Obsession: Your Shortcut To Success

Here’s a challenge for you: 
Can you recall just one thought you had today which was unique, or at least very rare?

If you do this little experiment, you’ll quickly realize that all the shit that went through your head today was the same shit from yesterday, which again is the same rewound tape from the day before. If that is the case: congrats! You have a healthy, functioning brain. It’s a known fact that the mind is a creature of habit. Repetition of a set of thinking and behavioral  patterns is what makes it efficient for everyday life.

The mind is a creature of habit

Analyze Yourself

Now the real question: what exactly did you think of?

More likely than not, you thought about what Sally is doing, about the game you want to watch with John, your everyday problems, the work you have to do, what is going to happen in the next episode of your favorite show, or that funny cat video.

All of those thoughts are the norm for most of us. Since the mind must obsess over something, it will naturally obsess over the things it is exposed to.

The influence of mind clutter is greatly underestimated, even if you are a hard working person. If you say, “I will dedicate five hours of concentrated work every day into this thing that I have. I will sit down and commit fully to the task at hand and give it my very best,” you would be better off than the vast majority of people.

But there is an additional level to this. Outright obsession.

The Power Of Single-minded Focus

Only once I started obsessing over my work did I start to be hyper productive. Instead of waking up and then trying to figure out what I need to do and how to do it, my first thought would be the continuation of the last thought I had before falling asleep yesterday: about that thing. About the project I’ve been working on. And I know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. That was literally the only thing I thought about, talked about, even dreamt about.

You see, when you think about that thing all the time, even when you are not working on it, your mind will subconsciously optimize for it. Every mental resource becomes dedicated to its advancement. Your mind will solve all the obstacles and problems you are facing, and unlock unimaginable levels of creative genius which will give you superhuman powers.

Nothing is potent as persistent obsession

The benefits are obvious and measurable for me. It took me 5 months to finish a project, which, under normal circumstances, would take me easily over a year. What is more, I would probably never even finish it. Why? Because, once attention starts drifting away into other things, energy and time get quickly reprioritized. The end result? Your momentum starts to rapidly slow down, and thus the project gets dragged out into oblivion. That is exactly the pitfall. When things slow down, you will very quickly fall into a rut and lose the motivation to continue, and it is hard to get going again.

The Dopamine Equation

The mind needs to see tangible progress on a daily basis (yes, every fucking day) in order for it to keep releasing enough dopamine to get you moving. You will only get dopamine when two conditions are met:

  1. I have a goal which will feel rewarding when reached
  2. I am moving consistently towards it in a satisfying pace with the work I put in

In short, you notice every day that you are closer to the goal by a measurable margin, and the faster you are nearing your goal, the more dopamine you’ll get. This is the opposite of a downward spiral; it’s an upward spiral.

This little sucker is what we want to maximize on a daily basis

How to Achieve Mastery at Lightning Speed

Here’s an A/B example of how powerful obsession and focus are. Let’s say you want to learn a new language. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume you need 100 hours to be decent at it.

  • Scenario A: You decide that you will learn for one hour a day for the next 3+ months, and the rest of the time you’ll simply get on with your life and not pay attention to it
  • Scenario B: You decide that you’ll embrace the language fully for the next 10 days. You’ll live it, breathe it and eat it every day. You will speak no other language than the one you want to learn.

Which one do you think will be more effective? I can confidently say from my personal experience, that scenario B is better by a wide margin.

Upon moving to Austria, I became fluent in German within a year, while many of my acquaintances struggled, even after several years in the country. Why? I made a conscious decision to only hang out with Austrians and exclusively speak German. I fully embraced it and refused to engage in anything else. I wanted to know not only their language, but also their culture, humor, interests, and dialect (which is quite different from standard German). I lived the Austrian life until I fully mastered the language. That is the power of single-minded focus and obsession. Here you can see the two elements of the DOPAMINE EQUATION at play from last chapter:

  1. I wanted to learn German as good and fast as possible, because it would allow me to be highly functional in my everyday life (reward)
  2. As I rapidly got better (measurable, satisfying pace), I got more confident. As I got more confident, I also got positive feedback from my environment, which reinforced everything and in return motivated me to double down on my efforts

The conclusion: Even if the net time spent in scenario A and B is the same, each hour spent in B is a lot more effective than in A, simply for the fact that the mind is more engaged and thus optimized for it.

How To Become Obsessed

Here are my two cents on the three most important elements which I figured out in the last few months, in no particular order.


I talked about how I turned my life around basically overnight, and the catalyst was the realization that we don’t have time. This is the first of the three core principles, which serves as a foundation for the second one we’re discussing today. The principle of urgency ties in closely with being obsessed. Thinking every day about the passing of time creates the urgency to act quickly. I am literally obsessed with the anxiety-inducing fact that I don’t have much time, and I remind myself every day of this reality. As a natural consequence, I got obsessed with achieving my goals as fast as possible.

Think About Your Whys Every Day

This includes both positives and negatives. It is extremely important to remind yourself everyday about your goals and the reasons why you are doing this. It is also even more important to remind yourself every day about the things that you want to avoid happening to you. Obsession is, by definition, repetitive, and you will need a lot of repetition to stay on the right path. I personally have a list for both, which I rehearse every day multiple times, especially before falling asleep. These two lists are of extreme importance to me since they remind me of my purpose.

Disappear For A While

The first two points are more of a mindset thing. They are more about why focusing on the important thing is, well, important. But that is just one part. The other crucial part of having focus is about having no sources which drain it. This one is very concrete.

Be by yourself for a while. Minimize contact with friends and family, coworkers, and acquaintances. You don’t need to accept every invitation for a hangout, or an activity/hobby. Politely decline and say that you will get back to them a little later. At the time when I was building DAILY GROWTH, I was seeing other people every 2-3 weeks once for a coffee. It will not feel lonely, since you are on a higher mission. There is not much room or time for anything else. The task at hand needs your full attention, and every time you hang out with people that are not on the same path as you are, your mind will get filled with distractions which will weaken you over time.

If you let random circumstances dictate your life, your mind will quickly look like this

Remember, this applies not only to people in your life. Disappear from social media (caveat: this rule applies if your social media account is filled with bullshit. Mine is filled with content which helps stay on my path. But still, I don’t engage more than 10 minutes a day. I will watch a few useful videos while commuting, working out etc. and that’s it). Don’t engage in entertainment. Fuck the funny cat video. Forget about your hobbies for a while. None of that shit matters in comparison with your main purpose of life.

I assure you that you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.

All of this is of course not a permanent solution. It is meant to put you in the right headspace while you are working on achieving your goal. The more obsessed and focused you are, the faster you will be done with it, and the faster you are done with it, the more time you will have in the future for everything else, since no unnecessary weight will be on your shoulders to slow you down.

A Question To Ask Yourself

As you can see, all the points above are tightly intertwined. It is impossible to separate them into fully independent boxes. All of them build upon each other into a general mindset with a few simple basic principles. There is an easy way to check whether something is a distraction or not.

A simple question you can ask yourself is: will this help me get nearer my goal?

This rule-of-thumb will easily determine if something is draining your resources, or if it’s helping you in your mission.


Anything you concentrate on will grow. Since the mind is obsessive by nature, it will always find an outlet where it can exercise this habit. If you don’t make a conscious decision to focus on the important things, your mind will simply default to obsessing about unimportant trivialities which surround you.

If you don’t focus on the important things, you will, by default, focus on shit. And when you focus on shit, shit grows.

We don’t want shit to grow.

Until next week,

P.S. Here is an interesting read about obsession by Grant Cardone.

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