The one question you need to live a better life.
Follow this rule to drastically change your life: Don’t EVER do anything just because someone else is doing it.
Seems obvious right? It is. That’s why it’s so hard to practice. Because we’re social animals, when we’re uncertain, one of our favourite ways to figure out the best option is to look at others and see what they’re doing.
It’s why social proof is such a big thing in marketing and sales. You see all those testimonials with people yapping on about how life changing product x is? They’re put there to ease your doubt, to say to you, “look, this is totally legit. See how many other people have already benefited from it.”
It’s why Amazon reviews are so critical. Every purchase carries risk, and when you’re stuck between two options, which are you going to go for: the one with zero ratings, or the one with 150 ratings at an average of four stars?
Coming back to our rule. Here’s some examples of doing something just because someone else is doing it (or says that you should).
– Reading a book because it’s a bestseller.
– Using a credit card to build your credit rating.
– Buying a house because you have enough money for a deposit.
– Staying in a job because it’s “stable.”
– Including certain product features because they’re the norm.
– Pursuing higher education.
These things are not bad. But they’re bad when they’re done because that’s what everyone else is doing.
Take the credit card example. You should have one, use it to purchase fuel and groceries and other minor expenses, and then pay it off at the end of every month. Why? Because this builds your credit history, and in turn your credit rating. Why do you need a good credit rating? So you can take out a mortgage or a loan. Why? So you can own a house or a nice car. Why do you want to do that? Err, because that’s what everyone else does when they grow up.
Go ahead. Call B.S. on me and come up with a tonne of supporting anecdotes and reasons behind why you did (or are doing) xyz. That’s fine. I’m not trying to change your mind. But bear this in mind:
The human mind, in all it’s greatness, when given any two separate points, can ALWAYS make a connection between them. Sometimes the connection is valid. Most of the time it’s not, but it feels like it is. Which means you can easily create a bucket load of reasons for doing xyz.
I’m not saying that you are buying a house, going to university, or whatever, solely because everyone else is doing it. I’m saying it’s likely a very strong reason.
Whenever you are considering a decision, one of the first questions to ask yourself is, “am I doing it just because everyone else is doing it?” You shouldn’t be. Because if you want to lead a better-than-average life one of the rules is, don’t ever do anything just because someone else is doing it.
Originally published by Phronetic. Used by permission.
Photo by michael dornbierer