Doing Things Right the First Time (A Very Important Read)
"Two heads are better than one."
This is probably one of the MOST important lessons for you to learn.
Society has certain expectations of you at certain ages (e.g. going to high school from ages 14-18, getting your first career job at ages 21-22, etc.). If you meet those expectations, society won’t just provide but will make sure you thrive. If you don’t meet those expectations, people (society) in general will judge and even harm you.
To meet those expectations you have to do life right the first time.
But here is the irony, most people fail at doing things right the first time because they worry about doing things right the first time. And sometimes it isn’t you worried about doing it right, but someone close to you (e.g. your parents) that will screw you up. But if you let things happen organically and trust the system, then everything will be okay.
But what about all the self-improvement guys who say I should F the system and start my own business?
Those types usually have personality flaws that the system hates (not obedient, arrogant, lies, cheats, etc.) or chances are they already screwed up once (got kicked out of school, got a girl pregnant in high school, went to jail, etc.) and now they are forced to do things differently.
The truth is most people only bother with self-improvement when they screw up their life. If you do things right the first time, your skills and abilities will naturally improve as society guides you. There is no need for self-improvement material in the best scenario.
Keep this in mind: you only get one chance to do things right the first time. A little circular there, but what I mean is once you screw up, the rest of your life is going to be thrown off course. It might be off by only a few degrees, but it’ll always be there.
While you shouldn’t worry too much about doing things right the first time, you should be proactive and protective against external factors that could keep you from doing life right.
I am going to list what you should always do to make sure you go about life the right way. You are probably already taking these actions (unbeknownst to you), but if you can learn to identify them, chances are you will keep doing them and never fall off course.
How to do things right the first time
1.) Use Organic Decision Making
(TLDR: In short, organic decision making means to brainstorm with other people. Don't try to plan things on your own.)
I am introducing a new term here: organic decision making. There is a direct correlation between your success and happiness, and how many decisions you make that are organic. In other words, organic decisions are the best and only decisions you should make in life.
But what on earth are organic decisions?
Organic decision making is simply letting your community (friends, parents, teachers, etc.) always guide and help you in your decision making. You need to talk to them openly about everything. Transparency, honesty, and, most importantly, trust is key for this to work. Even though the majority of people aren’t that smart in this world, organic decision making is the reason why our society cannot only function but thrive. Be wise and learn this skill, or else a bunch of clueless people can easily leave you in the dust every time.
Finding the right people to have in your decision making is key as hiding the truth, deception, and nonbelievers (i.e. not believing your facts, ideas, or opinions on the matter) makes organic decision making impossible.
WARNING: If someone in your community has an ulterior motive (deception), not only will it not work, but you will probably end up making the worst decision possible. If you sense someone has an ulterior motive (even if that person thinks it’ll be to your benefit in the end) you need to remove that person from your decision-making process. Possibly even your life. In my experience, even confronting them about their ulterior motive doesn’t change anything. They’ll keep playing dumb and still try to influence your decision. If they can’t, then they’ll even start to lie and manipulate you to achieve their ulterior motives.
(Update: If the only person you have to share with has ulterior motives, I would say go ahead and do it. As the old saying goes, "Two heads are better than one even if one is a cabbage." Just take what they say with a pinch of salt and be mindful of the bad advice they are trying to give you. The trick is to not let their desires for your life over power yours and this shouldn't be hard if you have a clear vision for your life.)
(Update: The easiest way to do organic decision making isn't to ask for their advice on a situation, but to tell them what has been on your mind lately, what is going on in your life. From there the conversation will naturally go to organic decision making.)
Finally, for organic decision making to work, people must have a willingness to help. This is why a therapist rarely works. Besides, sometimes having an ulterior motive (money), they don’t care to hammer out the details like someone who truly cares about you would. That is, try to find someone close and emotionally attached to you.
But I don’t have a community I can trust, or I have no community at all.
If you don’t have a community or can no longer trust your own community, the best thing you can do is trust your intuition. Your intuition will always push you towards your best decision, but the odds are low that you’ll make that specific, best decision (because the best decision always involves a lot of details and a lot of steps which you probably won’t figure out by simply following your gut).
But what you can also do is ask a stranger for advice. No, you can’t ask them big life questions like what you should do for a career (nor can you really ask a trusted community either; it is too general), but you can ask them something specific. For example, you can ask a stranger of the best hospitals in the area (since you just moved there) because (trusting your intuition) you want to become a medical assistant. I guarantee if you ask an older person this they’ll have a ton to say.
You may not necessarily become a medical assistant, but you are starting a dialogue that will help guide you towards your most beneficial path. See how that works?
