Who cares about “what they’d say to their 18 year old self” articles? 18 year olds don’t. They’re too busy navigating the extremes.
Personally, my hardest crisis was in my early 30s. For some, it can be a comfortable period where the youthful extremes level out as families and careers emerge. But for others– and we know who we are – we don’t feel so comfortable.
As I entered middle age, there was a period of intense stagnation and isolation. I was a freelance artworker in London – the bottom of the print design food chain. I had no aspiration other than to make money to pay my living expenses.
The rest of my time was spent watching TV, taking drugs, indulging in negative self-talk and trying to get laid.
What this got to do with business? Well, everything. Your physical, mental and spiritual well-being all have bearing on your business’s success. So here’s what I’d say to my 30 year old self:
Yes, things are really bad and it’s all your fault
The most important lesson I learned in this period was to stop seeing myself as separate from the world.
I saw myself as a poor tiny vessel adrift on the ocean – without control and vulnerable to the wind and the waves.
Something bad would happen to me and I would blame my bad luck, other people or something else external to me.
One day I said to myself: “it’s all my fault”. And then everything was OK.
Whether it’s true or not, I now believe I can change my thoughts, my character and my environment from the inside out.
Yes, you’re a loser but you won’t always be
But, really, I wouldn’t be too hard on myself. The temptation would be to kick this 30 year old up the bum and tell him to grow up and be a man. That would probably have been well deserved but it wouldn’t have done any good – it would have only resulted in more negative self talk from the 30-something.
I would try to encourage: Yes, you do a crap job with no future, no esteem and no opportunity for advancement. But these apparent disadvantages will soon become advantages.
You may be the bottom of the food chain as a freelancer, but it teaches you:
- to manage the financial uncertainties of the “feast and famine” periods
- the adaptability to jump from job to job
- to observe what’s working in multiple businesses within a certain niche
- and, obviously, the technical work that the many jobs require
These capabilities were completely unrecognised by myself and others at the time. However, the adaptability, resourcefulness and technical knowledge helped me set up and run my first online business.
“Yes,” I would say to my 30 year old self, “you suck at work but that’s not a bad thing”. Things change.
The way you look at things will change. The way the world looks at things will change. You won’t care about today’s worries tomorrow so you may as well stop worrying.
Look after your body
So, if you want to improve yourself. If you want to be attractive to the humans you’re attracted to. If you want to attract a life that is stimulating, exciting and rewarding. If you are at rock bottom, you have to change everything.
You can start with your body. Take strenuous physical exercise everyday or three times a week, minimum.
Eat better food. Sleep well. Don’t be habitual with any substance (alcohol or other) that isn’t nourishing your body.
Of course, all this is easy to say. It’s not easy to do unless you’re excited about change and believe it’s possible.
You can get out of this rut by deciding that you can get out of this rut. After that, things will get easier.
Look after your mind
You need all your power, energy, chi or prana. Here’s how you store it up:
- Avoid negativity. Avoid negative people. Don’t watch the news, game shows, reality shows, chat shows or anything on TV – the news is not educating you about the world. It’s educating you to fear the world.
- Avoid arguments about politics, sex, religion, anything. Don’t spend any energy asserting your point of view on anyone and people will soon realise the pointlessness of asserting their opinions on you and move on to their next victim.
- Avoid blame. Accept bad situations. Try to improve them rather than blaming yourself or anyone else for them.
- Avoid complaining. Avoid judgement.
All suffering comes from our brain’s inability to accept the present moment.
You’ll never been able to completely eradicate judgement from your mind but I think I’ve been able to reduce it. This has freed up my thinking and allowed my mind to concentrate on other things: learning web design, studying self help psychology, creating and selling info-products, etc.
If you want to get deeper into this, try Productivity Hacks for the Lazy and Undisciplined.
Look after your spirit
When you feel you can change your thoughts, habits, internal reality and external reality, life becomes easier. How do you do this? Meditation. Meditation is the best way to start.
Meditation is present moment non-judgmental observation.
You should try to meditate everyday at the same time of the day. Sit and close your eyes and concentrate on the feeling of your breath entering and leaving your body. If you find yourself thinking or daydreaming about anything, notice it and put your attention back to the feeling of your breath entering and leaving your body.
You are not separate from the world. You are not a poor tiny vessel adrift on the ocean – without control and vulnerable to the waves and the weather. You are everything you eat, you see, you touch, you listen to; you’re everyone you meet and everything you interact with. Everything, in fact.
So, love everything.
I could do it…
That’s what I’d try to say to my 30 year old self. It would be a hard sell, I know. But I would start with meditation and avoiding negative thoughts.
If only they’d taught me that at school…
What did you think of my advice to me as a 30 year old? If you’re 30 or younger, what did you think of that? And, if you’re older than 30, what would you say to your 30 year old self?
Let me know in the comments.