Life Update January 2015

I can’t remember the last time I’ve dedicated a post to updating you on the status of my life. I try not to do this type of post too often because I don’t want you to feel as if I’m more interested in hearing myself talk than providing you with material that you can use to improve your life. Regardless, I felt compelled to write a life update for you today simply because so much has been happening in my life over the past month or so. Here’s the list of things that have gone down.

I Quit My Job At Dairy Queen

After a run of 5.5 months at Dairy Queen I knew it was time for a change. Like my mentor Steve Pavlina once said, “The problem with getting experience from a job is that you usually just repeat the same limited experience over and over. You learn a lot in the beginning and then stagnate.” I quit my job at Dairy Queen because I could feel myself stagnating.

Although I’d learned some interesting things about customer-service, and the fast food industry in the early days I’d learned very little in the later months of my employment.

Beyond that, however, I quit simply because I don’t agree with what Dairy Queen stands for. I always felt guilty carrying out customers orders because I knew I was just taking them one step closer to obesity. Maybe you could justify that I shouldn’t have felt guilty because I was just giving the customers “what they wanted.” I knew, however, that I wanted out of the system. I just couldn’t take anymore of giving customers what I felt were poorly sourced animal derived products, that would support the industrial food chain as well as erode the lives of those who consumed them.

The last thing I’ll note is that as a fast food restaurant Dairy Queen is almost the definition of a dead-end job. What’s wrong with that you ask? It leads to dead-end people working there. Although I certainly liked some of my coworkers, there was very little ambition around me. I didn’t see much striving beyond mediocrity (at best) while I was there.

All of these reasons considered, it made perfect sense to me to walk away.

I turned 18

Hmm… I’m not sure what to write here beyond the fact I’m considered legally an adult. One thing that felt strange about this was that it was an impetus for me to reflect nostalgically on my childhood. It feels strange that I can be considered so young, but that I can also remember memories from ten years ago. Some of these memories are vague and feel as if they happened long ago, while others can be remembered so clearly as if they occurred yesterday and I was there reliving them. Overall, however, I don’t quite know what to think about my age.

I Left The U.S. For The First Time

This month was the first time I’d ever been outside the United States. I went to the Dominican Republic with several other family members and my Uncle was kind enough to rent out a villa for all of us. Although we stuck primarily to touristy areas I still found the trip to be an interesting cultural experience. I greatly enjoyed trying new foods, seeing the ocean for the first time, and trying to keep up with the locals’ Spanish. I posted a bunch of pictures of the trip on my new Instagram account so if you haven’t been following me check them out!

4 Year of Self-Development

4 years ago I began my journey of self-improvement because I’d just had my heart broken. I began “dating” what I labeled “the girl of my dreams” and less than 24 hours after our “relationship” had begun she told me that she thought it would be better if we were just friends. I emphasized the quotes in the last sentence because in retrospect I find it hilarious that I’d gotten so upset over something so trivial. Haha.

However, I am extremely grateful for that girl having rejected me. It was extremely painful at the time, but who knows where I’d be if things hadn’t played out that way. I’m very happy to be where I am now, but it’s highly unlikely I’d be here if I’d never had that dramatic event knock me off the trajectory of mediocrity. I doubt the girl understands what she was the catalyst for, but I’m so grateful to have fallen and been destroyed by her all those years ago…

I Graduated High School

Graduating high school more so than turning 18 made me feel like an adult. When I walked through the parking lot for the last time I realized that I’m on my own now. I’m no longer going to be given gold stars for simply doing what the teacher says. I have no choice but to hustle now because the circumstances of my life will be from this point forward determined by my ability to produce results and provide value to society.

It is nerve-wracking to have all this responsibility placed on my shoulders, but at the same time I feel it’s been given to me in a very timely fashion. Sure, I’m going out on my own a bit earlier than my peers, but at the same time given how I’ve lived my life this feels very appropriate.

I’m Officially Headed To Asia

In early February I’ll embark on a three month adventure through Asia. Although I’d initially planned to travel alone I’ll now be accompanied by my brother and uncle for much of the first month. I’ll admit to being nervous for the trip, but I’m extremely excited for it as well. I believe it will serve as my rite of passage in transitioning from adolescence into adulthood.

Although I don’t have too many concrete plans for the trip I do intend to spend much of my time meeting up with and becoming active in the digital nomad communities in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Saigon, Vietnam. Regardless of how everything plays out I’m sure the journey will be transformational and fundamentally change the way I view the world.

Concluding Thoughts…

We need to wrap up as the flight into Dallas I’m aboard will be landing soon. I guess I’d say that 2015 has already brought tremendous change and it looks to be the most promising year I’ve ever had. I’m excited what new adventures life will bring to me this year, and of course I’m also excited to take the things I’ve learned and share them with you!

I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride and make 2015 the best year of your life! 🙂

Let’s make 2015 the year of facing all the things you fear!

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Use Your Finances Aggressively When You’re Young

Just got back a couple days ago from a weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic. I would’ve updated you sooner, but I’ve had World War III occurring in my stomach since eating some bad airport food 😉 I’m finally starting to feel better so I thought I’d shoot you a blog post.

