You don’t need me.
I even have a chapter in my book where I tell readers I hope there comes a day they no longer have to read my work at all. I don’t want you to become a self-help junkie who always reads books and watches videos. I want you to graduate from this content and go about your life reaching your goals.
There’s a saying:
When the student is ready, the master appears.
But also, when the student is truly ready, the master disappears. The master was only there to unlock everything the student already had within themselves. So I hope to have readers shuffling in and out. I know that self-doubt is so undefeated that I’ll always have a job, but I hope I can help a few people along the way.
I hope I can help you. Without the big rah rah message, the moral of the story is simple. You already have everything you need to be as successful as you want to be. You’re already inherently good enough. So let’s work on helping you figure that out.
We all play the ‘if game’. You tell yourself that if something in your life changed, it’d be so much easier to get what you want. If you had more money, better looks, more charisma, a higher I.Q., a bigger network, better luck, etc, then you’d be able to reach your goals.
Playing the ‘if game’ keeps you from facing the harsh truth that you could get what you want by doing what you can with what you have right now. You’re just not doing it. You’re coping. Stop.
How do you realize that what you have and who you are right now is more than enough? Questions your own thoughts and create counter-narratives. Odds are, there is someone similar to you that has done something you want to achieve. Also, there are people who’ve been blessed with certain gifts that don’t use them well at all.
Some people may have more natural gifts and advantages. They have a bigger cup. But if you have a smaller cup that’s filled to the brim and theirs is only half full, you end up with better results. Not only that, there are so many different games you can play in life — different fields, industries, and areas with their own little hierarchies. You don’t have to win every game. You just have to win a game that means something to you.
So, you fill up your cup to the brim and play a game you have a chance to win. I could tell myself I’d have a bigger audience if I had the natural writing skills of Malcolm Gladwell or an email list with a million people on it like James Clear, but I don’t. But I can focus on becoming the best writer I can possibly be and build the type of tribe I’m capable of building. If I focus on the things I can control and nothing else, I’ll do just fine. And I’ve done just that. And so can you.
“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” – Michaelangelolo
You already have what you need to get what you want from this life, but you’re a lot like that marble block. Until you chip away at everything that gets in the way, you’re not going to be left with the real essence of who you are and understand what you’re capable of.
The more I try to become more of who I am by chipping away at the B.S., the better my results have been. With my writing, I got better by removing fluff and nice-sounding statements. Over the years, I’ve shed different layers of my personality that I used to protect myself from being seen — the tough guy, the party guy, the bad guy. These days, I’m looking at every area of life that I’m doing too much and I’m focusing on doing exactly what’s required and nothing more.
What are some of the areas of your life worth chipping away and getting rid of?
How much do you base what you do off of what other people and society at large expect of you? Is that job you got for the presitge, but not for real enjoyment, something you need to get rid of? What do you do in the name of ‘pragmatism’ that could be removed from your life? Where do you pretend to be someone or something you’re not just to get along with others?
The weight of societal expectations gets in the way of doing what you want to do with your life. To deal with this, I always try to ask myself a similar set of questions:
Why should I care what anyone thinks?
Why should I give up my dreams for the sake of a society that doesn’t personally care about me at all?
Whose approval am I seeking and for what reason?
And I just keep digging away until I’m freer to navigate my life in a way that suits me.
There is no magical recipe for dealing with self-doubt. I don’t care how many self-improvement blog posts you read. Dealing with doubt is something you can only do in the field. You either face your doubts by doing what scares you or you don’t.
When you do face your doubts head-on, you go through a process that feels painful upfront. But that pain is just the environment chipping away at you until you’re left with the bolder and confident version of yourself.
Taking action exposes you to a variety of thoughts — sometimes it exposes the lies you’ve been telling yourself and sometimes it confirms your thoughts and leaves you to deal with them. Both are necessary.
I get it. There’s no perfect explanation as to why self-doubt is so palpable. It just is. I just try to find the best mental angle I can to face it. I think about how much time being stuck in self-doubt wastes. When opportunities come, I try to strike without thinking too much — just do it.
There’s also this big category of these things you don’t really do but you do them anyway, beliefs you pretend to have but don’t really believe, things you pretend to want that you don’t really want, things that you really want that you pretend you don’t want. This big basket of thing that fall outside the range of ‘following your heart.’
What is winning? Winning is whatever winning means to you. You’re never going to be able to perfectly assess what you want, but you have a pretty good idea. And there’s nothing wrong with your definition of winning. Just define it and go for it.
You lose by being apologetic about the life you want to live. We live in a society full of restrained and stifled people who are afraid, to be honest and intentional about the way they live. I’m included in that, too. I always try to look at myself and wonder where I’m putting up a front for no reason and I do my best to let go.
What are the areas of your life where you’re pretending? Can you let them go? Can you be you, the real you, and unapologetically let your freak flag fly? Living this way makes your life so much easier for one reason.
When your thoughts, words, and actions are congruent and you live that way you know you actually want to live, you get closer to the results you want because your true self will turn some people off and make it clear that some paths aren’t for you. Then you’re left with the people and outcomes that actually match you. Everybody wins because you don’t waste your time for the sake of pretending.
This post could be summed up in a simple way. You already know what to do, but you’re just not doing it. You know that. Even if you try to convince yourself otherwise, you know that you’re a few systems and processes away from getting what you want.
But that means you don’t get to lie to yourself anymore. That means you don’t get to have the comfort of those narratives you use to keep you mentally safe but frail in the real world.
Doing what it takes to win is tough. There’s a reason why the princess is always in a castle guarded by a huge fire-breathing dragon. There’s no avoiding the dragon. Not if you want to get what you really want. But you don’t need any extra armor or a bigger sword. You just have to fight.