How to swim
In this final part I specify 4 tactics that will help you to become a fish that swims.
1. Reorganise your life
Here are 4 simple steps that you can follow to reorganise your life for the better:
Step 1 – Identify the trees you climb
These are the things that you don’t like doing, the things you get frustrated with, find boring or just don’t serve a purpose.
If you’re procrastinating or feel unusually bored, sad or tired whilst doing a task, you’re probably climbing a tree.
Step 2 – Remove as many trees as possible
The easiest way to remove trees is to use an acronym I have just invented – “can’t be ASSED” –
Use these verbs to deal with each task that you identified in step 1.
The optimum strategy is to eliminate all trees; however, this can’t always be done, so use other methods, like automating, simplifying and systemising, to reduce the amount of time you spend climbing.
Some trees may take longer to chop down than others. Just be professional and stage the deforestation.
If John wants to quit his job as a heart surgeon, he’s not going to throw in the scalpel halfway through a heart transplant.
John’s a professional, he cares for others and he knows the difference between right and wrong, he’s not heartless – I know… I don’t know how I come up with them either 😉.
He can still go to live in Mexico and become a skydiving instructor in 6 to 24 months’ time if he wants.
Stage the deforestation.
The same goes for a shop assistant who wants to be a musician, a baker who wants to write novels or an engineer who wants to sell industrial-scale gingerbread men.
The fact is that, unless you are terminally ill, you have time.
You may need to maintain your income in the short term but if you work around your job to build a better life, you can make the transition from tree to lake pretty easily; especially with the contacts, opportunities and information now available on the internet.
Sometimes it will take time, energy and several failures but, in my opinion, it’s better to sacrifice 2,000 days building a life you love than to spend 29,000 days leading a life you hate.
If you think that the odds are against you and that there’s no chance of creating a life that you love, just read Dave Heeley’s story – you have no excuses!
Step 3 – Find your ponds
One recommendation I always make to people who want to “find themselves” is to simply sit in silence and ask good questions.
Some call it meditation, some call it introspection, some call it soul-searching, but it doesn’t have to be a mystical cave-dwelling practice, just sit with your thoughts and notice how you feel every so often.
Let your imagination run free but remain still and watchful, carefully observing your thoughts to get a grip of your passions.
If you need to, use a big pad of paper and a pen to jot down notes. Let your mind be creative.
When you’re scouring your mind and scribbling your notes, don’t hold back, let it all go, even if they don’t make sense.
On final analysis, you can summarise your passions, see where the links are and create coherent daily routines.
Another way to find your pond is to go swim around. Try new things and spend time with lots of different people until you find what you like.
When analysing whether you like something, or whether you want to do something, I like the advice of Derick Sivers – “if it’s not a f*ck yes, it’s a no!”
Step 4 – Go swim in your ponds
Once you have removed your trees and found your ponds, the only thing left to do is go swimming.
Do more of what you like.
Ponds are natural environments that you thrive in, amongst shoals of people who swim in the same direction as you.
Spend more time there.
2. Ignore others
Do you work a job you don’t enjoy to satisfy your parents?
Do you pretend to care about things you don’t have an opinion on to fit in?
Do you spend more than you earn on things that don’t matter because it’s fashionable?
It’s sometimes difficult to swim when societal norms and the opinions of others are forcing you to climb trees.
I know… easy to say but difficult to practice.
Some people are born with an innate ability to think for themselves, whilst others subscribe to the charade of the Emperor’s New Clothes their whole lives.
Most sit somewhere in the middle, we do what we want in certain areas of life but conform to the ideals and opinions of society in others.
Don’t worry if you find yourself complimenting a naked Emperor on his new clothes, it doesn’t make you a bad or weak person, it just means you need to learn how to think and act individually, without the influence of society.
One of the best pieces of advice for dealing with individuals who influence your thoughts and actions is to simply talk to them.
As Gary Vee says in the video, in part 2, “have the conversation with the person that’s holding you back.”
This is usually your parents, your spouse or your friends.
Be open with them and tell them that you want something different, you want to follow your own path.
If they love you, they will stand by you.
As for evading the influence of society, try some of the tactics in my article about becoming unf*ckwithable here:
3. Drop the ego
In part 2, I mentioned changing the game to work for you. This doesn’t mean that you must be unbelievably “successful” in what you do.
If it sets you on fire, continue to do it regardless but be a realist.
You can’t be the best at everything. Just focus on your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
De La Riva didn’t try to out-muscle or dominate his opponent physically, he stuck to what he was good at, being flexible and leveraging his opponents’ weight to work against them.
Have you ever seen a bird try to outrun a cat? Of course not, they just fly away.
Don’t get yourself caught up in a someone else’s race. This life is your journey. Drop the ego and do you!
4. Avoid excuses
Perspective is one of the greatest assets of the human mind.
With it you can alter everything.
Just remember that, if you’re reading this, you’re already living a more enhanced life than pretty much all of humanity since life began.
You don’t have to trek for miles across rocky terrain for dirty water, you don’t have to stalk your prey for hours across desert sands, and you don’t have to defend yourself from marauding bandits that scour the globe, plundering their way through villages.
Even today, only 58% of the world have access to the internet, and 46% still live on less than $5.50 (£4.24) per day.
Around 99.9% percent of all species that have existed on Earth are now extinct and this is best we have ever had it.
You are lucky to have been born into the most advanced species during the most convenient time in history.
If you’re complaining that you hate your job, you’re not in the right environment, you can’t find anything your good at or can’t change your life for the better, I call bullsh*t.
If you do things you love, be grateful, if not, change it!
Mental strength and being a fish that swims
I hope this three-part series has given you the desire, motivation and knowledge to improve your life for the better.
If you have any thoughts or questions, leave them in the comments box below.
For more advice on finding your ponds, ignoring others, dropping the ego and being grateful, read the recent article I wrote about developing mental toughness so that no one can dominate you, influence you or bring you down.