You Don’t Need A 20 Minute Motivational Video To Brush Your Teeth

“Can’t wait to quit my boring job, so I can finally be an entrepreneur and do some exciting shit!” If I had to guess how many times I had this thought, the answer would be: endless. Only now in hindsight do I understand how naive this was.

If there is one thing that surprised me, then it is this: it is unbelievably boring.

Being an entrepreneur is like having a job, but on steroids.

The Illusion Of Excitiement

How often have you watched a documentary or a movie about entrepreneurs,  about innovators, Wall Street and many other different exciting environments? Did you wish for yourself to have such an interesting life? Suffer not, because it’s an illusion. What you are watching is an emotional highlight reel. When you hyper-condense years or even decades of someone’s life into a single movie, you can bet on it to be packed with excitement, scene to scene.

The same thing applies to social media. Often people talk about their path to success and shout out feel-good things like “I’ve done it, and it took a lot of effort, dedication, and discipline. Believe in yourself, etc etc.” All these feel-good speeches are truthful, but they are missing the full picture. The one giving the speech knows that behind this simple sentence about commitment and discipline lay a behemoth in the form of years and years of working yourself to the bone, of missing out on a lot and levels of sacrifice almost akin to being imprisoned. Problem is, it is very hard to paint an accurate picture about the reality of doing hard things.

Look at these dumbasses clapping without realizing the weight of the speaker’s one-liner about discipline and hard work

How And Why This Completes The Trilogy

The last two posts we talked about time and obsession.

  1. The understanding of the value that time has, and how little we have of it is rather a general principle and a mindset thing. It is meant to be an ever-present filter through which we perceive the world and our lives and to serve us as a propelling force and guidance through both short-term and long-term.
  2. The second part is on the power of our thoughts, and why it’s important to constantly check ourselves in that area. Having higher goals and aspirations, and being constantly obsessed with them falls somewhere in between a generalized principle and a habit.
  3. This last part is a different beast. This one is purely a muscle which you have to work on every fucking day. Having the habit of discipline (yes, discipline is a habit, not a character trait) to push through the everyday shit is the actual doing. Yes, there are a few underlying principles and mindsets, but it’s all about you developing this habit of getting your hands dirty doing a lot of TBF (Tedious, Boring, Frustrating) tasks on a daily basis

Here’s an analogy of the above three mentioned core principles:

Imagine there is a straight and very, very long road in front of you. You are now at one end of it, and want to reach the other end. 

  • Principle one would be your car.
  • Principle two would be the car’s fuel.
  • Principle three is your willingness to actually drive the car for many, many hours every day. The straight road will be incredibly boring and monotonous. It will also be very hard since you will often get uncomfortable from the seat, it will get hot etc.

As you can see, all three elements are crucial, including this last one. You could have the best mindset and philosophy (the car), and be absolutely obsessed over your dreams (the fuel), but none of that shit matters if you don’t work on it. At the end of the day, the one who habitually sits down to work will win over the one who just thinks and fantasies. The first one is a doer, the second one is a wantrepreneur indulging in mental masturbation.

You could have the fastest car, full to the brim with fuel. You still have to sit in it for a long, long time in order to arrive

It’s The Hardest Part

Here’s one more thing: out of the three core elements, this one is the hardest to master. By far. So hard, in fact, that 99% of people fail at it. To develop a long-term, consistent work discipline is akin to running an ultra marathon. It’s a long and laborious process.

How many times have you seen someone (including yourself) start a project and then give up half-way? How many failed diets and training plans have you heard of, and experienced yourself? How often have you heard someone say they will quit smoking and drinking, only to find them a week later in the same old place they swore not to return to? Someone says that they will develop a reading habit, and a few months later you find out that they gave up after the first book. Start a new hobby, but soon after they’ve bought all the tools (yay, let’s go shop for some toys!) for the hobby, they stopped. Any of these sound familiar?

It’s always the same: after the initial excitement is over, and the long and hard middle starts to settle in, most of us break and don’t pull through.

After six months of being in the trenches, I can say that I’ve grown this muscle. But the interesting thing about this muscle is that it atrophies very fast, which I’ve also noticed. You have to constantly flex it.

