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15 important lessons from being semi-successful

In other words, this is a blog post on what I’ve learnt on the halfway point to success.

Nobody ever talks about the halfway mark enough.

Everyone else is either showing off when they’ve hit success and then start to belittle the important struggles they went through when they were at the starting point. God forbid they say pretentious shit like, “Money is not everything” or “Follow your heart. The rest will take care of itself.”

Or, everyone else is whining about their life and talking about their dreams while not doing a damn thing about it. They’re too busy creating vision boards.

It’s two extremes.

But the halfway point is probably the most important phase in every struggle of your life. That is when you’ve already failed enough to be hardened by it, and have trudged way too long to give up.

That’s where I am. I make a consistent income now, but I plan to make more. I’m more passionate about writing today and I’ve found my unique voice, but I plan to write more still (I average about 2,000 words a day now. I want to hit the point of writing at least 3,000 without feeling like it’s work.)

And of course, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the things I want to do when I’m (cliche alert!) financially free.

1) Be thankful for the struggle

In 2013, I miraculously hit a low point where I had $33 in the bank only. I couldn’t even afford my thyroid medication. Effectively, if I did not have a family or supportive friends, I’d have been homeless and literally dying on the streets.

Yes, I do feel fearful of actually going back to that time, but I’ve come to realize that the lowest point in your journey and struggles is mandatory. Every successful person, while forging their unique path, all had their unique challenges.

Some went through depression. Some were suicidal. Some became homeless. Some don’t even have a working body. Whatever.

They’re all essential. It makes you extremely grateful for what little success and opportunities you otherwise would have thrown aside. I can honestly say the success I feel today is an accumulation of the little gems I take in daily.

So if you feel down and out today, know that it’s okay. The reward will come at least twofold next time.

2) Start by grabbing SMALL opportunities

Give me seemingly low-paying job today and I’ll analyze the amount of leverage I can make of it. Even if it pays $34 only, I’ll look into it.

If I didn’t go through my extremely broke phase, I’d never think this way.

If you want success, you need to recognize and grab opportunities. And these opportunities come in small or even invisible packages. That’s how it is.

Too many people today think opportunities come on a silver platter for them, like it has to pay well for low hours, have great perks or generally easy.

That’s not how you should think. That’s lazy. That’s how spoilt bitches function. Just because you graduated with a degree doesn’t mean you deserve it all.

Go small first. Then go big. Otherwise, go the fuck home entirely. The universe, or God if you will, don’t base creation around you only.

3) The WORK is the GOAL

Credit goes to Ryan Holiday for instilling this idea in me.

We all think that our rewards come in the form of a big break, being discovered or earning a huge ass windfall to attain overnight success, literally.

That is bullshit. Life just isn’t that good. You might as well stop working now and just keep buying lottery tickets if you want to bank on hope only.

A lot of people today give up after one go because they get disappointed their first piece of work doesn’t give them the results they want, like a newbie wannabe YouTube comedian puts up some shit he thinks is funny and barely gets any views or realizes he isn’t that funny at all.

The work is the goal. What you do every, single fucking day is the achievement. It is the little decisions you make everyday that positively answers to you doing the work that makes the difference.

If you’re going to put in minimal effort every now and then, take an off day frequently, and then hope that one day your dreams will come true, you’re going to be very, very disappointed.

So work hard everyday. No excuses. Your moment, in the form of opportunities, both big and small will manifest itself one day. And yes, it is through the sweat from your hard work that you’ll even begin to recognize that they’re even opportunities in the first place.

4) Everything is a sign if you want it to be

Speaking of waiting for a big breakthrough, a lot of people wait for signs to nudge them in the right direction.

That is okay, but the folly is that they think the sign must be some perfect miracle that’s going to blow their mind, like seeing a double rainbow or some shit. Then they get their asses to work.

Signs are everywhere man. They’re nothing but your little guides and whispers of encouragement. You have to open your eyes and ears. THEN you have to put in the damn work.

I don’t mean to say look at life for signs to the point of being deluded. A sign is something you feel IF you’re making it go hand in hand with the right attitude to do the work. Without the latter, everything is for naught.

Also, receiving a sign means not having so much self-doubt all the time. Just do it. See what happens next. You can get something out of it. I personally just spent a substantial amount on a guy who offered to coach me this year. He’s also throwing in some free coaching 1on1 time for me.

The free coaching was the sign. Me not doubting and questioning so much were setting it stone that it was a sign. Even if it doesn’t pan out, fuck it. I did what I want and I tried.

5) You can’t outsource success

A couple of years ago, there were a couple of times I thought I could throw work to other people and then expected to make a shit ton of money.

I literally asked a friend via Skype like, “Hey dude. Why don’t you market this book of mine and we’ll go 50-50 on it.” I thought I had it made because he was a decent marketer. I thought all my problems were solved.

I didn’t make a single cent.

The minute you think you can make anyone else other than yourself do the work for you, you’re not going to gain anything. Guaranteed. You CAN outsource the work you’re least good at to someone else, but that means working together with them, and that counts as work.

