I sat there crying. 22-years-old and crying. Our family friend was over for dinner. I’m sitting there crying. Crying in front of a family friend trying to not to cry. I ask myself. Why am I crying? I tell myself. Stop crying. I can’t stop. I start talking. Say what I’m doing isn’t matching up with what I want to be doing.
I’m failing university. Failing everything. I sit on the couch during the day and watch TV the documentaries about people doing their jobs, cutting wood, trucking. Then I go to my job. Stacking boxes at the airport. One guy asks me to come to the races and do drugs. I say no thank you.
Our family friend starts talking.
You’re upset for a reason. Everyone here is here to help you, if there’s something you think you should be doing, let us know.
I talk through tears.
Okay, thank you.
The tears keep going they stop. What have I been doing? I’ve been living this existence wrong. I’m living six different lives instead of my own.
The next week I see the student dean. He asks why I’ve been failing. I say because my Dad is sick. It’s a lie. It’s because I’m lazy and chose what to study based off what a girl I went to primary school with said. He tells me I can change asks what I’d like to study. I tell him. He says okay let’s sort it out. We sort it out. I change what I’m doing.
I tell myself. I can choose for myself. I’ll remember this. I do.
Some good advice on good advice
Read this article. Absorb it. But remember, it’s biased. Biased by my experiences and what I’ve taken from them.
Whatever you read, whatever you watch, whatever you hear, it’s biased by the person delivering it.
Unless it’s from your arch-nemesis (we’ll get to why you should have one shortly), most advice means well.
But you don’t have to listen to it all. You can’t anyway. If you did, you’d have no time to actually do what you need to do. Everyone thinks their advice is the right thing to do.
Every man goes to war thinking they’re doing the right thing.
Life is not good versus evil. It’s good versus good.
Collect the advice you get, notice the trends store them in your brain, try them out. Some will work, some won’t. Remix what works for you with your own. Eventually, you’ll create your own style.
Why you need an arch-nemesis
Humans operate best when they’re running away from something or chasing something.
Having a hero, someone to look up to, is great. It gives you someone to model, actions to follow, advice to listen to, something to chase.
But consistently chasing something can get tiring. And you’ll find, the closer you get, the further away you get. Why? Because something new will appear, the next level, the next achievement, the next stage. There’s always more.
You get the job you wanted. Then you want the promotion.
You get the house with a nice view but it only has one bathroom.
You hit 100 followers but 1000 looks better.
All of a sudden, you’re chasing something trying to fill a hole which keeps getting larger.
This is where the arch-nemesis comes in.
The arch-nemesis is the opposite of your hero. It’s the type of person you want to run away from. The type of person who’s as good as you at everything and tries to ensure they beat you.
But isn’t competition good?
It is. But not when you’re playing against yourself. For your arch-nemesis to win, you have to lose.
You want to set the system up so you always win.
Avoid your arch-nemesis and move towards your hero at the same time.
What if I don’t have either?
You can create them. Your arch-nemesis is the version of yourself you don’t want to be. The avoid at all costs version of you. And your hero is the ideal person you’d like to be.
The best way to achieve balance is to operate at both extremes at the same time. When you get tired of chasing your ideal self, run away from your arch-nemesis, and vice versa. Soon enough you’ll realise doing one is the same as the other.
Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be
Reality is a bad hustle. That’s why industries which take people away from reality, drugs, movies (the title of this section came from a movie), video games, are flush with cash.
Because from an early age, you’re programmed into thinking what you’re supposed to be.
But the likelihood of this programming matching up with your internal programming is close to zero.
So anything which removes you from reality and allows you to forget this programming, even for a moment, is of high value and people pay for it.
The lucky ones realise who they’re supposed to be is different from who they are.
Your story is being created at a different time
Advice from those significantly older than you is good for life. You’ve heard it. Take care of your health, relationships are what matter, value experiences over materials. But when it comes to career and education, things are different now. We have the internet.
Never has there been a resource which contains all of human knowledge available with a few thumb taps.
My Dad never learned how to use a computer. When I explain to him I teach myself things and make money online, he sort of gets it, sort of doesn’t. My grandfather asks me when I’m going to get a real job and a real degree. I say never. I don’t know what a real job is.
You can use the internet to build and create your own education pathway. I used it to create my own Artificial Intelligence Masters Degree. You can also use it to build your career. Your own real job.
