You get exactly what you want out of life

Drag yourself out of bed like a Roman emperor and kill your TV

by Aaron Sechrist

You get exactly what you want out of life. Well, based on what you can control, anyway. I read once that in a sense, we all get the life we want. Barring the random vicissitudes of fortune, we make the choice to spend our time doing what we want.

If you really want to be an actor, then you’d take classes, audition, practice, hustle like crazy — not just sit around watching Netflix and bitching that you could do a better job. If you really wanted to write that novel you’ve been thinking about, or start working out, or open your own business — you’d do everything you can to try to make it happen. Even if you don’t make it big, even if you try and don’t quite succeed, at least you’re chasing your dream. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?

“People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it”

Whatever you chose to do other than following that dream — chilling on the couch, surfing Reddit, going out with friends — you have chosen to put your energies there. Your life is ultimately the product of where you put your time, effort and energy.

You are also a product of circumstance, yes. And while you are not responsible for the situations or the privileges you’re born into, there are always choices, and there are always things within your control. You always have the power to focus on what you can do. There’s no use in worrying about things that are completely out of your control.

If you’re not going to do anything about the things you can change, then don’t wallow in self-pity or deceive yourself into believing you truly wanted it. You wanted to watch TV.

You are the master of your fate. You are the captain of your soul.

Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, once wrote an imaginary internal dialogue, an argument with himself about motivation. In it, he gives himself a little pep talk about pushing through those rough mornings and making the decision to chose to pursue the things he loves.

The following passage is from Meditations, Book 5:

At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’
— But it’s nicer in here …
So you were born to feel ‘nice’? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
— But we have to sleep sometime …
Agreed. But nature set a limit on that — as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota.
You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.

If you want your life to change, then change what’s important to you.