Your biggest hurdle in life?
Loss aversion. You’re wired to focus more on what you stand to lose than what you stand to gain. This is why becoming successful is so difficult.
Achieving the outcomes you want is often more about what you’re willing to give up as opposed to what you’re willing to do. If it weren’t for the need to make sacrifices, well then, we’d all be successful. Alas, this isn’t how the world works.
Per usual, I don’t have an airy and lighthearted motivational pep talk to give you — just cold reality.
Either you make the sacrifices or you don’t. Then, you see what happens with your life after that.
Here’s the thing, though. What look like sacrifices on the front end, turn out to be investments when you look at them in hindsight. You give away something upfront, but the reward you get is worth much more than what you gave up in the first place. Good old boring delayed gratification for the win.
That’s all this self-help stuff is.
You know that. I’m just here as your constant reminder. Be willing to give these things up short term so you can win long-term.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammed Ali
I used to wake up at 5 a.m. on an almost daily basis when I was building my writing career and had a full-time job at the same time. I never grew to like it. So how did I pull it off? I woke up early because I saw no other choice.
To focus on my purpose, I gave up time ‘having fun.’ Eventually, I realized that ‘sacrificing’ time wasn’t a sacrifice at all because I enjoyed the work I was doing.
I can’t remember the last time I binged watched a T.V. show. I don’t force myself to not watch a ton of T.V., I just don’t do it by default because I spend time doing other things — no moral objection to it.
That’s what will happen to you, too. You won’t have to try to stop wasting time. It’ll happen naturally. When you find something you’re compelled to work on, ‘fun’ tends to fade into your periphery.
Work becomes fun. You don’t have to cease all forms of escapism and leisure altogether, but you no longer have to do them to fill a void.
After you sacrifice some time upfront, though, you can get more of it on the backend. I don’t wake up at 5 a.m. anymore. I sleep in to a reasonable 7 or 8 a.m. Some days I work for two hours. Some days 14. I could hop on a plane and skip a week or two of work altogether. I get to choose what to do with my time.
The upfront sacrifice was worth it for me. Decide if it’ll be worth it for you.
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” – Charles Bukowski
I envy people who aren’t cursed with dreams and ambition.
I think to myself, “It must be nice to just fit in, go to happy hour with your buddies, do the same thing every weekend and not care, talk about the weather, think politics matters, and not have to question how you spend each moment of your day.”
There’s a certain peace and upside to ‘quiet desperation.‘ I sometimes long for it. On the whole, though, I prefer to keep doing what I’m doing which has an inevitable consequence for me — the same one it’ll have for you.
You won’t be able to relate to people as well. The more you level up, the more you’ll feel like it’s obvious that everyone else should. But most won’t. And you’ll burn energy trying to convert them. So don’t.
Do be willing to stand out and be your authentic self regardless of what anyone thinks. Be ready to deal with the blowback that comes with, too.
Ask yourself, do you really want to be a leader? Do you want to stand out? It’s up to you.
There’s a positive consequence of standing out, too. A certain group of people who watch you on the come up will be inspired by you and will gravitate toward you. They won’t take you seriously at first, but later they’ll want to ‘pick your brain.’ Welcome them into the fold and keep on keeping on with the same motto:
You’re for some people and not for others.
“Lifetime regrets are more painful than delayed gratification.” – Dawn Graham
‘Short term you’…sucks.
99.99 percent of your problems are tied to wanting to feel good short term.
Short term you’ wants to feel good at all times, but to get the long-term success you will have to experience moments of your life where you don’t feel good about yourself because you objectively suck at the new skill you’re trying to develop.
It’s crazy. Your whole life is a combination of making this short-sighted trade repeatedly — death by endless concessions, incessant hesitations, and small poor decisions that have a cumulative effect.
You can get carried away with putting off your present happiness for future long-term goals, but you don’t have that problem right now. When you have that problem, decide what to do with it. This goes back to the time thing — create time and opportunity to smell the roses later.
And most of what you do in the present moment for ‘short term you’ isn’t true presence, mindfulness, and enjoyment. It’s often a distraction you use to numb yourself.
When you get caught up in your short term feelings life just gets worse and harder. Your short term feelings put you into a groove. And you never want to be in a groove. The longer you get into that groove, stacking up those short-term concessions, the more nails you put into your coffin.
I sound harsh and cruel at times, but it’s only because it’s true. And it’s only because I care enough to tell you the truth.
