There was just no way I could ever work again.
Mental illness ruined everything. As soon as I got a little bit of confidence, my brain would defeat me in front of everybody.
Sometimes I’d randomly vomit. Other times I’d drink too much alcohol on the weekend to cover up my anxiety. And any situation that involved the discussion of blood, needles or anything medical, caused the blood to drain from my face and turn me into Casper the unfriendly ghost.
So I thought about moving far away and staying with a relative until they passed away of old age, so I could inherit their house. Thankfully their pension couldn’t cover the living costs of the two of us. So it never happened.
Once I broke the psychological pattern of mental illness I thought I could do anything. Then I fell into the pattern of trying to achieve success. Here’s what it looks like (hat tilt to @SalesNotepad for the reminder).
Why Most Don’t Succeed
1. They start
They’re all excited. They can’t wait to get home and work on a new side hustle. It’s going to be a dream. In six months they’ll quit their job.
How amazing. They have fantasies about things they’re going to buy and all the cool places they will travel to. So they tick off the first item on their to-do list to massive success. It’s not super hard. Overconfidence takes over.
They giggle like a schoolgirl.
2. They see progress
Once they get started they work hard at it. It’s like running a marathon. They feel powerful … unstoppable. Progress starts to show. A little money is made. Their mother pats them on the back. “Well done my little treasure chest.”
3. They slow down
The tiny results make them cocky. They become complacent. They think they’ve worked hard for six months and deserve to cruise from now on. The work they did not long ago starts to slow right down.
Ten emails sent per day. Eight emails sent per day. Two emails sent per day. None. “I’ve worked hard enough. Everybody knows what I do. They’ll come to me, just you wait and see mister.”
4. They start comparing
Their results plateau. They don’t expect it. They start comparing their results to people in the same field.
“How’s he got so many followers?”
“Why does XYZ app support her so much?”
“I deserve more results. My work is better.”
Nighttime is when they compare. They sit there obsessed with everybody else’s results. They forget about their own results. There’s a complete disconnection between the quality of their work and the fact they’ve stopped working like they did back when they had results.
5. They lose motivation
As the results start to plummet so does the motivation.
“What’s the point? I’m not even getting results anymore. Life is so unfair.”
To try and make up for the terrible feelings they start to critique other people’s success. They post public takedowns on social media. Then they fly completely off the rails and start throwing dirt at celebrities. If they can’t have success then nobody can. It’s all a scam.
*Does Oprah you-get-a-car voice *
“You’re a scam! And you’re a scam! You’re all a scam!”
The rapid demise starts.
6. Game over
At this point the game ends. Whatever they started now gets destroyed. They give up altogether. It’s all too hard. What’s the point? They start to believe they need to be ‘chosen.’
Victimhood takes over.
They sympathize with other victims. Their inner circle becomes victims. The victims host tea-parties at each other’s houses, where they share war stories of the people they once compared themselves with. Venom spews effortlessly out of their mouth. Their mother is no longer proud. Just confused.
How to Reinvent the Game to Work in Your Favor
The pattern is easy to write about. It’s one I lived for years. Not anymore. Here are the steps to nuke the inevitable path to failure.
Know the pattern by heart
Study the 6-part pattern above. Write it down. Put it somewhere you won’t forget it.
Notice when you’re at one of these stages
Use self-awareness. Be honest with yourself when you recognize the signs from one of these six stages. Don’t get angry if you find you’re on the path to throw everything away. Noticing when you do is the superpower.
Interrupt the pattern
Think of the pattern like an engine. Throw a spanner in the middle of the drive shaft until it grinds to a halt. Use reframes and what-ifs to get new information. Question why it’s happening.
The quickest way to interrupt a pattern is to do something different.
I found I used to fall into predictable bad habits. I always reacted the same way every time I began to go backwards. Once I could identify what those bad habits looked like, I could try new ones.
For example, my go-to drug of choice was to complain. It soothed my soul. It made me feel awesome. Then I’d complain online in the comments section of Youtube. It made me feel powerful and special. Really, I was weak as a dog about to die after 16 years on planet earth.
Notice the pattern. Chop the pattern’s head off.
Do something different. Anything.
Lower your expectations
Expectations are a b*tch. They make us do dumb stuff. They force us to become delusional about what success really looks like. We quickly become ungrateful or unsatisfied when our expectations are too high.
Tony Robbins says to lower your expectations to increase your happiness. When you don’t expect so much, it’s easier to be satisfied. Makes sense.
Motivation is knowing why you’re doing it
Fame and money are the worst reasons to work on a goal.
I figured out early on that I wanted to write so other people didn’t have to go through the war in their minds I went through. The thank you messages became the motivation. The mission became more important than some childish, selfish goal.
Make the goal smaller
I’m guilty of this. Don’t make the goal so big. Big goals are scary and hard to achieve. Big is stupid. Big is overwhelming.
Big goals = high chance you’ll give up
If you find you’re stuck in a rut then make the goal smaller. Tiny goals create feelings of progress. Progress reinvigorates motivation. The future then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Make your ‘why’ attached to other people
I run an online school and I can easily become a lazy bastard. So I’ve outsourced my motivation to my students. If they fail then I fail. Even if I don’t feel like it, I must because I made a promise. And that promise is tied to my reputation.
Once you lose your reputation then what do you have? Nothing. Now you’ve got free motivation in unlimited amounts. You’re welcome 🙂
Most successful people are people you’ve never heard of. They want it that way — Ryan Holiday
Play a different game. When things get hard, get smart. Experiment. Learn more. Don’t be so easily overcome by frustration. Frustration can be motivation or it can equal the end. Think of frustration as energy.
Energy can move roadblocks out of your way or it can be used to place a fresh set of boulders on the path to unlock your potential. Once you do understand the default pattern of success, and you learn to hack it in your favor, remember this: don’t get loud.
Just do your thing peacefully. Most of the people who’ve unlocked their potential and achieved success are those who you’ve never heard of.
That’s why the concept of success looks so rare. You can’t see the people who’ve figured it out because they don’t want you to. It’s better that way.