6) Nothing is a golden ticket

Last year, I launched my book, This Shit Called Life on Amazon. I thought I could go all out with my best writing (I’m still really proud of the stories inside and am looking into how I can use them for better marketing) and then let Amazon do all the marketing work.

It sold alright, but only to my list. It did good when I put it up for free. That’s all. I didn’t become the next Neil Gaiman overnight.

Nothing is a golden ticket. You should never treat anything as such. You have to have a plan and still do the work. If you expect something to be a golden ticket, you’re in for a huge disappointment.

YouTube isn’t going to magically make your video go viral. Instagram isn’t going to hand followers to you just because you hashtag a shit ton of meaningless phrases. Facebook, is not your friend.

Thus, to all my friends who’re looking to start becoming the next big whatever on the seemingly “new” trend of social media, put in your all and keep shelling out your most passionate, and best work.

7) Success is individual

So stop comparing yourself with others. It can be both tricky and hard, but comparing is only building yourself up for envy, not inspiration.

The way I like to see it, everyone has their own challenges. The person making a lot of money may be in debt. The person who seemingly earned overnight fame may not be able to handle basic criticism and gets angry all the time.

I know of two local dudes here who makes a lot of money online, but their ethics and integrity are so bad that there’re many who dislike them. Nothing much to envy there.

Be proud of your own work and success. Your own special rewards will come soon enough.

8) Don’t automatically assume everyone is better or more successful than you

When I started out, I had a problem of looking up to anybody who had a basic blog and business running online. Then I assumed they were very successful in life.

After failing in a crapload of things (product launches, articles that never went viral, alienating friendships etc), I can honestly say, without a doubt that it’s extremely easy to look successful without having to openly lie about it. Seriously, all you need is pretty much a signboard.

Those blogs, or any kind of businesses you see for that matter, you see out there? Unless it’s overwhelmingly good on an international scale, they’re probably struggling or working hard like you are. In fact, when a so-called entrepreneur boasts about their success openly on social media, to the extent of showing off their raw earnings, there’s a higher chance that he’s lying and full of bullshit. So be wary, especially if they try to manipulate you with flowery language.

Don’t waste your time looking up to everybody. Only the few you know you can trust will do.

9) Only you would think it’s as bad as you think it would be

More often than not, we’re scared to try something out because of the fear of failure. We think it’s the end of the world if things don’t pan out.

I suffered from that complex greatly for a long time. As a result, I held back and didn’t try out a lot of potential ideas.

Usually, when we fear something and the undesirable results it brings, it is ourselves that blow it out of proportion. The rest of the world either doesn’t think much of it or really care at all.

In that sense, we can be our own worst enemies. It’s best not to get too paranoid about it.

10) It takes real courage to put yourself out there

And this is extremely subtle.

It’s extremely easy to look up to some popular blogger and think you can simply emulate his or her success. It’s also extremely easy to read some textbook on the rules of success and think you can simply follow them.

But when it comes down to the real work, there’s always that little whisper of doubt that makes you hesitate. This is the make-or-break moment that comes across as extremely small, so much so you think it’s not a big deal if you decide not to face your fears and go through with it.

When you decide not to do it, that is when you’re doing it wrong.

This part is both scary and tricky, because it’s seemingly so unimportant.

Think about how you read some news piece of a guy who jokes about feminism. You laugh. You know it’s just a joke and not a big deal. Now, when you try to do the same, what if you think, “Oh wait. What if I make my female friends or even my mom upset?”

See how easy it is to cower? It’s very easy to be the reader. It’s not so much when you’re the artist.

11) Follow the rules, yet break them all the time

Want to learn how to start a blog? Then read up and study the age-old rules of how to create one. Enroll in a course or get a mentor even. If these rules have been around for a long time, they must be legit after all.

Once you’re done, break all the damn rules to stand out.

Why? Look at it this way: Everybody likes to say, “If it was so easy, then the whole world would be successful.”

I like to say, “If it was as easy as simply learning from your textbook, course, seminar, mentor or whatever, then everybody can work a shitty job for a month, quit, use that money to learn and then become successful.”

Dream on. If anything, the people who swear by the rules and think they have it made are the ones who’re least likely to succeed. Yeah, these are your annoying fresh graduates who go to work and think they know everything by quoting their textbooks.

So break the rules. You need to to stand out.

12) You must feel a certain level of fear, anxiety and discomfort to create your best art

As said, it’s not that easy. It takes real courage. Everybody knows shit like “Get out of your comfort zone” already, but that’s cliche and boring.

So here’s a piece of encouragement.

You’re not feeling the fear, anxiety and discomfort because it’s some cheesy idea where artists need to be suffering and in pain to express your best shit.

The thing is, if you’re not feeling at least uncomfortable, then you’re playing it safe. If you always being safe, then you’re like the rest of the world.

There’s no way you can stand out like that.

