Let’s take a look at my life just a few short years ago.
I had a 0.00 GPA in the first semester of my senior year in college. You read that right, I got F’s in every single one of my classes. I didn’t bother going to class at all. Oh, did I mention I dropped out of school when I only needed three credits to graduate?
I drank 7 nights a week and tried every drug imaginable other than the big three — crack, heroin, and meth.
At one point in my life, I had little hope, felt like I was rapidly falling behind in life, and I didn’t really know what to do. I hit bottom.
But here I am now. Life is 1,000 per cent different, 180-degree turn, all that good stuff.
Not that a life transformation can be summed up in a few simple prescriptions, but the general ideas of self-improvement can lead to specific changes that you can make in your life. You can make them.
Let’s be honest, most people don’t. But you can. That’s all I can give you, but fortunately, that’s enough. If you want to change your life, here are some places you can start.
Be Honest With Yourself
You’ll never be able to fix your life until you admit it’s broken. Don’t pretend everything is okay when it’s not. You need to take full responsibility for your life up to this point.
Admit that you’ve made poor decisions. Admit that you haven’t been working as hard as you should be. Understand that you get a mental payoff from lying to yourself.
Most people would rather die in a pool of their own rationalizations than change, which is understandable. Honest self-reflection doesn’t feel good. It’s brutal. It hurts. We don’t really want that feedback from the world that shows us who we really are. We don’t want it, but we need it. You need it.
Stop lying to yourself.
Get Fed Up
One critical point in my life that I’ve written about ad absurdum at this point. I literally had an isolated moment where I decided to change my life. I stood up in my crappy apartment and screamed at the top of my lungs, “I’m not f*cking living like this anymore!”
I’d always been an optimist. An idealist. If you’re one of these people, you’ll get tired of the world-beating you up. Or rather, you allowing the world to beat you up. The incongruency between the way you know your life should be vs the way it is will hit you. This doesn’t mean you’ll ride the wave of motivation that comes from it long enough to change, but it’s your best shot.
You get these handfuls of moments where you feel that raw motivational energy. Seizing these moments will make or break your future. Strong negative emotions can be just as powerful as positive ones. When will “enough be enough,” for you? When will you decide you can’t live this way for even one more day? Once you make that decision, everything changes.
Ask Smart Questions
Dumb people make the mistake of thinking they have everything figured out. The more certain you are about reality, the poorer your reality is. This is almost always true.
If your life isn’t where you want it to be, it should be evident that you don’t have access to the right information. Search for it. Ask questions. Ask yourself, “Why is my life the way it is?” Think about that. Have you ever actually questioned why you’re in this position? Or do you just meander aimlessly through life in some sort of unactualized haze? Probably the latter.
Great questions lead to great answers. Ask questions about the way your life is now and what needs to be done to make it better. The answers you come up with will guide you to a better future. Ask other people about what they think you’re good at. Ask people who are living the type of life you want to live how they got where they are.
A great life isn’t just going to fall into your lap. You need to seek it out. Ask and you shall receive.
Unfortunately, as a self-help writer, I’m contractually obligated to write about books in at least 50 per cent of all my blog posts. Look, who knows the true magic behind reading? I don’t. But it’s just… magic. What can I say?
Now, reading books doesn’t change your life in and of itself, but it opens the doorway to that change in your life. One great book can change your entire life. Books can inspire you, expand your mind, and open your eyes to what’s possible. Great books often contain years or decades of knowledge from the author.
If there’s a certain path you’re seeking, there’s a book by someone who’s walked it already. Read their stories, learn from their mistakes, and steal their knowledge.
Maybe it’s this — reading more books helps you understand that people have already figured everything out. You’re not unique. You don’t have some situation that someone hasn’t already gone through.
Find Something You’re Good At (and Become Great At It)
A friend of mine suggested I started writing articles for his website, so I did. I fell in love with it. I’d always wanted to write, but I didn’t listen to my inner voice and kept putting it off.
When you find something you’re good at and you work to become great at it, you’ll feel passionate about it. Human beings are wired for growth and accomplishment.
You don’t need to travel the world and become an adventurer. You don’t need to make millions. And you definitely don’t need to become famous.
You do need to master a skill and master yourself in the process of developing that skill. I’m convinced this is the key. Competence is the key. Not passion, not pleasure, not hedonism. The fruits of hard and purposeful work.
This is what you want.
Remember the point I just made about books? The fact that someone else has already walked your path? I have a rule that has served me well every time I followed it.
Follow smart people. Reverse engineer their success. Ignore most people and focus on behaving like the few who actually live the way you want to live. Most of the world is filled with noise. Finding the right person to emulate can be a signal amongst that noise.
