You know that feeling when your life is going great?
You have just graduated from a respectable university, got a stable full-time job, even have a supporting and loving girlfriend.
The future has never seemed so bright.
But are you where you want to be?
If there was a checklist of things you suppose to do, you would then get married, lease a BMW, sign a mortgage and start a family.
Yet somehow you still feel unfulfilled and stuck.
If you have similar feelings, then it's time to ask yourselves.
Am I where I want to be? And if not, how do I get there?
If you have answered positively, then good for you. You may as well stop reading and go on with your wonderful life. I am really happy for you.
What is a success in life?
The rest of us, who are not so lucky, we have to step back and reassess how we define success in life.
Is it being promoted to a middle management position in a big corporation? Is it getting an MBA from top 100 university? Or maybe success is being rich enough to be able to afford brand new BMW? Sky's the limit right?
For the majority part of my life, I thought these goals were the cornerstone of a successful life. You most probably had the same goals too.
But what if I told you, that by pursuing and achieving them, you will feel miserable.
Why is that?
Because instead of achieving your personal maximum potential, you are achieving someone else's potential. You are following a life checklist scripted by society, media and your peers.
Wake up and start building your legacy
Fortunately, I realized soon enough, that following this middle-class road to success won't bring me happiness.
Sacrificing your dreams, so you can buy a new shiny gadget every month or climb a corporate ladder, is never worth it...in the long term.
What kind of stories will you tell your grandchildren? The one how you had a great time working all-nighters just to get 10% salary bump after two years?
Will you brag about your penthouse with a huge swimming pool to everyone at 20-year high school reunion, knowing you are still 10 years from repaying mortgage?
Nah doesn't sound like success to me.
The true definition of success
The true success...brings long-term joy and satisfaction in the form of, surprise, surprise, success in any kind of activity, you actually personally enjoy.
You see the change in the mindset. Success is not an event, like buying a new Lamborghini anymore.
It is about going throught the process, that may lead you to buying a new Lambo, in a domain you enjoy.
Reaching your goals and not enjoying the process only brings you ulcer and regrets.
On another hand not reaching your goal, but enjoying the process in a domain you deeply care about with small successes along the way leads to satisfaction and hapinness.
Achive your potential while still young
Now the question is...Can you reach your maximum potential by doing things you enjoy during your lifetime?
It's freaking hard. But It's not impossible.
Let me explain why.
According to the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, the key to achieving world-class expertise in any domain, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours a.k.a the "10,000-Hour Rule".
Now most of us work the 9-5 job, sleep 8 hours a day, which leaves us with mostly 3 hours of active free time a day on weekdays and 8 hours a day on weekends.
Sum it up and we have...56 hours a week, 224 hours a month or 2688 hours a year in total.
In order to master one domain, you would need 3 years 8 months and 12 days of dedicated focused attention.
By that time, you would most probably lose your girlfriend and your friends would be like "is he even alive?".
So multiply the 3 years 8 months by 3x if you want to have any social life outside of work. Are you ready spending more than a decade maxing just one area of your life?
Let's assume the average lifespan is 70 years and in the early 30's you realize, you always wanted to be master magician - rocket engineer - cat behavior consultant or chocolate beer specialist.
You have 40 years or 35840 hours to succeed.
But limited free time equals limited choices.
Should you start doing magic tricks or deep dive into the physical limitations of combustion engines in a space vacuum? If you choose one, you will regret not starting with another.
As they say, life is full of compromises.
In 35840 hours you can reach max potential in 3.5 domains, but in reality, you probably master only one domain if you're a lazy bum like me.
Who would want that, dedicating all productive life to practicing just one domain only to reap the fruits of reaching master expert level shortly before your time runs out?
2 ways to turn your life around
So what can we do about it?
It turns out a lot. We cannot stop time, but we can control the total amount of free time available in two ways.
1. Live longer by living healthy
You can live longer by having a healthy lifestyle. That way, the longer you live, the more free time you have in total and the less downtime you spend on recovery while being sick.
The best part is that the process of living healthy is dead simple, just follow few rules every day and you are on the right path.
2. Spend less time working for "da man"
The amount of your free time depends on how much of your time (and your life) you sell for money by doing a 9-5 job.
In reality, you give up 5 workdays just to have 2 free days each week every week.
In those 2 free days, instead of actively spending free time on domains you want to max out, you recover from sleep deprivation in bed and or in front of a tv playing Xbox so you are recharged and fresh for the next 5 working days.
So how can you break from this routine?
Well, just stop selling your life time for money. Instead, figure out how to make enough money so you won't have to sell your life time ever again.
How much money is enough you ask?
That depends. In my case, I live frugally so the monthly income should cover basic living expenses and support the learning process in any domain I want to max out.
I know it is easier said than done, but you know what they say.
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.
Happiness is defined as reaching one's potentials
Potential in one domain is reached by practicing something for around 10000 hours
10000 hours of free time is accumulated after 10 years of doing a 9-5 job
Multiple potentials in 10 years are reached by having more free time
More free time in the same period is reached by selling less of your time (and life) for money
More money is earned by selling more of your time or by inventing and executing money generating ideas
In conclusion, yes you can achieve your potential in one domain while still young, or multiple potentials in your lifetime if you are willing to go by your own path, not set by society.