10 Ways You’re Making Your Life More Difficult Than it Has to be
Does it ever seem strenuous simply to exist?
Do you feel like you live in an over-stimulated whirlwind?
Job, errands, friends, life-path, hobbies, news, social media, Netflix. Lotta inputs there. It’s strange that, in times of relative abundance and material wealth, we seem to be more stressed-out than ever.
Our ancestors, who’s brains we still have, spent their time ‘straight chillin’ — a little hunting and foraging, otherwise grunting and relaxing by the fire.
Granted, they randomly got eaten a lot. Good ol’ tradeoffs. But still, is there a way you can remove stress from your life, get back to your ancestral roots, and chill the heck out? Sure.
Stop making your life harder than it has to be. Human beings are addicted to difficulty. We equate difficulty with quality — a horrible equation.
You can get what you want from this life without over-stressing yourself, trying harder than necessary, and walking around like a neurotic ball of energy 24/7.
How? Well, keep reading my friend.
You Take the Entire Weight of the World on Your Shoulders
Look, the movements in America are going to take time. There are designated dates for elections. You can civically participate, fight for your rights and the rights of others, while avoiding mentally exhausting yourself.
If we’re going to make a change in this society, we can’t all burn ourselves out on outrage. We can’t sprint our way through a marathon.
I bash on politics and the news a lot, but I do realize many of you out there do care. It bothers you to see an unequal society, injustices, and straight-up tragedies in the world because you’re a good person. I get it.
But carrying the weight of a pandemic, geopolitics, race relations, and the fight against the entire system squarely on your shoulders will keep you in a loop of anxiety and kill your productivity.
Why should you be productive right now? Because you’ll be able to help others more if you take care of yourself. Put your mask on when the cabin pressure rises before you put a mask on others in the plane.
It’s clear that the polarization of our politics isn’t going to end in November, or anytime in the foreseeable future. Taking on the weight of it all, constantly, for years on end, is just not a solid recipe for your mental health.
You Think You Can Read Minds
Think of how many times you play a mental movie in your head about the future, especially interactions with other people.
You’re worried about asking your boss for a raise and picture them shutting you down.
You’re afraid to talk to that person you’re attracted to because they’ll laugh in your face.
You want to reach out to an influencer in your field but you just know that they’ll think your an insignificant little twerp who’s wasting their time and sucking their energy.
Often, if you get the chance to follow through with these imagined scenarios, you realize they were orders of magnitude easier than you anticipated.
I remember once, back when I had a job, I asked my boss for a $10,000 raise. I was scared shitless. I’d rehearsed my pitch over and over again, hoping to get it just right — assertive enough to get the raise, but not so aggressive that I’d turn him off.
Initially shaking a bit, I got through my pitch. My boss was essentially like, “Ok, sounds good.” In a nonchalant voice. All that worry, for nothing.
I quit my job a few months longer than I should’ve because I was terrified of being on my own. After about a week of not having a job, I knew I’d never have a job again and was confident in my future.
As the kids like to say, “Shoot your shot.” You never know what will happen. And often, situations can work out in your favor.
You Overestimate This
The other day, some dishes had piled up in my sink. I looked at them. Ugh. Didn’t want to wash them. I spent ten to fifteen minutes meandering about the house having a debate in my head about whether or not I should do the dishes right then — the amount of time it would’ve taken to wash the dishes.
I went ahead and washed them. Before I knew it, I was done. Then, I had a video to shoot for my new Youtube channel. Didn’t want to do that either. But this time, instead of having the debate in my head, I broke out the camera and shot a quick ten minutes video. Done. Next thing you know, with the accumulated momentum, I cleaned my entire apartment. Boom.
This attitude can be used from tasks to build your life path to small annoying errands. Stop having the debate in your head, do the thing, and all of a sudden it will be done.
Hesistation creates anxiety. In all situations, you think hesitating is going to give you some magical mental bandwidth to prepare you to do something, but it has the opposite effect. You’ve been in these loops of procrastination before.
Sometimes, the best move is to just dive in. My business coach has a name for this — riffing. You’re just like, ok. And you go. Next thing you know you’re done and feel great.
