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Ramit’s 2018 manifesto: Rewriting your story

I don’t want to brag, but I’m really good at sleeping. I close my eyes and fall asleep in about 45 seconds. I wake up eight hours later, no interruptions. Once, I read a Reddit thread about how sleeping on your back is better, so I switched from sleeping on my stomach and changed a lifetime of habits overnight. That’s right. You’re reading Ramit Sethi, professional back sleeper.

But last year, for the first time in my life, I started having trouble sleeping. It started taking me 10 minutes to fall asleep, then 30, then more than an hour. The worst part is, when I finally fell asleep, I would wake up gasping for air 10+ times every night.

Now I was in a terrible cycle of being tired, dreading going to sleep because I knew I’d wake up suffocating…then, yes, having my fear come true 10 times a night. THIS, MY FRIENDS, IS HELL.

I took NyQuil. I tried no caffeine. Finally, I went to go see an ear, nose, and throat doctor who ran some tests and even put a tube down my throat to check for any blockages.

She finally spun around on her stool and said, “Physiologically, you’re fine. Are you under any stress?”

And that’s when I laughed.

***

For my whole life, I’ve known certain things about myself: I can write. I’m a good speller. And when it comes to stress, I’m cool under pressure.

In fact, it became part of my identity:

“I’m cool under pressure.”

I never really get fazed. I’m calm, in control. I get it from my dad. All things I told myself, and my friends, for 30+ years.

Which was true…until it wasn’t.

Try to imagine you’ve built your entire identity on something, and suddenly, you realize it’s not true. Suddenly Mr. Hot Shit ain’t so hot.

When the doctor told me that I was gasping for breath every night because of stress, I just stared at her. Stress? That doesn’t affect me. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t stress out.

Writing this here sounds stupid, like one of those comical things that happen to “other” people. But don’t laugh. If you’d told yourself a story for 35 years and suddenly discovered it wasn’t true, how would you react?

2017 was a tough year in our business. We took a big hit on traffic. We had to let some valuable team members go. And we had to reorient how we do business in several big ways.

It turns out, I’m not some omnipotent CEO. “I’m cool under pressure” doesn’t apply all the time. I react the same way everyone else does to extreme stress — only I’d never been put in the position to discover that before. Now I was being told that, actually, the story I’d believed for 35 years wasn’t true?

It was one of the most surprising moments of my life. My identity, the one I’d believed, the one I’d created and cultivated, wasn’t actually what I thought. Maybe I had been wrong about who I was all along.

Here’s a tough question for you:

What’s the story you tell yourself?

That you’re not a morning person?

That you’re an introvert?

That you have bad genetics?

(By the way, what about the positive stories you tell yourself? Are you really good with kids? Good at traveling? A great writer?)

What would happen if you discovered one of those stories wasn’t true?

I know, this isn’t the usual easy reading that’s going around. It’s not a Happy New Year post about making resolutions that finally stick. But I think this is more important than any resolution you’ll ever make.

I believe that our lives are made up of stories. And I believe there are three kinds of stories that matter:

  • The stories we’re told.
  • The stories we believe.
  • And the stories we change.

And I would be willing to bet you $10,000 that you currently believe a story about yourself that’s not true. Here’s why.

What stories have you been told?

We’re told stories by everyone around us. Some of them are true. Some of the stories used to be true, but not anymore: “You should work at the same company for 30 years, then retire with a pension.” (When I was 21, a family friend told me I should go work at Procter & Gamble for 30 years, then I’d retire with a million dollars. I wanted to say, “That’s it? 30 years in a cubicle for a million bucks?” But he was an Uncle, so I said, “Thank you for the advice” while secretly thinking, “Are you insane?”)

But some of the stories are plainly false: “Real estate is always the best investment.” Every time I say this, people get really mad, because in America, real estate is religion.

Can you think about other myths you’ve been taught about money, relationships, business, and productivity?

Now think about the stories you believe.

When you think of a superhero, who comes to mind? Superman? Batman?

What if you’re an Indian kid growing up in California, your dad wears a turban, and all the superheroes you know don’t look like him…or you?

What if the only exception — the one area where Indian people unquestionably dominate — is in SPELLING BEES??

Well, then you become a spelling bee champion, which I did. A P-R-O-D-I-G-I-O-U-S champion.

But I simply had no idea that an Indian guy could be huge and ripped. That was for “those” guys who looked like superheroes, not me. And why wouldn’t I believe that story? Until I was in my mid-20s, I had never seen someone who looked like me — a skinny, bookish Indian guy — put on tons of muscle.

Believing that story (a story so subtle, I didn’t even realize I had absorbed it) stopped me from getting into shape until I was almost 30.

The people we see around us influence us. Imagine growing up with parents who eat junk food. It’s around you every single day, that you believe it’s normal to eat a bag of chips while watching TV. Why wouldn’t you? It’s all you’ve known.

That’s why it’s such a relief to see someone who looks like you. Imagine you’re a recent immigrant to NYC. Or a little girl who dreams of being a superhero.

Left: Subway poster, RIGHT: Wonder Woman
LEFT: The headline of the subway poster says “NYC Public Schools speak your language,” but the sign is about more than just language. It symbolically communicates, “We’re here for you —
your culture, your heritage.”
RIGHT: Same thing for the pic of Wonder Woman, speaking to a generation of little girls who dream about being a superhero.

Have you ever seen someone who looks like you, doing the thing you want to do? If not, it makes a lot of sense that it’s hard to imagine you doing it (this is also called Imposter Syndrome).

I had a friend who, at 34, wasn’t sure about having kids. Why? She had no positive role models for parenting (in fact, she’d never met a parent who actually spoke positively about having kids — it’s way easier to complain about kids).

If you’ve never met someone like you who started a business, it’s no surprise that it’s hard to imagine actually becoming an entrepreneur. I can show you 10,000 success stories, but if it’s not someone who relates to you — could be someone who lives in your city, or looks like you, or has a similar background — it’s hard to imagine you doing it.

Now we start to understand why we believe the stories we do, sometimes without even realizing it.

Think about all the stories you might believe:

  • Money: “I need to cut back on lattes to get my finances right.”
  • Relationships: “Just wait, and be yourself…the right person will come around when you’re not looking.”
  • Business: “I need to do FB ads to grow my business” or “I’m not ready to be an entrepreneur yet.”
  • Fitness: (Basically everything from the fucking nutrition and fitness market. I hate you.)

You and I like to believe that we make reasoned, rational decisions to do the things we do. In reality, lots of the things we do are driven by the stories we tell ourselves — the stories we may have never even thought about…and which might not even be real. This is extremely uncomfortable to contemplate.

In fact, one of the most startling things in the world is realizing you’ve been believing a story about yourself…that might not be true.

The cost of believing the wrong story

One of my dreams is to hold a conference where I sit around and scream at everyone in the audience about all the things they’re doing wrong.

YOU WORRY ABOUT FINDING THE PERFECT BLOG THEME. WORRY ABOUT FINDING AN IDEA PEOPLE WILL REALLY PAY FOR.

YOU WORRY ABOUT A TERROR ATTACK. YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM A TODDLER…OR A PEANUT.

YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT WHICH STUPID DIET TO USE. WORRY ABOUT EATING LESS, WORKING OUT, AND HAVING A STRONG SOCIAL CIRCLE.

However, decades of life experience suggests people don’t really like being told all the ways they’re wrong. Also, I have enough trouble selling tickets to a real conference, much less one where the primary promise is to crush dreams.

Anyway, I love thinking about risk. Like any CEO, I’m obsessed with thinking about unlikely risks, how to contain them, and when to go all in and bet the farm.

It’s interesting that a lot of us think about risk as one big calamity that can suddenly hit us: a car accident, a home invasion, a death in the family.

But risk comes in more subtle ways, too — like believing the wrong story, day by day.

You believe the wrong story, you make certain choices…and eventually, you wake up, confused about why life has turned out the way it has.

America’s classic middle-aged conundrum: “Why did I wake up at 52 with a suburban house with a white-picket fence…2.5 kids…a convertible car…and I hate all of it?”

That’s why it’s important to remember that there’s a third kind of story: the kind we change.

Think of your own life: What if you really weren’t a “shy person”? What if you’d been telling yourself a story that was holding you back — and you recognized it, then changed it?

Man, this is uncomfortable to contemplate. In fact, when I shared this idea with a few people and asked them to think of a story they’d been telling themselves that they could change…

…they were stumped.

Changing the story you tell yourself is viscerally uncomfortable because it means that (1) you might have to do the very thing you’ve created an identity around not doing, and (2) you might have been wrong about yourself for your entire life. It’s not just hard. It’s psychologically devastating.

Easier to go back to eating chips and scrolling email newsletters! Happy New Year guys!! Let’s talk about 56,375 productivity tips that nobody’s going to do, but it helps sell ads!

Here, watch. This is how easy it is for people to give up on re-examining their internal stories:

Reader: “Hmm, this Ramit guy might be onto something. Lemme think about the stories I tell myself.”

Reader (12 seconds later): “Wait, I’m shy. I don’t like going to parties. Now you’re telling me I have to go to 50 parties and waste my time on small talk?”

BOOM. 12 seconds and this person is done.

What’s happening here is the most common example of how your mind will trick you into avoiding seriously re-examining your internal stories. It’s called an “Extreme-Reach Barrier”: Your mind, which loves psychological comfort, will come up with the most outlandish example of what you “have” to do…then summarily dismiss it. Go to 50 parties?? LOL!

Ahhh, relief. You’ve gone through the exhausting process of carefully considering your options, then you’ve consciously decided not to pursue it. At least, that’s what your mind tells you. In reality, you haven’t done the hard work at all.

We see this all the time in our business. I can show you 10,000+ examples of people who have used our material to start a profitable business, or negotiate a $25,000 raise. Shit, we taught people to cook amazing eggs!

But I’ve also realized that we can’t force it. If someone isn’t ready to start a business, there is no amount of proof that will actually matter.

Maybe they’ve never seen someone like them who successfully started a business. Maybe they don’t believe they can do it. Maybe they just don’t care about being an entrepreneur! If someone isn’t open to changing their story, nothing else matters.

Interestingly, people will almost never explicitly say “I can’t start a business because I’ve never seen someone like me do it.” In 13+ years, I’ve never heard that.

Instead, they’ll say things like “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have an idea” or “Yeah, but can you help a left-handed albino who lives above the equator start a multi-channel business…”

Hey, if you don’t want to do something — that’s fine! I don’t want to meditate. No, I don’t care about your referral code to Headspace.

But there’s a fine balance between consciously deciding not to do something…and unconsciously following a story that someone else wrote for you.

If you’re lucky in life, you get an epiphany, a pivotal moment where you realize the story you believe isn’t actually true. (This happened at the doctor’s office for me when she told me I was reacting to a ridiculous amount of stress.)

But most of us don’t get that moment. We start the new year making the same resolutions as last year, telling ourselves the same stories.

“I’ll try harder this year. I want to get more productive. I should save more money. Blah blah blah, zzZzzzZzzzz…”

But it is possible to change our stories. How? By asking a simple question. Just two words:

WHAT IF?

What if I could actually look like those superheroes? (Here’s my before and after photo. Send me yours!)

What if I could actually be emotionally sensitive? (I’m working on this. It’s taken a long time but I’ve fundamentally changed my personality. By the way, you look amazing today.)

What if I wasn’t as impervious to business stress as I thought?

What If you took one of your core assumptions about yourself and flipped it on its head? Even just for a day, what would that look like?

Let me show you what I mean: One of my readers, Jen, posted this story about her daughter. It’s one of my favorite examples of changing a story ever.

image2 1

Absolutely amazing. What did you notice?

I noticed her changing the story she’d created for herself:

  1. The Old Story: A mother-daughter experience, the frugalista myth.
  2. Conflict: Why should I spend more money on this?
  3. Choice: Why not? What If I decided to go for it?
  4. The lesson: Jen rewrote her story about a Rich Life. What did it take for her to change her story? She realized life isn’t just about price, it’s also about value.

