how to succeed in life

I messed up spectacularly a bunch of times in my 20s. But I’ve also done a lot right, and I’m glad I figured out some of the “right” stuff that produces massive success and happiness. Some of the “secrets” that the happiest, most successful, most fulfilled people in the world know.

But one of the best investments of time I ever made was making it a habit of studying and hanging out with the most successful people I could find.

For example, in the past few months alone I wanted to upgrade my social circle, like I frequently suggest many of you do if you want to take your life to the next level. I wanted to hang out with people who were crushing it, or who would be crushing it. People with a huge fire to improve their lives like I have.

The result just a few short months later? 75% of the time, the only people I’m texting, emailing, and hanging out with are people earning $200k+/year in their own businesses or ventures.

And let me tell you – they think WAY differently from most of us. From the average person.

But there’s one thing in particular that all successful people have, that I’ve noticed.

There’s ONE overarching principle that allows them to have epic levels of fulfillment, happiness, finances, health, relationships and a lot more.

They live life deliberately.

The truly successful people, not just the financially successful, think about everything and their own vision of the future.

It’s the exact opposite of how the average person lives – constantly waking up in a life they didn’t want.

Constantly wondering “how the hell did I get here?”

I get hundreds of the same types of emails – I woke up in this life somehow. I don’t know how I got here, but I don’t want to be here any longer.

It doesn’t matter if the person is talking about their health going to shit, their relationship failing, not having enough money, or just plain waking up in an extremely boring, mediocre life.

The origin is always the same: failing to live an examined life. Failing to take time to figure out what you want. Failing to learn the daily action steps that will help you get to where you want to be.

The solution is always the same: live life deliberately.

“Yea yea yea I’ve heard this before”

You’ve heard Thoreau before:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Living a deliberate life means you’ve thought shit out.

It means you think about WHAT YOU WANT regularly, and how you can get there. This is directly contrary to how most of us live.

Think about it.

Your job. How’d you get it? And why? Because it was your major or related to it? Because it was what you’re good at? Because it’s just what “Men or women in the Johnson family do?” Because daddy or mommy wanted you to be a particular profession? Because you’re scared of poverty? Because you crave feelings of power and admiration?

Romantic partners. I once sat in a cafe thinking about how strange some couples are.

Sometimes there is a huge mismatch in looks, personality or just compatibility.

Sometimes that’s just because billy bob and cindy lou hoo just happen to be the only two people that keep running into each other, and are slightly compatible on one tiny thing.

Sometimes they just happen to “be there” when the biological clock is ticking and we want to settle down.

Where you live. The majority of people choose two options: Option A: Close to home and family. Option B: Far away from home and family. So we choose to live in places not because they match our interests, hobbies, career opportunities, etc. but because it’s “just where our parents are” or because “we’re trying to get as far away as possible.”

Neither of these are “examined” decisions.

How we spend our lives.

Think about your daily routine, and the routine of most of your parents or elders. Work, bowling at night, American Idol on TV, the same family gatherings, not using your vacation time, movies on the weekends, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with it – but is that really what you want to be doing? Or have you never thought about what you’d rather really be doing?

Most of our life is lived by default – where your parents are, what you majored in, what people around you do, or going against what the people around you do.

And as a result, you end up living a life that’s unexamined. That’s fine – nothing wrong with it – but if you’re like me, you want MORE from life. You want *THE* life, and I can assure you, it’s possible.

So What’s The Fix?

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Brain dump

I’ve repeatedly observed one single mindset that causes more failure than just about anything else.

I noticed it in myself in my early to mid 20’s, when I was floundering and wasting a shitload of time. And I now notice it in loads of 20 somethings that aren’t where they want to be in life.

This single mindset repeatedly causes more pain, discomfort, and failure than virtually anything else – and it often goes unnoticed.

Scared? You should be.

Two Insanely Powerful Life Shifts

Here are the two, which will determine how far you go in life, and whether or not you end up living the life you want:

Blame

and

Personal responsibility

In my early 20s, after just moving back from China to a shit job market, I had little personal development under my belt.

It took about 6 months to find my first job, all the while I was asking:

“What’s with this piece of shit economy, why can’t I get a job?”

versus

“How can I get creative, and/or start earning extra money now?”

I blamed my connections, thinking: “Damnit, if only I had been a more connected person, with more friends, a better network, and so on.”

Rather than:

“How can I start creating an epic network of people who can help me crush it?”

I bitched and moaned about not having money, rather than cultivating the true entrepreneurial spirit I have now, which asks:

“Okay, stuff is bad now. How can I make it better?”

As you’ll soon see… these two mindsets change everything. And just by having a 5 minute conversation with someone, the presence or lack of these two concepts immediately tells me everything about the state of their lives – EVERYTHING.

And I can predict, almost 100% of the time, where they’ll be in 5 years, and unfortunately, where they’ll be when they die – unless they change.

Why These Change Everything

All success originates in the mind – pretty much a conclusion that just about 100% of the most successful people on earth have reached.

Why? If you don’t believe you can do something, you won’t try. Simple as that.

There’s much more to it, but we often only look for what we want to look for. If we view life through the lense of blame, we choose blame to explain the story and our circumstances.

If we choose personal responsibility, that becomes the underlying theme of our epic story.

Let me give you an example, let’s talk about Blamer Billy and Personal Responsibility (PN) Nancy.

