1. You can’t do this on your own. Or at least, you shouldn’t.
A natural loner with a penchant for introversion, I grew up with the mentality that individual greatness was an independent achievement. That one could achieve monumental success through adversity, that stress could be conquered with grit and a smile.
While this dogma is true to a major extent, the reality of achievement is much more telling. There are very few people who are “self-made”—the most influential pioneers of society—from the politicians, to the artists, to the tycoons of the industrial age—all had friends beside them, a support structure from which to draw inspiration and important resources. Think about this century’s greatest movers—none of them were truly alone in their strides. Tupac had his mom, Jobs had Wozniak, JK Rowling had only her daughter, and Justin Bieber had Usher.
The lesson here is teamwork. Monumental success requires a culmination of skill, passion, and social leverage—traits that no one person can infinitely supply. Long explanation short: you cannot do this on your own. The bigger your dreams are, the more people you need by your side supporting you. Support is the foundation on which all thriving families, businesses, and lovers grow.
I could run circles on the subject but in a nutshell, the guidelines of integrating others into your life are very straightforward. Work with visionaries on meaningful causes. Connect with elite talent. Actively seek out kindred souls who can withstand your bitching OR make you forget (even briefly) about your problems. Because complete self-reliance is maddening. Depressing, even. You cannot function healthily harboring your own luggage all the time. It’s just not possible. And why subject yourself to burdens that other people can help you carry?
Who really celebrates Independence Day alone?
2. Believe in something.
Your ideals define you. They define your actions, they guide your reasoning, and—if your resistance to external struggle is that strong—beliefs determine your character throughout. When the world kicks your ass and no one’s there to help pick up the pieces, it is your resolve that will carry you through.
So believe in something. Could be the future, could be the universe, could be existence, could your own strength—anything, so long as the belief solidifies your resolve and makes you grow into the person you wish to become. Your ultimate successes often require finding energy when your muscles have failed you and staying true to your core beliefs when the quo attempts to suck you in.
If by circumstances your beliefs are compromised, admit defeat and adjust. Make yourself better and re-evaluate your goals. Stars may glow vibrantly in the night sky but they also shift, too.
3. If you must complain, do so while moving.
Complaining is necessary. In my most stressful days, venting means the difference between a) a full day of worrying and b) diving into a pool face-first with a smile so big that even the water couldn’t drown it. Why? Because talking about problems helps us validate beliefs, find out who’s on our side, and consider what steps we need to take next.
What’s important here is that regardless of how difficult life gets, bitching is fine: just don’t stop moving. I’ll save you the trouble of learning this mid-life crisis: life is not fair. The universe was here first. God owes you nothing and He damn well operates on His own accord. The richest, most comfortable fuckers in the world? Many of them are beneficiaries of ridiculously good-fortune or outstanding talent. And many of them die happy, selfish, and completely ignorant of the lower class struggles. The poorest people in the world? Many of them have already given up on themselves (understandably so) and will continue to curse others for their misfortune.
Where you fit in this struggle is up to you.
If you have a compelling dream and are passionate about its realization, youneed to be willing to fight. Never feel sorry for yourself. Because for the yearning few, life is a truly a jungle, an unforgiving space enshrouded with dangers designed for no other purpose than to challenge your resolve. And if you let the jungle cripple you, the lions will eat you alive.
Hurt? Too bad. Get the fuck up and keep your ass moving. Excuses should never hold you back from getting what you truly want in this world (unless it means hurting yourself and other people). Find people who care and care for those who need it. And if no one’s around, dig deep to find the voice that pushes you: that urges you to keep fighting for your ideal future. Because one day, your work will be worth all its bleeding.
Your work will mean something.
4. Live for others. And be the example.
In the future, a child will look to you for guidance. They won’t ask for permission to do so—they’ll simply watch. Everyday. Soaking up your habits, your actions, and your daily gems of wisdom like an obese sponge. And when they do, you need to be on your A-game because at that point in life, your influence is crucial. Your actions will shape these little people into the adults they’ll eventually become.
Impressionability is not solely restricted to kids. Your actions are capable of positively shaping everyone’s lives, from those of your co-workers and friends to pedestrians who enter your life for even the briefest moments. Whether one or two-hundred, remember that your efforts must be congruent to the amount of people relying on you. The more others depend on you, the greater your efforts have to be.
Start assuming responsibility for your actions and find out what “being a good example” means. Be aware that your time for selfishness is slowly coming to an end and that from here on, your childhood is past. It’s not easy and yes, it sucks letting go of this nonchalance but there will come a time (if it hasn’t happened already) when you are no longer living for yourself but for a spouse. Or a child. And understand that their future, their mental soundness will rest heavily on your shoulders. If you fall, there’s a damn good chance they will, too.
You cannot let this happen.
5. Follow your heart. Even if it tells you to do something stupid.
In this age of reason and financial insight, careful logic governs daily decision-making. We have brokers for investing, psychologists for counseling, and tech support lines for electronics. I should know: I work tech support. At work, some computer problems are so recurring that troubleshooting is a matter of asking the same three questions for a solid diagnosis.
However, traditional A-meets-B logic itself does not apply to matters of the human heart. The most sophisticated reasoning cannot tell you whether you should leave a stable job for a ludicrous dream or stay in a relationship that’s so complicated it would wrinkle even Einstein’s brain. These are the sort of matters in which your own judgment is key—no one else’s. Friends can offer life-altering perspective, but they cannot make the decisions for you. That responsibility is yours.
On the difficulty scale, following your heart can range anywhere from painfully easy to blissfully difficult. Sorting through all the noise means being able to identify certainties among abstracts, to calculate losses and gains, to choose between mind-numbing comfort and spine-stabbing transcendence, distinguishing between foolhardy desperation and that ultimate, this-is-what-I-need-in-my-life catharsis. Sometimes acquiring your dreams means letting go of old ones. In other cases, the line between both spectra is so vast that the path is already laid open—the only question is whether or not you’re willing to make a run for the goal. If you do, run as if your life depended on it.
Because it does.
I often reblog this guy because he’s good with ideas and expression that I don’t have enough confidence in to attempt to post on social media. Also, he happens to be a good friend of mine. It’s really more of the former than the latter.