The Simple Secret to Overcoming Life’s Pitfalls

My last article here turned out to be a great success, so I’m back again. For those of you who missed the post, I wrote about how I was able to completely turn my life around from being broke and miserable to working for myself and loving each day. Though my post may have made it sound like I live some amazing existence, life certainly isn’t all plain sailing for me.

In fact, just like anyone, I certainly go through low points now and then. As we were nearing the end of 2010, a few of mine all collided at once. The first thing that hit me was the inevitable breakup I knew I would have to go through with my long-term girlfriend. As much as I cared about her, I knew she wasn’t the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Though the person on the “receiving end” of a breakup will claim it’s definitely the worst side to be on, I think it’s just as difficult to be the person that ends it. My decision had came after thinking about the situation for a long time, and wasn’t just some overnight impulse.

On top of that, I was coming to the end of the lease on my apartment, with no replacement in sight. In the space of two weeks, I viewed over 20 places, and fell in love with many. Three days in a row (I didn’t even know this was possible) when I was supposed to move into consecutive properties, the process fell through on the actual moving day. To say the whole thing was frustrating and stressful is an understatement.

In a glimmer of hope, I ended up finding a place I liked. It was in the area I wanted to be in, came with two swimming pools and was close by to many of my friends. I wasn’t worried that the place was completely unfurnished, as I thought it would be fun to decorate it however I wanted. It seemed like things might be looking up for me.

Then, my bank account was frozen.

I couldn’t access a single penny of my own funds. Since I’m in South Africa, my UK bank closed access to my online banking as they were worried about potential online fraud. Despite the fact that they do this to me once per month, calling them didn’t actually resolve the issue for once. They wanted me to send them a hand written letter, back to the UK.

For two weeks straight, I slept on the floor in my new living room. I had no fridge, no TV, no sofa. Nothing.

Dealing with all of this after the end of my relationship and a frantic two weeks of apartment hunting left me feeling exhausted. Despite these struggles, I wasn’t miserable at all. In fact, those few weeks were some of the greatest I’ve had.

The “old Glen” definitely wouldn’t have felt like this. But the new Glen possessed a secret that helped me get through all of this with ease. The secret is this…

You must just keep pushing forward with something

The things that happened to me would probably get a lot of people down. I know they would have affected the person I was just a few months before the event. I believe the reason for this is that we’re constantly striving to go forward in areas of our lives, so when that forward momentum stops or slows down, it’s a blow to our emotions.

When you come out of a long-term relationship, you feel like you’re back at square one. Was the time you spent with another person completely wasted?

When the apartments I was supposed to move into were out of reach, I felt like I had wasted all of the time putting the deals into place.

And finally, when I was sleeping on my living room floor in pitch darkness, I definitely didn’t feel like I was taking my life in the right direction.

Yet, I was. Because the “secret” I possessed allowed me to keep focusing on going forward with something. As long as you’re taking one aspect of your life in the right direction, then in my experience, it can completely overshadow all of the negativity you’re feeling.

For me, it was focusing on my business and my health. These are two things that I can work on where the more I put into them, the more I’ll get out of them. For you, it may be learning a language, playing an instrument, or something else you’re working towards.

When a friend of mine came out of a nine-year relationship, she was devastated. Instead of dwelling on the hand she was left with, she hired a personal trainer, renovated her house, and took up weekly dance classes. After a few weeks, I had never seen her happier.

Just a few days ago I received an email from one of my students who is now making $3,000 per month online which enables them to pursue their dreams of being a professional drummer. Absolutely nothing can get me down on days when I receive messages like that. And they’re just a result of me moving forward with something (in this case, my business) in order to help others as much as possible.

So, whenever you feel like things aren’t going your way, just place your attention on something you can dictate. Something that will allow you to see forward progress. Can you start eating healthier? Can you research into ways to make more money? Can you become an early-riser?

It doesn’t matter what the thing is. It just matters that you enjoy doing it, and you see progress happening.

The Most Important Job You’ll Ever Have

Just a few years ago I was one of the most shy, nerdy, and unadventurous guys out there. Today, I travel around the world on a whim, work for myself, and am one of the most social people you’ll come across. When I tell people about my uneventful and unsuccessful past, they laugh like I’m telling some hilarious joke. Most simply don’t believe me.

