Step out of the Matrix: 5 Steps to Doing Work You Love

By phildrolet

Jun 19

Reading time: 8 minutes

6:30am. Beep, beep, beep.

John’s alarm goes off.

He feels so tired.

So he hits snooze. Twice.

7:30am. He rushes off to work.

Within minutes, he’s stuck in traffic.

Just like yesterday, and the day before.

8:45am. He walks into the office, already exhausted.

He makes a deal with himself: “I’ll check ESPN.com for a minute… then I’ll start working.

Soon, an hour has flown by. Oops.

10am. First meeting of the day.

John wonders: “why am I even here?”

The boardroom feels like a prison.

12pm. Lunch time!

John is ready for some comfort food.

He orders a burger and fries.

Satisfaction at last.

1:30pm.OMG, I’m so tired…” (the burger was a bad idea).

He desperately wants to take a nap.

So he goes into a bathroom stall and puts his head on the wall.

It’s ghetto as shit but he doesn’t care.

3pm. The day is crawling by.

His productivity is plummeting and he still has 2 hours to go.

“Maybe there’s something new on ESPN.com…”

5pm. DONE! FINALLY!

Time to face the traffic again.

“Here we go…”

6:15pm. He gets home, exhausted.

He thinks: “maybe I should go for a run…”

But fuck it, a beer sounds much better.

Aaahh, that’s the stuff.”

He takes a few sips, hoping tomorrow will be better.

Knowing deep down it won’t.

The Sobering Truth

In 2008, I had a “prestigious” job with a Fortunate 500 company.

Good salary, good benefits, all the works.

Everyone was telling me how I lucky I was.

The only problem was, I was miserable (just like John in that story…)

I was confused, and kept wondering “What’s wrong with me?”

Eventually, it took all my courage to leave that job behind.

It was the best decision I ever made.

Today, I wake up inspired, do work I love, and go to bed satisfied.

Sadly, millions of men are still living their version of John’s story. Maybe you are too.

Today, my goal is to give you a clear path towards liberation. In this article, I’ll share with you 5 critical steps you need to create a career you love.

It’s no magic bullet- you’ll need to be bold, work hard, and be unconventional.

And on the other side, you’ll realize it was the best thing you’ve ever done.

The Societal Perspective

You first need to see the Matrix in order to get out of it.

There are 3 main factors that have gotten you stuck- and understanding them will give you leverage. Let’s take a look at each one:

1)   The Education System

Do you remember having to choose your College major? If you’re like 99% of people, you didn’t have enough life experience at 17 to make an educated decision.

So you based your decision on what society values (“being a doctor is respectable”), your parents expectations (“they really want me to be a lawyer”) or some questionable theory (“I like Monopoly so I should like real estate”).

Ok, not ideal. It gets worse from here.

2)   The Cultural Narrative

Do you remember what people said about their jobs while you were growing up?

Was it along the lines of:

a)    “Work is the way to live your purpose” and “doing great work is deeply fulfilling”?

Or, more like:

b)    “Work sucks” and “you need a job to pay the bills”?

Personally, I heard a lot more of “B”. My guess is you did too.

Fast forward to your life after College.

You start working a job you don’t love, and something inside you screams: “I want to do something else!

But the voice in your head plays a different tune “work isn’t supposed to be fun- just be grateful you have a job!”

So you put on a brave face, and head to the office once again.

3)   Consumerism

Most American citizens are missing key elements to happiness: a sense of purpose, a vibrant spiritual life, involvement in their community, time in nature, an attitude of gratitude, etc.

The advertising world has capitalized on this by convincing us that happiness can be achieved through consumption: fancy cars, brand name clothes, a new iPhone, a giant TV, etc.

We all know that doesn’t really work. But we get caught up in it anyways.

The problem is, this lifestyle is expensive… and when you finally realize you’re in the wrong job, you don’t have the financial buffer to change careers.

The Impact of Having the Wrong Job

Let’s zoom out of the Matrix for a minute.

You know having a job you’re not passionate about is not ideal.

But how bad it is, really?

Let’s put it this way- staying in the wrong job is arguably the #1 most destructive decision you can make. Here’s why:

1)   You waste your gifts.

You have the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of others. But when you settle for work you’re not passionate about, you’re choosing mediocrity and robbing others of your gifts.

2)   You sell out

Selling your soul might pay the bills but it leaves you frustrated and emotionally drained. Is that the version of yourself you want to share with your loved ones?

