The Real Reasons You Hate Your Life, and How to Fix Them

by Anne Dorko

“I don’t have enough money. I don’t have time to make a change. I’m not important or talented enough. I don’t know what I would do instead. I’ll do it someday… just not now.”

Yeah, you’re in a rough spot. I’ve said all those same things to myself, too. You want to know how you can stop hating your life so badly.

Imagine This Scenario

You settle down to live what people call a normal life. You work a tolerable 9-5 job. You’re a stable homeowner. Your life is one long track towards a typical career… and maybe even a family you’re not quite ready for.

To some people this is a comforting story, but to me this is a terrifying scene.

Sure, far worse fates are out there, but as far as life planning goes? All I hear is the sound of a box being closed over my head, with heavy-duty packing tape sealing the top shut. Thinking about life that way makes me want to quit everything.

Hating Your Life Sucks… What Are You Going to Do About It?

If you want to quit life because the future you’re expected to have looks bleak to you, it only makes sense to stop looking at it that way. It’s time to tear out the foundations leading up to the status quo and take a leap of faith into the wide open yonder. Why should you settle for anything less than what makes you happy?

Unfortunately, you’ve got a million excuses to stay right where you are. Notice, I said excuses… not reasons. Most reasons aren’t legit.

You’re stuck hating your life because you keep saying…

Excuse 1: “I don’t have enough money!”

There are certainly people out there who can use this excuse. If you have access to a computer with internet connection, you’re not one of those people. You would be amazed at what can be achieved by anyone with internet access.

This entire group came together because of a blog. Photo by Kelly Ellenz

For example: This entire group came together because of a blog, which makes Steve Kamb a lot of money. Photo by Kelly Ellenz

Money is an excuse, not a reason, for not breaking free and doing something. Take yourself on adventures.

The only arguable thing standing in your way is debt. Yes, it is more financially sound to tackle debt before taking off on adventure, but you only have one life. In the end, it’s up to you to still work out a way that lets you get up and go. I managed to travel the world and still eventually pay off over $10,000. Sure, I’m still working on my student loans, but it’s a process that takes time.

I’ve learned that the money I spend on an adventure is close to my budget when I live somewhere permanent. If you trade one for the other, the cost is the same. The magic trick is learning to make money on the road, which may involve switching career tactics. More on that in a moment!

You’re still shaking your head because money is too tight? Maybe you need to reconsider what an adventure is. It means a new experience. While a lot of awesome adventures out there are expensive, they don’t have to be. Your adventures don’t need to involve round-the-world flights, either.

But let’s say you do have some financial difficulties. How do you get rid of the money issue? Let’s look at some of your options:

Evaluate Current Expenses

Often, it turns out that you already have the money you need to do what you want. The problem is that you haven’t budgeted well or prioritized your real goals.

Simply put: You’re spending your money on something less important.

Create a simple budget detailing life necessities, then see what’s leftover. If you’ve got money to spare and are wondering where it goes every month, then the issue is in your spending habits.

Once you’ve fixed your budget, you’re set! If that’s not the problem then…

Increase Your Income

For a lot of people there just isn’t that extra money. For example – my budget is usually tight and there’s not too much room for error.

What do you do? Make more money! (It sounds so easy, doesn’t it?)

There are countless lifestyle hackers out there teaching you how to make money on the side. There’s a million ways a million people have made money… and a million ways that won’t work for you. The trick is finding what that is, and being willing to try.

Here are just a few of your options:

I’ve acted on a few of the easier techniques with some success, but honestly? There’s always the element of failure. I will continue my efforts to build recurring income tactics until I see much bigger payoffs. P.S. When I get there, I’ll tell you how I did it.

Action Item: Look for ways to increase your income by working smarter, not harder. It will need some hard work up front – but it will pay off.

Excuse 2: “I don’t have time.”

Assuming that you don’t have a family or children to support: Yes, you do have time. (If you have a family or children, this advice may not apply.)

When it comes to time, priority is key.

Not to say you can Not to say you can’t mix business with pleasure, though.

If you start with the things that drain you, you are leftover with no energy to spend on the things you love. Try switching that around. By starting with the things you love, you are refreshed and inspired to put the necessary time to the less thrilling work.

No, that doesn’t mean you need to wake up in the morning and fly out to a new country every day. What it means is that you change your priorities.

