The One Mindset That Separates The Successful, Fulfilling Life From the Mediocre, Boring, Routine One

by Alexander Heyne · 19 comments

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:



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?”


“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 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)”

Blamer Billy gets fired from his IT job in California.

“Shit. Balls.”

He was planning on taking a vacation this summer too, but now he can’t because he’s going to have to be saving that money to pay for his rent and living expenses.

Months go by as he applies for jobs, and he can’t get anything – even though he notices people WAY LESS qualified getting jobs that he just applied for. What gives?

He starts moaning and complaining to his friends about the unfair economy, about how it’s all rigged and run by Illuminati, and six months later, he’s no better off than before. Still searching and shotgunning resumes before finally finding a job.

PN Nancy on the other hand, also gets fired. She’s also in trouble financially. She also can’t get a job for six months. But Nancy, rather than saying why can’t I, asks the million dollar question: how can I.

Nancy decides she needs cash, fast. So she learns about freelancing – selling a skill for $$$. Nancy was pretty organized in college, so she decides to be an organizational coach. She originally starts at $30 an hour just cleaning up the homes of local moms and dads, but she quickly realizes she can charge more – $50 an hour – or even $100 an hour if she sells it to local businesses that are disorganized.

Over the next six months, Nancy brings in an extra $3,000 – from a brand new skill – and that number increases to grow.

Eventually, one of her clients also manages to land her a new day job.

After the 6 month period, when both Billy and Nancy now have jobs (finally!) – Nancy’s side freelancing business sometimes makes more than her job. Within two years, she quits her job to go full-time into the business – doing something she loves.

“I’m unhappy and my life sucks”

Blamer Billy is pissed off today. The Barista at Starbucks spilled a bit of coffee on him. There was more traffic than usual on the way to work. He had to wait an extra 30 minutes at work for someone who showed up late for a meeting. It rained after work nonstop. He’s just having a really bad day.

For some reason, he seems to have a lot of really bad days.

When I ask Billy why he’s always bummed out, he says, “It’s raining” or “Client showed up late” or “I’m stuck in this goddamn traffic.”

Billy’s happiness depends a lot on what’s going on around him.

PN Nancy asks herself that famous question, not why am I not happy? 

The coffee spills on her? Who cares, it happens. She can always get the shirt dry cleaned.

There’s traffic? She puts on a great podcast – besides, she can’t speed up the traffic flow anyway.

A client is late? She just so happened to have a great book on her kindle.

It rained? It’s all good – time to go see that museum with a friend and grab drinks instead of play in the park.

Nancy’s unbeatable happiness is built on the understanding of resistance.

Whereas billy resists virtually everything – and it makes his life a living hell – Nancy just accepts it, and then asks “Okay, so what’s the next step?”

Billy just complains about the next step, always finding something to blame to avoid taking action.

It’s your choice: take it or leave it

I’m sure, by now you can see my point.

These examples aren’t even dramatic – if you ask a heavy “blamer” about their childhood, you’re really going to get an earful.

And I’m not saying life is easy, or that you should just “suck it up” and get on with your life. Some of us really have gone through awful things, things we can’t or could not control.

But guess what?

When you blame – you lose the power to change things. Because you put it “out there.” “Life did this to me, and now I can’t do anything.”

But when you take responsibility, and decide that now is the perfect moment to change your life – you understand a rare truth.

It’s all up to you.

The economy really doesn’t have anything to do with your job, or your business.

The rain really doesn’t have anything to do with your happiness.

But your trajectory in life – whether or not you live the life you want, achieve the goals you find important, and end up fulfilled – that’s entirely up to you.

You either blame the world and circumstances around you, or you begin taking responsibility today.

Once you shift from “Why isn’t my life this way….” to “how can I make it this way?” everything changes.

