Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. – Anthony De Mello
People are living on autopilot.
Everyone was assigned goals by society as a child.
Goals require a system to be achieved.
A system takes trial and error to become efficient.
You had the biological goals of walking, talking, and speaking to survive.
As simple as they are for you now, that wasn’t always the case.
Your mind received negative feedback from your environment that led to those systems becoming efficient to achieve your goal of surviving.
Your parents either scolded you or pointed you in the right direction when you made a mistake.
You started crawling, then stumbling around, then walking like a toddler with little balance, and now you can (hopefully) walk like an Olympic gold medalist can flip through the air and stick the landing – because they practiced achieving that goal long enough.
Learning to walk is just the start.
What about the goals of going to school, getting a high-paying job, and retiring at an age where you have little time left to enjoy your life?
Society is a behavior system.
And those are 3 big goals that they injected into your mind right when you learned to comprehend the language you speak.
99% of people are only interpreting everyday situations in a way that leads to those goals.
99% of people are practicing the skills and programming their minds to live a mediocre life without even knowing it.
The masses are being shepherded to an unfulfilling life because the systems that compose their mind, identity, perspective, and perception are becoming more efficient as they age.
A realization people often make too late:
Success is not planned, it is automatic.
Successful people – whether they were conscious of it or not – had a mind that was programmed to achieve the goals that led to their success.
Think of your mind as a structure of nested systems.
Your identity, perspective, and perception of situations are all systems that feed into and reinforce each other in that order.
I am here to make you conscious of the systems that lead to automatic success in any endeavor.
Goals > Systems
80% of living the life you want boils down to creating your own goals while most people are mindless slaves to society’s goals.
Goals change how you interpret situations, which influences your actions, which programs your identity, which compounds over years into the good life.
You can’t solve a problem unless you’re aware of it.
You can’t become aware of a problem unless it impacts a goal.
Most people don’t have goals. Most people are afraid to make mistakes. Most people don’t give themselves a chance to improve any aspect of their life.
If you aren’t clear on what you want, you can’t communicate what you want to others.
This sets you up for a life of assumptions, expectations, and never getting what you want out of life. Nobody can help you and you can’t help yourself.
If you don’t invest energy into a goal, you won’t feel the pain of not reaching that goal.
Occasional, non-alcoholic-level drinking wasn’t a problem until it took away from achieving my goal of a fulfilling relationship.
I never saw it as a problem until I was made aware that I was acting “off” for a few days after. I thought I was acting normal. If I had never invested energy in the goal of a relationship, or deemed it more important than the pleasure of having a few drinks with dinner, I never would have noticed its impact. That’s my point.
Most don’t have a clear vision of what they want from that goal, so the negative impact of their actions goes unnoticed.
Your bad habits don’t seem worth quitting because you don’t have responsibilities (or prioritize those responsibilities) that deserve you at 100% capacity.
If the importance of those responsibilities outweighed the pleasure of your bad habits, you’d stop without question.
Goals are intertwined with identity.
Humans survive on the conceptual level.
We feel threatened when that which makes us, us is threatened.
A bodybuilder will feel stress and pain when they are in an environment that provides less control over their training and diet.
A routine is a set of practical goals that order the mind. A writer who moves to a new location or travels for an extended period of time will have a stressful acclimation period until their mind runs on new systems. If they can’t write well in their normal routine, they feel threatened, because “who they are” may die.
I discuss the importance of routines – even if you think you don’t need or have one – in The Daily Routine That Changed My Life (4 Focus Habits).
The general misunderstanding here is that you either have a goal or you don’t.
Your mind is a web of conscious and unconscious goals with accompanying systems to achieve them.
You had biological goals as a child to walk, eat, and survive. It’s seamless for most people because they’ve practiced.
The system is efficient.
You may have cultural goals, depending on how you were raised, of fitting in and following the safe path according to that culture.
If you were to condition yourself with new stimuli (constant self-education) to the point of having an identity that couldn’t “survive” without achieving new goals – you would inevitably achieve whatever they are with ease. If you want a successful business, relationship, or anything that is out of the norm, you must fundamentally change the goals your mind operates on by changing who you are.
To change who you are you must educate, practice, and experience new information to reprogram your mind’s faulty wiring that was installed by society.
The Mind Is A System That Helps You Achieve Your Goals
Man is by nature a goal-striving being. And because man is “built that way,” he is not happy unless he is functioning as he was made to function – as a goal striver. Thus true success and true happiness not only go together but each enhances the other. – Maxwell Waltz
This quote from Psycho Cybernetics can be connected to another from Flow.
