So you’re looking to improve your lifestyle. You imagine the prestige and the high-quality people you’ll be hanging out with, the luxurious vacations you will take. The cool car you will drive. The gigantic home in a great neighborhood that you and your family will live in. The respect and the admiration of others. You get a huge dopamine rush.
This glamorization of success as a marketing strategy has pervaded the self-help world. An industry that was once seen as purely wholesome to me has left me quite jaded.
As the self-help industry grows, more charlatans appear. Dishing out flashy marketing campaigns with little substance behind them.
Like in any industry, the self-help world has seen its booms and busts. Sectors are created within it. Sometimes, they new sectors don’t have the greatest intentions for their community.
And these charlatans, while they are providing little value to their audience, have effectively captured their attention by over-emphasizing the rewards of success. The shallow content market share is certainly theirs, and their ad dollars have certainly reached you. Can’t blame them – the opportunity was there, so they took it.
In the mind of their audience, anything is possible. Only if they consume their surface level content, and repeat self-help platitudes to themselves.
And like this, they’re leaving something out of this formula to a better life…
While it’s fun and all to have a potential reality to aim for – a dream – full of glory and pleasure, this great lifestyle is essentially going to mainly consist of the seemingly mundane actions you do on a daily basis in a high-quality manner.
More focus, then, should be put towards a process that helps you decide what these actions are and how to stay-on track doing them.
This plan of action is your main priority as someone who wants to “self-help”. And it is the only way you will eventually attain any of those rewards that you may spend much of your time thinking about.
I mean, awards which you will only enjoy in quick glimpses, anyway.
For when we see the famous rapper driving a Lamborghini, but the majority of his life is actually writing music or recording in the studio. We watch athletes celebrate victories and buy mansions, but the majority of their life is practicing, eating right, and recovering. The successful investor has many pictures of his mansion on Instagram, but majority of his day is in keeping informed, researching and reading.
The practice of visualizing rewards is not a bad thing. Dreams and fantasies are great to garner some motivation, but they must immediately be translated to reality, in the form of actionable behaviors we do every single day.
These are the days of which marketers want to sell very watered-down content wrapped in a pretty bow of stimulating media. So we must be weary in the content we consume. We can’t let our focus wander from the truth of what success is.
We must understand that those who are successful, more than anything, stayed on-track in useful daily actions.
They were able to put in exponentially more work over an exponentially longer run, and rise to the top of their game. They realize the compound effect of progression in skills and money. They realized that…
Rewards Are Misleading
Don’t be mislead by the marketing of success and the prevalence of this in this social-media age. The majority of people only take a quick peek into a successful person’s life, see the opulence and extravagant lifestyle, and imagine that success means a life full of enjoyment because of these things.
Then, they may get discouraged when they are 3 years into their journey and not yet witnessing these surface level pleasures happen in their life.
Not knowing that, even upon success, they will still be on the grind – and even more so than when they were supposedly coming up. As success and self-importance usually means more responsibility and liability in the form of employees, stake-holders, and institutions.
Instead of dedicating time to consuming content and “thinking positive”, we must, as those who are into self-help, put in an actionable plan and stay on-track.
Then, we can judge our success upon our ability to do stay on-track instead on exterior motives like luxuries, pleasures, and the approval of others.
In a way, we take control of the high’s and low’s of life by determining them for ourselves.
Being stuck with our heads in the clouds, denying reality, and over consuming content will leave us constantly feeling insufficient. A sense of victory will always be based on a comparison of status.
There will always be something flashier, and faster, and better. It’s not realistic to base our self-image on these comparisons. These comparisons may limit how well we can express ourselves, or the amount of enthusiasm we display towards our goals.
It is more effective to score ourselves on a comparison with our previous performance, within an actionable plan. With practice, we can take our eyes off of the flashy prize altogether.
But first, in order to decide what actions to take, and stay-on track with, we need to
Stop Being Vague
Be specific. Have you noticed that people are naturally vague? The brain conserves energy as a default, and as long as the limbic system feels okay, we’re all good.
Are you fed? Are you hydrated? Are you too cold or too hot? These factors will give you inherent motivation, but lofty dreams require more effort to garner motivation. It may be easier to ignore them.