“What follows the “I Am” will always come looking for you. When you say, ‘I am so clumsy,’ clumsiness comes looking for you. ‘I am so old’. Wrinkles come looking for you. ‘I am so overweight’. Calories come looking for you. It’s just like you’re inviting them. Whatever you follow the ‘I Am’ with, you’re handing it an invitation, opening the door, giving it permission to be in your life.” – Joel Olsteen
You have an identity you’ve built up over a long period of time. Regardless of how well that identity is serving you, you don’t want to let go of it because it’s…you.
In reality, personalities are quite malleable. You can become an entirely different person, but not until you kill that old identity. And you will experience a grieving process after letting it go.
How many times have you uttered some iteration of this statement to yourself?
“That’s just the way I am.”
Recently, I’ve been traveling to different places across the country by myself to meet new people. Why? Because I want to get out of my comfort zone and rid myself of this idea that I’m an introvert.
Am I naturally introverted? Sure. But that doesn’t mean I’m an introvert. Anything that comes behind the words “I am” is an unnecessary label that’s holding you back in life.
Work on letting go of this idea that you’re some fixed entity incapable of behaving in a different way
You love having some level of certainty about your life. Even if your situation is shit, you can make sense of it. Letting go of that means your life will seem more chaotic. But here’s what you’ll come to understand — perceived chaos can be a training ground to become a much sharper, agiler, and savvy version of yourself.
Once you understand that your comfort zone simply isn’t a place you want to be at all, you can start creating an evolving sense of self that continually improves with each new challenge.
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” – Marcus Aurelius
Just get rid of the notion of having a comfort zone ever again. Quit making it a goal.
Some people will reply with something along the lines of:
“But Ayo! You need some sense of stability and security in your life!”
Clearly, duh, Mr or Mrs ad absurdum, you don’t want to live a life where you have zero stability at all.
Coming home to the same domicile, having money in savings, and building a routine are all great and necessary elements to a life well-lived. But you have to avoid long stretches of comfort where none of the following things change:
Why are you so desperately looking for an endpoint? Why do you want to be done so badly?
I thought all my problems would be solved if I could just pull this writing thing off. Didn’t work that way, at all. There was no sunset to ride off into. Turns out? I didn’t want one. I just got back in the dirt and started new projects because the journey is truly the entire goal, as corny as that sounds.
You don’t want the beach, the endless drinks, the infinite bank account, and zero worries. You think you do, but you don’t. Hell, after a week of vacation…you’re ready to go back to work.
In general, you want to build new projects and skills, from small things like hobbies to huge things like businesses. You want to face challenges that push you but don’t kill you, and ultimately look back at your life and say “Damn. How did I do that?”
“Negativity is emotional second-hand smoke” – Ayodeji Awosika (I quoted myself but come on…that’s pretty good)
You don’t have to cut out 100 percent of the people in your life who aren’t extremely focused, all-in on self-improvement, and totally aligned with every single core value you have, but I will say this.
The people you choose to have in your life, for better or worse, will have a dramatic impact on your life.
Is the goal to become machiavellian? No. The goal is to take the time to consciously think about the people you have in your life and realize that you’re going to have to sacrifice at least some of those relationships that are holding you back.
Maybe you’re the rare individual who has the perfect peer group, friends, relationships, and network. Odds are, though, you need to at minimum, reduce the amount of time you need to spend with certain people.
When I was heavily focused on my writing career, I stopped hanging out with my friends who drank a lot. Not because they were bad people, but because I knew I didn’t have the willpower to hang out with them and not get caught up in the same activities.
Structuring your environment is key to success. And often, subtraction improves your environment.
“When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real. What replaces ego is humility, yes—but rock-hard humility and confidence. Whereas ego is artificial, this type of confidence can hold weight. Ego is stolen. Confidence is earned. Ego is self-anointed, its swagger is artifice. One is girding yourself, the other gaslighting. It’s the difference between potent and poisonous.” – Ryan Holiday
Read the book Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. This book has continued to grow on me and might be his best one. When you think about all the sacrifices required to live a successful life, they all tie back to sacrificing your ego:
Imagine you could move through the world ego-free. This doesn’t mean you lack confidence — quite the opposite. You’re able to just be yourself and work on the things that matter to you, without having to constantly ping off of others to define who you are.
That’s true freedom.
Is it an attainable goal? I don’t know.
Is it worthwhile? Without question.