Action Item: Start spending time with your hobbies. Sign up for a side class and plan in work around it instead of visa versa. No one else is going to focus on the things you care about for you.

Here are a few excellent resources for teaching yourself, 100% free:

Excuse 3: “I’m not important or talented enough.”

The big guys in lifestyle design or travel blogging make it look daunting. It’s easy to think that maybe you’re not important or talented enough to make these unconventional methods work for you.

While the world doesn’t revolve around you, spinning in your direction can certainly help.

Everyone starts somewhere. Some people may inherit popularity through connections or money, but many others have built their fame from the ground up. And the most successful learned through along series of trial and errors. Overnight success isn’t a real thing.

Let’s say you’re going to go on an epic tour of the world to acquire skills of awesome proportions.

Whatever you do, find a way to help others through it. Turn your life into a resource for others. Show them how you plan to follow through on your plan. Teach them the skills you learn through blog and video. Create lists explaining how they can follow your example, and chase their own dreams.

If you start telling your story to the right people, you may just find that they’re willing to listen.

Action Item: Figure out your story. What would you do if no one and nothing was stopping you? How can you take that and turn it into something people care about?

Excuse 4: “I don’t know what I want to do!”

Alternative excuse: “I want to do too many things!”

There is such a thing as having too many options. When you open the entire world to yourself as a playground, it is overwhelming. How do you know where the best places to go are? What if you miss something amazing?

It almost makes you want to just shut the door and stay at home.

But you’re not going to do that. The journey of a thousand epic skills starts with a single idea. Stop thinking about your whole life and the entire world, because that just leads to existential problems.

Quick! What sounds like fun if you could go do it tomorrow? Get oddly specific. Maybe it’s rafting naked in the Amazons, taming wild camels in Egypt with your bare hands, or jumping through the streets of Paris wearing your footie pajamas.

By getting out there, you give amazing things the opportunity to find YOU.

Byy getting out there, you give amazing things the opportunity to find YOU.

Action Item: Think of a few fun things you’d like to try that remove you from your current environment.

Got your list? Okay. Good. Start there. Start now.

In the course of booking and planning, some of the details may change. You may even think of something even better you’d like to do. It doesn’t matter. Because getting specific gives you something to aim for.

Excuse 5: “I’ll do that someday, I don’t need to do it now.”

Alternative excuse: “It’s too risky to change right now.”

Fact: When you say someday, you’re saying never.

It’s comfortable and easy to talk about someday. It’s uncomfortable and hard to change your life right now.

Think about it. How many New Years resolutions have you stuck with? How many have you quit by January 2nd? How many times did you tell yourself you’d get the house all cleaned up by the end of the weekend? Where’s that book you wanted to write?

You get the picture, and it’s not pretty. The proverbial tomorrow is easy to plan for, because it’s not scary. It’s close and realistic sounding, but at the end of the day, tomorrow will just be today again.

Everyone comes from a different background. You could be in any one of a thousand situations — but people like me need this type of directive. That’s who this is for.

Anyone is welcome to read and learn here at Without Boxes, but we’ll be talking to a specific group of folks… so take our advice with a grain of salt. You don’t have kids. You’re probably in your 20s-30s. There’s nothing tying you to one place. You might be in the middle of questioning whether a career is important. School is out of the picture; you’re stuck in this limbo of being an adult… but not really. You don’t want normal. The idea of mediocre or average kills you, but it’s too easy and stable to leave without a friendly shove.

If that rings true with you, then take the following to heart:

You’re fired.

I’m officially firing you from the life you’re living.

Whatever plans you were going to follow to get that everyday career are out the window. I’m firing you from staying inside the box you were forced into as you grew up.

(Disclaimer: This is my opinion and advice on life, and I am in no way legally responsible for any decisions you make on your own. I’m a regular person with a radical opinion.)

You’re free. There’s a few next steps to take. Once you’re outside of the box, you can’t just stand around. I forgot to warn you: It’s a jungle out here. Keep your eyes open and your mind alert.

  1. Pass the message on and see who else we can fire. Running around without boxes is safer when you’ve got a support team.
  2. Share your immediate goals with the world. By beginning to commit in writing what you will do in the upcoming days, you’ll start to get into the rhythm of go. Don’t tell us what your plans are, tell us what you WILL do. Don’t over-commit.
  3. Go out and do something. Stop talking about it. Get out there and make it happen!

Start easy... What are you going to do now?

First published June 01, 2012

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