The optimal state of inner experience is one in which there is order in consciousness. This happens when psychic energy—or attention—is invested in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunities for action. The pursuit of a goal brings order in awareness because a person must concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else. – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Humans are goal-oriented creatures.
And goals create systems.
Systems don’t exist without goals (take that, James Clear).
The mind has two key purposes for survival:
- Achieving known goals
- Discovering unknown goals
The mind is an information processing and pattern recognition machine that we have a certain amount of control over based on our level of consciousness.
The mind is a system – containing a complex set of systems – that accepts, rejects, and uses information to aid in the goals you feed it.
If you’re always focused on negative outcomes, they will become reality, and you’ll blame everyone but yourself for the misfortune in your life.
The man who conceives himself to be a “failure-type person” will find some way to fail, in spite of all his good intentions, even if opportunity is dumped in his lap. The person who conceives himself to be a victim of injustice, one who “was meant to suffer,” will invariably find circumstances to verify his opinions. – Maxwell Waltz
In other words, if you think you can, you can, and if you think you can’t, you can’t.
At the root of your mind, like a puppet master, is your identity.
Identity is synonymous with self-image or personality for the sake of this letter.
Your identity is a system of ideas, beliefs, values, and standards that shape your perspective.
Your perspective is like the lens of a camera.
You can zoom in and out.
You can focus on one part of the scene – while the background is blurred – or focus on the detail of the entirety of the scene.
Your perspective influences your perception of situations.
Meaning, your identity will limit the information it can perceive, and if it receives information that does not match its beliefs, values, or standards it will reject it.
Your mind automatically accepts and rejects information that aids in the achievement of the goals that are programmed into your head.
If you want to get a job, dopamine will signal the importance of information and opportunities that help you get that job.
Your book highlights will reflect that goal. How you approach conversations (with anyone) will reflect that goal. What you engage with on social media will reflect that goal (and the algorithm will help deepen the roots of that identity by showing you more of that information, for better or worse).
If you want to quit your job, dopamine will do the same thing, but for information that provides the opposite effect.
Your Google searches will change from “best careers to go into in 2024” to “best businesses to start in 2024.”
Or, you’ll be more compelled to check out Digital Economics where I help you deconstruct your identity and turn it into a profitable one-person business.
Your book highlights in even something like a novel will be vastly different from someone else with a different goal.
With or without knowing it, we are all reinforcing our potentially mediocre identity that determines the outcome of our lives. For most people, this will be negative.
If you want to change the outcome of your life, change who you are.
If you want to change who you are, change the direction of your life.
Expose yourself to new experiences, environments, and information to allow your mind a chance to discover new goals you can adopt that will carry you toward a better future.
The Mastery Method – How To Learn Anything, Fast
It’s safe to say that you are going to have to learn… a lot.
Education expands your mind.
It introduces you to novel perspectives.
It increases dopamine in the brain as a consistent source of energy.
It gives you the knowledge to act with clarity toward your goals.
It exposes you to the potentials that you hadn’t yet become aware of.
A consistent flow of education increases your chances of encountering meaningful events.
Meaningful events occur at the edge of the known, when your nervous system signals that you should pay attention.
When you have one foot in the unknown, you can just barely metabolize new aspects of reality and put that information to use.
Becoming the person you want to be is the most painful and rewarding process you can dedicate your life to.
You begin this path when you realize that the pain and pleasure of where you are now are of lesser magnitude than the pain of not receiving the rewards that come from seeing what you are capable of.
With that, let’s discuss how to master almost anything as you trek toward becoming a new you:
1) Expand Your Mind
All real change is identity change.
Your level of mind dictates what values, beliefs, and standards are available to your identity.
You don’t care about global problems because you haven’t solved the personal problems that restrict your mind from seeing them as important.
The purpose of humanity is to expand your level of mind to that of The Universe.
You must allow yourself the room to discover new goals by tossing an anchor into the unknown.
Create a massive goal that acts as the spotlight in the unknown.
You don’t set this massive goal for practicality or achievement.
You set it for vision, direction, and filtration of opportunities.
Focus on making it as desirable as possible.
- If you had all the money in the world, what would your average day look like?
- What kind of environment do you want to live in? Is there a specific location? Do you want to travel?
- Do you want a family? What do you want that life to look like? Visualize an average day of family time.
- How long of a workday do you want to have? If you could do anything, what would you do for work?
