I disagree with self-help gurus on a ton of topics.
There’s one in particular that bothers me – the idea that fear isn’t real.
Yes, fear is a product of your imagination, but that doesn’t make it imaginary. Your reality is perception. The way you experience the world dictates what the world is in a literal sense, e.g., you see colors that dogs cant, meaning your realities are different, and even the beliefs you have about the world are so ingrained they may as well be ‘real’.
Anyway, I try to help other people deal with their reality by first honoring that it’s real and coming up with ways to change those perceptions.
Why? Becuase without dealing with obstacles properly — pretending they don’t actually exist — you won’t get anywhere.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what holds people back from pursuing whatever it is they want to pursue. Part of my job as a writer on this subject is to try to flip the perception of obstacles and show you the value in overcoming them.
So, over time, we will keep tackling these challenges in unique ways until we get it right.
The good news? With repetition, great things can happen. I spun around for years waiting for things to get better. I’d read a self-help article here and there, get a little motivated, try something, quit, and go through the cycle again. There did come a time where everything clicked and I started getting to work.
So, if you’re not there yet, just know that point in your life can definitely come as long as you keep searching.
So, back to the things that hold you back. While it would take years to cover all the possibilities, we can tackle a few of the common one’s piece by piece.
Two of the most common ones are:
Let’s look at the first one.
Whenever you try to learn a new skill or do something you’re unfamiliar with…you’re not going to be very good at it. The initial phase of trying to pursue something new is so frustrating that most people quit. Maybe they extrapolate the beginning of the journey and think it will always be super difficult. Maybe they just calculate the effort it will take to move past the phase of sucking and decide it’s not worth it.
Those people are missing out. Why? Because once you get past the annoying, frustrating, and tedious period where you’re not very good….things get much much much much easier.
At that point, you can achieve the goal given you put yourself on a long timescale.
A quote by one of my favorite people, Charlie Munger, sums it up perfectly:
Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts…. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day–if you live long enough–most people get what they deserve.
You might still have a long way to go, but you can see the chess board. People often see it in reverse — they think the initial phase is a small portion of the long and arduous battle. No, the first 20 percent of the learning journey accounts for 80 percent of the skill.
Want to be a writer? The first 100 posts you write will matter much more than the other 1,000 you might create in a long-term career.
Want to start a business? Keeping at it for the first 6 to 18 months without quitting will account for more of your success than the years and decades you’ll spend as an entrepreneur.
In these types of ventures or anything in life that requires a unique type of effort, the vast majority of people quit right away, which means if you just stay the course for a while you’ll automatically be in the top 10 percent of people in that area of the field period.
Your learning also compounds. You can plateau and struggle with becoming a top performer. Then, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, your skills will jump tenfold.
It’s a hard idea to embrace, but if you can just flat out admit and accept that you’re going to suck for a while, you stand a chance of reaching the rare air that is persistence on a unique path in life. Spoiler alert: it’s awesome.
What if you spend months and years chasing after something that doesn’t pan out?
The idea of wasted effort and failure can make you sick to your stomach. I know, because I’ve experienced it many times.
Right now, I have multiple 20,000-30,000 word drafts of books that will never see the light of day. I spent months working on them and realized the core ideas weren’t very good. I’ve scrapped major projects for the same reason. I once launched a product and got zero sales (it hurt as much as you think it does….it almost pushed me to quit for good).
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t regret any of it or think of that time as wasted. Don’t get me wrong…in the moments immediately after those projects didn’t pan out, I definitely felt like I wasted my time and got really discouraged. But I’ve learned over time that the initial reaction is pure emotion. You have to let that subside and look at the problem again with a more logical prism. So after I finished being angry and butthurt about my results, I looked at what went wrong.
In some cases, I realized I was rushing. In others, I realized I was greedy for a result without wanting to make something good. In all cases, I didn’t account for unforeseen challenges.
Now, I take all that data, store it, and use it to make decisions in the future.
But I don’t let it paralyze me into not taking action. I’ve learned to take more calibrated approaches.
You can develop a similar process if you look at time spent as learning. You’re experimenting. You can’t know what’s going to work before it works.
Think about it….if you want to do something awesome in this life you aren’t going to know if it’s going to work before you do it because everyone else would be doing it!
Keep these things in mind and challenge yourself to reframe the way you think.
You have dreams, hopes, fears, and desires.
I think the real exploration, question, and articulation of those dreams, hopes, fears, and desires is missing for a lot of people.
When I’m stuck or uncertain I always go back to this quote from Blaise Pascal:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
We think that we think a lot. No, we let our mind race, wonder, worry, and fret a lot. That’s not real thinking.
Real thinking involves looking at our obstacles and breaking them down.
When you honor your emotions and perception first, you can put forth a better effort at solving your problems because you genuinely know they’re problems.
If you believe you’re not supposed to have problems or that you’re weak for feeling doubt and being stuck, you’re less likely to work on those problems because they look like character defects instead of tangible structures you can reframe.
So, get to thinking.
Then, get to solving.
I’m curious…what have you wanted to try but haven’t because you’re afraid to either suck at it or waste time?