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How to Bridge the Gap Between Who You Are and Who You Want to Be

In high school, my friends and I used to sit in a bathroom and smoke weed. It’s called ‘hotboxing.’ You all smoke in an enclosed space so the marijuana fumes would stay in the room and keep getting you higher and higher.

Whenever we’d have these hotboxing sessions, we’d talk about all the things we’d do in the future — start businesses, make money, get all the girls.

Even back then, I had a dream of being somebody. Takeaway the glitz, the glamor, the women, I really wanted to fulfill my human potential and I could tell even back then that it would happen someday.

I bring up the random story about smoking weed because my behavior didn’t always reflect my beliefs. Of course, I could be forgiven for not taking myself seriously and daydreaming at 18, but as many of you know I went down a path of doing all the wrong things up until the age of 25 — binge drinking, drugs, illegal stuff, you know the story already.

But, I always had that sense that I would bridge the gap somehow. And, I did it.

I lived up to one of my favorite definitions of what it means to be successful, borrowed from Nassim Taleb and a speech he gave at the university of Beirut

“For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.”

Before we talk about how to bridge the gap between who you are and who you want to be, I want you to hold that version of yourself in your mind. Your 18-year-old self — or whatever age you were when you had peak idealism and energy.

Don’t disrespect that young person’s ludicrous and delusional dreams. Consider the idea that that person was right and that somewhere along the line you lost your way.

There’s all this discourse about being content and not showing off and avoiding big dreams because you should be realistic and blah blah blah. I always put scrutiny to these types of ideas with a simple question.

If you knew you wouldn’t fail and had every resource behind you, would you still choose the path of modesty?

Be one thousand per cent honest with yourself. And keep holding that image of your 18-year-old self in mind. You want that energy back, that idealism, that passion. I know you do. Don’t lie to me and don’t lie to yourself. You can get it back. Doesn’t matter how old you are. Doesn’t matter what has happened in your life up until this point.

You have time. But the first step is honoring that delusional energy a little bit. Don’t listen to society, or the naysayers, or your dumb ass colleagues and neighbors who you don’t even really like. Listen to yourself. And listen to the source.

Now for some practical recommendations.

Use your mental wiring to your advantage

You’re prone to think constantly. And 99 percent of your thoughts are useless chatter, mostly filled with negativity about what you can’t do instead of what you can do. Don’t even try to fight against the nature of your mind totally, just siphon a bit of that 99 percent and use it toward a better end.

What end? Relentlessly thinking about building a better future for yourself. For me, it reached a level of obsession. And I definitely broke some eggs in the process. I was too focused. I paid too little attention to my day to day and got lost in my head. Often, I sacrificed too much fun. But, looking backward, I’d do it all again. At age 31, I have no boss, I can do what I want, go where I want, and live how I want.

All because I was obsessed with the idea that it had to happen somehow. I didn’t always know how. For the first few years of learning self-improvement and getting the hang of writing, I just wandered around. I made little to no money and had no tangible plan. But I kept plugging away and had this belief that something would pop eventually.

You’re obviously going to have to back those beliefs up with action, but understand that your beliefs are the operating system for your reality. You grossly underestimate how much they have an impact on your behavior and outcomes. And there is no magic answer for developing this obsession, this relentless belief that things will somehow work for you. You just gotta do it.

If you’re prone to daydreaming, at least do it actively instead of passively. At least put your neurotic obsessive nature to good use and fantasize until you act. That’s the key to all this motivation stuff. It’s just a fantasy that serves the purpose of jacking you up until you do something. Then, you start to do something. Then, you do it again and again and again.

And then you transform.

Find a new reality to model
The energy wafting around in the air of day to day existence is passive-aggressive, stagnant, and quietly angry at the same time. Click To Tweet

When I got into writing, self-improvement, business, etc, I started to model myself after the people I admired. I’d download their belief systems and wisdom. Over time, I realized I could model anyone or anything given enough time, effort, and patience. When you combine those three elements you can gradually create a new model for reality itself.

What do I mean? Well, when you spend too much time focusing on the “real world” you tend to model yourself after it. All of your friends have 9 to 5 jobs, so you assume you’re destined to have one, too. Self-improvement is often scoffed at or called a scam by people in the real world, so you’ll look at it as a pipe dream too. The energy wafting around in the air of day to day existence is passive-aggressive, stagnant, and quietly angry at the same time. You will absorb this energy if you choose to focus on it, too.

That’s why choosing new models is so important. In my model of reality, everyone was an entrepreneur and a creator. Everyone believed in themselves and was into self-improvement. Everyone lifted each other up instead of playing the crabs in the barrel game. It came to a point where I told myself, “Okay, I’m going to follow the path of this curated group of individuals and ignore everything in the mainstream.”

You’ll see these people ahead of you and you’ll feel a mixture of envy and inspiration. Don’t worry about your envy. It’s natural. And it’s also useful because you can reverse engineer the strategies of people you envy. That’s what I did. Do it, too.

Reverse engineer success

It’s crazy how easy this can be once you get the hang of it. If you can observe the moves people make and emulate them to the best of your ability, you can become successful. Now, copying someone’s exact moves doesn’t work. And you’re not guaranteed the same results as someone else by taking the same steps.

But, in the long-term, in general, overall, you can see patterns, themes, strategies, etc, in the people you want to be like. Then, you use trial and error guided by their path to get the results.

I noticed that successful writers published their work in many places, so I did the same. I saw that they all kept email lists so they could educate, engage with, and sell products to their readers. I got a sense for the general timeline of success in online business, 3 to 5 years, and committed to it. I adopted the long-term delayed gratification mindset. I studied the basic tenets of marketing.

You get the drill.

There are blueprints everywhere for any path you want to take.

As far as the doing the work part goes. My friend. I care about your success. I will give you all the angles possible. But you know the gist. You just gotta do the damn work. 90 days to make it a habit. 6 months to be serious. A year to have solid results. A half-decade to have your empire.

The recipe is there. The models are there.

Now, go.

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