Don’t Find Yourself, Create Yourself

Everyone seems to be on a mission to figure out who they are. With the rise of self-help books, magazines, tv shows, and seminars, there’s a lot of hype around “finding yourself”.

They make all kinds of money on the idea that you’re not good enough and if you buy their book and go to their seminars you’ll be “fixed” and “find your passion” so you can “live your dreams”. <- All the buzzwords and marketing I see every day.

Like there’s some great part of you that’s hidden and you could only find it if you look hard enough.

Yes, there’s something to be said for taking the time to explore in silence and get to in touch with what matters to you or to reset your values if you’ve fallen off track.

However, at a certain point it, trying to “find yourself” just becomes a form of procrastination.

You’re fine just how you are. You just might need to work harder on what matters. Thinking too hard about yourself and your life can cause you to think too much, then you’re stuck in your head going nowhere because you’ve built up this idea in your head.

Instead of taking small action steps, it becomes and endless chase of finding the next form of media that will have the “right” answers you need.

I know a ton of unemployed people and people working way below their qualifications who are so busy “finding themselves” instead of working on their big goals. They spend their free time drinking and smoking weed instead of putting in the hours to excel at what matters.

There are so many people who have real, serious talent, but they don’t progress in life because they refuse to put in the work. Talent isn’t enough to carry anyone without some sweat put in.

That’s what these self-help books rarely look at: the hard work that must be put in. The effort that it takes to create something new out of your life.

If you’re going to take the time off to find yourself, you must get somewhere quiet or out in nature.

Not long after losing both his mother and his wife within the same 24 hours, Theodore Roosevelt moved to North Dakota to become a cowboy and deputy sheriff.

 

In the silence and hard work, he was able to sort out his mind. That’s a part of what Roosevelt calls living the strenuous life. The ability to work hard and spend little time dwelling over any misfortunes. To wake up, serve the world and your community, and not paralyzing yourself with your thoughts.

There is also another theory I’d like you to think about: Instead of “finding yourself”, what if you made up your mind about who you were going to be and what you were going to achieve and simply made it happen?

This is a lesson I must keep reminding myself of: the ability to create your own life.

The ability to just decide in a moment that you’re going to work on a new path and put in the work.

I recently fell into the “what do I want” black hole. You can spend months thinking about life and what you want, but until you get out in the world and put in the work, you’ll never really know.

I realized at a certain point, all you need is a small idea and commitment to your new path.

I wrote out all the traits I would need to start to get the things I want:

  • Discipline in writing
  • Outgoing enough to meet people in a new city
  • Perseverance to overcome rejection
  • To be able to finance an apartment not far from the beach and also to eventually save up for a house
  • Relentless effort day in and day out
  • The ability to overcome rejection and not let it ever stop me

This is also what I did when I decided I was going to leave my hometown and move thousands of miles away to Colorado.

I am not the brave type to generally do things like that, and if I had sat around and thought about it too much, it never would have happened.

Instead, I knew I needed to be brave, so I just was.

No second thoughts. I decided to create my life because the thought of regret was greater than the fear of going.

I’ve known to many people who blame their lives and actions on “who they are”. Sure, we all have our own preferences and quirks, but at a certain point it’s just a lame excuse.

“Sorry, I lied / cheated / stole / didn’t reply / am always late / get angry / I can’t help it, it’s just who I am.”

Yes. You can help it. You’re not a lifetime victim to your mind. Some things may take more time to fix, but it’s always possible.

You don’t need to “find” anything. I have a sneaking suspicion you already know what you want out of life, but you’ve just been either too scared to go after it, or you built it up so much in your mind that you’ve stopped yourself from taking action.

Here’s what you should do:

1. Cut the shit.

You know what you want. If you don’t, take only a few days and get away with a notebook.

2. Write out the habits and virtues you need to develop to achieve these goals.

Every single goal requires different virtues to be developed. More discipline, effort, focus, etc., or whatever it needs.

3. Get working.

There’s no book, workshop, school, or anything else that will teach you more than simply diving in and getting started. Almost every single successful person just started.

They didn’t focus on anything else but crossing things off their To Do list every single day.

Stop over thinking. Start doing.

That’s it. Literally three steps. Decide what you want, outline a simple plan, and get going.

