They say you’re an old man at 40.
I’m exactly three years away from it. Already my wife calls me a grandpa because I’ve got a hunchback of notre dame and wear hearing aids. I feel like I’ve made it in life. Not big time. But enough.
Here are six things you can do to get the same feeling.
1. Play one game on ultra-hard mode
Life is a series of games. No one tells you that.
You can’t play every game on hard, or you’ll burn out or jump off a cliff because of the expectations you put on yourself.
But you can play one game on hard.
When I say play a game on hard mode what I mean is to find one where there’ll be lots of rejections, failures, and struggles.
And the best thing of all is if there’s embarrassment.
Today I found a Reddit thread dedicated to me. It had hundreds of comments — not one of them was nice.
Strangers tore apart my wife and EVEN MY BABY. The bizarre trend throughout the thread was that people called me “a baby eater.” I have no idea what they were talking about.
I felt a bit embarrassed, a little self-conscious.
This reality comes with the territory of playing the game of online writing on hard mode. You have to expect to get some sh*t flung your way.
What I know will feel great at 60 in my life is that I’ve played this game at the highest level possible and reached 500M+ people.
Hard games create discipline and prevent mental fragility. They take everything you’ve got to keep playing. They test you. They have cheat codes that shine bright like a diamond. And they can destroy you or make you.
Hard games are played for years too. You don’t start and then quit in 90 days. No. You dedicate 5+ years of your life and get the joy at 60 to say you tried it and learned a bit about yourself … if nothing else.
Hard games are what you’ll tell your children or grandchildren (if you have any). They are there to teach you. But most won’t do it. They’ll stay on easy mode, then wonder why they have regrets at 60.
2. Find true love, not fake love
In my 20s and early 30s, I chose fake love.
I’d get into romantic relationships with women and then find myself trapped. I got into one long-term relationship that screwed me.
I knew I didn’t love her. I only went out with her to prove to myself I could be with another human. Once the experiment had produced the result, I couldn’t escape. I felt cruel. I should have just told her.
Only after she tried to force me to marry her did I withdraw emotionally and did the relationship end with the slamming of a car door in the middle of a busy highway of cars flying by at 100 miles an hour.
She felt devastation. I felt relief.
We chase fake love because we want companionship. Being lonely feels like crap. But being with someone you don’t love feels worse — it just takes a few years to figure it out.
Now I’m married and have a kid. I don’t need to play love games anymore and have an amazing partner. It took fake love to eventually find true love.
Find true love by 40 (if you can) and you’ll feel like you’ve made it at 60.
3. Become a different kind of #entrepreneur
Everyone should try to start a business before they’re 40 and still young.
Yes, many of us will fail. But what we learn in the process is so damn powerful. Real business (not an employee in a business) teaches you to understand incentives. You learn about the true chain of command.
Most of all, owning a business teaches you how to get sh*t done.
No corporation is coming to save you if you make a bad decision. It’s just you against the business world. The odds are against you. The statistics of making it in business are worse than the American divorce rate.
But even if you end up back a job you’ll be 10x better for it. There’s always another job. There’s not always a better time to start a business.
As you get older a mortgage and kids can get in the way. It’s not as easy to be fluid and go for broke multiple times without a care in the world.
If my business fails then my daughter doesn’t eat. That’s enough to make a grown man like me cry — and frankly, I won’t have it.
Still, I’m glad I quit my job at 35 to do it.
Start a business. If it fails, then become an employee again, except have one employer for 9–5 and another employer for after hours.
You can be an employee with two or more customers, dontcha know.
4. “Create a life rather than live it”
Most of society doesn’t choose a life, they’re assigned one.
Capitalists love it. There’d be no one to build their dreams if the average person designed their life.
Before 40 you have the option to design how you want the rest of your life to go. You may not get everything on your shopping list, but you’re much more likely to get stuff if you’re conscious of it.
I never created my life at all. I let a bank tell me what to do. Five years in, I realized they didn’t have a career plan for me. If I just kept showing up they’d, at best, keep paying me the same and let me keep my job title.
So I designed a life after hours.
- I read books.
- Made crazy plans.
- Came up with ridiculous visions.
- Sent stupid emails to Richard Branson asking for his time.
Most of it didn’t happen but what it set in motion was a different life path. I had no idea where it would lead. And now I’m here reshaping online education and writing these weird-ass articles.
(Side note: while Branson never responded, I did get an invite to his island from one of his friends.)
You’ll be glad you designed your life at 60 because some of that plan will become a reality. No life plan, no map to follow.
5. Join a religious cult
I got trapped in a religious cult. No joke.
One night I went to what I thought was a BBQ. Once we ate our sausages and had enough potato chips to make a fat kid happy, we went inside.
I sat on the couch. Then they played a video. It was about god. God help me. I tried to escape by going to the car and then bathroom. They wouldn’t let me. They wanted the indoctrination to occur.
They were successful.
I joined their church. I downloaded their happy songs with god lyrics attached to a fat doof doof beat. It was perhaps the worst couple of years of my life (church isn’t for everyone — you do you).
This isn’t the type of religion I’m talking about though.
The best kind of religion has the same parameters, but it’s attached to something you’re obsessed with. That obsession becomes a cult.
You live it and breathe it. You can’t get enough of it. It takes over your mind, body, and soul. That’s what writing did for me.
For you, it might be something else. Find out what it is before 40 so you can exploit well beyond your 60s until death day.
Fun fact: even atheists are religious. They’re religious over science instead of a god. See, told you we all need a religion 🙂
6. Get good at minimizing “self”
It’s popular to romanticize over self-love, self-care, self-improvement, or if you’re an instagram wannabe influencer … selfies.
If you go back to ancient wisdom — such as stoicism — you realize this obsession with self is the root of all evil.
True success in life is about minimizing “self.”
It’s about being humble and doing things for others, even if it does not benefit you. The great divide in society right now is caused by too much individualism.
Before 40, learn to minimize self and watch it bring opportunities and wisdom that’ll help you bizarrely feel like you’ve made it at 60.