Fail at what you love

Jim Carrey is the guy who wrote a $10 million cheque to himself and it became true.

Some people think he’s weird because he’d go to work with Limburger cheese in his pockets and hug everyone.

But that’s what you get when you hire a method actor.

Other people think Jim is strange because he’s not materialistic and he told Oprah how to manifest 10 million dollars.

But if you want to ‘manifest’ things you have to accept that you don’t need or want them to be happy.

Jim also talks about doing what you love.

He says: you can fail at what you love, and that hurts pretty bad.

But when you fail at what you don’t love — when you compromised and things still didn’t pan out — that’s crushing.

You can fail at what you love, or you can fail at what you don’t love.

There really isn’t a choice.

Hurt & Happiness

Few things make much sense about Life but here is something that does.

This one makes so much sense that it’s written in every holy book — and a great deal of not-so-holy books too. It’s in thousands upon thousands of songs, stories, poems, prayers, and proverbs.

It explains everything from the opioid crisis and the Palestinian conflict to Mother Theresa. And it’s so ubiquitous and enduring because it’s true.

The words might be different but the sentiment is always the same:

Hurt people hurt people. Happy people help people.

That’s not woo-woo. It’s science.

That one idea can save a lot of suffering, so I try to keep it with me.

 

 

Find something you love to hate

I don’t want anchovies on my pizza, but I don’t hate them. I don’t care enough about anchovies to hate them.

We have to love something or be scared of losing something we love to hate anything.

I often hate writing.

I hate the thought that I’m going to dedicate my life to doing it, and it doesn’t care about me. I hate it when the words don’t come. I hate that for them to be any good, I have to put myself in them. And I hate that no matter what I do, some people won’t like what they see in them — and they might hate me too.

But I love to hate it.

Just like a sports fan loves to hate their biggest rivals. It’s all part of the game.

It’s no fun hating a rival team that you never get to play, that you never get to score against, that you never get to holler and swear and shout at. It’s no fun when there’s nothing to challenge you.

Some days, we lose, and there are tears. But that just means there’s more war to wage tomorrow.

Find something that you love to hate, and you’ll battle with it forever.

3 simple rules for success

There’s lots of advice out there these days, so it’s tough to hear the wisdom in the noise. But sometimes, you hear something that rings so loudly with Truth that it’s hard to ignore.

Whether they’re his or not doesn’t matter, because when the compelling Chris Voss uttered his ‘three truths of life’ they hit home:

Be curious because you’ll learn more.

Be nicer because you’ll get wounded less.

Be grateful because you’ll recover faster.

Any one of these alone will put you in a mindset where you’ll achieve more than you ever thought possible.

It’s hard to argue with that!

Last night I thought I died

I don’t dream much, but every few years I have a dream that sticks with me; as vivid as if it were real.

The other night I had one, and in it, I died of COVID.

At first, it was all running around as one does in dreams, trying to figure out what was going on; why nobody would talk to me.

And then I realised — I was dead.

That was it—no more Ben.

All I could think to myself was, “THAT’S IT. You’re DONE. All you’ll ever have done is what you’ve done already.”

And it was sickening.

I was angry.

I’d done nothing, and now I couldn’t do anything about it.

It was all over, and I had just gotten started.

Boy, was I happy when that alarm clock woke me up.

Happy to be alive!

Not doing what you love is insane

Way back when Apple was still making great stuff, Steve Jobs would occasionally drop a bomb line that made a hell of a lot of sense.

He was that kind of guy.

One time, he explained that you have to love what you’re doing because it’s insanely hard to be successful if you don’t.

He said, “Doing something you don’t love is so hard that any rational person would give up.”

And that’s usually what happens.

If you’re doing something that you hate, you’d be insane to want to keep on doing it every day, to go through the worry, the stress, the failure, and not get some pleasure out of it.

The problem is that most of the time, the things we’re doing are just ‘ok.’ So we bear them.

Every business I’ve started that was based around the outcome — the money — has failed because I didn’t love what I had to do to get it.

It could have been interesting to learn. Or beneficial to people.

But I didn’t enjoy doing it, and that made getting out of bed to do it that much harder.

These days, I do pretty much what I want; mostly, write. I don’t always enjoy it, but I do love the struggle.

And every morning I get up because I’m looking forward to writing.

