How to stop living for someone else and start living for yourself. This was something I was struggling with. So I jumped on a call with my friends Dave Ursillo and Jakob Sokol.
I was having a hard time explaining to those closest to me why quitting my job, leaving a comfy salary, and selling my car was the best thing for me.
I laugh as I write this because as I read it to myself self I can’t help but think….
“What a tough sell.”
The fastest way to stress, anxiety, and unhappiness is by comparing yourself to others. Or by trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Making decisions and living your life based on the opinions of what others consider to be good and bad.
I use to get caught in this trap all of the time. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t but I’m starting to get pretty clear on the things that matter most to me.
Table of Contents
LIVING FOR YOURSELF: SEEKING THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS
I went to school to earn a Bachelors’s and Master’s degree. I’m proud of the accomplishment but in my opinion, our educational system does a really good job of teaching you how to work for someone else. Not how to work for yourself.
How many times have you heard, “get good grades so you can get a good job?”
Not once have I ever heard get good grades so you can create your own job.
When I came out of the womb (is that too much info) I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and work for myself. If I was smart I would have found a mentor at an early age and got busy creating.
I say YES 90% of the time. I say yes to everything. I’m not even sure I know how to say NO (does that count?). Half of the time after saying yes I think to myself, “What the hell did I say that for?”
The other half of the time I realize I’m already committed to something else and am left with more than I can handle, some extra stress I don’t particularly care to have, and I end up either letting someone else down because I can’t follow through with my commitment to them, or myself down because I do a piss poor job due to the disease I have just created for myself known as #Tomuchontheplateisitis.
Maybe you don’t seek the approval of others. But you’re trying to keep up with Joneses by comparing yourself to others.
- My friend lost so much weight on this diet, why can’t I?
- So and so has a great job, a beautiful family, why can’t I?
- This person or that person has it all figured out. How come I’m struggling so much?
However, it’s important to remember that you only get a small snippet of other’s lives. You see the show that’s on the stage, you miss the behind the scenes.
Everyone has their own personal struggles, weaknesses, and comparisons that they make. For example, take a look at the following.
Gates didn’t seem like a shoo-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies, and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.
In his early years, Darwin gave up on having a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.” Perhaps they judged too soon, as Darwin today is well-known for his scientific studies.
In his early years, teachers told Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
Just about everybody knows who Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze, and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.
Everyone has their owns struggles, weaknesses, and demons to fight. Those that come out winners stay true to who they are and their beliefs.
LIVING FOR YOURSELF COMES WITH DIFFICULTIES
There is nothing wrong with wanting to please people. It’s just important to make sure that it’s aligned with what is most important to you.
This can lead to some problems. The people you care about most and whose opinions you respect might be making it difficult for you to pursue that which is most important to you.
It’s important to remember that to be safe and secure is ingrained in us. It goes back to our days as cavemen and women. The first priority was to stay alive. Avoid predators, find food and shelter, and find a decent looking mate so that we could keep the bloodlines going.
They care because they’re more concerned with your safety than happiness.
I’ve personally ruined relationships by arguing back and forth about how life should be lived. As I’ve gotten older and I like to think wiser (this is up for debate). I’ve been able to come up with better ways to keep those most important to be apart of my life while still pursuing a life that creates the most happiness for myself even if it goes against the majority opinion.
1. Spin it and just say thanks
When someone close to me voices their opinion or concern for decisions I may be making I just say thank you. I thank them for loving me enough to concern themselves with my safety and well-being. Next, I explain that these decisions are being made because I want to create the happiest and most enjoyable life for myself.
I like to tell them that the best me for you is this.
2. Actions speak louder than words
Don’t just pitch your dreams to someone, live them. Prove that it is possible to do things a little differently than most and still be safe and secure in the long run even if that means sacrificing some of that right now.
A few of those crazies above did it.
Think of yourself as a quiet leader. While this post is about making decisions that are most important to you it is still important to keep others in mind.
How can you give back to this world? It’s given you so much. What unique talents, what strengths, what can you give of yourself to help make the lives of others better?
Sometimes we’re stuck in situations that are uncomfortable for us or that might not make us happy. Many struggle with their career and not having a passion for it.
Uncover ways to contribute positively to your current situation. Not only do the work but to the people you work with. Try your best to create a human environment and less of a cooperate environment.
LIVING FOR YOURSELF: THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE IS A LONG TERM INVESTMENT
I love this equation.
Consistent + Persistent + Patient + Practice = Your vision
Your vision is a collection of your values. The way you want to live and give.
If you need help figuring out your values, here is a list that might help you to clarify what they are. The LIST
Ok, so this is an important step. Most of us want freedom, joy, passion, and other buzzwords that come up when you think about your virtues. However, most of us don’t take the time to define what they actually are.
If you want freedom in your life what does freedom look like? What does it feel like? How do you achieve it? It’s important to define what your values mean to you. Create an emotional attachment to them.
Get Busy Living
This is a trick I got from the lovely Jenny Blake.
I want you to create a value chain for your virtues. To do that you just need to think about the virtue and what it means to you. What does it look like, feel like, smell like, and why is it important to you? Check out one of my virtues below for an example.
Learning, education, sharing knowledge with others, developing theories, participating in personal growth, reading, experiencing new things, and challenging the mind.
Now take each of your ten virtues and the value chain you created for them and write a brief paragraph about each one. My example is below.
To challenge me to learn new things through reading and experience. Take the things I learn and put it into action. To take my personal experiences and learning and share it with others so that they can participate as well.
Make your virtues real by visually seeing them on a daily basis. Create a vision board, use Pinterest, or find other ways to make your virtues come to life. Find pictures, cut out words, or use objects that represent the true meaning of each virtue to you. Spend time looking at your creations each day.
THE HARD PART
Living for yourself is a balancing act. Too much living for yourself and you’re a selfish dick. Too little and you’re a miserable crump.
Those virtues you described above. Live them.