Dominoes and the Price of Admission
I really wanted to quit my job. I was too afraid of the domino effect to do it though. Quitting my job meant not being able to pay my mortgage and take care of my family.
We get stuck because we start thinking about the domino effect. The fear that the changes we want are going to cause a cascade of changes we don’t want.
The sticking point here is that we spend all this time thinking about the aspects of our lives we want to change, but when we can’t figure out how to change those things without affecting anything else, we give up.
“Fuck yeah, fuck my boss! He can take my gray little Dilbert cubicle and shove it right up his ass!” sounds great until your car payment is due.
Leaving your verbally abusive wife sounds good until you think about finding a new place to live, and the reality of your growing waistline in the face of having to go out and date again. You stop thinking about it because it feels too painful.
Don’t do that.
Here’s what you do instead: write down the consequences of the thing you want to do and work backward to eliminate them. Get rid of the bills you’re afraid you can’t pay. While you can still afford to live in the bigger place, move into a smaller place. While you can still afford two cars, sell them and buy two bikes instead, or a clunker. Now you’re free to stay or quit without the fear of the domino effect.
It helps to think like the worst has already happened. Sit and imagine you’ve just been fired. What do you do? Do you start looking for ways to cut back expenses? Do you take some time off to relax? Do you look for a different job? Do those things now, before you leave your job: cut expenses like you’re destitute, take some time off, look for a different job (you really are a masochist, aren’t you?). Now those dominoes have no power over you.
Tah-dah! You’re free to quit your job.
Caveat: Price of Admission
There are circumstances in which you endure one thing in order to hang onto another thing, and that can be okay. I call it the “price of admission.” You might have a boyfriend who you love dearly, and he might drive you up the wall by constantly leaving his clothes on the floor. You pick them up and wash them. Price of admission.
If you’re facing something that you think might be a deal breaker but you’re not sure, then:
- Ask yourself: What is causing my pain? I pick up dirty clothes because I want a clean room and my boyfriend leaves his shit everywhere.
- Ask yourself: What do I get for my pain? In exchange for cleaning clothes on the floor and a small portion of my sanity, I get an intensely loving, sexy boyfriend.
- Is what I get worth my pain? In other words, if someone proposed a deal to me to get the thing from question two in exchange for my pain, would I take the deal? Yes, I would take a kickass boyfriend in exchange for a life of uncertain laundry cleanliness.
- No, the upside isn’t worth the downside. Then stop taking the deal: it’s a deal breaker.
- Yes, the upside is worth the downside. Then you have two things to do. You must do the first. The second is up to your discretion and creativity:
- Become 100% okay with whatever the bad thing is. Even if you wouldn’t generally choose to clean up clothes after a grown-ass man, you have chosen to clean up in this context. That word is important: cleaning the dirty clothes is now a choice that I made, not a situation that I’m victimized by. If you find it impossible to be okay with a situation, then stop kidding yourself: the upside really isn’t worth the downside, stop taking the deal.
- Solve the problem in a different way. Hire a housekeeper. Problem solved.
Don't let the domino effect stop you from making the changes you know you need to make for a life of passion and fire. Eliminate the power those dominoes have over you, or fully embrace the prices you deliberately choose to pay for the life you truly desire.
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