You can see how deeply her Old Story (frugality) seeped into her life — and how difficult it was to change. But think about all the possibilities she now has in her New Story.

If you could change your story, you could open up entire possibilities that you’d never considered before.

My story changed once I realized that I was under an immense amount of stress. We made several big changes in our business, and overnight, my sleep problems disappeared. They’re gone, and I’m back to being The #1 Sleeper Ramit Sethi.

I gotta tell you…changing the stories I believed has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was easier to avoid confronting the stories, to distract myself by reading 50 more Reddit threads, or to lie to myself and say, “Someday I’ll do that.”

But when I actively woke up, took control, and rewrote my story, everything changed.

If you remember nothing else from this, I want you to remember one thing: You can and must rewrite your story.

Forget about the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome, or “I don’t have an idea,” or “What do I really want to do?” Those are surface level. Go deeper and examine the stories you tell yourself.

Rewriting your story of a Rich Life takes these three ingredients:

What if: Start your story with two words. What if? What if you decided to become a morning person? What if you became the person who plans an annual family retreat? What if you decided to start a business this year?

You’re the hero: Make yourself the hero of your story by (1) having fun and (2) getting the help of other people around you. Ask for help and ask for ideas. People WANT to help you.

Look to the future: Don’t dwell on the past or just focus on the present. Imagine where you want to be.

If you can do this, you can change your life faster than you imagined possible. I’m going to show you how.

I want to hear from you. Leave a comment with one story in your life that you’d like to rewrite. Don’t worry about how — we’ll work through that later. I just want to hear about a story in your life that you want to rewrite.

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There Are 291 Comments

 

Ramit Sethi

Yes, once we made a plan to move forward in our business (a very complex, long process), my sleeping problems disappeared almost overnight. It showed that the issue was very clearly stress.

Thanks for your story, Ramit! We are the same person!! I was always a great sleeper and recently…not so much! Clearly, I have more stress in my life (business) than I have been admitting to.

OK now: What if… I decided that I was ready to hire a VA??!

Ooo, that sounds scandalous! And what will I give them to do when I am such a perfectionistic control freak? 😉

That sleep issue always comes to me when I make big bucks because I feel I still need more to start re-strategizing my business to what I love. Earlier in the year, I used to take carrots and it helped for get sleep for a few days. I also reduced Protein intake and it helped but still the problem still was there.
It reached a point where I could go for intense walk out just to tire myself and get sleep…But guess what? I recently moved to house in a premium location with lots of ventilation and well service and the story changed. Honestly, it was all because of stress!

Hey Ramit,

What happened? You always seem like you are a few steps ahead and it seems like you built an automated & well controlled business. So “what problem lurk ahead when you reach a certain level and why that’s intimidating” would be a very informative read even if you can only share bits of it.

Well said as always Ramit, it reminded me of an experience that rewrote my life story overnight. I have often wondered how mundane my life would have been versus the wonderful life I’ve had and am continuing to have but for that one thing that rewrote my story. It gives me chills to think how close I might have come to missing my life!

Amazing insights and hidden nuggets here.

Just like you were before Ramit, I’m a skinny Indian guy, from a middle class family in India.

There is always a classic comparison of India v/s the west which I keep on hearing.

One of the things which I keep hearing is “Well, this works for people in USA, not here Zubin!”

Eg: People spending on online courses

And this is the story I want to rewrite, personally and also inside the minds of some top performing people here.

I believe it’s because of this mindset we have here that even such top performing people don’t feel the need to spend on things like online courses, or ebooks, etc.

Ramit Sethi

I love your realization of how similar we are! Thank you for reading.

Hey Ramit. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I think this post is your first post that I really connect to. Even though I’m not mentally ready to do this exercise right now, I felt something respond deep in my mind as I read this post.

That feeling happens very rarely (if ever) when I read stuff online.

Thank you.

Yep, I was always told how calm and composed I am in a crisis, and how emotionally “strong” I was. Until I couldn’t breathe and ended up in the ER. Turns out being “strong” comes at a cost, and I’m much happier accepting that I need to prioritize what I spend my energy on (fun, people, and asking for help when I need it).

Ramit Sethi

That’s a big change. How did that realization affect you? (Thank you for reading.)

I figured this out on the first day of junior high many, many years ago. I’d always been sort of shy, especially around large groups of people. I looked around, though, and saw that the girls having fun were not shy. So I decided to not be shy. I’m still fundamentally an introvert – I like lots of time by myself – but I haven’t been shy around people since 7th grade.

I also never thought I would want to work for myself because of the financial uncertainty and potential difficulties getting a consistent stream of customers. While both of those have been true at times in my business, I wouldn’t trade this way of life for anything.

I try not to dig too deep a hole with ideas about who I am and what I can do. I like to keep my options open.

Ramit Sethi

“I decided not to be shy.” I love it. It’s interesting that that statement is so controversial (“Some people are just born shy! We can’t change everything about ourselves! If you change everything, suddenly you become a puppet! etc), but I absolutely love that you made a decision on how you want to live and you rewrote your story.

Introversion Shyness. Introversion is rarely a choice, but shyness can be. Being an introvert just means you get drained by other people quicker. You can still choose to not be shy.

Still working on slaying the shyness dragon.
The skinny dragon, however, is currently going down, because he is being beaten by the inner BEAST!
#SaidIWould
– C. out.

Yes! I made that decision not to be shy around the same time — I think 8th or 9th grade. I was also a timid, anxious, scaredy-type of kid, and, when I was 8-9, decided that I was going to become someone else: somebody who was confident, somebody who took risks, somebody who questioned authority and didn’t necessarily do everything she was told. Both decisions paid off. 🙂

PS Ramit, love this post.

I love this article.

I went through something similar last year, specifically about thinking I was shy. I had this idea in my head that I was just a shy, introverted person but everyone I ever became close to would never describe me that way. It was just a story I would tell myself to justify why I wouldn’t take the opportunities in front of me (like participating in class discussions, going to parties, asking out girls I liked). I eventually got to a place of asking myself ‘What if’ I did the things I was nervous/afraid of and it helped me change that story and my self-image completely.

I try to apply that same thought process to everything I attempt now, and it’s incredible to really learn who you are and what you’re capable of, despite the stories you tell yourself deep down inside.

Thanks Ramit! I love your work.

I would like to make more time in my day.

My story is that I’m a night owl, not a morning person, and that is very true. I love the night hours, I love looking at the moon, I love that it’s quiet and everyone else is asleep and I’m up.

But… the later I go to bed, the later I get up in the morning. My job is flexible enough that I have the luxury of not having to get up at a specific time; I just have to make sure I get my work done. But I’ve found the later I go to bed, the later I get up, which means the later I get started with my day’s activities, which means I often shove aside things that I want to be important to me (like working out, or trying my hand at writing fiction) and spend the majority of my day working, then taking a break, then working some more… in a cycle… until the night arrives again, and I feel like I’ve spent the day working or wasting time, and not utilizing my time better (and in ways that make me happy).

So… I think the story I want and need to change is what time I get up and start my day. I know I like being a night owl, but I also have found that on the days when I get up earlier, I tend to get more done, and faster, leaving me time at the end of the day to relax, go out to dinner, maybe even go to a movie, or use my extra time to write, or read a book, or take a class, or… so many possibilities. If I could just get up earlier and make it a habit. 🙂

Sherry – I almost wrote that same post! I was thinking this morning how I got up early on Friday and got amazing things done. On the way to work today, I was thinking, I could use my mornings to do things that bring me joy (like writing). I love being a night owl but it costs me too much. Going to become a morning person again – after all, I did it for years when I had small children. I can do this!

Ramit Sethi

This one is classic. People define themselves by being a “night owl,” brag about it, share it publicly…then it becomes part of their identity. When in reality, this can be changed in about a week. Go for it, Sherry — you can do it. You’re not a night owl any more.

Ramit is spot on with you being able to change this in a week. I used to be a “night owl” in terms of liking the late nights more than the early morning.

I used to avoid the hours before 7am. That was until my son started waking up at daybreak every morning. At first it felt early and a pain but now its natural and soaked into my routine.

I used to value the hours after 10pm as my downtime. That was until I simply stopped placing importance on doing things at that time. I can read, write, think anytime – just because its at night doesn’t make it any more special.

This reminds me so much of a revelation I had while finding strategies to deal with ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). My favourite hero as a child was Batman. He stored up all his anger and then released it at the right times against criminals to achieve justice. As a bullied child in primary school, this had seemed a good use of anger – store it up, much like a savings account, so it could be used to good effect at a later date. The realisation that this narrative had actually been damaging me for years was something of a revelation.
If you’re interested, take a quick read of a blog post I wrote about it a few years back, called “I Blame Batman”
http://kimayres.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/i-blame-batman.html

I don’t know a single teacher, who cares about their work, who isn’t overwhelmed every year from one year to the next. The ones who have given up and are just coasting, or the ones who do nothing to improve their practice, are the only ones who do not experience being overwhelmed by the work. I want to rewrite this so that I don’t burn out. My work is important, but so is my health.

I know there is a system, even in Ontario, that makes our job extremely difficult to do well. But I’m determined not to use this as an excuse. I’m just not sure where to start.

Part of this, I think, is because my own self-worth is tied to how I perceive my usefulness to others. Maybe that’s also something I need to rewrite. But either way, something needs to change.

Ramit Sethi

Notice what you said — “who cares about their work.” You’ve defined “real” teachers are the ones who are exhausted, when in reality, there are tons of great teachers who aren’t overwhelmed — you just don’t know them.

Go find them. Study the secret habits of top performers. And begin applying what they do. The easy part will be their techniques. The hard part will be changing your deeply held attitudes.

Aileen E Hampton

Karen, did you go to McMaster?

And, yes, there is a balance you can achieve as an educator. It is the same as for a parent. One doesn’t need to be a perfect mom. Just a good-enough mom. Imperfection, setting boundaries to protect your emotional health, allowing yourself to relax and enjoy the kids without stressing that you’re not doing more, being ok with not striving every semester — all are acceptable. After all, a good-enough teacher who is with the kids day-in and day-out, teaching, is far better than a burned-out over-reaching teacher who is no longer working in a school.

Do appreciate that in Ontario, teachers truly are appreciated and respected by the population at large (I know that your governmental employers do not always make you feel that way). That is not necessarily true in other places. I was so shocked when I moved to the United States, and my co-worker repeated a phrase that I just couldn’t fathom could be used in any society which values education: “Those who can’t do, teach.” I even required him to explain it to me, it flabbergasted me so much.

Teachers are incredibly valuable and so vital to a society of growth. You are contributing greatly and directly to such a community. But you don’t need to harm yourself doing it. Find your balance in your own definition of “good enough”. Your students will still love and appreciate you — and be learning, too! Especially from your practical example of calmness while prioritizing.

Marcus Armstrong

This is a story from a few years back, but it’s perfect.

I used to believe that I was a bad student, and in particular, I sucked at writing.

I failed a few classes and barely passed many others. It was a mirical that I graduated on time.

After being out of high school for 9 years, I started college. I maintained a 3.5 GPA and Aced every writing class that I took.

I wish I had learned this year’s ago, but it wasn’t that I was a bad student or that I couldn’t write well. My problems were all related to how I studied and my motivations to do well.

I changed that part of my story. This year, I’m changing another part. I will start Freelancing successfully because I am the kind of person who can succeed at it.
I may not have believed it before, but what if I can?

Nellie guPta

The situation: I want to book a trip to Aulani Resort for my husband’s 35th birthday this April – have an amazing getaway birthday for him, while also taking the kids along who would be so entertained, which in turn would make us, and him, happy.
The problem: it costs $4200 – hotel, flight, and car for mid-April (a little past his birthday). Plus, we will have to spend money while we’re there.

If I want to go all out and stay for a week… let’s say I need $7000.
My budget is tight, and I don’t want to take from savings, which is not where we want it to be. And if I do take from there to pay for the vacation in full.. he will likely go bonkers. If I eventually CAN afford to go… I’d have to book it by Jan 10th to get the better deal of ~30% off AND not to mention take vacation which I have only 3 or 4 hours because of maternity leave. Or, if I wind up somewhere new, can I really take vacation 3 months in?

