October 27, 2009

The Single Best Way to Defeat the 9-5 Grind

In 210 BC, a Chinese commander named Xiang Yu led his troops across the Yangtze River to attack the army of the Qin dynasty. Pausing on the banks of the river at night, his troops awakened to find, to their horror, that their ships were burning. It was soon discovered that Xiang Yu himself set fire to the ships, and even ordered to have all of the cooking pots crushed.


This totally eliminated any options of retreat or complacency within the troops, and instilled a total sense of urgency and focus inside of them. They had no choice but to fight, or perish. They fought ferociously against the enemy and won nine consecutive battles, completely destroying the opposing ranks.

The commander knew that if he closed all other options for the troops, they would be forced to focus on that which mattered most – fighting as hard as possible for their very lives. Although it is completely contrary to normal human┬ábehavior┬áto close doors on options, it creates an incredible sense of focus and motivation knowing there is only one way to go.

If you are struggling to break away from your 9-5 job and have become complacent with it, I recommend you follow Xiang Yu’s method. Plan exactly what you need to do for the next month or two after quitting your job, whether it be starting your own business or other venture that you have always wanted to do, and simply hand in your resignation letter.

The act of forcibly closing the 9-5 door on yourself will motivate you in a way you have never experienced to do what you’ve always wanted, but couldn’t. You don’t have to worry about the next year or two, just trust yourself and your basic instinct and take the first step towards your own control and freedom – that resignation letter.

What do you think? Please comment below!

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  1. Erik October 28, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    “When one door closes, another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~Alexander Graham Bell

    The Xiang Yu example is okay, but it’s still different. The soldiers had no choice in the matter, so there’s nothing to regret, no “closed door” to look back at. Quiting your job is much more of an individual decision, and requires much more determination and confidence for it to succeed.

    Despite that, I guess that’s the quickest way to escape the 9-5 grind.

  2. Cujo October 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Xiang Yu’s plan guaranteed that there were only two options: win or die. Are those really the only choices you want in your life?

  3. ceo October 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

    @Erik: I get your point, but still believe that one of the banes of modern existence is keeping too many doors open simply because we would regret closing any of them. This just leads to frustration, less productivity and even missed opportunities in the long term. The biggest door you could possibly close in order to start a business, is quit your job.

    @Cujo: Absolutely not! I make choices every day and love the freedom I have to make them. But for this one specific example – quitting the 9-5 grind – many people struggle because it is a door they find very comfortable to keep open, even though it may be far from what they really want to do. Forcing yourself to close this door may sometimes be the only way forward into a world of opportunity.

  4. Elgee February 17, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Us humans being the laziest creatures on the planet is so true. We tend to easily become comfortable with where we are and refuse to move to where we would ideally love to be.
    Well Said!!!


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