The Most Important Thing in Your Life

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    96 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Two things for you to think about

    The most important things in life—trust, respect, love, happiness—must be painstakingly earned over time, but can be quickly and easily destroyed. As Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

    One of the simplest mindset shifts you can make to find greater success is simply to extend your time horizon. Measure your major decisions not in months or years but decades. Do that consistently and you will be amazed where you end up.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Three things for you to ask yourself

    What if you were optimizing your life for 10 years in the future instead of this month or this year? How would your behaviors change? What new decisions would you make?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Take one area of your life that you’ve been optimizing for the short term and reorient your measurement of success for the long term.

    For example, instead of thinking about losing a few pounds for your vacation next month, think about optimizing your health and well-being for twenty years from now. Instead of starving yourself or doing some crazy fad diet, you’d probably adopt slower-moving, but more sustainable habits that would be more likely to work in the long run.

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

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to be less rigid in your identity and experiment with being wrong about yourself for a week—a.k.a., find the benefit in not knowing who the fuck you are.

    To start off, Amy is no longer labeling herself as a “bad cook”:

    I have avoided cooking anything elaborate for years. I was in a long-term relationship for six years, and he rarely loved anything I cooked and never showed any real enthusiasm for my kitchen creations. I have since left that relationship for other reasons, and started cooking every night for myself.

    I have always labeled myself as a bad cook because I couldn’t cook this one person anything he found amazing. I have since let my walls down to cook for other people and they have raved about it and it boosted my confidence immensely, and I have found such a passion for creating food. It’s amazing the stories we can start telling ourselves when we don’t have the right company around us!

    I have certainly limited myself with a “bad cook” label based on a few unfortunate kitchen mishaps in college. I should probably be dropping mine, too.

    Another reader started a difficult journey to redefine their long-held stage identity:

    I study theater. It’s one of my biggest passions in life. However, I always told myself, since I was a teen, that I was a dramatic actress. I don’t do very well in comedy and I certainly don’t even dip my feet in the ridiculous.

    In the class I am taking right now, I had to do an absurd scene. I gave it my all, even though I was very stressed about it going in. While doing it I was having the time of my life. I was thinking, ‘Hey, maybe I *can* do comedy.’ Everyone told me I looked in my element, that it seems to be something I was so comfortable doing.

    However, as soon as I finished the scene I felt an immense sense of guilt and wanted to cry. As if a voice inside me was telling me, ‘No, you don’t do this, you shouldn’t do this. You are not a comedic actress.’

    As I got home I started to talk about it with my brother, and with your newsletter I understood: I feel as if I am threatening my identity. I spent so long telling myself I cannot do comedy, that I don’t know who I am if I do. But I guess that’s alright. I don’t need to know who I am, and it can change.

    Finally, even though someone may want to find love, their identity as the “single” person could hold them back, as this reader discovered:

    In my friend group, I’ve always been the single one. While my friends share their dating stories with me, I listen and provide ‘objective advice’ about their partners.

    Just recently I met a guy that I’m really into, and after the first few dates, I have started feeling like pulling away. I have been in my single identity for so long and my friends have always unintentionally confirmed that.

    After reading this though, I’m going to try and frame myself as less of the perpetually single person and more of the girl who is back into the dating scene.

    Thank you for helping me be wrong about myself. Not sure what this connection will be like moving forward but I’m ready to find out!

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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