Not sure the story I’m telling myself here… something along the lines of I’m frugal and I don’t want to take from savings… even though I actually do. Why cash? I don’t want to deal with credit card fees if I end up carrying a balance.

What’s a girl to do?

Ramit Sethi

You have a goal to earn $7,000 in 4 months. Get creative.

(Hint: You’re on a site that teaches people how to start their own business.)

I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH!!!
Something I’ve been contemplating the last few days is — what if I became an ordered person? Someone whose world is calm, organized and ordered in every way?
I realized last year that I grew up creating chaos in my world (physical space, calendar, etc) as a way to subconsciously get folks to leave me alone (no one walks in your room if they don’t have a space to physically put their feet and people stop asking you to do things if they think you’re so busy you couldn’t possibly have time). This was useful when I was younger but not so much now as an adult who actually knows how to set boundaries!
So…new story–being an ordered person. That would make my life so much easier. Just thinking about it lowers my stress levels considerably!
Happy 2018! Here’s to the best year yet!

Ramit Sethi

This is great.

People who are frenzied and frazzled feed on the chaos. But you don’t have to be like that. You can choose to be calm, cool, and collected.

Absolutely! I love that it’s a choice. I get to create my own future, my own self. Hell yeah!

This. Ive always told myself “I work best under pressure” or “I’m rational and focused under stress” until last year when I cracked under the pressure at 35 and forced myself to take a step back after 14 years in a high stress environment. An environment where I piled extra pressure on myself to perform as a female in a male dominated field.

3 months later, I’m finally ready to get back to it, but also define how I do it.

Also – 2018 is the year I change my story around sleep and exercise to help redefine my work story.

For the past seven years or so, the story that’s dominated my life is “I’m bad with money.” And it’s played itself out in all of the most predictable and self-destructive ways.

I refuse to let that story keep perpetuating itself. What if I’m not bad with money? What if I’ve just made poor choices with money in the past, and I can make much better choices going forward? What if the choice is mine? I like that story more.

This is your best post yet, Ramit. Thank you.

Sleeping on back… Gasping for breath… Have you considered sleep apnea?

Hi Ramit,

Thanks for writing.

One story that I would like to rewrite this year is that I’m not an office worker, but that I am a creator and a learner. My goal is to have my own production studio. I’ve flirted with this in the past, but never really committed.

My story often has been that “I can’t make money doing that” or “My ideas are not good enough for that.” I’ve taken steps toward my goal by taking classes, submitting to (and winning) contests, and just producing my own works.

It was hard to even admit that I have this story, so I appreciate you writing this.

It’s easy to say that I’m shy and prefer to listen, but really I think I just lack good conversational skills and fall back on being the quiet guy. I think a lot and have something to add to conversations, but rarely do it.

Jesus baltazar

I want to change an identity that I made of myself which I believe has restrained me from doing so many tuings I wamt to do pr be. I have created this idea that I am an apathetic, serious, and introverted person whi not really cares about other people except those close to him. I believe this has held me back and closed so many opportunities for me to meet new people, to get out of my comfort zone, and try new things.

As a recovering alcoholic, I can tell you it is impossible to achieve sobriety without re-writing your story.

The easy part is not drinking, but the hard part is the daily fight between the old story (I am a terrible person, I do not deserve anything, I am a failure) and the new story (I am sober, I am motivated, I am outgoing, I am worth it).

Through rehab, 12-step, therapy, medication, exercise, and work, my life is in a much better place now than it was a couple of years ago. Whether sober or not I think taking things “one day at a time” is a great way to go, but I do love the idea of saying “what if?”

This might sound broad, but today I’m asking myself “What if I pushed myself?”

I don’t think I’m alone in the small business/entrepreneur space with the idea of launching fast and small. Doing MVPs and testing ideas.

And while that idea is an important part of successful businesses (people tend to overestimate what they need to get started), I felt it’s limited my growth.

The story that I can just start small has held me back from taking it to bigger levels. Not just in my business, but my fitness goals and hobbies.

• Instead of making my products or services better/more valuable (thus giving me the ability to charge more), I’ve micro tested new products.
• Instead of pushing myself at the gym, I would do minimalist workouts that didn’t push my limits.
• Instead of fully investing in mastering a hobby, I’d dabble for a few weeks.

I’m rewriting my story today – What if I focused on mastery instead of experimenting?

I’ve experimented enough over the last few years to know what I want to hone in on. Now it’s time to push it to new levels.

With my friends, family, and other “safe” people I am outgoing, confident, empathetic, and fun, but in unfamiliar social contexts, I’m very subdued. I’m usually not un-confident; I can still speak up and make a decent impression but I don’t feel like I’m truly being myself. I think the underlying story I’ve believed is that “people won’t like me if I ‘mess up’ socially” so I try to prevent that by being very demure/professional. I want to rewrite that story and just be myself. Because the truth is people tend to like you more when you’re genuine, and the people who don’t like that version of you probably wouldn’t be great friends/connections anyway.

It definitely sounds like Ramit stuff!

I’m still defining what I really want to accomplish this year. I’m thinking 3 big goals for the year should be enough, and some other minutiae could be fine. Finishing my Master’s Degree is one of them, but so is starting making some money off my website. I’m still defining the third one…

Thanks for this post, Ramit! Your tough love is way better than the feel-good crap most of us are used to.

Stories I’m working to rewrite:

1. Introverts cannot be good at sales / working with people.

2. Financial stability is better than taking risks in your career when you have kids.

Great article! This really resonated with me because I’m struggling with similar problems as you last year, thanks Ramit!

The story I need to change is that I have always been a procrastinator. I need an outside force to get started with anything and even then starting can be hard sometimes. I’ve got a lot of great ideas but something keeps me from taking action and it is frustrating. I Implemented strategies in your habit guide, they helped for a while but didn’t help in the long term. Something needs to change, I guess I will need to find the root cause for not taking action.

Thanks again for posting and greetings from Finland!

I can totally relate to this! It has been totally debilitating in my life. I havent’t found a final solution yet, but taking good care of myself, finding things I really like and living in my own rythm helps sometimes. And add to that not screaming at myself if I don’t manage to start.
Good luck, Sakke!

In for the soon to be launched “Sleeping with Ramit” course. I’d definitely pay for the ability to fall asleep in under 5 minutes.

Ramit Sethi

I wish. We studied this years ago. People already know what they need to do to sleep better — they just don’t do it and have no interest in changing.

I want to rewrite the story where I don’t get to be a special one. The script in my head is that I am not meant to succeed at being an entrepreneur.
I am quitting my job at the end of this month because I have matched my salary for over a year through my side-business, but I still tell myself the story that I will fail.

I think I’ve shared my story-changing story with you before, but it bears repeating with this great article…

After 10 years in the corporate consulting world, and one year into teaching workshops to single women in Chicago on how to meet men offline, my ah-ha moment to go full time with my business (i.e. to completely re-write my entire life story) came on July 30, 2015.

I was walking out of the L train, feeling super unhappy with my job, and was hit with the words “I can quit.. and go full time with my business!”

I wasn’t on your email list at the time, so I went to the gym wondering how the hell to make that happen.

After an intense workout, and still no ideas on where to start, I checked my email – and saw one from Denise Duffield-Thomas who’d posted about running into you at a conference… and oh by the way you were opening up your ZTL program in a few days and she highly recommended it.

I had heard about ZTL through Sarah Jones’ Business Insider article where she gave it a lot of credit re: her own business success…

…so basically, in that moment standing on the sidewalk checking my email, everything came full circle in that moment and I realized ZTL was my path of how to make this crazy idea of an “offline dating” business into a real thing.

I put in my notice at the job a few weeks later, and since going full time 2.5 years ago I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled in my life – from helping my clients to learning new skills I actually *enjoy* and *can use*, to the beyond-incredible people I’ve met and am now honored to call good friends.

So, thanks for that 😉

Your article resonates for me about exercise. When an instructor told me to stop telling myself the same old story, it clicked. I kept at that class, stopped drilling that old story into myself and I am more capable than ever.

Now, how to deal with anxiety about my own kid? “What if” I didn’t viscerally respond to his every action? I don’t know how not to. This problem has been increasing in the past few years and it’s affecting the quality of my (and his and my husband’s and his brother’s) life.

Ramit Sethi

This is a great question. Suggestion: Find some parents whose parenting style you admire, and learn from them. The hard part isn’t finding them. It’s being humble enough to admit you want to learn, then following through.

I would like to prioritize sleep and sleep 8 hours each night and become a morning person.

Welcome back Ramit! You can hear the fire in your voice and that #1 Sleeper Ramit is ready to go! Loved your post and ironically, I was also a #1 sleeper until last year and then kept waking up at 4am EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I was hoping I was meant to get divine inspiration like Wayne Dyer but alas…it seemed to be stress too. Anywho, I digress.
My story I’ve been re-writing is that Indian girls are good and small and follow the rules. I did that so well and growing up it worked out ‘dandy.’ Except I’m not small and don’t really like following rules. I’m confident, intelligent, and have lots to contribute. And while this story has affected the way I run my business up until now (I also have the Indian story about getting a good degree and stable job)…I am working hard at changing these stories. It’s great to see other role models out there smashing it and I would like to be one too.
Btw, I want to hear more about your emotional sensitivity work! What changed about your personality?

Kristin Hollywood

Great article! Nice to read something amongst all the New Years noise I can mentally chew on.

I’ve been gently prodding my story of being an “introvert” and all the typical issues that come with it (like being bad at networking or more sensitive to criticism). Not full on saying it’s all a bunch of bull-shit yet – but just trying to examine it closer.

I like your idea of asking “What if?”:
What if the typical description of an introvert isn’t true? What if it’s just “you need more practice?” What if I’m not an introvert? Why do I even have to use that label to identify myself?

Hmmm…🤔🧐

Hey Ramit, great post. So I’ve noticed that I’ve just had this realisation only very recently.

The story that I’ve always told myself is that ‘I rarely get ill’ or ‘I can handle a lot of stress’. Well I’m currently working on a very emotionally draining project and since then I have been ill a lot more and have really struggled with the stress becoming quite distant at points.

I need to change my story by knowing that I can ask for help and, similar to a comment above, that I need to prioritise my energy so that I can achieve the new stories that I want to create (including eventually starting my own business!)

I think the additional breakthrough for me here is that by changing one story you can create a domino effect by changing many more! Thanks again!

Ramit Sethi

This was really big for me, too. Thanks for sharing, James.

One of the stories I want to change for myself is the whole notion of being time starved. I always feel there is never enough time to do all the things I want to do (career development, hobbies, starting a side hustle and keeping up a social life) but also know I could be doing more with the time I have. Specifically, right now I am in the middle of having almost a month off and still feel like I don’t have enough time for everything I want to do.

When I reflect, the root of this feeling comes from not being specific about my priorities. I need to be more methodical in what I accomplish based on what is important to me and better focus my time and energy.

Thank you for a great post! There was a lot of interesting points that resonated with me.

I’ve always said that I’m shy and not good with people. But I’ve come to the realization lately that I’m great with people….in a small group or one-on-one basis. I’ve had a strong mental barrier for a long time that blocks me from interacting with most people. It’s difficult to chip away at, but I’m making progress

I have convinced myself that I will always be either a 3rd wheel or 2nd best. I was brought up feeling this way. I am a middle child, with a younger brother and an older sister. My sister was the first born in our entire family from both my mom’s side and my dad’s side, and she was showered with SO MUCH love and attention by all my aunt’s and uncles. Growing up I always felt like I didn’t matter, that only my sister’s presence mattered and that my brother got the other half of the attention because he was a boy. I always felt left out, and to this (I am now 32) I still feel this way. She gets all the importance by all my aunt’s and uncles and cousins. It’s shitty because these thoughts carried over with groups of friends in school, and with colleagues at work. It’s something that I’ve been working on to break free from for the past 2 months, it’s hard, but not impossible … these thoughts and beliefs have robbed me of happiness for most of my life, and they’ve got to go!!

