Nothing will destroy your confidence to build your own creative business or pursue your dreams more than normative values.
Normative values are the hidden forces of conformity that take us away from who we truly are as individuals. They come from the culture of our home country, the dominant religion, the general public, our family, and our friends.
Leading the life you want means active, conscious evaluation and possibly resistance to ALL the opinions of anyone other than yourself. If you lack the willpower to stick to your own decisions about how you choose to live your life, it’s very likely that you will never start your own creative business, follow your dreams, or realize your full potential.
You will have succumbed to the pressure of normative values, which tries very hard to keep us in our place, too fearful to take risks.
It takes a lot of personal strength and willpower to lead an alternative lifestyle.
This is why most people choose not to. It’s why most people do not ever feel truly fulfilled in life!
Once liberated, always liberated.
To many people reading this who may be in their 30’s or past 40, choosing an alternative lifestyle is no longer a struggle. There’s no going back once you’ve explored the geography of your own heart. It becomes your new home, and it’s where you find your true family. As you grow older and go further down your own path, the self-doubts about your choices fall by the wayside like last winter’s leaves.
But for younger people or those raised in restrictive families, religions, or cultures, normative values saturate the entire landscape. Alternative lifestyle choices may still be a vague feeling rather than a visible fork in the road. There is no clear outline as to what decisions must be made, and the noise of self-doubt, loneliness, and other people’s opinions blur the way forward.
So, if you are feeling stuck in life, ask yourself if you have fully navigated around the decision points listed below. You may identify the roadblocks you need to remove!
10 ways to resist normative values and lead an alternative lifestyle:
1. Ignore mainstream culture and go find your people.
The overbearing noise of mainstream culture is the first and most confusing thing to overcome. Mainstream culture is marked by blandness and is spread thick upon us by mass media. The path away from mainstream culture will always be through the arts, because mainstream culture fails to value the arts except for on an extremely superficial level.
When you begin to befriend those who focus on creative expression or aesthetics, you’ll eventually find yourself in a sub-culture of some sort, and you’ll eventually find your people.
No longer alone, you’ll more easily be able to resist the conformist messages of mass media, materialism, and superficial values that work to support a capitalist economic system that is trying to shape you into a cog, rather than a fulfilled human being.
2. Lose your religion, then go find it again.
Another massive hurdle to overcome in leading the life you choose is religion, which has pre-defined life paths from start to finish. Question the silver platter of answers and rules that religion presents to you. Think of religion as separate from the God you believe in, because religion is mandated, sanctioned, articulated and enforced not by God but by man. Religion is just an interpretation, God is in your heart. So a blind adherence to the paths religion points you to can often become very internally divisive.
The way to avoid the wrong paths of religion then, is only through your own heart—through pure compassion for yourself and others.
This means you may need to lose your religion on certain points, and find it again on those that align with your sense of personal forgiveness, empathy, and loving kindness.
Eastern religions like Tibetan Buddhism teach us a lot about compassion and are worth exploring for a different perspective, as is the daily practice of meditation.
3. Reset the default heterosexuality assumption and maintain your sexual freedom.
Normative values would have us all fall into male + female modes of existence, herding us all toward a monogamous marriage and child-rearing before we can know if it is even right for us. Heterosexual and monogamous assumptions can be the heaviest burden to buck, especially when they come from the person with which we shared our first moments of intimacy.
Resistance to commitment can keep the options open for exploration and lesson the emotional fall-out with loved ones. All intimacy is messy, but it’s better to force yourself to communicate honestly and suffer a break-up than to commit to a marriage that will lead to divorce.
Stay free if you’re unsure about your sexual preferences, as working out this path can take a long time.
4. Become conscious of your body and what you are eating.
When it comes to diet and health, the general public is massively ignorant and misinformed. The Standard American/Australian Diet (SAD) diet is what most people unconsciously default upon. This is a diet heavy in junk food, processed meats, sugar, gluten, artificial flavorings, artificial coloring, preservatives, and other chemicals.
It’s a short path to an early death. And just because SAD seems normal and is everywhere does not make it less deadly.
SAD is a massive roadblock to your potential to achieve your goals, as health complications will drag at your every step in life.
Alternative lifestyles are often defined by conscious decisions around food because body and diet consciousness is a form of power and self-liberation from normative values. The Paleo diet, vegetarianism, veganism, the raw food movement, or clean-eating diets are all alternative lifestyle choices because they go against the way the masses mindlessly consume foods that harm our bodies, the planet, and animals.
Notice how food makes you feel, and experiment with adding or omitting things from your diet. Educate yourself to learn the good foods from the bad, and what works best for your body. Never stop studying how to make yourself healthier, and you will find it much easier to achieve your goals in life!
5. Define your own look and create an aesthetic advantage.
Aesthetic rebellion is the most obvious marker of an alternative lifestyle, as it’s the most in-your-face confrontation of self-ownership in a society working to define people as conforming and controllable commodities.
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about a young woman’s tattoo as marring her beauty, you’ve just witnessed the practice of public appearance-ownership in action.
Body modifications, tattoos, outrageous hairstyles, and striking outfits are all personal efforts at self-ownership and self-expression. This is why sub-cultures and counter-cultures like goths, punks, metal-heads, hippys, and hipsters and the endless number of other subcultures have dress codes to set themselves apart from aesthetic conformity.
