I get it. You don’t want someone talking from a pedestal, telling you what to do. It’s easy enough for someone like me to start doling out advice without sharing any insights from my own life. So, that’s what I’ll do.
We all have a pretty good idea of what we need to do to change our lives but we lie to ourselves and rationalize our situations. Eventually, though, sometimes the harsh truth can go from the back to the front of our minds and smack us in the face hard enough to make a decision to change.
And that’s what’s necessary to get what you want from life, change.
Whatever you’re doing right now might not be working for you. To get it to work, you’ll have to change your behaviors, your beliefs, probably your identity as a whole. You’ll have to reinvent yourself. What does that mean, exactly? Simple. It means you get rid of all of the behaviors, beliefs, and pieces of your identity that weren’t serving you. Then, you replace them with ones that will.
To get to the point where you decide, where you’ll really change, you have to fully come to grips with some things you might, or probably won’t, come to grips with.
Coping is addictive. Our default is to want nothing more than to stay in our little mental cocoons instead of making ourselves vulnerable to our own true inner thoughts. There’s no great answer other than you just have to do it. So, I’ll tell you how I did it. Let’s talk about some of the realizations I had to make to change my own life.
We’re always trying to search for these “explanations” as to why we’re unhappy when the answer is right in front of our faces. Something needs to change. Instead of just facing that upfront and doing what’s necessary to make things better, we fall into these negative feelings and pretend like we don’t know why we feel that way.
Let me paint the picture of my life when I wasn’t happy at all. For one thing, I was dead broke. Some of you might say “money doesn’t matter.” Let’s just burst that bubble right now. Being broke sucks. I was grinding away working for 60 hours a week at $10 an hour. I didn’t have a car. I was living in a dorm room at age 25. Not a recipe for fulfillment.
Speaking of my job, I hated it. Everyone else at my job hated their job. There is simply no way to be passionate about working on an assembly line placing parts onto a circuit board 9,000 times in a row. My health, mental and physical was terrible. I smoked cigarettes, drank whenever I could, did drugs, etc. I had no healthy activities. I went back and forth from a depressing job to toxic habits used to cope with that job.
Guess how I turned my life around and increased my happiness? I found a career I enjoyed, made more money, got in shape, cleaned up my habits, and started doing the things I knew I needed to be doing the whole time. Funny how that works.
Funny how improving my life change my disposition. We have this new narrative in society that if you’re experiencing negative emotions, they have nothing to do with the way you’re living. Occams razor, dude. If you’re not happy you have some evident things to fix. Fix them.
We all have different starting places in life. I’ll grant you that. But, on a long-enough time scale, you can get pretty much any outcome you want in life if you’re willing to do what it takes to get that outcome. Notice I didn’t say that the process required of you to get said outcome would be fair. Nope. You just have to be willing to do what it takes.
In my case, I went through periods where I was unwilling to do what it took. For years I was unwilling to develop the discipline required to reach the long-term goals I had. I always had dreams, but prior to hitting my stride with writing, I quit every little scheme I had.
Why? I was unwilling to delay my gratification. I didn’t want to put up with the psychological strain it took to repeat a series of steps that didn’t offer amazing results right away. My ego mattered more than my results. That’s a huge one. For most of my life, I built up an identity as a smart kid. The minute something got hard and I couldn’t coast through it, I’d just quit because failure would be a blow to my ego.
How did I start to get the outcomes I wanted? Simple. I was willing to do what it took to get them. Certain things helped, like finding something writing, which was compelling enough for me to stick with. Let’s use writing for example. So many people tell me they want to write. They say they love the way I write and want to write like me one day. But then, when I tell them what to do, most of them won’t do it.
What did I do? I practiced writing nearly every day for six years without taking a break, ever. That’s what it takes to get good. Having gone through that process, I make sure to “pay the price upfront” when I want to get good at something else. It’s going to take time, repetition, tedious steps, psychological strain, little heartbreaks, and tons of times where you feel like giving up to get what you want.
The bottom line, the line to remember so that you don’t fool yourself, is that your willingness to do what it takes is the only thing getting in your way. It’s your choice. Speaking of choices.
Odds are, you’re like me. You fell somewhere in the middle of the bell curve when it came to circumstances. If you’re in that range, your decisions matter more than your circumstances, full stop.
There are a lot of things that happened in my life that could be interpreted one way or another, but I’ve always found it better to own the situation. In a small and predominantly white college town, I was charged with five felonies for selling bags of weed that cost $30 — five felony charges for $150 dollars worth of weed. Could I cry racism? Sure. But, it was my choice to sell drugs.