“I never really get phased.”
*fazed

🙂 Cheers, Ramit, and thank you for this amazing post. Re-assessing who each of us is, periodically, to look for the aspirational stuff that never actually was real, is so important.

I want to rewrite the story that I will never be sexy but that’s okay because I have a good personality. I can have BOTH a good body and good personality. I always thought people who spent so much time on their appearance were vain or shallow (the way I used to think people who had money weren’t concerned about others and that being rich was automatically a bad thing) but that obviously isn’t true and I need to rewrite that story.

What if I became a real mover/shaker at work? I’m one of 17,000 staff at the world’s top international development organization. Socially, I’m an ambivert – I’m outgoing, confident, and a great communicator (until I just want to zone out solo in front of the TV for 2 weeks). At work, I’ve been tagged as a high performer, but I don’t feel that way. I think of myself as too cool and an outsider to be in with leadership. I’ve told myself that I’m just here biding my time until I branch out into entrepreneurship. Except I’ve been here for 10yrs… Deep down, I want to be the connector and facilitator – the one who everybody knows (or knows of), who gets tapped by sr. mgmt. as the go-to fixer for special assignments. What if I had that kind of poise and charisma?

Obviously, the real “what if” is “what if I actually started a business?” – even on the side. I finally got a coach in December, had my first call this week, and we are working on a project for this Spring.

What is you chucked the corporate rat race and dove into entrepreneurship? I could use some help with my skills in connecting with folks!

Same feeling!, you are just a cog in the wheel at a big corporation. My what-if is “what if I am the go-to person by senior mgmt”. More lately, i have realized that the solution is going solo – “entreprenuership”. I am not motivated yet to do that since I have not seen a “similar” guy like me do what I want to do… i am still finding…

Shannen Murphy

A story I’ve told myself that isn’t objectively true is that I’m a screenwriter. Sure, I write a lot, but the last screenplay I wrote, I finished in May of 2016 and haven’t touched since.
But now I’m asking myself what it would look like if I /was/ a screenwriter? What would I be doing? What would I be writing?
Thanks for the chance to consider all this, Ramit!

Nicole Maki

This article really reached in and grabbed my heart by the throat and gave it a good shake. We immigrated to the US (from Canada… not all that exciting) and we always say, “We don’t have family”. But we do. We have three adult kids and their grandmother. So this morning I started planning a “family reunion” this summer at a water park on a lake in BC. Maybe we can start this tradition and as our kids marry and start families of their own we will all “have family”. Thank you for inspiring me to stop and think about the wrong stories in my life.

I was making $7/hr at a lousy reception job, and hearing the voice of my family saying “people like us never amount to anything…” I decided to challenge that story – I didn’t want to be “people like us”. It took some time and great effort and sacrifice, but I put myself through college (under grad and grad), earned my PMP certification, and had a career in IT. Last July, I decided to challenge my story again, and I became an entrepreneur – I own apartment complexes! It can be done, but it’s not easy – but nothing ever worth it is easy!!

Carlos Alanis

I do not consider myself static, I like to improve and challenge myself but I can’t think of any story I’ve been telling myself.

I decided this year I am going to take care of my health (I used to be uninsured) and manage my budget (I used to be unemployed and I have student loans).

Something I used to think is that I love meat too much and I cannot eat less red meat… but since a couple of months now I have only eaten red meat once a week.

My problem here is that I can’t think of anything that I have been telling myself I cannot achieve and it worries me, maybe I do not know how to really dig into my mind… I have set my priorities for the year and I have a plan for working on them, I feel positive about this year so I don’t know if I am missign something.

I would like to rewrite my story that I can become a 6-figure online business owner and be able to quit my job and work from home.

I’ll share two: one that I’m rewriting and one that I’d like to rewrite.

The first is that I am not athletic or good at sports. This, in spite of playing competitively for all 4 years of high school and going undefeated in my position within my district conference every year. I am now graduated from college and working, and I told a co-worker that I wasn’t athletic when he was talking sports. He doesn’t know me well and looked at me funny: “But don’t you try to join boxing and krav maga classes in your free time? You’re into sports.” I had to stop and think about it. He was right. I do like sports and I do like being active. What I wasn’t good at high school social dynamics, which made me dread and avoid participating in P.E. and therefore think I was bad at sports. What I did to rewrite this story was to first look for people who didn’t know this story. I’ve always liked ice skating though I never dedicated time to becoming better. Just last year, I joined an ice hockey team (that was very beginner friendly) and started taking skating lessons. I’m still definitely awkward on the ice, but it makes for amazing Wednesday nights and the coordinator actually asked me last month to join their roster for an out-of-state tournament! It feels good, and while I would still feel strange saying “I’m athletic,” I can definitely now say “I like sports.”

The second is that I am socially awkward. Anyone I tell this to half-jokingly tells me point blank that I am not. I’m good at carrying on a one-on-one conversation but tend to fall quiet in group settings. It’s hard for me to enjoy parties or even just conferences with lots of people I don’t know, but it’s a story I’d like to rewrite. I’m enrolled in the How to Talk to Anybody class and I’m revising my priorities to make sure I finish.

Ramit Sethi

Very good comment. Funny how sometimes it takes someone else pointing out our external behavior to change our internal story.

Thanks very much Olivia for advice that is resonating powerfully for me as I work on my invisible scripts: “to rewrite this story … first look for people who don’t know this story”

Hmm, makes me thinking something that’s actually happening now and in the future. I’ve never thought of myself as somebody who would or could do technological work (though as a lid I used to play pretend that I was a badass computer geek), but now I’m getting an offer from a friend to work online from home to help run her business. At any other time I would have been like, “Uhmm… I don’t think I can do that, I don’t know how, so I’ll pass.” And almost did that the first time she gave me the offer. But I thought back to when I was a kid playing pretend, and thought about how I’ve taken a big leap and moved out to the middle of the mainland far from the security of my family in Hawai’i, and recently became a mother who misses working and I thought, “To hell with it, I’m in!” So now I’m keeping in close touch with my friend and what she wants me to do so I can help my fiance take care of our family in the financial aspect.

I want to rewrite my story of unstable housing. Ever since I was 18, I worry and have issues maintaining my own place to live. Finding very nice , affordable places- then I settle in, then something goes wrong. I’m mentally exhausted from replaying what i should have done differently, trying to memorize my ‘hard-way’ lessons, and still finding myself relocating before I was willing/able.
There was one summer, I really thought I might be cursed…
I did move past the juju thing, thru a frenzied ‘be prepared’ and ‘ see around the curve’ phase (- that felt more like a cross between doomsday prepping and a hamster wheel) into my current state of exhausted frustration.
I MUST CHANGE THIS STORY!
My sanity depends on it! I avoid large family gatherings I used to so love growing up- because one relative or another is bound to ask the question that cuts like a Ginsu-“so where are you staying now…?”
I don’t know whether its small talk, benign concern – or if I’m the family joke, A cautionary tale my cousins tell the teens… Real or imagined, it wounds me each and every time.
My soul is begging me to change this story.
And after reading your post today, I am starting with:
“What if I owned a home free and clear.?”
“What if the cost of maintaining a comfortable, reasonable dwelling for my family – was well within my means…?”
And so a new year, and a new story begin.

Thank you Ramit.
😉

After graduating from college and achieving a lot of (very public) recognition, I entered the 9-5 world and felt really demotivated. I went from working on important things that mattered (like securing $8M+ for food security efforts on college campuses) to sitting in front of my computer 9+ hours a day.

I started telling myself that this was all that I would do, and I stopped putting myself out there in the public light. I wanted to start a blog, but I didn’t. I wanted to start a YouTube channel helping working women in their twenties achieve personal and professional success while balancing their wellness goals, but I didn’t.

In September last year, I decided I was done being so afraid to add value when I knew I could help others, and I launched my blog. BornofChaos.com is about helping young women find their inner YES, a response so loud that they can’t ignore it anymore. I talk about finance, values, reflections, wellness, and how to achieve your goals.

This year, I’ll be launching an accompanying podcast. I am so happy I put aside that stupid story. Life is so much happier when you take risks.

David Edet

Dear Ramit, thank you so much for this article. I am at loss for words. This is the best thing I’ve read in a while now. I promise you that I’ll rewrite my story this year. God bless you.

Clearly not the first one to chime in on this, but I never woke up in the middle of the night until this past year, I rarely get a full nights sleep without waking up. What changed? I actually felt so burned out from my previous job that I quit and went traveling in Asia for 4 months. Since I have returned to the US, I have had a really hard time deciding what steps to take to start my professional career down a different track. I am a regular reader of your emails, fantasize about starting my own business and living my rich life, but… shockingly… I have not taken tangible steps to make these desires realities. I can imagine myself doing it, but for some reason the rubber has not met the pavement. I have been thinking and realizing that creating a major change is not about making one decision, it is about making a decision everyday to be the type of person/entrepreneur/whatever that you want to be. Thanks for the inspiration.

The story that I’d like to let go of this year? My need for approval from other people.

I get insanely, stupidly jealous of seeing people that I dislike succeed. It sometimes gets so bad that it ruins my day. I’ve held onto unhealthy relationships because I hated the idea of someone disliking me. I tell myself that I’m a “people pleaser” and I don’t set clear enough boundaries.

There are a lot of other stories I’d like to rewrite, but this one impacts my life the most and has made me an unhappy person. I’d love to stop caring too much about what other people think – forever.

Ramit Sethi

In my experience, the best way to change this is to simply become more successful yourself. Don’t try to “stop the bad” thinking — just focus on filling your time with more “good.” You decide what success is, and do more of that. The rest will fade away naturally. I’d recommend starting with this.

Thank you for the wake up call. Within the last month I’ve begun changing my story as well. Rethinking what you believe takes energy and the ability to make a decision for change. Thanks for Sharing!

The story I tell myself that I’m slowly realizing is not true is that I can’t start my own business or I would suck at it because I find it very hard working with clients and people in general. I have a long list of excuses – as you said it’s so easy to come up with a list of why nots. I think some things are there because I subconsciously seeked them out to put on that list, to finally say ‘see, it’s totally impossible’. A sample from the list: being a female with Aspergers, working in tech while female, immigrating twice, ESL, in Germany where I don’t speak the language or know anyone, all while wanting to make art and films (read: things that don’t make money by definition). So lots of adventure and discomfort all to not face it.

Ramit Sethi

All of those can be overcome. But it’s up to you to decide you want to do it.

Thanks for this. It is very appropriate for me right now. When I was looking for a career, I wanted to be an artist. A relative told me I would be a starving artist and recommended a different career. I was conditioned to believe that art is something one gets to enjoy when you retire and never to earn from.
I’ve begun working on a website to sell my art. I have lots to learn and lots of questions. But I like the idea of re-writing the script. Instead of the family’s idea that I will be a starving artist, I’m working on changing that. My goal is to be a successful artist meaning that I can earn from my art and have a significant amount of my day spent creating and then earning from those creations / creative products.
BTW, being involved in the creative process is wonderful for combating stress.

Ramit Sethi

Funny thing is, I bet your relative isn’t even a successful artist. So why would you take advice from them?

I had a family who had a similar attitude to art – even though they enjoy and appreciate art – it was like, that’s for others, not for you. As a result i took extra academic subjects and didn’t really succeed at any of them very well because I had too much on my plate. As children we are guided primarily by other people’s hidden scripts – often I think they are not aware. I try to be aware of this with my own children – but it’s not easy. Best thing I can do for my kids is to teach by example and take a leap of faith. Good luck with your new story!

