The Black Sheep Wins – Why Going With The Norm May Not Be The Best Idea

- 15 minute read -

Following the crowd may not be the best gameplan for your life.

Have you attended a class reunion lately?

Some of these gatherings feel like an annual review meeting where people compare how they are doing with peers.

If you are doing slightly better than your friends, you feel a sense of security.

It’s easy to get caught up in feeling good about small improvements in your life such as a small pay increment from your company.

We all value stability in our life. A predictable and stable job. A normal life.

We may envy some of our friends who have smooth sailing careers.

But as long as you’re doing better than some of your friends, you feel safe.

“As long as I’m not the worst, its ok.”

It is often difficult to feel any urgency to achieve more.

But we forget if you act like 90% of the people, you’ll live like them too.

This seems like the easy way to live. Do what everyone else does and be comfortable.

No need to make the hard choices or take any risks.

But is it really the best way to live? Or is it just the easiest?

Unfortunately, sometimes the easiest road at the beginning turns out to be the hardest.

Sometimes the easiest road at the beginning turns out to be the hardest.

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Because the unfortunate truth is that most Singaporeans are constantly stressed about their finances and don’t retire well.

Dangers of Going with the Norm

What are the normal patterns in today’s world?

When you get a bonus, you should:

  • ​Go on vacation
  • Buy a new car
  • Buy new appliances/gadgets
  • Go for expensive dinners with your friends & family

But there are more important ways to spend your money, like:

  • Pay off debt including student loans or credit cards
  • Save for short-term goals such as an upcoming marriage or purchasing a home
  • Save for long-term goals such as retirement or your children’s college fund

When you follow everyone else’s bad financial habits, you’ll end up losing financial stability and probably deep in debt.

What is the Singaporean Dream?

  • Finish school
  • Go to university
  • Find a Job
  • Work 9 to 5
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Be grateful that you have a job
  • Work really hard at your job
  • Then finally, retire somehow

Yet, a study showed that more than 6 out of 10 Singaporeans worry about their retirement.

Why do you think so many people stress about money?

They worry about the rising cost of living. They worry about their children’s care. They worry about retirement. They worry about how they’ll pay off all the debt they’ve built up, for their tertiary studies, car, house etc.

Are you okay with settling for this kind of future?

The big question...

Are you happy? 

You may be comfortable, but are you truly happy? Is this all you really want out of life? Are you contented?

If you are, then great. Continue on as you are.

But what if you’re not? Do you complain about your situation and dread your day to day life?

If so, then stop your complaining and DO SOMETHING. Your life won’t change if you continue to do the same things over and over.

Don’t spend twenty hours a week watching TV shows or YouTube videos and then complain about your life.

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Choose to make changes and step out of your comfort zone.

If you want a different life, you need to act differently from your peers.

You need to break away from the cycle.

Be Brave – Dare to be Different

When you get too comfortable, you lose your drive and motivation.

You become happy with a mediocre life. Why not? Everyone else seems to be happy settling for the status quo. Why should you be any different?

Because normal people don’t make great changes in the world.

Elon Musk wouldn’t be considered “normal”. But he is taking on global issues such as climate change and space travel. He’s starting businesses that no one would have dreamt of a decade ago.

When you step outside your comfort zone, you can accomplish amazing things.

Don’t settle.

Be an explorer and embrace the adventure.

Embrace the weirdness in you and let it propel you forward.

How do you step out of your comfort zone and do more with your life?

First, you must decide –

What do you want to achieve?

Being comfortable can distract you from your original life goals. It’s time to get back on track and move forward.

When time has passed, and you’re holding your grandchildren on your lap, what stories do you want to tell them about your life? What did you do? Where did you go? What did you accomplish with your life?

Spend some time thinking about what you want people to say and remember about you.

Make a Breakthrough

Embrace your weirdness.

Rejoice that you’re different from the crowd. Accept that this is the thing that’s going to help you move out of your comfort zone and into the life you want.

Remember the story of the boiling frog?

Imagine a frog in a big pot of water. If the temperature immediately rose to boiling that frog would be jumping out of that pot in a second.

However, if the temperature rises slowly he doesn’t notice it. Before long it’s too late and he’s being served as frog legs for dinner.

Everyday life can be the same.

You become comfortable with your small paycheck and scraping by from week to week, month to month, until suddenly you’re old and you never made the changes you wanted in your life.

Don’t be a boiled frog. Look at your life honestly and decide to make changes – right now.

Prioritize to Advance

We live in a society of instant gratification. We want fun and pleasure RIGHT NOW!

But to change your life and gain financial success you have to learn to choose what’s most important.

Delayed gratification includes things like a savings account for emergencies or funds for retirement instead of going out to eat every night.

Obviously, a vacation to Hawaii is more fun than using your extra money to start a business.

But what is going to make your life more rewarding in the future?

We all have 24 hours in a day and most of us have a full time 9 to 5 job.

So if we work for 8 hours, sleep for 8 hours, spend 2 hours on transport and 2 hours for food and 1 hour for routine hygiene, we are left with 3 hours in a day.

And how each of us spend these 3 hours differently is what sets us apart.

You can choose to hit the pub with your friends this Friday evening or you can do something else like hit the gym or work on a side business.

When you put in more effort than others long enough, you will get results they can only dream off.

Do we wait till we are 50+ years old to put in our best effort, or do we put in our best effort now… so that we can have a better life later?

Learn to discipline yourself to choose delayed gratification over immediate pleasure.

Because having the discipline to do so is the one quality that 40 years of Stanford research found that makes people more likely to succeed.

Don’t choose comfort now at the expense of comfort in your future.

Choose your Friends Carefully

We all know the cliché:

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

When you spend your life hanging out with people who whine and complain about their life but do nothing to change, you’ll probably fall into the same cycle.

You may think it’s hard, or even impossible, to make changes in who you associate with on a regular basis.

But to be successful you’re going to have to make some changes – including your friends and associates.

Breaking away from the tribe isn’t easy. It’s human nature to feel you need your tribe to survive. Letting go of some friends and associates can be hard.

But making this decision is part of your journey to advancing in your life and finances.

The first thing you must do is become someone that successful people want to interact with.

Stop giving into the pressure to conform and be like everyone else.

You know who I mean -- the people who whine and blame all their problems on someone else. “If my boss was better” or “If the economy wasn’t so bad” or “If only my parents had taught me more”.

Change your mindset. Start to believe in yourself and your power to change your life.

Attend seminars where you’ll educate yourself and meet people who are doing the same.

Become someone that successful people want to associate with and you will find them.

Be Honest with Yourself

Take a long look in the mirror and evaluate your current life.

How close are you to the life you want? Are you on track or have you settled into complacency?

Have you defined your goals? Have you prioritized your daily activities to a push you towards the future you want?

Embrace the fact that you’re different from the tribe and want more out of life.

Relish the fact that you’re not going to settle for a comfortable “average” kind of life.

Then get started making the changes that will move you into the future you desire.

Go forth and be crazy.​

About the Author

Tim Wayne is the chief writer at Elite Financial Habits. He understands that the rich didn't grow their wealth using magic; it is simply an intelligent combination of mathematics, psychology and economics.

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