Look, you’re probably not going to be a millionaire or own fancy yachts or travel the world without having to lift a finger to work.
This post isn’t about that. It is, however, about achieving extraordinary success for you.
Let’s look at the word extraordinary. It simply means going above what’s normal. So what is normal? It depends on who you ask.
For me, normal is a life where you don’t push yourself outside of your comfort zone. It’s when you do what you’re supposed to do and what you think you’re qualified to do instead of what you want to do. Normal is letting the inner-critic win a shouting match against the whisper of your dreams.
Your dreams are important — not the pie in the sky ones like being rich, but the ones grounded in reality like starting a business or writing a book — and if you forgo your dreams for a normal life you’ll get normal results.
Here’s the thing, though. There’s nothing wrong with normal if that’s what you want.
I don’t want it. I never wanted it. I suspect a lot of other people don’t want it either, which is why I write click-bait headlines to get you to read my real message.
These are the mindsets I’ve learned, adopted, and used to write multiple books, start income generating projects, and do a bunch of other things I used to wonder and wish about but never act on.
Have you ever thought something was going to be difficult, only to find it wasn’t nearly as difficult you thought it’d be after you completed it?
I’ve had that experience many times. I had it when I finished my first book. There was a time I thought I was incapable of writing one. I’ve had it with inconsequential experiences in my youth like getting a girlfriend who I felt was out of my league.
You have experiences like this, too, which proves how much you underestimate yourself. You can use past experiences to your advantage to push yourself outside your comfort zone over and over again.
Here’s the recipe I use. I try something challenging, complete it, and recall how much easier it was than I thought it’d be — and these challenges don’t have to be easy, just easier than you thought they’d be. Then, I remind myself of this feeling each time I try something even more difficult.
I’ve come to realize I have no idea what I’m capable of. I embrace this and continue to try new things. I’ve gotten rid of goals for the most part because even those put a mental cap on what you can do.
I experiment over and over again, never knowing or even quite caring how high I’ll go.
Enjoy the process and don’t let perceived limitations hold you back.
I’m disorganized. I’m not very productive. I can be lazy. I’m a chronic procrastinator.
Yet I write about all of these topics and people perceive me to be the opposite of how I actually am.
How can this be?
Well, there’s one sub-set of activities I participate in where I’m very productive, not lazy at all, can organize myself enough to get things done, and push myself to ship new projects.
This sub-set includes writing, marketing, public speaking, and learning about psychology. I enjoy these subjects, so they’re not that hard to focus on.
I ignore pretty much everything else.
You’re not going to be a master in every area of your life and you’re most certainly not going to be perfect. You don’t have to do everything well to be extraordinary. It’s also hard to be world-class at one skill. If you do a few things well and build a talent stack, you can become one of the best in the world at the intersection.
If you avoid doing things you suck at, you’ll be happier and more productive.
We’ve built a culture around improving our deficiencies and inadequacies. People are concerned about what they lack, not realizing they have a few areas where they’re capable of getting great results.
Don’t wait for the zeitgeist to catch up. Choose the right habits to adopt and bring just enough discipline to establish them.
You are never stagnant in life. You’re always doing something to shift the compass to a different version of the future — mainly making decisions.
Each time you make a new decision you create a cause that has an effect. Eat a cheeseburger, get fatter. Eat chicken breast and vegetables, get healthier. Read a book, get smarter. Watch the news, get sadder and angrier.
When you think of your decisions as either deposits or withdraws to the bank of your future, you start to make better ones.
We know this intuitively, but we don’t live that way. Life feels stagnant from time to time — you go to the same job, watch the same shows, go do the pre-approved list of fun tasks on the weekend — but it’s noticing the nuance in your direction that helps you change.
Better put, your life is a combination of the minuscule and rote. There aren’t many grandiose moments. Even if you do succeed, it’s because of repetition.
When I don’t want to push myself on certain days, I focus on moving forward.
This means I don’t have to make any extraordinary effort. I just don’t want to go backward.
Do something to make your future a little better then congratulate yourself for doing it. This is how you build habits. Simple.
You don’t have to work 14 hour days. I’m not Gary Vaynerchuk and you don’t have to “crush it!”
You do, however, have to give your goals, dreams, and projects a disproportionate amount of time. And you have to sacrifice some stuff you like.
You don’t have to stop watching Netflix, but you’ll probably have to watch less of it. You don’t have to be sleep deprived, but you might have to wake up earlier to fit projects into a busy schedule.
You can’t have the mythical “work-life balance,” they talk about on LinkedIn.
The common excuse is, “But my family and friends… they need me! I can’t work all the time.”
Look, let’s be honest with each other. You probably spend a lot of time doing bullshit. I do, too, sometimes. I’d bet my life savings you can carve out some extra time in your life for priorities and that it won’t cost you all of your relationships.
It’s as simple as waking up an hour or two earlier than normal to focus, or an hour after dinner, or on a Saturday every other weekend, or something, anything.
And the idea of becoming a martyr to save your personal relationship is counterproductive.
If your health, wealth, and purpose aren’t in great shape, there will be fallout in your relationships anyway. Marriages end over money. Health affects careers and business. People who are stuck in life are less present even when they’re around people.
You don’t want to turn into Al Bundy. Make time for your priorities so you’re a positive influence on everyone around you.
There’s one big downfall to overcome if you want to be different, stand out from the crowd, and be extraordinary.
You won’t be like other people — most people. Without malice, it’s safe to say most people rarely push themselves outside their comfort zone. Most people subscribe to conventional wisdom, believe narratives that don’t seem to match the reality of a self-actualized person, and have a tendency to complain.
I don’t know if any of these traits are bad. I don’t believe in the objective forms of good or bad. I observe causes and effects.
If you want different results than most people… you’re going to have to be different and you’re going to have to be okay with that.
Much of what you see around you won’t make sense. Maybe it will even frustrate you. But it’s not your job to tell the rest of the world how to live their lives. Neither is mine, really.
I used to think everyone had to follow their dreams. Now I realize that was naive and that people can live perfectly fine and normal lives without being extraordinary.
I also realize there’s a strength in being naive. You have to be a little naive to contradict the evidence presented by the vast majority of people, situations, and examples. You have to be naive to think you’re the one who’s going to make it big.
I like to flip words from negative to positive. To me, a little naivete is optimism. Odd is unique. Devil’s advocate is often right. Delusion is useful imagination. Risky is an open playing field.
When you’re on the road less traveled, some people might say you’re dumb for doing it. As a general rule, I don’t try something if I don’t feel a little dumb about it. This is the uncommon way to an uncommon life.
When you ask yourself about how you want to live, where you want to go, and what you want to achieve, do the questions come from a place of opportunity or limitation?
Do you ask yourself what you can do to just get by on your bills, or do you ask yourself what you can do to live a life of financial freedom in which you don’t even have to worry about your bills anymore?
Do you ask yourself how you can stop being shy or do you ask yourself how you can start being more confident?
Do you frame the questions you have about yourself and the future in a positive or negative way?
You can take the same objective and vague goal and drastically shift your narrative by making subtle changes. What you focus on and the way you focus on it attracts the results you get.
Great questions lead to great answers. I frame all my questions in a way that helps me become the person I aspire to be instead of framing them in a way that focuses on avoiding who I don’t want to be.
How do you frame your questions? Think about it and start framing them the best way possible.
Read that sentence over and over until it truly sinks into your brain.
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Originally published at medium.com