It’s Time to Opt-Out

by Jason Kotecki on · 15 comments

When you buy some­thing online, dur­ing the check­out process, there is almost always a check­box with an invi­ta­tion to receive pro­mo­tional emails of some sort. Some­times you have to check the box to get the emails. Other sites have pre-checked the box for you, auto­mat­i­cally assum­ing that you want their stuff. If you don’t, you phys­i­cally have to uncheck the box — or opt-out — yourself.

If you’re not pay­ing atten­tion, you could end up get­ting a bunch of stuff you didn’t really want.

Too many peo­ple live life with their check­boxes pre-checked.

Every soci­ety has cer­tain norms about how one is sup­posed to nav­i­gate through life. Here are a few that are pretty stan­dard in Amer­ica these days:

  • You work a job you only kinda like — if you’re lucky — and then get to do what you really want when you retire.
  • You always take the promotion.
  • You should live together before you get married.
  • A house­hold needs two incomes in order to survive.
  • A fam­ily must have two cars.
  • You have your babies in a hospital.
  • When they are four or five, you send them to school.
  • Your kids should be involved in as many extra cur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties as pos­si­ble as early as pos­si­ble. (If you want them to be well-adjusted and get into good schools, that is.)
  • Your fam­ily room should be cen­tered around a television.
  • You of course sub­scribe to cable.
  • You carry a monthly bal­ance on your credit card.

Inter­est­ingly, most of the norms above only became norms within the past 50–100 years. Which makes it all the more pecu­liar that we are so quick to fol­low them. “The way we do things” hasn’t always been the way we’ve done things. And yet, many peo­ple go through life with these “check­boxes” pre-selected.

It’s time to opt-out.

Opt-out of all the pre­con­ceived notions, assump­tions, and stereo­types. Then mind­fully choose what’s best for you.

Just because every­one around you is run­ning around like chick­ens with their heads cut off, over­com­mit­ted, over­whelmed, and finan­cially overex­tended doesn’t mean you have to be, too. Just like online, if you don’t pay atten­tion to what you’re sign­ing up for (and why), you could end up with a life flooded with things you don’t want. Things like stress, debt, and regret.

Of course, opting-out requires a fair mea­sure of thought. You have to think: is this what I really want? Were did this norm come from? What are the pros and cons of stick­ing with it or ignor­ing it? Are there any alternatives?

On top of the heavy think­ing, opting-out requires faith and courage as well.

It’s not my job or my aim to tell you WHAT to choose. I just want you to be inten­tional about your choos­ing. Your life doesn’t have to stick to the same stan­dard plot as every­one else. In the end, you may end up choos­ing to keep many of the things the same. But at least the deci­sions are yours, and not any­one else’s.

In the end, that’s what leads to a reward­ing life filled with mean­ing and adven­ture. And keeps you from get­ting a flood of stuff you never signed up for.


by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
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