What’s it all for?
Why do what you’re doing? What’s your greater goal?
You’ll never achieve greatness unless you care deeply about your mission.
Why not? Why can’t I be awesome for 2 hours every day, then watch porn, get high, and gorge myself on Unlimited Pastabowli™ at Olive Garden for only $7.99?
That’s simple, Jack. Would your ideal self eat at fucking Olive Garden, or would the perfect version of you learn to cook tastier, healthier meals at home? Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the “unlimited” genre of food, but becoming better is more important to me than as many buttery carbohydrates as I can cram into my mouth-hole.
Passion is lubricant for discipline. That’s the title of this post, so allow me to elucidate.
Willpower is the finite resource we use to make ourselves produce long-term wins against short-term displeasure (e.g. diet & exercise, learning an instrument/language)
Discipline is the habitual application of willpower towards achieving a greater long-term goal.
Passion is loving your long-term goal more than anything else.
I want to be a writer. Here I am, writing. It’s slow, and for six months I’ve been slowly, slowly, slowly gaining traction. I’ve doubted myself, and my productivity has gone up and down more than Cedar Point’s Cyclone… If only riding out a slump was as much fun. I love writing, though. Frequently I don’t feel like it, but I write every single day because I have a broad, long-term view of time. It’s a grind, but my passion for my craft applies oil to the grind for as little mental friction as possible. My work ethic, my willpower, and my discipline are lubricated before every battle with frustration like a big, beautiful, manly man getting ready to wrestle.
I get too excited about the future. I get so excited it turns to angry frustration; I move so slow sometimes it’s infuriating! I curse myself for wasting so much time. I’m only 22… If only I’d learned what I know now 5 years ago! Alas, time travel is impossible for us puny imperfect organisms. Someday our bioengineered progeny will leap through time, but today we must live with our choices. It’s OK, though. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, there’s still plenty of time!
We can’t succumb to our furious, frustrated angst for faster improvement, but we also can’t let ourselves fall into dull complacency. Let’s meet somewhere in the middle, then. Let’s feel that furious passion for forward momentum, but let’s focus it, control it. Let’s use passion to fuel our daily appreciation of the smaller satisfactions in life.
What do I mean by lubricant?
Lube makes things smooth. Lube removes friction.
A passionate mindset broadens our view of time to give us a reason to be better.
Therefore, focusing on passion removes friction from the daily self-discipline grind.
My love for writing and my desire to improve give me the inspiration I need to do it every day. You never see pro athletes who don’t like their sport. Sure, some of them grow to hate it, but every single pro athlete has a genuine love for their game. They’d never spend 10 hours a day every day of their life to master a game they didn’t enjoy.
If you hated broccoli, you wouldn’t waste your time crafting a perfect broccoli recipe. You’d spend that time cooking carrots instead.
It all comes down to how you feel. What’s most important to you? What excites you?
I don’t care much about money. I’d love to drive a Mercedes, but I’d rather cut off one of my fingers than take on massive debt to buy a fucking hunk of metal overcompensation.
I care deeply about my my health, my environment and my education. Money buys better food, nicer neighborhoods, and it buys books, lessons, and access to information. I don’t give a fuck about buying a new car to impress my dipshit neighbors. I want money because I want freedom. I want the freedom to be the best version of myself, and that requires makin’ moolah.
So you want to be a famous rock star. Are you in a band? Have you written lyrics? How many hours do you practice every day? Famous rock-stars are so passionate about the music that they live and die for it. Many of my friends play guitar, and they all dream of being rich & famous. They practice now and then, but they don’t feel like it every day. They’re scared of losing their comfortable lifestyle. Practicing for 9 hours a day, living life like a fucking spartan, seems silly to people used to living every day without a greater purpose.
Nobody dreams of being a fucking desk-jockey. As a kid, did you ever see a wage-slave on TV sharpening a pencil, shuffling a stack of memos and think, “Man oh man, boy oh boy, golly gee I’d sure love to be like him!” No, you didn’t. In my generation, we wanted to be Tony Hawk. We wanted to be Indiana Jones. We invented Karate moves in the back yard; we were Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan rolled into one. Then we went to school.
At school, they tell us:
“Ha ha, Ho ho, you can’t be like them! You must count the beans! You must be like us, for this is how a Grown-Up™ behaves! Get a real job, find yourself a wife, and then, maybe, if you’re lucky, when you turn 65 you can retire and do all that silly bullshit you always dreamed about.”
Fuck school. Learn because you care. Find the thing that intrigues you, the thing that lights a fire in your gut, and devote your life to feeding that curious fire.
The education system in America is designed to produce obedient workers. Even the greatest teachers in our public schools are so bogged down by regulations that all strides toward real education are made struggling against the current. The system we use was invented in Prussia to mass-produce obedient workers. Before that, education was real. It wasn’t anything like our sadistic shitshow of a school system.
School might have killed that childish desire to live out your dream, but it’s still in you. Somewhere in your gut you want to be cool. You want to be fucking Indiana Jones, so go out and buy a whip and a hat and start digging for treasure! It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just get out there and do something. If you want to act, join an improv group. If you want to be a musician, start a band. If you want to be a writer, write (and finish) something. You can worry about everything else after you get started.
But what if you don’t know what you want to do? You went to school, you got your diploma, and now you sit in an office counting beans and sharpening pencils and dreaming about being anywhere but there.
Even if you don’t have a dream to fuel your passion, start by working to energize yourself. Start caring about yourself.
Are you fat? Buy smaller dinner plates.
Are you ugly? Get a new haircut and some cool threads.
Are you awkward? Read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Sit there in your chair. Read this, and think, hmm, that’s interesting, I like what he’s saying.
Then forget. You’ll forget this, and you’ll go back to your routine.
Do you ever forget what you were doing only a moment before?
It’s OK to be slow-going. It may take you 10 years to figure out what you wanted to be doing for the past 10 years, but don’t let that stop you.
If your life lacks passion, expose yourself to new things until you feel a spark. A spark is all it takes to light the fire in your gut. That fire inside you, that furious passion, is the most important factor in achieving fulfillment. Becoming the greatest version of yourself requires hard work every single day. The only way to diligently work every day, even when you don’t feel like it, is to be passionate about your purpose. No matter what, you must be certain that you’re making a difference. Every day, take one step towards building something bigger than yourself.
Every day I think about my beautiful future. My destiny is REAL in my mind.
If my house burned down, if my friends and family abandoned me, if I lost everyone and everything, I would smile with the knowledge that my new pain would be forging me into a greater man faster than I could ever do comfortably.
I refuse to accept the pathetic path of comfort that society lays down in front of me. My passion for my art, my desire to thrive in this cutthroat world, and my thirst to be a man worthy of respect all drive me forward towards my ideal self. Do you want an easy comfortable life, or would you rather bust your ass every day for ten years to create something more meaningful?
How much is your dream worth?