The world has tried to convince you that it’s harder than that to make things happen, but that’s simply not true. It’s not sexy marketing, so it’s not easy to sell.

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A Legacy Is Found In The Thankless Work

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From Unsplash, Photo by: Jared Erondu

 

In a world that rewards people for bragging the most, I think it’s important to talk about doing the thankless work.

The thankless work is the work done behind the scenes. The good things not caught on social media. The things that keep our society functioning and holds all our relationships together.

Every good deed seems to be captured on social media these days.

What happened to doing good things when no one was watching?

More importantly: Would they continue to do the good things if they couldn’t post it?

The thankless work is where a real legacy is found. Where a strenuous life is built. Where you live a life you’re proud of living.

All the work that doesn’t get fame or recognition matters the most:

  • Parents attending their children’s sports games
  • People who clean up the town you live in
  • Park rangers who protect our parks and wildlife
  • Going to vote (Never ever let your voice be silent)
  • Doing your job to the best of your ability
  • Going out of your way to not litter
  • Taking your grandparents out to lunch
  • Anything that helps your career, community, or the world
  • Millions and millions of other examples…

A quality life is full of countless tasks that no one thanks you for. As a society, we must collectively be okay with doing these tasks, or we will come crumbling down.

Doing the work that needs to be done doesn’t always get a pat on the back. Sometimes you have to pat your own back and keep pressing on.

There were many times Theodore Roosevelt (the inspiration behind this blog) was pressured into thinking about the next ranking job after the one he was in. He would always get upset and mention that such a distraction would prevent him from doing the job already in front of him. If he focused on becoming the president (a job he eventually did have), it would interfere with his job as the governor of New York. He knew if that was his goal, he would have to play politics and wouldn’t be able to focus on the people of New York and what was best for them.

He was so focused on doing the job in front of him, he had no time to entertain the next step.

Think about most people today: They’re so busy bragging about the “hustle” and the “grind” and being rich and famous, that they only half-ass do the job in front of them.

Yes, there is something to be said for having high goals, but that must not come at the expense of doing your current job to the best of your ability.

My own personal resolve this year is to focus on the thankless work. To brag less and to work more. To not spend any time making things look “perfect” on social media and instead focus on the things that need to be done.

Do the hard work. Don’t brag about it on social media. Pat yourself on the back. Get back to work.

Share this post with someone who needs this reminder today.

Welcome Your Struggles

Most of us are taught that life is better when we have less struggles, but I’ve learned over the past few years that embracing our struggles is important to living a fulfilling life.

I have found that the more we avoid our problems, the more we struggle when we encounter them.

There is a mental difference between:
“Oh no, not another problem.”
and
“Ah! A problem! Yes! Come here so I can solve you.”

It is within challenges where we meet our own weaknesses.

When I am meeting the weaker parts of myself I feel the tension between who I am and who I want to be.

When I feel myself wanting to quit, to throw in the towel, to abandon a project simply because it is getting harder, that is where I get to see my own faults.

The past few years have been testing me.

There always seems to be roadblocks and hurdles to what I’m trying to accomplish, and I know many people feel the same way about their lives, too. It feels like running uphill without ever hitting at least a plateau.

I thought at a certain point, life would get easier.

“When I moved here…”
“When I get this job…”
“When I graduated college…”
“When I started my own business…”

With each new venture, there always seems to be more hurdles, but with each hurdle I get to see where I have a chance to strengthen. I have another chance to prove to myself that I can do something I never thought possible.

I know who I want to be. I know what I want. If I quit, I won’t ever get to where I want to be. I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering “What if?”.

(In case you didn’t know, the “What if?” question is one of the mental layers of hell, so keep yourself as far away from that as possible.)

When you find yourself stuck, ask yourself if beating this hurdle will get you closer to where you want to be.

If the answer is no, then that’s up to you to keep going or not.

If the answer is yes, then prepare for war and go win.

50 Days Left in 2014

Mind blowing, right?

2014 went by faster than almost any other year before for me.

This is the point where most people start slowing down, relaxing, buying eggnog and pie… However, if there are still big goals left on your list there is no reason you should be slowing down at this point.

I was reviewing my year, as I commonly do, and I realized that I didn’t check off a few big things that I wanted to accomplish this year.

So, I won’t be slowing down. This will be a full-out race to the finish line.

