I agree : This is an ambitious post title! I just turned 34 a couple of days ago, and I can say that I finally fully understand a lesson that life has been trying to teach me since I was a kid. I absolutely want to share this lesson with you, and my hope is that you will be smarter than me and adopt it earlier in your life than I did.
Do you want to start going to the gym consistently? Do you want to start eating healthy? Do you want to start saving money? You can achieve all these goals with this one life lesson that will make you better at everything. I actually discovered it myself by going to the gym. Let me expand on that and on other events before telling you what the lesson is.
In the last 10 years I started at least 10 businesses. There’s no suspense here : They all failed. What’s interesting is that they didn’t fail because of the business idea, or the execution, or the funding, or the marketing, or the… you get the point. They all failed because of me.
They all failed because after a while I lost track of my goals and got bored with them. The process just repeated itself again and again and again. I would find The Idea, and feel so motivated by it. I would set up everything that I needed, all the easy things like the website, social media accounts, business plan, etc.
But when came the time for the real hard work, I always felt like I didn’t want to do it, and so I found reasons for why the business would fail. And I was right, it did fail every single time.
Did I ever tell you that I was a great poker player? I grew my online poker account from $10 to $500 many times by consistently grinding lower stakes. When playing at the casino, at bars, or at home games, I would often end up in the money. After a while I realised that I was consistently making money and I started dreaming.
Could I quit my job and play poker full time? Could I become a millionaire playing poker? I problably could, but I didn’t have the minimum bankroll. It would take many years to get there. I didn’t want to wait, I wanted it now. I thought : “Maybe I can just play higher stakes and grow my account faster?”
Yeah, you know what happened next : I blew up my account every single time.
I am proud to say that I have a bachelor degree in mathematics. Not because of the degree itself, but because that’s an area where I managed to have partial success. I always had a lot of problems with the school system. The work I was given was not challenging enough. I could probably have done all of high school curriculum in one year, no joke.
At university, I was often first of class for the classes that I took “seriously”. I felt like some classes were so slow that I would study only a few hours before my exams to have some challenge. The result was mixed. I still performed well at some exams, but failed miserably at some others.
I could have easily done a masters degree, potentially even a PhD. But again, I failed at this as well.
I am great at saving money now, but it wasn’t always the case. I use to never have money. Every paycheck the money would come in and then go out. I knew I wanted to “have money” at one point. I wanted to get rid of the anxiety of living paycheck to paycheck.
At the same time, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to become like those freaks who do budgets and look at their bank account multiple times a week. That was so boring and uncool to me.
I never understood the goal anyway. Even if I saved $5,000 at the end of the year, then what? It wouldn’t change my life. I would still have to go to work everyday. I would still have to do budgets and look at my bank account multiple times a week.
And so, for many years I just spent all my net income on video games.
You can apply this lesson to many other areas in your life such as : Nutrition, investing, career, personal projects. Let me reveal it by using an analogy.
Remember the last time you went to Hawaii? What did you enjoy the most? Was it being there, eating a great meal by the ocean, surfing on the gigantic waves, looking at tropical fishes and big turtles, and enjoying their relaxing lifestyle. Or was it when you came back home? Your goal was to go to Hawaii, but what you actually enjoyed is not the goal, it is the journey.
The lesson is to enjoy the journey, not the destination.
This sounds so simple right? You already knew that, and actually you heard it somewhere else before. Be honest though, are you really applying it in your own life?
How to apply it
- Instead of fixating on losing 10 pounds, learn to enjoy cooking healthier meals and hitting the gym.
- Instead of fixating on increasing your salary, learn to enjoy bringing value and crafting your skills.
- Instead of fixating on becoming a millionaire, learn to enjoy building businesses and investing.
Do you see where I’m going with this? The destination is a consequence of executing the journey well enough, not the other way around. You can’t force yourself to perform during the journey simply because you like the goal. It doesn’t work like that.
Now, every single time that I consider starting a new project I ask myself the following two questions first:
- Will I enjoy the journey? If the answer to that question is yes, then great! If the answer is no I ask myself the second question.
- Can I learn to enjoy the journey? At first, I hated going to the gym. Now I love the pain, I can’t have enough. Habit and seeing small results over time helped me in learning to enjoy the journey.
If the answer is no to both these questions, I don’t even start the project, because I know that it will be abandoned.
Are you already applying this lesson in your life? If not, will you start?