Experience is one of the greatest assets you can acquire in life. But it can also become the heaviest burden on your whole existence.
When you are young, everything seems easy and possible. You try this, you try that, and even if you fail, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because tomorrow is a new day and the pain of rejection and failures is quickly erased by all this energy and HOPE you have running through your veins.
But as the years go by, and disappointments and painful events start being a part of your life, you become warier, more cautious. Add some years to that and you will be just some disappointments away from hitting a real roadblock – that place where all your previous dreams and aspirations will have been replaced by realization and resignation.
Sure, some people will eventually have either found their purpose or achieved real success, and be generally happy with their lives (not necessarily, but let’s consider they are), but for most humans, more years just mean fewer dreams and a more “realistic” view.
Until you wake up one day and realize that you have just become a shadow of yourself.
The guy who used to smile regularly only smiles sporadically nowadays.
The guy who used to go job interviews all fired up and motivated has now an aura of disenchantment that will attract neither any employer nor any head hunter.
The guy who used to feel well and relaxed most of the time is now someone who lives in a constant state of anxiety and concern.
Sounds familiar? If you are still reading these lines, I am sure it does.
All this happens because you have simply been neglecting yourself for years until you have reached this point of desperation.
A point in which all your dreams have withered away, and you have exchanged a life of purpose for a life of security.
All your potential, aspirations, “gut feelings”, basically all you were meant to be, were exchanged for a monotonous career, a job you hate, a city you despise, and a wife you don’t truly like – or some milder variations of those.
But still, there’s hope. There will always be. Even if you feel you’ve lost the train, that you didn’t invest when you should have invested or that you didn’t make the right decisions earlier in life – that would allow you to be living the life you truly wanted right now – there’s still hope.
Yes, timing is crucial and all those “lost” years of your life won’t ever come back. But if you still care a bit for your existence, you have the moral obligation to make the best of what’s to come. To give your life a purpose, and prevent that remaining flame burning within from extinguishing.
So what can you DO?
Keep Doing Stuff
Our mind is a terrible adviser and even a worse friend. It is on your side when everything is rosy in the garden, but it is the first one to abandon you once things start going wrong. And so, it puts you in a spiral of negativity that will only get worse over time.
Anytime things don’t go the way you wanted or expected, anytime your life is filled with pain and disappointment, anytime you lose, your mind keeps revisiting these events. And so, instead of weakening them, it amplifies them.
‘Why didn’t I invest in Crypto in 2020?’
‘Why didn’t I learn programming instead of this useless management degree?’
‘Why didn’t I move to a city full of opportunities, instead of having stayed at this end of the world that has only kept me stagnant and further away from fulfilling my true potential?’
Such questions are common and your mind loves to go back to them. For instance, when I think about the opportunities I had in crypto, and the money I could – and should – have made, had I sold most of my tokens in May or in November 2021, I find myself asking the same question(s).
Worse: I find myself WISHING there was a way to go back in time and rectify all these stupid mistakes that would have allowed me to have the financial freedom I always wanted above everything else.
But there isn’t, and the more you think about the things you should have done (more on that at the next point), the more you will be damaging yourself. Not just mentally, but especially psychologically. Even physically.
That is why you must distract your mind with other things, even if that means doing the most basic, mundane stuff.
Yes, to clean your room when your mind is entering another negative loop. To go for a walk when all you can think is how much of a failure you are. Or simply to fix that old bicycle that has been gaining rust in your basement for months in a row.
Sure, there will be many times in which your mind will take you back to “what you should have done” when being busy with any of these things but, the more you do them, the less frequent these thoughts will become.
It will also help if these activities are either meaningful, or simply involve a level of physical activity that will give your mind simply no other choice than “not to think”, and only care about the present moment.
Don’t Dig Into The Past
I’ve just mentioned that you should fill your life with lots of action because there is an interesting phenomenon happening when you are doing stuff: you stop thinking.
But although this sounds like a good strategy, you still need to be intentional about the way you think. And in practical terms, that means to let go of everything that happened to you until now.
Easier said than done, right? Totally. But being a guy who constantly finds himself wandering in the past, I am here to tell you that it is possible.
You just need to constantly remind yourself how looking back will actually keep you from being. Read that again.
Anytime you look in the rearview mirror, you are not looking forward. And metaphorically speaking, that will ultimately lead to you having an accident. Or lots of them.
Sure, on one hand, previous experience is important, and it will guide your future actions. But how many of these actions are actually open-minded, positive, and expansive?
If you are like most people, I bet most of your previous actions have led to poor outcomes and a lot of disappointment, and so you find yourself constantly asking yourself why you have done this or that, and how you wished you had done things differently.
And so the decisions you make today are usually fear-driven.
Look, I know it is important to look back, to assess your decisions, to see where and what you got wrong, and try not to repeat those mistakes. To learn from our failures is the ultimate edge against ourselves.
However, our minds and emotions are tricky, and they will tend to always see the worst in almost everything we do or have done so far. That is why you must train your mind to let it go, and focus all your energies on the present.
Again, easier said than done, but if you don’t try, you will never make it. And although I am not an advocate of it, things like meditation can help, as you can bring your body, and consequently your mind, to the present moment.
By focusing on breathing and on clearing your mind, you are giving it no other choice than to be in this moment known as NOW.
Alternatively, and if meditation feels like some kind of “guru BS” to you, then just start DOING things that will break any connection with the past.
Maybe that is to read a physical book that will relax you and give you a new perspective.
Maybe that is to watch some ‘motivational’ video (I hate this concept, but sometimes it can really help) that will remind you how capable and powerful you truly are.
