There are life snoozers everywhere.
I was one of them. Cruising through the days, hoping to make it to the other side so watching a Hollywood movie could lower my anxiety. Only to do it all the next day until every day became groundhog day — weeks felt so similar, I thought it was deja vu.
I noticed it at the gym today. Hardly a single person was present.
People were attached to their phone mothers with an invisible umbilical cord. (Some call the phenomenon “phone zombies.) Not even while breaking a sweat could they be present for 10 seconds. So life zooms past at 100 miles per hour.
Suddenly something feels weirdly incomplete.
Here’s what can lead to that feeling.
The bill for not trying costs a fortune
Jim Rohn gave birth to self-help legend Tony Robbins.
What changed his whole life was this:
I finally discovered that it’s all risky. The minute you got born it got risky. If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying.
A feeling life is incomplete can often come as a result of not trying. That doesn’t happen because you’re lazy. Nope. It happens because of the enormous risks many of us spend a lifetime avoiding.
We snuggle up on the couch in our Pikachu onesie, hoping to avoid risks or save up enough courage to take a chance. That day never comes.
If enough risk-free days pass, feelings of incompleteness creep in.
Take more risks. The downsides are tiny compared to what your mind makes them out to be.
The subtle art of control
Decisions move life forward.
Yet decision fatigue traps us. Go to the supermarket and try to choose one ice cream to take home with you. It’s impossible I tell ya — and that’s one tiny decision.
The internet increased the number of decisions we have to make, by bombarding us with choices designed to get our attention using psychological voodoo.
When you focus on things you can’t control you tend to freeze, unsure of what to do, and you wait.When you focus on what you can control, there is always an action you can take to put yourself in a better position.
That’s why a lot of self-help feels selfish. It isn’t.
It’s just that it’s easier to invest time in what you can control than pursuing problems you have no control over, such as the war in Ukraine or what Elon Musk is buying this week.
When progress halts in life there’s always a tiny decision you can execute. Make that decision to get momentum moving forward.
The small stuff is a giant distraction
Most people spend a lot of life worrying about the small stuff:
- What to have for dinner
- Where to go for holidays
- What meetings they have
When it comes to the big stuff — like what to do with the rest of their life — not much time is invested. The small stuff isn’t going to make life get better. Automate most of it or at least reduce the importance of it.
Then focus attention on big questions:
- Am I happy? If not then why not?
- What work do I enjoy doing? Am I doing it?
- Is there enough love in my life? If not then why not?
- What will I leave behind when I die?
- What do I wish I could do more of?
- What have I held off doing for too long?
- What makes me smile?
The small questions distract you and vacuum up your attention so it can be translated into useless consumerism.
The big questions change your life.
Can you make a choice this instant that can forever alter the trajectory of your future? — MJ DeMarco
An easy way to make killer decisions
If you’re starting from nothing then say yes to everything. Once you start making progress, say yes to just one thing. If you’re already growing and life still feels incomplete, say yes to one thing only from now on.
Start the snowball
Go to the gym. It feels like crap. But once you’re 15 minutes in, it feels fine and you can easily finish the workout.
Why is this?
The snowball effect. Getting started is hard. Once you’re moving it’s easy. If you’ve lost motivation then all you have to do is get moving again.
When I hit rock bottom and mental illness nearly ruined my life, I took this advice literally. I started walking around the streets of my neighborhood late at night, looking for answers.
The physical movement got the gears in my brain moving. Eventually the epiphany came to me and everything changed. I will never forget, though, that movement is what got the snowball moving.
From here on, as they say, it’s time to make your move. Think of the path forward like chess. Make moves. Experiment. Explore. Pretend you’re a 5-year-old and there are no rules.
They say at the age of 10-years-old we’re at the peak of our lives. Why? We’re old enough to experience and understand the world. But young enough not to let dumb adults or rules dictate our actions.
Copy and paste that advice to your 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90 year old brain. There are no rules. Only moves you can make.
Make real moves, not fake moves
Famous entrepreneur and Twitter king Naval Ravikant says…
Most of what we think we’re doing when we’re asking for help, when we’re going to seminars, when we’re watching youtube videos…we’re just procrastinating.
There’s a difference between serious and spinning the tires. Most of us spin the tires looking for a magical solution to the problems our goals create.
Serious people just execute. Remove the fluff. Start. Try. Experiment.
Screw being normal
Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from — Jodie Foster
Trying to be normal is the fastest way to stay incomplete. None of us are normal. There is no normal. There’s only you plus your goals, dreams and capacity to love another. The rest is BS.
Seeking to be normal keeps you stuck on the treadmill to nowhere.
A guy I connected with on LinkedIn, Daniel Murray, gave me some great advice. He said “Stop trying to be like everybody else. You don’t even like everybody.” What a punch in the face. He’s right though.
Normal leads to feelings of being incomplete.
Add a sprinkle of this magic drug
Fear is a drug.
Once you dance with it, it becomes addictive. The reason is it unlocks your hidden potential you never believed existed.
I took a shot of the fear drug one afternoon at a football stadium. I had to give a speech to hundreds of people and I was scared out of my mind.
I’m not joking … I nearly filled my pants with poo.
(I checked for skid marks — none.)
Halfway into the speech I came alive. Suddenly I saw what was possible. Nothing was ever the same again. Now all my big goals contain an uncomfortable amount of fear. Fear is a measurement that helps keep me away from feeling like my life is incomplete. As Mackenzie Smith said…
If you don’t have fear.. whatever you’re chasing isn’t big enough.
The secret compass guiding your life
Let’s finish with this.
What drives us towards the life we want is the story we tell ourselves. Whether you’re aware or not, every day your brain is telling you a story.
If your life feels incomplete you have to change that story, or nothing will change and progress will stay the same.
The cool thing is you can make the story say whatever you want. I use my startup that imploded, the money I lost last year, the mental health meltdown that took decades to defeat, and my romantic disasters to form my story.
They are inspirational not tragic. That’s only because of the way I tell these stories to you — and to myself.
Change the story, change the result. It’s all a matter of interpretation.