Why do most people’s lives not pan out the way they had hoped? It’s very simple. Most people are ruled by momentary pleasures — things that stimulate them or are satisfying in the short-term. Unfortunately, by definition, the things that lead to success, the things that lead to being an outlier, can’t be what the majority do.
Most people indulge in things that gratify them in the short term — unhealthy food, drugs, alcohol, porn, procrastination, etc. For that reason, avoiding a mediocre life means you’ll need to craft your environment, mindset, and approach to life in a way that’ll enable you to avoid these things.
Doing so isn’t easy, but it’s also not complicated. Have a vision for yourself and understand that while what you’re doing isn’t easy in the short-term, it’ll lead to great things and fulfillment in the long-term.
In May 2017 I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand with my girlfriend for a month. I have to say, that this past May was one of the best months of my life. Everyday I woke up with a beautiful 21 year old girl in my bed, had warm weather, enjoyed delicious meals, worked on my schedule, and had the opportunity to explore a peaceful mountain city. That was a nice month.
At the same time, I can also remember how different my life used to be. When I was 14 years old I worked as a soccer referee. When I was 17, I worked at Dairy Queen. Finally, when I was 18, I worked on the famous Apple Holler farm as an entertainer, SEO consultant, and video editor.
As you mature and grow your skills, you’ll inevitably have more interesting career opportunities. There is one thing I miss about working my old job at Dairy Queen, however. When I worked at Dairy Queen I had motivation to hustle so that I could eventually find a more desirable position. While working at Dairy Queen, the depressive 9-5 (or 4-11 rather) monotony motivated me to avoid complacency and develop my skills.
Ideally, you’d have intrinsic motivation from within. For most people this isn’t the case though — especially young people. Most need external motivation to hustle. Fortunately, a shitty 9-5 can give you that motivation. Living in Chiang Mai where the weather is nice, women are beautiful, and cost of living is low probably wouldn’t.
For that reason, I always recommend you make a habit of hustling while at the job you hate. Doing so will serve you well in escaping your 9-5 and getting to paradise. It will also ensure you have the discipline to sustain yourself and become increasingly prosperous once you’re here.
An interesting connection I’ve seen the past few years traveling the world, is that those with the most self-discipline tend to have the most self-respect. This isn’t accurate 100% of the time, but generally the people that have control over themselves and the ability to skip momentary pleasures tend to feel a lot more positively about themselves.
The people that are able to delay gratification and strive to live up to the vision they have of themselves tend to be the happiest. This applies across cultures. As such, here’s my recommendation to maximize happiness over the course of your life.
Don’t try to become happy by stimulating yourself. Eating junk food, taking drugs, or watching porn aren’t going to make you happy in the long-term. Instead, cultivate discipline.
Do the difficult things you fear, or that require willpower. Attack the obstacles that stand between you and your goals. Over time you’ll become much happier as you come into alignment with the vision you once set for your life.
Imagine four ladders propped up against four respective skyscrapers. Each skyscraper has a surprise waiting for you on the roof. For the purpose of this metaphor, let’s ignore the absurdity of climbing a ladder to the top of an 80 floor skyscraper.
Ok, now you’ve got to make a decision. Which ladder are you going to climb? To make that decision, there’s some different things you’ll need to consider. First, you’ll have to ask yourself which ladders you’re capable of climbing. Perhaps some ladders are too tall for you to have energy to climb. Or, perhaps you’re too heavy and the ladders aren’t strong enough to hold you.
Beyond your climbing abilities, you’ll also have to ponder what may be at the top of each ladder. While you can never know for sure, it’s possible consulting with other intelligent people could give you a general idea of what may be at the top. Climbing some ladder may be more profitable than others.
Finally, you’ll have to ask yourself whether you care about the reward at the top of each ladder. Perhaps one ladder has a loving wife at the top, but only a modest amount of money. Another may have incredible riches, but poor health.One may have an endless amount of great sex with beautiful young women, but a disappointed family. The last ladder may be extremely short with lots of goodies as you climb, but at the top you’ll be ambushed and pushed off the edge to your death.
Life is exactly the same as this metaphor. There will be different ladders for you to climb. Some ladders be easy for you to climb, but ultimately unfulfilling (such as drugs or possibly the corporate ladder for some individuals). Other ladders may be difficult for you to climb, but provide a great reward when you finally reach the top.
The important thing, is you find the ladder that’s going to be the best fit for you. Ideally, you’ll choose the right ladder at a young age and be able to reach the rooftop. You’ll choose to become a programmer, become extremely successful in your profession, and be forever passionate about it.
This doesn’t happen for most us, however. More likely, you’ll “waste” some time climbing the wrong ladders in your life before stumbling on the right one. When this happens, it’s important to ignore sunk costs.
