“What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?”―John Green, An Abundance of Katherines
We are a nation of people who “want.”
We make excuses for not doing the work necessary to get what we want so we make something called “plans” that are supposed to mean we will do the work later. Later rarely comes. We lie to ourselves that we will do it tomorrow, next week or next month.
Come tomorrow, next week or next month and what happens?
And again, we push it back to another tomorrow, next week or next month.
What’s truly scary about this is this cycle can repeat itself for years…
And such is the power of the mind to feed itself it’s own BS.
There are about 25 main cognitive biases that keep us believing our own nonsense. I’m not sure which one, or which combination of them, is responsible for the fact that we convince ourselves we are actually doing something when we procrastinate. By putting it off until later, we somehow feel like we are taking action. As if putting it in the calendar gives us the peace of mind that it will get done, so we rest easy.
Well, I hate to be the bearer of not-so-pleasant, yet utterly necessary news, but this is complete nonsense!
Wanting and desiring is not doing. Scheduling is not doing. Later, next week or next month is not taking action.
These are all just figments of your imagination.
This reminds me of the tree question people sometimes ask: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
The tree does make a sound but it also doesn’t. When a tree falls it creates sound waves as dictated by the laws of the universe. But then, at the same time, it doesn’t make a sound if there isn’t an ear drum around to hear and process the sound waves.
So if you think of something you are going to do yet do nothing about it, did you actually do something? Well, you did and you didn’t. To do something you must first have a thought about it, so in that, you did start the process. But for external change to happen you must take your thought and take action to materialize it into something real.
Planning is not action, although it can be a step in the process. The same with thinking, wanting and desiring.
Ok, so what am I getting at? My point is, if you think a thought in your head and you do nothing to materialize that thought in the physical world, it’s as if that thought never existed. It is just a figment of your imagination and will continue to be until you make it tangible through action.
Your thoughts are meaningless if you don’t translate them into some kind of tangible action. Your entire life thus far has been the result of your thoughts. And you’ve had more thoughts than you’ve had action, but that’s ok. That’s the human condition; we’ll never be abel to do everything we think about and want. Humans are built to be dreamers—we are programmed by nature to always want more and better. It’s how we’ve survived and evolved for millions of years.
Dreams and desires are necessary for life. Otherwise we would lay in bed all day and never do anything to make the world a better place for ourselves or others. In fact, when one gives up hope for their future, it’s a sign that they don’t have long to live.
Ok, so what’s the point to this all? I’m glad you asked.
My point is you have to do shit!
Now, I don’t always curse in my writing, but when I do, it’s because I need to make a freaking point!
These simple 8 words seem so benign and not-groundbreaking, but they are. Their implication for your life and the world are grander than you can possibly fathom.
To get anything in life, you have to do shit to get it. This can be something small or something big. It could be writing a few notes, reading a few articles, making a phone call or sending an email. The smallest action will lead you to the greatest achievements. And this is true of health, relationships, success and happiness.
Accomplishment in anything requires millions (even billions) of tiny action steps. In fact, that’s all success: It’s countless small steps over a enough period of time.
As long as you keep taking these tiny steps froward, one way or another, you will get there. That is my 100% iron-clad guarantee.
The second you stop taking action, you stagnant and start regressing.
The second you start taking action, you are instantly one step closer to where you want to be.
It sounds too simple, and it is, but most things in life are simple. We just complicate them with a bunch of noise.
Think about it, most people know that to lose weight and get fit, they have to eat less and better, exercise more, and get enough sleep. That’s no big mystery. Eating that cupcake is one step away from your goals while eating a home-cooked meal is one step forward. Simple to understand. Hard to do.
This is why you must simplify.
Make things simple. Stop making them complicated and stop convincing yourself that things have to be complicated to have merit. They don’t. All this is is you being Resistant to the doing. Your mind, like we’ve covered already, is a tricky ruler that will do anything it can to keep you from doing the work. It would rather sit around and make plans instead of get up and do shit.
But do shit is what you must do, my young Padawan Jedi.
You and I are programmed to be lazy, over-eating, excuse-generating machines. This is a by-product of our modern societies. When we lived in the harsh wild without electricity, advanced weaponry or machinery, modern food preservation or refrigeration, and all the comforts of modern living, we were tested by our environment on a daily basis. Because of this, the weak died and the strong survived and procreated.
Biologically, we are programmed to respond favorably to moderate amounts of stress. Only through difficulty and stress, do we grow and achieve our greatest potential. This applies to not only our human physiology, but also to our mental health and how effective we are at life, business and relationships.
We don’t just grow from stress, we need it. Without stress, we cannot stay functioning. We would wither away and die. The car that never receives maintenance breaks down. It also breaks down if it sits in the garage. It must be driven and maintained. This is exactly the way it is for the human body. If you don’t maintain it by stressing it and moving it regularly, it will break down.
