First, work on mindset.
Second, work on clarity + purpose.
Third, work on commitment.
I wrote this the other day on Twitter, and it’s something I’ve been pondering for a while now. You might work on all of these simultaneously. But it appears that if you were to do the list in alternate orders, you wouldn’t be able to achieve the same results.
For example committing to something outside your own purpose happens more than you think. It happens to the Doctor who went to med school per his parent's wishes but is miserable because she wants to be a journalist.
It happens to those that achieve great financial gains through a commitment to hard work, however, they keep a mindset that doesn’t allow them to relax, enjoy the wealth, and be happy.
And while it’s amazing to find a life’s purpose, lacking the commitment to achieve it will keep you stuck and from deeply engaging in your craft.
It’s interesting to me that this has nothing even remotely close to what they teach you in school.
Stated differently —
how do you cultivate an incredible mindset?
How do you find purpose and meaning?
And how do you work hard, on a long term commitment?
Taking these in order...
Mindset. I don’t have any one method for cultivating a great mindset, just that it has to start with awareness of your current mindset. The reason I meditate daily is to calm my mind, but it’s also to become aware of my mind. To turn inward and actually look at the thoughts that are repeating in my head and understand that they are what are producing the results in my life.
Seth Godin tells a story about riding in a car from the East Coast to the West Coast with someone who is chronically depressed. During their long car drive, the conversation was, well, depressing. After hearing her speak only of despondent things for the entire drive, he realized something. He realized that his own mind was having similar thoughts all of the time to what she had been speaking out loud.
It was then that he started practicing to actively change these thoughts to serve him instead of hinder him.
All of us have a passenger voice in our heads, and it’s up to us to ensure that they’re saying things that improve our quality of life.
Clarity + Purpose.
Finding clarity and purpose is a struggle for nearly everyone. “How do I find my passion in life?” is about as common a problem as can be. I believe this problem starts with two ideas that have opposing forces in our minds.
The first is our desires. What do we want to spend our time on? What do we enjoy doing, or that we would gladly do for free because we love it?
If you can figure out what our desires are, you can find energy and passion for pursuing your purpose. Let the desire drive you. Instead of...
The opposite emotion is to make your desires fit in with what is “realistic” in the structure of your world. This balance of being a “realist” and being a dreamer typically gives into the “realist” and we lose our dreams. The problem is the fear based “realism” can often limit your capacity.
The pressures could be family or social pressure, or insecurity about the long slog of work it’s going to take to be great. Either way, most who do great things are fairly “unreasonable” in common sense. Think: Elon Musk’s desire to colonize Mars. Totally unreasonable by conventional standards, but if he believed that he wouldn’t even try.
of our passion flow freely. So you might not be able to play with finger paints every day like your dream as a child, but you may be able to work in a versionIf you have a hard time being ultra-contrarian and “unreasonable” in your standards, then I think the best path could be a profession or purpose that allows photoshop and edit + doctor photos creatively. Or you might be an accountant even though your true calling was being a professor, and you decide that you can bring teaching into your craft in a meaningful way. You become the accountant that teachers their customers more about their finance. You breed the two ideas and make your own space in the world.
Or, you might need to look at your work through a slightly different lens. Your purpose comes with repeated action. And it comes when you don’t construct walls around the possibilities that the world is providing for you.
The barista who deeply engages with her work in communicating and serving customers is as much an artist as the photographer trying to make his client see his art. Finding your purpose is about finding satisfaction. As is with commitment.
I believe Commitment is the hardest of the 3 practices. It’s the one I’m personally struggling with most. Commitment means choosing a road and actively saying NO to other potential roads because of your choice. I believe the committed path is the final path to satisfaction. While new paths are enjoyable to step foot onto, constantly switching will ultimately leave you unsatisfied.
Commitment means turning down possibilities. Commitment means repeating habits and rituals to help you achieve. So you have to say to yourself “I’m going to do this every single day.” I’m going to run every day. I’m going to eat healthy for 95% of my meals. You don’t need to live and die by these actions, but they have to take up a large portion of your energy.
It’s the compounding effort of rituals, commitment to a path, that help you reach the apex of achieving. It’s the compounding interest of creating a mindset that supports your life, a purpose to focus on, and a commitment to follow through that will help you find satisfaction.
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