3)   You set a shitty example

How can you tell your children to pursue their dreams, when you’re not even doing it yourself? Don’t be a hypocrite.

4)   It creates a chain reaction

When you sell your soul out, you feel pain. It’s unavoidable. And if you can’t avoid pain, you numb it.  Which leads you to indulge in the following:

a)   Alcohol

b)   Drugs

c)   Porn

d)   Infidelity

e)   Video games

Those behaviors sedate your potential for greatness and inhibit your drive for change.

They make you settle, and accept a reality that should be unacceptable.

WAKE UP! It’s time for a change.  

In 2010, I heard a whisper in my soul.

“This is unacceptable”, it said.

I tried to dismiss it. But it kept coming back.

Louder and louder, until I couldn’t ignore it.

So I quit my cushy corporate job, and started a powerful journey towards the career of my dreams.

And I’m here to tell you: “you can do the same!”

It will take work. It will take courage. It will take faith.

And right now is the best time to start.

The 5 Steps to Doing Work That Lights You Up

1.   Understanding the 4 Zones of Competence

In his book “The Big Leap”, Gay Hendricks teaches us that all of our skills exist within 1 of 4 zones:

Let me ask you: how much time are you currently spending your Zone of Genius?

Most people spend 90%+ of their day in your zones of competence and excellence, with very few forays into their zone of genius.

The goal is simple: to build a life where you spend the majority of your time in your zone of genius.

This is where you feel on fire about life, produce great work, and make a significant difference in peoples’ lives.

2.   Getting Clear on Your Zone of Genius

So – what is your Zone of Genius? What were you born to do?

Perhaps you already know it. If so, you can jump to step #3.

If you’re not sure, you must actively look for it. You’re unlikely to discover your Zone of Genius by watching Netflix.

Here are 4 journaling questions I suggest you start with. Answer 1/day, and fill up at least one full page (the good stuff takes a while to come through).

a) If you had all the time and all the money in the world (but still had to work), what would you do?

b) What do you most enjoy geeking out about? What do you love learning about?

c) When do you feel most alive?

d) What can you be the best in the world at?

3.   Experiment Relentlessly

After completing Step #2, you should feel a lot clearer.

At the very least you should have a few hypotheses about what your Zone of Genius might be.

Now it’s time to put them to the test. Here’s how you do this:

a)    Make a list of 3 ways you could express your genius

b)    Set up an experiment for each one

For example…

  •      if you think you might be a writer- commit to writing an article by the end of the week.
  •      If you think you might be an entrepreneur- go spend 2 hours on a busy street trying to make money by selling something.
  •      If you think you might be a graphic designer, challenge yourself to redesign a logo for someone’s company.

This will help you decipher between what is actually your Zone of Genius, and what is more of a fantasy.

4.   Outwork Everybody

Once you finish step #3, you should have a strong idea of what you want to do.

Now comes the hardest step- you have to transition from your current situation.

During this transition phase, I suggest taking Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice: Outwork everybody.

if you want to start a business, you might have to work on it from 6pm to 10pm.

If you want to get a new job, you might need to do free work for a while.

If you have a job interview, you might have to prepare better than anyone else.

Go all-in. Your liberation is at stake!

5.   Make a Timeframe Commitment

At some point, you’ll come as close to the ledge as you can. Now it’s time to take the leap.

This is the most terrifying part, so what I suggest is making a “timeframe commitment”.

What this means is that you’re going to create a “trial period” for this new job, business, project, etc.

When I first launched my business, I gave myself a 6-months “trial period”. I worked harder than ever, and when the 6 months were up, I evaluated my progress and realized that, “yes, I am pulling it off”.

Here’s the key: for that period of time, you’re not allowed to second guess yourself. All your energy must go into succeeding. Go all-in.

Conclusion

To recap, here are the 5 steps you’ll have to go through to step out of the matrix and create your dream career:

1)    Understand the Zone of Genius

2)    Find your Zone of Genius

3)    Experiment Relentlessly

4)    Outwork Everybody

5)    Make a Timeframe Commitment

Now that we’ve made it this far, it’s time to make this real.

What is one action you can take TODAY to take a step in the direction of your dreams?

Don’t close this article without deciding WHAT it is, and WHEN you’re going to do it.

This transition is not going to happen by magic.

You need to do the work. You need to go for it.

And it starts right now.

Much love,

Phil

PS- What action are you committed to? Let me known in the comments below!

Life is short. Don’t settle.

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