You can plan all you want, but it can never compete against organic decision making. Why? Cause your little amount of research can’t compare to a lifetime of knowledge and experience applied to your specific situation. Now add even more lifetime of experiences (more people) and different ways of thinking about your problem that you cannot. Organic decision making is your best bet. End of story.
Organic decision making is really just open communication. If you can do this with people you can trust, then everything will be okay.
And if you still don't understand why organic decision making is so critical for your success and happiness, let me give you a quote by Tony Robbins: "The defining factor [for success] is never resources; it’s resourcefulness."
Organic decision making is the ultimate form of resourcefulness. People will always think of things you won't.
2.) Let the system guide you
There are so many self-improvement blogs saying to quit your job because the game has changed and to own your brand. Dude, there are and always will be people who are perfectly happy being a part of a bigger, structured system. Even if that system is one that gives you a W-2. They are fine because it is a means to an end and it provides for them better than working for themselves ever could.
Usually, the only time the system is bad for you is when you didn’t make an organic decision about your life. For example, someone with an ulterior motive twisted your arm into getting a crappy job, degree, or living arrangement. You lost contact with people who supported you and are now surrounded by people who hate you. While you may still think you are a part of the system, you actually dropped out a long time ago with that bad decision.
Once you get out of the system, it is terribly hard to get back in.
For example, you quit college because you failed to pick the right one. After some time off, you come back knowing it is your best option for a better life, but now you have that age difference. Things aren’t new anymore. You can’t connect with people like you could before. The motivation is there, but it can’t compare to your first day of school. You feel a little more alone now cause you lost that original sense of community with your peer group. Employers see your age difference as a bit of a red flag. Other people who stayed in school now have a strong social network that you will have a difficult time wedging into.
College is where most people fall out of the system. Too much freedom, bad guidance, and parents’ ulterior motives can screw you up. Trust me, you don’t want to screw up at this pivotal moment in life. You want to succeed in college.
The system will develop you better than on your own.
You think you can do a better job, but you can’t. For example, you think you can do a better job because you found that blog about that secret, cutting-edge workout routine and nutrition guide. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter cause the system forces consistency (and you can't beat consistency), diagnostics, and measurables. They may not be the best out there, but they are better than your sloppy, half-ass, and inconsistent version of the “best” or “secret” practices.
Don’t believe me? Who do you think is going to do better working out for the first time in their life? Some guy all alone at his home, or a guy with a group of friends at the gym motivating him, showing him the ropes, and ringing his doorbell when he doesn’t show up.
Even if you did turn yourself into a badass bodybuilder on your own, you probably wasted so much time (our most valuable resource) figuring it out on your own that it cost you so many other things.
With virtually no exceptions, using the system to develop yourself is your best option in all aspects of life, not just fitness.
Plus, there are other benefits such as a sense of community and a support system.
Trust me, you don’t want to give these up.
(Note: In my personal experience with systems/communities, not just the system, is the good ones will develop you the best and make you feel special. But being in the bad ones (the wrong culture) will do more damage to you than anything else in life. Just keep that in mind when you apply for a job that goes against who you are.)
3.) Plan things (with people) well ahead of time
Everyone plans to some degree. But the questions are: do you plan early or do you plan late? Do you have someone help guide you make organic decisions or do you try to do everything on your own?
If you plan early and organically, you should be fine. And as long as your plans are not rotting, there should be nothing to worry about.
Doing things right the first time is probably THE most important lesson you can learn.
Do it right, or pay the price.
But, wait! I didn’t do things right the first time, and now I’m stuck in life!
Okay, okay, here is my best advice for you, especially you younger guys.
First, if you still don’t have your college degree go get one (unless you want to do a trade school instead). I assume if you still don’t have your college degree you still have no idea what you want to do with your life. In that case, don’t be stupid and get an expensive degree or a specific degree that would require a master's degree. Just a bachelor's degree that is cheap, easy, but respectable in the corporate world. That is, stay away from most liberal art degrees: theater, philosophy, communications, psychology, art, etc. If you have some interest in that stuff, you can learn it on your own with a thing called the internet.
By the way, I don’t mean to offend people who had these as their major. But you knew what you wanted to do with your life and are a part of the “system.” That is the difference. People who are stuck and are all alone will try to pick up new hobbies (like theater, art, dance) just to numb the pain only to lose complete interest later. But that can translate into 8-10 years of college for some of these guys.
Second, friends can bring you back into the system. The system isn’t the schools, government, or even necessarily your family. The system is just people who care about you. A group of friends can get you back in. Do your best to make friends, especially while in college.
Third, if you have your degree and you still feel like you are stuck and alone, then the only thing left is to fling yourself into the universe. But that is a post for another time.
Update: I added the final part to this series. These two lessons are the most important concepts I will teach on this blog.