Thoughts? Leave them below

– Alex

P.S. If you’re serious about creating an epic life: For those of you trying to figure out WTF to do with your life, trying to find your dream job, figure out your passion, or are just wondering WTF (And where) to go next – I’m opening enrollment for just 30 spots of this new crossroads coaching program.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam September 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Superb advice, and incredibly relevant to where I’m at in my life. As an early twenty-something, it seems like every other day I am healthy, focused, and reaching toward my goals; then every other-other day, I rebel with unhealthy, unfocused, and unmotivated behavior. This constant fluctuation is MADDENING. After reading this, I am going to really try to take more personal responsibility in creating my daily habits–and to stop RESISTING life.

Thank you for your wise words.


Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:03 am

Love it Sam!


Deon January 2, 2015 at 10:37 pm

It’s frightening just how much that sounds like me. I’m the same way with writing a business plan and trying to write a novel. For a few weeks I’ll be gung-ho and on top of everything, and then…..flatline. I lose whatever energy and focus I had, and then spend a few weeks floating around wondering where my energy went.


Adam September 4, 2014 at 1:12 pm

This is great. Hard hitting and to the point. I am going to figure out how to get my 16 year old son to read this, with an open mind. May be tough but I want so much for him to quit hanging out with Blamer Billy.


Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:03 am

It’s tough Adam, especially with kids. But who knows, maybe making an introduction will help.


Marina September 4, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Thank you so much for this article Alex, it was mind-opening! My husband pointed the “Blamer Billy” behavior out recently and I did not fully understand what he meant until I read your article and started realizing all my behaviors he was trying to point out.

Thank you for all your great posts!


Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:02 am

Ahh, that’s great then Marina – now you know you can start weeding out Billy’s behavior. It’s not easy, but I promise lots will change once you make this mindset shift.


Jazsmine September 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Its so relieving reading all of your posts. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences all of your posts really hit home.


Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

Of course Jazsmine :-).


Matt September 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

I wonder if the lack of these mindsets causes the “I’m trapped” feeling permeating all my aspirations. Everyone keeps asking me what I want to do with my life, but every time I dare to envision something interesting for the future it ends up overwhelming me, and causing yet more doubt and low self-esteem. I wish I could retire at 23 and move to a lake house far, far away, so I could work on my books without distractions or expectations. My lottery tickets fail every time, however.
Enlightening post, but I still wish it came with a printable set of $500 bills.
Have a nice day. =)


Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:01 am


Matt unfortunately I don’t think the lakehouse or money would solve your problems! Here’s the thing: chances are you’re spending too much time thinking, and not enough time doing. That trapped feeling almost always results from overwhelm which is in your head – you have to get into your body and out of your head.


Jbird September 6, 2014 at 7:52 am

Great post! Very motivating. However, I do have a few questions for you since not everyone will apply to just one mindset.What if you consider yourself to have both mindsets? Depression isn’t something that can be overcome so easily, unless you have experience with that too. And with the example for Nancy..of course it’s much easier to get over something so small(rain ruining plans) if you have friends as a replacement..but what if you don’t have friends? See how sometimes it can be much harder for people to not blame themselves or their situation. Especially if they’ve put in that effort. If your program helps with that or you do any posts relevant to that, that would be great!


Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

Hi Jbird,

Great questions – I think at the bottom level – the point is that it can be really easy to get unhappy and blame something. But the happiest, most successful people I’ve seen constantly ask themselves “HOW CAN I” rather than “Why is it like this?” They create the world, instead of just being pushed around by it.


Cheryl Chapman September 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm

I am interested in your Crossroads program but may have missed the September class. Can I get info on future classes?

thanks, Cheryl


Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hi Cheryl,

Just send an email to with the headline ‘CROSSROADS PROGRAM’ I will contact you when it’s open.


joan September 11, 2014 at 1:30 am

Thanks a lot for this post. It is really encouragement


tnpscwinners December 1, 2015 at 6:36 am

nice post. thanks for uploading. nice motivating


abigail July 3, 2016 at 2:09 am

Reading through some your article here have help me with some hard questions I ask myself everyday…thanks for the words of encouragement..I shall continue reading more of your articles.


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