Being that I just got back from the Dominican Republic and am on the road again to Dallas in a few days I thought I’d share with you today one of my favorite philosophies. I call it living on thin margins and aggressively investing your resources.

The inspiration for this blog post came from people constantly asking me how I’m affording all my travel this year. My parents don’t pay for my travel expenses and I just turned 18 years old. How the hell does a teenager get the money to graduate school early, and leave for a three month trip to Asia?

The secret? Cutting out all the nonessentials out of your life and aggressively investing your resources. For several years this has been a cornerstone in the way I live my life. The thing you’ve got to understand is that if you want to get ahead of the pack, doing it while you’re young is hands down the best time to do so.

You (presumably) have low recurring bills, because your parents are covering the majority of your expenses. Unfortunately, the problem with most teenagers is that they’re too dumb to realize this isn’t going to last forever.

You can’t be like most teenagers though. Remember, everybody wants the good life, but not everybody gets it. If you want a life that’s extraordinary you can’t take an ordinary approach.

What’s the ordinary approach most people take? Frivolously spending their money on shoes, fancy electronics, and other things they don’t really need.

The thing you’ve got to realize, however, is that material possessions don’t amount to increased levels of happiness. Well, at least sustained levels of happiness. The minute an expensive toy stops being a novelty you’re back to square one, only with $200 less in your pocket.

So what should you do? Invest in experiences. The reason I’m spending my money on a half-dozen trips this year is science has shown that experiences and memories are the things that produce lasting happiness in your life.

In a year when you’re expensive jeans are torn and unwearable they’re no longer going to contribute to your happiness, but in a year when I think about the memories I shared with the people I met in the Dominican Republic you can bet a smile will still come to my face.

OK, fair enough. Material possessions typically stop making you happy once their novelty wears off, while experiences tend to lead to more sustained happiness. You’re saying I should avoid consumerism. I can agree with that. But what I don’t agree with is you saying I should spend the majority of my money on experiences. Wouldn’t the best choice be to simply save all my money?

No, and I say no for a few reasons. The first is that life is short. You never know when you’re going to die. There’s too many people who have been tricked into saving all their money for retirement only to pass before they made it, or to reach retirement and realize that they were too old to do the things they’d always wanted to do.

You don’t have to be like Lil Wayne and live completely YOLO. A lot of lives have gotten destroyed that way as well, but like most things a balanced approach tends to lead to the most fruitful life.

The second reason I recommend against investing significant amounts of your money in the market is that while you’re young there’s a far better place for you to invest the majority of your money. It’s called your brain.

Although cutting expenses, and saving your change is an admirable approach to creating a secure financial future there’s an even better way. Increasing your income!

Like Bill Gates says, “The more you learn, the more you earn.” Investing in your education (which could mean college, but doesn’t necessarily) will greatly increase your ability to create generous streams of income for yourself.

Can you conceive of a reality in which reading books, spending money to attend conferences in your field, and traveling to meet your mentors wouldn’t pay off? If you’re an active thinker and are willing to take massive action the resources you invest into your education will pay off one-hundred-fold.

Perhaps the biggest reason I recommend you aggressively use your finances while you’re young is that doing so will allow you to attract better people into your life. Sure, you can work at your mediocre job scrounging together a dollar here and a dollar there, but do you think that’s going to attract great people into your life?

The person you want going to war with you probably isn’t your coworker at Wendy’s. You want the people who are going to hustle their asses off and push you to do the same. Unfortunately, these people may not be in your city or even your country. I’ve found two great people I want to work with, but one is currently traveling the world as a digital nomad while the other is in France.

It’d be great if they’d come to Wisconsin sometime, but the reality is that if I want them in my life I’m probably going to have inconvenience myself and fly overseas to meet them.

You’re probably going to have to inconvenience yourself in some way to meet the people you’d like to as well. Whether that means traveling to another country, paying for someone’s time to coach you, or doing bitch work to get someone to mentor and invest in you. Whatever the cost, DO IT. As the saying goes, the quality of your life is proportional to the five people you spend the most time with.

While you’re young you can expend significant energy and resources meeting these people that’ll push you to be the best you can be and show you ways to increase your income. This is the active thinker and hustler approach to life. If you’re willing to take massive action this is probably the path for you.

Otherwise, you can cut costs, and skip your morning latte hoping to scrounge together a dollar here and a dollar there to one day have enough money to be financially secure. This is the passive thinker approach for one that is uncomfortable with any uncertainty in life. Unfortunately, for the majority of people in life this is their best option (It still beats throwing money away at useless material possessions).

What I’d recommend you do is identify what type of person you are. Are you willing to hustle? Are you able to think creatively? If so there’s a good chance you’ll want to invest your money going to conferences, and traveling to meet the people you want to go to war with.

If you’re not willing to hustle and live aggressively then fuck off. Get used to associating with mediocre people, and living a mediocre life. The world is crazy, but it’s not a crazy enough place to give you something you don’t deserve.

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If you enjoyed this post consider picking up a copy of Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity. It’s a great book that is centered around the same line of thought.

(Pictures from January 2015 in the Dominican Republic.)

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