The world will hate you anyway, so why not have it hate you for being fucking awesome?
When I was eighteen (yes, eighteen) this is what I looked like:
As a result, everyone assumed a few things:
- I was a nerd (not really true)
- I played video games a lot (definitely true)
- I wasn’t a good athlete (actually I set high jump and sprint records)
- I was some scrawny, feminine, dorky little kid
In other words, the world had made up its mind on who it thought I was, and as a result, an interesting thing happened – I didn’t have the self-confidence to make up my mind on who I thought I was.
I was a natural athlete, but the world thought I was a nerd, so I just filled that role.
I was actually a pretty average student, but because people saw that I was quiet and “nerdy” looking, they assumed I was a really smart kid.
Now, these are two pictures from 10+ years later:
A normal picture at an event from yesterday:
A fitness one:
You know what’s funny?
Now, at 30, all I hear from people is the opposite. This guy must be:
- A huge douche
- The high school jock
- A player and sleep around
- Spend all his days in the gym
- Not even be able to read a book
If you lived my life, only then could you see the massive, cosmic-fucking-irony.
I’m still the same nice guy.
I still read a few books a week because I like reading.
I’m still in a doctoral medical program.
I still have written two books.
And yet, the world sometimes sees me like a humongous tool.
Well, what changed?
How I Reinvented Myself Over the Last 10 Years
First… to be the skinniest, shortest, scrawniest kid you know, who was perpetually bulled in grade school, who never had a girlfriend, who never had game, who never once got the girl he wanted, to being called the “jock / player” is interesting.
It’s interesting because I feel like I’ve almost lived a double life – I’ve definitely changed in ten years, but at the core, I’m the same person. Yet the world sees me differently.
The reality is that the rest of the world is going to see you like someone or like something, but it’s up to you if you want to let that dictate your life.
The world will say, “Sorry Jimmy, you’re fucked because < you’re only 5’5″, you aren’t smart enough, you don’t dress well, you’ll never get a girl, you just don’t come from that background.”
And, just like the fire I was spitting in my book, you have to look the world in the face and say, “fuck you” if you know that’s not the narrative you want to live out for the rest of your days.
When I decided I wanted to change, I was 18.
When I actually did the work to start changing I was 25. That’s why it took so long to start reinventing myself – and I wanted to reinvent everything.
How I looked.
How I talked.
My conversational skills.
My success (or lack of success).
How well-traveled I was.
And I wish I could tell you it was because I was crazy motivated to make shit happen, but actually, it was because I hated myself.
How to Choose to Live a Better (or Cooler) Life
The way I see it now, knowing other people who reinvented themselves, change tends to happen in a few phases.
- Phase 1 – You’re unhappy. (E.g. I hate being the fat kid).
- Phase 2- You think about change a lot. (E.g. I’m ready to stop being the fat kid).
- Phase 3 – You start acting out the change (your habits change). (E.g. I got a fitness coach and started going to the gym 2x a week).
- Phase 4 – The years of improving, tweaking, in the arena clocking the trench time. (E.g. years 1-6, when I go from forty pounds overweight, to ripped).
But behind all these things was a few principles – I decided I wanted to live a cooler story with my life, I found my own fire, I learned new daily rituals, and then I let time work her magic.
1. I Chose to Live a Better Story
If you haven’t read the Milk the Pigeon book yet, there’s a chapter where I talked about reinventing myself, where I mentioned that one mission that began in my teens:
Become the ultimate dude.
Notice how I didn’t say becoming the ultimate bro. It was just my own, cosmic, holistic vision of what the ultimate guy would be. If I created some fictional archetype of the guy I respected most, what would he be like?
It was the combination of the raw, physical things that our species associates with being masculine – being muscular, being well-dressed, having confidence, being powerful, etc. But it was also with the fusion of real cultivation – writing books, being intellectual, taking good care of my emotional and spiritual self.
My version of the ultimate dude was James Bond + Laozi + Archimedes + A Physician + Nikola Tesla.
