The Ultimate Life Coach – Dream-Forge

Almost  nineteen years into early retirement now, I’ve come to realize that the complete freedom of this lifestyle can be a double-edged sword.

You’ve already heard me raving plenty about the upside: having the freedom to raise a son from the day he was born to beyond his eighteenth birthday with no compromises. And then to put thousands of hours into everything else I value as well: family, health, friends, adventures, building stuff, and even writing the occasional blog post. No complaints about any of this.

But if I can indulge you to play me a brief Tiny Violin of First World Problems solo, even this perfect life comes with one flaw: I never have to do anything I don’t want to do.

To most people, this sounds like a dream come true. Especially if you combine total freedom with plenty of money, life is just a non-stop blissful playground of self actualization, right?

Well, maybe, but maybe not. In reality, the answer depends on who you are.

Freedom and money reveal a person’s true strengths and weaknesses, and the result is a spectrum with “Unlimited drugs and booze on the couch” at one end, and “Create and manage a series of nonprofit foundations which employ thousands of people to research and invest in medical advances and clean energy” at the other.

For most of my journey so far, I seem to have found the balance pretty naturally. My Dad job was very intense for the first decade, but somehow I also had time to build and restore quite a few houses in the neighborhood, take plenty of intense trips to interesting places, give some talks and make some videos, and still write a few hundred blog posts.

But in these last few years, I have started slowing down, and it has become more and more difficult to wrangle and focus myself to get these things to happen as often.

Instead of constantly bouncing around the construction site building cool things, or falling into laser focus on the keyboard finishing an article that I just had to share with you, I found myself retiring to the couch earlier and earlier each afternoon, seeking distraction on the phone and wishing I had the energy and focus to do those other more enjoyable things.

So I fought back, by learning more about health and wellness. Trying to study and train my way into more energy and focus and motivation. And you’ve seen some of the results here, in articles I’ve shared about daily habitssteering clear of excessive comfortand more.

And all of these things really work, IF you take the knowledge and actually put it into action. And therein lies the problem:

I kept learning effective new things, and successfully incorporating them into my life. They would work for a while, but gradually my brain would invent various excuses to stop doing them consistently, leaving me with plenty of knowledge but far too little accomplishment to show for it.

Until finally, just a few months ago, I realized that I had been sabotaging my own progress by turning my biggest life advantage into a disadvantage:

I have been using my freedom too much – in order to avoid doing things that I didn’t feel like doing.

See, freedom is great if it frees you from leaving your children at 5am so you can drive an hour through a traffic jam to sit in an office building for nine hours. But that same freedom goes to waste if you then just plunk the kids down in front of a playlist of cheap cartoons while you lounge in the corner to scroll Facebook all day.

You need to use it to do things that are even more valuable than the job you just quit. And if you can’t do that, you might as well just keep the damned job.

This is what I was doing, while lying about it to myself. I would focus on the easy things which are still good for me, like taking care of the house or hanging out with friends who live nearby. But I avoid doing the harder things – which for me means the things that require more planning, energy or focus. Even though these are the things that allow me to lead the life I enjoy most.

Let’s use workouts as an easy example. I already know that on a minute-for-minute basis, this is the single most effective thing almost anybody can do with their time because it drastically improves every other area of life. But despite knowing this, I was still following this pattern:

I want to get in a really good weight training workout today.
But I don’t feel like doing a workout because it’s hard.
So I’ll try to grease the wheels for myself so it’s easier to achieve.
I’ll pick the perfect time of day when the weather is nice, and my energy level is high.
I’ll set up my gym in advance the night before.
And when that golden moment of perfect conditions hits,
I’ll hit the gym!

But between you and me, that moment didn’t always come. Some weeks I’d achieve it 2-3 times, some weeks I’d get “busy” and make excuses like “well at least I walked a lot today”. Some days I would complete a great workout, but when recording it in the journal I’d see that the previous one was over a week ago.

And the results of this lackluster effort were exactly what you’d expect: lackluster fitness.

Then something changed and I learned that there’s a much better way to get those workouts done. It’s by replacing the long, meandering, frankly wussypants dialog above with this one:

I want to work out today.
I don’t feel like it.
I am now already putting on my shoes and walking to the gym.

I’m using workouts as an example because this is the behavior I managed to change most successfully, but the exact same technique applies to everything else that you or I want to do, but fail to do regularly.

