The Zig-Zag Strategy


When most people ‘Zig’, try to ‘Zag’. That’s the Zig-Zag strategy – short and simple.   The idea is to try and structure your life in manner where you can do MORE of what you want to do (and what makes you happier) instead of what you’re supposed to do. If you’re forced to ZIG (move with the masses) all of the time, you’ll feel refreshed and liberated when you can ZAG (do what you want vs. what you’re conditioned to) from time to time. The key is to get creative / innovative and find these ZAG methods. Obviously, there are times in our lives when we have to do certain things – sticking to strict schedules at work, school, etc. I don’t suggest being irresponsible. But, take a moment to see where there might be opportunities to liberate yourself with some less common, less standard, less conformist methods.We have been taught, in most cases, to conform and behave in a responsible manner. From our earliest days, our parents, schools and societies in general suggest that we live in a ‘standardized’ way. This includes, for example, getting up early, going to work, coming home, going to be bed early and repeating.  As a part of this, we’re supposed to save as much money as we can, live conservatively, take little time off, get married and have children by a certain age… The list goes on. Think of how conformity may be dominating your life and how it may be contrary to what you really want.

Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, one of the most brilliant minds to ever walk the planet, suggests a zig-zag strategy of sorts relative to investing. He says, when most people are fearful (or selling their investments), you should most seriously consider buying, and, conversely, when people are bullish (aggressively investing), you should proceed with caution. In other words, Buffet suggests Zagging when everyone else is Zigging (in terms of investing in the markets). There are lots of free thinkers that suggest some form of Zig-Zag strategy. Another form of the Zig-Zag strategy comes from best-selling author, blogger and inspirational thinker, Tim Ferris. In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek (, he explains how we can work smarter, spend less time at our ‘desks’, make the same amount of money or more and, at the same time, travel, see the world and spend more time doing what makes us happy (Zagging!). A third example of the zig-zag strategy is action is an early retirement plan well-documented and tested by Anita Dhake. Anita, as she explains in her book (Operation Enough, How to Retire Remarkably Early, interviews and blog (, despite having a very promising and conformist career as a lawyer in Chicago, decided she wanted to retire in her early 30s and go see the world. So, instead of spending 12-hours a day behind a desk (zigging), she devised a way to leave her job and travel – all completely funded by the interest on the money she made in short 10-year career. This is a major Zag! Yes, she could still be working away as a lawyer in big city making lots of money… but she realized that she was only doing that because it was what she was ‘supposed’ to be doing.

What if you could avoid sitting in rush hour traffic 2-days a week and, instead, negotiated a telecommuting arrangement?  What if you could find a job doing that you loved and still maintained the same quality of life? What if could live in a city, state or country that where the cost of living was less and you didn’t have to work as much and/or could retire early? There are so many ZAG opportunities… you first need to recognize why you’re doing what you’re doing and whether you’re happy. Then, think about creative ways to Zag your way into a happier, more liberated life! That’s being smarter sooner! Good luck.

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