Oh, I love this part of the day!
It’s the one I am looking forward when I fall asleep the night before. It’s the part of the morning — right after breakfast and my coffee — when I sit down to write something valuable to the world. It’s me broadcasting my ideas into the void, hoping they’ll change something.
Everyday I sit down and ask myself the same question: “What do I want to say today that might change somebody’s life?”. To rephrase Neil Gaiman, sometimes it feels like I am sending messages in bottles from a deserted island. This is what it’s like being an online writer.
So what do I want to say to the world this splendid Saturday morning?
After a couple of minutes of deep contemplation (and some more caffeine), I realized it’s this: I don’t believe (anymore) in going outside your comfort zone.
I Used To Be The Type-A
Whatever you told me to do, I said: YES! (let’s do this).
I won swimming competitions. I was the smartest in class. I was bilingual since I was 10. I got accepted to top Ivy League schools in the U.S. I opened my first business at 16. I opened my second one in 18. At 19, I was teaching digital marketing at a business school in Moscow.
I used to be that type of guy. Always the best at what he does. Always achieving, always doing more, and more and more and then some.
I am not that guy anymore. At some point I realized that no matter how much I do, it’s never enough. I worked myself to exhaustion and started having panic attacks every week. I realized I am not actually that guy, but rather I desperately wanted to be that guy.
Everyone Says To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Like it’s something very noble. Like it’s something we were born to do. Like suffering would give our lives more meaning.
There are as many purposes in life as there are people, but I would argue that we are here to have fun. Or at least enjoy what we are doing.
If you are not enjoying your life, what’s the point of money, status, prestige, and everything else you’ve got?
Everyone talks about getting outside your comfort zone, as if you should feel ashamed if you don’t. Everyone says ‘Hustle! Hustle!’, as if everyone should be running around 24/7/365 like Gary Vee.
But there are 7.5 bln people on this planet. And only one of them is GaryVee. Everyone else is different.
Effectiveness is Not The Same As Happiness
Everyone optimizes for effectiveness. In Silicon Valley, people take 5 kinds of pills before breakfast, run 5 miles every morning, sleep 4 hours per day, eat only vegan, work 20 hours per day, and so on. For some reason, the whole world is trying to copy that. It’s toxic.
People want to look good, feel good, do good. For some reason we forgot that effectiveness doesn’t mean happiness.
There are people in the world (I’ve seen them, they actually exist) who look like shit, eat shit, and will probably die old and fat. However, they are also loved by everybody, they do what they love, they are extremely successful and they are happy.
How many crazy-eyed biohackers from Silicon Valley can say the same about their lives?
You Don’t Have To Do Anything
I think that this is a great starting point. Realize that you don’t need to do anything with your life. You can literally go to bed and not get out until the end of this week. Nobody will care.
You don’t owe anybody anything. My grandfather used to joke:
To those people whom I owe something, I forgive.
We use too many ‘should’, ‘must’ in our vocabulary. How about switching it to ‘want’? You don’t have/should/must do anything. But do you want to? That’s the question.
If you don’t want to go to work today, don’t. If you don’t want to go to work tomorrow, don’t. If you don’t want to go to work the day after that, quit your job. Find another one.
Steve Jobs woke up every morning and asked himself:
If it were my last day on Earth, is this how I want to spend this day?
If it was ‘no’ 3 days in a row, he knew he had to change something. It worked for him. And for Paul McCartney as well.
The Case of Paul McCartney
Paul was good at only one thing in his life: music. He loved his guitar. He couldn’t stop playing it.
When his friends were at a bar looking to hookup with girls, he played his guitar. When his teachers scolded him for not studying as hard as he should have, he played his guitar. And when his parents told him to ‘go get a real job’, he told them to go to hell.
It worked for him. He’s the most successful musician of all time (along with John Lennon) with a net worth of slightly more than 2 bln. dollars. The same goes for Steve Jobs, Chris Sacca, and Bill Gates.
What did these guys do differently? It was simple: they were always doing what they loved. They were always doing what the wanted. And only that.
You can do that too.
Stay In Your Comfort Zone
People who go outside their comfort zone and want everybody else to do the same are called neurotics. They tell you about “growth” and “development” and “personal improvement” that you’ll have if you go outside your comfort zone.
It may actually be true. If you hate math and go outside your comfort zone to learn calculus, you’ll probably improve at it (And be very unhappy in the process if you are like me)
But I would argue that a much better use of your time would be to focus on your strengths and completely forget about your weaknesses. There are enough people who can do calculus. You have your own thing. Focus on it.
Life works this way: the more you do something, the better you become at it.
By staying in your “comfort zone”, you’ll become better and better at what you do. And because you love whatever you are doing so much, you’ll not even notice the hours. Eventually, you’ll become a pro at what you do.
And then…well, the rest is history. Nobody knows where it’ll take you. But it’s definitely true that you’ll become more successful at something you love doing that at something you hate, and think you should do just to “improve yourself”.
Be a Meaningful Specific
There are many things that teachers told you that were wrong. But the wrongest thing they told is that you have to become “well-rounded” to become successful.
Well rounded = wandering generality. The real world values meaningful specifics.
Would you rather go to a dentist who is #12 at what he does, and also #4 at gold and #2 at soccer and #6 at cooking, and so on? No, you would probably choose a dentist who is obsessed with what he does. You would choose #1 and not settle for anything else.
School taught you that focus and obsession is bad. To become #1, you’ve got to be obsessed. And to be obsessed, you’ve got to do what you love. Stay in you comfort zone.
People who say that London has bad weather have never been to Moscow. I am writing this sitting on my balcony, looking at the Thames and the sun is shining so bright, that it’s actually hot.
I am writing this as much for you as a reminded for myself.
You don’t have to go outside your comfort zone, sweat, bleed and poop your way to success. You can take it “easy” by doing what you love. It’s not going to be always easy, of course, you’ll have to work and go through obstacles, but they won’t hurt you as much if you do what you really enjoy doing.
There is no meaning to life. The only meaning in life is in living the life itself. And if that’s so, we might as well enjoy it while we are here.
You don’t owe anybody anything. You don’t need to develop yourself anymore. Just focus on your thing, get better, love yourself, enjoy life and always do what you want.