I had a smug outlook on life. I was twenty years old and other than my ineptitude with women, things were good. I had my own house and enough money that I never thought about whether or not I could afford something. I was making my money gambling, which I considered to be quite an achievement.
I felt like I was way ahead of everyone my age. And, for the most part, I was.
But then, as I coasted, the dot com thing happened and I missed it. I was too busy buying rims for my car and putting a movie theater in my house. While other people my age were really accomplishing things and making millions, I was a league down in a dying business.
And time has passed.
Now I'm not ahead of the game anymore. I'm behind it. I'm not old, but there are certainly a lot of younger people who have accomplished much bigger things. I watch videos on my computer of people younger than me speaking at TED. I should be speaking there, I think to myself.
The paradox is that I don't regret much. I love my life. I've done a lot of great things, I have a lot of amazing people in my life, and I've learned a ton. I have freedom. I'm not unhappy by any stretch of the imagination.
But I know I could do more. A lot more.
I don't lament that I'm not going to be president, because it's not a possibility for me. I've made choices which have excluded me from that track. Likewise I don't blame myself for not becoming a football player. I couldn't be one.
I do regret dropping the ball on things that would have gotten me places I want to be. I've been writing this blog for four years, yet it's not one of the top blogs. Why? It's not because I don't have as much good content as the top bloggers. It's not because they're better writers than me. It's simply because while they spent hours carefully crafting posts, networking, and writing guest posts, I was wasting time.
Ramit Sethi wrote that he spent eighteen hours making a blog post for another site. I've probably never spent more than two.
I could name a million opportunities which I could have knocked out of the park, but didn't. Tim Ferriss' agent asked for a copy of my book for publishing consideration. Did I stay up for twenty four hours poring over it, making sure it was absolutely breathtaking? Nope, I sent him what I had and went to lunch. I've had people interested in TV shows, major bloggers who have left doors open for me to guest post, and plenty of introductions to major players in the internet world. I didn't take advantage of any of these things.
Instead I carved out my own niche of peculiar mediocrity. I do amazing things and I do them with average vigor. I get to "good enough" and call it a day.
To make things worse, I'm fully aware of this. I watch myself make mistakes. This isn't the first post I've written on the subject, but not much has changed since the last one.
The problem is that I'm running out of time. The longer I stubbornly refuse to play like a champion, the hard it is to instill that habit in myself. I would tell someone else in my shoes, "If you don't do it now, you'll never do it. Start now."
I'm writing this mainly as a self serving post to inspire myself; to put my faults out in public so that they're harder for me to ignore privately. I wouldn't beat myself up if I didn't think I could reach my goals, but it's a simple fact that I can reach them and am not doing what it takes to get there.
I'm writing also to temper my inclination to slide into "guru mode". I need to remind myself that having a lot of things figured out isn't the same as having everything figured out.
What am I doing about it? I'm keeping the answer to myself until it's successful. I'd rather share proven winners than speculation. It's easy to announce grand plans and feel that rush of false accomplishment. It's better to privately execute and then share.