Let me guess…
You’re not exactly where you thought you’d be 5 years ago.
You had big plans—you were going to crush it. You had it all figured out. You were going to rise to the top in no time.
But things didn’t go the way you expected. There were bumps in the road, some of them the size of craters and asteroids.
You had to compromise. You had to jump and leap and duck and crawl and fight your way out. It’s left you exhausted. Your rhinoceros like momentum has slowed to almost a stop.
By now you were supposed to be the ultimate ruler of the universe. But you’re only just a henchman, floating in space, lost forever.
You had a dream once. It was like holding the big bang in the palm of your hand. But now it’s just a flicker. Its flame is almost out.
It’s not too late. Don’t spend the rest of your existence frozen in a wasteland. The fire only needs to be rekindled.
Don’t waste your life away. You only have one.
I’m in my dad’s high school senior football photos. My parents had me when they were young. My mom and dad loved me fiercely (and still do), but they faced some challenges while raising me because of their youth.
I had a rough start. It wasn’t the absolute worst, but it wasn’t a walk in the park either. But I’m sure you faced unique problems while growing up too. I can’t image the challenges you’ve had to overcome.
My last year of high school was traumatic for me. I was kicked out, dumped, diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and called medically unqualified to receive a full ride scholarship that I was previously awarded.
I was left in ruin—completely lost.
I wandered aimlessly for years before I ever recovered. I couldn’t keep a job. I hopped from couch to couch. Food stamps were the only thing that kept me fed.
I’ve been sick for almost 10 years.
It’s been the hardest thing of my life. I often collapse in exhaustion. I’ve given up hope many times. Prayer has been my only comfort. I bet I’ve actually cried a river’s worth of tears.
For a long time I was a victim. I cried out, “why me?”
But one night I decided to make a change.
I was in so much pain—so miserable. I couldn’t eat because of my illness. I had been crying for days. My insides were bleeding. I simply gave up. I had no energy left. I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped getting out of bed.
I thought to myself, “This is a waste of life. It would have been better if I were never born.”
It hurt so bad.
If my life were a waste, I might as well die. I thought about suicide, but concluded, “there’s no way I could kill myself.”
Then I thought, “Maybe I’ll just lie here. I’ll stop moving, let my body starve and bleed to death.”
But that didn’t sound very good either.
I rattled my brain for answers.
Then it hit me. Like a wrecking ball from heaven.
I could get a new life!
I didn’t have to continue to live the way that I was. I could go on, despite the conditions around me. The disease was not me. I didn’t have to let my hardships define my existence.
You decide your fate. It might sound ridiculous, but it’s true. Your every thought shapes the actions you take. And what you do now, determines your future.
You are what you think. Your thoughts give everything its value. You decide if a thing is good or bad. So why not let it be good?
You can choose to sit and wallow, or you can get up—keep going—and make a difference. When you learn that, you become unstoppable.
I could have let Crohn’s Disease consume me. I could have let it drag me down.
But I got up. And rubbed some dirt on it. I took responsibility.
Happiness doesn’t depend on your circumstances. It’s in your soul.
Your attitude is so powerful. A different perspective is like looking into a whole new dimension.
The choice is yours. No one can make it for you.
Why continue to live a life you hate?
I believe you do. You might not know it, but it’s there, deep down. There’s something inside you burning to let loose. It wants out.
You might not know what it looks like, but you know what it feels like.
It feels like adrenaline, like running and jumping off a cliff into a river of water.
It feels like peace, like sunrise at the top of a mountain, like having nothing on your schedule for the rest of the week.
It feels like bliss, like being excited to get out of bed every morning, like not being able to put down your work because you love it so much.
It feels like recognition, like a standing ovation, like people know you did something great.
It feels like security, like money in the bank, like you can buy whatever you want.
It feels like freedom, like being able to go anywhere or do anything.
It’s ok if you don’t know what your dream is. Or if, like me, you’ve changed your mind 5,247 times.
But you do have one.
I’ve never known what I want to do with my life. But I’ve always known what I love to do. Like: play video games, eat chocolate cake, wrestle, go exploring, and tell stories.
