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The Two Core Philosophies I Use to Stay Motivated

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Getting motivated and pursuing the goals you want is dead simple. First, you create a set of philosophes, narratives, that inspire you to take the right actions. Second, you let enough of that inspiration hit you until it causes you to act, which creates discipline, which creates momentum. You know the drill.

When I write for people, for you, I have one goal — try to give you an angle that works. Most personal development advice is exactly the same, but you just have to hear it from the right person or in the right way for it to make sense to you. Ultimately, you have to figure out how to create a compelling narrative for yourself.

That’s what I did. I used to listen to the Jim Rohn’s and Tony Robbins’s of the world. I’d digest their messages and translate them into my own life to find something that made sense to me.

I’ve been through every book, watched tons of videos, listened to podcasts, you name it, but there are two philosophies that have really stood out to me.

I try to use them to guide my life and keep everything in the proper perspective. They’re related to each other, and opposite, and symbiotic at the same time. They’re cliche and simple, but that’s why I love them. The best advice is as simple as you can make it.

Philosophy number one: life is short and you are going to die

Do you ever look back into your past and just notice how large chunks of time go by just like that? Even this week, I just realized that this was the time where the pandemic really began. It’s been a whole year of “new normal” and it seems like it happened in a flash. I think about weeks, months, years, and decades that go by so fast.

When you look back in the past, you don’t necessarily want to beat yourself up for everything you didn’t do. Instead, try to look at things more dispassionately. Analyze how well you spent your time and decide whether or not you’d like to spend that same amount of time doing the same things.

Once you make the decision to change, because you realized the value of your time, you can make up for the time spent living in a way that wasn’t suiting you. When I look back at the years I “wasted,” I don’t look back with a ton of regret at all. I’m just glad I made a decision to pivot. And spending the past five or six years working on things that mattered to me more than made up for those other years.

You can experience that feeling in your life, too. You realize that you’re doing to die, maybe sooner than later. Doesn’t mean you panic, but you can eventually make a decision to live more intentionally. That’s the key.

You just try to bring a different level of intention to your day-to-day life. It’s hard to explain, but once you decide, once you’re serious, your seriousness will kind of signal itself to your surroundings. Other people will be able to tell you’re serious. You’ll start to notice more opportunities because you’re serious. Most importantly, you will take yourself seriously.

That’s the biggest takeaway I got when I used this philosophy a few years ago. I started noticing people who were much further ahead in years than me — people who let the shortness of life slip away and ended up looking back at a lot of lost time. It just hit me. And I got serious.

Let it hit you, no matter what age, and get serious about your life.

Philosophy number two: life is long if you know how to live it

This idea comes from the philosopher Seneca who said:

“So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

Somehow this seems like the same thing as the idea above, but opposite at the same time. It’s weird. When you realize the shortness of life, you can start to make your life longer with those intentions.

It reminds me of another quote:

“The cliche goes like this; live each day as if it were your last. The best way to take this advice is to do exactly the opposite: live each day as if you would live forever.” – Peter Thiel

Once you realize it’s time to get going, you can begin to move your way into making decisions that will pan out long-term. Decisions like taking time to learn, read, and study — “learn like you’ll live forever.” Decisions like taking the time to create long-range plans you can execute on, even though technically you could die any day.

You can look back at your life and see chunks of time where you did more in those time frames than any other period of your life. Over the past six years, I’ve published three books, written millions of words, built a new career and an audience from scratch. I’m 31. If I live an average lifespan and continue to execute on long-term plans in these five-year chunks, I’ll look back on life feeling like I lived ten times.

Life is measured by…whatever criteria you use to measure it by. You can make it feel short or you can make it feel long. You can use the scarcity of time to your advantage or let it hold you back. The choice is yours.

Let’s just imagine that you do end up living to old age. Subtract that age by your age now and realize just how much runway you have left if you’d just get on with it.

I saw a Tweet once along the lines of: “Someone woke up at 50 wondering if they still had time left to live their dreams after wasting so many years. They spent another 34 years wondering if they still had time left and died at 84. Don’t be this person.”

Or there’s the classic proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Maybe I’m a little heavy on the fortune cookie wisdom today but the idea of time and how to use it fascinates me. Let it fascinate you instead of scare you. Death is nothing to be afraid of. Why be afraid of what you can’t escape?

Don’t fear death. Fear going through the motions in life without ever actually living.

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