I chose to work at those aforementioned jobs I hated. No one put a gun to my head and told me to work at those places. Were my choices limited as someone with no college degree and a felony record? Depends. I always had the option to become an entrepreneur. I just didn’t take it right away. Eventually, I made the decision to choose myself.
The life I have now is a product mostly of the choices I’ve made. And I started to live a better life where I started making better decisions. I chose to start studying self-improvement in my spare time. I chose to give up many of my vices. Ultimately, I chose to put my energy into my own life path instead of one someone else laid out for me. And it worked.
There’s this societal narrative that your choices don’t matter at all. That, if you’re in category ‘x’ you’re destined to fail. It’s utter bullshit. A poisonous ideology that will not help you. Abandon it. You have to live your life with whatever circumstances are baked in.
Ultimately, you have to decide what you’re going to do with the life you have now, the resources you have now, the state of existence you’re in now. Actually, you don’t have to do anything. You could just do nothing. And most will. Up to you.
This is all from my perspective. I’m not knocking the way that anyone lives. I’ve always had a belief that I was destined to do great things with my life. I know a lot of people say that, but I’ve felt it at a deep level for as long as I can remember. Didn’t always do something about it. But the feeling never faded. I never resigned myself to think it wouldn’t happen.
The good news? Most of you reading this are exactly like me. Do you know how I know? The vast majority of people out there have zero interest in self-improvement. When you’re into it, it seems ubiquitous, but it isn’t. Most people have decided that they’re going to tolerate the way they’re living. They know they’re not going to do anything about it. And, honestly, that’s the right decision for some people, for most people.
But, if that doesn’t sit well with you, hold onto that feeling, because you’ll need it. Some people like to say that self-improvement content plays on your insecurities. It does. But why is that a bad thing? Maybe it’s a bad thing for those who don’t want to change, but sometimes a little insecurity is necessary to move the needle. If you were secure, you’d have nothing to work on. There’s the argument that you should just be content with whatever you have, stay in the present moment, enjoy your life as is. It’s a fine philosophy, but it’s not one I subscribe to.
I can’t be content with being like everyone else. I just can’t. Never could. I looked at something like someone working at the job they kinda sorta liked, making the money they kinda sorta wanted, being with the person they kinda sorta wanted to be with, and living a life they were kinda sorta okay with, as the worst hell of them all. Enough progress to know you’re living below your potential. At least when you’re a total failure, you’re not even close to your dreams. But to be someone who has done many things right, only to live an underwhelming life, seemed like torture to me. So, I made up my mind that my life wouldn’t be that way and I changed it.
Sometimes, I’m too acutely aware of time. If I waste a day or even waste parts of a day, I can feel it. My perspective of time has served me well the past few years. I decided to make a real change in my life at age 25. I still had youthful energy, but I was starting to get more mature. I realized that I wasn’t a kid anymore.
Also, I already noticed many of my peers settling into grooves I know they’d stay in forever. The entry-level job becomes a permanent lukewarm career. Kids, houses, mortgages, credit card debt, student loans lock them into that lifestyle. There’s a saying: once you turn 30, people stop telling you that you have potential. There’s even a book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter And How To Make The Most Of Them Now, the subject matter of which you can derive from the title.
I realized that if I didn’t make moves, there was a real possibility I’d get locked into a life I didn’t want. Inertia is a motherfucker. As time goes on, you start to accrue interest in your life like a credit card. The more time you spend not doing the things you want to do, the more indebted you become and the harder it is to change.
Not saying you can’t. But, if you want to, you have to realize that you’re not going to live forever. Realize that time can be on your side, but if you don’t build a proper relationship with it, time will become your worst enemy. What do you want to look up and see five years from now? That is if you even make it that long. What will you probably see five years from now if you don’t change? Think about that, deeply.
Again, I honestly don’t want to force my views on you at all. Don’t let any of these harsh truths bother you if you don’t agree with me. But, if you do, you know what do to next. You have to do something.
Thomas Sowell has this quote:
“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”
I don’t care how politically correct or sensitive our society becomes, I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and make you feel like everything will end up okay when it won’t.
Does our society look okay to you? Do you see a bunch of truly content, sovereign, fulfilled, ambitious, and thriving people in society? Exactly. Is that the group of people you want to be associated with?
I’m being pretty harsh right now because I personally know how hard it is, to be honest with oneself. It’s not easy to look in the mirror and admit you’ve been mismanaging your life. But, once you admit it and make a decision to do something about it, you can reinvent yourself and get outcomes you once dreamed of.
Facing these realizations helped me pave the path to making a living doing what I love. They gave me the self-esteem that comes from setting goals and reaching them. They transformed me. And they can transform you, too. Don’t fall for “the narrative” ever. You know it’s BS. You know you want to do more, be more, get more. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s okay to want what you want. So, go get it.