Do you ever feel like you have little to no control over your life?
Do you ever feel like life is happening to you?
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you thought to yourself “How the hell did you get here?”
Been there. I’ve made the most massive and dumb mistakes like dropping out of school with only 3 credits needed and getting into $70,000 of debt – a tragically stupid mistake, but I made it.
I’ve been way out of control. I have a giant scar on my right arm — the product of 35 stitches I received after shoving my arm through a window while blackout drunk.
When I was only felony probation for selling drugs, I continued to do and sell drugs. They put a warrant out for my arrest after I skipped one of my probation meetings. What was I doing that was so important? Hallucinogens. Specifically, 2cb, this hallucinogen that makes you projectile vomit after you take it, but gives you a crazy trip afterward. Sure, I was throwing my life away, but we were playing basketball in the driveway and the ball had rainbow-colored flames coming from it when you shot it. That was kind of cool.
So then I got arrested, had to beg my mom for money to get a lawyer so I wouldn’t have to go to jail for a long time. Still went to jail for a short time. I could keep going here.
I could tell you how I got fired from almost every single job I ever had, how I skipped all my classes and got a 0.00 GPA one semester, or how I found myself stuck in a college town with no money, no degree, and a shitty job.
Some people reach out to me as if I’m some sort of genius. Nah, I’m the guy who put his arm through a window. But I did figure out how to take control of my life. I’ll show you how to do the same thing.
You’ll never take control of your life until you objectively assess your current situation. You can play that game where you try to pretend your life is better than it is, or you can just admit you’re not the biggest fan of your current situation, let it wash over you, and use those feelings as inspiration to change.
Me? I wallowed in the crappiness of my situation. I really sat there and thought about it. Beat myself up for it. Maybe ‘unhealthy’ but it worked. I asked myself how I could so royally screw up my own life. I looked at just how bad my life would be if I stayed the same.
At the dead-end job I had, I looked at the older people at that job and realized I’d become them. I’d look at my paychecks from my $10/hr job and realized that with no degree and no alternatives, I’d be living paycheck to paycheck forever.
I’ve always been the type to deeply think about the future. If you want to change your life, you have to deeply think about your future. What type of trajectory are you on? Maybe you’re not a low-life drug dealer like I used to be, but that’s not the only type of personal hell you can live in.
For the corporate workers who hate their jobs, just picture all your future days cumulatively — laughing at your bosses dumb jokes, dealing with annoying clients, commuting back and forth for hours, spending 10 hours of your day total either preparing for or being at work, coming home and just letting out that deep sigh before you grab a beer, eat dinner, and watch Netflix for the 1098th weekday in a row.
Or service staff, having to deal with a similar set of issues plus not making all that much money. Scraping by under constant psychological stress from not being able to keep up with your bills.
I could go on with scenarios like this, but the key here is to stop mortgaging the present moment over and over again and maintaining this illusion that something will change, somehow, for no reason.
People play this game where they hold onto this faint notion that they’ll break out of society’s shackles, but they never do because they push it off again and again — death by a thousand cuts.
Better to just take your bruises upfront. I had a definitive day where I decided to change my life and I literally never stopped. I was tired, fed up, and I knew what the future had in store if I didn’t get my shit together. So I did.
The process of getting your shit together doesn’t happen all at once. It happens in pieces, waves, ebbs, and flows. Sometimes you’ll be really motivated and sometimes you won’t be motivated at all.
You have to avoid crashing, burning, and entering downward spirals. If you can avoid extreme mental setbacks you’ll be fine. Dieting is the perfect microcosm for this. People go on a diet and the minute they have one bad day, not only do they ditch the entire diet altogether, but they binge eat. Downward spiral.
Do you miss a day of working on your business? It doesn’t mean you scrap your entire business and quit. You just avoid skipping your work two days in a row.
You know this, though, what’s the deeper philosophy behind the platitude of ‘don’t quit’? Honestly, I don’t know if there is one. That might be the bottom of the ocean.
As far as how to not quit? For me, I just found something I loved working on. I quit everything I don’t love working on or feel compelled to work on.
Finding that thing gets your foot in the door. If you’re lost as to how to find it, just learn and keep learning. That’s how I started — reading a bunch of books and feeding my brain with no rhyme or reason to it, just wanting to get better. That knowledge prepared me to spot the opportunity to write and I kept with it because...I love writing.
You have something like that in your life. You do. And you probably know what it is. Use it to get your foot in the door, let it compel you to work, and somehow try to find a way to avoid crashing and burning.
Match your goals, habits, and systems to your temperament and hedge against your weaknesses. In my case, I always started fast but never finished anything. To solve that problem, I built my career by doing something I could both start fast and finish easily — a blog post.
For the first year, I focused on writing blog posts. No marketing. No books. Just posts. After I built that foundation, I felt a bit more disciplined, which helped me build out the other elements of the business I have now.
I can’t tell you how to exactly match your temperament because I don’t know you.
But use my example to help form your strategy.
Changing your life isn’t the process of becoming something you’re not. It’s accepting who you really are and what you know to be true deep down. I always knew I was smart. I knew I had potential. But I wasn’t doing anything with it. I lifted myself out of failure partly by reminding myself of my own talents and skills.
You have talent. You have a skill. You’re confident.
How do I know? Because you have daydreams where you see yourself pulling it all off. If you have zero self-belief, you’d have no reason to daydream. I have a way of getting people to open up and tell me their dreams.
They usually have elaborate plans, a specific idea, or they’re bursting at the seams with a ton of ideas. They see the vision already and they understand how they could pull it off in their imaginations.
I know it’s easy to imagine,
But it’s easier to just do,
See, if you can’t do what you imagine,
Then what is imagination to you? – Kid Cudi
Taking control of your life is a matter of creating the slightest little edge of ‘doing.’ Not that much. Just taking a tiny little puzzle piece from your imagination and bringing it to the real world. Damn, that sounds corny, but I’m going to leave it in there because that is how the process works.
You want to take control of your life? Take control of your imagination. Realize you’re already who you need to be.
I know many, many, many people who’ve figured out how to do what they want in life. None of them have superpowers. All of them are very normal. They just started ‘doing’ and never stopped.
You get unlimited tries to get this right until you’re dead. You might not feel at the point where you can take control of your life, but you’re not guaranteed to feel this way forever, trust me.
I don’t know the exact mechanism behind getting things to click and making that firm decision to change, but I know it happens. Do what you can to make it happen, fail as many times as you need to, and one day you might hit that groove where you’ll never stop.
Won’t guarantee that will happen, but I’m hoping it does.