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Bill Bergeman


10 of My Favorite Passages From “The Pathless Path” by Paul Millerd

If you currently have a 'normal' job, read this list and see if it sounds like how you feel.

    1. Which led me to walk away...

    ...scratch that – run away. I even gave back a $24,000 signing bonus and missed out on a $30,000 bonus if I had been able to stick it out for another nine months. I left with the intention to become a freelance consultant, but soon enough, that story started to show its cracks as well. It didn’t take me long to realize I had been on a path that wasn’t mine and to find a new way forward, I would need to step into the unknown.

    2. On the pathless path, my conception expanded...

    ...and I was able to see the truth: that most people, including myself, have a deep desire to work on things that matter to them and bring forth what is inside them. It is only when we cling to the logic of the default path that we fail to see the possibilities for making that happen.

    3. Researchers Dorthe Berntsen and David Rubin study what they call “life scripts"...

    ...which they describe as “culturally shared expectations as to the order and timing of life events in a prototypical life course"...Most of these moments occur before the age of 35: graduating from school, getting a job, falling in love, and getting married. This means that for many people, expectations of life are centered around a small number of positive events that occur while we are young. Much of the rest of our lives remains unscripted and when people face inevitable setbacks, they are left without instructions on how to think or feel.

    4. This anxiety is not limited to young people...

    ...Increasingly, people at the end of traditional work careers tell me they are not excited about the default story of retirement. They still have a desire to engage with the world but don’t know how to make that happen.

    5. The modern world offers an abundance of paths...

    ...In one sense this is great. It’s the result of an industrial system and resulting prosperity that has created opportunities for people around the world. However, the proliferation of paths presents a challenge. With so many options it can be tempting to pick a path that offers certainty rather than doing the harder work of figuring out what we really want.

    6. This is the trap of prestigious career paths..

    ...Instead of thinking about what you want to do with your life, you default to the options most admired by your peers.

    7. No one wanted to grapple with this fundamental question: “Why the hell are so many grown adults spending their time on obviously pointless tasks?”

    When I tried to talk about the incredible amount of time I was wasting on this project, people quickly redirected my inquiry, saying, It may suck, but you’re getting something to put on your resume!” or “Everyone has to work, what are you supposed to do?” or “You should be grateful for being paid.”

    8. Many people dislike some parts of their jobs...

    ...but they stay in their jobs because their suffering is familiar. To change would be to trade the known for the unknown and change brings discomfort in hard to predict forms. So people avoid change and develop coping strategies.

    9. We can explain this strategy with a simple equation: Uncertain Discomfort < Certain Discomfort + Coping Mechanism.

    In other words, given sufficient coping strategies, people will be willing to tolerate consistent levels of misery for long stretches of time.

    10. Having faith is admitting that you don’t have all the answers for what comes next.

    Another phrase I’ve found useful to describe this state of mind is what the spiritual teacher Tara Brach calls “radical acceptance, which she says “is the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.”

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