When I look at my surroundings I often feel a sense of solitude — not necessarily in a bad way, but not in a good way either. I’ve always been the sort of person who goes after what I believe in, despite the possibility of failure. To me, the worst outcome of all is knowing that you could have achieved something, but didn’t because you never tried. I meet many people who have hopes and dreams of doing great things. But while anyone can dream, very few actually accomplish what they initially set out to do.
There is a fundamental problem with our generation and the ones that came before it: All too often we are told to abide by the norm. We are influenced to think we are happy when in reality we might want more. We are conditioned to be content with average outcomes. Here are a few ways to help you break away from this conditioning.
Think Like Those You Admire
We all have heroes we look up to. So think about what they would do if they were in your position. Would they keep working that $40K-a-year job that shows no upsides for the future? Would they keep slaving away until 3 a.m. for a frustrating boss who takes credit for all of their work? What do you want from life? Is your goal to wake up and do the same mundane thing every single day? If you wish to achieve something great, the time to do it is now. The first step is to forget everything that is holding you back from accomplishing your dreams. It’s scary at first, but it will set you free.
Money should never be your main prerogative. Many of my friends are bankers or consultants pulling in $150,000+ by age 25, but they hate their lives. They burn their entire youth on these jobs, but by the time they realize it, they are already heading to business school and picking up another dull corporate stunt. They get married and have kids, and then it’s too late to find out what they truly love to do. Focus on finding your passion. If you love what you do, the money will come eventually and on your terms!
Many of us are scared to fail. We don’t believe we have what it takes to make things happen. Well, here is a mantra to live by: “Failure is just another opportunity to try again.” Some of the brightest minds in the world were massive failures before hitting it big, like Howard Shultz and Walt Disney. Embrace failure and you will find success soon after.
Forget Toxic Relationships
This is a big one, and it breaks down into two categories.
- Peers: Think of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Do you like what you see? Are they awesome people doing amazing things? Or are you hanging with a bunch of unmotivated degenerates? Typically, we are a product of these five people. If your friend circle isn’t a reflection of who you want to be, it may be time to find new friends.
- Relationships: So you’ve been in a 1-year+ relationship with someone. You aren’t quite sure this person is your lifelong partner, but you’re used to having them around and can’t imagine being single again. If after a couple of years you’re already having problems, then odds are you aren’t meant to be. My advice is to end it. Channel your newfound freedom into a passion. This will bring you happiness and fulfillment in ways that your current partner cannot.
We are creatures of comfort. It’s understandable to get comfortable with your surroundings, your monthly paycheck, vacations, etc. The problem is when we stop pushing ourselves to be the best we can possibly be. It sounds clichéd, but this is absolutely the worst possible thing you can do. When you’re comfortable, you stop achieving. You hit a plateau and you stagnate. When complacency prevails, enlightenment dissipates.
Forget the Word “No”
Say “yes” more. Saying yes will get you out of your bubble and living life the way it’s meant to be. You will meet new people and have new experiences. You never know where a new adventure will take you. Experience everything life has to offer.
Some say life is short; others live it as if they will be here forever. My theory is that life isn’t short per se, but it is definite. Of the 7 billion or so people on earth, very few will be here in 100 years. Rich or poor, the one thing we all have in common is an expiration date. I have made the conscious decision to live my life to its fullest potential. It’s up to you what you want to do with yours.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.