For some reason, people love side paths. Even when the path is clear and the road paved, we like complexity, we feel like if something is too simple or too easy, it can’t be the right way.
Life is supposed to be full of suffering! Being successful is supposed to be difficult!
The reality is this: of course it’s difficult.
But there are 5 ways that most of us end up royally sucking at life and blaming it on “factors outside our control,” when in reality we just sabotage ourselves.
#1 All talk and no game
“Success needs no explanations.”
Let’s face it: we all get lost in the excitement sometimes. We get a new idea while we’re in the shower and the dreams and adrenaline start flooding in: you see yourself with a multi-million dollar business, driving whatever car you want, living wherever you want, traveling when and where you want, doing what you want.
You can see the press coverage, the interviews, the tv, the excitement, the respect, the prestige…
The autonomy to be the [wo]man and do whatever the hell you want when you want.
Yep, you’re human. It’s fine to get excited, to get that initial adrenaline rush that keeps you awake all night with possibilities in your head.
But it’s deadly too. If I had a penny for every time I told someone I was going to do something – and never did it or followed through – I’d have a shitload of pennies (would I be a millionaire? hmm.)
Besides, as it turns out — the more you talk about your ambition and goals the less likely you are to realize them.
Way #1 to suck at life: Be all talk and no game. And yeah, it’s bloody fucking hard to not want to share your goals! It’s like dating a new pretty girl you’re really into, you wanna tell everyone including the homeless man sitting next to you on the subway. But control your excitement, and channel it into a slow, steady, penny-a-day work ethic.
#2 Not finishing
“Winning isn’t always finishing first. Sometimes winning is just finishing.”
Let’s put things in perspective here: For most of us, starting something is hard.
We invest so much into thought and so little into action (for fear of the long road ahead) that we never end up starting. Well, I sure ain’t ya momma but you should know by now that if you aren’t building something extraordinary you should hurry the fuck up and do it!
So let’s say that 5% of people will start something. A blog, a book, a business, a new hobby, whatever.
How many will finish that? See it through to fruition ? Set a goal and achieve it no matter what? I would bet close to 0%. As close to zero as you can get while still having a significant figure.
The truth is that if you think starting something is hard, you’re in for a rude awakening. Finishing is hard. Waking up every day and putting words on the page of your book – even if they suck – that’s hard. Some days you feel like a failure, some days you just can’t work, some days you have to talk yourself off the ledge.
I recently plugged Seth Godin’s talk on Quieting the Lizard Brain, but this is the only thing you need to remember:
Instead of starting new things, pick something and finish it.
#3 Shitty work ethic
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
I really hate to revert back to the classic “work hard blah blah blah for success” but every day I’m surprised by how shitty the work ethic of the Average Joe is.
The funny thing about work ethic is it’s rarely “your own work ethic.” The best way to have a good work ethic is hang around successful people — it’s usually ends up being a reminder of how much a lazy piece of shit I am. Mind you, comparison can be deadly to a person’s ego, or it can drive you.
We all have our own struggles, and sometimes you need to put that in perspective by setting yourself side by side with someone with a real struggle.
Working 2 hours a day on classwork and bitching that life is hard becomes a little insane when you sit next to a single mother with 3 kids, working 3 jobs, taking care of her kids and also going to school at night — and just making it by.
Think you’re working hard? I call bullshit. We all lie to ourselves to say we tried everything and “gave our best.”
#4 Relying too much on external validation to keep you motivated
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Blogging is an up and down game. So is life really, or business in general. We closely attach our business/success to our feelings of self worth, and when there are days you get good comments, emails, feedback, or success — you feel good.
You feel like your time is being used wisely, and that what you do matters.
But what happens on the off days? What happens when you do something that flops, that no one cares about, that no one hears or sees?
Most of us have our ego closely attached to what we do – when a product launch doesn’t do as well as you hoped, or when you spend so much freaking time on something that doesn’t matter to anyone else — it hurts.
And it’s not easy to transition to doing work where how you feel is the most important thing on a daily basis.
There’s just one thing to remember here about external validation: if you feel what you are doing is meaningful, keep doing it.
If you feel it in your bones that what you are doing is going to be useful to someone — and to yourself — it’s worth it, every single time.
The rest is simply a battle — the battle to keep your mind sharp and impervious to the outside world sometimes, while receptive at other times.
#5 When it pours, thinking it’s personal or that its a “sign”
“When I consider the amount of work required to start down the path that’ll change my life I stop complaining because starting is easy.”
-John Saddington @Tentblogger
We’ve all been here: nothing works out in your favor. It’s the day where you lose your job, breakup with your guy/girl, get sued, and get into a car accident.
If you figure out why shit happens all at once, please let me know. In any case when it all does hit the fan (it always does, it’s just a matter of when) most of us are just shell shocked.
“What the hell did I do to deserve this? I must have some really bad karma from my past life… this must be a sign… what is God trying to tell me… what can I learn from this suffering…”
Ask yourself this: Are you worthy of your sufferings?
Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning talked about the idea of people being worth the suffering they’ve been through, in other words, not suffering in vain.
Are you going to suffer and cry and mope and sulk and act like a victim of destiny without doing anything? Or are you going to use the suffering to catch that second wind, pull that shit out of you, and do whatever-it-takes to hustle and find the drive to keep going?
Are you going to make the suffering worth it or just quit?
When it pours, it really does feel like the whole world conspires against you. It feels like every door has been closed, every opportunity lost, all potential and hope gone.
When those days roll around, you just gotta ask yourself if you’re gonna make yourself worthy of the suffering.
The answer, of course, should be hell fucking yes.
At some point we all have to stop deceiving ourselves and realize our fate is more in our hands than we think.
At the end of the day you have no one to answer to but yourself.
Image via OceanLovers