Social norms are designed to keep you…well….normal. Let me be the first to say, those people that succeed in life and especially those in business, those people that you probably look up to as an embodiment of success, are definitely NOT normal. They have carved their own path and have decided that being normal was too easy and in their one life, they wanted to do something bigger.
If you too are looking to achieve great things in life (my guess is that you are if you’re here reading this), then you’ll want to avoid these 5 social norms and instead do the opposite:
1. Social Norm: Do what everyone else is doing
Ok I admit, this seems obvious…But, it’s so easy in our lives to just fall in line and do what those before us have done. Whether it’s following a similar career path of our bosses, or dating someone your “supposed to date” – doing what everyone else is doing is going to give you the same results they had, nothing special. However, if you do have one friend or someone that you look up to that carved their own path and succeeded, do ask them for advice, but don’t try and replicate how they reached success – every person and every journey is different.
2. Social Norm: Fitting in
Sadly, this social norm starts at a very early age. You probably remember back in grade school when the last thing you wanted to do was stand out from your classmates. You probably also remember thinking that those few kids that did stand were quite weird (for lack of better terms). When it comes to succeeding in adulthood, standing out is exactly what you want to do. This is blatantly obvious in corporate culture where a “good” middle manager type may be stuck there for 20+ years, never getting that promotion they think they deserve. But really what their boss and bosses boss are looking for is someone that stands out with different ideas, not someone who just falls in line (often referred to as “yes men” or “yes women”).
3. Social Norm: Upgrading often
When you get that big raise, fat bonus, new higher paying job, etc. – it’s most common in today’s society to start upgrading. You get that bigger house (and bigger mortgage payment), nicer car (and higher car payment), etc.- showing off to society (especially your neighbors) that you’ve “made it”. But really all you are doing is increasing your liabilities and putting even more pressure on yourself to get that paycheck. Not to mention, upgrades never stop. Maybe for a few months you’re happy with that new car, but then you realize there is another level up and you inherently want that. Stop upgrading material things! Upgrade your skills instead.
4. Social Norm: Taking advice from those close to you
Though they may be coming from a “good place”, those family and friends closest to you actually want what is best for them and their relationship with you. Instead of taking advice from those closest to you, try and find someone who can give you an honest and objective opinion.
5. Social Norm: Take the “safe” route
Safe is…well, easy. It’s predictable and has a much lower downside then doing something risky – like starting a business. But there is one major flaw to the “safe” route – it has a very limited upside. The upside is where real success and fulfillment comes into our lives. It’s what helps us grow by pushing us out of our comfort zone. Next time you find yourself taking the safe route, take a step back and see what gains you’re missing out on – those will never exist when just trying to limit your downside risk.