I can relate to that, since I almost feel as if I’m talking about another person. By no means am I here to brag (I still have a lot I want to conquer); I’m here to do something which, ironically, helped me to live the lifestyle I’m living now: give value. The value I want to put out there today is a “roadmap” of how I completely transformed my life, so you can do the same.

Far more important to my success than the top layer of actions I took to get to this position, were the fundamental beliefs and standards I followed and gave myself from day one. Day one being the day I realized that…

You are 100% responsible for your current life situation

This is the most important job you’ll ever have: to take your life in the direction that you want to take it. You need to be aware that the position you find yourself in right now is completely based on the actions you’ve taken in life.

A lot of people claim their supposed lack of education, good looks, or wealth are what holds them back in life. I like to present the fact that over 50% of CEOs in the UK have no university degrees, mention a three-foot tall man confined to a wheelchair dates models (video), and remind them of the boy from Malawi who built a windmill at 14, then traveled the world giving motivational talks.

These are just three examples. I have dozens more.

Until you realize that every decision (friends, career, social circle, etc.) you’ve made has got you to this point, and every decision you make from this day will take you to the next one, you’ll constantly find yourself passing the blame on to others. Stagnating.

I wanted better for myself than working seven days per week (five in college, two in a clothes store) making $350 per month and just watching TV in my spare time. I knew something had to change, so I literally just did the opposite of what I was doing. I recall the old saying “Keep doing what you’ve always done, keep getting the results you’ve always gotten” coming to mind at this moment in time.

From my own experiences, here’s what I recommend:

Surround yourself with the right people

I didn’t consciously set out to have successful people in my life; it actually happened as a by-product of me going for what I want, and meeting those doing the same along the way. My three closest friends work for themselves, do very well financially, and enjoy the freedom of traveling around the world.

It should be no surprise that if you surround yourself with hard-working people who are in a position you aspire to be in, you’ll naturally pick up the habits and beliefs which make them successful, and incorporate them into your own life.

A test which applies to about 80% of people is to look at the general income of your closest friends. You’ll find, more often than not, that your income brackets are eerily similar. Though I don’t believe money or success is the key to happiness, I believe the freedom to contribute to the world in your way is the most valuable thing anybody can have.

Play to your passions (not strengths)

I don’t recommend that people play to their strengths, as commonly advised, for two reasons. The first is that your strengths are not always around something that you love doing; the second is that your strengths got you to where you are today. So, if you’re not happy with your situation, your strengths probably aren’t that strong.

Your passions, on the other hand, are definitely something to work on. When you’re focused on projects or active in industries that you just love, something amazing happens. The work you produce, in whatever form, is far superior to anything you clearly don’t love.

Have me write an article about knitting, and you’ll see exactly what I mean! Superior work makes you indispensable to companies, friends, and contacts, and ultimately puts you on the greatest path you can be walking.

Remember the game that nobody wins

The game that none of us will ever finish is the game of life. Something that every single one of us has in common is that we’re all going to die. I actually think about death quite a lot, though not in a depressed way. Instead, I think about death in order to inspire myself:

“If this is the only life I’m going to live, I may as well make the most of it.”

There are times when we worry about how our decisions may affect our families, friends, and even our life as a whole. I know I had a lot to think about when I was asked to go and work in South Africa at 18, when I didn’t know a single person there (I’m English).

Ultimately, though, you have to make decisions based on what is going to work out best for you. Is the career path your parents are pushing you down really what you want to see when you look back on your life? Is the short-term pleasure of smoking a cigarette worth the long-term damage it does to your body?

Even if you believe in Heaven, Reincarnation or something else, why not make the most of the reality you currently find yourself in?

Use what works, and disregard the rest

Internalizing these fundamentals was undoubtedly what helped put me on the right path to success, but you don’t have to do the same. If you don’t like one of my ideas, ignore it. If you have a better system, use that. My own beliefs and core values are constantly changing as I grow as a person and learn more about myself and the world we live in.

Don’t just filter through my advice: filter through everything. Look at what is working for you in your situation, and follow through with it. Don’t take things on board which you don’t think will get you to where you want to go.

After all, this life is 100% your responsibility, so it’s entirely up to you how you want to live it.