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Internalizing Things

I was at an Indie Hackers Meetup in Washington, D.C. last September, where I met two indie founders. One of them mentioned how he wished he had my foresight at my age and started a company then.

It’s almost September of the next year. I’m amazed at how time flies. I literally thought it was a few months ago since I went, until I double checked my email by reading this blog post. And guess who still doesn’t have a company yet?

This process has permeated my life. People give me the best advice, and I smile and nod and let it drift off to the ground. I’m amazed at how much I know (“get out of bed right when you wake up”, “wake up and sleep at strict times”, “eat 50% greens, 25% protein, 25% carbs”, “build up growth habits so that you can become 1% better without thinking about it”, “put your best foot forward”), and how little I believe in it (and myself) enough to apply it in my life. Before long, that advice has become stale, and since people see I don’t take the advice to heart, they stop giving it to me entirely.

What’s sad is how old we’ve become. I’m almost 25, halfway to 30, and feeling like my life has already slipped between my fingers. And I’m not even comparing myself to other people (which is always something guaranteed to make you disappointed in yourself), but rather just to the version of me that could have been better. So many dumb decisions. So many regrets.

You can’t dwell on the past, sure. But the past does help determine who you are and what you will become. Who you associate yourself with, what you do during the day, what choices you make. You can always change; but you can never stop paying interest on who you were.

So some things I want myself to internalize:

  • Tackle the one thing you fear the most: Literally just hammer at it until it becomes not scary anymore. I think this is a good approach for a number of things. Getting over my fear of heights was a big one. Getting over my fear of not being able to complete things is another. The one I’m working on right now is not being wanted, or not being useful to other people (as I’ve learned, a dangerous position to be in). If you have no fears left, does that mean you’re happy? Maybe; all that would really be left is the fear of being unhappy.

  • Once you build a habit, don’t ever break it: Better to scream into a pillow in the morning than to give up and play on the phone, and lose the first ten minutes, or three hours of your day, and break the habit of always getting up on time. Good place to levy existing fears to keep these in check.

    • Brushing teeth: Brush your teeth in the evening if you want to keep your teeth. Brush your teeth in the morning if you want to keep your friends.

    • Exercising: One day you will do the last push-up, the last sit-up, the last run that you will ever do in your entire life. Wouldn’t you rather know when that would be by doing more, rather than being afraid of the unknown?

    • Sleep: Never stay up late to do something you wouldn’t get up early for.