Admittedly, I’m three weeks late to the party. I’m sure many, if not most of you, are cruising along in whatever resolutions you made for the new year.
You’ve seemingly overridden every primal instinct written into your genetic code and for the past three weeks you’re getting that oh so good dopamine high usually reserved for late night ice cream from a pile of spinach leaves.
You’ve tricked your limbic system into getting a reward from being nice to your dick of a boss that you’ve loathed for the past five years.
And some of you are even trying to see the good side in the relationship that had it not just struck the first of January you’d be out of faster than the ball drops in New York City.
Thing is, however, I just don’t care about resolutions for the New Year. Don’t get me wrong, I value and applaud those individuals who are trying to get in better shape or attempting to improve themselves as individuals. I just personally think that those who need the calendar to turn over to start on self improvement suffer from something much worse than too much unsightly adipose tissue or a temperament so pessimistic that it makes House look cherry.
The real problem lies in your ethos. Intrinsic desire for self-improvement isn’t your prime mover. Everyone else is starting to go to the gym or work on themselves so now you must start as well. You seek external validation for your efforts from others and use the turning over of the calendar as your principle impetus.
As my disdain for resolutions, or temporary fixes, has become readily apparent I will leave you with 5 strategies to permanent self improvement that far transcends mediocre resolutions that are only targeted for temporary change in the New Year.
1) Start to walk unapologetically through life for who you are.
To put it as bluntly as possible, if someone doesn’t like you or share your vision, fuck em. Because at the end of the day, you’ll start to believe in yourself and that’s all that really matters.
So often in our lives, we wonder, “Oh, what does Rob or Sarah think of me? Do you think they like me or approve of how I live my life?”
Stop caring. Solely concern yourself with who you really are and developing that self as best as you can. In an earlier piece, I discussed what I believe is special about an alpha male and it is not that they were fortunate enough to hit the genetic lottery in terms of their adolescent testosterone levels.
It stems from the alpha’s “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. They are who they are and if you don’t like it, they don’t really care. Ironically, you seem to gravitate to these individuals more because of this seemingly undaunted approach to life.
If you don’t already, begin to develop a complete belief in your sense of self. We each have a vision for our lives, an arc to the narrative of our own hero’s journey that we want to experience. The quest is seemingly never undertaken, however, because we are afraid of what others think of our ambitions and who we are as a consequence of our actions.
No, I am not urging to you to become a seemingly self-centered egotistical douche who solely cares about himself, but I certainly want you to become more selfish. How can you expect to impact others and change the world when you haven’t even spent the time to cultivate and develop your own “true” self?
Become your unabashed self, the captain of your ship, the hero in your own personal narrative, and others will follow. I promise you.
2) Fail going 100%
“Don’t be afraid to fail. Anything I’ve ever attempted, I was always willing to fail. You can’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself. You keep pushing because you believe in yourself and in your vision and you know that it is the right thing to do, and success will come. So don’t be afraid to fail.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
If we fail going anything but 100%, we always have an out.
For the rest of your life, you will always be able to tell yourself “Oh, if I have would have worked a bit harder or studied a little more,” I could have been a college athlete or a doctoral student or whatever other passion in life drove you.
Contrast that with the individual who heeds my advice and fails going 100%. What out or ego boosting tale does he have left? To be truthful, none and some can’t take that humbling reality that their best effort wasn’t good enough.
It’s a humbling, difficult reality if you fail going 100%. In the moment, it will sting and it will hurt like hell but what pill will be easier to swallow when you reflect upon your life?
I can guarantee you that at the end of the day, no one wishes they were a little more talented or were blessed with better genetics. At it’s heart, that’s attempting to control the uncontrollables and by the time you reach old age, you’ve garnered enough wisdom to know that it is better left to the youngins.
The only regrets you will be left with are those in which you could have controlled.
I could have worked a little harder. I could have studied more. I could have given more of myself in a relationship.
Whatever the case may be, you will have regrets if you fail going anything but 100%. The fear of failure will always lie deep in our hearts no matter who you are. That’s ok. Learn to embrace it and channel this powerful emotion in order to spurn yourself to accomplish greatness in your life
3) Start caring more
“Someone once told me that the power in all relationships lies with whoever cares less, and he was right” – Connor Mead (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past)
Life is one big power dynamic. If you haven’t learned this already, then you will learn it quickly and it’ll probably involve you getting hurt or burned in some capacity because in essence you had no power in whatever situation you were involved in.
At this point, you must wondering, “If power is everything, and the quote above says to care less in order to have that power, why in god’s name am advising you to care more?”
Good question. I’ll start with being completely honest with you, in that my experiences and conversations that I have had with countless individuals has confirmed my belief that this utterance by a fictional character is a 100% spot on appraisal of human nature.
But power isn’t everything and there’s a second half to that quote that I believe is worth mentioning,
“But power isn’t happiness, and I think that maybe happiness comes from caring more about people rather than less.”
To put it humbly, I just broke down the dynamic of human relationships using two quotes from yes a legendary character but from a very sub par movie.
Is it really that easy? Can all human interaction be surmised by Connor Mead?
I don’t believe so because I think the dynamic to put it bluntly is all fucked up.
Let’s break down the two scenarios shall we:
Care less and inevitably have more power and probably get what you want but be a miserable self-centered individual consumed by maintaining “hand.”
Or care more, definitely have less power, and almost certainly get less of what you want but assuredly you’ll be happier by your apathetic stance on maintaining “hand.”