It’s not that you’ll get the same results as the people you follow. It’s that you’ll swipe the mental models that made them successful and you’ll use them to create your own version of success.
Find somebody you want to be like and learn everything about them — their story, what they did to become successful, their high and low points. The low points are important. You have to understand the price you’ll have to pay to get what you want. Nothing is free.
Having someone to look up to keeps you inspired. Their stories will empower you because they’re normal people just like you. Seeing where someone started and what they did to accomplish great things will motivate you to do the same.
You think you are “yourself.” You’re not. You’re not your real self. The real you is buried underneath a fifteen thousand-mile deep pile of rationalizations, societal scripts, misinformed beliefs, and other BS you’ve convinced yourself is necessary to maintain your identity.
After you remove all of this nonsense, you’ll find you. Self-awareness is crucial to living a good life, but it’s impossible to develop a perfect level of it. Try anyway. Get as close as you possibly can.
Think about what you want to do with your life — not what your parents, friends, or society wants you to do. Study yourself. Find out what you’re good at and continue to develop your strengths. When life isn’t going your way, you’re the problem. You’re also the solution. When you know who you are, want you want, and where you’re going, nobody can stop you.
You don’t know how to think. You think you do, but you don’t. Instead of actually thinking, you just run loops of mental chatter — chatter based on all the things I mentioned in the previous point. Your life moves in the direction of this chatter and then you get the results you get.
You become what you “think” about most.
Developing the skill of thinking means you have to find ways to replace your loops with real thoughts, lucid thoughts, useful thoughts.
Sitting alone in a room and genuinely thinking is a great start. Journaling helps. Taking steps to change your life and analyzing how well those steps worked is another useful activity.
The more you learn to truly think, the less you trust those mental chatter type of thoughts. Self-improvement is the process of changing the ratio between useful and harmful thoughts. That’s it.
The moral of the story? It’s all in your mind. Change your mind and you change reality.
Take Some Form of Action
Of course, you can’t just think your way to success, you have to, you know, do something.
Do something. Something. Anything.
I always give the same caveat. I can’t make you do anything. No one can. At some point, you’re going to have to do the cliche thing and… buck up. Here’s as close as I can get you. You just have to find a way to get all riled up in your mind. Just tell yourself “Screw it. I’m doing this” Pump up your emotional state and get it high enough to pull the trigger.
That’s what brainwashing yourself with self-improvement helps you do. It pumps up your state. That’s all it does, actually, but it’s enough to get you inches in front of the door. You still have to open it, though.
Once you become a doer, though, your momentum will carry you through life. You won’t have to “get motivated” anymore. You’ll be motivated by default.
Of course, you’ll never get there until you start. So start.
Realize the Universe Doesn’t Care About You
We’re so dumb. Preoccupied about petty annoyances while we’re floating around in some crazy black ether.
We’re sitting here worried about getting rejected or feeling embarrassed while somewhere out in the universe galaxies are eating each other. In the middle of the night, out in the country, we can look up in the sky and see a literal time machine.
What are we so worried about? I don’t know. We got consciousness, but we got the baby and the bathwater. Dumb.
You live on a planet that’s a speck of dust compared to the entire universe. What you do while you’re here doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Realizing this can free you from the pressure life puts on you. Compared to the size of the universe, how big are your problems? Your life is a blip on the radar of time, why not spend it living out your dream? Why spend it worrying, when it really doesn’t matter anyway?
We all pretend we’re not complainers, but we all love to complain.
You love, love, love to complain and feel sorry for yourself. Once you understand how much pleasure you derive from wallowing in self-pity, you’ll change.
Complaining drains your energy and leaves you feeling negative. Even complaining about small things like the weather has a subtle influence on your behaviour.
It’s hard to stop complaining completely, but the next time you find yourself complaining out loud or to yourself, stop and realize what you’re doing. Simply being mindful of it goes a long way.
It’s time for you to die. I wrote the book on reinventing yourself. The theme of the book — change is death.
The way you are currently constructed will not suffice. Scrap it all. Start over. Your beliefs, efforts, and personality have not worked the way you wanted them to at this point, so why hold onto them? Because you’re scared to death of losing your identity. That’s it. But… screw your identity. Loathe it. Kill it.
Your past doesn’t have to dictate your future. You can reinvent yourself whenever you choose to. So choose to.
Again, I can’t force you to do anything. Nor will I try to. What I can tell you, though, is that you have no idea what you’re actually capable of. You keep imagining your current self trying to do all of these amazing things. Of course, it doesn’t seem likely you’ll pull it off because you’re the current version of you.
Understand that it won’t be the current version of you doing all of these things. It’ll be the new you. The “you” you build over time little by little, becoming more capable each day.
This is the process. This is the only way that works.
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