13) So for the love of everything, just be afraid and do it anyway because we’re all tired of the same old shit

What do you get when you read my blog? I certainly hope it’s Honest and Real Stories.

It took me a couple of years, but I finally learnt nobody wants to hear trite shit like, “Follow your dreams”, “Follow your heart”, “Get out of your comfort zone”, “Abundance” and whatever!

Nobody really cares if your new bar serves mere cold beer or has a nice ambiance. Every place has that.

Nobody cares if your Facebook page has good branding. There’re so many friggin brands out there.

Nobody wants more discounts after spending a ridiculous minimum. Give it to us free and we’ll definitely remember you.

14) It’s not about being loved or hated

It’s about being judged or ignored. These are the only two choices you have.

Credit goes to Seth Godin for this brilliant insight.

Don’t do it to be loved and don’t do it to be hated. People will find a way to do either anyway.

If you want to stand out, you’ll be judged. The most successful people in the world are also the most hated.

The other choice is to be super boring, safe and ultimately ignored.

15) Not many will care about your struggles

For they’re only keen to know about your success and what it brings them. It’s sad, but people are wired this way.

When people ask me about my blog, they only always want to know how much money I make every month.

Pity, because I can go on and on and talk about the art of writing and how art makes you a better and more confident person.

But it’s okay. These friends are just passing by. This is your filter. The people who will stick with you throughout your struggles and success can easily be found. Hold dear to them and never let go. Take inspiration from Will Smith.

will-smith-quotes-4

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23 comments

  1. Hazna - January 16, 2015 11:22 am

    Good read Alden!

    Reply
  2. Jed - January 16, 2015 11:46 am

    You are inspiring me Brother. Never have truer words been written.
    Peace.
    Jed.

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:10 pm

      Thanks for dropping by

      Reply
  3. Leesa - January 16, 2015 12:21 pm

    Hey Alden – Thanks for this post, it was a great read.

    Kind of a: kick your ass into gear, JFDI, and then keep going despite what others may think (or what you’re afraid they might think).

    My fav line:

    “14) It’s not about being loved or hated

    It’s about being judged or ignored. These are the only two choices you have.”

    Love it!

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:10 pm

      Love and hated and that battle is overrated. We all already know what to do there 🙂

      Reply
  4. Sharon - January 16, 2015 3:14 pm

    Hi Alden,
    Thank you for your blog today, you really told things as they are – no sugar coating! It seems there are so many people out there today who believe that everyone else “Owes” them and they don’t want to do anything to advance themselves. There is no “magic” way to get there without putting forth the effort yourself. Thanks again for putting it in today’s terms! I hope people listen!

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:09 pm

      Indeed. We can’t have the sweet talk all the time.

      Reply
  5. Guus - January 16, 2015 4:22 pm

    Very good post! Wish(?!) you would have written that as a guest post on my site as the subject is success :).

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:09 pm

      Haha dang.

      Reply
  6. Jon - January 17, 2015 9:11 pm

    Hi Alden

    Your mails always get read, many others get trashed instantly but this is the first of Your blogs I’ve read – you’ve got it spot on and WILL make a success of your life. Don’t ever concern yourself with whatever others may think or say, only YOU and nobody else is responsible for your thoughts and actions in this life. Live honestly and lovingly, ALWAYS think positively and the “world is Your oyster” This is not hype or bullshit JUST FACT.
    God be with you – Jon

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:08 pm

      Haha thanks for reading the emails!

      Reply
  7. Lorraine - January 17, 2015 11:03 pm

    That is just how it is!!! Good on you!!

    Reply
  8. Lorraine - January 17, 2015 11:04 pm

    That is just how it is. Well done – give it heaps!!

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:07 pm

      Thanks Lorraine.

      Reply
  9. Diane - January 18, 2015 5:49 pm

    Wow! Alden! Really inspiring! It’s high time that we stop being unrealistic. Hard work is what will get us there and nobody can do it for us.

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:06 pm

      The work IS the goal yeah 🙂

      Reply
  10. Steve Roy - January 21, 2015 6:06 pm

    Right on dude!
    This is some great shit here. Loving the passion you bring and the fact that you tell it like it really is. There are too many bloggers bullshitting us 24/7 and it’s awesome to see this.

    The work is the goal; I love it. I am fortunate enough to have a fitness business where I get to help people live better lives every single day. It’s amazing and although the big picture is something different for me, my work is bringing me closer every day..

    Stay up, bro

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:05 pm

      That’s awesome. Stay up!

      Reply
  11. Andy - January 22, 2015 6:23 am

    Great insight Alden. Real talk!

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:05 pm

      Fer realz

      Reply
  12. Laura Bennett - January 22, 2015 12:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Alden! Truly great points and excellent reminders.

    Reply
    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:04 pm

      🙂

      Reply
  13. Dan Western - January 22, 2015 4:03 pm

    Hey Alden,

    Thanks for dropping me an email and sharing this article with me!

    Some great points here! Solid writing from yourself as always.

    Keep up the good work,

    Dan

    Reply

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