The basics of what keep me motivated are deceptively simple and easy to relate as six main points of focus.
1. Increase self-reliance
It’s important to me that I’m able to operate without crutches as much as possible, and dependencies and addictions get in the way of having a fully-developed, internalized ‘living mechanism’ that can get you through anything and help you achieve whatever you want to achieve.
To that end, I try to make sure I’m always on the path to greater self-reliance, and as a result, self-confidence, so that other people and things in my life can be happy additions, rather than desperately sought-after saviors, to my lifestyle.
2. Increase personal freedom
Freedom can mean a lot of different things to different people, but to me it represents options.
Being financially independent and physically capable person gives me the option of traveling full-time, and right now I’m exercising that option. I also have the freedom to stop traveling, should I want to, and to open up a restaurant or become a clown or spend my life in a library, paging through ancient manuscripts for no other reason than I want to.
In my mind, personal freedom is the gateway to personal evolution. It gives you the time and excuse to do whatever, whenever. That’s a powerful thing. As such, I do what I can to remove anything from my life that hinders my personal freedom.
3. Continue personal evolution
Some people (myself included) have wondered aloud if I am addicted to change. I would say that ‘addicted’ is probably too strong a word, but I do enjoy it. Change allows you to grow as a person, and sometimes by leaps and bounds.
My personal development is important to me because I remember I time in my life when I plateaud, and it was the only time I’ve ever been utterly discontented and somewhat depressed. The static-nature of my existence was a weight on my mind and well-being.
These days, I have the ability to immediately put into practice what I learn and to try out new versions of myself and my life whenever I like, which makes me happier than just about anything else I’ve encountered thus far. As such, I make it a key part of my everyday mission to continue to grow and change and evolve as much and as quickly as possible.
4. Learn more about more
The pursuit of knowledge is important to me, and being a ridiculously curious person I’m fulfilled when I’m learning new things, expanding my mental-map of how the universe works and where each and every detail is pinned on that big picture.
To this end, I spend a great deal of my time reading all kinds of things about all kinds of things, talking to folks who know things I don’t know, and trying my hand at different professions and skill sets in an effort to better understand how it all fits together. Perspective is also key, as being able to see the world from new angles gives me the ability to solve problems before they become problems.
Learning more about more makes me happy, and increases my ability to evolve, which in turn increases my level of personal freedom.
5. Maximize value created
In everything I do, I see opportunities to increase efficiencies and effectiveness. It’s a fun game I play with myself to see how far I can push to achieve greater gains in this area, but it’s also a goal that allows me to create more value with less effort, which bears all kinds of fruit.
I see value creation as a ratio. I spend x amount of time to create y units of value. My goal is to increase x:y, so that less effort is required to create more value. (For example, I could spend 1 hour creating 1 blog post, 1:1, or I could spend 10 hours writing 1 ebook which contains 100 times more value than a blog post, 1:10).
This gives me more personal freedom, of course, but it also gives me the ability to create excess value which I’m then able to give away, increasing the quality of other peoples’ lives and my community for the better in some small way. In my mind, both of these outcomes are equally important, as benefiting myself is good for the short term, while benefiting others is a solid investment (for me and for everyone else) in the long term.
6. Have fun, always
In my mind, life without fun, even an incredibly successful life, is a little pointless. Sure, there are other biological drives you can pursue, and you could become fulfilled by dominating your career or having kids or whatnot, and that’s cool if that’s what you want.
But for me, there’s little point to accomplishment if part of what you’re accomplishing isn’t ‘having a good time.’
You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do. After those hundred-or-so years, you’ve got nothing. Everything you’ve done will eventually be forgotten, and everything you’ve built will be gone. But even so, if you can look back at your life while on your death bed and say, ‘You know what, I had one hell of a good time,’ you’ve accomplished a level of success much greater than an unhappy tycoon or restless politician.
Find what makes you happy and figure out a way to do more of it. Bonus points if you can help others do the same along the way.
Update: February 14, 2017
The seeds of my book Act Accordingly came from this post. And these are all still true, though I might explain them differently, today.