ZombieLand

Do you feel safe? Comfortable? If the answer is yes, I apologize in advance. I’m about to make you uneasy.

ZombieLand is my term for institutionalized America—big business, public schools, desk jobs, cable TV, and tabloid magazines. ZombieLand is anywhere you feel useless or uninterested in what you’re doing. It’s the place where passion comes to die. It’s the status quo. Living and working in ZombieLand is futile. It doesn’t mean we can’t read magazines or watch TV, it just means we need to dig a little deeper to realize our full potential.

Many of us assume that ZombieLand is the safest place to work and build a career. Unfortunately, that’s bullshit. In ZombieLand, you sit at one desk. As a result, you learn very little. You tie yourself to a single company or a single skill and trust that you’ll be able to sustain a comfortable living until you retire. The chances of this happening are slim to none. It’s not 1950 anymore. The term job security has lost its luster. We’re in the heart of the information age, and things have changed.

In most cases, learning a specific skill and getting a job that lasts a lifetime is about as stable as a house of cards on a windy day (read: not stable). This approach may have been sufficient thirty years ago, but it’s not effective anymore. Today, being agile in our endeavors and building lasting relationships are far more important skills to master. This is the most bulletproof strategy in our fast-moving, unforgiving culture. It provides greater versatility, mobility, and opportunity, along with an impenetrable safety net.

To be frank, living in ZombieLand is the default choice—the lazy choice. It’s going out of style because technology is consuming all areas of the professional world. Tradesman are becoming obsolete, while experts, mavericks and knowledge workers are becoming increasingly more valuable. Your ZombieLand security blanket could be ripped away from you at any moment, so why are you hiding under it in the first place? Acknowledging this false sense of security is the first step in looking beyond your cubicle and setting yourself free.

You might argue that joining the ranks of corporate America is more practical. Okay, I get it. The schooling system spits us out into ZombieLand. We’re taught to graduate from college, throw our resumes at hiring managers, and settle into a desk job that best aligns with our degree. It’s the common-sense approach. Practical? Yes. Effective in achieving the lifestyle you want? Not necessarily. I know too many people who hate their day-to-day routine (including my younger self). But thankfully, ZombieLand isn’t the only option these days. New paths are emerging. Startup accelerators, crowdfunding platforms, and the sharing economy are leading the shift.

In the not so distant past, starting a business venture after graduation rarely crossed anyone’s mind—and if it did, most people would shy away from it. “That’s too risky. How would I even get started?”

This play-it-safe, stand-in-line mentality is fading fast as the entrepreneurial ecosystem grows increasingly more robust. I’m not suggesting that everyone should go build a business. It’s actually incredibly difficult and most people aren’t cut out for it. But that’s okay—there are multiple paths to take. The key thing to realize is this: ZombieLand is no longer the single, solitary option. Rejecting it is becoming more and more feasible—and lucrative.

Designing a lifestyle outside of ZombieLand is easier than you think.

The goal is not to work harder. The goal is to live the life you want to live, and to be in control. The goal is to eliminate the things that make you unhappy. For many of us—let’s face it, that’s our boring desk job.

Don’t use ZombieLand as a crutch or make it your default plan after graduation simply because it’s staring you in the face. And if you’re already in ZombieLand, don’t trick yourself into thinking you can’t leave. If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring your passions or doing something extraordinary, ZombieLand is the very place you need to avoid.

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