I get so irritated with myself sometimes. Why? Because I wonder why I don’t execute on every single thing I want to do in life one hundred percent of the time without fail. I wonder why I should ever care what people think about me at all, ever.
I get irritated because I’m acutely aware of my own mortality. It’s to the point where I can quite literally feel the moments where I’m wasting my life. I use this frustration as motivation.
I’m not perfect, but I’m getting a little bit better each day — pushing myself to even higher limits, caring less and less about my little feelings, and becoming bolder and bolder in an attempt to chase a goal of total fearlessness.
Why do this?
Because why not?
You want to be content with your life? I don’t. You want to play it safe? I don’t. You want to sit on the sidelines? I don’t.
And I don’t think you want any of these things either. You want to live a crazy, cool, amazing life. Maybe you’re not as ambitious as me, but you have ambitions, dreams, goals, all that good stuff. But you’re failing to pull the trigger for the same reason I catch myself hesitating while trying to ascend to higher levels in life.
You’re afraid and you care too much. That’s the entire problem. We can’t let go of fear and just be carefree in the pursuit of our goals. It’s dumb. We should be able to do this easily, but our stupid little cavepeople’s brains just won’t let us.
The remedy? Think about dying. And particularly, think about how little you will care about your perceived fears on your deathbed. Think of how little you will care about the things I’m about to share.
“It is necessary to put yourself out for rejection, and accept that you will be rejected.” Robert Genn
Even though they don’t harm you in a literal physical way, rejection and embarrassment are perhaps the two biggest fears for most people, myself included.
The funny thing? Rejection and embarrassment in real life aren’t as bad as you imagine. The worst that happens? You just don’t get what you want and maybe the rejection is stiff. After you experience the rejection, you’ll forget about it eventually, probably pretty quickly.
There’s this saying:
“When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.”
By the time you’re in old age — near your death bed — you’ll come to realize how little of a fuck you should’ve given throughout your life. That’s your problem, my problem, our problem, we care too much about our short term feelings over our long-term happiness.
This is no easy problem to fix. I try to remind myself that my perception, no matter how much I feel like a slave to it, is under my control. I could look at things differently, particularly situations where I face a little rejection. And I try. I’m not perfect. Neither are you.
All of this is in your head. If you live long enough, you’ll come to find you didn’t care all that much, but then you won’t have the energy to go out and do the things you should’ve done.
Take that deathbed energy back to the present. Think about that situation you’re facing right now where you face rejection. Will you care about it 6 months from now if you get told no? How about 6 weeks? Hell…6 hours? How long will the regret stay with you if you don’t do it, though? Probably forever.
“I’ll tell you what changed my whole life: I finally discovered that it’s all risky. The minute you got born it got risky. If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying” – Jim Rohn
How you manage risk can make or break your long-term success in life. I have an entire chapter about it in my book. To sum it up, you want to look for situations that have a level of risk you can tolerate but also have a massive upside. Take enough of those calculated bets in your life and you can end up very successful.
In general, try to look at risk this way. If something you want to try doesn’t leave you absolutely destitute, why not try it? In the face of death, what do you really have to lose? Money? Yes, you want to have enough to keep a roof over your head in the short to intermediate future, obviously. You want to save for retirement.
But let’s say you want to start a business and the investment costs $10,000. A lot of money, right? Is it, though? In the face of death? With a potential upside that can change your life?
I once met a guy who bought a franchise with credit cards. The franchise was fledgling, therefore pretty cheap, but the investment was still in the multiple five figures.
Was it risky? Yes, but it paid off. It worked. And it that type of situation, on your deathbed, you probably wouldn’t mind having lost that money even if it did fail. Most people are in debt up to their neck anyway, at least do it for something with upside.
If you take a risk and lose, but don’t completely collapse, you’ll live. If you win, you’ll get to add an amazing memory to your mental bank account at the end of your life.
“It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?” – Charles Bukowski
If you don’t deeply care about your work or derive real meaning and satisfaction from it, all the accolades you accumulate from your career won’t matter to you when it’s all said and done. At least, they won’t matter to you as much as having a vocation would.
Can you have an amazing career that isn’t your life purpose but still look back fondly on it? Yeah. But it’s just not the same.
