Alexa Tanney made a great point in her recent article: “In life sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can reach your destiny.” Lanney is commenting on the difficulty of being a twenty-something in this day and age, where it seems like everyone is depressed and in debt. In my short time on this Earth, I’ve been able to stumble into 6 fundamental ideas that guide me in my own path, allowing me to live my dream and actually make a living doing it. Impossible, you say? Actually, I’m very proud to report that it is in fact very do-able – it’s just a matter of following these thought-provoking messages.
1. You Are An Idiot (And That’s Okay)
Aristotle once said, “I only know that I know nothing.” These wise words comprise one of the most important messages that anyone seeking to better themselves needs to understand. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fairly young, in your late teens or twenties. I’m in the same boat. One thing I’ve noticed in myself and my peers is the sense that we know everything. However, the fact of the matter is that a lot of us simply don’t have the life experience to really know what’s best at all times. Of course, we can make reasonable decisions, but we should always be willing to consult others to see what valuable information they might have to share. The sooner you realize that we all are far more stupid than any of us could possibly imagine, the sooner you’ll be able to move on with your life.
The fact of the matter is that we are all limited in our own very human ways – and this is totally fine! We just need to be willing to accept this if we want to move on and have meaningful lives. You can’t be right about everything, or even most things for that matter. Instead, you need to be willing to be humble, hedge your bets, and trust in others so that you can go on to fight another day and help build your future!
2. Discipline Trumps Motivation
I know a lot of people who look at all the hard work I put in every day towards building my career as a musician, promoter, and writer, and ask: “How do you manage to get all that crazy stuff done? I can never get motivated to do anything!” Those people; of course, have not understood one of the fundamental truths of this world. Discipline is a far greater force than motivation. Do you think that I like writing a couple of reviews a day and spending time learning to produce viral content? Not really. I definitely enjoy my work, but some days I really don’t feel like doing it.
That being said, I make sure to do it anyway because I know that the minute I let myself slip like that is when I will keep making excuses and slip down the path of apathy. I’ll be the first to admit this discipline can be unhealthy at times. When I was 18, I got ridiculously drunk at a show and was vomiting for hours on end. Regardless, I had a show review up within 12 hours of the last band’s performance. I didn’t want to write the article while I was hungover and puking, but I did it anyway. Why? Because I had managed to get myself into the unbreakable habit of producing content like that on a daily basis. No matter what.
3. Living Your Dream Isn’t Always Fun
This kind of builds on something I pointed out in the previous entry, but I feel like it should be elaborated on. Yes, I live my dream. I spend every day in a decent sized apartment, in an extremely fashionable Brooklyn neighborhood, and almost every night I go out and hang with heavy metal bands and party. It’s basically all I’ve wanted to do since I was 14 years old and first saw Almost Famous. That being said, my life isn’t all cocaine and groupies. There are a lot of thankless hours, mean clients, and miscommunications that define my day-to-day life.
However, I’ve taken one of the core messages from Bob Lugowe (head of Relapse Records) to heart: “Just be glad that you get to be here, man!” The fact of the matter is that if something is truly your dream you probably researched it and had a decent idea of what it would require beforehand. You know what your dream entails and you have to embrace ever aspect of it, even the hard parts. If you got to a point that you are to any degree “living your dream” this probably means that you’ve been able to accomplish some pretty great things. This just so happens to lead us nicely into our next point.
4. Be Grateful For What You Have
One thing I’ve found to be almost unanimously true is that people appreciate grateful people. If you can show an attitude of perpetual contentment with what you have, people will admire you and want to work with you. I think that in this world of struggle people really like it when they find someone who just takes life’s lemons and make lemonade. Living your dream isn’t easy and the path is almost always hard, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy to be where you are. Yes, you might be torn down repeatedly, but if you can show that you are grateful for everything, whole new worlds of opportunity can open up.
Part of this is because you tend to become whatever you put out. So, if you exude positive vibes and show yourself to be a person of merit, and demonstrate that you are someone who pushes themselves to new extremes with a smile on their face, you will eventually become that person. That’s one of those weird life hacks that make sites like this one so special. If you keep pushing for something, and doing it in a way that takes other people along with you and helps spread the beauty of whatever you are doing, then people are going to be much more likely to help you out, rather than if you just put your head down and work on your own.
5. People Take Note Of Your Hard Work
Now, a lot of people might claim this particular point isn’t true; however, in my experience it almost always is. The people who claim it isn’t true are doing one of two things wrong. The first (and most likely) is that they aren’t doing their work with gratitude and the desire to help others. That makes people less likely to want to help them in turn, so of course they will end up hitting a glass wall. The other reason it might not work out is because they haven’t been working at it long enough. A concentrated burst of work over the course of a week is good, but creating a body of work over a few years is even better. In the end, longevity tends to be what gets people moving somewhere. For example, I ran my blog for four years and more than two thousand posts before I ever got hired for a “real job.” However, in some ways I am grateful for that because it led me to appreciate the value of hard work.
This is perhaps the hardest of these messages to put into practice because oftentimes it doesn’t pay off for a very long time. That being said, when it does pay off then you know that you are onto something special. You’ve got to keep going at it and keep proving to the right people that not only do you really want it, but you also want it more than anyone else. I know as well as anyone, you don’t need to go to college to get a good job. That said, you need to want it, and the only way that you can prove that to people is through tangible hard work.
6. Things Tend To Work Themselves Out
There is a popular meme running around the internet these days that says: “At 23, JK Rowling was broke, Tina Fey was working at the YMCA, Oprah just got fired as a news reporter, and Walt Disney was filing for bankruptcy.” The point being; of course, that even mega-stars faced some serious adversity and you will also be able to overcome what you are struggling with. Your parents probably had a similar struggle in their lives and ended up figuring it out too.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to keep working and fighting. You need to have all of these awakenings for them to fulfill their potential. That being said, if you’re suffering from anxiety and the looming sense of your own mortality, realize that most people have these kinds of problems at some point in their lives and most people manage to overcome them. As Alexa Tanney said in her article, “It’s okay to not be okay.” A lot of people around you who seem to have their crap together don’t. So, smile and face a new day. I know it gets better!