In 50 days, anyone could:

– Lose weight
– Write a book
– Gain muscle
– Instill a new habit or 2
– Run a marathon
– Build the foundation for a business
– Build a chair by hand
– Read 30 books
– Learn to cook

You get the point. 50 days are a LOT of days left to accomplish almost anything in the world.

Get to it.

The Gift of Rock Bottom

Failure is the best gift you can be given.

Of course, when you’re in it, it feels like hell. Every day, every moment, feels like a struggle and it seems like it won’t ever get better.

I can guarantee if you don’t learn from your failures, you’ll keep repeating the same ones, so take this gift of failure to learn the right lessons so you can move on.

When you’re at rock bottom, you have a chance to build your foundation even stronger. Failure is like a building that collapses because of a weak foundation: Fixing the foundation will give you the ability to build a bigger building.

If you don’t fix your foundation, you will always find yourself with a collapsed building.

So how do you fix your foundation?

Well, what caused the failure? Did you not work hard enough? Were you not honest? Were you blindsided?

You have to be completely honest in your evaluation of your failure. Even if you were completely blindsided, there were signs that it was going to happen whether you want to admit it or not. Honestly is the only way here.

Then, most importantly, how can you not make the same mistake in the future?

I’ve had countless failures in my life and many of them I repeated a few dozen times until I learned what I was doing wrong. It took being brutally honest and being vulnerable and sharing all kinds of doubts to get to the bottom of my repeated failure.

Be honest, learn from your failure, get stronger. It will hurt like hell, but you’ll thank me later.

The Habit of Hustling

Being able to live the life of your dreams is no small task.

And, unfortunately, most of us haven’t built up the stamina to carry out such a task, but if you really want it, you can make it happen.

With all of the modern-day advances in our lifestyles and technology, it is no wonder that our generation has no tolerance for hard work. We no longer have to wake up and work on the farm, child labor laws prevent most children from experiencing real work until they are halfway through their teenage years, and if we want food we don’t have to saddle up the horse and ride it into town.

Our ancestors would look at us and wonder what we do with all of our time once you remove those things, and I’m positive they would be upset with our answers.

Twitter, Facebook, video games, maybe one or two chores, tv, and a half-assed attempt at homework.

It’s no wonder we have a bunch of lost 20-year-olds who don’t know how to build a good life for themselves.

Success comes at the intersection of hard work and an opportunity. The opportunity may come, but if you haven’t put in the hours and hours of hard work beforehand then you won’t get it when it comes. Every single day you have to be preparing for your opportunity.

Hustling is not something you can turn on and off when you need it. It is a habit that is built through hard work and sweat equity. If you don’t have the life you have always dreamed of, you probably need to work on your hustling habit.

So, how do you do that?

The best tip to developing any habit is one from Jerry Seinfeld.

When he was a young comic, he got a calendar and would put a big red X over the days that he wrote, and your only goal is to make sure that you develop a long chain of red X’s.

Seems too simple? Some of the best secrets in the world can be that simple.

Think of one, maybe two, areas of your life that if you could get on track you would be infinitely happier. Maybe if you went to the gym and worked out so you can get a clear mind, or maybe your living space is a mess and being able to actually find things would improve your productivity. Once you have built that discipline, you can handle the bigger goals.

What is the first habit you are going to work on this month? Share in the comments below!

Don’t Be Defined By What You OWN, Be Defined By What You DO

Far too many people define themselves by the things they own instead of by the things they do.

They have an iPad, but they can’t tell you their most recent career accomplishment.
They flash their new Nike’s all over the place, but they never even use them to run.
They walk around with the newest Android but never use it for anything except Instagram and texting.

I know I am guilty of these things too, we all are, but we must demand better from ourselves.

Most people have been conditioned to believe that if you buy nice things you are a person of value. Obviously, we are learning as time goes on that this is simply no longer true.

What we now see are these hollow human beings walking around trying to impress each other with the newest and latest gadget to come out on the market all while feeling empty and hollow on the inside.

They feel some temporary rush of excitement and then realize that none of these items will ever bring true fulfillment… and to top it off, most people charge their important things to their credit cards so not only do they feel worse about themselves, but now they have to pay more for the item than it was originally worth. Credit card debt doesn’t make anyone feel better about themselves, especially when it is used for things that don’t even make us fulfilled.

