Why don't we reach for more?

You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them. -Michael Jordan


8 minute read

What is stopping you from accomplishing your next goal?

I have been on a big podcast kick over the last few months. I’m typically someone that likes to listen to music each day, but after taking a deep-dive into the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early - I’ll probably have a much longer post on that in the future, but for the time if you would like to know more check out Mr. Money Mustache, The Mad Fientist, or Choose FI) and minimalism world it’s hard to even want to listen to music. I have started to look at my commute time as this precious limited resource I have - there is only so much time during the day that I can spend listening/learning.

A few of the recent podcasts I have listened to have some similar themes: some person gets hyper-obsessed about their health, finances, some hobby, etc. Why does it seem like these stories always sound so familiar? Well, it’s because the pattern works. The people that get things done in life really want it.

Okay, now hear me out, because I’m sure some of you are thinking “well, that’s obvious… anyone that practices long enough or works hard enough can accomplish difficult things - that’s what successful people do”.

If we know this then why don’t we work hard like these other people? What is stopping you from finishing the goals you previously gave up on? Why aren’t you being motivated to do something different? Is the work just not worth the effort?

Finding motivation

Maybe some of you feel like you just need to find the right motivation; “the right motivation will help me reach my goal!” Maybe some of you feel like you’re just “not that motivated of a person”. So maybe the answer is motivation - and finding that motivating factor will help us work harder or be better. A lot of people have asked me why I have been so motivated recently. I can’t give one specific reason for that - it has been a combination of podcasts, life stories, and a lot of self-reflection.

One podcast episode I have really enjoyed is about David Goggins, known as the hardest human alive. David has achieved incredible successes in his life despite the challenges he faced in his past. I would highly recommend you give it a listen - but warning to anyone offended by offensive language - there is a lot of it.

Here are a few brief section from this podcast (starting at around minute 36):

Everybody can go online and read all these creeds and what dedication means… they weren’t words to me… It’s much deeper than that… People don’t know how to do it because people don’t truly WANT to do it. That’s why people say,

“Hey… Goggins how did you do this and how did you lose 100 pounds in 60 days?”

Well - [if] you’re asking me how, you’re wasting your [explicit] time… When I sat back and said I wanted it, it had to be a true want

So maybe a lot of you are saying “But I DO really want to (insert lofty goal here)”

I really wanna lose 3 pounds

If you haven’t started moving towards that goal (and let’s be honest with ourselves here - don’t lie to yourself and say the 3 days you stopped eating pizza was progress towards a weight goal) then something fundamental needs to change.

Motivation is crap?

Motivation is crap. Motivation comes and goes. If I motivate you right now to go run 100 miles or to run 2 miles and it’s 20 degrees out in Chicago you may open your [explicit] door and say it’s [explicit] cold and go back inside. A person that’s driven - you will open the door and say “I’m putting gloves on because I gotta get my run in.” So once you change your mind to believe that “I need to be driven”, but what the [explicit] drives you, only you can answer that… and what drove me was “I’m gonna become better than what the hell I am today.” Some people don’t know what it is that drives them but you gotta go on that journey first.

“What’s gonna make me be the best?”

What is going to make you the best? What is going to make you say “I HAVE to do this. I WILL make myself work towards this no matter what”? The only person that can make that decision is you.

The greatness of failure

I think one of the biggest strengths of David Goggins is that he is not afraid of failure. This allows for two things:

  1. Every time he fails he is able to learn, grow, and become better
  2. He is okay giving himself nearly impossible goals that normal people are hesitant to commit to

As my friend Taze said, “succeeding sometimes on the ‘impossible’ is a hell of a lot more impressive than succeeding always on easy.”

David prioritized what he wanted and didn’t let anything get between him and that. At the end of the day the real question you have to ask is “am I willing to put in the sacrifice to reach the outcome that I want”?

So you say you really want it

Everyone wants to be fit, everyone wants to be financially secure, everyone wants some great outcome, but most stop trying to reach these goals because they don’t want to give up the comfortable things that they have. They want nice cars, big houses, and expensive toys because they have the money in their bank accounts (or, even worse, they don’t have the money and decide to go in debt). Don’t get me wrong, I am all for getting things for yourself at times, but how many people are willing to stop eating out, impulse shopping, or sleeping in on their days off? Most of us normal people only want the outcome of these lofty goals. The methods to reach our goals are where people lose their drive. We start a goal on new year’s because new year, new me! Then within a few weeks we are back to the same routines we followed before because those things are what we know.

It’s easy to live the life where we go to work until 5, watch Netflix/YouTube for a few hours, and spend our paychecks on pointless things from Target that we can somehow never quantify but always magically add up to nearly what we have left in our bank account. It’s what every other person around us is doing; it’s the comfortable and simple way to live life.

We see those successful people who became obsessed with their goals and we tell ourselves “oh… well… it must be nice being able to dedicate that much time to working out, but it just doesn’t work for me like that… So I’m not going to try.” Or “sure they were able to get out of debt and become financially independent, but they didn’t have some of the bills I had.” These are just excuses we are giving ourselves so we don’t have to be accountable to the fact that we failed at something.

Finding the time

One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we are too busy to do something - as if being busy is a good thing. Sure, there are “good” things we can spend our time on, but there are a lot of useless things that we try to tell ourselves are important. We often prioritize these things instead of focusing on tasks that will help us reach our future goals:

  • Running errands
  • Checking your email constantly
  • Scrolling mindlessly on your phone
  • Meetings at work that get nothing accomplished
  • Meaningless office chat
  • Staying up-to-date on pop culture or TV shows

Now maybe some of you are reading that list and thinking, “Okay, really? I’m not doing any of those things. My time is being spent on work, raising my family, and staying alive - I don’t have time for anything else.” If this is the case, I’m sorry you don’t feel like you have any flexibility, but I bet you can find some way to at least optimize your schedule to give yourself some more time.

Whoever you are and whatever challenges you face towards time management: I would challenge you to do something for a week: get a small notebook or journal and document what you do EVERY 30 MINUTES. Be honest with yourself and don’t be ashamed to put things on there that you don’t like seeing. This list is just for you so you can take a more transparent look at your life. I think you will be surprised to see where your time goes every day.

So: take a look at that list and see if it aligns with what you want out of life. Is 8 hours of Netflix a week helping you take steps towards traveling the world or buying your dream home? If it doesn’t, maybe it’s time to make a few changes. I know I can make some.

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