How To Figure Out What’s Holding You Back & Get Out of Your Own Way

hacking your life


Sep. 15 2015, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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It’s too hard.

Figuring out what is holding us back takes too much work.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get out of your own way?  

Get rid of the things that are holding us back and hack your mind to be more productive, less stressed, and happier?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the world with an objective lens instead of through your own tainted glasses?

Most people aren’t going to take the time to reflect on their day, be introspective, journal, or sit quietly by themselves.  In fact a large percentage of people are actually scared to sit with their own thoughts or be by themselves at all.

Instead they MUST get to the gym and they CAN’T blow off their friend for a beer, and they SHOULD get back to those pending Facebook messages…

You see, we fill our lives with day to day tasks to occupy the time.  Some of it is created by us and some of it is created by society.  As long as we are crossing stuff off our “to do” list, we are “happy.”  I call bullshit.

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A few distractions created by society:

-School.  We all know this is not the best way to learn, but we are obligated to go.  It’s also not the best way to prove we are smart, but this is the way things work…

-Sports.  If all we pay attention to is sports, then the government can keep pulling the wool over our eyes.  I’ll be the first to admit I know 100x more about sports than I do about the issues facing our world… and I know quite a lot about the world.  If you don’t think this is true in the USA then go look at poor countries where all the government needs to do is build a soccer fields to keep the people occupied while they drain the country of all of its resources.

-The 9 to 5.  Are these your most productive hours of the day?  Probably not.  Do you really need to jam yourself into 4 lane superhighways, subway cars, and people movers, at the same time as everyone else?

-Television.  Lets jam as much drama, sex, and sensationalism as we can into half hour blocks, so that the masses get sucked in and we can flash hypnotic images at them to make them buy stuff produced by corporations.

If you are pissed off right now here is why:

The truth hurts.

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One of the most difficult things in the world to do is see things as they really are.  It’s not fun when someone challenges your entire way of life.  

But look, I’m pissed too.  I spent $160k on school, have sat in a million traffic jams, loved the Green Bay Packers at times more than I loved myself, and have thousands of hours of my life stolen by television.  And all the advertising that I was exposed to on billboards, tv ads, and radio during all of these activities has wreaked havoc on my subconscious!

Yes, I’ve probably eaten a hundred Big Macs in my lifetime (none in the last 10 years).  Yes, I dreamed forever that having a fancy car was the holy grail of making it big.

Okay lets move on to look at the things we do on our own to distract ourselves…

A few distractions created by us:

-Going to the gym. Yes, I’m a huge proponent of physical exercise, but most people have no idea how to work out, so sadly if you aren’t getting results, it’s just another distraction. People GO to the gym so they can pat themselves on the back, and check that box for the day, not wholeheartedly trying to achieve the outcome they were looking for.

Going to the gym can be like a dog chasing his tail… he gets tired, but doesn’t actually accomplish anything. What people really need to do is spend the time researching and analyzing the work they are putting in and increase your knowledge on your health and fitness but that’s the hard part.  It’s easier to just mindlessly climb the stair-master and talk about how much it sucks.

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-Our relationships.  I’m really hesitant to write this one, because this one hurts me too.  I’ve spent way too much time with people who were just sucking me dry. (no pun intended)  By nature I’m a people pleaser and most of my mental energy is spent making others happy.  I mean come on, I do it for a living with our travel company!

Think about how much time maintaining your relationships with friends, family and Tinder dates is costing you!! What about time for yourself?!  Remember you need to fulfill yourself before you can give to others.  I needed to move outside of the United States for me to get this one right…but once I did, I found out who in my life mattered most.

-Stuff. Yes, the more stuff you have, the more mental energy it takes up. All your possessions are categorized in your brain somewhere; that’s why letting go of material things is one of the most powerful things you can do. Let go of that old sweatshirt with those old memories attached to it. If you think this is bullshit, it’s not.  Your brain’s filing system has tremendous capacity to store things, and every time you see that old sweatshirt, your brain links it to thousands of images from the past, whether you can remember them consciously or not.

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advice for being mindful

Start creating new space in your mind and clearing up your mental energy.  But alas, most people’s time for themselves is taken up washing their car, mowing their lawn, or cleaning their palatial sized kitchen.  If your belongings are cluttered your mind is probably cluttered.  Messy people usually have messy minds.

Ain’t nobody got time for that! Time is our most valuable asset…so stop distracting yourself. Yes, I got rid of my car, lawn mowing duties, and fancy ass kitchen.

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-Money. This one was a gamechanger for me. I recently came across the theory that the biggest fear of people with a lot of money is the fear of losing money!  Wow. Imagine that… being financially free, lounging by the pool, and the whole time you are worried about the stock market crashing, your pipes freezing on your ski house in Aspen, and if anyone is going to sue you for a slip and fall at your kid’s pool party. Holy shit, the more money you have, the more you become a target. Drive a BMW and get in a fender-bender? Guess who’s gonna get screwed over…you!

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t all have a nice little nest egg, but let that take up as little time and mental energy as possible. Search Under30CEO for automating your personal finances and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of solid advice.  I’ll humor you with a post on minimalism in the future…

Okay, so the point of all this is to hack your inner bullshit, so what’s next…

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What you really need to do is to start developing your personal toolbox.  Here are some things to do during this time:

-Meditation– let go of all that crap.  I thought I’d get through an entire article without talking about meditation but I couldn’t.  It’s had that profound of an impact on me.

“Holding personal history takes too much energy,” says Penny Pierce author of The Intuitive Way, a book that is rocking my world right now.  In other words, let go of all the crap that is not serving you!

-Journal– just write.  Freeball it.  Chicken scratch it.  Who cares, just an open stream of consciousness…. Make lists.  How about a list of the people in your life who are taking up too much mental energy?  Change your number, I dare you.  Here’s my personal cell phone: 845-527-6405, go ahead and call me, it doesn’t ring south of the border…

Make a list of all the other things that distract us everyday.  I only gave you a few examples.  Please please please, do this in the comments, it’ll really help our community.  I’ll give you like 100 Costa Rican Colones each.

Reading– you had some reading to do on your health and fitness didn’t you, so you can stop running on the treadmill like a hampster…  Some other books that I like are here. 

Podcasts– yesterday I went for a long walk on the beach and plugged in a podcast.  I’m on a mission to constantly increase my level of knowledge about this stuff.  My favorites: Bulletproof Radio, The Drunken Taoist, The Joe Rogan Experience, The Tim Ferriss Show, The James Altucher Show, Buddhist Geeks.

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Remember, this is time for you to be reflective, not for others to pour their ideas into your head.  This isn’t about mindlessly reading or listening, that’s just as bad as watching television.  You should be pausing to journal or contemplate on whatever the subject is.

But don’t you dare touch your iPhone or bring your laptop into bed.  I will smack you.  This is time for yourself, not time for you and your 2,000 closest Facebook friends.

Anything that detaches you from your breathing patterns, your day to day routine, takes you away from the pressures of others is solid time for yourself.  My favorites include: surfing, hiking, working out, yoga, writing, and traveling.

But remember– these things can be distractions too.

Nothing replaces time sitting down looking your bullshit in the face.  Go check in with yourself.  It’ll hurt just like working out.  I promise.

What are the biggest distractions in your life?  What are your tools to get rid of your inner crap?  What do you read or listen to in order to learn from others who are introspective?  Please contribute to our community and leave a comment below!

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO and Adventurer in Residence at Under30Experiences

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