Let’s see how they adapt to a couple life circumstances – these are all true stories, and even though the individuals aren’t real, the stories are composites of thousands of conversations I’ve had with very happy, successful, fulfilled people, and well, not happy, or fulfilled people.

“My Relationship Goes to Shit”

Blamer Billy is in a relationship with the girl of his dreams. To keep the story short, she breaks up with him, and he’s crushed. Day after day, he goes out, smokes, plays video games, and tries to find as many distractions as possible for his mind.

In fact, this goes on for months. Three months later, he’s still like this. Friends and family get worried. “Blamer Billy, when are you going to get over this girl?”

But he can’t.

Whereas some people would blame the other person (“she doesn’t appreciate me” etc.), Billy goes on to blame himself. As he gets more and more depressed, he continues to blame himself for not being a high quality guy, for not being healthier, for not being more attentive to her needs. On and on it goes for Billy.

Personal Responsibility Nancy is also dumped by her boyfriend. She’s crushed. She goes through the similar nights of drinking wine and eating ice cream, watching movies, becoming a couch potato, trying to go out and drink as much as possible.

Her life is also in the dumps – but even though she blames herself, for not being a better girlfriend, and her boyfriend for “not being serious,” she decides that life is too short to be miserable. So she takes charge – creates an entire new friend group through meetup.com so she doesn’t have to see her ex again, she picks up a new hobby – karate – and she starts going to happy hour with her work colleagues more.

Which one of these two people do you think is doing better a year after the breakup?

“I lose my job (or can’t find one)”

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confusedThere’s pretty much only one way to die unfulfilled, and never achieve anything you want in life.

It all pretty much comes down to one thing.

It’s not being afraid.

It’s not “making the wrong decision.”

It’s not about not having enough money.

And it’s also not about failing to cross things off your bucket list.

There’s really only ONE habit that will prevent you from getting where you want, and it’s this:

It’s not about making the wrong decision, it’s about NOT making a decision at all.

Not Making a Decision IS Making a Decision

The other day I sat down with one of my perpetually lost friends and he was asking me about ten different life paths he was considering taking.

“Ehhh, I could be a musician, or a biologist, or do charity work. Lots of things.”

“I’m just not quite sure which one I should take, I’m afraid of investing time into the wrong one and getting set back a few years, and I already tried that and screwed myself.”

Me: “So what’s the problem?”

“Eh, not sure about committing to any one thing, maybe I should sit on it a bit longer and try to figure it out.”

But here’s the thing:

My friend and I had this exact conversation two years before, and he was literally in the exact same position in his life. Navel-gazing, thinking about paths to take, “trying out” different things, never committing, bumming around, and not making any progress whatsoever.

Two YEARS had elapsed in the time that he was “figuring it all out.”

Okay. Different story now.

My friend Matt is in a totally different position.

He got a secure, high paying job out of college as an accountant, which gives him the financial stability he wanted even though he’s horribly bored.

No biggie, he figured – he can just coast with his salary for awhile.

However, Matt has been trying to find a career he’s really passionate about – something that’s cool to talk about, that’s fun, that would be a great conversational opener at a party.

Thing is, just like my friend above, Matt has been an accountant for five years and hasn’t even interviewed for any other jobs, he hasn’t started a business or written down any ideas, and he isn’t physically any closer to this “new” Matt than he was five years ago.

And five years ain’t no joke. You can go from idea ==> six figures in a business in 5 years. You can go from 100 pounds overweight ==> fitness model in 5 years. You can go from lost, confused, depressed ==> found, calm, and incredibly happy in less than 5 years.

He was pissing time away.

In fact, I see this sabotaging a lot more 20 somethings than almost anything else. Waiting for “the right time.”

There Is No Right Time, There is No Quantum Leap, There is no Big Break

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map 2

Yesterday, many pieces came together and I had one of the biggest “aha” revelations of my life.

I want to share it with you because I’m positive it’s going to help you get way more happy, successful, and fulfilled.

People are always looking for the secret. The map.

To the perfect relationship or the perfect marriage. What rules do I follow? What actions do I take? What should I say or not say?

Or we’re looking for “secret” of success. What’s the map I should follow to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Steve jobs?

What book should I read next to make me more successful?

What daily actions should I take in order to crush it?

Maybe it’s the key to happiness.

The happiness movement has exploded in recent years – books are flying off the bookshelves, the positive psychology movement has sprung up, and it’s quite possibly the biggest sub niche inside of personal development that has ever existed.

So what’s the secret to happiness? What should I be doing every day to be happy?

Or for those of you fellow 20 somethings, maybe you want the road map to no longer being lost. You just want a quick formula to follow:  passionate work + good relationship + adventure = no longer being lost.

But here was my huge revelation:

THERE IS NO MAP.

Sounds Scary? It’s Not – Here’s Why That’s Awesome

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Success, however you define it, is never an accident.

It’s funny – watch this awesome music video, and then read this guy’s comment:

“Life isn’t that beautiful, nobody can live like this, not even rich people.”

Here’s what I wrote back:

my responseSo let’s talk about how you can never end up like this guy.

As sad as it seems, he really believes this is a life unique to the top 1% of the world.

It’s not.

Living an Epic Life is NEVER An Accident

Dream job.

Dream lover.

Dream location

Dream life.

All of these things are DELIBERATELY CRAFTED.

This is my core message on milk the pigeon – if you want to live a special or extraordinary life, you have to PAY THE PRICE. [click to continue…]

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