If you’re bored with your life, it’s not because you’re doing the same thing every day. It’s because you’re doing the wrong thing. – Matt D’Avella
That quote was the major theme of a new YouTube video by Matt D’Avella that I recently watched. The video got me thinking because it points to the idea that there’s nothing inherently wrong a boring or simple lifestyle as long as you love what you do. My first emotional reaction before my logical brain kicked in was, “How can that be? Wouldn’t most people prefer to be traveling the world, living exotic lives, whitewater rafting, partying it up, and doing interesting things if they could versus living a boring 9 to 5 office job life?”
Matt explains that he’s engineered his life to be intentionally boring. He doesn’t change his outfits, does the same workout routine every day, and eats the same food every day. These cut out unnecessary decisions that tax his willpower and makes for a life with less stress and anxiety. I’ve found that a lot of wealthy people have also admitted to having a boring, non-sexy day-to-day work life that lead to their success.
While one can argue that the real conclusion and revelation that he makes in the video is you need to “find your passion so that you’re not using vacations to escape from anything,” I would disagree because:
- I disagree with parts of that idea nowadays.
- That point is overly used, hackneyed, and beaten to death.
- There’s a better message hidden in the video.
First, “find a job you love so you don’t have to work a day in your life” has been beaten to death. I’ve heard or seen that advice from so many books and videos on social media that I’m sick of it. While I will never give up and keep searching for that dream job that I jump out of bed to start every morning, I think it’s a mistake to use that idea to believe you have to be unhappy until you find that job because it’s going to take a while to find it – maybe years, maybe until your 30s or 40s. Some people are still trying to figure it out. Not everyone’s so lucky as to make it when they’re young.
I’m not saying that Matt’s suggesting you should be unhappy. I just found that be an unproductive byproduct in my own life that I want to caution you to avoid.
I made the mistake of choosing to feel unhappy until I found the “holy grail.” It wasn’t until later that I realized that a lot of that unhappiness was a choice, not a side effect. Right now, I like my full time job. I may not exuberantly love it, but that’s okay. I’ve gotten to a decent place. My plans to make YouTube (and this blog) a career have been going on since around 2012 to 2014. Several years, two thousand videos and hundreds of blog articles later, this is still a side hobby that I haven’t successfully monetized (although I’ve tried, taken courses about it, even took Matt D’Avella’s course, which was really good). No, I don’t need your online business advice – chances are I’ve already heard it; I bring it up simply to illustrate that finding a job you absolutely love that pays the bills is much harder than some people claim.
And perhaps, it’s okay to not have a job you love. Rather than spending years in a self-inflicted agony, what if one changed their mindset from “I’m going to be unhappy until I find my dream job” to “I’m on my journey to find my dream job, and along the way, if I have a job that is meant to just pay the bills or satisfies but doesn’t thrill me, that’s okay.” Through this mindset, you’re still advancing and thoughtfully moving towards your dream job, which is something that people don’t do; some fail because they believe they can’t improve their work life at all and are doomed with a crappy job. And through this mindset, you aren’t added additional unhappiness through the fact that you haven’t made it yet; you see it as a journey. The only book I’ve seen that’s mentioned this mindset is this one, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.
Earlier this year, I shared some exclusive stores in my email newsletter about changing my perspective on finding my passion. I went to a Stoicism meetup in Nashville and the young host told me that he believed his job is there to just put food on the table for his family and he’s totally fine with that. He didn’t feel like he hadn’t to be head over heels about it. While we often hear this from older generations, I was a little pleasantly surprised to hear it from a young person. It doesn’t happen as often.
It benefited me in that moment because I needed to reset how I interpreted finding and not having found my passion.
So, it’s not that I think finding your passion is wrong. I think that’s a splendid thing to pursue. It’s just that it’s a journey, sometimes a long journey, to get there. And in the mean time, it’s best to realize that this is sometimes a marathon, not a spring, and to work thoughtfully towards in. Realize that billions of people in generations before you made it by simply being satisfied or tolerating their job, sometimes out of necessity. It’s not the end of the universe if you don’t like your job right now.
Moreover, personal finance gurus like Ramit Sethi claim that you learn to love your career once you develop mastery at it. I’ve seen touches of truth to this since I know a couple people who hated what they did, but now that they’re in a more upper management and skilled position, they enjoy their work possibly because of the level of skill and results they’ve achieved. At the same time, I don’t think you can take that too far; I really disliked bussing tables at restaurants, and I don’t think any level of skill I could get there would make me love it.
As far as the better, secret message hidden in Matt’s video, I think it’s the idea that you should identify the emotions and lifestyle that brings you the most and thoughtfully plan out a good lifestyle, even if it’s “boring” to others. Cut out what’s not serving you. Boring is subjective. Boring isn’t bad. Boring is sometimes fine. Having a repetitive life isn’t an issue if you enjoy it. It’s about what’s in that repetition: is it serving you or is it not?