This is what the process of attaining a consistent work ethic looks like

Here are the most important mindsets and techniques/habits which help me, and, hopefully, will help you, too.

Set Your Expectations Right

As I said in the beginning: the expectations are often that we will lead these exciting lives where we constantly solve big problems and make these bigger-than-life decisions, and start this avalanche of unimaginable events. All of this falls apart when we find ourselves in the middle of the journey and realize it’s not as sexy as we imagined it to be. We can easily prevent this disappointment by understanding that this is not the case.

I had only a handful of exciting, high-emotion moments in the past 5-6 months. Most of the time I’ve spent doing mundane and frustrating work. This leads me to the second point.

All Big Things Are A Compilation Of Many Small And Simple Ones

Take any complex thing and put it apart into its components, and you’ll quickly realize that behind this glamorous surface view, lay a collection of tiny, mundane elements. Each of these elements required paramount efforts to create. 

Take a scientist for example. It is exciting to see a Nobel prize being given to a ground-breaking discovery. Problem is that all we see is an event. The event happened through a long process of the scientist experimenting and trying out shit for years, then having something click a little, then spending years trying to refine it, bit by bit. 

As you can see, behind the Nobel prize award (event) there are years (heck, even decades) where the scientist was getting kicked in the face, and ate shit on a daily basis, laboring over TBF tasks in the lab like a motherfucker.

Simply realizing that everything big is structured as a collection of many simple and mundane things sets us in the right frame of mind.

Behind every big and beautifull monument there is a motherfucker who put it together, brick by brick. He sure didn’t think how sexy and exciting it is laying each piece upon the previous one

Start Measuring Progress Differently

You want to start your work on something, and a future-knowing oracle comes to you and says to you, that it will take 1000 hours of work before you finish it. Now stop for a moment and try to analyze your intuitive assumption. More likely than not, you imagined these 1000 hours in a linear fashion, where you basically make progress with a consistent pace, hour after hour, until you reach the 1000’th.

We all know that the real world works a bit differently than that. Whatever you do, it will never be a consistent progress towards the goal. You will have days and weeks where nothing is working and you make no visible progress. It almost seems that you cannot move from a single place, and that shit gets in your head.

Last week we talked about the dopamine equation where one of the two crucial elements is that the brain needs to see visible progres on a daily basis in order to release dopamine and get us going. We need to redefine some terms here:

Progress is the time spent in active engagement with the work in front of us.

Read that sentence again. It is that important. What we have done is we have decoupled progress from movement speed, and coupled it with time spent working. This is crucial, since time is linear, and movement is sporadic and inconsistent.

Every time when I find myself stuck on something and get discouraged, I simply think about this framework.

There is a fixed X amount of hours (we don’t know X since there is no oracle of course, but the X is fixed nonetheless) which I must spend actively working on this thing, after which it will be done.

I simply recalibrate my measurement unit into time spent working. This is extremely powerful, because what happens is this way I can create a self-perpetuating loop of dopamine/motivation. The more I work each day, the bigger the chunk of X time is done, and the faster I will reach the goal. The faster that I reach my goal, the more dopamine and motivation I get.

This is such a simple, yet powerful framework of thinking. If there is a single lesson to take out of this post, then it’s this. Beware though. It might be simple, but simple does not mean easy. It is quite hard to implement it. Our brains are fixed on perceiving movement, not so much time. But I promise you, if you master this single framework, you’ll be unstoppable.

Remove Emotion

Once I started approaching all daily tasks as simply a job, my life got easier.

I stopped attributing any human traits to the work at hand ➞ consequently, I stopped taking things personally ➞ therefore, I didn’t take any of it seriously ➞ after which it wasn’t a high stakes game anymore.

There was no unnecessary intensity, be it positive like being motivated and hyped up, or negative like resentment and dread. 

The work doesn’t care. It is simply there waiting for someone to do it.

It’s like brushing teeth: you’re not necessarily excited about it, but you are not going to throw a tantrum over it either. You simply do it because it needs to be done. You won’t overthink it. You also don’t need a fucking 20 minute motivational video to overcome some imaginary resistance wall.


With this post we have concluded the three most important fundamental principles for success in anything worthwhile. I hope you can get something out of it. 

Until next week,

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