It’s easy to follow conventional paths in life.
Society paves the way and complacency sucks us along like a slow moving sidewalk.
But easy also means boring and unfulfilling. Uncomfortable, too, since convention doesn’t properly fit our unique skills, interests, desires, and values.
To thrive in exciting and rewarding lives, we have to break away from misfitting paths and search for one that we feel we’re made for. I call this your “unfollowable” path because once you’re on it nobody can possibly keep up. To others, it looks crazy difficult. To you, it’s perpetually energizing.
Finding unfollowable paths is difficult.
It takes time and trial and error. But I believe with the right approach anyone can do it—and have a good time along the way.
I’ve been researching and developing such an approach ever since I “pretired” in 2013. While I’ve yet to prove it by finding my own unfollowable path, I have had a wicked time and made a lot of progress. So I think the approach is worth sharing.
The approach to finding your life path is called APEX: Afford Patience, Explore the Extraordinary.
This post rolls out a rough roadmap of the steps involved in APEX. We’ll look at it through the contrasting lens of two people:
- 🤦♀️ Faye Leare: A commendably bold, brave, and confident woman who smashes into every roadblock between her and her unique, unfollowable path.
- 🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: He hasn’t found his path yet, but is on the right track.
Whether or not the APEX approach resonates with you, I challenge you to think about how you can be less Faye, more Richard.
This first half of APEX is about lightening your load and getting in shape for your search.
Create a Cozy Cash Cushion
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “I can’t take it anymore. Time to make the leap and quit! I don’t know how I’ll make ends meet, but I’ll figure it out. AI probably. People are making fast fortunes off that.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “Ok. I’ve downsized my life, got a chunk of cash invested in the market, and lined up a relaxed part-time job. I’m ready to make the leap.”
The lure of fast money can mislead you and the stress of not knowing how to pay your bills drains your energy. So you need a financial buffer.
I shared how I’ve afforded financial patience by saving, investing, staying liquid, and being efficient with my spending. There are other ways to go about it, too. You may find a job that leaves you enough energy to explore in your free time. Or you could inherit or marry into a fortune, or sell your business for one.
Negate Negative Social Pressure
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “So what if my friends and family are telling me this is a bad idea? I’ll prove them wrong. I know I can do this.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “I’ve warmed my wife up to it. She’s on board. I’ve also connected with a group of cool people who’re making similar moves. As for the randos who look down on me and call me ‘Dick,’ screw them.”
Social pressure comes from two sources:
- Friends and family who try to steer you in undesired directions.
- Fear of losing status in others’ minds.
Forsaking unsupportive friends and family and ignoring others’ opinions is more likely to make you a crazy hobo than lead you to an unfollowable path. So the challenge is to:
- Untangle the misalignment between you and those who want the best for you.
- Surround yourself with people you will be impressed by your work to find your unfollowable path.
Get Your Sh*t Together
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “Fitness, friends, and fun aren’t my priority right now. I’m hunkering down. Time to grind and make this happen.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “No way am I embarking in a leaky boat. I gotta take time to get the basics sorted: rest, diet, exercise, social life, and mindset.”
Poor sleep, fitness, and diet, lack of fun, and soul suckers like, in my case, bad weather, fixed schedules bad news, and jerks, prevent you from regenerating the energy to explore with a smile on your face. Setting off in pursuit of an unfollowable path before unloading this baggage is a fool’s errand.
The same goes for taking off without the psychological tools to protect your optimism and resilience. Richard Davidson’s research shows that our brains are wired to have these “emotional styles” to varying degrees. I happen to be endowed in this regard—excessively, maybe. If you feel the opposite, Davidson has found a tool that reroutes your brain’s emotional processes: Meditation.
(Aside: Davidson’s book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain, finally helped me understand the hype behind meditation by explaining the practical neuroscience behind it.)
Explore the Extraordinary
Time to venture forth and find out what you’re capable of.
Set Some Sense of Direction
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “My goal is simple: I want to be happy and do awesome things. Getting rich wouldn’t hurt, either.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “I’ve sketched out what my ‘perpetually perfect day’ looks like and what ‘winning at life’ means to me. And I’ve identified some problems in the world I’d like to try contributing to taking on. At least I think so. It’s a start.”
The nebulous dream of your unfollowable path is nice to fantasize about but won’t get you anywhere. To hone in on some semblance of direction, it’s worth periodically pausing (but not for too long) to reflect on questions like:
- What does your “perpetually perfect day” look like?
- What’s your definition of winning at life?
- How do you measure success in life?
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “I know where I want to go and what I need to do. Now it’s just a matter of doing it. Boring admin like to-dos and reviews will only slow me down.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “I’m Lewis-and-Clark-ing my APEX journey: keeping tabs of my progress (or lack thereof), logging my discoveries, and carefully planning my next moves.”
Willy-nilly exploration is likely to leave you lost and exhausted with nothing to show for it. It’s crucial to organize your efforts. Keep a record of your explorations. Log what you’ve learned. Plan and review. It’s boring, but it pays off.
Talk to Scouts
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “My situation’s unlike anyone else’s, so their experience isn’t relevant to me. I’ve listened to a bunch of podcasts and audiobooks that taught me everything I need to know, anyway.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “Many people have ventured down paths similar to the ones I’m exploring. I’ve reached out to them for tips and advice.”
My biggest mistake has been not following this step. I’ve had to learn everything the hard way rather than seek and heed the earned wisdom of those who tried and failed before. Following others’ advice won’t make exploration any easier, just more efficient.
Work With What You’ve Got
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “I can do anything I put my mind to. Growth mindset, baby. You’re going to be seeing a completely different Faye in no time.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “Past colleagues and close friends have helped me understand what I’m unusually good at—and where I’m lacking. I’ve also accepted the strengths of weaknesses of my personality. I think I’ll go farther if I work within these constraints rather than struggle to change them.”
This is the challenge I’m most excited to research and write more about.
Very few systems are in place to help us:
- Mine our experiences for an unbiased, unjudgmental understanding of our unique blend of talents, traits, values, and preferences.
- Then figure out how to use them in a selfishly and selflessly rewarding way.
There are pieces here and there: Clifton Strengths, Values in Action Survey, Big 5 personality traits, 360° Assessments, etc. But nothing I’ve found brings everything together in a practical way.
Relish the Adventure
❌🤦♀️ Faye Leare: “I’ll be devastated if this doesn’t work out. What a colossal waste of time and energy. Ugh. I’d rather not think about it.”
✅🙆♂️ Richard E. Rekshun: “If I fail to find my ‘unfollowable’ path this time, too bad. At least I’m having a blast, learning a lot, and filling my life with stories worth telling.”
A life well-lived is full of extraordinary stories. We can’t control outcomes, but we can edit the input and embrace unexpected turns as plot twists that make our tales more interesting.
Here’s the Extraordinary Life Path Roadmap
Let’s recap the APEX approach for finding a path in life you’ll thrive on:
- Afford Patience
- Create a Cozy Cash Cushion
- Negate Negative Social Pressure
- Get Your Sh*t Together
- Explore the Extraordinary
- Set Some Sense of Direction
- Explore Systematically
- Talk to Scouts
- Work With What You’ve Got
- Relish the Adventure
APEX isn’t the right approach for everyone looking to find their path in life. Even so, I think most of this roadmap’s steps are universally beneficial. Better than a boring, uncomfortable conventional life, that’s for sure.
About the author
I'm Chris. Canadian, husband, dad, writer, investor, athlete, and obsessed explorer of the secrets to living a never-boring, always improving, unfollowable life story.