Just because you’ve been climbing the ladder in corporate sales from a young age doesn’t mean you need to continue doing so forever. Doing so could be advantageous, because others would have difficulty catching up. However, it’s important to also be introspective and balance the benefits you’ve accumulated from your past decisions along with the future you’d like to create for yourself.
There is no one right ladder. There’s only the right ladder for you. Climb it. Reach the top. Enjoy the rewards.
Today, let’s talk about a little trap people often get caught in. Lately, I’ve been with my girlfriend and she’s been saying things like,
#1 “It doesn’t matter if we eat this unhealthy food because it’s only one time”
#2 “We don’t need to exercise today because we won’t get fat from one day of not exercising”
Let’s examine when this may be true and when this way of thinking is delusional. To be fair, this thinking is true to some extent. If you truly only ate an unhealthy food one time it wouldn’t impact your health much. The question is, however, are you really only going to eat that food one time?
When you indulge in an undesirable behavior like smoking or skipping exercise, neural pathways within your brain are firing. You are effectively conditioning yourself to get better at doing those activities. You’re training yourself to follow certain patterns.
That, is why doing something one time can be truly dangerous. The alcoholic didn’t say he was going to become an alcoholic. He said he was going to drink one beer with his friends in high school to be cool. Likewise, the obese person really did believe that eating cake “just one time” wouldn’t hurt them.
Initiate Panic Mode
Fortunately, that’s not necessary. While doing something one time can end up being extremely harmful, it doesn’t need to be. Some people can truly just do something one time and then get on with their lives. That often isn’t me, however, and it’s probably not you either.
Here’s a better strategy for you. If you want to indulge in one of your vices, say cookies, a prostitute, beer, etc, tie your indulgence to a specific event. This works wonders in preventing you from becoming a degenerate addict.
You can say, I’m free to eat cookies, but only when my Grandma cooks them. I’m not allowed to buy cookies from the stores or eat them with my friends. You could also only drink beer for your friends’ birthday parties, or limit yourself to only drinking two Saturday nights per calendar month.
If you’re into prostitutes (I have no opinion positive or negative), you could limit yourself to only meeting a prostitute if you haven’t had sex for 1 month. Plus, after you have sex with the prostitute, the timer resets. If you consider prostitution a vice, this limited contact would encourage you to meet more girls in natural situations.
Overall, however, the idea is this. Tie your addiction or vices to external events. That way, there’s a clear limit to how much you can indulge in them. Even better, you won’t have to use willpower getting yourself to stick to those limits.
Something many young people say, and that I once said myself is that, “I don’t want to be rich. I just want to do something I love and be happy.”
Today, I’d like to tell you why this is flawed thinking. Why thinking this way isn’t helpful, and why it’s even selfish. First, however, let’s talk about why this manner of thinking sounds noble. “I don’t care about being rich. I don’t need the material possessions of this world. I just want to do something that fulfills my soul.”
That sounds nice right? I’d agree with you. Here’s the problem, however. While you don’t need to fly in private jets, or eat $100 dinners, failing to make a solid income is incredibly selfish. Why? You don’t need to be carelessly spending on a lavish lifestyle to be happy, but it is important you at least have the financial reserves to take care of the people you care about.
Mom is stuck in a cold place like Minnesota or Wisconsin? Fly her out on the dream trip of her life to Playa Del Carmen or Bali. Grandma is sick and in poor health? Having a solid income with money in the bank ensures you have the ability to visit her, and make her smile before she passes.
It’s difficult to be happy if you can’t take care of and offer a comfortable lifestyle to the people you love. Living here in Thailand, money is very important. Money is what allowed me to fly my girlfriend and I over to Thailand and enjoy a month-long trip in a beautiful apartment with a pool, gym, and sensational view of the mountains. It allowed us to take a cooking class, go zip-lining, and dine at some nice restaurants.
Increasing your income allows you to do all of these things — without having to worry about whether you’re going to have any cash left at the end of the month. That’s why I encourage you to focus on money more and not be a digital nomad that forever tries to scrape by on $800/month.
If you asked the average person their strategy for building wealth, they’d probably talk about skipping Starbucks and investing in their 401k. In short, they’d discuss frugality.
Frugality can be useful in building wealth. It is the percentage of your income you save, rather than your income itself that determines when you’ll be able to retire. Yet, frugality is only helpful up to a certain point.
If you’ve ever been a digital nomad, for example, you may have seen people talking about the cost of living between Chiang Mai, Thailand and Saigon, Vietnam. While nomads in Chiang Mai may spend $700/month, perhaps Saigon nomads spend $850/month.
It’s a small amount of money. Perhaps saving a hundred dollars or so per month is important your first couple years as a nomad. As someone in your late 20s or 30s, however, cost of living between two cities that similar shouldn’t even factor into your decision.