Wow, so, I get it, the stories we live through. The way they impact direction, focus, our everyday choices.
My story is the ‘Almost There, but Run Out of Air’.
It’s like I bust my ring for months on end with diligent behaviours and genuine actions, hit a major breakthrough point, one where the nature of what and how I am doing things no longer need to improve or change and yet the income generated begins exponentially increasing (been there before).
And then it is like I disconnect, life takes on a floaty, distant appearance, akin to those movies where the top gun pilot gets oxygen deprivation at altitude and the shtf, and then I am back near the beginning and the process starts again.
This year I’d like to make it different, and yet every year I’ve approached with this same desire, so what is my story? I’ve tried to think about it. Is it some moral standpoint somehow linked to the Have’s and Havenot’s of this world? Probably. But I believe inherently in survival of the fittest, so imbalance shouldn’t be an overriding factor, and that’s when I touch on the only thing that makes me scared. I can easily get more than most, I can tune myself in and focus a fucking battalion of my energy into a project and make it happen, I know this, deeply, richly, it is without question for me.
I also know the trade-off this will require and that is where my story really starts.

What if I could really live a life run by my own terms… where I don’t have to wake up every morning to go to an office?

I could leave behind the years of law school and credentials and instead do the work from home on things I actually want to do. I could see the sun more often than on my morning commute.

My online business is profitable, I no longer have student debt, and I have a large runway. What if I could stop wasting hours going through my email newsletters, and instead FOCUS on finding 1 or 2 more alternative sources of income?

I’m petite, have a high pitched voice and look 10 years younger, so my whole life has been a flurry of “You’re so cute!” and “sweeties.” I grew up being treated like a little girl who was only there for laughs and then dismissed. I’ve actively asserted my intelligence and opinion to thwart any premature impressions someone new might have of me. For awhile, I played the “cute” girl but soon realized that’s not all of who I am. Yes, I might dress colorfully and appear young, but I have my own strong personality that demands attention and respect instead of a condescending remark. It’s a story I constantly have to be aware of because I can easily default back into being “cute me” when I really need to be “in-charge me”. Looking at me, no one expects the strong sense of self and confidence I exude when I open my mouth. They expect a weak, smiley girl. I’m always happy to surprise them!

The story i told my self was, I always start late. Hence i wont be able to succeed/ catch up. It ate me up my entire 2017 and i just really noticed not more than a week ago. This is all the confirmation I need to seal my acceptance of my err and do differently fro today.

My story: I should continue to be a public school teacher because I have put so much time and energy into becoming a good teacher. I have a Master’s degree and am a certified reading specialist. I have endorsements in elementary education and early childhood. I have taught 17 years and am highly praised by administrators and colleagues. I’ve been asked to lead staff development (and I did even though it took rewriting the story that I am shy, a follower not a leader – rewriting that story has helped me speak my mind and share knowledge with others). Yet, this profession no longer brings me joy (and it definitely doesn’t bring money – as a family of five, we are barely scraping by). I have taken steps towards rewriting my life as a writer. I’ve joined a local writing group, schedule time to write, and have finally been offered a contract for a picture book manuscript by a well-respected publisher! My plan is to continue to write and revise manuscripts, to continue to submit to publishers and agents, and eventually leave teaching to become a full-time writer.

Yet, there is the guilt that so much of my life has been focused on becoming a great teacher and now I am wanting to walk away from that job (and my students). Rewriting life stories takes courage.

(P.S. – Your story about the mother deciding to pay for the VIP Harry Potter experience reminded me of a book that I just read – The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath – and how the moments we remember in our lives and the moments that change us aren’t just accident or luck, but can be created as well.)

Ramit Sethi

Great insight. Remember this part from my post above:

“Look to the future: Don’t dwell on the past or just focus on the present. Imagine where you want to be.”

Really hard to let go of decisions you made in the past. But focus on the future — it’s where you can create your Rich Life.

Kylie dold

Loved this post. I will definitely be chewing on this for the next few days. And then taking action, of course.

Ramit,

Glad to hear your sleeping better – that can be devastating.

Changing my story – agreed – need to do that.

You may be hitting some of what I have experienced -“ information / content tapout” people are tired of content unless it is super relevant or super engaging. (I have probably heard 1000 hours of podcast info at this point)

If I had a guy that would walk in and say, “get off your fucking ass and start a god damned jiu-jitsu school! So what if some fighters will show up and kick your ass!” Lol – and then, more importantly show how they did it while having a job and kids…

But then, that’s what has to change – I need to be the guy that walks in.

Thanks for the post!

I have a whole list of stories that I tell myself about myself. The biggest and most negative two are these:
I am the guy who is always looking to procrastinate. I can take any opportunity for a break and turn it into hours of wasted time. The best part is that I’ll get so upset about wasted time and how little I can afford to waste time that I’ll spiral into wasting more and more time. The thing is, this story is only partly true. There are days when I’m incredibly productive, and times when the last thing I want is to stop working. I think that by telling myself that I’m such a huge procrastinator, I’m making it easier for myself to start procrastinating.

The other story I tell myself is that I’m the guy who always dreams big, and holds on to those dreams by his fingertips but never manages to make them come true. I have a list of things in my life that I always believed would be crucial stepping stones in my path to who I wanted to be, none of which went anything like the way I expected them to go. It’s hard for me to tell if this is an untrue story I’m telling myself for some reason, or a sad truth that has yet to change.

Ramit Sethi

Procrastinators love to talk about how they procrastinate, how lazy they are, how tired they are, and all kinds of meta-comments. It’s at once satisfying and exhausting. They feel like they’ve accomplished something by talking about it.

Top performers shut up and do the work.

Time to change your story. I have total confidence you can do it.

Justin Stowe

Great article, Ramit.

I’ve been thinking about this the last two days myself. The word I kept using/thinking was Mindset, but we’re talking about the same topic.

I have two stories I want to rewrite about myself, but I’ll put the first one here.

“What if I became a person who prioritized health and fitness over the temporary high of junk food?”

I’ve struggled with my weight for years. Primarily from eating too much, especially junk food. It’s largely because my brain tells me that cutting things out or eating less is depriving myself.

But there’s the other side, the way that healthy, fit people think. They don’t consider it a sacrifice. They consider it a tradeoff. And it’s worth the trade of eating less junk food for the healthier, fitter body.

That’s the story I want to change. From the guy who loves junk food and doesn’t work out to the guy who loves healthy food and being fit.

Ramit Sethi

Lots of ways to rewrite this one. It’s hard but absolutely achievable. Reframe from “I’m depriving myself” to “I’m going to start by eating the good, not cutting out the bad.”

I need to sleep more. I am constantly doing and squeeze life out of every moment. Even if I am reading a book while making dinner, I’m wondering what I will do next to get it all done. So, I am going to prioritize and do the important things first. Play with my kids, make art, and only work when I’m at work. Life is too short.

This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read. Kudos for Ramit to talking about something that I’ve never seen anybody else talks about.

We all have stories in our heads about ourselves and other people. How we see ourselves, how we expect others to see us and who we end up actually being in our own head.

To share my story a bit, there have been a ton of changes, or stories rather, that I had to change as I began a bit of my independence.

As an introvert, “What if talking to people was actually easy?”.
As a ‘lazy’ person, “What if I could exercise everyday?”.
As a insecure person, “What if I wasn’t scared of saying ‘I don’t know'”.

Reworking your story is almost like reworking your own being, that’s why it’s, Like Ramit said, so psychologically devastating. It made, at least in my case, second guess myself in an already uncertain world. But being able to write your story is way more rewarding that following the one that you might not even enjoy.

Happy new year everybody and sleep tight Ramit!

The story I tell myself is that I can’t succeed–that if I start to succeed, something will happen to come sweep it all away.
I want to rewrite this story/core belief. It plays out in many ways in my life.

Hi Ramit

Thank you for the article and your story. Yes, we all have some kind of believes about self we don’t even think about it about it until it slap us into face really hard. You mention one part of it which in your article which shows me my limiting believe right there:
“If you’ve never met someone like you who started a business, it’s no surprise that it’s hard to imagine actually becoming an entrepreneur. I can show you 10,000 success stories, but if it’s not someone who relates to you — could be someone who lives in your city, or looks like you, or has a similar background — it’s hard to imagine you doing it.”

That is right on. Now would be the best time to change that and get rid of the crap from my head.

Thank you

Ramit Sethi

Let’s make 2018 the year you rewrite your story about being an entrepreneur.

FERNANDO LOPEZ

2015 and 2016 my stories were well known by my friends and family. In fact, one friend told me how he would brag about me to his coworkers, how I was doing great things in life. 2017 I got into a relationship and my story was, “it’s gonna get better.” I was stuck in a toxic relationship and it didn’t get better it got a lot worst. It affected me in all area of my life: friends, family, finance, work etc. Yo, I was miserable and I hated life. Reflecting on 2017 and going into 2018 i knew i had to change my story. 1 year wasted but I’m happy to report that my story has changed. It just took 1 hour to liberate myself from her. The crying and promises didn’t fazed me as the other time. Now its time to rebuild and have a new story to tell.

Mani Thiru

I love this article!
I can relate to the part about the skinny Indian guy; after 15 years working in IT, developed a family pack in my mid-section!. Lol☺
I am working to re-write that story. Ran a few half-marathons last year, will be running a full marathon this year.
Also, coming from a conservative middle-class Indian family, where the way to go is to find a good paying job and stay there. Taking risks and starting your own entrepreneurial ventures is not the norm, I wanted to change that story. Aspiring to start my own business.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. Appreciate it.

As a frequent reader and consumer of “self-development” and having used it here and there, I definitely thought of myself as “enlightened” and a step ahead of everyone else as far knowing how the world works. Total stud in my head. Then my father died, leaving things from un-filed taxes and an operating small business that I was suddenly in charge of. And when reality hit, it turns out I was anxiety ridden, avoidant of even slightly unpleasant tasks, not able to “just buckle down” and basically, just like everyone else. I’ve now been re-reading past items and working on real implementation and real world execution with the knowledge that I am just like everyone else (and arguably worse than ‘average’) but that I am fortunate to have the tools if I just follow them and embrace the suck.

Ramit, you wrote: “What if I could actually be emotionally sensitive? (I’m working on this. It’s taken a long time but I’ve fundamentally changed my personality. By the way, you look amazing today.)”

How have you set about doin this and how have you been able to be successful at it?

Ramit Sethi

Spent a lot of time examining my own invisible scripts. Asked for feedback from people I admire and trust. Read tons of books. And worked at it every day for years.

This is uncanny as I’m currently reading a book by Dean Graziosi which focuses entirely on changing old / bad habits and substituting them for positive, more inspiring success habits.
The story I tell myself which I’m working on changing is “I’m too lazy and can’t be arsed, I’ve done enough today”!
I’m not entirely sure where this story comes from, I’ve tried the “5 why’s / 7 levels deep” to dig deeper and had a minor realisation, but nothing major or epiphany-like. However, I am changing my story by recalling instances throughout my life that oppose the story I tell myself: I’ve quit my job before to start up a business, I’ve worked 60-80 hour weeks to grow a business. I’m not skint, I save money and live on a budget.
It’s all too easy to listen to that “villain within”, I’ve told myself the same story for 35 years too. I think I’m a couples days older than Ramit – June 28th. If he can do it, then so can I!

Ramit,
Thank you for sharing your stress story. I laughed when I read it because I had the exact same experience.

For me part of the issue is boundaries at work. To go with your article “What if I didn’t have to do this myself?” Turns out I was saying yes way more than I should have.

My old story: “I’m a flexible person and a smart one so I keep my priorities straight during the day and accommodate for unpredictable events. I’m flexible, I don’t need to plan.
STUPID, STUPID, STUPID
My new story: I’m a planner, I plan daily and follow through on my plans. I also plan a daily slot for unexpected and I decided to not be flexible in moving my priority task #1 for the day

It’s improving my productivity and my sense of accomplishment. I’ve also got a lot of help with habits and insights from your Finisher’s formula course! Thanks man! Really love your approach!

Here’s the story I’ve been telling myself lately: I never get exactly what I want in my career, it’s always second best.

Now mind you, that second best has turned into a lucrative and enjoyable, albeit unstable (hello startup world!) career. I’m not sitting here thinking “I hate my job, I hate my life, it’s awful!” It’s that I keep thinking, “it seems like whenever I would love to land a specific #1 job it doesn’t happen, and I land my #2.”