The first thing it began with for me was realizing that, while I saw the rest of the world settling and accepting things, I thought “fuck that.”
You’re going to be skinny forever. Fuck that.
Everyone is just going to think you’re a nice guy, smart, and you should be okay with that. Fuck that.
Just get a job and stop expecting so much from life. Fuck that.
You won’t be able to make enough money to travel until you’re retired. Fuck that.
You’re just never going to be one of those jacked dudes man. Fuck that.
I don’t know too many people who are both intellectual (smart) and physically strong.
Fuck. That. Shit.
All around me people were sharing the same tired, old bullshit: this is who you are, you can’t change.
If anything, the defining characteristic of the human race is that we can change. And we will, when hungry enough.
2. I Found the Fire
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw
There’s going to be a lot of stuff in life you’re unhappy with – things that you are going to want to change, but you’re going to hear the same narrative from people around you.
The fire came from listening to this underlying bullshit society kept telling me about how “this is just the way you are, accept it.”
That was the story that I could choose to believe, or choose to rebel against every day of my life, and build the kind of life that I wanted to build.
Every single day I had to deal with the inane, cultural belief that fully 99% of people buy into – this is just the way things are.
Can you think about how hilarious this narrative is?
We use it to justify average marriages and relationships.
We use it to justify being anorexic or thirty pounds overweight, when we intuitively know we are not healthy.
We use it to justify shit jobs that drain the juice from our soul.
And most of all, most insidious of all, we use it to put off every dream we’ve ever had, because they’re just so unrealistic.
This is just the way things are.
The fact is, whether you’re Nikola Tesla introducing wireless communication, Einstein challenging Newtonian physics, or Elon Musk sending people to mars, the people who change the world are the ones who don’t buy the bullshit.
3. I Reverse-Engineered the Daily Rituals
One of the biggest realizations I had in the past ten years was the following:
Sometimes, the only difference between an ultra successful person and an unsuccessful one is their daily rituals and habits.
When I thought about this, it became a huge “aha” moment. Anyone can change habits, right? Well, if I wanted more success in some aspect of my life (e.g. having more friends, financial success, getting fitter), all I had to do was figure out what daily habits to do, then do them.
So that’s what I did, which originally began from a list like this:
- Figure out how often I need to do weight workouts
- Do the workouts 4-5 times a week
- Eat an extra 300 calories per day
More Well-Dressed Alex
- Pick up a GQ magazine
- Pick three styles you think you could pull off
- Get those clothes – ask a female what she thinks
- Wear them
Have More Friends Alex
- Go to one event per week
- Invite one person out for drinks or lunch
- Keep up the relationship (invest effort – don’t expect it to come to you)
- Read something new and interesting each week
- Travel to one new location per year
- Create a bucketlist of cool shit, and start doing it (have stories)
- Start reading one book on “success” each week
- Sign up for one seminar each quarter on financial success
- Each night reverse my core daily habits – spending, earning, and changes I need to make
4. Let Time Work Her Magic
I recently was at a major business seminar with over 1,000 entrepreneurs in the room, 99% of which never had a business (so far) and had no revenue. There’s nothing wrong with it – the entrepreneurial industry is filled with wantrepreneurs.
But the thing that really surprised me the most was how many people actually were expecting to build a six figure business in six months – like they actually thought that’s how you build a business.
They see one person sharing their success story about doing a six-figure launch, and then they expect within a year they’ll be doing the same.
I don’t think people realize that most successful entrepreneurs, hell, people who reinvent themselves or try to build something, take years to build it.
Gary Vaynerchuk talks a lot about spending, 3, 5 or 10 years to build your side hustle.
James Altucher has a really interesting take on reinventing yourself too, and the timeline lines up almost exactly with mine.
- “Year One: you’re flailing and reading everything and just starting to DO.
- Year Two: you know who you need to talk to and network with. You’re Doing every day. You finally know what the monopoly board looks like in your new endeavors.
- Year Three: you’re good enough to start making money. It might not be a living yet.
