It's easy to credit hard work for everything.
It's important but it's definitely not everything.
Working hard without answering a few key questions will probably never get you anywhere.
Well, I actually don't know about you.
But just showing up over and over again and putting in the work wouldn't have gotten me where I am today.
Wherever that might be...
# WOULD I REGRET IT?
Whenever I'm not sure whether or not I should do something I do the grandpa test. It's essentially about imagining your 80 year old self sitting on a veranda, thinking about your life and the things you did do and the things you didn't do.
And if the thing I'm thinking about doing right now is something my 80 year old self would probably regret if I hadn't done it, then I just do it. No matter the consequences. If I believe that my future self would wonder how my life would have looked like if I did it, I know that I just have to do it. No matter what.
Sure, some of the things don't turn out the way I thought they would. But I always learned something either about myself, about life or other people. And I would never want to miss that. Not to mention the fact that all of my decisions are what got me right here...
# WHAT'S THE WORST CASE SCENARIO?
I always try to picture my worst case scenario. And whenever I do that I realize that my worst case scenario isn't really that bad.
Look. I get it. It's terrifying. And when we imagine our worst case scenarios we usually think about ending up broke on the streets. Being homeless and what not.
But if you think about it and are honest with yourself, most of our worst case scenarios aren't really that bad. Most of them never even happen anyway.
I don't know about you. But for myself, my worst case scenario means that I'd have to move back in with my mom. Or with friends. Or move to a cheaper country. Spend less. Or what not. As I said, it's never really that bad. For most of us. And when you read this, when you spend time reading stuff online, then your worst case scenario is likely in a similar category like mine...
# WHAT IF I'LL NEVER LEARN IT?
When I quit my job back in 2013 I mostly quit that job because I didn't learn any real world skills. I only learned highly strategic stuff. Nothing about tangible real world skills one needs in the 21st century to be able to build something out of nothing.
So when I quit that job, I got another job where I thought I'd learn tangible and operational skills. Skills like how to do Facebook ads, how to do Twitter, how to do email marketing, copywriting and all of these things that are so essential to be able to build something out of nothing.
After a month at that other job I didn't learn any of these skills. So I wondered what would happen if I never learned any of these skills and instead I'd just be doing strategic work over and over again...
And the answer was very clear.
I would be doing this kind of stuff for the rest of my life and would never learn any of the skills I would need to be able to break free. I would do more and more management work and less and less operational work. To put it short...
I would be an employee and would have to work for someone else for the rest of my life. Which isn't that bad. It just isn't for me...
# HOW MUCH DO I REALLY NEED?
This is a very powerful exercise. Trying to figure out how much you really need in life to survive, to pay the bills and on and on and on.
Turns out, all you need is $500-$600 a month to live in some places. Maybe even less. And when I say you I'm talking about myself.
I've spent almost the entire year of 2016 in cheap countries and I rarely spent more than $800. Sometimes even as little as $400. And all I had was a carry-on backpack with less than 10kg of stuff with me.
That's all I really need.
Sure, no one has to live like that. It's just what I need.
And knowing this is a very liberating feeling. Once you know much much or how little you really need the game changes completely.
Because once you know that it's possible to live on such a small budget without having to starve to death, basically everything is possible. Because everyone can work a few jobs here and there, save most of it and then go to a place where it's a hell lot cheaper to build your next big (or small) thing...
# WHAT ARE YOUR THREE THINGS?
You only need three things in life to be happy. For me those things are freedom to work on whatever I want to, wherever I want to. I want to eliminate everything that causes unhappiness. And I want my life to be as smooth as possible.
Sure, some people will say that this is not what life is all about. And I agree. But the truth is that you can work toward your three things. You can work toward building the life you want. As long as you're putting in the work. And don't expect it to happen over night.
Following your three (or more) things is the only way you'll ever be able to be the best version of yourself, to help other people, to have an impact or whatever it is that you want to do. You've gotta have as much energy and strength as you possibly can.
You can't achieve anything if you're unhappy, sad, disappointed, stressed out or whatever. The only way you'll ever be able to achieve what you want to achieve is when you are the best version of yourself. Period.
And the only way you'll ever be able to get there is to focus on your three things. Four things. Five thing. Or whatever your number is. But I guess three things are enough...
# WHAT IF NO ONE CARED?
This can be very frustrating. And a reason why a lot of people never really get started. Or give up. Because they fear that no one will care about what they have to say. Which is probably true.
But you can also use this to your own advantage.
Whenever I write something I say to myself that no one will care. That no one will even notice.
And you know what?
This is probably the only way that anyone will ever notice. Simply because when you write and think that no one will read it, then you will write in your true voice. And say what you really think. Then you will say what most people are too afraid to say.
This is what made me fearless. What helps me to write down my thoughts and put them out there. And still to this day, whenever I feel uncomfortable about hitting the publish button I tell myself that no one is going to end up reading it anyway.
This is the exact same thing I think about this post right here.
I just write down whatever I want to. Because no one is going to read it anyway...
# WHAT IF I HAD NOTHING TO LOSE?
Here's the truth... You don't have anything to lose. At the end of it all you'll be dead. We'll all be dead. No matter what...
# WHAT WILL I LEARN FROM IT?
Whenever I do something I want to learn something. No matter how big or small. Even better, I learn something that I can then apply over and over and over again. The more it pays off in the future, the more I know I have to do it. Even if it takes a hell lot of time, struggle and persistence to learn it. Like writing for example...
# HOW DO OTHERS DO IT?
A lot of people look at big icons for inspiration. To become the way they are. Which is a good starting point. But what we usually see and what the reality really looks like is very distorted.
We only hear about the successes. But not about the dozens of losses people had to go through to get to where they are right now. We get impatient. Want everything right now. Right away. And if we don't get it right away we just give up...
So what I try to do instead of admiring icons is that I look at people who live a life that I don't want to live. And then I try to do the exact opposite of what they've done. Or at least learn from what they've done that got them where they are right now.
It's hard to follow the path of uber successful people.
And it's a lot easier to not do the things that people did who now live a life you don't want to live...
# WHAT'S THE REAL REASON?
It's easy to blame someone or something for something that didn't work out. But the truth is that it's almost always our own fault. Even if it's not entirely your fault. Even if someone or something you can't control is responsible for the screw up, it's still your fault. After all, you got involved in something that you can not control with someone who you can not control. There's always a lesson. You just gotta be willing to find it...
# WHAT IS IT THAT I REALLY ENJOY DOING?
When I had a job I usually never worked longer than 10 hours a day. Most of the time I worked even less. Still, every time I came home I felt so tired. I wasn't able to do anything. All I was able to do was to watch TV.
And that's when I learned a very important lesson...
Whenever you spend most of your time doing things you don't really want to do it costs you a hell lot of willpower to get it done. A hell lot of energy. It's just super exhausting. It sucks all the energy out of you.
That's why it's so important to do more of the things you enjoy doing. Because those are the things that will give you energy.
When you do things you really enjoy doing time usually flies by and all of a sudden it's 1 am in the morning and you're still not tired.
Sure, it won't happen over night. You won't be able to only do things you enjoy doing right away.
It's a process.
And it takes a lot of time.
As a matter of fact, to be able to do the things you really enjoy doing you've gotta do a lot of things you don't really enjoy that much. For quite some time.
Even if it's just to find out what it is that you really enjoy doing...