These thoughts have become normal and acceptable in my head. There’s a lot going on in those statements, though. First is I’m assuming a certain job I’d love, based on an outsider’s perspective, is the best one. I don’t know if that’s true! Second is that I am not adding the part where others are flat out more committed to their careers than I am. I work much better in a project-oriented world, not a linear career world. Third is believing I never land a great job, a #1 job. It’s happened before and I can’t fool myself into looking back and saying “well but it wasn’t the #1 experience I was hoping for,” because yes, I landed the #1 job that time!

Moving forward I need to focus on doing what I want to do for work and think less about this ideal vision I have. I’ve always been happiest doing interesting and meaningful work. That’s what I need to focus on.

Helena Louw

Hi Ramit
I was glued to this article from start to finish – I related in a big way.

Choosing which story to put here was hard for me as I’m still unsure about how all of them fit together exactly, but it has to do with me believing from a young age that I don’t have a ‘business brain’ and this notion being reinforced both directly and indirectly by feedback and life experience. Though it may be partially true, I am convinced that a good part of my ‘failures’ have been caused by behavior based on this belief rather than the fact itself, i.e. self-fulfilling doom prophecy effect.

I long to practice my passion (Occupational Therapy) on a bigger scale than one-to-one and have some ideas on possible ways to apply my knowledge to empower en benefit more people than I’m currently reaching. So my what-if question today is:

What if I could learn business skills and convert some of these ideas into a business which would not only provide financially but also realize my professional dreams/ aspirations?

I have no idea how to get past the what-if question but for now, this has already been more meaningful than any new-year’s resolution process I’ve gone through so far, even if simply serving as a wake-up call to not let myself be defined by limitations which aren’t necessarily true.

Thank you sincerely for a fantastic read.

James Griff

I am a private pilot, but I work on planes
instead of fly them. I’d like to work for myself one day, then I can use my skills to bring medical supplies or food into impoverished villages.

Ramit,

Thank you for this honest, eye-opening post. It really made me think about the things that I tell myself. I knew right away my story: “I’m shy.”

I remember being in elementary school and then going to middle school. I blossomed in 7th grade because the change in schools is what “allowed me” to change my personality, and be more outgoing and friendly. When I run into folks that I went to elementary school with, I feel myself try to revert to the role of “shy Sarah.”

In high school, I was asked next to sit next to the “class clown” because he wouldn’t stop talking and I didn’t talk much. I think the teacher thought it would be beneficial for both of us. We became good friends, and had a lot of things in common. I remember one day he said to me, “you’re really funny, Sarah.” I still remember thinking “shy kids can’t be funny!”

I brought the shy manifesto into adulthood. When I left my position at Treasury Department in DC, I had an exit interview with my boss. We were going over my performance, and he said “one thing I wanted to say to you Sarah is that you’ve always said you’re shy. I just don’t see it.” Ramit, I’ve had a number of people tell me throughout my life say “I know you say you’re shy, but I don’t see it.”

Despite evidence to the contrary, I’ve allowed myself to believe something that possibly isn’t true. Or maybe it used to be true, but I’ve worked to overcome it. I wonder why we cling to the ideas of ourselves that we had when we were young. For me, with being shy, I think that if I told myself I wasn’t shy anymore, it would rock my whole world. Sarah Weaver, not shy? How strange….or how liberating!

Although I’ve worked hard to overcome “being shy” I should stop telling myself that I am shy. I may be a bit introverted, but I also love the company of people. Telling myself that funny people can’t be quiet or shy is damaging to my growth.

To your point about it being difficult to succeed when you don’t see someone who looks like you doing the thing you want to do, I completely agree. I now write a comic, and publish it online. There are so few women in comedy – stand-up, authors, cartoonists… so it’s can be a hard space to imagine myself in. For a long time, I felt like a fraud. But now I worked every single day (and I mean every single day) to change my mantra to one that says “I’m outgoing. I’m a comedian. I’m a powerful woman in comedy. I’m a voice people want to listen to.”

These can be difficult things for a shy girl to believe … so good thing I’m not shy 🙂

Thanks, Ramit.

This was my favorite post of yours since I’ve started following you late last year. I ALWAYS tell myself that I am terrible at sticking to habits and finishing projects. But WHAT IF I don’t suck at sticking to habits or finishing projects? I have believed it for so long that I expect myself to fail and not finish anything. I must have at least 50 projects that I have started and never finish. Every time I want to quit a project or new habit now I am going to ask myself “But what if I keep going?” Thinking about it now it would feel so great if I can rewrite my story in these aspects. I am sure there are other areas in my life where I am holding myself back too but we will start there. Thanks again for this awesome post!

Growing up, my mother always repeated how “different” I was from her, and how she “couldn’t figure out where I came from”, and so I started to hang up my identity on the notion of being different. She also spent a lot of time and energy dealing with a sibling’s health issues, so I learned to be the “easy” one and deal with things on my own.

Today, I have a hard time opening up to others and I don’t have a large social circle.
= What if I became a person who created a great network and didn’t try and accomplish all my dreams alone?

Secondly, I have a really deep story about risk, again from my parents who both grew up extremely poor and through a lot of hard work have created wealth + security for themselves. To this date, anything I tell them I want to try, they immediately point me to the negative, or somebody they know who it didn’t work out for. The story keeps me from taking chances on my dreams (i.e. going to a university abroad, living in NY, starting a business) and achieving my full potential, it keeps me small.
= What if I can re-frame the role of “fear” in my life, and use it as a check-in point (i.e. have we done our due diligence) vs. a dominating reason to not start anything

Ramit Sethi

Thanks for being so candid. I can understand how tough it is to dig deep and acknowledge these deep invisible scripts. But kudos to you for doing the hard work.

Now that you know where these stories come from, the real work of rewriting your story begins.

One tip: You don’t need approval from your parents. They’re your parents, and you can keep them close, but you don’t need their approval. Find people who inspire you for that. Eventually, your approval will come from within, and from the impact you’re making. (This is one of my favorite courses for you.)

Doesn’t the universe work in funny ways? As soon as you commit to change, everything within your frame of consciousness shifts, and becomes about that choice. I’m 18 months out of a very messy, toxic and abusive 15 year marriage. I was that “victim” who blamed everything and everyone around me. I always felt hopeless, and desperate and didn’t know why. I finally made the decision to leave, moved, went travelling, ticked a few things off my bucket list, started a new job, made an entire new group of friends and met my now partner. It’s been a year now and I’m getting that “itch” again. I used to be self employed and I desperately miss those days. I just know I am not cut out for the 9-5. So, I’ve started by reading some books that are helping me massively change my psyche. If you haven’t read it, pick up “The Untethered Soul” now, it’s all very much what you’re talking about here, ignoring the story you’ve constructed for yourself and choosing to experience and see all the possibilities life has to offer. Yesterday, I saw a Ted Talk on meaning in our lives – one of the four pillars? Storytelling! The story we tell ourselves about ourselves, is what becomes our reality. And now this email to pop in my inbox. I know this is the year I make all of these long over due changes, and finally, I feel ready. I’m not scared, or doubtful, I’m excited, and I know any unknown’s along the way, I will learn when I need to. Thanks for this great read.

I’d love to change my story around not being able to monetize my artwork. I’ve taken Earn1K hoping maybe to go the freelance illustrator route, but realized I’d be happiest selling my original pieces to collectors, which means my value proposition is centered around selling emotions, not selling a product, or traditional service.

It’s been tough going since I came to that realization. I’ve already changed the story that ‘art is just too far removed from traditional businesses for these courses to apply to me,’ but sadly it seems that’s merely one stage in this battle.

Now my story is that none of these coaches will be able to understand my unique needs. They’ll want want me to make art that’s not authentic to me, or they may only help me with an in-person sales strategy rather than helping me to create a global online following. I’m torn between desperately wanting to make the investment that’s going to change my life, and fearing that I might be diving headfirst into a business that fails, or a career that’s something other than what I’ve imagined.

That’s where I’m at today, but hopefully I’ll feel empowered to interview coaches directly, ask them to address these questions head on, and make sure they truly would be able to work for me.

I want to make 2018 the year where I can finally look back and realized that I truly have changed my life.

Ramit Sethi

Here’s a new story I recommend you adopt: “I, Chelsea, am not a Special Snowflake. What works for others will work for me. I’m 98% similar to other people, so if I can optimize for the basics, I can allow myself to shine through on the special 2% where I’m unique. But I’m not a special snowflake and I’ll trust systems that have worked for other people.”

Btw, I think your art is awesome.

Ramit, you have made my day. Truly.

Thank you! 🙂

And I’ll start reciting that mantra right now.

By the way, if you would recommend a particular course or coach I’d be very eager to hear your thoughts!

The story, entirely of my own telling and believing to this point, is that I’m a slow writer. I can add in the bonus of being an author whose books get critical acclaim but which haven’t been read by anyone not related by blood or marriage as far as I can tell. Well, what if it’s possible to be a super speedy author? In the process of working on that very thing. This is my year of rewriting my story to say I am an insanely prolific writer.

I think your website looks really cool and I see a lot of potential for your books. Keep it up!

Hey Ramit,
Thanks for posting your struggles in 2017. As much as it sucks for you and the IWT team going through hard times, it is reassuring that even those we admire struggle.

The story I will change in 2018: I am not a finisher.

I currently have a list of ~10 projects that are all in various stages of completion pending my analysis of what to do next and constant re-prioritization. I seem to work myself into a feedback loop and endlessly contemplate on the next steps until I eventually table the project till a later date and start working on something else that is “easier” at the time. Based on multiple books that I’ve ACTUALLY FINISHED (woot!) in the past month, taking action is vital to successfully growing.

Reframing my story: What if I was able to finish the projects that I start and am currently working on? As I implement this mentality and focus on completing projects that I work on, I will receive actual feedback on what works, what needs improvement, what I like doing, what customers will buy, how much they will pay, etc. All these questions can be answered by asking good questions and actually completing the vital tasks needed to finish.

Something personal: I was a bottom of the pyramid guy, who jumped to the middle class (in a middle management corporate position)… I find really difficult imagining jumping to an upper class position (I don’t even know what to expect… apart from what to do to get there)

Something more transcendental: I think I have great ideas, knowledge and potential to accelerate the worldwide education (in a different approach than the traditional teacher-alumni relationship) and avoid all the loss of potential of youth in disadvantage in the world. I haven’t done anything because I tell my self I’ll be perceived as an impostor and nobody will follow.

You won’t know if you can make a difference until you try, right? Is there a small scale way you can help change education in your local community, as a lean test of your ideas?

My story is pretty common. I discovered I defined myself as “the fat guy”. I once told someone who was going to meet me to “look for the fat guy.” I didn’t really understand how much I defined myself that way until I bitched at a guy online because he thought he was the fat guy, and he was way less overweight than me! “Hey, being fat is MY thing.” How bad is that? I’m still struggling with it though.

One of my routines has been not “what if I was a fit guy?” but a more positive “how is it that I am a fit guy?” That phrasing encourages me to assess the skills I have or need to acquire to be the fit guy. Since I’m not there yet, maybe I should try your “what if…” phrasing instead.

Ramit Sethi

Absolutely outstanding. Rewriting your physical identity is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever seen done (including with myself). Keep it up!

One of my other stories was being the smart loner, and able to accomplish everything on my own. An online trainer pointed out to me that I had never accomplished fitness on my own, so maybe I was wrong. Wow! Who would have thought being a loner would make a guy fat, right? So the other story I’m changing is that I need other people to help.

True Story: I’ve always told myself I’m a night owl. I can stay up late, easy peasy, and I’m always so exhausted I never want to get out of bed the next morning. Sure, after I turned 35, I found myself going to bed earlier than before, and I had to work to stay up until 2 or 3 AM some nights (mornings?) before crashing until 7AM and getting out of bed after hitting snooze for the tenth time, but that’s me, the night owl.

One Sunday, over our weekly “brunch” at 8AM, I was talking to my husband about my goals tasks for the day ahead, and my husband says to me, “I’m so jealous of you. I wish I was a morning person.”

“I’m not a morning person! I’m a night owl!”