The key is learning to watch over yourself like an Eagle and identify that exact moment of hesitation.

And then instead of using it as a trigger for excuses, you use it as a trigger for action.

It’s so counterintuitive at first, but then obvious in retrospect. Hesitance feels shitty in the moment, and it really can ruin your life if you listen to it too often. But the ultimate solution is usually to run directly towards, rather than away from, the stuff you don’t want to do.

So really, Hesitation can be the ultimate life coach.

Using Extremely Badass People as Fuel

As part of writing this article, I shared the idea around with friends to test it out first. And I was initially surprised to get mixed results. About half of them could relate with me: they felt they were underachieving in life and wanted to do more. The other half though I was crazy: these people feel they are already doing too much, raising multiple kids and managing multiple businesses and training for ironman triathlons in the mountains.

The overachievers go through life nicely buzzed but often stressed. When hearing them describe their schedules, I was absolutely not envious. At the same time, they weren’t impressed with my schedule either because it’s too easy. We could both benefit from making adjustments towards the center.

Enter Goggins

Typical Goggins results on Youtube

Impressive overachiever friends are one thing, but the thing that really flipped the switch for me was hearing a podcast interview with our planet’s most extreme example of driving yourself beyond your former limits, David Goggins.

I learned about his life story with a mix of awe and horror. Severely beaten as a child, he grew up with a looming wall of psychological demons and issues, but his reaction was the unique part: he has been driven to compulsively seek out and overcome extreme hardship, not just to unimaginable levels but hundreds of times beyond that.

From pushing through several near-death experiences just to qualify for a Navy SEALS career, to breaking his own legs, heart and lungs from the constant exertion of things like running 240 miles over four days without sleeping, to setting a world record of 4025 bar pull ups over 24 hours (shredding his hands to look like ground beef in the process), the man does things I would never have thought are even close to possible for a human.

And that flipped a switch for me, by putting my own incredibly easy, under-achieving life into perspective.

Because while I absolutely do not want any part of the Goggins life, and I would gladly live my life never having run more than 10 miles at a single stretch, I do find it incredibly helpful to learn that pretty much all of our barriers are entirely mental, not physical or placed upon us by the outside world.

Sure, we do have different starting points and different amounts of luck. But instead of thinking of life like this:

I now realize that things are more like this:

And that’s a really empowering way to think about life, that feels like the sky has opened way up.

Ongoing Inspiration

So the podcast was just an introduction. I wrote down the particularly concise quote “You already fuckin’ know what to do.” on a piece of cardstock, stuck it to my bathroom mirror, and started acting on it immediately.

Suddenly, I was able to hit the gym every single day because I had two ways to approach it: wanting to put in a workout, and not wanting to put in a workout, either of which became a trigger to work out immediately.

And of course, once I finally put in the effort, it started working. Even though I’ve been sorta into this type of training since I was a teenager, I have mostly floated along on a plateau for years. But with this change in attitude, I gained ten pounds of lean weight over the first four months, returning to the strength and flexibility that I had at age 25, and every single joint in my body feels like it has been upgraded to a study, well oiled spring.

Middle aged man reclaims youth through motivation.

I also used the “catch yourself at the moment of hesitance” trick to get myself to run instead of walk more often (over 20 runs since I got back to Colorado last month), get over to the MMM-HQ coworking space for more work and socializing visits, and even to sit back down at the computer to write this post for you. While I’ve found that too much blogger work (and internet “success”) is a bad thing, there is still a right level that works for me. But it takes a lot of discipline to be willing to do it, because of all the other easier and more thrilling activities I could be doing with this same stretch of time.

Refilling the Inspiration Tank

For me, fully internalizing this one powerful piece of inspiring profanity has been transformative. But I still find that returning regularly to the well makes all this work even better. So I downloaded both of the Goggins audiobooks and worked through them in little chunks on my morning walks over the period of a month. Then I moved on to Peter Attia’s Outliveand Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership.

While the intellectuals fret about the perils of “Bro Science” or the “Toxic Masculinity” of today’s tribe of health podcasters and question their motivation, I simply absorb the messages that work for me and discard the rest. Find people who make you reach a little higher, and feed on their energy.

And for me, being exposed to successful, strong, athletic people who squeeze a lot of work out of themselves is a big source of inspiration. It helps me do more with my day, which is exactly what works for me right now at this phase of life.

And I wish you more of what works for you too!

#Ultimate #Life #Coach

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