A Fork in the Road: Life of Conformity or Life of Awesomeness

I’m currently in Taipei, Taiwan visiting my girlfriend. We’re currently doing the last distance thing (13 hour time difference) so it’s nice to be together for a change.

On this trip I started to think about how the culture embeds a certain life to the kids from a young age. It’s not at all unfamiliar in America too. It is always study hard, make good grades, get into a great college, get a good job, get married, have kids, and work until it’s time to retire. Life is made to be linear. There’s no time to jump off the track when the train is moving.

When thinking of my relatives or the friends that I know who were born and raised in Taiwan that is their life. That’s how my parents are. Of course they love to go out, see friends, and travel but all those times are saved for nights, weekends (sometimes) and holidays (few and far between). I do not see a culture that is accepting of a lifestyle redesign, finding a mobile lifestyle, and not working for work sake. I think mentioning it to a parent here would be more of a shock than back in the United States. Just a little though.

I’ve seen “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris translated in Chinese and sold in bookstores here but I don’t know how well it has sold. I guess it’s sounds absurd and passed over.

Just last weekend I met my girlfriend’s cousin who has the cutest three daughters I have met. The are 2, 5, and 8 years old. I instantly bonded with the older two and they liked the big playful kid inside me. We spent Saturday and Sunday with them around Taipei. Their dad wasn’t there both days. I asked the oldest daughter where her dad was. She said working. I then realized before my girlfriend never mentioned their dad when she would hang out with them on the weekends. This time I asked her where he works. She said in real estate. It makes sense. The busiest time for real estate is on the weekends but also the time when the kids are free from school. She said he only has four days off a month. I thought that’s terrible.

Yes he does have to work to support his family. Yet he’s missing out on so much of their childhood. Maybe he’s come to accept it. I don’t know because I’ve never talked to him. Maybe he’s at work on the weekends wishing he was out playing around at the park with them. I’m not sure. I just know when I hear about that type of work and life balance, it’s far from what I want.

On the other end, I have a friend in Florida who is his own boss, who works from home, and on some days when he drops off his young son to school, he is the only dad there. He’s not uncomfortable he’s the only dad there. He’s appreciative he can do that. That is a much cooler scenario.

I want none of the former and more of the latter. I want something different. This is what I want spoke in present tense (it’s more powerful).

I have the freedom to have my own schedule. I have the freedom to live and work anywhere I have an internet connection. I have the freedom to take a mini-retirement and go live in another country if I choose. I am earning a very comfortable living with out sacrificing my life and free time. I am working on projects I am passionate about.

If that sounds like you then we have something strong in common. If you tell 9 out of 10 people that, they will think it’s impossible. To make money and have freedom? Yet if you’re like me and reading online entrepreneurs like Yaro Starak, Darren Rowse, Corbett Barr, Pat Flynn, Chris Guillebeau, and Tyrone Shum to name a few from a much larger group, you know it not only does sound crazy but it is possible. They have the freedom, they make a comfortable income or more, and they absolutely love what they do. The perfect trifecta.

So what are you doing right now to make sure you have a great work and life balance? Are you on the right path?

Photo by Prince Roy

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  • Inspiring words and I am in complete agreement.

    I hope to see trends slowly change in Taiwan though as the younger generation sees that the lifestyle of our parents is not the only choice available.

    Money doesn’t necessarily have to come through sacrifice. People should be able to achieve financial success by following their passions and enjoying what they do for work.

    • Benny

      I believe the younger generation in the US has placed more of an importance on a work and life balance. In Taiwan I don’t notice it as much. Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment.

  • Benny,

    Good stuff. I like where your head is at. I think we are in sync. Like you said, we are all given a mold to follow. A life formula if you will.

    To break out of it you have to be a bit like Christopher Columbus. You have to believe that the world is round and not flat, and then take the chance and explore, ignoring all the neigh-sayers who will try to fill you with doubt and assure you that you will die if you embark on this journey.

    The internet has provided us all with the opportunity to break free from the status quo and achieve a “lifestyle by design”. It’s clear that you recognize this.

    Stick close to the people who believe this (like the ones you mentioned in your post) and you will achieve your goal.

    I’m with you my brother!

    -Mark

    • Benny

      I like your thinking too Mark! Thanks for reading it.

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  • Hi Benny! Thanks for this inspiring and encouraging post! Your present-tense statement *does* sound like me — but, currently, only because my husband works the 7:00am-4:00pm job to support us while I pursue my writing career.

    But! My first novel is coming out on April 19th, so hopefully I’ll be contributing to our financial support soon! : ) In the meantime…I’ve tried to communicate to friends and family the joy of following one’s passion and not submitting to a “linear lifestyle” (I really like that phrase). And when I tell them such things, the reactions are not positive.

    Most people react with anger. They say, “Well, the rest of us don’t have the option of staying home like you do. We have to work.” (As though writing weren’t work.) Nobody has come right out and said to my face that they think I’m a lazy, dreamerish bum…but the implication is there.

    It’s taken me a long time to stop letting those implied accusations control my behavior — and my life. Finally, though, I have jumped off that train. And I am not getting back on! : )

    • Benny

      Courtney! So glad to hear from you here. I’ve seen you on Twitter RT some of my stuff. Thank you!

      Your story is so inspiring in. I’m glad you didn’t listen to the people who thought you were crazy for writing a book. They definitely don’t know how hard it is to write a blog post let alone write a whole book! They think work is doing something meaningless over and over again until it’s time to go home. At the end of the day, what do they have to show for it? People thought the Wright Brothers were crazy for wanting to fly. I love your passion for what you do and am happy you took action.

      I’m so happy to hear you’ve jumped off the train of people trying to bring you down. I certainly do wish you success on your book! Please do let me know how it goes!!

  • Benny, I can’t tell you how much good it does me to meet other people who believe in *living*, not just existing. If I were in that kind of meaningless, repetitive work, it would kill my soul one little piece at a time.

    I am very happy to RT your stuff! You provide thoughtful, encouraging, inspiring stuff. That’s what I want, and that’s what my followers want, too. : )

    And thank you for inviting me to let you know about my book! Much to my surprise, things started rolling yesterday when my Kindle sales page went live at Amazon! (http://www.amazon.com/Colors-Deception-Demons-Saltmarch-ebook/dp/B004VB8QSW) So far, so good! It’s all very exciting! 😀

    • Benny

      On sale now is great! I went over to your latest post and watched your video. Second video blog? You’re a natural in front of the camera!

      I’m very excited for you! When I went to the link, the first thing that caught my attention was the book cover. Great cover!

      I hope the book is a success and I know there will be many more books in the future from you.