“Unsuccessful people make decisions based on current situations. Successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.” -Benjamin Hardy
What do you want your life to look like in 2027?
I’ll tell you what I want mine to look like.
I want to have a nice house. Not too big, but big enough for my wife and 2–3 kids.
I want to be the founder of a successful life coaching business where I help people achieve their version of success every day.
I want to do most of my coaching from home so I can spend all the time I want with my family.
I want to travel the world, but more importantly, I want to be able to travel whenever I want to.
I want to have enough money to say “no” to almost everything.
And I want to have a nice BBQ area in the backyard so we can invite all our friends over for beers and ribs on a nice Saturday in summer.
That’s what I want my life to look like.
As such, I am making decisions based on that vision of where I want to be — not where I currently am.
But most people make enormously important life decisions based on where they currently are, not where they want to be.
They hesitate, misstep, and settle.
As a result, they remain stuck in their average, unsuccessful lives.
Most People Make Mediocre Decisions
“There’s a lot of people that make 55 thousand dollars a year when they’re 23. The problem is they go to Coachella, and they want to buy a watch, and they want to buy a BMW, and I didn’t. I ate shit for 13 years, and then when I had an opportunity I struck. I’m ultimately patient. It’s what I do.” -Gary Vaynerchuk
It’s possible to live on less than you are now. Probably far less.
Yet most of society insists they need more, not less. Credit card debt is continuing to rise at historic rates. New gadgets and symbols of wealth remain more important than true inner fulfillment. Bars that charge $12 for an inch of Coca-Cola and half an inch of rum remain crowded.
Most people make decisions on where they are now.
Maybe they just got paid, and they feel like buying something (even if they’re still living paycheck-to-paycheck).
Maybe a potential dating partner arrives, and they feel lonely so they get involved.
Maybe the new season of House of Cards came out just in time to binge the 16 waking hours of Memorial Day away.
Whatever it is, most people continue to make mediocre decisions based on where they are now, without thinking of where they want to be.
Of course, everyone wants a successful future. But sadly, most people will never achieve the financial wealth, the career freedom, and inner fulfillment they think they’re moving towards.
What These Decisions Look Like
“The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth.” -Ryan Holiday
It may be difficult to make these decisions — to not spend the money, to say no to a good-not-great job offer, to refuse watching TV when you should be working.
Often, these decisions even make you look foolish in the eyes of others.
But if you want to improve and be successful, you must be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
Achieving the life you want requires this pain. Pain separates you from the majority. That is, the willingness to experience pain.
Making decisions based on where you want to be will be painful at first. It may come as a shock to your entire system. You’re used to the old way; making compulsive decisions is familiar and comforting, and you have lots of company.
But even if saying no and going against the crowd is scary, it’s worth it.
Want a life of financial freedom and passive income? Then start reading complex finance books by people who can help you achieve that.
Want to be ripped, buff, and fit? Then start reading books on how different muscle groups work with each other and how diet affects the body.
Want to have amazing sex with the love of your life? Consider going to counseling and become obsessed with resolving any emotional baggage preventing intimacy.
These are hard choices. Most people are simply unwilling to pay this price for success, and so remain in their average, mediocre lives.
But the ones who bite the bullet and commit are bound to achieve the success they want.
The Good News For You
“It’s lonely at the top. 99% of the world is convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre middle-ground.
The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming.” -Tim Ferriss
For anyone willing to “Live like no one else now, so later you can live like no one else” (in the words of financial guru Dave Ramsey), this dismal state of the majority offers massive opportunity for the rest of us.
Most of the world doesn’t think they’re able to achieve greatness, so they don’t even try.
Sadly, they believe they can’t “rise up” and become who they want to be — the author, the entrepreneur, the world traveler — so they viciously clamor for average. Mediocre. Regular.
The good news for the rest of us is that the top of the mountain is largely uninhabited.
Hardly anyone even attempts the climb.
There’s simply less competition for bigger goals.
While everyone else is anxious about getting bunts or base hits, the people who swing for a home run actually have a better chance of succeeding.
That’s because the world rewards these decision-makers. Heroes excel — those who are daring, brave, and self-controlled enough to postpone instant gratification for future gains.
“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” -Ryan Holiday
Two Immediate Benefits
There are two immediate benefits you can expect when you begin making decisions based on where you want to be instead of where you currently are.
There is simply less competition for bigger goals.
Most people don’t believe they can ever achieve that level (even though they absolutely could). They don’t try, and this free up those opportunities.
So, having an enormous goal immediately separates you from the vicious fighting among the majority over (at best) average prizes, while you can focus on attaining the extraordinary prizes.
The second immediate benefit:
You create psychological and physiological boosts for yourself.
In the words of entrepreneur Tim Ferris:
“Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel.”
If the reward you set for yourself is, say, a weekend trip to Columbus, OH…
You might not even care if you succeed or not.
But if the reward is an all-inclusive 14-night stay with the love of your life at a beach house nested 20 yards from the Caribbean ocean…
You are going to do anything to succeed.
There are psychological boosts reserved specifically for individuals who dare to set goals that are nearly impossible.
It’s challenging. It’s invigorating. Hell, it’s just exciting. “What if I actually do it?” you ask yourself incredulously. Because once you start, the “impossible” becomes more and more likely.
Make decisions based on where you want to be, even if they’re “crazy.” Contrary to popular belief, these scenarios are probably more attainable than just settling for the average goals everyone else is fighting over.
Making decisions based on where you want to be can be uncomfortable and difficult. Most people aren’t aren’t to do it — that means leaving the safety and familiarity of the majority.
But this same “safety and familiarity” is also a prison for most people that prevents them from ever experiencing true success.
Instead of making decisions where you are, think ahead.
Where do you want to be?
In his book Relentless, Tim Grover — personal trainer to such superstars as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant — has this advice:
“People are always asking me about the secrets and tricks I use to get results. Sorry if this disappoints you: there are no secrets. There are no tricks. It’s simple: ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be instead.”
I’ll ask again: where do you want to be?
What will you need — skills, traits, resources, knowledge, abilities — to get there?
Once you figure that out, then make decisions based on that future.
It’s the only way you can start actually making progress to the true, inner success that is so rare in this world.
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