I see people working so hard to carefully curate this professional image. For what? To impress whom? One of the biggest tragedies in modern society is seeing people succumb to the religion of ‘careers.’
You’re told if you climb the ladder you’ll get the respect and admiration of your peers. So what? That speaks to the first point. We spend so much of our lives building an image that pleases other people instead of doing what makes us happy.
Say you hustle and grind to become a top tier lawyer, but you hate being a lawyer (I believe this is true for most lawyers). Are you respected in the community? Absolutely. When people see you in your Armani suit stepping out of your brand new BMW are they impressed? Yes, for like five seconds.
Here’s the thing. You can make a ton of money and be mission-aligned at the same time. I feel no guilt over the money I make because I love what I do. People who do things they hate for money, however, need those toys and accolades to fill a void. Instead, they could ditch the credentials and do what they love in the short life they have.
How do you feel about all of this? Does your career make you feel fulfilled? Imagine you’re 90 years old now. Will you care about your career accomplishments at all?
Use that answer to fuel future decisions.
“No family is perfect.. we argue, we fight. We even stop talking to each other at times, but in the end, family is family.. the love will always be there.”
I couldn’t imagine being totally estranged from my siblings or parents, but it happens. Human relationships are complicated. There are certain things that are simply unforgivable and require you to completely cut yourself off from a person, but everything below that threshold should be seen using the lens of death.
I was at a seminar recently and the speaker asked us if there was anybody we were on rocky terms with that we’d regret not patching things up with if they died. He then instructed us to go outside and make phone calls to talk to those people.
Another speaker told a story about this same exercise at a conference he attended years back. Earlier in the day the whole ‘make amends’ thing went down. Later on in the day, a woman, visibly shaken, stood up on top of a chair in the middle of the seminar and demanded to talk. The speaker relented.
She went on to say that mere hours after calling her father and making amends, he got into an accident and died. She still had to wrestle with all that wasted time where they could’ve rebuilt their relationship, but at least she got to speak with him before he died — something that she hadn’t done in years.
When Kobe died, tons of people called loved ones. I did. I’m sure you did. But then what happens? That attitude quickly fades and we get back to our routine, not realizing that death looms around the corner.
Who are you on bad terms with right now? Who are you having a petty spat with that has simply grown out of control? What if they died right now? How would you feel about that?
I won’t tell you what to do, but I’ll let you wrestle with the answers to those questions.
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” – Dave Ramsey
Those fucking Joneses.
You don’t even like them. Hell, how many people do you genuinely like, period? The people you actually like, and who actually like you, don’t care about what car you drive, home you live in, or name brands you wear.
you’re not going to care about impressing people at all when it’s all said and done. Drive a nice car because you like nice cars. Buy the appropriately sized home for you. Wear the clothes you like, name brand or not.
The sad thing about the whole keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle? We spend money, time, and other resources on toys when we could’ve used it on cool experiences.
You won’t care about the kind of cars you drove, but you’ll never forget that trip to Europe, the seminar you attended that helped you start your business, the concert from your favorite band, whatever.
I love money. But not for toys. Money is good for having the freedom and logistics to do what you want, not just have what you want. Money can facilitate the type of experiences that can enrich your life.
But to go and get that money, you’re going to have stop caring what people think, stop being afraid of rejection, stop avoiding situations of potential failure, and get on with the tasks it’ll take to make that money before you run out of time.
All of these points are iterations of the same point. Get on with it. Remind yourself as often as you need to that you’re going to die so that you can get on it. It’s not easy at all.
our inner-critic is a mean bastard. You’re biologically wired to not be bold, daring, and adventurous. You’ll have to fight your own aversion to risk to pull off the life you want to live.
And I have no perfect answer on how to solve that other than to realize you’re going to die.
If you’re scared…just be scared. In many ways, I live in total fear, but it also makes me feel courageous. Fear helps me feel alive.
‘Get busy livin’ or get busy dying’ right? That’s the motto that looks cute on Instagram quote cards but is so so so hard to pull off. It’s worth giving a shot, though. And it’s also worth dusting yourself off over and over again each time you fail, hesitate, get stuck in your head, or fall short in any way.
Fuck it. Live your life. To the fullest.