A reader also had a great moniker for this — fuck-it-ing. You just say, “fuck it let’s do it.” Then you get it done.
You Make This Mistake When Thinking About Future Goals
Most long-term goals aren’t hard at all. They are time-consuming.
Take becoming a successful writer. People think I have some magic trick that has helped me become a full-time writer. My trick? I wrote every day for five years.
Fresh off a divorce, I wanted to get that revenge body. I knew it would take about a year. I dropped 50 pounds in the span of a year, at the normal rate of a pound per week, and I knew I wouldn’t quit from the first workout.
Why? Because I’ve been through a long-term ‘self-improvement arc’ before. Once you go through one of those arcs, you can do it over and over again.
The key here — understand that the first 20 percent of the journey accounts for 80 percent of the progress. When you’re building out a new project, business, career, whatever, the first part is equivalent to first going to the gym — you’re muscles are sore, you see no progress in the mirror, and you have to drag yourself to go. But after a while, you get used to it and enjoy it.
Get 90 days, then 6 months, then a year under your belt. Next thing you know, five years will have passed and you’ll reach an elite level at your skill.
You Want This Too Much
You want to feel good and feel good about yourself at all times.
Once I came to the realization that I didn’t have to be firing on all cylinders to get things done, I got more done. I started “riffing” more.
This is an analogy that extends further beyond menial tasks. We basically play this game in life where we value our short term emotions over our long-term goals and we keep making this trade over and over again.
You want the ultimate confidence to descend upon your soul before you start the big life-path-journey-passionate-fairytale-dream-#lifegoals-adventure.
You think that confidence and self-esteem precede the work when the opposite is true. At first, you have whatever base-level confidence you’ve been gifted as a human being. Also, confidence is context-dependent — meaning you feel it more in certain scenarios, situations, and environments than others.
Often, when you’re just starting out with a new life path, skill, hobby, side business, dream, whatever, your confidence is very low. Why? Because you don’t know what you’re doing. Why would your confidence be high at something you don’t know how to do or have no experience in?
This speaks to an earlier point. You can’t picture yourself in the future with a higher level of confidence because you aren’t that person yet. Just trust that the future version of you will be better and take your lumps to get there.
I didn’t try to write a book the first time I wrote something. I wrote one blog post. Becoming a best selling author wasn’t even a part of my reality when I started writing. Rightfully so.
People seem to be under this impression that they can pump themselves up to this perfect state before they begin. This is how you end up with a bunch of daydreams and no results.
See a theme here? You make your life harder in many ways by your overactive imagination. You spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.
You Foolishly Do This Constantly Even Though It’s a Total Waste
Instagram has to cause serious psychological issues for some people. If you compare yourself to anything you see on Instagram or social media in general, you’ll be miserable. Yet people do it.
I definitely do it. I look at the Grant Cardone’s of the world with their private jets and supercars. I get jealous. It’s natural.
Then I remind myself of a few things:
- Social media influencers curate only the most excellent .01% of their life. The other 99.9% of the time is spent grinding
- People like Grant do legitimately have all that money and success. But he’s been working for multiple decades straight, tirelessly, without taking any breaks, ever. Is that what I want? Maybe. But I can’t complain if I haven’t done the work.
- While having more money would be nice, I always remember that I’m doing just fine on my own. I work hard. I’ve had success. I’m mostly focused on me.
So nowadays, I can actually deal with social media pretty well because I’ve put in the time.
But if you’re just starting out on some path, I’d steer clear of the shiny photos.
And when it comes to comparison in general, I often picture what it would be like to actually be one of these people.
Imagine building up an entire identity and sense of self from edited, curated, repetitively shot photos in the chase for the perfect few. I suspect these people aren’t actually happy.
Imagine having to “be on,” all the time and become a caricature of yourself. Sure, people like the caricature, the persona, but deep down you realize they don’t actually like you. No Bueno.
So, I try to stay centered and focused on myself as much as possible.
You Plan and Think Way Too Much
How long have you been “getting your ducks in a row”? I sell a writing course. I’ve done coaching before.
People will sometimes tell me, “I need to do my research.” What research? Zero research. Just procrastination.