(I also have a theory about aging that people tend to age at the same rate as their peers and by what is accepted as “standard” based on what doctors and media say. As a person gets older, she is led to believe that she is “getting older” and so she seeks out comfort while doing her best to avoid pain. This keeps her constantly avoiding stress, which as we know, is paramount for optimal health. The older she gets, the more likely she is to do less and less as is normal among others her age (or what the doctors tell her). And the cycle repeats until the gradual breakdown occurs and death happens. But what if she had rejected the idea that she was “getting older” and stayed active and regularly maintained her body through proper amounts of stress? Well, I think it would be a totally different outcome. Ok, back to what I was saying.)
The law of entropy states that If you are not growing, you are wasting away—you are going back to disorder. With the living, breathing machine that is your body, you must give it constant input (food, stress, sun, sleep) to maintain homeostasis. When you fail to give yourself the inputs your body needs, you waste away. You start dying.
This law applies to physical health and success in life. To achieve greatness in anything, you must constantly invest inputs—you must constantly grow. For your body, this is a balancing of stress and the many factors that make up your health. For success, this is constant forward action.
And so we have the equation: Wanting + Doing = Getting
This is a mathematical equal equation. You can’t have wanting without doing or doing without wanting or getting without either.
So what does this mean for you? It means that you need to think and then do shit.
You need to decide if you are going to do something great, or if you are content with what you have. Either are viable options for living life. If you decide you don’t want to attempt something great, then you should accept it and stop thinking about it because you are just wasting energy and missing out on what you have. That’s fine if that’s what you want. (But I don’t recommend it.)
On the flip side, if you find yourself constantly yearning for more, then it’s time you put yourself out there and take action. Stop wasting time “desiring” and “wanting” and get doing. The smallest forward step can snowball into amazing possibility.
Success and greatness is built the same for everyone: one step at a time.
We all get 24 hours in a day. It’s what happens during the 16 waking hours that separates the wheat from the chaff. Great achievers spend time making themselves better and doing their work on a daily basis. They don’t sit around watching TV and dreaming about their future or making excuses or procrastinating.
They go out and make it happen!
Successful people understand that success is a process, and so they keep taking action regardless of how long it takes. They are in it for the long haul. (Some don’t understand the process but have so much desire and wanting that they have no choice but to stick with it. Whatever.)
Right now, after you finish reading this, do something tangible to get you one step closer to your goals. Then, make it a habit to take as much action as possible every single day.
How do you make it a habit to constantly take action?
You start with your mind.
Your mind is the root of everything. Everything you have ever done (or will do) started as just a thought in your brain.
Think about that for a second. Do you see how powerful your mind is in all of this? Do you see how integral it is for success and happiness and fulfillment?
Your mind is the most important thing in your universe, and If you don’t have your mindset in check, you have no chance in hell.
What I've Learned Over The Years
A Short Manifesto For Life
Be open-minded. Learn from everyone. Never say “I know.” Question everything. Challenge your beliefs. Understand both sides. Play Devil’s advocate. Read 10x more than you do now. Study people. Study psychology and philosophy. Read biographies. Get your hands dirty. Deliberately practice. Read fiction. Train your mental resilience. Test your mind with your body. Test your body with your mind. Always take the hard way. Forget what’s easy because it has no value. Set mini goals on a daily basis and crush them. Set 6-month, 1-year, 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals and crush them. Play mind games (like sudoku or Boggle, not with people). Play physical games. Always play to win. Argue both sides of every point, then choose the one that makes the most sense to you. Never accept things at face value… there is always something you don’t know. Realize that nothing is permanent. Accept that you are eventually going to die, then live a life that shows you aren't afraid. Practice voluntary discomfort: regularly restrict things in your life that are making you too comfortable. Practice negative visualization: imagine the worst that can happen to remind yourself that most things don't really matter. Be vulnerable and open with yourself and others. Don’t succumb to peer pressure—lie if you have to, honesty is better. Be honest and direct. Seek the painful truth. Never accept the comfortable lie. Move on when you know you should. Hang on when you know you should. What is in the way is the way. Do things that scare you over and over until they don’t scare you anymore. Learn how to listen; this will make you a diamond in the rough. Be interested in other people. Reflect on your past. Learn from your mistakes. Laugh as much as freaking possible. Share what you've learned with others. Write something that will outlive you. Build something that will outlive you. Raise someone that will outlive you. Be in the moment. Don't waste time fretting over the past or future. Help a friend move at least once, then accept that they may not return the favor when you move. Lose your expectations of people and life: Nothing ever works out the way you want it to. Spend more time with your friends and family and less with stuff. Cry sometimes because it's healthy but not because you can't let go. Keep your phone away when you are interacting with others—the most interesting creation in the universe is sitting in front of you… enjoy it. Be happy by choice, not by circumstance because circumstance can change and choice is… well… choice.
Summary: Never judge or compare. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Successful people still have problems—many end up having more than the average person. Wanting takes doing towards wanting. Wanting itself, means nothing. Doing means everything. Doing even works if you don't really have wanting because you'll eventually get something.
Action: Do 1 tangible thing that will bring you a step closer to your results. Then repeat that every single day.