As a guy who was, and still is, lucky to be alive. To be born to hard-working parents. To people who are still the clear example of what one can achieve just by believing in a better life. And finally in a place that just happened to be on a rising economic slope.
I’ve seen lightning high risers and blazing low descenders.
I still can’t certainly say what paved the way for either. But I’ve got some guesses.
First, a bit of a back-story.
On the street where I grew up, there were quite some different types of people. Some hard-working, some hedonistic lazies and some in between. Among all of them, lots of good and lots of bad in random proportions.
It was then, at a young age, I somehow realized that you can more or less choose who you want to be.
I saw it as a pretty simple to understand fact. When I was around one or the other group I started behaving like them. Mostly because I wanted to fit in but also unconsciously picking up their language and beliefs.
At a certain point I mildly panicked, seeing how easily I could change gears. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me. Everybody seemed so fixed in their behavior.
But nobody is fixed, really. It was all a decision they took sometime in their life. And stuck with it.
I just hadn’t decided on that yet.
The choices were right there in my immediate proximity. Looking back, I didn’t have many choices. Two to be exact:
- The hard-working parent-pleaser. Which meant high grades in school and going to university.
- The lazy hedonist. Which meant wasting time outside and get money doing illegal things.
I didn’t feel sold by either.
What I liked was wasting time understanding how gadgets work and tinkering with my computer. An old Pentium 166MMX with a whopping 16mb of RAM.
Pretty soon my choice was that I would do only what I like. School never really bothered me with my plan since just paying attention in class was enough to get good grades.
My plan was to just wing it until I had better choices.
And better choices presented to me once I went to university.
I chose the passionate hard-workers who focus on improving the world.
This simple phrase is the core of who I chose to be. This brings us to the first ingredient for a good life.
1. Choose who you are
Sure, you’re born with a preset of traits and possibilities. But you can move away and choose something that’s not available right away.
You need to wait a bit? Surely that sounds better than choosing a dull (or dangerous) immediate path.
You need to improve some traits? Surely that sound better than losing opportunity after opportunity to live a good life.
I waited and I chose to improve things that kept me from reaching where I wanted to be. Was it worth it? Well, I’ve never had to deal drugs and steal in order to have money to do things I enjoy.
All I had to do was what I’ve decided I love: improve the word by helping one person at a time.
And you know what? That core drive to help people around me did 3 things:
- It pushed me to learn how to do new things. This eventually got me into Marketing.
- It created a network of people around me that enabled me to grow and access opportunities I would otherwise not have.
- It reinforced my drive to be and do more following the core mission I set for myself.
2. Ride the wave before jumping in the water
For your big life decisions, don’t listen to your parents or friends.
Or anyone, for that matter. People give advice from their perspective and in fact that only applies to them. Not you.
It took me a long time to understand that. Very few people can give advice from an unbiased standpoint. That doesn’t mean you block any people from imparting their wisdom to you. Wisdom is something to be pursued.
What I mean is: listen to as many people as you feel comfortable and translate that into your unique point of view. If the principle behind it doesn’t apply – ignore it. If it does, consider it and see how it fits the puzzle of what you already know first-hand.
The only person in the world that is qualified to answer the question to your big life decision is yourself.
Riding the wave before jumping into water means that you imagine the full experience of a decision as vividly as possible and see where that leads you.
It’s important to imagine all possibilities until their end. What is the ultimate goal you’re going to reach.
If you don’t, you won’t be fully committed and you’ll be stuck or wish you had decided differently.
Once you’ve reached a decision, count backwards from three
And simply do it.
3. Switch gears properly
So many times I forgot to change gears that I consider this skill (yes, skill) one of the most important for living a good life. Not just a good work life or sex life or fun life or – you get the point.
When I first heard “live your life in moderation” I scoffed.
I don’t want a moderate life, I want an amazing one.
The thing I didn’t know then was that life isn’t the sum of its parts. Just like an orchestra is so much more than the sum of all instruments.
Sure, all instruments must play nicely but not continuously nor as loud as possible.
It’s all about properly changing gears of all instruments and pausing from time to time in order to have an orchestra that plays beautifully. Bringing audiences ecstatic experiences.
Now, all things in moderation means for me that you’re careful to play the orchestra not individual instruments.
Every part of your life needs attention. Learning the skill of dosing that attention and being present in each part as a conductor – with passion and dedication – is overall one of the important skills we oftentimes forget about.