I don’t even mind doing the other things related to writing that aren’t writing, because I know that by doing them, I get to write more.

And if just one person finds my writing interesting or useful, I’m happy.

That’s the bonus!

Your best is the score

I didn’t try very hard at school.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to. I was smart enough to come home with a pretty decent report card. 

But the results didn’t make me happy. I’d put nothing into them, and so I got nothing out of them.

I’ve since failed many times, at things I wanted to do and things I was sure would succeed at.

Every time I failed but tried my best, I was far happier than when I didn’t try and found success easily.

In the end, the success didn’t matter — the result wasn’t the important part.

It was trying my best — knowing that I put everything I had at the time into it — that determined if I was happy or not.

When you take your next step today, don’t worry about the outcome, or where it’s supposed to be taking you, or even if you’re doing the “right” thing.

Just give it your best shot.

How to flake on your friends and fuck up your life

I’m a pretty flaky guy. And I’m not talking about a skin condition.

I flake out on my friends, the gym, my degree, relationships. You name it, I’ve given up on it. I’ve even gotten pretty close to flaking on my whole damn life a couple of times.

We’ve all got that one really flaky friend. Sometimes more than one. If you can’t think of a really flaky mate, it’s probably you. But that doesn’t mean you’re the only one — we all do it.

And not just to our mates, but to ourselves. You know what I mean.

When you are about to get fit, get a promotion or a job, or start eating healthy, going to the gym – whatever.

Life is going a little too well.

Then, something happens and the ‘fuck it’ button gets pressed. The pressure gets too much. The challenges mount ahead and your brain goes, ‘…fuck that.’

Or I feel a bit crap or lonely and think, ‘fuck it. I’ll just go back to doing what I want – it feels better.’ The pressure goes away and you get to go back to being normal.

Have you ever heard that song with the line, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going…”

They used to play it at my primary school morning assembly; some sort of indoctrination no doubt. Well, I can’t speak for everyone but I can say that it didn’t work for me.

When the going gets tough, I used to flake out and go back to bed. I still do sometimes. Then I can binge on beer and drugs and sugar and Netflix, and the whole world can just go and fuck itself.

Things ‘getting tough’ is a good enough excuse for me to not bother at all. Why go through all the hassle and stress? I’ll probably fail anyway…

When it comes to flakiness, I’m a pro. So much that I don’t even notice I’m doing it until it’s too late…

Past Ben is Out to Get Me

Ever get that feeling someone is out there to trip you up? Well, whenever I turn around to see who’s tripping me up, it turns out to be me. I call him, ‘Past Ben.’ Some people call this self-sabotage. I’ve sabotaged every single relationship I’ve had.

Usually, before it’s even started I’ve laid dynamite in the foundations, ready for me to implode the whole thing when it gets too tough, or too real, too painful. And when it ends and I didn’t want it to, I look back and realise that it was me who’d sewn the seeds of its failure, way back in the beginning.

Maybe so that then I can go back to filling my head with fun chemicals and trying to get into other lonely people’s pants. “Hey! I’ve just had a hard time, I’m allowed to have some fun.”

Even if that ‘fun’ involves drinking myself into the gutter in the closest, darkest bar with some other heartbroken people. All I need to flake is an excuse – and it doesn’t even need to be a good one.

The 5 ‘Es’ of Self-Sabotage

1. Excuses

You could, technically, say that all these ‘Es’ are excuses, and you’d be right. But, then I wouldn’t get to make that hilarious title, would I? Or this blog for that matter.

I’ve talked about excuses before and there are lots of great excuses you can use to avoid success, if you’re looking. Blaming other people is always a great one. It’s super easy to blame someone else when things go wrong or get too hard.

Every single girlfriend I ever had was a great excuse. You know, wanting all that time and attention. How could I possibly become rich and famous if I’m spending all my time with her?

If you’re looking, the world has a tonne of excuses you can use too — just watch the ‘news.’

Remember when all the computers were going to die because of a date change or something around 2000? Or SARS…or bird flu… or swine flu…ebola…was going to kill us all…the recession…the Cold War…the invention of the steam-loom…the Rapture… How could you possibly commit to anything when the world ends tomorrow? But it never does.

I’ve actually been kind of disappointed by how little has changed since Donald Trump got elected President. That was supposed to be apocalyptic. The same goes for Brexit; I was half-expecting the UK to simply ‘pop’ out of existence. More disappointment there.

