We hear a lot about “thinking outside the box.” I’ve heard it. I’ve said it. Like so many other phrases that have become cliché’s it’s overused and yet difficult to put into practice.
The definition I liked best was from Dustin Wax on LifeHack:
Thinking outside the box is more than just a business cliché. It means approaching problems in new, innovative ways; conceptualizing problems differently; and understanding your position in relation to any particular situation in a way you’d never thought of before. Ironically, it’s a cliché that means to think of clichéd situations in ways that aren’t clichéd.
It’s difficult to look at a problem in an innovative way. The paths of familiarity are well-worn and comfortable. Once you’re able to be creative and come up with a product or solution that blows away the familiar, you are inevitably challenged with convincing other people of the advantage to the new way of thinking.
In my experience, people tend to fight new ideas like a tigress protecting her young. Even, or especially, when they’ve asked for new ideas. The familiar is comfortable even when it’s obviously not working.
An extension of thinking outside the box is to literally imagine yourself no longer working in a physical box with other people. As a society we’ve been sold the story that we need to work in a business owned by someone else for the other person’s profit. To make it even more fun, we get to work in this box with other people, many of whom have their own agendas. I don’t believe this is the only destiny available for modern humans.
I left my corporate job in February of this year. It wasn’t an easy decision and it wasn’t a decision made in haste. I thought and planned for months how I would be able to afford to leave without risking becoming destitute. You see, what I did differently was that I left my job with no replacement job lined up. After months of being miserable where I was I took a deep breath and leapt into the unknown.
I was in the unusual position of being single and having a savings account that would support me for 6-12 months. Thankfully, since I’ve taught fitness classes for so many years, the gym I worked at was happy to offer me the opportunity to work at their front desk. I am making less money now than I’ve made in 25 years but I have never been happier.
With some trial and error, I now have a schedule that allows me to spend most of my mornings writing and meditating. I am able to daydream and plan with an open-ness I have never had in my entire life. As a female growing up in the 60’s, I was never offered the dreams of an unlimited future that girls are offered today. These months have offered me opportunities for growth I would have never dreamed of when I was younger.
During this phase of my life, I have discovered James Altucher, author of Altucher Confidential, who is one of my favorite authors. His books and blog posts reflect much of what I’ve discovered on my own, and then some. I highly recommend them to anyone who is ready to move from a box to freedom. I also recommend them to anyone who wants to look at life from a different perspective and who enjoys a good laugh along the way.
One of the practices that James advocates is writing down 10 ideas a day. Not 5, but 10. 10 ideas a day, every day, even when they don’t come easily. Especially when they don’t come easily. In case you’re wondering, this is one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever undertaken. Fortunately, bad ideas are okay too. Some days I focus on bad ideas only. It’s kind of fun and makes me laugh. The point of this is, in James’s words, this practice helps you to become “an idea machine.” This blog and the Jasmine Petals Yoga YouTube channel are a direct result of this dreaming. I will continue this practice while focusing on growing this dream and see what other dreams manifest.
Am I suggesting that everyone should walk away from their jobs and take a leap into the unknown? No, but I wish I could. I wish everyone could be granted a little bit of time away from their reality to take a few deep breaths and search for their passion. I wish everyone could then take some time to then find a way to make their passion their livelihood.
Maybe your passion is working in a box, for other people, following a path that is laid out for you with little room for deviation. If it isn’t, my wish for you is for you to dream. Dream big, dream small, dream silly, dream realistically. Whatever you dream, please have the courage to take a deep breath and leap. I promise, there will be a net, or an angel, to catch you.