Do you know how many times I’ve felt like an insane person for wanting to become a full-time writer? Who blogs for a living, one out of every ten thousand people who try? I’m probably being generous.
Do you know how many times I felt like giving up? Constantly, but I never did. Do you know how many times where I felt so stretched that I possibly couldn’t stretch myself anymore? I always feel this way.
But, I keep going. Why? I don’t know. I just want to. I don’t have this big schpiel that everyone should follow their highest goals and aspirations. But it’s something that I want to do. And I know there are others out there who feel the same way, so I talk to them.
Do you get some big prize for being a high achiever? No, you die just like everyone else. So, why do it? Do it because it’s awesome. Do it because it will make you feel more alive than doing anything else. At least, that’s the way I see things.
This post is for those who are already on the path and need reassurance. It’s also for those who’ve been sitting on the sideline and want to get in the game — a game you play to win even if there isn’t some grand point to winning it.
Let’s take a look at the signs.
People constantly ask me for writing advice, but most don’t want to hear the truth about what it takes to succeed. I could lay out the perfect strategy and plan for them, but giving impeccable advice won’t matter.
They’ll ask me a vague question about writing because they don’t want specific directions. If I gave them specific directions, they’d have to either follow them or reject them outright. They couldn’t hide behind a vague answer to a vague question pretending they don’t know what to do to succeed.
Who are the ones that do succeed? Every once in a while I’ll come across someone who asks me for specific directions and executes on them without questioning me at all. That’s the key trait. I remember once when a writer asked me how to get his work into popular blogs in his niche. I told him how to find the right websites, pitch those websites, tips on writing a quality post, and how to create a landing page to collect emails for his list.
He said he’d get back to me. I figured at best I’d hear from him in a few weeks. At worst, I figured I’d never hear from him again. He got back to me in less than a week. He found a website, pitched them an article, got it published, and showed me his completed landing page. He didn’t reach out again — just thanked me for the advice. I knew he had a real shot at success.
We live in a society of people who don’t have the results they want, yet won’t listen to and implement advice from people who want what they have. It’s an ego thing. You want to tell yourself you have all figured out. If you did, you wouldn’t have subpar results. High achievers seek specific advice and execute it as quickly as possible.
I don’t mind when people ‘pick my brain.’ I just know people are mostly full of it and won’t follow through. If I come across someone who seems serious, I’ll help them. Everyone talks about finding a mentor, few people talk about being humble enough to accept a mentor’s advice.
If you have high achievement in your DNA, the idea of living a normal life will bother you at a deep level. Sure, a lot of people want to succeed. A lot of people are frustrated with their current circumstances. But usually, their circumstances don’t bother them enough to change.
Society has this genius way of making your life frustrating, but tolerable enough to follow its rules. You might dislike your job, but at least you have the weekends to distract yourself and numb yourself enough to go back the next week.
There are enough little coping mechanisms you can use to avoid facing the truth about your life — entertainment, sex, substances, obsession with politics, distractions disguised as “fun”. You have just enough of the life you want to scrape by, so most people choose to take their pain in tiny doses every single day until they die.
There are some people, maybe you, who see through the societal veneer. You’re aware that every day you spend on activities that don’t move you forward is a day you’ve wasted a golden opportunity. You realize that things won’t just work out eventually. You know that each day you’re a little bit closer to dying.
This doesn’t mean you’re perfect. But simply having that awareness that a normal life sincerely isn’t for you can eventually spark the energy you can turn into consistent motivation and discipline.
Do you ever feel out of place in this world? Do you feel like it should be super obvious to everyone that we’re being conned into living below our potential by those who create the narrative about the way we should live? Does your life feel lonely sometimes, like you have this secret that few people around you know?
If you answered yes to all three questions, you’re on track. Follow those instincts. Don’t let society beat you into submission.
I don’t feel bad for people who live in developed countries and don’t live on the street. There are simply way too many opportunities out there and resources you can learn from to feel helpless. High achievers understand the unfathomable power of technology and its power to help you learn how to do anything.
Think about a goal you have or something you want to learn how to do. Now, go to YouTube and type it into the search bar. You’ll find in-depth, informative, and actionable tutorials on how to do just that. And you can learn how to do it for free.
