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197 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?
One thing for you to think about
Statistically speaking, a “normal person” is physically unhealthy, emotionally anxious/depressed, socially lonely, and financially in debt. Fuck being normal.
Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.
Two things for you to ask yourself
In what areas of your life have you felt pressured to be “normal?” In which of these areas has that pressure caused problems for you?
Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.
One thing for you to try this week
Be weird. Unapologetically weird.
Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.
New This Week
How to Beat Procrastination Like It Owes You Money – Believe it or not, humans are not complicated. We respond predictably to various stimuli. And if we know what we’re doing, we can make it so we never procrastinate or waste time again. Yesterday, I posted a video about this and to prove my point, I took a fan who had procrastinated starting a business for almost a year, and got her to accomplish more in a few weeks than she had in the previous six months combined.
What Everyone Gets Wrong About Goals – The most recent podcast episode dives deep into the most common mistakes we all make when setting and pursuing goals. If you’re the sort of person who sets a bunch of goals in January and gives up by February, then this episode will probably explain what you’re doing wrong, and how you can do it better.
Last week’s breakthroughs
In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to share with me your 2024 goals and how you’ll make them happen.
The most common response, of course, was people wanting to lose weight. I get it. Been there with you. But we won’t dwell on it. Many of you also said you’d like to quit drinking. Here’s Donna with a slightly different take:
The extraordinary thing I’m going to achieve this year is to have a healthy and controlled relationship with alcohol.
I have been gradually drinking less and less, and this year I want to take it further by finally changing my relationship with alcohol so that I am able to enjoy one or two drinks on special occasions and nothing more.
Currently, the special occasions are an excuse to binge-drink which I always regret.
Meanwhile, Tereasa’s goal is to “create more than she consumes:”
As an artist, I want to create more art than I consume (reduce time watching TV and streaming services). I want to create more meals than I consume (stop ordering dinner several times a week). I’d like to create more ideas than I consume (get back to writing and read more nonfiction books). I want to create more experiences than I consume (stop scrolling social media).
Monash is finally going to learn French:
It’s been more than three years that I have been in France and I have always missed out on so much (both on the professional and personal front) because I do not speak French. The excuse I make for myself is that learning an entirely new language at the age of 27 is something extraordinary and I am too old for that. But after reading your email, maybe I should set up realistic expectations and at least give it a shot which is still better than not trying at all.
I learned Spanish at 26, Portuguese at 29, and have known people who became fluent in a new language starting in their 50s and 60s—it’s never too late. Not just for a new language but to learn anything.
An old friend of mine once told me an incredible story about his grandmother. Her husband (his grandfather) died when she was 62, so she decided to sign up for piano lessons. It had been a life-long dream of hers to play piano, but there had always been something seemingly preventing her—you know how it goes—too busy, kids, career, family, then, too old…
She began practicing every day. She was terrible but voracious. She moved her lessons from every week to three times a week and then to every day. She played piano so much that her family began to worry about her. They thought maybe she was depressed or having some strange trauma response or even losing her mind.
But she was fine. She ended up living into her 90s. By then, she had been playing piano every day for over 30 years—longer than most professional musicians had been alive. In the common room of her nursing home, she would play concertos and sonatas and waltzes so splendidly that everyone that met her was convinced that she had been a professional concert pianist in her youth. No one believed her when she told them that she began learning in her 60s.
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something (this isn’t true, but let’s pretend it is, just to make a point.) Ten thousand hours roughly equate to two hours per day for 15 years. Chances are, you’re already doing something you’re deeply passionate about for about two hours per day. Hell, depending on your obligations, you might have time to do two things for two hours per day.
Assuming you live until you’re 90, that means you have enough time to become an expert in 4-8 things in your lifetime. If you want to become fluent in Greek at 70 or play the banjo at 40 or learn to program at 55, it’s really just a question of time, persistence, and desire. Nothing else.
Young people tend to learn things quicker simply because they have fewer obligations, less emotional baggage, and a lot more enthusiasm. They are also encouraged to explore their interests and not judged or ridiculed for being bad at something.
Adults do not have these luxuries. And that is why most adults simply give up on their dreams and grand projects. They let the judgment and obligation kill their enthusiasm so they never persist enough with anything new to see the results.
There is nothing immutable saying age prevents you from doing something new. It is only you. And most of the other adults. But the other adults tell you it can’t be done simply because that is also what they tell themselves.
As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.
Until next week,