American singer Mary J Blige made the no-more-drama life popular.
Her song is part of the soundtrack to my life. As a punk kid, I used to sing “When you let go of all the drama in your life, now you’re free from all the pain.” It resonated despite my youthful innocence.
I pasted those lyrics onto my brain and kept her mantra strong. Inevitably, I got old and began to forget her no-more-drama message.
A few years back I got the wake-up call again. These are the principles that guide my life today. You’ll have less drama too if you adopt them.
If I don’t feel like it, I do it for 15 minutes anyway
When I sit down to do a hard task, like writing, the urge to goof off and delay is high. Same applies to the gym.
Getting out of a nice warm bed to travel to the gym and work out early in the morning isn’t a comfortable thing. The temptation is to skip it.
The principle I use to trick my brain into doing hard stuff is to lower the barrier to entry. I expect to do the hard task for 15 minutes and, not a minute more. Over the years I’ve created evidence that this isn’t a lie.
I have sat down and only written for 15 minutes. I have gone to the gym for 15 minutes and went home again. With the friction to get started being so low, normally the power of momentum after 15 minutes of execution takes over.
The other hack I use is to rearrange my to-do list.
If I don’t feel like doing a big task, I start with a smaller task to get my brain moving. With writing that means writing a tweet before a blog post. With the gym that means walking before running.
Not feeling like it is a sign to make getting started easier.
If I feel fearful, I know I’m about to grow
Fear used to hold me back.
If anything made me fearful then I’d avoid it like a deadly virus. It caused so much drama. I became distant and unapproachable. People didn’t know what was wrong with me and I buried my battle with fear deep inside.
It got to the point where my life felt mediocre. I hadn’t achieved anything. I hid at home in bed on the weekends, afraid to leave the house. At one point I stayed home for six months straight while sick in bed.
Fear can turn into a sickness if you’re not careful.
After I healed my mind from mental illness, I rebuilt my relationship with fear. Fear is when your mind grows, your opportunities expand, your potential increases, and your life improves.
Feel the fear and do it anyway is my mantra.
Quitting my job was scary and I did it last year. Getting married is scary and now I’ve done it. Having a kid is scary and now I have a baby girl on the way.
All of these things have made me happy, yet they existed on the other side of fear. If life feels as if it’s stalled, get closer to your fears and see if you can conquer them. The process of trying is freeing in itself.
If I catch you lying to me, you’re dead to me
Back in my 20s I had a startup.
A young employee had some serious website skills. His skills were so good we paid for him and his entire family to move to Australia. A few years went by.
One afternoon a manager alerted me to an issue. Our company was having a few internal problems. Amongst the drama this employee decided to leak our database to a few ex-employees who set up a competitor business.
I felt cheated. I loved him like a brother.
He tried to paper over the cracks while still working with us AND the ex-employees. Recently, more than a decade later, he contacted me.
“How ya been? It’s been ages. I’m looking for a new career opportunity and saw what you’re doing online. We should build something together.”
I was pleasant, listened for ten minutes, and then hung up the phone and blocked his number to ensure he could never call me again.
Serial liars rarely transform into truth-tellers.
The more lies, the more drama. Hang around the truth.
If you hate, I try to show love
If you’ve ever posted anything online you may have got some hate.
I’m not great at this but I’m trying to get better. If you see a comment aimed at you that’s negative and clearly not trolling, try to show love.
I remember six years ago I had an article that went viral on LinkedIn. Tens of thousands of people left comments. Most were positive. About 1% were negative.
For all the negative ones that had different opinions to my own, I replied with:
- “Sorry you feel that way”
- “We can’t agree on everything, I guess”
- “We can still be friends right?”
- “Thanks for sharing your opinion”
Turning hate into love is a superpower. If you get the chance to be kind then do it. It feels way better than fighting hate with more hate.
We don’t need more hate that leads to wars.
If I can’t afford it, I save up
Society teaches us to take out debt to pay for tomorrow.
As an ex-banker I hate that philosophy. I prefer to save up money and buy things I might want. When I achieve my goal and make the purchase, I get a nice sense of fulfillment.
The things you think you need are infinite. If you let these needs dictate your action, you’ll never build wealth and always be trapped by debt.
Debt is how your free time is stolen.
Save up. Or even better, intend to make a purchase and then cancel it when the urge wears off.
If I stuffed up in the past, I make peace with it
My past has plenty of skeletons in the closet.
Some days I feel terrible for letting my teenage friends crack wine bottles on strangers’ heads for fun. Or for treating people badly after I walked away from my startup. Or for being envious of people at work doing better than me. Or for talking smack about my former boss after he hired me.
None of us can go back and change the past.
We know that intellectually but not emotionally. We still live in the past by transporting there in our minds. Our mind can make the past feel like the present. The self-talk can slip back into our day if we’re not on guard.
The best people in the world screw up. Plenty of people have a dark past they’ve made into a bright present.
No point feeling guilty about the past. Where possible, make up for past mistakes with future actions.
In my youth I let violence become a big part of my life. Now I resist all violence and try to help those affected by it. If it wasn’t for all of that violence in my younger years, I wouldn’t have all the love to give in my older years.
A past screw-up is a lesson you’ll never forget. Make better decisions now to make peace with the past.
If it destroys regrets, I embrace it
I don’t want to die with regrets. I now chase regret minimization after a near-miss with cancer in 2015.
The best destroyer of regrets is knowing that most decisions aren’t permanent. You can take a chance, have it stuff up, and still be all good.
If it’s work I love, I do it no matter the paycheck
A lot of drama showed up in my life when I tried to numb my career ambitions with a dead-end job. I knew I was meant to do more but ignored that fact.
Every day I’d go to my cubicle job and feel as if something was missing. I’d walk around the shopping center at lunchtime and dream of something more.
“Is this all there is?” I’d say to myself.
Only when I took up a few side hustles and dared to make money online did my life change. Through the process I discovered writing. Words are a canvas I love to paint with my mind for those who dare read them.
Life is too short to do boring office work.
Live a new work life between 6-10 PM. Try to make that work your 9-5 too.