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
View all posts by Jason Kotecki

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Richardson September 13, 2012 at 8:24 am

fantastic!
what a brilliant way to put it.
opting out, indeed:)
thanks for the sweet inspire,
Jennifer
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Thanks Jennifer! Sometimes it’s all about reframing an issue in order to think about it in a new way :)
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kathryn September 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

love the way you put this!!

growing up in the midwest in the 60′s, my boxes were checked before i was even born! it does take a lot of courage to part from the norm. i have been working hard my whole adult life to uncheck my boxes!

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Jason of Kim & Jason September 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm

It does take a lot of courage, Kathryn! Good for you for being brave enough to do some unchecking!
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Evan September 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I find the downshifting phenomenon (people voluntarily ‘reducing’ their lifestyles) very encouraging. Lots of people are opting out of the lunacy – don’t expect to hear much about it in the mainstream media though.
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm

No, not when we measure the health of our economy by how much stuff people are buying…
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Bloom September 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm

This is great!! I always try to ask myself whether I actually need something or whether society makes me think I need it. I’m so glad that I’m not alone and that other people are spreading the message. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in the fight Jason.
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hey Bloom — thanks! I’m happy to know that I’m not alone, either :)
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Debbie@happymaker September 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Hi Jason,

Love this. This one is great 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.)
I see my kidsdoing this with their kids and think to myself, by the time these kids are old enough for actives, the parent is going to be so burnt out carting them around. ‘Good luck with that.’

And by the way when it comes to putting them in school, my grand kids are starting that at the age of 3 now. Poor kids don’t have time to be kids.

Actural I can say that I have opted out to most of this. I do have cable TV but my world does not revolve around it. I like the music station. (No adverstsing) and we only have 1 TV in the house.

Thanks again this post is great!
debbie
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Debbie, thanks for the comment. Totally agree with your assessment that kids don’t have time to be kids. Sadly, it’s very true!
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rob white September 17, 2012 at 8:35 am

I love that Jason. Opt out! When we think for ourselves, invariably, we find that we are able to make decisions and choices from truth. We are able to avail ourselves of subtle powers of the mind that give us new means of achieving our dreams.
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Indeed, Rob!
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Betti September 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Really interesting and inspirational thoughts, thanks for sharing them! I really like your point on the pre-checked checkboxes, I totally agree, most of us do it that way. And it can mislead us really often.

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Alex Aguilar October 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

I blame EULAs for this. You know, those lengthy End User License Agreements that comes with any new software you install on your computer? Massive walls of incomprehensible legalese no one in their right minds would ever want to read, let alone understand. We all simply click “I Agree” and move on with our lives. I know you’re supposed to ‘read the fine print,’ but who really the time and patience to do that, other than the lawyers and accountants who are paid to do so.

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Jason of Kim & Jason October 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

You’ve got a great point there, Alex. The problem is that even if you took the time to read it, who would understand it??? Besides the lawyers and accountants you mentioned…
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