5 Ways to Suck at Life & Business (The Straight low down)

by Alexander Heyne · 14 comments

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.” 

-Napoleon Hill

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.”

-Manuel Diotte

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.”

Vince Lombardi

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.”

-Mahatma Gandhi 

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

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Brasilicana February 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

All of these are right on – but #2 stuck out for me because the other day I was reading two-year-old comments on a BlogTyrant post where people were posting links to their blogs/sites and asking for feedback. I’d click on the sites and quite a few of them were off the air. So either their URLs changed… or else they gave up some time within the last two years.

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Annie Andre February 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I’ve noticed that too. I have broken link checker for my blog and i’ve noticed a steady stream of broken links due to commentors blogs going belly up.

I think all five of your reasons are spot on. I hope you don’t mind, but can i add one?
It’s “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”.. It drives me absolutely ape doo doo / bonkers when someone in life or work when something isn’t working but they continue doing the same thing and change nothing. By definition they are “INSANE” in the membrane.

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Annie Andre February 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

oops, that was poorly written. i sound like i no speak good enrish.

afheyne February 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Yesssss that is definitely a biggie I totally forgot!

You see that a lot in relationships unfortunately. Same people, same type of wrong spouse, same result. And it doesn’t occur for years or until someone/thing smacks them upside the head.

It’s hard to step outside oneself though. I mean, if it were easy we wouldn’t hear so many stories about girls falling for the same wrong guys over and over. Lots of this stuff is really ingrained in people’s psyche.

afheyne February 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Brasilicana, I think the lifespan of blogs is pretty short.

I might have read it at Sean’s site or Benny’s, but I think within 1-2 years most blogs are abandoned and never see the light of day again.

Finishing is pretty bloody hard though.. especially if the glamour runs out.

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Benny February 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

All great points for sure! Not finishing is a big problem. I think it is easy to start and get all excited at the beginning but soon that excitement will wear off. Maybe they don’t see instant results or imagine themselves failing. I can see people start so many projects but never finish them because they spread their focus in too many places.

I asked a guy recently after he emailed me what his goals were. He said he had lots of them this year but he wanted to have a great year. Hearing him say that didn’t give me too much confidence he will achieve any. I hope he does though but I know trying to do too much is asking for nothing to get done

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afheyne February 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Definitely, not finishing is ridiculously difficult.

That’s the big thing — getting those ideas and feeling that crazy adrenaline of excitement, but also being grounded and knowing it’s a long road ahead to success.

I think as time goes on people become more savvy in that regard, but especially where I am/at my age a lot of people are stuck in the instant inspiration phase. It’s great and all, but it gets pretty exhausting when you need people that are going to sit down and get through the work daily instead of constantly throw more “million dollar ideas” at you.

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Laura Kimball February 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Your #1 reasons is why you rock. Though, I may have to disagree with you on #5. While you do have a point about not taking things personally when building something, listening to your gut, instinct, and reading signs could tell you a lot about the venture you’re trying to start. On the same note, success has a lot to do with luck and reading what the signs are telling you. Though, you can’t let that ‘signs’ be the reason for your success or the excuse for your failure. You gotta take responsibility of it, too.

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afheyne February 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

Yeah I think #5 is a fine balance, walking the razor’s edge I guess. Like you said you definitely have to follow the signs and be intuitive about a lot of things, but what I was saying is that you can’t read into it more than you should.

Does that make any sense?

There are people where everything is a sign, and there are those where nothing is a sign. I think we need to fall somewhere in-between.

The other thing is mostly regarding someone’s view on life, for example I’ve been back in this country for 7 months, and have spent 3/4 of that time unemployed. Everything and anything that can go wrong in the past half year, has. It happens.

I want people to remember that sometimes when you’re getting screwed by life it’s never person. It happens. haha

Some people take it as a “hint” that they should give up and quit.

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Laura Kimball February 9, 2012 at 3:04 am

That makes complete sense, and I think I was there with you.

“I want people to remember that sometimes when you’re getting screwed by life it’s never person. It happens. haha ”

I’ve been screwed, lots of times, especially from late 2009 until early 2011. It happens. And luckily I read those as signs to tweak my direction instead of giving up. Because if I did the latter, than I wouldn’t end up where I am today.

Bougie Girl February 11, 2012 at 7:16 am

In the case of blogs being abandoned, I think folks start off with unrealistic expectations and no workable plan of action when inspiration runs out.

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afheyne February 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Exactly, the plan of action needs to be there from Day 1 but in the event that it’s not, people can run on inspiration. But inspiration only lasts so long…

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Website July 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Pretty educational looking forward to coming back again.

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afheyne February 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

Yea, I guess when I jumped off the beaten path I didn’t anticipate so many really really really extreme ups and downs. I was always a guy that has a ridiculously high base level of happiness — most of my friends have never seen me in a bad mood. But the last year of freelancing my life and deciding to eat dirt until I can do big things has been interesting, to say the least.

Everything from being so excited that I can’t sleep from Adrenaline, to being clinically depressed for days have pretty much become the norm.

And amen to pushing ahead. It’s always in the darkest hour that you prove what you’re made of. Let you know how that works out for me ;) haha.

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