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.
A most exceptional posting in a fantastic Blog. America is flooded with phony "Positivism" but you face your "failings" with bold honesty. The thing is, most people would love to claim ownership to such "failings." You are an exceptionally successful person. Maybe you don't make $20K per month yet, but you've had more genuine experience and achievement than most people have in ten lifetimes!
thanks for the honesty - baring one's soul like this in a blog is what, in my opinion, makes for a top blog.
am sure many will relate ....
One of your best posts... I also had an online gambling business that left me kind of cocky while my peers were busting their asses starting careers.
your blog is the only blog i read.
You will be successful. Its the people who are just content with life as it is and dont desire to be more and achieve more, those people wont be successful. its that hunger that will drive you to your goal.
I too want so much more myself.. there are so many aspects on my life i need to excel in. hopefully through time and hard work i will.
Do you need a partner in crime? aka someone to keep you motivated? Or maybe "mastermind group".
I know it's my circle of friends that keeps me pushing myself and living at my edge both in work and socially.
Our track has been very similar. Where you went with gambling, I went with the stock market in high school. Only in the past year have I made a change.
For me, a catalyst was understanding that knowledge is comprised of two parts: thinking and acting. And if I've never done it, then I don't actually have knowledge of it. It was a wakeup call for me to start acting more (and figuring out what my ambitions were to act toward), rather than thinking that I could just do all of these things I always thought I could do.
I just moved back to Austin after much traveling. I went on a 3 month RV road trip (roadtrip20.com). If you want to meet up for good conversation, let me know. You have my email address with this comment.
A burst of honesty here.
Great inspiring post as it made me think about my own life too.
Thanks for sharing :)
Hey buddy.. there is obviously much respect for you from your readers.
Great post, which I can definitely relate to. It seems like a lifetime ago when you stopped off for a nap on my couch on your way to Project Hollywood!
There's been a lot of chatter on the comments recently about me not following through, most of it deserved. Throughout my life one of my struggles has been to focus on one thing and follow it through. I used to be totally incapable of it, but over the years have gotten better. There are a lot of things that I have followed through with (my diet, writing this blog, etc.) as well as plenty that I haven't.
Once in a while I feel, for whatever reason, that I've conquered it, and I announce it to the world. While I'm on the topic of admitting faults, another is that I tend to prematurely announce things sometimes. As a reader, you already know that.
I understand your frustration when you read about something I say I'm going to do, get excited about seeing it happen, and then it falls off the radar. If it's any consolation, I'm acutely aware of these things and am similarly frustrated.
Some time ago I realized that if I want to make good things happen, I've got to start working hard. I'm about to graduate from college, and if I want to live the kind of life I've always wanted, I really have no choice but to work my ass off.
And so I did. Or at least I was trying my best.
I started writing this blog. I was spending 20+ hours a week at my part-time job. I revived my iPhone photography website. I was studying direct response marketing and copywriting. I spent more than an hour each day hand-copying successful sales letters. I was working out four times a week. I was doing all of that while being in my last semester of college. Most of my classmates are already freaked out, even if they aren't doing anything else.
It's probably not hard to see that my life was not exactly fun most of the time. My quality of life was suffering, and I was beginning to feel isolated from other people. Not good for an introvert. And my productivity was beginning to suffer.
More and more often I found myself mindlessly spending time on the internet. It's one of the things I really don't want to do, yet I was often wasting hours online. My motivation was getting worse and worse. I was still more productive than I'd have been a year ago, but it was obvious that I could do a lot more.