Planning works up to a point, but most people plan as an excuse to avoid taking action. Why? Because planning makes you feel good. You feel like you have a shot at a better future even though you’re not doing anything about it.
I call this Potentialville. In this magical fairyland of the mind, you can picture yourself doing amazing things. And, since the mind has a hard time differentiating imagination from reality, it does feel like you’ve achieved your goals, to an extent.
But then you have to go back into the real world and realize you’re not living up to your potential. So why don’t people leave Potentialville? Because, in the real world, you can fail. You can do everything right and still fail.
Even if that were to happen though, the anxiety would be a net negative compared to the constant anxiety that comes with daydreaming and doing nothing about it.
You Feed This Way Too Much Energy
I’m re-reading a great book — Ego is the Enemy.
Almost always, your ego does more harm than good. The higher the sense of self, both positive and negative, the harder it is to actually live a successful life.
When you have a strong, positive, over-confident sense of self, you can misstep by being too aggressive, not thinking enough, and failing because you think you have the “golden touch” and don’t actually do the work.
When you have a strong, negative, under-confident sense of self, you think too much, don’t take action enough, and worry too much about imaginary futures that will never happen. There’s a common misconception that people with low self-esteem don’t have a strong sense of self or ego. The exact opposite is true. Their sense of self is very strong. You can’t come to feat every little outcome, scenario, and interaction without thinking you’re the center of the universe and “under the spotlight.”
So what’s the answer?
I talk about this in my article about “outcome independence.”
You want to succeed. You want positive outcomes. But you’re not a slave to your wants and desires. You’re the true embodiment of the “you win some, you lose some” mentality. You’re never too up and you’re never too down.
The less ego you have, the freer you are to genuinely try hard.
You’re Way Too…This
I love interacting with corporate people. Often, they’re very nice. But even the nice ones are a little uptight. Like they have this image to upkeep. Like they’re trying to be nice. Even when they’re nice, affable, and gregarious, they’re serious.
People take life way too seriously. I take life too seriously. I have all of these big dreams and goals. For what?
Don’t get me wrong. I bust my ass. I plan on making as much money as humanly possible. Planning is important. Having a life purpose and mission makes your life better. You should have a somewhat serious intent when it comes to your goals. But don’t take life seriously. Get it?
A pro-tip: get in the habit of holding contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. Many tips and insights are contradictory and paradoxical, e.g., the earlier point where I said, “care, but don’t care.” Mastering this thinking ability is a superpower.
You Lust After This Fool’s Gold
You’re trying way too hard to be smart.
You’re looking for the perfect answer and solution.
Instead, try not to screw up a lot.
Don’t sit around on the couch all day. Avoid getting into debt. Stop watching pointless news that’s designed to make you angry. Don’t watch a ton of television. Avoid spending a ton of time with negative people. Stop wasting time mulling over your options, daydreaming, and creating crazy mental movies of scenarios that will never happen.
Instead of looking up to the Instagram entrepreneur influencers and wishing I was them, I often look at people I don’t want to be like and use them as motivation to not be like them:
- Jaded, cynical, bitter types who argue with cashiers over coupons because they have nothing better to do
- People with lifeless, soulless, dead-inside eyes — the ones you often see on the freeway Monday morning
- Anyone on any side of the political aisle obsessed with noise…I mean, news.
I look at all the traps that lead to these type of lives and I avoid them. Simple. What’s left after removing much of the negative? Success.
My Plan to Fix Society
If I were to run for president, I’d have a one-word slogan like Obama.
Instead of “Hope” mine would be “Chill.”
Society as a whole is just over-stimulated, over-anxious, over-outraged, over-curated, over-passion chasing.
As the kids say, “You’re doing too much.”
When you’re doing too much you get in a cycle of being quite active, but not being productive at all.
I work pretty hard for 3–4 hrs a day maximum — writing, thinking, creating videos, etc — but then I’m more or less off the rest of the day. Contrast this with the average worker who seems quite active and frantic, but still only ends up getting a few hours of actual work done. So I get the same result without being frazzled.
Stop being frazzled. Chill.
I read a quote from Robert Greene once and it summed up the essence of what I’m trying to tell you:
Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually.
Ayodeji is the author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You. Want a free copy of my first book? Get it here.