Life Hacks Are A Distraction From The Real Reasons You’re Not Successful
The five-minute fix is short-term mind candy.
Armed with new information from a prolific, successful personal growth coach/author, you set out confidently to integrate a new Life Hack in your daily routine — knowing deep in your bones that this is finally the magic you need to supercharge your life and career.
A month later you can’t even remember reading it. Or it’s still in your memory, but you feel guilty because you have failed to incorporate it into your daily routine. Any day now…
Oops… those should be “I” statements.
My reasonably successful career alternated between IT management, project management, and sales/marketing support for big IT-related projects.
I was a voracious consumer of dozens (hundreds?) of business best-sellers and articles, seminars and trainings about how to step up my game.
Me: “Great book! I know I can go out and crush it now!”
Reality: the knowledge was in my mind, but it was taking up space there without paying any rent. In other words — before digesting and incorporating that knowledge, I started reading the next business best-seller. I often alternated between two or three books simultaneously — probably why I rarely finished one. It’s probably fairer to say I was a collector of business books rather than a consumer of them.
Now, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight…
I realize I couldn’t apply all the great ideas from my business/productivity books and seminars because the voice of my inner saboteur was working against me the whole time.
It took a lot of time and deep emotional work to discover that voice, and the many self-limiting messages it brought along with it:
“I’m not enough — good enough to succeed, not smart enough to know how to….(whatever), not determined enough to persevere”.
“There will never be enough money".
“I’m not worthy of great success or wealth”.
“I’m not loveable… or maybe not even likeable”.
“I’m not trustable”.
Those untrue messages were deeply hidden in my subconscious mind, and prevented me from achieving greater success — in multiple facets of life:
- I was unable to imagine myself as being highly successful. My dreams only were as big as the next promotion, next project, next sale.
- As soon as I reached a decent level of success with a job, I found some way to sabotage myself. I was among the first to be laid off in a business downturn, or fired outright several times.
- I was unable to build the long-term, trusting business relationships characteristic of highly successful people.
- I didn’t trust men. I viewed them as aggressive competitors for my money, my job, and women. I projected my untrustable inner message on every other man.
- I didn’t feel worthy of the love of a wonderful, stable woman — so I attracted women who held similar limiting messages in their subconscious mind. Relationships started out great but later devolved into distrust, bitterness, and fear of intimacy.
- I was unable to create long-term, loving, safe, and trusting relationships with my partners and children.
Despite all that, I achieved a reasonable visible level of financial success. I lived in a high-end condo on the 10th green of a golf course, drove late-model cars, owned comfortable furniture, and a new baby grand piano for my talented daughter, who attended a prestigious private high school.
But I never felt financially successful. Despite having never missed a payment and putting away a good portion of my income in a 401-K — whenever I sat down to pay monthly bills I’d break out into a cold sweat. I just knew there wouldn’t be enough money — completely ignoring 30 years’ experience that there always had been enough.
My inner messages were untrue. But each of them played out in my life as if they were true.
And then — after 30 years of apparent success — my whole life broke down.
I had an affair, my wife discovered it and confronted me, and I denied it. She threw me out of our home and divorced me. Then my (married) girlfriend found another man she liked better and left me. I got fired from my job (again) as a result of a long-running dispute with my boss.
I was jobless, loveless, near-broke (assets were frozen during the divorce), and even homeless for a few weeks until a friend offered me his spare bedroom. (Word to the wise: sleeping in a van is not a way out of depression).
It felt like everything — knowledge, experience, love — that had sustained my so-called success for 30 years no longer worked. Life no longer seemed to have any meaning. I took on the demeanor of a victim of life, and I idealized suicide daily.
I’ll skip the gory details of the next few painful months. But eventually, I was guided to a transformational men’s weekend training — my first-ever experience with emotional exploration work. It was billed as a men’s rites of passage. I had no idea what emotional exploration was, nor rites of passage. I resisted going but finally gave in due to a friend's promptings.
