framework before realizing that was interesting, valuable, and an entire blog post upon itself – watch out for it later!
The 2 outcomes of Epic Binary Outcomes:
- The ideal, “Epic” outcome. Everyone has their own goals, aspirations, and ambitions. How you define your ideal outcome – your “Epic” outcome – is completely up to you. It can encompass as few or as many aspects of your life as you want. Be it financial, professional, romantic, family, faith, or other personal goals. The important part is the outcome you define is 100% your own, it is all-encompassing of your goals, and includes as many details as possible. What is my “Epic” outcome? I want to start and build a company which helps low-income families reduce debt and better manage their finances, while eventually being able to support a comfortable life for my family with a healthy and prosperous work-life balance. Location independence would be an added kicker! Does this sound crazy? Impossible? Highly-unlikely? Yes, good. But that is the point – make it Epic!
- Zero. Try again. The flip side of taking a big swing at a fastball is that you could strike out. Not get to first or second base. Zero. If you’re fine fighting for singles your whole life, this plan probably isn’t for you. Don’t get me wrong, people do extremely well playing that game, but let me be very clear – it is a different game. The good news in the game of life is that you define it and you can always give yourself another chance at bat. Take the zero and get ready to swing again.
3 benefits of an Epic Binary Outcome:
- No second place. Second place is fine… if it’s actually second place. But personally second place scares me because when you finally take a step back to see what you “won”, it is probably nothing like what you expected. That shiny second place trophy you think you have, may be closer to an irrelevant participation ribbon (in a different sport) upon closer inspection. Take a step back. Are you actually in second? Or did someone sell you that you’re in second? In an EBO, you either win or you lose, which gives you the data and confidence to act accordingly.
- Forces you to give 100%. When second place is no longer an option, you are forced to give 100%. This can seem scary at first, as many people are used to having some level of a safety net around them. Need to back off for a bit? No real reason, just want to party? Sure, the option is usually there. It might not be possible to measure what this safety net has “cost” you in progress and advancement, but it is nearly guaranteed that taking it away will drive dramatic improvement. Creating an EBO forces you to elevate your game.
- No FOMO. Life is fine. Work is good. Maybe I’m even making “great” money. But what if I were crushing it? I went 0 to 60 faster than everyone else. Win? But you’re in a damn Ferrari. Congrats, you’re operating at 30%. Fail. “I always felt like I was better”. What would 100% feel like? What if. What if. What if. When you’re forced to give 100%, there is zero space for “what-ifs?”. An EBO gives you confidence and comfort that you are continuously operating at the peak of your abilities. Nothing left on the table = No FOMO.
Not for Everyone:
- High risk-tolerance required. Guess what? When you’re willing to risk it all and give 100%, you might lose it all. This isn’t for the faint of heart. Taking the leap doesn’t guarantee success, it only guarantees that you can’t look back and say “what-if”.
- Willing to bet table stakes. Options rarely come free. What are you willing to bet, to sacrifice, in order to buy the opportunity to win big? No one is going to hand it to you. Are you going to save more? Spend more? Network more? Write more? Work more? And hopefully this doesn’t come as a shock – but the larger your defined “Epic” outcome is, the more you have to risk. Be ready to step up.
- Stay in the game. The key to taking a big swing is longevity and the confidence you will always have another opportunity. Keep your expenses low, start a side hustle, have a financial safety net. You don’t want to have to quit the game before you get your best chance.
Act. Act boldly. Act now. I realized that I had settled and for me, that was really scary. Settling simply shouldn’t an option for anyone – not for me, not for you. Acting boldly certainly isn’t easy either though. Justifying a large risk to yourself is difficult, let alone to your parents, friends, and colleagues. But what is the other option? Can you live with that? A good friend of mine made a bold bet on himself and largely inspired me to do the same. I hope this post can pass that same inspiration on to at least one more person. Let me know if it does 😉
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Orientation: Today is day 4 in Barcelona after taking off from NYC a little over a month ago. Rolled my ankle 2 nights ago at the fire-run (known as Correfoc) during La Merce so have been limping around the past couple days. Hoping a couple rest days will help get me back on my feet! Thankfully I already found a couple of great cafes nearby – literally one of the main goals of my trip.