Zombie life

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The opposite of a successful startup is a zombie company. The opposite of the Agile and Lean Life is a Zombie Life. Zombie life is being stuck in the land of the living dead. You don’t actually live, you just exist. On the one hand, there is no death, but on the other, there is no growth or moving ahead either. It’s just a terrible drain of human energy, only waiting for life to pass by. I know it sounds horrible, but unfortunately many people are living such a zombie life.

There are ten areas you have to manage in life (yourself, health, relationships, money, career, emotions, competences, fun, spirituality and technology) and if you neglect any of the ten areas or even several of them, you can get stuck in the land of the living dead very quickly. If you don’t fight and push yourself to make progress in all areas of your life, life itself will transform you into a zombie. Use it or lose it. Up or out.

Practical examples

If you work a job you hate, you are already living one third of your life as a zombie. Going to work with resistance, hating your boss, trying to do as little as possible, gossiping and complaining about your job to all of your friends is definitely a zombie life. It’s a waste of your talents, your precious time and your energy. There is a perfect career for you, you just have to find it first. You just have to first invest your energy into finding the right fit.

If you don’t take care of your health, you land in the zombie land sooner or later. Your health is the most precious thing you have. Good health is a must-have condition for working, enjoying life, feeling good about yourself and having good relationships. In my youth, I was extremely overweight. Now I am trying to take care of my health as much as possible. I still have much work to do but hey – I know very well how it feels to be overweight and I know how horrible of a zombie life that is. No great mountain views, no team sports, a worse sex life and so on.

If you don’t earn enough money, or if you are in a big debt, the quality of your life is also damaged. There is a lot of arguing over whether money really does bring happiness. Well, it has been scientifically proven that it does. When earning less than 75,000 USD per year, money has a big contribution to your happiness. The less you earn, the more every additional dollar means to you. Of course money doesn’t bring happiness if you earn more than 75,000 USD per year, but have crappy relationships and bad health. You have to optimize your life as a whole. But when considering money, you should fight to earn at least 75,000 USD per year. It greatly contributes to your happiness.

Your spouse has a great contribution to the quality of your life. As the saying goes: happy wife, happy life. And vice versa. It’s totally unreasonable to be married to someone with whom you constantly argue, you don’t want to make passionate love before going to bed and you are not a good team in handling the household and chores. That is a real zombie life: being surrounded with people who don’t make you happy, don’t contribute to your growth and don’t support you or empower you. And vice versa.

Same goes for your friends, coworkers and all other relationships in your life. The more shitty relationships you have in your life, the more of a zombie life you live. In movies, I haven’t seen any zombies that would have good relationships.

Good relationships, stable health, purposeful work, a positive outlook and a full bank account are the foundations for your long-term happiness. You and your competences are the enablers to achieve all that. You need to work on your knowledge, skills, intelligence, emotions, the social network, your mindset and so on. When you stop improving and developing, you start becoming a zombie.

You can also add fun, spirituality and technology on top of all that. Fun is about enjoying life and “putting down the saw”, spirituality about a more purposeful life, and technology a leverage to achieve more with a greater pace. All three help you not live a zombie life or encounter situations such as experiencing burnout or questioning the purpose of life. Whether you want it or not, you have to manage all ten areas of your life in order to live a happy life.

Broke vs. Poor

Being broke is a temporary situation. Being poor is a state of mind. Same goes for living a zombie life. Your current situation in some areas of your life may be a disaster; you may have experienced a big obstacle, a colossal setback or a real downfall. But what counts is a positive outlook and superior strategic plan. If you see the light at the end of the tunnel, if you see the next small step you can make towards a better life (and actually do it), then you are not a zombie. You are a fighter.

But if you have given up, if there is no desire to grow, no desire to experience life and to achieve, then you have become a zombie. When you settle for the average, you start becoming a zombie, just waiting for life to pass you by.

You can easily realize you are becoming a zombie when you are escaping from your life into the TV world, the bad parts of the internet or various other addictions, but also situations when you are “helping others” instead of yourself (dealing with problems of other people when you still have so much cleaning to do in your own life) or when you have many other distractions that distance you from your true purpose. You are on your way to becoming a zombie when you are more and more bitter, ignorant, lazy and bored. Bitching, whining, complaining, blaming others and doing nothing.

Yes, there will be times in your life, when you will be broke. Your relationships will end. You will lose a job you love. You can get a serious health issue. Life is not easy. There are constant challenges and obstacles and changes. But you have to fight. Your duty is to fight. Your duty is to equip yourself with knowledge, people who empower you, design a superior strategy, and start making steps towards improvements and your ideal self.

Zombie Tools

Contemporary Zombie Life.

You have to escape a zombie life no matter what. Because living a zombie life is a waste of the most precious thing ever – life. Even if you are currently broke, never go poor. Always find a positive outlook you can fight for. There is always a move you can make towards a better life.

Frogs and zombies

You become a zombie more or less the same way as you would “cook a frog.” You either make sure that (1) the water temperature is so high that when you throw the frog into the water it will perish in a second, before it can jump out, or you (2) cook it very slowly, increasing the water temperature level bit by bit, making sure the frog isn’t even aware it’s being cooked. The same goes for zombies.