Thank evolutionary psychology and sexual selection for that whammy of a paradox. Being human is supposed to be difficult right?
What’s my answer?
Well I really have no answer. Endless hours of conversation with great friends has only spurned more seemingly unanswerable questions on how to have power and be truly happy at the same time. Happiness, by which I should add, that doesn’t exist simply because of greater power.
I think like all things in life, balance is key. What you choose to do with this pearl of wisdom from Connor is out of my hands and lies with what you value you more in life. It’s a question you definitely should ask yourself, however.
From the title of this section, you already have my proposed solution. My only cautionary piece of advice is don’t use my suggestion as a green light to be a supplicating beta to the masses.
Be a man. Always be a man. And yes, do see the movie.
4) Become a yes I can person
“There are two kinds of people: those who think they can, and those who think they can’t, and they’re both right” – Henry Ford
You must believe in yourself. I can’t overemphasize this enough. If you come to learn one thing in life, it is that no matter what cards you are dealt, despite whatever adversity you face, you MUST maintain the utmost, even borderline irrational, self-confidence in yourself.
Growing up, everyone’s always telling you to be humble. You are told that it’s a crime to boast about your abilities and it’s best to downplay your accomplishments when there’s mention of them.
Well, I’m here to tell you today that it’s time that you and humble part ways. Look, I’m the last person that can tolerate overabundant cockiness in people. It’s annoying, borderline intolerable, and I probably won’t like you.
I would caution you to not be that guy but I’ve come to find out one common trait amongst individuals who simply get it done in facets of life and those who do not.
Those who seem to accomplish anything they set out to do have the utmost confidence in themselves and often times it permeates itself as cockiness.
On the other hand, the individuals who may just be as talented but always seem to fail or come up short, don’t maintain this swagger of arrogance to them. They need to constantly be reassured that they’re talented or that they played well. They go fishing often and early for compliments for mini boosts to their self esteem.
How they feel about themselves is predicated on what others think about their talent, performance, or potential. Contrast this with our cocky “asshole” and there’s a clear difference. Even if our guy isn’t the best, there’s always a belief, quiet or obnoxious, that he is. There’s no fishing and there’s definitely no second-guessing themselves.
What is your ultimate pursuit in life? Is it greatness or is it to toil in the obscurity of mediocrity? Either road is ok, as the road to greatness is not one for the faint of heart while it’s pretty damn easy to be mediocre.
If it’s greatness you want, as an individual you must make a choice. You must ask yourself from this day forward, what is going to be my conception of self?
Will I continue to be humble and downplay my abilities both to myself and to others? If so, be content in more than likely not accomplishing what you want in life because if you don’t have the utmost confidence in yourself, then I can assure you that no one else will.
Individuals without confidence are realistic. There are goals and pursuits that are out of their reach because they start out with the premise that there’s no way they can accomplish it. When pressed on why, they respond, “I’m just being realistic.” I know because I’ve been there before.
Fortunately there’s another road. The road of complete, resolute confidence in who you are as an individual. If you must develop irrational self-confidence in yourself in order to accomplish your grand pursuits, so be it.
It won’t be easy or comfortable. People don’t like confident, even cocky, individuals because they come to realize their own securities through their judgment. Fuck em. Those who set out and end up accomplishing greatness in their lives, don’t concern themselves with what others think of them.
Attack each day with the mindset that you own it. If greatness is on your mind, there’s no more time be humble. Believe in yourself and go out and take what’s yours.
Wolves don’t worry about the opinions of sheep. Be a wolf for a day and notice the difference.
5) Fake it till you become it
What I’ve proposed isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.
Personal transformative development doesn’t happen overnight and there’s certainly no pill you can take that will allow you to magically become the person you desire.
So how do we get from where we are to where we want to be?
Well, first it starts with a vision. To steal a line from Arnold, who do you want to be, not what, but who?
Write it down. Recite it to yourself when you wake in the morning and before you go to sleep. Prime your subconscious with these thoughts of who you will become.
Acknowledge your fear. When you try and undergo personal transformation, you will be afraid because you will be doing stuff that is out of your comfort zone. Start to become comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s the only way we are going to grow as individuals. Allow the power of fear to be used, as energy that propels you forward, not inhibits, in the pursuit of your goals. When you’re afraid, then you know that you must go forward.
Last and most important, as Amy Cuddy say, “fake it till you become it.”
The plasticity of our minds is a beautiful thing. Condition it with repeated thoughts and actions and soon your brain is going to become what is habitual.
Not confident? Exaggerate. Start to walk through life with irrational, over the top belief in yourself. Who cares that right now that’s not how you really feel. Eventually, with enough conditioning, it’ll become second nature.
Begin to consciously disregard what other people think of you. When you feel uncomfortable or know that someone is judging you, remind yourself that you don’t care. It is through the conscious development of this mindset, which will allow you to start walking unapologetically through life.
You will become what you repeatedly do.
I acknowledge that what I’m asking you to do isn’t easy and quite frankly I don’t really care. I don’t want you to become like everyone else. There are enough sheep in this world.
I desire greatness for you and I am confident if you honestly assess where you are at and attack what I have written with reckless abandonment, you will get there.
It may be a year from now or even ten but greatness is simply little thing done well continually stacked on top of each other.
Make a conscious choice to start changing your life for the better today. Pursue something in the New Year that transcends getting in better shape or “becoming a better person” whatever the hell that means.
Change the world. Do something special. And when someone tells you that you can’t, laugh it off with a smile, a confident grin, because you know deep down that you believe you will and that’s all that matters in this life.