I myself find this new perspective a hard pill to swallow, especially since one of my main life goals for the past few years has been to get out of my boring work -> gym life routine in the small suburb I lived. I conducted experiments to make my life more interesting to an extreme and almost desperate level. I wanted to make my life more interesting and I still do. Perhaps, I’ve been brainwashed by social media and people showing off their lavish lifestyles. But I’ve learned that I don’t need to match or come close to a lifestyle of a David Dobrik, Casey Neistat, or Dan Bilzerian. The vast majority of people live boring lives regardless of what they try to make you believe on social media. I simply want to live a better life than the one I have been.
While I agree that you should engineer the best life to fit your needs. I don’t think you should completely copy Matt’s lifestyle. You should use his general thinking to build your own lifestyle. Matt’s a unique, extreme person. He’s cut out a lot of possessions as a minimalist and has conducted a lot of extreme challenges like wearing the same t-shirt for a year or 30 days without sugar or screens. His tastes may not suit yours.
You may actually like to travel a lot. And although Matt uses travel and exotic experiences as an example of what he has cut out of his daily life to make way for a boring, good life, others may like travel. In fact, there’s another big YouTuber Lost Leblanc who has literally designed his life to revolve around his interest in traveling. You need to find out what works for you and what that boring, mundane life is for you. Even Lost Leblanc will likely admit that his standard day-to-day, while more glamorous than the average, still contains boring, dull work. He probably spends a lot of it doing work for his business, whether that’s editing his videos, planning ideas, or managing his online course.
What brings you stress and anxiety consistently? Is it choosing outfits? Or maybe it’s planning social events. Or maybe it’s the stress of moving to a new place constantly. Perhaps, that’s what you want to work on cutting out or at least figuring out a system to reduce those stress outputs.
What’s going to bring you the most joy in your life at work and in your personal life? What would you do for work if you were rich? For Matt, he thought long and hard about it and found out it was the joy of creating art and content, not exotic travel destinations. For you, maybe it is travel, but as you think deeper, it’s forming new experiences or meeting new people that is really what you get out of travel. It’s not the expensive trips or the fat bills.
What are you doing or chasing to live a more interesting life that’s actually not yielding the results you expected? Was all the work you put in to get that cliff shot for Instagram worth it? Did the people who follow you give you the approval you wanted and was that rewarding enough? Were certain eccentric or fascinating activities you tried worth keeping in your lifestyle? Sometimes, they are and sometimes, you find they aren’t.
The more thoughtful you are about this, the more you can zero in on what yields the greatest returns for you and reduce what’s not bringing as much value as you assumed.
As I think about this, I realize I still enjoy travel. I’ve been trying a lifestyle of constant travel recently, and I find that sometimes, it can be a bit exhausting and anxiety-producing. It’s not something I want to do forever, and yet, it’s something I want to still experiment with for a while in this stage of my life. I can be more thoughtful of how I can extend the duration of my stay to reduce the anxiety or at least the ways that work for me to reduce that anxiety (taking a walk, exercise, talking to new people, seeing nature).
I’m still thinking about what brings me the most joy. I have found that some of my favorite memories are not so much going to or trying out an expensive place or tourist attraction (e.g., some fancy restaurant in NYC or some good food items come to mind). Those are fun too and worth doing, but after a while, you get tired of them. And I’ve personally found that doing things for that photo to impress others yield limited results and positive feelings. For example, after I completed a Tough Mudder race, I found that this feat barely impressed anyone. What lasted was the fun memory of it and my own feeling of accomplishment. Along the same vein, I’ll probably never get into yachts, cigars, cavier, or golf no matter how rich I get because I’d be doing them simply because of the societal perception that “this is what rich, interesting people do.” I have no real interest in them. Instead, I’ll continue to pursue what interests me, like escape rooms and new beach destinations.
It’s the unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences or the people and relationships I form that yield the best feelings and memories; these things usually don’t cost that much. For example, last Halloween, I got a really cheap costume and walked the world’s largest Halloween parade in Manhattan with a hula hooping troupe.
This Halloween, I had a great time visiting my sister, playing beer pong, watching TV together, getting ice cream, surviving a hurricane, cooking together, and singing karaoke. Find out what it is for you because it’s not always what you first expect.
Sure, on occasion, I’ll slip and try interesting things that fail to deliver the results I want. I may try something in the future that is mostly designed to give the picture of living an interesting life while failing to deliver the internal results I want. Maybe that’s going on a yacht just to try it out, auditing for an acting role, trying to look cool in a night club — I’m not sure. It’s okay to test and taste sometimes. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to care about others’ opinions at times (especially if you’re Tinder profile still isn’t working). That said, I will likely do it less as I become more mature, wiser, and thoughtful about what really yields an interesting life. I hope you do the same! Sending you the best of luck in living a good life.