You can become zombie by making:

  • One or several very big wrong decisions (for example choosing the wrong spouse, industry, career, company, driving drunk and causing an accident…)
  • A series of small wrong decisions (unhealthy diet, not saving any money…)

Most people become zombies without even being aware of it. They live life as they were taught by the primary and secondary socialization (parents, teachers, television, society…), not even questioning whether it makes sense. But an average diet, an average job, average relationships, average education all bring you a very average life. And in reality, an average life is very close to a zombie life. You don’t want to live an average life. You want to live an extraordinary life.

The solution is simple, but not easy. You have to set higher standards, you need a superior life strategy and you need to start fighting for your goals and dreams. You need to make extraordinary decisions about how you spend your energy, time, money and talent. You definitely need different strategy than an average person. One of the guidelines for a better than average life is an Agile and Lean Life philosophy. Implement it in your life.

The second path to a zombie life is making one or several wrong big decisions (for example choosing the wrong spouse, industry, career, company, driving drunk and cause an accident…). The setbacks in this case could be so big that you just give up or don’t find the motivation to go on. When making that kind of wrong decisions, it can take years to correct them.

Going through divorce, declaring personal bankruptcy, trying to change careers and similar challenges are so demanding that most people just can’t cope with them. Sometimes even external factors cause that kind of a situation and we had nothing to do with it (war, markets meltdown…). Life isn’t fair.

The solution is, once again, logical but not easy. It’s extremely hard but necessary to avoid a zombie life if you find yourself in a big setback. You need to find a positive outlook, you need to have a superior strategy how to get out of your situation, you have to see the first step you can make and then you need to start fighting. You have to cut your losses and turn a new chapter of your life. Some of the Agile and Lean Life techniques can help you to get easier out of these kind of situations.


Your environment can greatly contribute to your potential zombie life – from the macro level, like your country and the industry you work in, to micro elements, like your relationship, diet and the company’s culture where you work. Among all that there are several factors that you cannot chose completely by yourself, especially at a young age. Some of them not even later in life. For example, for most people changing a country is very hard or even impossible.

Nevertheless, the brutal fact remains that if you want to make progress in your life, you need an environment and relationships that empower you. Yes, there are always some limitations but there are also always steps towards a healthier environment and relationships. At some point you have to make the changes if the environment doesn’t support you enough. You always have to look for improvements, there is always some optimization you can make.

The fact is:

  • If you spend most of your time with zombies, you will become a zombie
  • If you work in a zombie environment (country, office, family…), you will also become a zombie, if not completely, then to some extent

You have to find a way to isolate yourself from negative influences if you don’t have the option of switching to a more positive environment. You have to innovate your way out of the Zombie-land. Maybe by changing your office, maybe by living most of your life in the virtual space (aka on the internet) or in creative co-working spaces, maybe by changing your job, friends, spouse or any other relationship. You know very well what drags you down, you know very well what makes you a zombie.

What you really need in order to not become a zombie is a positive outlook and a superior strategic plan. Your superior strategic plan should consist of linear and rapid improvments, actions, decisions and moves you will make towards your goals.

Usually, when implementing improvements, you try to find the local maximum with your current settings, and when you face a real setback but you know that there is still greater potential, you try to find a rapid improvement in a completely new kind of settings.

When you do a rapid improvement in your life you don’t just do things faster or cheaper, you start doing things in a totally different way. That is how you grow. You grow by finding better ways to do things.

Whatever happens in your life, never stop growing. Whatever happens in your life, never give up. Whatever happens in your life, remember that there is always a move you can make towards a better and happier life. No matter how difficult your situation is.


There’s a very easy exercise that can be an indicator of whether you are becoming a zombie and you should maybe do a pivot in your personal life and find a better fit. You make a life-satisfaction chart and assess all the chosen areas of life. All you have to do is first draw a scale from 1 to 10 horizontally, and vertically list the key areas of life or the areas you’ve chosen to assess. You assess every area or category of life from 1 to 10. In the second step, you take another look at all areas you assessed with 4, 5, 6 or 7. These are the areas where you’re averagely satisfied, are indecisive about or for which you haven’t taken enough time to make a sound assessment.

Not knowing where you are and what you want does no good. The average is no good. The truth is that life areas either work or they don’t, you’re either satisfied or you aren’t, there are no middle paths. You either rock or you suck in different areas of life. Therefore, assess life areas again, but now by using only the numbers 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10. In the last step, highlight every 1, 2 and 3 with red, and every 8, 9 and 10 with green. Now you have a clearer picture of the areas of life you should potentially make a pivot. Below, you can find an example of the chart.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Health X
Friends X
Spouse X
Money X
Career X
Emotions X
Competences X
Fun X
Spirituality X
Technology skills X
Download a free template of the life-satisfaction chart (table above) that will help you to analyze and assess all the key areas of your life. With performing this exercise you will be able to decide easier on which areas to pivot and also to make sure you don’t become a zombie.

Don’t be a zombie. Live your life in the Agile and Lean way.

Read our manifesto on how to do it.

About the author

Consulting and management coaching

Blaž Kos has managed venture capital investments over the past 12 years and participated in the development of the start-up ecosystem in the region. Today, he advises companies on growth strategies, process optimization, the introduction of lean agile methods and the digitalization of business. In addition to the Slovenian blog, he also writes an English blog, which was selected among the 50 best bloggers in the world in the category of personal and business growth.
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