Or maybe that is just to hit the boxing bag for 10 minutes until all your frustrations are out and you can finally focus on what can actually do something for your life: to be here, in the present moment, doing the things that will eventually give you a better future.
Because regardless of how great or poor your past was, it’s gone, and it will never be able to change a goddamn thing.
Do The Things That Make You Fulfilled
Do you see these lines I am writing? They cost me a lot, but not in the way you think.
You see, when I started writing some years ago, every cell of my being was willing to do it. I would wake up in the morning and be all fired up to write as much as I could. Until I started getting the first feedback. Or lack of it.
Fast-forward eight years, with a pandemic of two years in between that almost killed my soul (not serving as an excuse, just stating the fact that it really harmed me), and here I am, constantly finding myself hesitant or lacking any willpower whatsoever to start writing.
Don’t take me wrong: I am a resilient person who always strives to keep pushing forward, even when he’s not willing to.
But regarding writing, what I have noticed in the last few years is that my “rational” brain has constantly won over my “creative” willingness to type words on my computer.
The worst part: I love writing, and there is a part of me who knows I am capable of impacting others through words. But this part has become smaller, almost a slave of the “bigger part”: that part who thinks ‘ah you know what? It’s not worth it. My audience keeps being small and people don’t recognize my work anyway’.
And so it costs me a lot of mental work and effort to start writing again. Because this bigger part of me keeps taking over and asking “what’s the point?”
But in these (rare) moments in which I simply tell it to fuck off, and I just start typing the words, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when I enter the so-called “flow state”.
That’s when all the outside problems seem to suddenly disappear and are replaced by true calmness and fulfillment. If happiness exists, this must be it.
You see, there are these things you know you should be doing but somehow you keep avoiding or postponing.
In my case, I’ve mentioned writing, but it can also be pushing my physical limits in the gym (including calisthenics), forcing myself to be more social and approach more random people/women, or practicing and improving my dancing (salsa and bachata) as much as I can, with the ultimate goal of competing again.
For you, it might be to play the guitar for hours in a row or just to make a one-hour deep-house-DJ set and release it on YouTube. The bottom line is that deep down you know what it is.
You know what is this thing, or these things, that ultimately will fill your mind with thoughts of greatness and make your soul simmer again.
All those activities that give you the will to completely break free from your boring routine, and aim for more. The “more” that will put you one step closer to reaching your true potential and becoming WHO YOU REALLY ARE.
Be Aligned With Yourself
Many – why not say most – people make a clear distinction between work and fun. A separation between their responsible side, who usually lives during the week, and their “real side”, who usually comes out during the weekend.
And while this may seem completely ridiculous in the grand scheme of things (just imagine being kidnapped by a group of aliens and telling them that), the truth of the matter is that this is the reality for 95% of the people.
And before you ask, no, I am not excluding myself from this majority, as this is also what I’ve done most of my adult life.
But if we think about it, it is easy to see why this happens. Since we are young kids, we are told to study hard, so that we can graduate in the future and find a real job.
Sure, some of us had the vision of becoming a doctor or an astronaut, have followed that route, and have been able to make those dreams come true.
But for the rest of us – once we become old enough to be told how out of touch with reality our dreams and aspirations are – we ultimately end up following a more common path of having whatever job that will give you enough money and comfort to live a good life, but never to live an extraordinary life.
And so, that kid who wanted to be an astronaut is now an adult who lives a life dictated by the circumstances, not dictated by what he truly desires. A life serving others, instead of serving himself.
But why things must be this way? Sure, you still need to pay your bills and make sure you provide for yourself, and for everyone who depends on you. However, that doesn’t mean you should waste your best years doing something you don’t really like or believe in, just because you’ve always been too afraid to do things your way.
There is this false idea that you must completely separate work from fun. That you must create a clear distinction between what you are professionally and what you do in your private life.
It is true that work is work and it will always require a tremendous amount of commitment, focus, and discipline, regardless of whether you work for others or for yourself.
But at the end of the day, you just are separating these worlds because you are not being honest with yourself. You create this “professional persona”, just like a damaged person creates personas to escape the unbearable weight of reality.
In a sense, you’ve chosen the easy way.
That is why you must pause, look at the things you do almost effortlessly – and you get real pleasure from – and try to break this cycle. To imagine how your ideal lifestyle would be, and then build your life around it.
That means, for instance, to stop living in a city you don’t like and move to that place where you’ve always felt well.
To stop working in this job you hate and find a job or an occupation that you truly enjoy doing. Or to put it better, to find both a place and an occupation that will allow you to live the life you truly want.
Maybe that means quitting your current job and finding one that would allow you to work fully remote, and therefore live in a place and have a lifestyle that would make you wake up with a smile on your face every day.
Or maybe that means a more drastic change like quitting your job and finally channeling all of your efforts and energy into that business you have always aspired to start (or simply to build that business on the side, while keeping your job, until one day you can quit your job knowing that you will be able to pay your bills).
Regardless of what that change would be, the bottom line is that you must aim at becoming less fragmented and more consistent with yourself. To be the guy who IS, and not someone who is something at company whatever.
Because once you start following what your gut is telling you, and following the commandments of your soul, everything you do starts being coherent.
You are no longer the guy in a suit during the week, and the guy in shorts sipping Mojitos (and getting wasted) on the weekend, but the guy who is whatever he wants at all times.
The guy who walks around with his own aura, and is not afraid of sharing it with the world. In fact, you will be that guy who is proud of what he does and, more importantly, of what he is.
That guy who everyone wants to be around, just because it feels so naturally good to be with him. The guy whose thoughts are aligned with his actions, and so transpires all that enthusiasm and energy through his body.
The same guy who has no longer any kind of regret, but full conviction in everything he does.
Isn’t that, my friend, the best way to live life?