Life is a series of choices
I’m a very fortunate person. I work with people I love working with. I have friends and co-workers that constantly push me to grow. I have a desire to learn, to grow, and to be better than I was yesterday. All of this is because of choices I made.
If you looked at me ten years ago, or even two years ago, you’d see a completely different person. You’d see someone that thought the world sucked. That thought that everything in life was doomed to failure, and not in a “I can learn from this” way, but in a “I suck and happiness will never be my thing” kind of way. I didn’t like myself very much, I thought that all of my potential was wasted on me, and that I didn’t deserve to be happy. Fortunately for me, I was wrong.
Our choices are what define the world around, and within, us.
We’ve all heard that idea before. Mind over matter. If you think it, you can make it happen. Here’s the thing though, it’s absolutely true.
When I was in my loser phase, and I have no problem admitting that’s what it was, I continually made choices to progress down that path. I chose, repeatedly, to work in a job where I had no room for growth and was of little to no value to anyone. I wasn’t progressing in education, formal or otherwise, because I chose to tell myself I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I have always known that I wanted to lead my own life and my own company, or have a leading role in someone else’s company. I chose, to continue in my depressed state. (I don’t mean to say that depression isn’t a thing, or that you choose it. I’ve had it, I battle with it frequently, it colors your mind and changes your choices and I don’t want to make light of that. On the average day though, when depression isn’t the cause of your negative view, you can choose to change the way you look at the world.) I chose to be a loser. Until one day I didn’t.
Back in January of 2016, I chose to start working out because I was unhappy with how I viewed myself. I texted my friend, told him we were going to hit the gym, and the world changed. When I started consistently going to the gym, I saw changes in myself that I liked. I changed my opinion of myself and chose to start focusing on what I could do. I chose what I wanted to do with school. I ended up quitting my job, which while I learned a lot and am thankful for it, I’m glad I chose to be done with it. When you start choosing to be better than you were the day before, you redefine yourself and the world around you. I have a better job, with near unlimited growing potential. I’ve started my own company. I’ve started writing, and not just articles, I’ve started a book. One choice, to choose to be better than I currently perceived myself, started a torrential current of positive changes in my life.
“Life is a series of choices”
I see this quote every day when I walk into my boss’ office. Every day. It wasn’t until I thought about why it was up there that I realized how important it is to remember to choose. You have to choose your life’s path first of all, are you going to succeed, or are you going to fail. You can redefine success all you want, your dream to buy a sports team may be success to you, owning a Lamborghini may be success to you, my dream to help other people live their lives to the fullest is a success to me, but what it comes down to is are you choosing to work towards your definition of success or are you choosing to fail.
In high school, I chose to fail. I could have done so much more, I could have graduated with an Associates degree, I was on track to, I was choosing to fail so I failed. I could have spent a year in Washington, D.C. representing my state in a legal program, I was choosing to fail, so I didn’t. I could have actually had successful, meaningful friendships from high school, I chose to fail and there are maybe three people I talk to from high school. This pattern continued in everything that I did, I wasn’t choosing to succeed, I was choosing to fail and so my life was a dead end.
Then I chose to succeed. I chose to value myself instead of hate myself. I chose to spend time on self-improvement, on self-growth, on applying myself to things that mattered. I got a job working at a company where I’m valued, where I can grow, and where I have an actual impact on the overall state of affairs. I chose what I wanted to do with my education, I’m not sure I’ll ever get a formal education, because in large part, it seems like a waste of time, money and energy, but I’ve chosen to learn everything I need to succeed. All of those were bound in my overall choice though, my choice to succeed. When you choose to succeed, you start realizing the things you need to change about yourself, you start realizing the things you need to work on, and you can then choose whether to succeed or fail at each little junction in your life.
I need to point something out to you, just because you have chosen to fail either for a short time or even every day of your life this far doesn’t mean you’ve wasted that time. When you shift from looking at yourself as a failure, to looking at yourself as someone who will succeed you will realize there are so many lessons that you learned that defined you and will help define your success. I know exactly how strong of a person I am, because every day from the time I was 15 to around the time I was 22 or 23 I wanted to kill myself but chose not to. I know how capable I am at learning, because even when I didn’t care about school and wanted nothing to do with it, I was generally taking home As. What it comes down to is that you need to be able to credit yourself where it’s due, a lifetime of choosing to fail doesn’t mean that you have to choose to fail in the future.
The power of the self-audit
The most important thing that you can do when you choose to succeed is to take stock of yourself. Find out what your strengths are, find out what your weaknesses are, and you will know everything that you need to work on. There is a lot of good content that Gary Vaynerchuck puts out, but there are three things he says that are of incredible value:
- “Nobody gives a shit about your problems.” If you have serious problems in your life, people will care (or they probably shouldn’t be in your life) but if you’re going to sit around and whine, people that have chosen to succeed, and work aren’t going to sit around and listen to how the world is against you because you lost your punch card to your favorite coffee shop. No one cares, you put in the work or you don’t.
- “Triple down on your strengths.” This is how you build yourself, this is how you build your success. Don’t spend 80+ hours a week working on being good at something you’re not, invest that time into improving the things you excel at, build a life around those and be happy.
- “Stop giving a shit.” It doesn’t matter who it is that’s holding you back, if you have someone holding you back, saying you can’t succeed, stop listening to them. If you want to be petty, come back in 5–10 years when you’re successful, when you’ve made a name for yourself, and rub it in their face. Don’t let them prevent you from succeeding though.
When you actually harness these three concepts and apply them to your life, you’re going to start seeing success. You have to choose to listen to them, you have to choose to be better tomorrow than you are today, and you have to choose to succeed.
One last statement, make sure part of the success you’re working towards is your happiness. All the money, all the Facebook “friends” in the world, won’t make your life worth living. Find out what makes you happy and incorporate that into your definition of success. I love working, I love the grind, and I love seeing the people I’ve helped succeed.