Self improvement is a lot of fun. But it can also be stressful if we are not careful.
Today I was listening to episode #75 of the Tim Ferriss Podcast which featured Noah Kagan and found myself being drawn thin. The episode is an all-you-can-eat buffet of tips, tricks, and just all around badassness. Noah was one of the first employee’s at a little website called Facebook, started AppSumo, and devours books like I devour shitty YouTube video’s if I’m not careful.
And hearing all this advice of motivating stories is great! This is why I listen to this Podcast on a daily basis. It reminds me what my goal is, and doesn’t let me forget that there are people out there already doing it. But I found myself feeling rushed, dissatisfied, ashamed and generally being pulled in two different directions. This was a familiar feeling. A feeling I felt before the beginning of my self improvement journey around 6 months ago.
Noah talked about how cities like San Francisco and New York are the places to be if you are under 30, and how Austin is the place to be if you are in your 30’s. How in SF there are daily meet-up’s for young entrepreneurs. How everyone there is crazy driven which results in you pushing yourself more. How you can randomly find yourself running into tech billionaires while in line at a coffee shop. It all sounds perfect.
And I am sure this is all true, but these stories left me feeling like I had and am missing out on something great. My view of myself started to darken. So I told myself to investigate this feeling more in depth.
Taking A Look Around
I had to ask myself whether this feeling was productive, or was this just the inner critic looking for some low hanging fruit to complain about? That part of me doesn’t get to complain as much as it used to and this might just be it relieving some pressure. I came to realize it was, as it is often, the latter.
While asking myself this question I was driving to my mom’s place to pick up a receipt for a Christmas return, and after heading off on a run along the beach. I thought, “Adam, you live in San Diego. You are:
- In the first quarter of your 30’s
- Fee as a bird
- Making leaps and bounds with personal development
Your situation is not that bad? In fact it’s pretty fucking good. As an example you are on your way for a run along the beach in Southern California in the winter. Are you crazy?
This brought be back to reality and while on my run I stopped, stood in the sand, and looked out at the water and said, “your life is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Appreciating the Now
So I started thinking about this whole “race to success” that I feel myself running in everyday. Pretty much everything I do is to get to that point. I wake up at 5 a.m. because I am committed to structuring my life in a productive way. Adopting the strategies of those people who are where I want to be. I map my macro nutrients and customize my diet to have a body like those who have bodies I want. I meditate everyday because I feel my mind is weak and I wish to make it stronger.
And these are all wonderful activities to adopt. I have fallen in love with them. But most of my focus is on future returns and future goals, rather than giving the present moment the respect and attention it deserves.
I realized this morning that I am in a shedding stage. Like a spider I am tossing aside an exoskeleton of defeatist mentalities and lazy actions. And let me tell you, that skin is thick, boy is it thick. But I have to come to realize that this is a once in a lifetime moment. Only once will I change from what I was to what I am becoming.
And that is something I don’t want to miss out experiencing. I am making these changes in my life because I am sick to death of missing out on the experiences that life has to offer. I’ve lived in a cognitive cave of sorts for half my life, too afraid to take chances, too afraid to fail, too afraid to come face to face with the fact that I’ve let my life atrophy.
I don’t want to reach the metrics I’ve set for success:
- My own home
- Profitable business I’m excited to work on
- Fantastic body
- An amazing fearless woman
- Circle of friends who support and inspire me
And realize that I was so focused on arriving in the future that I totally missed out on how I got there. I want to remember how it feels to listen to Tim Ferriss’s podcast, how excited I get to implement these tips from the best life hackers out there. How proud I feel when I complete a task I’ve told myself I will. I want to remember all these little victories.
This Won’t Be The Last Stage
Here is the thing with life. There is always a next stage. Can’t wait to turn 16? Well, once you do you can’t wait to turn 18. Then 21, then 25, then 30. And I think success based stages are ruled by the same universal law. What stage you want is all relative to the stage you find yourself in. Us humans are just wired like that.
When I get to the “next stage”, lets call it the “house and long term girlfriend” stage, I will be confronted with a whole new slew of challenges from mortgage, to frustrating neighbors, to having to (read “getting to”) live and sleep along side a entirely separate, and beautifully unique brain. This will be exiting and trying. It will also create an awareness of the next stage in my life. Perhaps that will be the “bigger home for child raising” stage.
If we can’t figure out how to set and reach for goals while simultaneously actively appreciating the present moment, we are destined to spend out lives waiting for the tomorrow that will never come.