- Year Four: you’re making a good living
- Year Five: you’re making wealth
Sometimes I get frustrated in years 1-4. I say, “why isn’t it happening yet?” and I punch the floor and hurt my hand and throw a coconut on the floor in a weird ritual. That’s okay. Just keep going. Or stop and pick a new field. It doesn’t matter. Eventually you’re dead and then it’s hard to reinvent yourself.”
Consider this: it took me 3 years, 3 months, and 11 days to make enough in an online business to replace my dayjob. I find that – even in the .1% of entrepreneurs that make it – it often takes this long to get your own side hustle going.
Consider this, too: I have tons of friends making a full-time income from their side hustle, traveling when they want, doing what they want. And I don’t know a single one who made 100k in their first year. Not one. Do they exist? Sure. But how many people nail it their first time, or get the mark right, or the niche? Not many.
Patience, young grasshopper.
Why Change is So Goddamn Hard
I know, I know. I should be patient. But fuck that shit, I don’t want to be fat, poor, broke, unhappy and in a shitty job forever.
Here’s how long it took me to change some of the “big rocks” in my life.
- Year 1-3. “This shit sucks.” This shit sucks, why have I only changed how I look a little bit?
- Year 3-6. “Oh, so that’s what I should be doing.” Okay, I realized there are really only two things I have to do – workout 4 days a week, and eat differently (and track those two things on a daily basis).
- Year 10. “I know exactly what to do, and look legit.”
- Year 1. “Why does no one want to talk to me?”
- Year 2. “Dale carnegie was right.”
- Year 3. “So you’re saying I just have to get people to talk about themselves?”
Stories and Travel
- Year 1. “Hmm, do you think I can get girls with stories of conquests from World of Warcraft?”
- Year 2. “Traveling = always cool stories.”
- Year 3+. “Okay, if I set up a list of things I want to do in my life, and do one each year, I’ll have done some pretty cool shit by the time I’m 30.”
- Year 1. “This business sounds awesome!”
- Year 2. “This fucking sucks.” (Quit 3 jobs in 1 year, then got another job).
- Year 3. “Can I quit my job before I commit suicide?” (Eventually quit job for good).
- Year 4. Decent income (More than job).
- Year 5. Will be 2-3x as much as job, working 3 hours per day remotely.
Here’s the thing, I wasn’t working on this thing a couple days a week – it was the one thing I did every single day. Even though I did take time to travel, this was my primary focus during those years. I wasn’t at the same time moving across the country, reinventing other things, etc. It was just my business for that time. Think. Head down. Strategize. Figure shit out. Invest. Reinvest.
I see so many people bitching and moaning that they haven’t made it yet, and it’s been six months – well, look at my trajectory.
Some goals took ten years, ten years! Some of them took a couple months, like learning not to dress like a dorky, future 40-year-old virgin.
But if you want to reinvent yourself, your life sucks, and you hate something about yourself – does it really matter if it takes two months or ten years? The time will pass anyway, so why not get started?
Who You Are is No Match For Who You Are Becoming
My greatest fear is that one year from now, I’ll be the same person I was last year.
That goes for my fitness and physical health, my business, my friend group, the things I’ve read, the places I’ve traveled, and the stories I have to tell.
The reality is that in the short-run, these things can seem like they took a while. From digestive problems (and my own constitution) it took from 18-30 to gain 40-50 pounds, while still having a six pack. That’s a long ass time to be thinking about a goal on an almost daily basis.
The other reality is, if you aren’t happy with the “lot” you’ve been given, you can change.
If you hate your job, fucking change it.
If you hate who you were in high school, congratulations, if you decide to change, in five years you can be so different no one even recognizes you.
If you hate the reputation you have from years ago, get over it, decide who you want to be, and get started.
Feel free to blame your parents, society, Donald-fucking-Trump and any cosmic forces that you think are affecting you.
But at the end of the day, you have to look yourself in the damn mirror and go to sleep knowing you either did all you could, or you bullshitted yourself.
Which one do you want?
Have you reinvented yourself, or do you want to? Share below.