The ManKind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure provided my first-ever glimpse of my inner saboteur. During a deep, emotionally-charged process facilitated by leaders there, we excavated and exposed one or two of those limiting messages. During that weekend I had to trust men for the first time. It seemed during the weekend that my life may have depended on it.
Following the weekend, in weekly circles of ManKind Project (MKP) men over several years I uncovered and worked toward healing most of those self-limiting messages — with other mens’ support and encouragement. Peeling back layer after layer of inner shit, and transcending it in deeply vulnerable emotional exploration that has yielded tangible results in every aspect of my life. Now:
- I am successful. I participated with two other men in the 2013 startup of a company that is now profitable and books several million dollars in sales annually. I’ve written and self-published a book about personal and spiritual growth practices from my own experience that have led to a lifestyle of abundance, meaning, fulfillment, fun, grace, and ease. As a result of multiple various expressions of my life’s purpose, I’m happy to know that I have touched thousands of peoples' lives in a good way.
- I have mutually-trusting, authentic, and meaningful relationships with men and women throughout the world.
- I trust everyone — men and women — until and unless their actions demonstrate they’re not worthy of receiving my trust.
- I am in the most wonderful relationship of my life with a woman whose joy and inner/outer beauty resonates with me and everyone who meets her. We have built a deeply safe and trusting relationship for over five years. I adore and admire her just as she is, with no need to manipulate or change her one bit. I’m certain this is my last relationship.
- My life is abundant. Money, lifestyle, love, meaningful dialogs and relationships, fun, and adventure. I can’t imagine how my life could get better — and yet it seems to magically keep doing so.
Everything that was wrong with my life before seems like it is good (or great) now.
This transformation has been amazing to me. As I think back about the broken man I was, I am astounded and profoundly grateful to have arrived at this place in my life.
Yes, emotional development has been the hardest, most gut-wrenching work of my life. I have left a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears in the center of those weekly mens’ circles.
And, it has been the most rewarding and liberating process of my life.
As a multi-year beneficiary of the healing processes in these circles, and witnessing other men similarly transformed, I became fascinated with the process of emotional healing. I took a series of other MKP trainings to learn to facilitate others' emotional healings. Practicing facilitation work added meaning and fulfillment to my life, as I guided processes that achieved profound results for other men — and eventually women, too. Though I have never called myself a coach nor asked for payment, I have mentored dozens of men and women.
Back to those Life Hacks. When I read a book or a Life Hack now that strikes me as helpful, there’s far less inner resistance to adopting it. I maintain a daily practice log I use to integrity-check myself, I’ll add it onto that. Now those gems of wisdom are useful!
I’m not special.
My life took a turn for the better when I quit looking outside myself for quick fixes — Life Hacks and productivity tips — and started exploring my inner world instead.
“Everyone we meet is beset with their own problems. Most of the time they don’t want you to know that, and they are also trying to figure out ways not to know that for themselves.”
James Hollis, PhD — Living an Examined Life
Everyone — that means you and me, still — has an inner saboteur. Everyone carries one or more of the self-limiting messages I mentioned earlier. But like me for the first 50 years of my life, you may not be aware of them, and how badly they’ve hijacked your success and happiness.
If you haven’t yet embarked upon your own inner exploration journey, may I encourage you to begin? Those near and dear to you will thank you. Your self-confidence and self-esteem will skyrocket.
I’d like to think there’s no accident you chose to read this article. That perhaps you can relate to something I’ve written here, and it stirred something deep within you. Some part of you that knows you deserve more success and happiness.
I’d like to think that you absorbed the meaning of this article, and you are motivated to start tomorrow to take action to begin or deepen your own inner exploration journey.
If I can help in any way, you can reach me at LifeAsArtForm@ gmail.com.
Or, just keep reading and never integrating Life Hacks. It’s purely your choice.