Ignore The Default Settings

Carlyn drinking wine, out of a bottle, post-workout while working remote in France. A case study of ignoring default settings.

In life, there are default settings everywhere you look. When you buy a new phone, notifications are automatically turned on. When you sign up for a social media network, they’ll automatically send you daily updates concerning your existing connections and who else you should maybe invite into your network. When you download a news app, they’ll send you an alert every time a new article is posted.

There are also default settings everywhere you look in our daily non-tech lives. When a baby boy is born, he gets circumcised. Girls get earrings. And most boys don’t. When you graduate high school, you should go to college – preferably one with a physical campus. When you start working, you should go work in an office. You should only have one job – a full-time job. Work from 8 to 5. And take a break at lunch. When you’re of a certain age, you should get married. But only once. And of course, to someone of the opposite gender because that’s what “god” wants. Buy a house with enough space to raise a family with at least two kids, because that’s what you should do.

There are certain default settings I appreciate as there certain things I just don’t want to have to think about. I appreciate the instructions on a fire extinguisher for example. I’ll blindly follow those. Pilots should have checklists and doctors washing their hands is something I can sign on to.

Please note that I am not talking about laws. Follow the laws.

But, most of us just blindly follow the default settings of our family’s expectations, religions, cultures, and iPhones.

Here’s the dirty secret of the default settings of most religions, societal norms, family expectations, and iPhones.

They’re set-up to benefit the institution, the company, your parent but not necessarily you. Sometimes they’re win/wins. But recognize that one person’s win/wins could be a total win/loss for another person.

Rather than just being ok with the pre-existing norms, setups and conditions – ask yourself whether those default settings are best for you.

Why do you have to work in an office?
Why should you get married in your twenties?
Why should you keep those notifications turned on?
Why can’t little boys have long hair?
Why should you keep your family’s last name and not just make one up?
Why should you give to a church?

My mum and dad are saints in my book for many reasons. The biggest one being that they never forced me to accept any kind of default setting – even if it would have been easiest for them.

I left home at way too young of an age because my parents supported it.

I walked to Kindergarten alone (1+ mile) starting at age 3, so I could get there to reserve a spot in the play corner before the other kids arrived.

I spent three years playing in kindergarten, never bringing home any creations of numbers, words or art.

I kept my biological’s father last name, because my mum let me pick.

I had an ear ring in first grade.

Think about the default settings in your life. Ask yourself.

Are those best for me, my loved ones or whoever set them up?

And what happens when you ignore the default and make what you believe is the best decision?

Warning, it might just work out better for everyone.