“Once in a while, it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightly
In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, he reflected that one of the key moments of his youth was seeing a bodybuilder who wore glasses.
Until then, Schwarzenegger thought you could be either strong or smart — not both. But here was a man who was strong and smart (at least, the glasses made him look smart).
It was then he realized you didn’t have to choose just one identity — you could be everything you wanted.
I can relate. Growing up, it always seemed like you could be “A” or “B” — a jock or a thespian. A smart kid or a tough kid. Someone who parties or someone who goes to church.
But in high school, I did everything. I played Prince Charming in our school’s rendition of Into the Woods (something my wife mistakenly claims I tell people far too often). I was in drama and I played basketball. I was a quiet, soft-spoken guy with a small group of eclectic friends, but I was voted into the Big Man on Campus contest (another thing my wife claims I say too much).
You can be both. You don’t have to pick just one.
You don’t have to live the incomplete, insecure life everyone else is living.
If you’re a writer, you can also be a bodybuilder. If you’re a fashionista, you can be an excellent chemist. Lover and a fighter. Dreamer and a doer.
Most people think they have to choose, and begin living a narrow, limited life. For the most part, people with this mindset encourage others to live this narrow life as well.
You don’t have to live the life everyone else is living.
You can write down everything you want to be, and have all of it.
“The mediocre have a very narrow perception of reality, and in turn, their lives. They see things as they are, not how they can be.” -Ryan Holiday
Most People Aren’t Living the Life They Want
“Never ask advice of someone with whom you wouldn’t want to trade places.” Darren Hardy, best-selling author
Aren’t wealthy or in control of their finances.
Don’t have deep, meaningful relationships.
Don’t have a clear, focused vision on what they want in life.
Aren’t sure if they’re succeeding or failing.
I want to live an extraordinary life. And I will do whatever it takes to get there.
I want to be 100% financially independent and own my own business. I want to make enough money to be able to travel through Europe whenever I want. I want to be healthy and fit and spend lots of time cycling and playing basketball. I want an amazing marriage. I want deep friendships with my loved ones.
The truth is, almost no one really knows how to get the life I want. How many people do you know who have all that?
This is why I’ve stopped taking advice from almost everyone. Not because I’ve got it figured out or think I don’t need help — I need all the help I can get. But I realize only an extremely select few actually know how to get what I want.
“Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you take only what is worth having.” – The Richest Man in Babylon
The truth is, most people aren’t living an extraordinary life. They’re drifting through life without really knowing where they’re going or what they want. As a result, their relationships, income, health, activities, and behaviors are pretty mediocre.
Most people aren’t living the life they want.
You don’t have to live this way. The best way to avoid ending up in mediocrity is by ignoring the advice of anyone who doesn’t know how to get where you want to go — which is most people.
If you want an extraordinary life, be extremely selective with whom you go to for counsel and guidance.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart, and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” -Steve Jobs
You’ll Know You’re Making Progress When the Critics Come Out
“The more bold you are, the more rejection you’ll experience.” -Todd Henry
Critics confirm greatness.
This is a lesson that took me years to figure out. For over 4 years, I blogged with nothing to show for it. A huge reason was that I was terrified of criticism, so I constantly edited myself to make sure that “no one could get offended” by what I wrote.
The result? No one got offended or left mean comments.
…But this was mostly because my writing was so lifeless and boring, no one ever read it.
The most successful people in the world usually have the most critics. They’ve made a stand and committed to a vision that many people won’t like (but some people will love).
It’s easy to be vanilla. Everyone is fine with vanilla. Vanilla gets no complaints.
But very few people are crazy about vanilla.
As long as you’re watering down your true, potent message for the sake of avoiding criticism, you’ll never be able to connect with that group of people that would become your most loyal fans.
“You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you.” – James Clear
I don’t like getting negative comments. They hurt my feelings.
But I’ve also come to realize that negative backlash means I’m going in the right direction. It means I’m saying something important enough to attract criticism. Most people never risk so much that they get criticized. In a way, it’s an honor.
Criticism, cynicism, and doubting are a sign you’re on the right track. Keep digging. You’re on to something huge.
“Would you be as successful if you followed all the rules and always behaved and never took chances? No, you’d be just like everyone else, scared about failing and worried about being liked.” -Tim Grover
You Can Have Whatever You Want if You Do Whatever it Takes
“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.” – Darren Hardy, former editor of SUCCESS Magazine
When I first got involved in 12-step meetings for my addiction to pornography, I met lots of men and women who had been constantly relapsing with drugs, alcohol, and sex for years.
The stuff you’re taught in 12-step programs, counseling, and therapy isn’t that complicated. It’s simple, really. Just a few basic principles and new ways of thinking.
Don’t get the wrong idea — it’s not easy. Absolutely not. Getting sober was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, period.
But it’s simple. And the reason most people still weren’t getting sober was that they hadn’t committed to doing whatever it takes. They were taking half-measures and had one foot in recovery and the other still in their old life.
Most people don’t believe they can succeed at an extremely high level. They don’t believe they can achieve their highest goals. There’s too much competition, they say. It’s “impossible.” The system is stacked against you. There’s just nothing you can do; you’re just wasting your time.
But I did meet a few people in recovery who were willing to do whatever it took. And those stories changed my life and made me believe anything was possible.
“If you’re interested, you come up with stories, excuses, reasons, and circumstances about why you can’t or why you won’t. If you’re committed, those go out the window. You just do whatever it takes.” – John Assaraf
Did you know 85% of millionaires out there are self-made? No inheritance, no lottery tickets. Many of the world’s top performers; athletes, musicians, world leaders, and the like came from nothing.
Once you decide to do whatever it takes, nothing can stop you. Nothing.
“People were always talking about how few performers there are at the top of the ladder, but I was always convinced there was room for one more. I felt that, because there was so little room, people got intimidated and felt more comfortable staying on the bottom of the ladder. But, in fact, the more people that think that, the more crowded the bottom of the ladder becomes! Don’t go where it’s crowded. Go where it’s empty.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
You Don’t Have to End Up Like Everyone Else if You Don’t Want To
The majority of people don’t end up where they had hoped.
Here are some statistics to keep in mind:
46% of Americans are on track to retire with less than $10,000.
When asked how many close friends they had, over 70% of participants in a survey by Cornell University answered less than 2.
About 1 in 7 Americans has an addiction to nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs.
About 50% of Americans don’t use their vacation time (time they can’t roll over and save).
Americans are working longer and retiring later.
40% — 50% of marriages end in divorce, but many more marriages end in the “Un-divorced” category — living together, but not happy.
These are the dangers many people will fall into. But you don’t have to. You can choose to be whatever you want to be. You can choose to have whatever you want.
You just have to be willing to do whatever it takes.
You could have an incredible, intimate marriage for the rest of your life.
You could be deeply spiritually engaged.
You could master new languages, instruments, and skills.
You could have best friends to joke around with for the rest of your life.
You could be muscular, healthy, fit, and strong.
You could become a multi-millionaire.
You don’t have to end up like most people.
You just have to do whatever it takes.
“I’ve always loved the idea of not being what people expect of me.” -Will Smith
Many people end up with happy lives, wealth, joy, freedom, and wonderful relationships to carry them through the rest of their life.
But most people don’t.
You don’t have to end up like most people.
I’m planning on having an amazing life, full of love and joy and freedom. I don’t expect to learn how to do that from just anybody; most people have no idea how to design that life.
So I pick my mentors carefully. I invest in myself and my development. I choose to commit, not merely be “interested.” I choose to be someone who will do whatever it takes.
What will you choose?