Any self-definition in the way you look that does not conform to sanctioned looks by commercial mass media is a form of resistance to normative values. Standing out from a crowd can help you to be memorable, lead to opportunities, and make a powerful statement about how you want to be perceived in particular situations.
If it’s done with finesse, having a unique look can be an aesthetic advantage that can help you achieve your goals.
6. Draw circles around blood and maintain your boundaries.
Family is often both the source of pressure to conform, and the object of where the pressure is placed. Normative values coming from family members are very hard to escape without a fight or constant negotiation. The battle between becoming who you and what you’re expected to be is fought on your own flesh, as parents refuse to give up its ownership with their creator’s entitlement.
Financial and physical independence is the path forward.
Until all dependence is cut, you are not your own person.
Keep your family at a healthy distance if you want to be free to be you. Even the best of families will impose their values heavily upon its members.
Alternative lifestyle choices in choosing not to get married, have kids, or in how you birth or raise your children, get heaped upon by unwanted opinions from strangers and family alike, so draw protective circles around your blood relatives and maintain your boundaries.
7. Become politically conscious and learn to think for yourself.
Political unconsciousness is costing us our planet, our livelihoods, and our health. Are you truly informed of who is serving your own interests? Or, are you supporting leaders just because your family or religion follow them? How closely have you looked at how power and money work behind the scenes? How often do you question and research the messages the mass media is sprouting?
Propaganda and misinformation abound. Finding the way out of political confusion, apathy, and indoctrination requires a lot of continuous self-education.
Any decent education starts with the classics, so first familiarize yourself with the great political thinkers and philosophers. If you can’t understand the original text, get a secondary reader (a kind of Cliff’s Notes or something similar) to help you understand the author’s basic contributions to political thought.
Next, read the published works by well-known thought leaders and influencers of today. Avoid reading anything from unknown bloggers, syndicated news, and low-budget online sources. Once you begin to recognize authors, you can then begin to confidently navigate political discourse.
You’ll then be able to recognize the propaganda machine of vested interests and how it manufactures consent from the masses.
You’ll be able to think for yourself!
8. Choose experiences over things.
The most insidious normative value to resist is an obsession with material things.
Capitalism creates a never-ending desire for more in us. It is crippling our collective power to live sustainably and to help each other out. The pursuit of things has created a sea of neurotics, constantly measuring their self worth by whether they can advance to the next level in material comforts. And the desire for more never ends.
On a personal level, the pursuit of things too soon in life can be a distraction from self-development. Having experiences is far better than having things when it comes to strengthening our potential to achieve.
The way out of the neurotic consumption game is to continually place experiences above material things.
Know when enough is enough when it comes to material goods. Invest in a digital marketing course rather than in a large, flat-screen t.v., for example. Things can come later–it’s experience you need first!
An interesting study by Purdue University in the U.S. found that there is a point when enough is enough–an income level that makes people truly happy. Money buys happiness when there is enough money to take away negativity in life, like debt and the dirty laundry. But after that point, happiness plateaus. More money and things do not make people any happier.
That income point is roughly $95,000 in the U.S.
That might be a bit of a challenge for those starting out a new creative business.
But it is achievable–if you first focus on making yourself into the kind of person who can earn it!
9. Make life meaningful in your own way.
Starting a creative business and chasing your dreams to live an alternative lifestyle requires a heavy anchor of self-belief. If there is one normative value above all that you must cast off in order to live your life on your own terms, it’s any external definition of the meaning of your life.
You need to make your life meaningful to you in your very own way.
Take 100% ownership of your life and what it means to you. Disregard any and every definition by anyone and anything outside of yourself.
Don’t be afraid to be your own guide in life. Not a single person on this planet knows anymore about the afterlife than you do. That is a fact!
Whether you find meaning in life through science, your religion, Existentialism, Wicca, the Law of Attraction, or even Satanism, there will always be a need for some sort of spiritual foundation for inner consolation and guidance. That foundation can only be from within yourself. From any external sources, filter out what you believe in that aligns with your own experience and heart, and roll with it 100%. If it’s only a vague definition like, “we exist to love” or “we exist to procreate then die”, that’s fine, as long as it feels completely true for you.
Spiritual independence is the foundation for thinking for yourself. When you think for yourself, you can guide yourself through anything in life!
10. Start your creative business and build your personal brand!
Carve your own place out in this world by starting your own creative business. There is no more divergent path from conformity than starting a business and working for yourself! It is the ultimate form of an alternative lifestyle. It is completely lived on your terms as a unique individual in this world.
Any sub-culture or niche that you are drawn to can become the focus of your business. You can earn a living out of it if you learn how to serve it in a profitable way.
Even if you don’t want to start your own business, you can advance your career path exponentially by building your personal brand like a business owner. What is it that you love? Define yourself by what it is you are passionate about in this world. That will be the thing with which you add value to other people’s lives.
Never be afraid to diverge!
Some people grew up with a strong sense of of self and never had to grapple with any of these self-development decision points I’ve listed.
Others were lucky enough to have parents who encouraged them to be who they were and live their dreams from the start.
But for most of us, we must work hard to overcome normative values to strike out on our own, unguided, fearful, and often still confused about life in one of these areas.
No matter where you are in life, just don’t be afraid.
Fear will kill your dreams and keep you unhappy.
Take risks, push yourself, stay healthy, and … learn digital marketing already!
More on that and how to build a creative business coming soon!