The fact is, you can only reduce your expenses so much. It’s possible to live as an expat in Vietnam for under $500/month. I know, I’ve done it before. Yet, consider an income of $2,500/month.
Reducing your expenditures from $1,000/month to $500/month would allow you to bank $2,000/month. Or, you could continue spending $1,000/month and increase your income to $3,000/month. Both would result in you saving 2k per month, yet there’s no limit on how much you can increase your income.
Plus, when your budget gets really low, you start to sacrifice on food quality, social life, networking, and things that’ll give you a higher quality of life and more professional opportunities later on.
In short, the rich get rich from expanding their incomes more than just trying to live off bread and rice. That doesn’t mean to get caught on the hedonic treadmill and hire people to shine your shoes and drop grapes in your mouth.
It merely means to live a balanced life. Spend money when doing do will lead to better health, increased networking opportunities, and leisure activities that will bring you true happiness. Be frugal, but not overly so.
It’s better to invest that excess frugal energy into increasing your income once you’ve already gotten your spending down to a reasonable level.
You dreams are what you *would* be doing if you had money!”
Let’s analyze the motivation behind this. Following your passion means saying I like doing “X”, so, I’m going to do “X”. Unfortunately, following your passion often forgets to take into account the most important factor when considering a career — the market.
You don’t care if I like juggling. You want an entertaining performance for your child’s birthday party or corporate event. Similarly, I don’t care if you appreciate being able to work remotely. I just want someone to help me move my blog from one webhost to another.
Besides the possibility of earning a low wage or creating a business that fails, following your passion doesn’t even guarantee you’ll continue to be passionate about something. Consider the countless examples of people who liked cooking, but found they hated owning a restaurant.
In addition, consider that many employers advertise “doing something you love” as an excuse to pay you less. This is why WallStreetPlayboys is encouraging you to simply follow the $$$. Doing so, will provide you a life of material comfort.
By minimizing your expenses, it’s also possible to retire from a well paid corporate gig in a decade or less (WHAT? See how here). Of course, there’s also a balance to be struck.
I wouldn’t suggest you intentionally go into a field you hate simply because it’s well paid. Being an orthodontist is a pretty sweet gig, but if you hate school, downing an extra decade of your life in education may not be feasible to you.
The best gigs tend to be at the crossroad between compensation and purpose. Teaching English to children in Mexico may be spiritually fulfilling, but doing so is probably going to land you less than $1,000/month. Coding can pay well, but depending on the project, may not be meaningful.
If on the other hand, you designed webpages for English schools, you could feel you were making a contribution while also being well compensated. That my friend, is the quadrant you want to be operating in.
I’ve been to many cities in my life. Saigon, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Phnom Penh, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Dallas, Milwaukee, Chicago… the list goes on and on. Only now, am I starting to get some kind of idea of the city I’d like to live in when I’m older. Before I started traveling in 2015, I would’ve had no idea what place I’d want to live in.
That’s the simple and biggest reason you shouldn’t buy a house in your early 20s. You don’t want to commit yourself to living somewhere before you know it’s the best place for you. Your location impacts your happiness almost as much as your career and the people you spend time with.
Do you want to live in a city that’s always warm or that has four distinct seasons? Is living in a primarily English speaking city important to you? Is air pollution a deal breaker? What’s the dating culture like in your potential dream cities? Do you require vegetarian restaurants? Is nightlife important to you? Would you rather live near the mountains, or the beach? Are you a laid back small town guy, or a big city hustler? Is being in close proximity to other countries important for your occupation? Are there likeminded entrepreneurs, a tech scene, real estate opportunities, or something else business related that’s important for your city to provide you? How important is being near your parents when they retire?
We could go on and on and on. I wouldn’t recommend buying a house for residential purposes at a young age at all, but if you decide you’re at that phase in your life, these questions and more are all important for you to consider.
Unfortunately, many of these questions are difficult to answer if you don’t have a wide perspective from living or at least visiting dozens of towns/cities in your life. It can also be difficult to know which city will provide you the best economic opportunities before settling into a specific industry yourself.
For that reason, you’re generally better off delaying a house purchase until you’re older and more established. Rent and explore when you’re young. You’ll have plenty of time to settle down and own a house when you’re older… if you even want to at that point.
Cancel your cable television subscription. You’ll save money, you’ll save time, and you’ll be more successful. Bonus points if you sell your television as well. In addition, consider making a more restorative habit your new form of leisure.
Instead of sitting in front of the tube after a long day of work, write a blog, do yoga, go for a walk, or meditate. Besides being better for your finances, all of these activities will also do more than television to restore you. These activities will more deeply recharge you, and leave you in a better position to do quality work the next day.