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Re-Engineer Yourself to Thrive Not Survive

by | Jan 25, 2022 | Life

The biggest arms in the gym walked up to me.

I’d seen him lots. Those biceps could poke an eye out.

“Are those Nike shoes comfortable?”

“They’re okay, mate.”

We spoke for 40 minutes. Turns out we used to work at the same office. He lived in the place I was born. Good chat. Fun times. Great classic gym hits playing in the background.

I didn’t get a pair of guns, though, through osmosis like I’d hoped.

The sad part was he said he’s ‘barely surviving’.

Stand out bloke though.

His dad died. He quit his job. Got a new one. An office full of toxic morons he says. Major let down. He got thrown into survival mode. I shared some random wisdom with him.

These are things I did to go from surviving to thriving.

“Taking risks is better than living with regrets”

(Mackenzie Smith)

A lack of risks can easily throw your life off a cliff.

That feeling of I want more or I think I can be so much more is a subtle sign you’re living in a cocoon full of comfort without enough risks.

Quitting my job last year was a big risk I took.

My credibility was on the line. There’s a real chance I will never be able to get hired for another job in finance again. Good.

Burn the boats.

Take a risk. Land on your fantasy island. Know that you can’t take a boat back to comfort land again. All of a sudden you work harder and smarter. You find solutions because you’ve got no choice.

You make it work.

You thrive when you outlive your potential — when your life looks like it has X, Y, and Z limitations and you prove your mind to be stupid. That’s what I did.

I honestly thought I’d be back at a home office cubicle right now barely surviving from all the pain in the ass back-to-back Zoom meetings.

Yet I’m not. I’m thriving for the first time in my life. Why not you?

I’m a dumb blonde from Australia with a glorified music qualification. I can’t even remember where Middle C is on the piano anymore.

Take risks or face a tidal wave of regrets. You got this.

Recode the mind

Your mind runs your life. If you’re surviving not thriving then it’s time to clear out the cobwebs and vacuum up all the dirt. Orange book on Twitter says:

Work out to calm the mind.

Meditate to reset the mind.

Write to structure the mind.

Create to get peace of mind.

Let’s add one more. Eat more plants to refuel the mind. Let’s go further…

Read books that make you feel stupid, you will get smarter.

Back in 2011, I knew nothing about finance. I read complicated books by Wall Street tycoons like Peter Lynch.

They made me feel so stupid. Bonds, interest rates, derivatives, futures, arbitrage, leverage — none of it made sense to my tiny brain. My grandma taught me to put all my money into a savings account. Back then I got 5% interest. Not great but not terrible.

As I read more finance books things made more sense. I got on phone calls with my friend who knows a lot about markets and retold him ideas I got from the books. Through that process I saw my knowledge gaps.

He helped correct me. Now I understand some of the most complicated concepts in finance. I’m no genius. Recode your mind with books that make you feel stupid.

The more stupid you feel, the more recoding of the brain you’re doing.

Quit the wrong things

I had no confidence as a young pup so I drank liquid confidence to compensate (alcohol).

Nearly screwed my life. I got addicted. It didn’t help that the nightclubs I worked at poured vodka down my throat for free whenever I was thirsty, or had a bad day. One bartender would literally hold the bottle up to the sky and let it funnel into my mouth and waterfall all over my fluro t-shirt.

Too much alcohol is generally considered the wrong thing. So is eating junk food all the time and watching a whole day’s worth of Netflix.

The wrong things are cliche. You know what they are. You don’t need a dumb, blonde, tall guy from Australia to tell you.

Re-engineering starts with subtraction not addition. The bad stuff forces you into survival mode. It’s designed as an escape but it’s really a mindf*ck.

Quit the bad stuff.

Inject some wild experiences into your life

Learning is a big part of changing yourself.

The problem is it’s easy to go back to school, read books, or procrastinate with online courses. The best learning comes from having experiences.

Experiences are evidence. They code themselves into the hardware of your brain forever. Even better are wilder experiences.

Go on a journey. Do something you never thought you’d do. Go to crazy places where you’re forced to learn a new language or risk going hungry. Don’t just go to the rich places. Poverty teaches you a lot more. Go to third-world countries as they teach you to be grateful for what you already have.

Third-world countries nuke your consumerism programming.

Play the banjo for 40 years

People that thrive stick at things.

They don’t give up and become online critics of those doing what they couldn’t achieve. One of the funniest comedians of all time, Steve Martin said “Anybody who sticks with the banjo for 40 years will be able to play it.”

That’s the first thought he had when he decided to learn banjo so he could play it in-between comedy routines.

We suck at the start before we thrive. But if you force yourself to adopt a long-term view, it’s hard not to succeed.

Reframe the past in your favor

My past is horrendous.

For years it held me back from thriving again after a dark battle with mental illness that was decades-long.

Until my point of transformation, I always used my mental illness as a reason for why I couldn’t get what I wanted. I blamed it for everything.

One day I learned that you could rewrite your story. You can completely change the meaning.

So I did.

I turned the darkest period of my life into the foundation that led me to thrive. The past is fixed but your interpretation of it isn’t. Better yet, how you tell your life story to others is completely up to you.

Make your struggles the reason for your triumphs.

“Victories will cost you many rejections”


The path to thriving will cost you a lot of noes.

The noes lead to the eventual yeses. Too many people want the gatekeepers to get out of their way and open the gates with no cost. They want to live rent-free in a palace shaped by their desires. It’s impossible.

There are people that will always stand in the way of you dreams. Your job is to find ways to get around them.

Everyone including all the people I went to high school with said I’d be, at best, a plumber or carpenter. Nothing wrong with being a tradie, but I’ve always dreamt bigger than that.

Those high school critics still doubt me. They still send stupid Facebook messages that make fun of my writing. And you know what? F*ck em. Their rejection is my victory.

Rejection is free energy you throw at your goals. Rejection teaches you resilience and determination.

Get rejected lots to thrive in the future.

Run into the jungle without a plan

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face — Mike Tyson

You can’t survive in the jungle with a Powerpoint deck written by a life coach. The change in environment will mess with your brain.

All you can do is take each day as it comes. Keep your eyes open for saber tooth tigers. Store food for the harsh days. Expect to get bitten by a snake.

It’s much like life.

What starts as survival can transform into a beautiful opportunity you call a life. The discomfort is what you need to get there Tarzan/Jane.

That’s the last thing you need to know about re-engineering your life.

Now go and execute.

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