The Book That Changed My Life
“You know, there’s a good book I’ve read recently; it’s called Tools of Titans.”, my friend told me in the summer of 2017. Having experienced the profound effects of Jocko Willink’s podcasts and becoming disciplined, checking out this book was a no-brainer. Author Tim Ferriss compiled insightful answers to the fascinating question of how people became successful. Through reading it I learned many lessons, two of which had a profound impact on my life:
First, I developed an understanding of how many people become successful without going down the traditional path of high school into college into 9-to-5 into retirement. A concept that I hadn’t questioned before. Second, I’ve learned a lot about new strategies and tools to live the life I wanted. I didn’t need to go down the traditional path that I followed unwittingly for the past 26 years. Tools of Titans opened the door to previously unknown possibilities – for the first time in my life, I realized that the choice of what I wanted to do with my life was truly mine.
For the first time, I asked myself open-mindedly where my life was going: Was it in tune with my goals and desires? Surprisingly, I didn’t have an answer. Upon further thinking I realized: I had no clear vision for my future at all. Instead, I had simply been going along with what seemed safe and reasonable, without ever asking myself if that was what I really wanted.
Feeling lost, I decided to pursue the one thing that I had developed a passion for after reading Tools of Titans: To work on myself, to grow, and learn. Without being aware of it myself, this passion was something I always had in me: I played competitive video games with the goal to improve. I strove for excellent grades when I didn’t have to, and when 90% of students didn’t even read assigned texts, I not only read, summarized, and highlighted them but also took pages of notes. The missing link: I never applied this mindset to the way I lived my life as a whole. That changed.
As I started to apply this mindset to my life, I began meditating, read daily, signed up for a gym, ran regularly, ate healthily, and doubled down on my efforts for university. My goal was to improve – and that, I did. Slowly but surely, I began to tread on the path of improvement.
Signs of Doubt
As I learned, read, and tried myself out, I felt like my life had suddenly become great: In reality, this feeling came from doing all the things I always wanted to do: I ate healthily, exercised, tripled down on studying, and read a ton of books. I didn’t do all these things before because I had convinced myself to be a person that didn’t need to eat healthily, wasn’t in need of exercise, and content with my sleep schedule (getting up as late as 12 AM sometimes). Any time I felt that this was not true with my what I really felt, I quickly buried these true feelings under a vast amount of excuses and rationalizations which kept me in my status quo. After I started doing them, progress quickly became visible and the amount of discipline needed to maintain this process steadily decreased. I was becoming more and more productive by the day and felt a lot better about my direction in life.
After some time I realized that my deep passion for self-development started to outshine my passion for my studies. I became deeply conflicted. “Should I quit university after all those years to follow my newly found passion?” Of course, that was a stupid idea … right?! Without a clear answer, my motivation for studying took a nosedive. For two months I wrestled with the question of where I wanted to take my life. As I thought and wrote about this, I concluded that self-development was my real passion and that I wanted to share it with others. University didn’t fit that plan.
So, around New Year’s eve 2017 I sat down with my friend for a beer, pondering the question of where to go and what to do with my life. During our conversation, he asked me a simple question: “What do you want to do in life?” Without hesitation, I replied: “Help others!” He smiled. “You know you can do that without quitting uni, right?”
I went silent for a moment, dumbstruck by this simple observation. I realized that I had needlessly backed myself into a corner: I had thought about this problem as an either-or decision. I completely disregarded that I could go down both paths simultaneously. My plan was to put in the work for uni, while continuously working on myself. I also started to think about how could I share what I had learned with others.
In January of 2018, I put my thoughts on paper and outlined how I wanted to achieve my goals, and more importantly, why I wanted to achieve those goals. Armed with a purpose, a plan, discipline, and knowledge from countless self-development resources, I started to set up a blog to share what I’ve learned with the world. From January until the end of April this vision became more defined with the help of Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring Suite.
As a result, those months turned into some of the most productive months ever: I woke up early, worked hard for university and my blog, read more, learned more, exercised regularly, and tried new things. The days flew by. The amount of knowledge I had gathered that I wanted to share with the world increased every day. It seemed like everything was coming together when I had a really stupid idea.