If there’s one thing the news is good at creating, apart from fear, it’s a disappointment. Stop listening. It’ll only give you more excuses. And we can already make enough of our own.

2. Entitlement

For a lot of people, this is a tricky one because the world is always trying to make us feel like we deserve to have more stuff. Even when we don’t. The proof is in our credit card bills. I recently started apartment hunting and found myself becoming very entitled.

Faced with the possibility I wouldn’t get exactly what I wanted, I started to become very frustrated: “This is ridiculous! I deserve to be renting a furnished one bedroom in the downtown core at age 28.” “I deserve to be making much more $$$.” “I’m being deprived.”

None of those things are true. Not in the slightest.

So, I remind myself I’m lucky to even be thinking about renting an apartment by myself, let alone renting a 15 min walk from work in the financial district. Who the hell do I think I am?

Entitlement is a sneaky one for sure. It will stop you creating the life’s work you were born to do. Gratitude is key to defeating it. I’m going to drop in Envy here too because it’s kind of the same thing, and it also begins with ‘E’.

Envy is a twisted and ugly beast. I once heard someone say that 100% of all haters in the world are because of unrealized potential: When you see something that you know you have in you, that you could have for yourself, something you haven’t realized, you envy the person who has it. And then they become the reason you don’t get it instead. The thing to blame.

3. Effort

After spending a lot of my life stoned, let me tell you that everything, literally everything, takes too much effort. Sometimes even breathing can be a struggle.

There are countless times when getting out of bed to go see someone or do something would have improved my life. Maybe changed it forever. Almost definitely would have made me money. And I just couldn’t be bothered. “Fuck it – it’s not worth the effort.”

I’d say to myself. And curl up into my little ball under the duvet, giving the world the finger. But, Roosevelt was right; there is nothing on this planet worth having that you can get easily. NOTHING.

Steven Hawking, who legendary scientist who passed recently, easily could have given up. He had the excuses. How much effort was it for him to type a sentence, let alone write a book? But he did. And when he finished, he started all over again.

4. Emotion

This one is one of my personal favourites. These last two are. I love all of these and use them all to prevent my own success and self-sabotage, all the time. I’m an emotional guy. Sometimes I can actually feel what other people are feeling as if it was me. I get sad a lot. The world makes me sad. People make sad.

Being sad, or tired, or even happy are great excuses to stop doing whatever it is that I should be doing. I had a bad day. A girl rejected me. I cut my hand. I had a good day. I went to the gym for a few days in a row. A girl asked me out. It’s Thursday. All of these great excuses to give up and go out and get drunk or get high in bed.

5. Entertainment

This one is particularly hard for me because I’m pretty needy and get a lot of FOMO. Always have. It’s probably because I’m worried no one will like me or want to hang out with me. Sometimes I get so worried about this that I just don’t go out or have fun at all. But the rest of the time, going out and having ‘fun’ is a great excuse not to do whatever it is that I’m supposed to be doing.

Drinking. Party. Sex. Food. Films. Drugs. Dancing. Netflix. Ice cream.

Whatever you like.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun. I completely believe that blowing off steam should be part of your routine, as long as it doesn’t fuck up the rest of your life. And I always just want to go that little bit further… And it ends up going bad somehow; so I have an excuse to relax again and stop trying to succeed.

Flakiness = Fear

As I’ve been writing this, it’s become obvious that a lot, if not all, of self-sabotage, is fear. Fear of something better? I’m not sure. Maybe. Fear that I’ll fail, I guess so yeh. Fear that I’ll succeed? Maybe that too. Fear that I don’t think I deserve it?

Fear that people won’t like me?

Fear of death?

Probably all of them.

Becoming less flaky (no prescription cream needed) Although I have a long way to go (I’ve self-sabotaged myself pretty badly at least 3 times this year) I’ve come a long way too. One of the keys to breaching that gap for me was exercise.

If you groaned when you read that, then it’s going to be useful to you too. At best, PE/Gym class was an excuse to mess around with my mates. I’d walk half the 800m warm-up jog.

On forced cross-country runs we’d duck off to try and take shortcuts we’d found while smoking before school. Sometimes we’d stop for a smoke too. But exercising physically is also exercising mentally. They are exactly the same thing.