This is up to you. But the opportunity is there. The internet allows you to learn and create at the crossroads of what you’re uniquely good at.
Your real job is to figure out how.
You update your smartphone software once a year, when was the last time you upgraded your way of thinking?
The best skill you can develop is thinking for yourself.
If you’ve ever coded before, you’ll know sometimes the best improvements come from subtracting. Removing old code and replacing it with less, less but better.
You can use this thinking for yourself. If you struggle to make decisions for yourself, you’ve probably got too many things to choose from.
The default is more. More self-help books, more courses, more articles like this. But these resources have done the thinking for you. I’ve put together the subheadings, the words, tidied them so they make sense.
Update your thinking through subtraction.
Optimism is the new bravery
My ex-girlfriend and I caught up six-months after breaking up. I was hoping. I don’t know what but I was hoping.
We sat down. I spoke.
Why do you think it ended?
You’re too positive.
It hit me. So I tried being less positive. Didn’t work. It felt like I was being poisoned.
Then I realised. I was lucky. Lucky it ended when it did. I could’ve lost years trying to be something I’m not.
Is it right? Being so optimistic?
I don’t know. All I know is I’d rather be optimistic and wrong than pessimistic and right.
Must progress come to an end–either in catastrophe or in some sort of completion–or is it unbounded? The answer is the latter.
– David Destuesch in The Beginning of Infinity
A path of your own requires courage. The optimist starts out thinking it’ll be the best journey of their life. The cynic starts out thinking it’s already over.
When you look back, it’s the challenges you remember
Rappers rap about struggling to make it. When they make it, they rap about how they struggled to make it.
Because the journey is far more exciting than the finish line.
When I ran an ultramarathon obstacle race with my friend, it took us over 9-hours. We filled buckets of rocks by hand then carried them uphill, walked across planks, did burpees if we failed, dived into pits of mud, crawled under barbed wire. Crossing the finish line took less than a second. We got handed the shirts and medals. You can guess what we’ve talked about more.
Forging your own path is hard. And that’s why it’s worth it. No one likes the easy story.
Batman has more fans than Superman. Batman had to struggle for his powers. Superman was born with them. Superman has no challenges, he’s invincible. He needs Clark Kent to make him human.
You can filter the right way to go by choosing whichever direction is hardest in the short-term.
Loser mentality in six words
That’s easy for you to say.
I’ve had it easy. I’ve lucked out. I had good parents. I went to a good school. I had food growing up. My parents weren’t rich but they weren’t poor.
I mistook being blessed for being interesting.
These things I can’t change. Now I owe it to the world. I owe the upbringing I’ve had to make something with it. The worst thing that’s happened to me is having a sick father. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, the trio of neurodegenerative diseases. He’s losing the only thing we really own, our memories, by the day. And you know what he says? Grin and bear it.
It’s motivation. It’s a reminder. A reminder of what matters in life. Health and relationships. Take care of these two and you’re halfway there.
I’ve got no excuse. My actions are on me. My responsibility. No one else’s. If I don’t achieve what I want to achieve, it’s my fault.
It took me too long to realise this. Too long looking at others thinking they had an advantage I didn’t. Getting jealous instead of inspired.
The doorbell just went off. Francesca from The Smith Family Charity asking for donations. She says they provide support to children who haven’t had the upbringing I’ve had. $1 per day is what most people give.
I say no.
Am I a hypocrite? Saying I’ve had it all given to me but then not giving back? Is donating financially the best way to give back? I don’t know. I say I can’t donate anything, I’m working on a few things which take up all my time and resources. Writing articles, making videos, building a business. Are they enough?
Of all my problems, they’re nothing compared to what others are going through.
Part of me wants to drop everything and help hands-on, the other part wants to build something larger and let compound interest take care of the rest.
Either way, the universe knows, God knows, whatever dogma you follow knows, it doesn’t matter. It sent Francesca as a reminder. A reminder it’s on me.
If it’s easy for someone else to say, you can leap ahead by treating doing it the same way.
If the path ahead is clear, it’s someone else’s
I wanted to learn about artificial intelligence. So I created my own AI Masters Degree. It worked for me because it’s mine.
I wanted to write so I started writing.
I wanted to create videos so I made videos.
Having guts always works out for me.
Take one read of the top five regrets of the dying and you’ll realise why.
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn’t worked so much.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
You know what matters. You’re the best in the world at being you. Time to start heading that direction. You know the way.