Did You Decide Who You Are? (Or Did Someone Else?)

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210 people had breakthroughs so far this week. Will one of them be you?

One thing for you to think about

When we fail to choose things for ourselves, we unwittingly outsource our lives to the world around us:

If you don’t choose how to use your time, others will choose for you. If you don’t choose what is important, others will choose for you. If you don’t choose what to think or believe, others will choose for you.

There are only two possible outcomes in this life: Either you choose who you are—or it will be chosen for you.

Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

Two things for you to ask yourself

What behaviors and beliefs have you allowed the world to dictate to you? What behaviors and beliefs are you confident you chose for yourself? How difficult was that choice?

What is the one thing that you are most likely to be wrong about yet unaware of? How can you find out?

Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

One thing for you to try this week

Take your life back. Find something (or someone) in your life that has been dictating too much of your time or thoughts, and take some of it back. This could be as simple as uninstalling apps, taking a day off work, or asking someone else to drive the kids to school. It could be as big as quitting a job, a relationship, a religion.

Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

Last week’s breakthroughs

Last week’s email was about setting goals for the New Year. I asked you to break your ambitious goals down into smaller goals, and figure out a way to make them fun.

Our first breakthrough comes from Katie, who managed to make her exercise goal fun:

My new year resolution was just to move/exercise more. So, one way to help me is that I’m putting my treadmill in front of my TV. This way if I happen to binge a show it will actually be an accomplishment since I will have walked 10 miles!

Regular readers know how many fucks I give about boundaries when it comes to managing relationships, and there were many boundary-related breakthroughs this week, beginning with reader Lilley:

My breakthrough this week was a new resolution I set myself, which is that I will stop going out of my way to make things comfortable for everyone else, and instead to make things comfortable for myself. Without being a dick, of course. I have often been the person to follow up with flaky friends, because I wanted to spend time with them, but if they don’t care enough to make time for me, there’s no point in me wasting my time worrying about them.

While reader Lauren took an extreme measure that was perhaps long overdue:

This week I ended a 23-year friendship. For years I lowered my standards in the friendship to avoid disappointment. If I met her today, we’d never be friends but I had held on purely because it’d been so long. I feel liberated and proud to have the self-respect to [end it.]

Reader Dan shared how a mental shift last New Year led to an important breakthrough:

Last year around New Year’s you wrote an article that was about not having a New Year’s resolution, but instead trying to learn something new and practicing. You then went on to say that you can “practice” for anything, even mundane stuff like getting up early in the morning or eating vegetables. Anyway, my girlfriend smokes cigarettes and I smoke when she smokes. Last year on January 4th, I decided that I was no longer going to try to quit smoking. I decided that I was going to “practice” being a non-smoker. Every time my girlfriend went out to smoke was my chance to practice. Holy fucking shit. Reframing the entire effort worked like magic. It’s been 364 days and I have not smoked a single cigarette.

Readers out here killin’ it left, right, and center. As always, if you’ve had a breakthrough, please send them in by replying to this email. Let me know if you’d like to remain anonymous.

I’m also thrilled to see breakthroughs inspired by others’ breakthroughs shared in this newsletter. An example: Arslan’s rule about doing what you feel lazy about gave Lucie the kick she needed to go on a week-long trip that turned out to be “the best days of the year” for her. So keep your sharing coming, your breakthrough can change someone’s life.

Until next week,

Mark Manson

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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