“No, you’re a morning person! Why do you think we have Sunday brunch at 8AM?”

“Because you’re awake at 5AM.”

“That’s because I don’t sleep well.”

“But you always wake up early! You bragged to me, when we first dated, that you’ve never needed an alarm clock in your life!”

“That’s because my anxiety won’t let me sleep past 5AM. But mornings are the worst for me. I’m still groggy at 8AM. Most mornings, I don’t feel like myself until almost noon. I hate mornings. I have no energy, I have no patience, and I just generally am in a foul mood. You, sure, you hit snooze a few times, but then you jump out of bed. You start running around the house doing things. Your brain turns on and you become you almost instantly. You can go from asleep to functional in five minutes. That’s a morning person.”

“But I stay up till midnight…”

“Because you drink coffee until 8PM.”

You know, suddenly, I realized he was right. I started the late night coffee drinking in college, and I’ve forced myself to stay up because night owls are cool Night owls go to parties and get the guy and are rock stars. Morning people are annoying. Morning people are bright and chipper when the too cool for school night owls are just rolling in. Morning people are the worst when you’re in a bad mood. Morning people are old, organized, and boring.

At least, that’s what I’d been believing about morning people.

Since that conversation, I’ve cut out caffeine after lunch. I’ve also cut myself down to one glass of wine with dinner. I’ve set a bed time of 10PM. And I’m now getting out of bed with ease at 6AM. I’m a bit grumpy about going to bed early, but that’s because I’m still in the process of rewriting the script that says only old, boring people or stupid, annoying, chipper people are morning people. It’s a work in progress, but I am working on it. Every. Day.

Morning people can be cool.
Morning people can be fun.
Morning people don’t inherently suck.

I’m going to keep repeating that until it’s true.

Ramit Sethi

This is great.

Very interesting point about how we assign “un-cool” labels to people who wake up early, parents, people over 30 (“I’m going home at 11…I’m so old now”) — a phenomenon that drives me crazy. You can rewrite that story. Great to see you doing it. Thanks for the comment.

Reading this post made me realize how deeply I’ve internalized this conception of myself as a ‘dreamer, not a do-er.’ I’ve spent so much time developing business ideas over the years (my high school entrepreneurship project 15 years ago was literally Sweetgreen, right down to the local sourcing), spending hours writing, drawing prototypes, etc., and then…letting them fizzle.

The problem is that they’re never really ‘real’ to me – I fantasize about them, but back in the real world I don’t know where to go from there, so I let them drop, because a fantasy can only be interesting for so long. It’s happened so many times now that it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I must have subconsciously realized this problem when I signed up for Finisher’s Formula in 2016…but I still haven’t taken the course. Gah! I’m the worst. Time to become a dreamer AND a doer in 2018.

Ramit Sethi

Let’s agree that from now on, you’ll never call yourself a “dreamer.” You’ll never say you’re going to “try” to do something. Either do it or don’t — either one is fine, but use the language of intention. Finisher’s Formula will help you go into much deeper detail. Send me an email in 2 weeks with what you learned from that course.

Carson Grover

You know what has been scientifically proven to help with stress Ramit? Meditation…

I love the “what if” question. It forces us to consider new possibilities and get rid of old beliefs. So I’m taking a moment to ask myself: What if people don’t perceive me as less competent because I have an accent? What if I could build a profitable business within the next six months? What if I don’t need to be a top expert?…

Old Story: I’ll be in student loan debt forever.
I realized how much this particular story is impacting my life and my relationships – especially since I recently got married. The story makes me feel poor in all areas of my life when on paper I’m not.

I am in student loaned debt…debt that has given me an MBA and a career path that I love and a salary that will help me get out of debt. I want to redshift my “debt/fixed pie” mentality to one of gratitude and abundance

My themes for 2018 is Abundant Mentality

The story I battle with daily is “I’m not ready.”

I create a course… it needs more polish. I need some downloads. It needs more modules.

I dream up an event… what if I can’t fill the room, what if people don’t like it, what if I don’t secure the right guest?

Someone reaches out to me for help… I don’t have the degree yet, so I shouldn’t charge them, friends help friends for free, what if I don’t give them what they need and they get angry?

It’s all excuses to keep me from pulling the trigger. I am ready. More ready than I’ve ever been. And the only way to be even more ready is to launch, try, move, and confront and change the story.

I wasn’t too interested in changing my story, but my wife was. For years she kept insisting I was a writer, while I simply countered that I used to be a writer but wasn’t anymore.

Last January I finally decided to act as if I -was- a writer and see how that would turn out. I started up a blog and posted a 500 to 1000 word entry daily for a month. And then I turned those entries (and additional writings) into a non-fiction book that I self-published into a Best Seller on Amazon…and then wrote a second book that came out three months later and again got the orange banner. And the two books sold better in December than any other month last year, so there may even be some momentum there.

The only downside is that now my wife insists that I’m also a novelist…

Ramit Sethi

I insist you’re one of my top 10 customers who’s joined all our courses, gotten amazing results, shared them with the world, sung our praises, made me habanero salsa…

Wow, what a powerful idea. Thank you for this.

After years of travelling a non-linear path, I often feel out-paced and at the heels of others.

Upon reading this and reflecting, I’m asking myself a transformative question: “What if I’m not behind?”

Thank you for something different around the New Year Ramit. Two stories I’m trying to change.

The first one came from a mentor who has been wildly successful. His brutally honest feedback to me was that I was bold, confident, and smart, but that my business ideas lacked creativity. Really shook my view of myself and has forced me to think bigger.

The second is my tendency to do everything myself and not ask for help. Everything has to be bootstrapped and asking for help is weakness. I am actively working to build a system around reaching out to people who’ve done what I’m trying to do and getting their insights.

Ramit Sethi

Awesome. It’s awesome that you have a mentor you trust, and he sounds terrific.

Esmeralda Dass

2016 was when I started changing some stories and deeply held beliefs about myself. But in was in 2017 that I had a significant change that I am very proud off. I used to be very adverse to socialising. It was not a thing I did. But I after going to a Lean In Singapore event I joined them as a volunteer and the knowledge and new friendships I made was simply priceless. Even though I do get exhausted sometimes I never regretted expanding my horizons.

This year I want to rewrite the story that I can’t set up my freelance business. I’ve been trying since last year but my own fear has been holding me back. Fears that I absolutely cannot do it, that I will fail because I have always failed at everything before. I’m tired of living with this fear.

I got along extremely poorly with my mom as a teenager & in my early 20s (to the point of not speaking to each other for weeks while living under the same roof, etc). A few times, she told me how “selfish” I am for having done all these bad things to her (normal rebellious stuff & lying about it).

I spent over a decade with that story of my selfish self fully internalized before I realized that it originally came from my mom. I’m not selfish, I’m a loving and loved wife and mother. In fact, even my mom herself doesn’t think that I’m selfish anymore! I can’t believe I believed not just an untrue story, but one borrowed from my worst critic.

This article really got me thinking and reflecting on the many (Many) stories that I tell myself. Even to my own ears, they’re beginning to sound like a bunch of excuses not to do things:

1) I’m an introvert – I don’t like going out and socialising, I don’t like networking, meeting new people and generally being out of my close-knit group and comfort zone. Also, means I don’t have a lot of physical energy.

2) I’m a night owl, not a morning person.

3) I don’t like routine. Meaning I’m disorganised and I procrastinate a lot.

4) I’m shy and timid. But then again, I’ve done things that surprise myself and others.

5) I can’t be a top earner. Why ever not???

6) I’m not good with money. But in 2016, I started changing this story, and in 2017 I became much better at handling my income and expenses. I will continue working on this in 2018.

Ramit Sethi

Amazing. Changing one of those stories can seem daunting. But in my experience, once you change one, then two…you see the patterns of how to change so many more even faster. It becomes achievable, even fun, rather than a drag. Keep it up! You can change your life in less than 6 months.

My “wake up” moment came just last month. I’ve always been invincible, being in pretty good shape despite myself (as my doctor puts it). Last month, I was at the hospital for a routine procedure – that I had requested – and it was discovered that I had an irregular heartbeat and was immediately put into the ER. A month later and I’ve seen the cardiologist three times (plus that day in the ER), and had a procedure where they “jump start” my heart to reset the rhythm. That went well, but I found out today that it didn’t stick. So now it’s on to plan B. Funny thing is, I’ve felt perfectly fine through all of it, it was kind of an accident that we discovered the issue.

I’m an eternal optimist, which I consider a good trait in this situation. Still, I’ve been doing a lot of introspection and figuring out what I want to do and become, since I’m obviously not immortal (dammit). This article brings up some points I hadn’t considered and clarified others that were kind of hazy in my mind. Thanks for sharing this, and thanks for letting me unload a little bit here.

Great post.

Up until last year, I had always been a “night owl.” However, the times I woke up early were always very productive, so I wanted to “become a morning person.”

Last summer, I was returning from a trip to Europe and knew that I was going to be jet-lagged returning to US Eastern Time. I said screw it and just set my alarm for 6 am and deleted all of the extra alarm entries on my phone.

Worked like a charm and I was adjusted immediately.

THANK YOU, MR. SETHI!

One of the best posts ever! I lovvvvve discovering my invisible scripts!

Read this while I was waking up; by the time I hit the shower, there it was: “I am too overwhelmed and busy scrambling to pay bills that I don’t have time to get my online course up and running…” Yet, I realized,
I managed to raise two boys, run a household – alone and without a car for 1.5 years – while earning my Film degree, and graduated with a 3.88 GPA. SURELY, this ‘story’ is an excuse, as said in another post, to avoid…

P.s. Sleep on your side, Ramit, or at least, with your knees bent if you’re he**-bent on sleeping on your back.

2. When do we get to see a pic of your fiancée??

The story I’d like to rewrite is that none of my business ideas are groundbreaking enough, therefore I shouldn’t start a company (which stands on top of the idea that my current skills are too mediocre to start a company of any interest).

Years later, I’m in the corporate machine after dreams of being a writer/entrepreneur. The earth-shattering idea hasn’t come. So I need to rewrite my story before my life slips by.

I loved this article! It reminds me of one suggestion from an excellent book I read recently (Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers) that hit me between the eyes. She asks us in this book to “Act as if you count”. I had never realized that I had internalized this story of not-counting, that I actually believed that I was a replaceable cog in a wheel. I felt this way in school, at work, and in relationships. I have believed it about myself for too long.

A couple months ago I made a very scary decision to sign up for a trade show (with help from Mental Mastery 🙂 ). This show is now a week away and I have been paralyzed over it. I’ve been telling myself some awful stories. Why would anyone buy from me, I ask. My product is similar to so many out there- why would any retailers choose mine?

I need to change my story from “I don’t count” and “I’m replaceable” to “I count!” and “I am unique and valuable.”

“Act as if you count” – I love that! You do count, because you’ve just made “Act as if I count” and “I am unique and valuable” into new mantras for me, THANK YOU!! <3

My false story?
1. That I’m stupid in math, therefore I should never mess with computers and am not smart enough to own a business.

2. I can’t be a good mom, wife and businesd owner all at once.

3. I better take that admin job with no hope of a pay raise because job security trumps all.

Happily…I said [email protected]#$ it. I asked lots of what ifs a few years ago and now I own a business, I have clients, I build websites and wordsmith copy, my kids are loved and well fed and my husband is my biggest fan.

Shit.

The power of “what if” is immense!!

Dont underestimate the power of “f*&$ it, why not???” either.

Loved, loved, loved this post.

Gasping for breath? Please don’t dismiss the possibility of sleep apnea, go for a sleep study..

Story I’d like (and desperately need) to change: people are mean and dangerous and I must protect myself and my family from them. I know not ALL people are that way, but I operate as if even beloved friends and family will turn, eventually. What if the world was not a dangerous place? What if people could actually be trusted? What if I could focus on making great things happen, instead of focusing on protecting my family? Hiw the heck do I change that story?