Forcing yourself to get up and go and get sweaty and do something you hate is also working out your willpower muscle. You’re training yourself to be ready to crush that excuse when it pops up. And it will. All the time. At the end of every lift, or set, or run, or whatever, when you’re pushing yourself to go that little bit further…

That’s your willpower training right there. Sparring with your ‘I give up’ almost daily is the only way to beat it. Like anything, you have to keep at it for a while. But, if you keep at it for a few weeks, you’ll feel great and you’ll look peng AF.

Promise.

— KB

What the fuck do I do with my life?

“How the fuck do I figure out what to do with my life?” my little sister asked the other day.

I laughed. Then I text her: lol.

“Or maybe that’s just me,” she replied at the same time.

I think she knew that wasn’t true before she finished typing it.

How many people do you know who have figured out “what to do” with their lives?

I know a few who seem like they might have a good idea. But a lot of people don’t have a clear picture of what they want to do with their lives. We have ideas about the things we want, sure.

We mostly sort of trundle along waiting for something great to happen to us. I did for years.

I remember in school, it never seemed there were very many career options. As kids, you only really think of the obvious professions; doctor, lawyer, teacher, dentist, vet, fireman, policeman, postman…

Some of us head down those paths.

Most of us end up ejected off the conveyor belt education system with a stack of debt and zero clue about what to do next.

My current job wasn’t on the careers list at school. Neither are most of my friends. But we’ve all got bills to pay.

How to Figure Out What the Fuck to Do with Your Life

It took me about thirty years to commit to what I wanted to do, and I’d known all along. Finding your “dream job” is probably something we’ll do several times in our lives. Here’s a step-by-step guide to figuring out what the fuck to do with your life.

1. Don’t look for your fucking passion

In the knowledge that we have to do something, we bounce around on a rough career trajectory, often in a field only generally related to the things we actually have a passion for.

I probably shouldn’t use ‘passion’. It’s a little misleading. It’s more just something you actually care about.

The point is, the pressures and demands of modern life lead most of us into jobs, rather than vocations.

And everyone knows what they want to do with their lives.

We usually just haven’t given it the thought. Or we’ve made so many excuses over the years why we can’t do it, that we’ve forgotten what it was in the first place.

Or, maybe you’re scared that doing something exciting or fun or beautiful, something that you actually give a fuck about, will never work for you.

So, we just give up and do something easy or comfortable that pays the bills and gets you the things you want to buy.

“Yh it’s quite a depressing thought tbh” my sister said.

“It could be,” I replied, ever argumentative 😉

“Gotta use it as motivation I suppose” she countered. She was right, of course.

2. Give yourself space to figure out what the fuck you want

Everyone knows what they want to do with their lives. If you’re not sure, you’ve got to give yourself the chance and the space to figure it out.

What did you want to be when you were a little kid?

What did you enjoy?

Who did you pretend to be when you were playing games?

This might seems like a childish exercise but the trauma of adolescence tends to squash many of the things we enjoyed as children, as we try to fit in or be cool at school.

If you’re like most people, there are maybe a few things you love doing. The things you can talk for hours about. Or things you always wanted to explore.

But even if you still don’t know, and you’re not sure, you can always figure it out. That’s kinda the point.

“But it’s hard, coz I actually don’t know,” said my sister.

“Look at that sentence,” I said.

3. Stop trying to choose something to do for the rest of your fucking life.

You don’t have to choose something to do with your life forever.

You just need to give yourself the chance to do something you enjoy for a few years, a hierarchy of skills that you can climb that will support the things you need in life.

Passions can be flakey. You might think you should be doing it and find you don’t actually like doing it. That’s fine. Try something else you like the look of. Life is long.

It doesn’t even have to be a career.  Think of it as a side hustle. But you have to give yourself the chance to be happy. You have to give yourself the chance to work it out, in your head. Spend the time thinking about what’s important to you and what you enjoy doing, and you’ll be further along the path of figuring out what you want from life than many people.

Instead of saying, “I don’t know”, try, “I’m figuring it out.”

Or, “I don’t know, yet.”

Or, “I’m working on it.”

I promise you this is not some wishy-washy bullshit. Words are powerful things.

It’s an old saying that your thoughts become your words, become, become your actions, becomes you. Like many old sayings, it’s true.

As soon as you tell yourself something, you’re making it real.