My relationship with video games isn’t healthy. I’m not sure I could make money eating chocolate cake. Crohn’s disease has created extra challenges for me when it comes to wrestling and exploring. So that leaves me with one thing.
I love telling stories.
Before I knew how to write, I told my stories aloud and had my family members write them down for me. Then I began writing them myself, in what looked like alien hieroglyphics created by a group of dyslectic babies.
I wrote my first book in 2nd grade. It was about a monkey who played hockey and scored the winning goal (before there ever was a movie—I think they stole my idea).
My second book, written in 3rd grade, was about a masked crusader on horseback who stormed and conquered a castle on a hill all by himself.
In 4th grade I wrote a comic about a teenage superhero with cool gadgets like a floating skateboard.
I’ve always loved to tell stories.
What’s one thing you’ve always loved to do? What would you do if money didn’t matter?
Go do that.
Why waste time doing anything else?Does it matter if you’re rich, safe, or making people happy, if you hate what you’re doing?Click To Tweet
If you’re having trouble choosing, no big deal. Try a couple ideas out first. As long as you pick something you love you can’t pick wrong.
The truth is you’ll never reach your dream if you’re comfortable. Trying to accomplish your goals while staying in your comfort zone is like trying to run a race while wrapped in bubble wrap and pillows—you’re not going to win.
Comfort feels nice, but it kills you slowly. It’s like being in a space suite that’s leaking oxygen.
I’ve left my comfort zone many times so I could heal. If I didn’t step out I would have stayed sick. Imagine how sad it would be if I never got better because I refused to be uncomfortable?
Comfort is a bad excuse. It holds you back. If you dream to travel and see the world, it would be depressing to stay home where it’s nice, regular, and predictable only because you’d miss your cozy bed if you left.
Outside your comfort zone lies adventure and excitement. Outside your comfort zone awaits your dream.
There is never a good time. There is always something in your way, always struggles and responsibilities. If you don’t go now, you’ll be waiting forever.
Your dream isn’t going to magically appear before your eyes. It doesn’t happen like that. You don’t suddenly have it all figured out. There’s no perfect window of opportunity shinning in gold with handrails and a soft landing on the other side.
If I waited for Crohn’s Disease to go away before I followed my dream, I’d still be waiting.
Following your dream usually looks like hard work. That’s why so many people are blind to the opportunity. If it were easy, than everyone would be doing it.
But if not now, when?
Wait for nothing.
You can’t afford to be held back. Sacrifice anything that holds you down. Sure, it’s tough. But ask yourself, “is it worth it?”
Do you really need fancy clothes, or a coffee everyday?
For the price of one night on the town, you could start a professional blog.
If you stopped watching TV for a year, you could use that time to write a book.
If you woke up to train 30 minutes earlier everyday you could morph yourself into peak athletic condition.
I spend several hours each day treating my sickness. It’s practically a part time job. I don’t have time for movies or video games. So I gave them up to follow my dream.
Cut the crap. Get rid of the meaningless stuff in your life.
Why let dumb things keep you from your goal?
You won’t get anywhere if you always play it safe. Sometimes you need to be a little dangerous. You’ll likely fail often. But that’s ok. Every once and a while it’ll pay off. And when it does it’ll make all the difference.
My health condition makes having a job really hard. It’s awkward and makes me feel like I’m high maintenance. So I’ve tried lots of creative ways to make money on my own. I’ve taken many risks. Most of them haven’t paid off, but some of them have.
You’ll never experience anything amazing if you always hide behind a safety net. I’m not saying you should live recklessly, always ready to jump off the nearest tall building. But if you ever feel afraid to do something, or uncomfortable about it, there’s a good chance it’s exactly what you need to do.
Every problem is an opportunity. Yes, life gets hard. You’re right, I don’t understand what you go through. But I do know that challenges make you stronger.
Crohn’s Disease is so miserable. It’s been the source of much pain and suffering in my life. But I’ve grown from it. I’ve learned so much. And it’s matured me quickly.
Imagine how lame this blog post would be without my story. Crohn’s Disease sucks, but I’m able to take advantage of it.
One thing you can expect from life is that it’s going to be hard. You will face challenges—that’s a promise. If you hide from them your entire life, you won’t get very far. If you let them consume and control you, you’ll be trapped in an endless cycle of failure and misery.
So why not benefit from your hardship?
Don’t think negatively about it. Don’t let it get you down.
Get stoked to tackle the obstacles in your way. Go annihilate the problems that you face.
The reward is worth it.
Yes, that’s right. Go make mistakes. A lot of them. It’s how you learn. Don’t worry about what people think. If they point and laugh, just laugh with them. Then get back to making mistakes.
Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by film school.
Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before he invented the light bulb.
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.
J.K. Rowling was a divorced single mom living on welfare who was rejected over and over again before her book Harry Potter was published.
Jerry Seinfeld was booed off stage the first time he tried stand up comedy.
Michael Jordan didn’t make the roster for his high school basketball team.
It’s a pattern in every success story. You have to fail first.
If you quit, you’ll never be successful. But if you keep going, it’s only a matter of time before you see results. You have to keep coming back, even when you mess up.
I opened up my first cul-de-sac lemonade stand when I was in preschool. I don’t remember making any sales. I think I just drank it all.
In second grade I sold Pokémon cards on the street corner—well, sold one Pokémon card for 25 cents.
I upgraded to balloon animals in 3rd grade. None of my fellow classmates had any money, so I just gave puppies and giraffes (puppies with long necks) away for free during recess.
I took all my earnings from my wildly successful sales career and went on a long sabbatical to play video games and hit on girls in middle school and most of high school.
When I was 18 I sold kitchen knives for about a month. I sold two sets, one to my mom, and one to my girlfriend’s mom.
When I was 19 I tried selling protein mix. I was able to make a loyal customer out of my workout partner, but that’s as far as I got.
When I was 21 I hosted weekly community dances. They did alright, but only lasted the summer.
Around the same time, I also created a game, kind of like ultimate tag hide-and-go-seek Nerf war in the dark for young adults, and charged people to play. Basically I created a LARPING club. We had one official event, and the money I made barely covered expenses.
Since then I’ve started and failed several blogs (not to mention lost several jobs).
But every time I fail, I get closer to my goal.
It’s ok if you mess up. You win, or you learn.
Either way you move forward.
Life is hard. I get it. You have challenges that I could never dream of facing. But you have to keep going.
Achieving your goals, despite impossible odds, is what makes achieving your goals incredible. If it didn’t take work—if it wasn’t difficult—it wouldn’t be an accomplishment.
Everyday I’m faced with pain, and I choose to keep going despite it. It’s hard, but it makes success feel extraordinary (like ridding a tiger, bare chested, wearing a red bandana, holding a sword, while on a cloud, with strikes of lighting, in space).
Don’t quit. You’re a lot closer than you think. You could be one mistake away from a breakthrough.
Don’t ever think it’s too late to follow your dreams. You can always turn things around.
Edgar Rice Burroughs didn’t start writing until he was 35! And he created Tarzan.
Samuel Jackson didn’t land his break out role in Pulp Fiction until he was 46.
Stan Lee, the founder of Marvel, didn’t write his first hit comic until he was 39.
I’ve wanted a successful blog since 2010. It took me 6 years. Even after I committed, it took me an entire year just to get started.
It’s better late than never.
You were born for a purpose. No one else can do what you do, not in the same way.
The world is waiting—people are waiting. They want you to rise up, and to hear your story. They long for your unique gift. There’s an empty spot in this world that only you can fill.
There’s a tribe out there, a community, waiting for you to lead them.
Success is an attitude. Achievement is a habit. Challenges are opportunities. Mistakes bring you closer to the goal.
Every day you wait, you’re missing a chance to do something remarkable.
It’s time to take a risk. It’s time to claim your dream.
You don’t have to drop everything and chance it. Be smart. Make a plan. Sacrifice things you don’t need.
Work hard—aim high. And keep going until you hit your goal.
I know it can feel impossible to do alone. That’s why I’m here to help you out.
Leave a comment below. Tell me about your dream, obstacles that you face, and the challenges you’ve overcome.