- How do you want to look and feel? Describe your body, energy levels, and how you want to present yourself to the world.
- What does your ideal day look like? Map out every hour.
- List out anything else that comes to mind in terms of a specific future that you want to build for yourself.
To make this even more potent, turn this vision into an anti-vision to round out the perspective of your ideal self:
- What is the bane of your existence?
- Write out the opposite of every question about your vision.
For even more firepower, create a vision board. Add images to a scrapbook, software, or wall that makes that future more tangible.
Remember that nothing is permanent.
You will discover inklings for your vision as you trek along this path. Be open to changing what you want as you discover what you don’t want.
The pain of not reaching your vision should outweigh the pleasure of mediocrity.
Not only does a massive goal provide vision, it allows you a perspective to adopt when it’s time to make a decision.
Filter every single opportunity you receive through your vision.
Say “no” to everything except for that which aligns with who you want to become.
Start short-circuiting the faulty programming your mind runs on through conscious choice.
2) A Hierarchy Of Goals
This is why I created the FOCI Planner:
Most people don’t need motivation, they need clarity.
An ordered mind is a happy one, and a hierarchy of self-generated goals makes it hard for depressing distractions to penetrate your awareness.
While big goals are for vision and filtration, small goals are for practicality and progress.
Now, break your vision down into goals for each domain of your life – mind, body, spirit, business. Relationships are synonymous with spirit here.
Yes, this will be time-consuming. Keep this written somewhere safe so you can change things as you go.
For all 4 domains of life, create:
- 10-year goals
- 1-year goals
- Monthly goals
- Weekly goals
Then, every day, you are going to write down 3-5 priority tasks that move the needle toward these goals from the ground up.
Knock these tasks out first thing in the morning before responsibilities and distractions have time to wake up.
I talk about my deep work structure in the letter: Change Your Life In 6 Months (My Deep Work Routine).
3) How To Learn
Learning comes from struggle, not memorization.
You don’t learn by studying tutorials all day.
You learn by building a project and facing reality.
Projects are goals that you can measure and iterate.
So, turn a few of your 1-year or monthly goals into a project.
- Ideate a way to build something tangible (you must do work)
- Write down milestones you can reach.
- Create an outline in a notes app or notebook.
- Brain-dump any ideas that come to mind.
Do this for mental, physical, financial, and spiritual development.
This primes your mind for pattern recognition-induced meaningful dopamine.
Your projects add additional “rules” to your perception of situations.
You now have a place to write down high-signal information that you receive as you educate yourself and interpret feedback while building.
Start, then learn. You must learn and build in unison to truly learn.
When you build something, you encounter real problems that require a new level of mind to solve.
Only then can you search for information to expand your mind and solve those problems. This is impossible when watching tutorials all day.
4) Skills Are Groups Of Techniques
Building a project isn’t the end of learning.
To build a project, you must acquire skills along the way.
But you don’t “learn a skill.”
You learn a technique, experiment with it, and continue adding techniques until you can combine them in a way that leads to your desired outcome.
You don’t learn Photoshop as a skill.
You create a project, search for a technique to complete one aspect of it, and continue learning techniques until you finish the project.
Trying to learn the software itself is almost useless and takes much longer.
There are 10+ different techniques to remove the background of an image.
Knowing multiple techniques will allow you to remove the background seamlessly from almost any scene.
You don’t learn copywriting as a skill.
You learn techniques for:
- Capturing attention
- Holding attention
- Enhancing the perceived value of your product or idea
There are dozens of techniques for each, and the more you learn, the better you get at copywriting as a skill.
In 2 Hour Writer, every module is a technique for you to practice becoming a highly paid writer in the new economy.
Everything is a skill.
Life is a skill that encapsulates health, wealth, and relationships as skills until broken down into techniques you can practice over the course of your life to master life itself.
All skills are mental.
Skills mental systems that become more efficient with practice to achieve your desired outcome.
5) Reinvent Yourself
Think of your mind as the digestive system of reality.
If you eat too much or don’t move enough, you won’t metabolize that experience.
If you eat too little or move too much, you get hungry and agitated.
When you eat just enough, you create an environment that is conducive to mental muscle growth. You trek through reality toward your goals. You enter a season of pure progress, and the feeling is incredible.
You’ve already created the boundaries, limits, or clarity necessary to launch fairly far into the unknown.
With a vision, goals, and projects you are primed for an entirely new life.
All you have to do is take the leap.
Launch yourself into a new physical or digital environment.
- Move across the country.