Your brain starts looking for ways to make it a reality, and your body follows. It’s just what your body is supposed to do.

It’s the same mechanism as when someone tells you about something and you start to see it everywhere.

Figuring Out What the Fuck You Want to Do in Life

So, step 1 is to stop telling yourself you don’t know. Instead, start telling yourself that you’re going to figure it out.

Step 2 is to stop asking ‘how’ and actually start figuring out.

Start asking yourself the key questions;

‘What do/did I like doing?’

‘What am/was I good at?’

‘What do/did I want to know more about?’

Think about the things you loved doing as a child. If you’re not sure, ask your friends and family what they think you’re good at. What questions do they ask you?

Whatever you do DON’T LISTEN to the voice in your head telling you that you’re being silly even thinking about it, that it’s impossible, that it’ll never work.

They’re wrong. They don’t know. They’re not even you.

Keep asking yourself every day. You’ll get an answer.

And if you’re still not sure, let me know and we’ll figure it out together.

You probably already have an idea, you just don’t believe you can do it. But I do.


Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Why your excuses are making you unhappy

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably made a lot of excuses over the years. This blog right here came through about 5 years of excuses. At least.

Ever since I was a kid. When I think about it, most of them were actually lies.

“Sorry Mum, but she hit me first!” (I doubt my little sister would have)

“Sorry Sir, the train was late.” (I was smoking weed before school)

“Sorry Babe, but I left my phone in the other room” (I was with another girl)

Yep, that last one is pretty bad. And they’re all definitely lies.

Someone once told me, ‘Excuses are lies that only you believe.’

That one really stung. Probably because it was true.

Do you want to know the worst bit?

The person you spend the most time making excuses to is yourself.

If you’re anything like me, you make a tonne of excuses to yourself, all day, every day. They’re probably so part of your internal monologue you barely notice. I barely do.

But you should notice them because they’re stopping you from living the life you want to live. They’re what’s stopping you from losing weight, finding love, stopping smoking, writing that book, making that film, singing that song…

Whatever it is, your excuses are crippling your life.

Don’t believe me? Do any of these sound familiar…?

‘I’m too tired to…’

‘I don’t have enough time to…’

‘I don’t have the money to…’

‘I’m not attractive enough…’

Most of have a neat little personal arsenal of excuses up our sleeves too. And we’re in the habit of using them, all too often.

Usually, it goes something like this…

You get inspired by something and this little voice pipes up with an idea. You get pumped about the idea. You might even start doing it.

But, sooner or later, your excuses wade in and it’s game over…

‘I don’t live in the right place…’

‘I don’t have the right tools or knowledge…’

Your idea fizzles out.

I swear I used to just make ideas happen all the time when I was a kid.

But, maybe all those years wasted ‘learning’ useless crap at school filled up my brain so much the little ideas couldn’t come out.

But, maybe I was so scared of the darkness in the world that the little idea was too scared to leap out of my head into the real, to become something beautiful, or funny, or useful.

But, maybe I just fucked my brain up so much on drugs and pissed my time away partying and it’s just too late.

Those were a couple of Ben’s homemade excuses right there for you.

The truth is, most of the time we’re just scared. We’re scared of failure, or of being disliked, or losing something, or someone.

That ancient, lizard part of your brain sniffs a change in the breeze and freezes. New = danger. Danger = bad. Ergo, New = bad. Stay where you are. Here = safe.

Excuses are just a highly-evolved version of this part of our brain, which is solely designed to keep us alive, away from danger. Not exploring the world and being creative.

But today, they’re the easiest way to fool yourself that you’re not the one solely in charge of your life. The easiest way to avoid the discomfort of changing anything.

And the most certain way never to do those things you wanted to.

In the words of Jordan Belfort, “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

Well, F.U. Excuses. This little idea made it out.

It actually made it out a little while back, but it didn’t quite look like this. I kept it, and it grew!

It’s still growing, so I thought you might like to see it grow, and maybe it can help you too.

But the only reason it made it out is this – I stopped making excuses.

I started listening to what I was actually saying to myself, and what I was saying to the people around me about my life. It was not pretty. Or encouraging. It was a bunch of excuses.

Once I listened to myself, it was obvious why I was failing. I was telling myself I had failed before I even started!

So, what excuses are you telling yourself every day?

Who are they turning you into?

Listen to yourself for a little. And then let me know what you heard.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash