How to Radically Improve Your Life

With just three words

John P. Weiss
Dec 15, 2018 · 7 min read
Illustrations by John P. Weiss

There was once an aspiring blogger who created a website about marketing. He did it mostly to teach himself about marketing, and to begin growing an email list. He named the website Passive Panda.

Over time, the website grew in popularity, and soon the blogger had around twenty-five thousand subscribers. He was generating enough income to live off of his website.

Most writers would love to have a money making blog with 25K subscribers. Except, this blogger did something unexpected. He scrapped his Passive Panda website, dropped his list of 25K subscribers, and started over.

Who does that? And why would anyone abandon a sure thing to start over?

Have the Courage to Change

The blogger in this story decided that Passive Panda wasn’t really him. It wasn’t what he was truly interested in.

He got into blogging to become an entrepreneur and have control over his time. But he realized that his interest in personal development and habits was more satisfying than managing a website about passive income.

So, he sent a final email out to his 25K subscribers and told them he was closing shop. He invited them to check out his new website, JamesClear.com.

It must have been a very hard thing to do. To walk away from a money making blog with 25K subscribers. But sometimes, in order to do the work that comes more easily to us, we must have the courage to change.

It’s not always easy to listen to your heart, but it’s even harder to keep doing something that doesn’t reflect who you are.

James Clear discovered his true passion was researching and writing about habits and personal development. His new website grew to over 200,000 subscribers, which got the attention of publishers and agents.

This year, James Clear published his New York Times best-selling book, “Atomic Habits- An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.” I’m reading the book, and it’s excellent.

I learned all about James Clear’s story from author Jeff Goins’s excellent podcast. It’s worth listening to.

James Clear’s advice for others trying to find their way is this:

“Try things until something comes easily.”

I agree with James Clear’s advice, but will add a qualifier. Sometimes, you have to have the courage to change, in order to do the thing that comes easily to you.

James Clear had the courage to shut down a lucrative, successful blog, in order to create a new blog.

I’ve experienced something similar with my own blogging. Over the years, I experimented with a few, different blogs. One was called Policetoons.com and was all about my law enforcement cartoons. Another blog was titled “The Cartooning Cop.”

For a while, I also had a blog titled “Cop Wisdom.”

Cop Wisdom was all about my law enforcement experiences and life lessons. Unfortunately, before long, I found the scope of the blog limiting. It didn’t allow me to write about the creative arts and personal development.

I had a bit of a following and appreciated the interest of readers, but my heart wasn’t in it. So, despite my nervousness about ending the blog, I shut it down and created JohnPWeiss.com. The new site better reflects who I am as an artist and writer.

I don’t have the volume of subscribers that James Clear has, but my site is growing and the content comes more easily to me.

Sometimes, you have to muster the courage to change. To abandon something you know isn’t working or doesn’t reflect who you are. Even if your past venture was successful. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it can make all the difference.

What are you willing to walk away from to succeed?

Roll With Me

Gabriel Cordell wanted to be an actor, but on the way to his first professional audition, he was struck by a car. The impact ejected him from his car into a telephone pole. As a result, he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Cordell still managed to land roles on a few television shows, but he never attained the success he hoped for. An addictive personality by nature, he turned to cocaine and crystal meth for solace.

His health declined and doctors told him his drug abuse would eventually kill him. Then one day, he woke up and decided to turn his life around. He quit the drugs, joined the YMCA and began swimming. Slowly, he built back his strength.

He read about other paraplegics who had wheeled across great distances in specially designed wheelchairs. But, no one had ever crossed the United States in an everyday wheelchair.

Cordell decided to become the first person to attempt to wheel his everyday wheelchair across the United States, from Santa Monica, California to his hometown in West Hempstead, New York.

Cordell ran a Kickstarter campaign and raised enough funds to cover the gas, food and lodging for his trip. Then he assembled a ragtag road crew of characters, some dealing with their own issues of drug abuse and PTSD.

Cordell’s entire journey was chronicled in an excellent Netflix documentary titled, “Roll With Me.” In it, we watch Cordell as he spends over 100 days rolling over 3,100 miles through thirteen states. He endures 100 degree days, high humidity, several falls and severe shoulder pain.

We see the many forgotten towns of America, and the goodwill of locals who cheer him on. There is a group of kids in a summer camp who encourage him, and many police officers who escort him. We watch as a young cerebral palsy boy tightly hugs his hero, Cordell.

Cordell becomes a symbol of inspiration and hope to both disabled and able- bodied people everywhere. At the end of the documentary, his parents and throngs of locals in his hometown come out to greet him as he reaches the finish line.

Watch a preview for the documentary below:

Since the success of his cross-country journey, Cordell has gone on to become a motivational speaker. From a washed-up actor and drug addict, Cordell turned himself into a beacon of inspiration and hope for the rest of us.

The Optimum You

There’s a lot of personal development books, blog posts and podcasts out there. Each has their tidbits, tips and techniques for creating the optimum you. But in the end, if you want to radically improve your life, it often comes down to three words:

Do hard things.

Just about everything worthwhile in life requires hard work. Yes, some people win the lottery or catch lucky breaks. But on balance, it’s hard work that moves the needle.

James Clear might still be a modestly successful blogger, writing about passive income. But he decided to do something hard. He ended a successful blog that didn’t reflect his true interests.

Then he built a better one. He worked hard, writing two or three excellent, well-researched articles every week (for several years.) The hard work paid off. He got the attention of agents and publishers and is now a New York Times best-selling author.

Gabriel Cordell lost the use of his legs and descended into the dark morass of drug addiction. Then one day, he did a hard thing. He quit. He started swimming at the YMCA and built his body back up. Then he did a harder thing by rolling his wheelchair across America.

Cordell turned his life around and continues to inspire people every day with his message of hope, inspiration, and motivation.

Almost every successful venture requires doing hard things. People who achieve major weight loss must change their diets, exercise regimen and daily habits. This is a hard thing to do.

People who start successful companies must work smarter and harder than others, in order to build a product and brand that stands out. This is hard to do.

“I’m always choosing the hard things, the things that aren’t easy.” — Dee Rees

Choosing to do hard things forces us to grow, take on new challenges, build confidence and become more resilient.

You Can Improve Your Life

Now it’s your turn. Are you ready to become the optimum you? Are you prepared to finally do hard things? Whether it’s losing a ton of weight, quitting a bad habit, fixing (or ending) a broken relationship, or changing careers, you can improve your life.

It all begins with three words. Three words that, if you take them to heart, can change everything for you.

So, no more excuses. No more delays. Stop shying away from the challenges and hard things that will help shape your destiny. Say the following three words today, and make them your success mantra!

Do hard things!

Before You Go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint landscapes and write about life. Thanks for reading!

Originally published at JohnPWeiss.com.

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

John P. Weiss

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Artist & Writer JohnPWeiss.com

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.