Thanks to the internet, I’ve got hundreds of mentors. Most of them don’t know I exist. That’s the beautiful thing about putting your work out there. Even if it doesn’t appear to be making a difference, it might be.
I’m sure for all the emails and letters people get with others thanking them, there’s 10x as many people who take the lessons and run with them without contact.
But follow enough advice from others and eventually, you’ll realise, all the advice from others adds to zero.
It’s the same as eating. How one person eats may work for them but not for you.
One persons religious beliefs will be different to yours.
What you can do?
Take the best from everyone and become your own mentor.
Write a letter of advice to yourself
If you’re facing a dilemma, what would you say to yourself? If a friend of yours came to you with the same problem, what would you say to them?
Sit down and think about it. Write your thoughts down. You’ll get lost in thought but found in the words.
No one will know you as well as you. And no one will care about your problems as much as you.
Sit down with a blank page of paper. Write your problem at the top and then let the thoughts flow.
Have a group discussion with yourself. If you think one thing, question it, ask yourself, why am I having this thought?
If you get stuck, pretend you’re speaking out loud to a friend. Write down what you'd say.
You’re smarter than you think
If writing a letter to yourself and becoming your own mentor seems foreign, you’re not giving yourself enough credit.
“I don’t know what to do” is another way of saying, “I’m too lazy to figure this out.”
Of course, there will be times where you will need help and in those cases, you should seek it. But it’s worthwhile giving it a shot yourself first.
Looking up information is easier than ever. What you have to practice is sorting through what matters to you and what doesn’t.
This is where sitting alone and writing your thoughts down comes into play. You’ll surprise yourself. When you let things flow, you never know what’ll come out.
I can remember all the formative moments I’ve had writing to myself. One session, I realised I wasn’t loving myself enough, in another, I realised all of the things I enjoy doing involve communicating with others. Writing is my psychologist.
You’re not as smart as you think
Everyone thinks their way of thinking is the right way. Including me, including you. But write your thoughts down long enough and you’ll start to realise where your holes are.
Finding out what you don’t know is even more important than what you do know.
Because now you know how to improve. Now you know where not to go. Now you know where you might want to seek the help of others.
Writing your problems down gives you a chance to see them in the flesh.
“You’re unmotivated at the moment, why do you think that is?”
“Have you been creating lately? Have you been playing? Are you taking things too seriously?”
“I’ve been feeling lonely lately.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“I haven’t been spending much time around other people.”
“How can you fix that?”
I don’t write letters to myself to figure out what I know. I write them to figure out what I don’t know. Sometimes it takes a few more than one.
What would your arch-nemesis do?
If you don’t have one, get one. They don’t have to be real. You can make them up. Your arch-nemesis is your anti-role model. The person who does the opposite of what you value. The person who tries to sabotage what you’re trying to do.
You might already be your own arch-nemesis. Being hard on yourself is easy, being your own biggest fan is harder.
Thinking of what your arch-nemesis would do if they were in your situation is valuable because now all you have to do is the opposite.
If you’re trying to look after your health, your arch-nemesis would tell you it’s okay to go out drinking all night instead of getting a good nights sleep.
If you’re trying to build your business, your arch-nemesis would tell you it’s okay to forget about it for a year or two and trust it’ll grow on its own.
If you’re trying to learn to code, your arch-nemesis would tell you it’s okay to forget about practising often, the knowledge will come on its own.
If you're having trouble deciding what to do in a situation, do the opposite of what your arch-nemesis would do.
What would the person you look up to do?
If you’ve got your arch-nemesis in mind, what about the person you look up to?
Don’t have one?
Not to worry. You can make this person up too. It can be the ideal version of yourself.
Between your arch-nemesis and your ideal self, you’ve got both extremes. You might not have a map showing you what to do next but you’ll have a compass. You’ll know which way to head away from and which way to head towards.
What about the advice of others?
You can use this too. But remember, not all of it will be related to you. Take the best bits from everyone else and to create your own style.
When you imagine the person you look up to whilst writing your letters, you’ll start to answer your own questions with their advice. You’ll start to learn how they think.
You'll anticipate the questions they'd ask and answer them yourself. You’ll start to use their life lessons to better your own.
What if you disregarded all of your plans and tried the simplest option instead?
Have you ever thought about what would happen if you disregarded all of your current plans and tried the simplest option?
You’re probably overthinking it. Overthought is the biggest obstacle to any journey.
The main skill you’re developing by writing your thoughts down is an ability to think for yourself.
Develop this skill and you’ll be able to use it everywhere. And the final stage of developing an ability to think for yourself is being able to remove.
Being able to remove thoughts which don’t matter.
Being able to look at a problem and break it down. Then being able to work out what needs to be fixed first.
Being able to look at your life and tell yourself what you value and what you don’t.
Don’t get lured by the illusion of more being better. The first thing a good mentor asks is, “What can be removed?”.
You should write that down.