How to Find Hope When You Have None

Step 1: Don’t Hide

A friend of mine recently went through a very rough time, so he quit his job because “he couldn’t handle it anymore.”

The isolation didn’t help.

I am not always sure how to advise toward staying hopeful, but an incredible way to become UN-hopeful is keeping your problems to yourself, withdrawing from everyone, and crawling deeper into your own pity.

Step 2: Do Something Meaningful to You

The key words there are “to you.

For many years, I compared my life to other people.

That was dumb.

In school you are told these things:

“Do this because we said so.
Learn this because it’s important.
Become well-rounded because that’s healthy”

All of that is fine until you are cast into the real world with no structure or format. You decide what to do on a daily basis. You set your priorities. You choose your path.

Experiment with everything. Punt that which is not a good fit for you and dive into that which is.

I have never been less well-rounded in my life. I have also never been this happy or this well-paid.

Step 3: Build Some Sort of Routine

Ugh, I know. Obnoxious, right? I hated this advice the first time I got it.

But the longer I live, the more I decide humans are wired to respond to patterns. There is a comfort in repetition, satisfaction in ritual.

By the way, you don’t have to wake up at 5 A.M. to have a routine. All these morning porn articles are starting to bug me.

My routines just happen to be early because I enjoy the margin I have in the early morning, not because I want to run 17 miles and drink a green smoothie before the sun comes up.

Step 4: Connect the Dots of Your Life

Will you remove this phrase from your vocabulary just for me?

“Well, that was a waste of time.

Nothing is a waste of time. Not now, not ever. If you had a bad day, figure out what you didn’t like about it. A good day? Even better — figure out what your favorite part was.

Life is mostly one big analogy — being stuck in traffic is like writing is like decorating is like surfing the internet. Find the common threads and start to see how life is working in your favor, not the other way around.

(See also: Thoughts on reading The Book of You

Also see also: My reaction to using the phrase “The Book of You” below)

Step 5: No More Zero Days

I typically resist using other people’s language, but the “no more zero days” framework is one of the best internet things I’ve ever run across.

  • Haven’t worked out today? Cool, do one pushup.
  • Need to work on your resume but haven’t yet? Fine, take 3 minutes to edit.
  • It’s 11:03 and you haven’t worked on your research? Read a paragraph.

The No More Zero Days mindset assumes all steps are good steps, even the small ones.

Especially the small ones.

(See this Reddit comment for the full line of thought here)

Step 6: Set Your Own Standards

School (at least in the U.S.) gives the distinct impression there is no reason to try after you have reached the maximum score.

Guess what?

There are no grades in life. There is no maximum score. There is only you.

Do not be afraid to elevate your expectations of yourself.

Stay focused. Stay balanced. Learn, and most importantly:

Do.