I don’t care about your excuses. When I was dead broke, I used to go to the public library and check out books for free. I’d use the free internet and computers to do my work. This is something that literally a homeless person could do. I know this because homeless people often frequent public libraries and use the computers there.
Anytime you want to know something, just Google it and find the answer. If you want to level up further you can use paid resources. Books are $20 for goodness sake. Speaking of, it’s so funny that people will scoff at dropping a few hundred bucks on an online program, but will spend $50,000 to get a degree for a job they don’t even want, or $100 bucks on dinner and a night out, or $15 a month on Netflix.
In life, you have the free time available to you and the way you choose to prioritize your life. Those who prioritize learning above all else will get what they want in the long run. This goes back to the earlier point about directions. It’s one thing to think about doing ‘the thing.’ It’s another to seek out information. The true high achievers execute on that information.
Confirmation bias might be the biggest reason why people don’t get the outcomes they want. In short, once you get a story in your head, a belief, it’s really hard to change your mind. Most people will tell themselves a story that absolves them of personal responsibility. They think the world is out to get them. They think that something outside of themselves is the reason why they’re stuck.
To combat confirmation bias, develop the powerful tool of self-awareness. I boil it down to a simple idea. Self-aware people are brutally honest with themselves. Ask yourself how honest you’re being with yourself. Are you aware of the ways you are getting in the way of your own success? Are you accurately assessing whether or not you’re putting in enough effort or making the best decisions?
Can you do the hard thing and simply admit when you’ve been screwing up? It’s hard to wrestle with the idea that you’ve just wasted a bunch of time. It’s hard to just cut bait on this identity you’ve built to cope with your life and just start over. But, there can always be a day where you change your thoughts, beliefs, and behavior.
High achievers are always learning and they’re always willing to change their beliefs when necessary. They have a goal, and they constantly course-correct as they move toward that goal. They’re honest about their real motivations — both the petty ones and the meaningful ones, you need both. They even know when to quit when something’s not working. But they quit because they’ve given a full effort and it’s not panning out instead of quitting out of fear or laziness.
Instead of fighting who they really are, what they really want, and the person they know they could be, they just own it. People are running around lost. The collective is suffering from a massive lack of self-awareness. I have no hope for the group. But I have a ton of hope in the individuals who seek to understand how the world really works and their own role in the successes and failures of their lives.
After you figure out what you want, you have to reverse-engineer it back to the present moment and figure out the steps required to pull it off. No need to reinvent the wheel. Someone else has already done what you’ve wanted to do, now you just need to take similar steps. You can’t replicate exact outcomes, but you don’t need to. There are consistent patterns you can follow that will get you pretty good results over a long period of time.
I noticed a bunch of things when I pursued a career as a full-time writer. I noticed that most successful writers took years to become successful, so I committed myself to a half-decade of practicing my craft. If I saw a writer get their work published on a popular blog, I’d pitch that same blog. I watched how writers would market their work and used similar strategies. I’d look up free information online and follow the instructions without skipping a step. I paid successful writers to teach me what they know.
Read The One Thing by Gary Keller. It teaches you how to create a domino effect in your life. The big major goal is at the end, the huge domino. The thing you need to do today is the tiny domino. But, with momentum, a series of slightly bigger dominos eventually lead to and topple the giant one.
Whatever you want to do already has a proven blueprint for success. Just follow it. It’s not hard. It’s time-consuming. I saw this quote the other day and it sums things up perfectly:
Patience has its origin in a French word meaning suffering. To be patient is to suffer.
Most people won’t suffer through the tedium and tiny gradual steps it takes. They tell themselves lies to avoid the fact that they’re simply unwilling to take those steps.
When it comes to your life, just be honest. Are you or are you not following the blueprint. If you are, keep going, and eventually, time will be on your side. If not, you know what to do, so do it.
A quick recap of the signs you’re a high achiever:
As far as what it means to be a high achiever, it simply means that you aim for results that push you outside of your comfort zone to become your best self. It doesn’t mean you’re super-rich or have a bunch of status.
It means you do the things that matter to you. I don’t know what your dreams are, nor do I care. If you want to be the world’s greatest clown, put that makeup on and start working on your routine.
I only care about whether or not you choose to accept your call to adventure.