When I reflect on the most impressive people in my life, it sure isn’t the one with the nicest things. It is the people who are always there for me when I need them. The ones who go the extra mile in every avenue of their lives. The ones who have impeccable integrity. The ones who seem genuinely happy.

You don’t have to go and throw away everything you own, although minimalism has its benefits, but be a person so full of character and integrity that no one around you even notices the things you do or don’t have.

Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t brag about them, let your work speak for itself instead.

What An Old Couple Can Teach You About Life And Love

This isn’t a video you should watch, this is a video you need to watch:

Okay, now that you have probably cried your eyes out (and if you haven’t, you might want to check your body for a pulse), let’s talk about this video and how this applies to living the strenuous life.

Keeping love in your life

Everyone hopes that they will have a legendary love in life, but what are you doing to make sure this happens? Forget fate and divine intervention and all those other excuses and let’s focus on you for a minute.

What’s the reality of so many relationships? So many people either don’t even attempt to get someone they could love, or they do find them, get lazy and let them slip away which ends in a loveless marriage or a nasty divorce where everyone is bitter.

Think about Danny and Annie for a minute. Every morning she would wake up to a little love note from him. Could you imagine doing this? What about the morning after a big fight… would you still write a little love note, or would you walk around being enraged the rest of the day, writing snotty social media updates, and texting your friends every detail about your fight?

Obviously I can’t comment on every single relationship out there, but who would ever leave someone who wrote them a love note every single day? I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t.

Most relationships out there end because both people give up. I meet far too many people who are so bitter about their relationship or their marriage. Some people get married because they settle, and some people get married for all the wrong reasons such as money. Don’t let this be you.

If you have found someone special, don’t become a lazy bum and just expect them to always be there. There is nothing that says that someone has to stay with you. If you don’t feel like your partner is showing they care about you, step up to the plate and do some gestures first. Don’t get sucked into the endless bitter cycle of blaming the other person for not caring, while they probably do the same thing. Make the first move. If they love you at all, they will reciprocate.

And what if you’re single? Well if you’re single, what are you doing to become someone worth dating? Nobody ever likes to hear that because we have all been told we were all special since we were given gold stars in Kindergarten for every damn thing we did. If you’re single, are you keeping yourself fit, growing your career, developing a hobby, and working on your character? Or are you going out and drinking away your sorrows at the nearest bar? You never know when you could meet your soul mate. Don’t you want to bring a lot to the table when you meet them or are you going to be a worthless human being with nothing to show? Which is going to get their interest? Think about that for a minute.

Finding happiness without money

Danny and Annie weren’t the richest people ever. They didn’t have a Lamborghini, a huge house, they weren’t famous in their lives by any means, but they found happiness, and there aren’t too many people who can say that.

If you took money out of your relationship, would you still be happy? If not, you need to rethink your values if you have any interest in living the strenuous life. The strenuous life is about finding internal happiness and finding joy in life with or without money. Someone living the strenuous life knows that a gold watch doesn’t bring joy, it’s the pursuit of worthwhile efforts that can put you in the position to buy that watch that makes life meaningful.

Coming to reality

We all have to come to grips with our own mortality. I say it over and over, but one day, all of this will end for you. Don’t you want to go out in a flame instead of letting that flame inside of you die way before you are actually dead?

Danny didn’t become complacent in his relationship to Annie. He kept on loving her and finding ways to show it every single day. He didn’t just marry her and then expected her to be there every single day while going about his routine.

Even as he neared the end of his life, he was okay with dying. He didn’t sound like a man with a lot of regrets about the way he loved his wife and she sounded just as honored to have a love with him throughout all those years. He proudly lived the strenuous life and she did right along with him.

Don’t you want to be someone who stares death in the face and looks back and has the peace of mind that they wouldn’t change a damn thing?

I recently came across this post about a guy who admitted he blew his marriage. (Read it: here). He admits all the areas where he completely failed at keeping his marriage together. It was so incredibly brave of him to admit to his faults. That is a lot of raw honesty to put out on the internet! I’d suggest you take a look at it. If you’re in a relationship or married, it may be an eye-opener. If you’re single, make a note of this so you can have a legendary love and never lose it.

Because in the end, don’t we all just want to be like Danny and Annie?