- Unfollow everyone online.
- Follow people aligned with your future.
- Change what you wear, where you shop, and who you see.
- Drown your mind in the books you’ve been putting off reading.
Align all information, or reality, with who you want to become.
You will feel threatened at the start until you expand into your new identity.
Your old identity will die because it is starved of the information that reinforces it.
Hold strong during this extremely difficult yet extremely meaningful turning point in your life.
6) Nature’s Compass
People are so afraid of making mistakes that they make the biggest mistake of them all: not making mistakes.
You can’t avoid making mistakes.
They are Nature’s Compass.
People who don’t make mistakes don’t give themselves a chance to achieve successes.
Imagine a self-driving car.
For years, it has received negative feedback that refines the system that shapes the mind of the car.
It can navigate roads with ease and may be arguably safer than a human driving the car.
Even though we often don’t think of it like this, the self-driving car made millions if not billions of mistakes before it could actually reach a meaningful destination.
You must act in alignment with your big goal to form new systems that your mind operates on through the negative feedback of mistakes.
- Make a habit of forcing yourself to adopt the perspective of the highest version of yourself.
- Allow this lens to unveil new opportunities that you can act on.
- When you make a mistake, because you will, use it as direction for your next choice.
With time, you won’t even realize that you have become an artist in whatever skill you’ve chosen to develop.
You will be able to achieve what most people think are difficult goals like you are able to walk (while most are still crawling).
7) Self-Experimentation Solves Problems
Your life and the projects that compose it should be treated as science projects.
To solve the problems that achieve your goal:
- Hypothesize an outcome (from your goals)
- Experiment with techniques (for skill acquisition)
- Document the process (as a project)
- Double down on results (as a solution)
Now, you have experience, skills, a project you can turn into a business product, and a solution that you can charge money for in the creator economy.
I discuss this in The Anti-Niche (Why Becoming Nichless Makes You Irreplaceable).
Self-experimentation is the only way to solve your problems for good.
Let’s say you have the goal of achieving a six-pack.
You are in search of a solution, they tell you that veganism will solve all of your problems, and from an unenlightened state you:
- Clean up your diet
- Follow their advice as if it were law
- See the results they mentioned
Then, you attach to that diet ideology and become a prophet. You attribute results, that others have gotten via different modalities, to veganism and demonize anyone that questions you.
This is dangerous, obviously, and is the definition of low consciousness.
In reality, what happened is independent of veganism:
- You ate more nutrient-dense foods
- Your actions worked to survive your vegan identity
- You had clarity (not chaos) by following a disciplined nutrition regimen
Veganism, in this case, was simply a modality for ordering your mind (sustained degree of flow state) and allowing you to follow the principles of health – but you attributed it to a method.
Now, if you were to try veganism for a month, carnivore for a month, keto for a month, and flexible dieting for a month, you would:
- Make connections between the diets to reveal the fundamentals of health (pattern recognition = dopamine).
- Pick and choose certain methodologies that you enjoy, meaning they will bring sustainable results.
- Refine a system that fits your individual nature to perfection.
Then, once healthy living becomes effortless, you can do the same for your finances, social life, romantic relationships, spiritual endeavors, or any other domain of life.
If you’re going through problems in your relationship, hire a therapist, watch a YouTube guru, go on a retreat, and experiment with options until you find the right solution.
If your business isn’t growing, buy a course, hire a coach, test a new software, zoom out, and create a new strategy.
There’s always a way to solve your problems, and you strip yourself of that power when you latch onto one solution (that probably won’t solve the problem for good).
Think of each domain of your life as both a project and a skill in which you collect techniques to master that domain.
The Mastery Method: Summarized
This is how you achieve goals so fast people ask for your cheat code in the game of life:
- Expand your mind with a vision generation session. This perspective will allow you to create new goals and discover new potentials for your life (so you can break out of your narrow mind and achieve more).
- Create a hierarchy of goals to bring clarity to your life. You need to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be with practical goals.
- Turn your goals into projects so you can build and learn in unison. Projects are goals that are measured, tracked, and improved.
- Don’t learn skills, acquire techniques. Your skill level depends on the amount of techniques in your toolbox that can solve challenging problems.
- Reinvent yourself with information overload Change your physical and digital environments to force an open mind and discovery of new potentials.
- Treat mistakes as negative feedback in your system. You have no other way to test something that gets better results.
- Treat your life as a science project. Become obsessed with experimentation in fitness, business, knowledge, and relationships.
Thank you for reading.
Until next week,