My Journey III – Mistakes

A Stupid Idea

I had a long time problem: I felt uncomfortable in clubs. For years I haven’t been an outgoing person at all, often felt awkwardly out of place and didn’t enjoy my time at parties. I always wanted to change this and as all other parts of my life where progressing nicely, I decided it was finally time to become more social – becoming more comfortable in clubs seemed like a good first step.

So, over the course of some weeks I went out at least three nights a week, woke up late and tired and did it all over again. After a couple of months I even felt at home in clubs… so, success! Right?

Another Stupid Idea…

Nope! One morning I woke up and thought: “FUCK! I have uni deadlines!” Indeed, I had to turn in some paperwork and partying certainly hadn’t helped that. I canceled all events and sat down for 12-hour days for two weeks. After turning in those papers I felt exhausted and came up with another great idea: “Let’s take a break from uni for a week! What’s the worst that can happen?” Who would have guessed? One week turned into 4 weeks and soon I was far behind.

Not only that – partying often and staying up late messed up my sleep schedule and derailed my routines and habits. Suddenly I gave in to excuses to skip going to the gym “today” (or tomorrow… ah, who am I kidding: the whole week!) and fell off my path completely. Additionally, my father being brought into a hospital, an hour before my heart had been broken by a girl I loved left me in a really bad spot.

At this point, I didn’t care about sharing what I had learned anymore. I stopped working out, stopped my meditation, cold showers, and journaling routines and found no motivation to work on my blog or anything else for that matter. I lost my purpose.

The Feeling of Purpose

To top it all off, I had to work on the weekend, which, instead of making the situation worse, turned out to be the best thing that could have happened – I made myself a promise. No matter how heartbroken I was or how miserable my situation seemed: I would make everyone’s day. So I did. Even though I felt sad and exhausted, I made everyone enjoy their time at work. People came to me with an expression that left one wondering why they hadn’t written “FUCK MY LIFE – I HAVE TO WORK ON WEEKENDS” on their forehead – they left with a high five and a big smile. Through those interaction I reignited my purpose, I felt the impact that simple day to day actions had on others and why I had decided to go down this path in the first place.

Over the weekend I wrote down what was going wrong, why it was going wrong and what I needed to do to fix it. It was a long list, but I felt confident to tackle it one by one, one day at a time. So that’s what I did: I started incredibly small and worked myself up from there. My time studying increased from five minutes each day, to four hours a day one month later. I reintroduced my morning and evening routines, set up a regular workout schedule and fought my way back on my path. In the span of a few weeks I was back at it. My routines were going strong, I made great progress in all important areas of my life. I even wrote 1/3 of my 9 month master thesis in one month!

Back on the Path

That was when I decided to take up blogging again to further my mission of helping others to reach their potential, but when I read the articles I had written in January, I realized they lacked structure and direction, so I scraped what I had and started over. I read books about how to write (who would have guessed I had to learn that, after writing uni papers for my whole adult life) and devised a plan to get my blog online. Countless failed drafts, hours upon hours of reading and research, writing and rewriting, planning and communicating lead to what you are reading now.

Of course these blogs posts are only a small glimpse at my journey and what I’ve learned along the way. I didn’t get to where I am alone. I had great mentors like Tim Ferriss, Jocko Willink, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Gary Vaynerchuck and others, who taught me most of what I know.

On my journey I’ve learned a lot, and while I am still learning, I want to share which tools, mindsets, ideas and strategies helped me so far, so they can help you, too. Whether you read an article about how to become disciplined which helps you go to the gym regularly, or how gratitude helps you appreciate more of life, or why a purpose helps you prioritize and many more: My mission is that you’ll eventually be able to visit this blog whenever you feel stuck,  have a problem or want to improve and find something of value.

Feel free to check out my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and sign up for my Newsletter below. I’d love to hear from you!

The Self-Help Trap

If you read this blog you are most likely looking for ways to improve. Maybe you want to exercise regularly or eat healthy. Maybe you want to start a new business or improve your social skills. Whatever it is you want, it all starts with action.

If you look at comments under motivational pictures, inspiring videos or blog posts like this, you’ll read one specific kind of comment all the time: “Nice content. But no one does this anyway.”

And you know what? It’s true.

Only a minority of people reading a post like this execute on the advice given. As a writer this is what I fear the most: That you will read this post and not take action. You may think that’s already not true, because by reading this article you have already taken action, right? Yeah, kind of. For better understanding let’s clarify what I mean by action.

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.”

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Execution and Theory

For me, action is divided into “theory” and “execution”.

Theory is preparation.

It’s reading, researching, watching, listening, thinking and waiting. Of course theory is not bad – quite the contrary: theory is useful to reach good decisions, to become more efficient and to get new ideas. It’s a good starting point for something new and a guidance for topics to improve in. Theory is also easier than execution. Especially in this age, you often don’t even have to take any real risks.

What happens most of the time though is that you stay in the realm of theory so long, it becomes a burden. At that point theory turns into procrastination. You are avoiding to execute on your idea by reading posts like this one, researching and planning. That’s why I view theory as action only as long as it is needed to start executing, but when is more theory too much?

This is where execution is important – purposeful execution.

“Purposeful” means, that your action is necessary for the advancement of your goals. At a certain point more theory is not necessary; that’s when it turns into inaction and execution should take its place. Another way of looking at it is doing what feels right. It’s listening to the voice that says “you know, we do not need to read another book about exercise to go to the gym, right?” and then – go to the gym instead of doing more research.

Stuck in Theory

I was stuck in the realm of theory very recently, when I wanted to start this blog.

I had many excuses for not starting: “Who am I to write about self-improvement?” or “I need more time!”. When I decided I was going to start anyways I had hundreds of excuses to not go through with it: “I need to do more research!” or “I need more information!” and “I need to improve my writing!”. Then my friends’ advice was added on top of it all.

If I took everything to heart and only started when I was absolutely ready, I would have been stuck in the realm of theory forever. I’m not even ready now! Still, I know I need to start executing, so that’s what I do.

“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

Derek Sivers, “Tools of Titans”

Regrets

Now that this blog is public, one might think I would regret not having done more research, improved my writing or incorporated more feedback. Instead I have only one thought:

I regret not starting earlier.

This is also true for many new things I’ve picked up in my life, after procrastinating or just preparing to execute for weeks and months. Among them, cornerstones of my routines like meditation and exercise, but also new interests like martial arts and dancing.

For many people not having executed on an idea earlier, or, worse, not at all, will be a great source of regret – and regret is terrifying. Thoughts like “I wonder what if…” or “I wish I had done …” are tragic and more often than not originate from not taking action or not executing.

Conclusion

So, after reading this article you can read more articles on this blog, or go to YouTube to watch a motivational video, or read another self-help book. But at the end of the day, this will only get you so far. To take your life to the next level you have to move away from theory and into action.

You have to execute!