It’s unfortunate that so many people need a jolt of adrenaline, a wake-up call, before they make any positive changes in their life.
Heart-attacks, mid-life crisis’, and broken relationships are a result of neglected actions and unrealized dreams. Actions were put off, or not even realized. It’s almost as if these things were forced upon them, to wake them up, to take action.
Either way, this default mode of existence makes it a huge challenge for us to solidify goals that will actually make our life better.
Yes, we may feel fat, or poor, or lonely, or depressed – and we may feel like we really want to be someplace better – but nothing will change until we are specific about what we are going do about it. And then, well, do it.
This means – specific to the hour, the day, and the year. Specific in what happens in those specific moments, and why. Does it serve your greater goal? If you are planning on doing something recreational, is it because everything else is on-track?
Why did you allocate 30 hours to video games this week if you’re frequently getting short-of-breath? Why did you spend an hour watching TV every night if you’re unhappy about what you do for work?
If we’re specific, we will pick apart these things we do, put them under a lot of scrutiny, and maybe abandon them altogether in favor of more uncomfortable, but essential, things.
From that, and compiling these things, we can develop an effective schedule.
Developing an effective schedule is something that can take years. It is, like any other skill set something that we must practice, and through trial and error, optimize.
In other words, we’ll end up doing the wrong shit for a long time…
But if we’re consistently honest in the scrutiny of our daily actions, we’ll straighten it out and eventually get to that next level over and over again. Eventually, we will be able to apply this mindset to every goal we set our eyes on.
Of course, this process of being specific, and optimizing will not be easy at times because we may become stuck, unable to decide what to do next, or unable to change what we are doing. It is certainly a lot easier said than done.
Inevitably, it is issues in our blind spots that keep us lost at what to do, or stuck in making a decision. For if they were apparent to us, we would never hesitate to resolve them and achieve our goals.
These blind spots are seemingly impassable obstacles in which we might be stuck in for years…
Eventually, we can break out of them if we
Pay Attention To Details
As above, so below.
The macrocosm consists of the microcosm.
The quality of all your actions determines the quality of the action that you are taking part in at the moment.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to see all the connections.
Say I want to be a more prolific writer. I may need to increase the quality of my sleep. I may need to read more. Maybe if I worked out a few times a week, my energy levels will increase, giving me more energy to write. I may have to change my diet to more brain-friendly foods.
Though it may seem like we may have a singular dream to achieve, a lifestyle which we will exude excellence because of this 1 skill set or business venture, our lives are still going to be made-up of many tiny day-to-day actions that affect each other.
Actions that we can improve, even in the most minuscule ways will affect all the other actions.
If we pay attention to details we may find that we are putting the cart in front of the horse.
Maybe you’re an awkward guy that is looking to improve his dating life. You’re going out and chatting with girls, but they are instantly rejecting you because your hygiene is not on point.
Putting in effort into the little things like cleaning every week, and grooming every day, will make it so you achieve the larger goal of meeting the right person. It needs to be the first thing you do before you can move on.
Once we get momentum because of the quality of the “small things” in our lives, we will be addicted to seeing how good things can get, as far as the quality of effort we can put in goes.
We will look at every extra smile we give, every extra rep, every neatly folded laundry as something we are doing to achieve our dreams.
It is in the details which we will discover how to push past seemingly impassable barriers. The more effort we make in finding them and conquering them, the more opportunities we have to level up.
Simple But Not Easy
If I marketed success to you as something requiring you to spend time painstakingly thinking and be extremely disciplined… and for the next 10 years, while not guaranteeing you anything, I wouldn’t do a good job of persuading you would I.
You’d have to really believe in yourself to buy in to that message.
In my opinion, the self-help world needs to do more to scare away those who are weak-minded and impulsive, craving expedience, and give value to those who are hoping to find it. It is only then that we can build a stronger community, and benefit each other.
I hope that after reading this article you also feel that ease, comfort, luxury, and utopia have no room in the self-help world.
I hope you realize that the the truth is, you help yourself by being very specific and honest, and extremely disciplined. All of which are the most challenging but meaningful things you will ever do.