One of my goals is to struggle well. Yes, it’s vague. But it’s what I genuinely believe in. To me, being able to struggle well is the way to live a good life.
In another area — take money, for example — my goal is to invest 25% of my income for the long-term. Yours might be different. To my dad, it’s about having a roof over the head and foods on the table.
Clearly, we all have different goals in life and want to accomplish different things.
But based on my observation, there are fundamentals in life where if you get them right, you get to accelerate in light speed and guaranteed with a life well-lived.
I was reading a book about Stoicism over the past few months (Thank you, Jonas) and one simple idea stood out to me.
Focus on what you control.
This simple idea is the core of Stoicism. We often spend too much time and energy focusing on things that are outside of our control — and they inevitably lead to false expectations and then, disappointments and resentments.
Instead of expressing ourselves outward, we should always look inward. Because ultimately, the only thing we can control is ourselves. We can’t control our environment and circumstances, but we can always control our reaction and action.
On a deeper level, there are things that fall within our circle of control (total control), our circle of influence (partial control), and outside of our control.
The secret here is to focus on the most inner layer, improve the second layer with little to no attachment, and ignore the outer layer at all costs.
We’re spending more than half of our lifetime at work — which means two things: 1) You have to love what you do and 2) You need to get really good at it.
Notice that I’m saying “love what you do” instead of “do what you love.”
The truth is that most of us don’t know what we love — at least in the beginning. At the same time, it takes time to cultivate the love for our work. There is no way for you to love what you do if you don’t do it in the first place.
And the best way to love what you do is to get really good at it.
In his book Mastery, Robert Greene calls this finding your life’s task. Here are a few (oversimplified) tips to help you navigate the process:
At the end of the day, the process of finding your life’s task is not about following your passion. It’s about testing things out and playing into your strengths to develop skills through continuous learning and improvement.
With that, you get to become so good that no one can ignore you.
I’m going to quit being philosophical and get back down to the basics. Focus on what you control and master what you do takes time. What about something that is more down to earth? Something we can work on to improve immediately?
Our health, money, and relationships. I called them the building blocks of a good life.
Yes, we might not have full control over them. We don’t know when we’re going to get sick. We’re not certain if you’re getting fired the next day for unforeseen reasons. We can’t be sure the people around us will always love us.
Health, money, and relationships — they get influenced by things outside of our control, and they could be taken away from us at any time.
However, they are good to have and make up a big part of our lives. Furthermore, we do have control over our actions to partially influence the outcome we get. And the partial control we have makes it our responsibility to manage these building blocks well.
Optimizing these building blocks is too big of a topic for this article. Instead, here are some quick tips on how to get them right:
Remember: While you have these building blocks, it’s your job to protect and manage them well.
Clearly, most people have these in reverse.
They focus on external things that are outside of their control. They then hop in and out of work based on how they feel. And they disregard their health, finances, and relationships.
I would sum the above up into two reasons:
Now that you learned about the three fundamentals of a good life, I want to hear your thoughts. Do you agree? And what are you going to do next?
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Dean is a strong voice in the self-mastery space. His newsletter consistently delivers insightful ideas on how to become a better version of yourself and is the only newsletter that I always read.
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