What if I woke up at 6 am every day and worked on my side business (Amazon FBA) or had time first thing in the morning to go for a run instead of doing it in the evening after work or spend time reading and learning in the morning?
What if I was able to operate with 2 hours less sleep? How much more could you complete in a day, week or year?

I started rewriting my story two months ago when I started a blog and then Youtube channel. Before that, I was terrified of what my friends would think about it. I was scared to show my true self.

Other stories such as I’m not a good enough writer, or I don’t know enough about website design, or I hate using social media also passed through my mind.

But I changed those stories. Now I have new ones.

I’m not someone that can promote their blog/channel to the public online. I’ve always been a lurker, not a contributor/commentator.

I think you need to continually revisit your stories because they change over time. Your post is a great example. It takes a lot of reflection to identify them!

My body also does totally weird things when I’m internalizing stress and don’t even realize it. I love that other people think I’m so “poised” (word only used to describe women?) or good under pressure. But a week before I took the bar exam, my hands, arms and feet broke out into hives I’d never had before. I was convinced I’d caught a fungal infection at bar review class, but the dermatologist asked me if I had a big life event coming up =). So there you have it. I have learned to try and recognize when I might be leaving my stress under the surface or pushing too hard, because something weird and uncomfortable (or painful) might happen physically if I don’t take a step back, eat something healthy, and go to bed earlier. And this year…what if…I got a babysitter?! I stay home with my toddler full time and work 30 hours per week at night, when she’s asleep. I have tried finding babysitters from the online networks and it’s always disappointing. I don’t want internet strangers to watch my daughter. The one good one who 1) messaged me back and 2) came and met us and was not super weird, got into nursing school and can’t babysit anymore. But what if I reached a little further out of my comfort zone, got a babysitter so that I can work some hours during the day, and then sleep 8 hours a night?! Excited for the possibilities in 2018.

Hi Ramit,

I love your work, have benefited from your courses, but something is still holding me back.

I want to be “good.” I was taught that to be a good and giving person allows you to receive. Yet, though I am the best at what I do, I can’t figure out how to turn that gift into a truly prosperous income. I think it’s because the story about being good is being giving of yourself and not asking for anything in return.

I am a teacher of children, mostly martial arts and gymnastics, but many other subjects. Give me a subject, and I can help even the dullest student achieve higher goals. I help others get what they want, but my profits have been mostly good feelings and barely enough to pay the bills. I did the ZTL course and stalled. Couldn’t figure out how to turn my super power into a marketable skill.

I always believed that hard work brings success, but for all my had work I was not able to manifest the income I desired.

I am eager to hear your thoughts and wonder if I am a challenge or a lost cause?

Most sincerely,

Jenn

Ramit Sethi

You’re not a lost cause. I’ve seen many many people in exactly your situation who turned their passion into a profitable business. I have complete confidence in you.

I’d recommend 2 things:

1. Take an honest assessment of what you did with ZTL. Did you follow all the steps? (Get really candid here.) Why? Why not? How seriously did you take it? What were your invisible scripts?
2. I’d recommend joining Accelerator. The coaches can help you work through it and will push you to focus on what matters.

Thank you, Ramit. Your book, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” and ZTL have helped in many aspects of my life. I thank you for that as well and will follow up with Accelerator.

Jason Neely

My story is that no one is really that interested in what I might have to say, or do, or am.
When I am with people I know and have a history with though, I am a different person. I am more interesting and entertaining. My hope is that in 2018 I can realize greater ability to reach out to people I do not know or associate with.

“I’m strong.”

That was the story. I clung to it because I didn’t have confidence it was true. Then it was tested a year ago in a horrible, intense, painful way.

It gave me an immensely clean slate. Like dropping an atom bomb because you need to clear land to lay the foundation for a house. You know – completely reasonable 😉 So I started chasing truth.

As it turns out, I have the strength. I’m not loud about it anymore. I also realized that I’ve been seriously screwing up my whole life. I’m no schmuck when it comes to intelligence, creativity, and ingenuity, and I have nothing tangible to show for it.

Seriously – fuck that. To the point that I wrote “You have no excuse” on my bedroom mirror. We all make excuses to avoid getting uncomfortable, but that just keeps us from contributing to the world in meaningful ways. That is absolute garbage, and it’s a reason I appreciate you, Ramit. You push people. Good lord, do we need it.

So what was the answer? Start painting again. Build a yoga practice. Get started writing a book. Learn as if my life depends on it (because it does). Rewrite my moral code, then live it daily. Find out exactly how I should feed my body, then do it. Rebuild my second small business into something sustainable that actually feeds my soul. Thoroughly own my time – learn to surf instead of flopping around like a one-flippered whale.

All of those happened in 2017. What’s next?

I’m about to pull the trigger on advertising – it’s been word-of-mouth and going really well so far, but I’m ready to get this baby flying.

I can’t swim very well, so I’m going to pull a Ferriss this year. I also never learned to dance, so that’s happening too. “I can’t dance” is no longer a thing for me. Oddly enough, I’m dating a guy who was a dance minor in college and swims a LOT. He wants to take me snorkeling in Hawaii, and I’ll be damned if I can’t keep up. Happens to feel like the most sustainable relationship I’ve ever been in, too. Stepping deliberately into love. It’s beautiful.

But – it’s no mistake that I was drawn to a person who brings my insecurities to light.

It’s no coincidence that I was thoroughly broken last year.

I’d encourage anyone with any kind of negative emotion or hurt going on to fully open themselves to it, because leaning into the pain shows us where the beauty could be. It takes admitting you’re a total fuck up and really feeling that pain to get up and change it.

Get antifragile.

I have a deep frugality mentality that has held me back in many ways. On top of that, I believe that there is nothing that I can do to pay off my massive student loans. Things like that really bog me down and make me feel as though I can’t do anything. I want to believe that it is possible to pay those loans off and still live my life without counting pennies.

Ramit Sethi

I admire the story you want to rewrite. I know it’s possible. Do you believe it is?

Hey Ramit,

Thanks for the awesome post. Currently reading your book ”I will teach you to be rich”.

One year ago, I subconsciously rewrote my story of a lazy person to becoming a productive one. I just realized that I don’t HAVE to stay this way and I have the possibility to change, so I did.

Still struggling with a lot of things, but every failure is a win!
sd
I had one question:

When you ask yourself a question of What If, How do you really know the answer? I feel like I’m an Introvert myself, but I’m not as shy as I used to be. But if I now said: What if I’m actually an extrovert? My mind is both saying yes and no, and it seems really hard to find the answer. Also on different aspects of life, not just introversion.

How do you deal with different kind of answers from yourself?

Thank you a lot!

In college I convinced myself that I was a terrible public speaker. Oh…and I was. I’d get so nervous, sweat profusely and when I spoke it sounded like the teacher from Peanuts. I avoided speaking in public and was even nervous to raise my hand to answer a question. Once a had to chose between taking a Public Speaking course or a Negotiations course. Naturally I avoided the Public Speaking course. The kicker was that a girl I had a major crush on asked me to take a Dance class with her. I had to decline because it was at the same time as my Negotiations class. I could have switched my class to Public Speaking and taken the Dance class with my dream girl. But I didn’t. What if I could have written myself a different story.

Good news…I was able to rewrite my story years later. I overcame my fears of Public Speaking and I am happy to report that most of what I do for a living centers around Public Speaking.

A few things happened that allowed me to write a new story. One, I realized a lot of people feared Public Speaking so I wasnt that unique. Two, I was actually a good talker and story teller with friends so I figured I could do same to a larger group using humor and stories. Thirdly, I remembered to breathe. It’s amazing how much better I was speaking when I was breathing (joking, kind of). Lastly, I just did it. I’d volunteered to speak whenever asked and when many other would avoid it.

To this day I still get nervous before speaking but I know how to control my nerves until they go away. Which they do.

My singing students could learn a lot from you! 🙂 Do you have any specific things you do to calm yourself before you go on stage? Any advice? I’ve been performing (acting and singing) since I was five years old, so nerves don’t even seem to occur to me any more. But this makes it difficult for me to sympathise with my students who do suffer stage fright. So any tips would be super gratefully received. 🙂

Hi Alixandrea,

Several things work really well for me. First is preparation. Probably goes without saying but the more you practice/prepare the better. You have to trust the work you put in.

Second would be humor. Laughter has a calming effect. When I give a speach I get the audience to laugh very early in the presentation. It calms me and I find the audience is more engaged as well. Maybe you could have a “pregame” ritual with your students where someone shares a funny story about themselves, a joke or you wear a silly outfit. Anything to get them to laugh!

Lastly, breathing. When I am nervous my heart rate and breathing accelerate. A few deep breathes before going on helps bring back everything back to normal (or at least better).

Chandra Prakash

Hey Ramit!

I always admire with what you achieved and learned a lot from you only and now i am into it 🙂 All thanks to you.

I know you are a busy person, but would love to meet you in person to thank you for all i gained from you.

Thanks a lot !

What if I stopped trying to be perfect and only concentrated on a handful of things that mattered to ME and not everyone else?

In December 2016 I was burnt out to the point that my boss made me take some time off. Over the past year, I’ve been reinventing my entire daily routine, which now includes meditating (sorry Ramit), journaling and learning French.

It also involves taking a step back and being dispassionate about things, looking at myself and my concerns from a different perspective. And one of the stories I had been telling myself (and was told by others, too) is that I am reliable, and have a metronomic quality in my work. That is such a badge of honour!

Well, what if I applied that same metronomic rigour, dedication and relentlessness to things that only I cared about? I have realised over the past year just how much I try to satisfy everyone else’s judgements of me, even ones that are never even verbalised! Imagine that, literally trying to guess what everyone thinks about me in totality?! It’s exhausting.

Be my own judge. Hold myself to account. And (perhaps counter-intuitively), MAKE OTHERS hold me to account. Fail. Be lazy about things you don’t care about but others do. Let them be great at it instead. Don’t strive to be the smartest person in the room at all times. You’re not, and even worse, you wouldn’t get a trophy for it even if you were!

2018 may well be the year I finally launch my “side hustle”. I might even launch one a month. They might fail. I might fail. And do you know what? I’m ok with that. It’s the trying, and learning (and failing) that makes life worth living.

Yoh, I never knew! I always believed I have not started a business because of a long list of fears, procrastination etc. Ramit, you mentioned that people like me never saw anyone starting a successful business. Well, this was an eye opener and so true.

As a couch potato, in the upper limit of normal weight I have always thought that I could easily get fit if I just tried. Then I really tried this past year. Took on “easy “running program for beginners. But I did not take note to the fact that because of previous serious illness I have limits that my body can achieve in a certain time and I have to go much slower than other people to get fitter in a healthy way. I ended up in worse shape than I started. Yes I could run 25 minutes and diet at the same time, but my leg muscles actually shrinked. I was almost not able to get up from floor anymore after 3 months into the program. My program was too fast-paced for me and my body protested. I had to stop it and tell myself a different story. I cannot get fit in just a few months. I have to take it very slow and be very methodical, so that my body can adapt and not go into stress state. I have to accept that I will not have a fitness story that will impress anyone. It will be instead: She learned to eat healty and walked a lot, and did some home gym. and was in better shape in 3 years. Can lift herself up from the floor, carry groceries and walk 2 hours and get up the stairs easily. I have to find my impressive story elsewhere in life.

This is a brilliant post, thanks so much Ramit. The story in my life that I most want to rewrite is the belief that no-one is interested in me as a musician and businesswoman*, that I’m too ‘quirky’, ‘original’ and ‘weird’ to be successful. I was always the outsider and outcast in school, and this belief has followed me into adulthood. It’s ridiculous really, since by the end of school I’d made a really tight knit group of friends, and now I have loads of friends in the alternative scene. But getting enough interest in my band and my teaching (I’m a singing teacher) is difficult because I just don’t believe people would be interested.

But what if they were? What if my ‘weirdness’ was actually a strength? What if I’m not actually that weird after all…? What if there’s a big group of ‘weirdos’ in need of what I have to offer?

*In fact, even thinking of myself as a ‘businesswoman’ is difficult, if not impossible. It’s like I can’t see that description overlapping with the other things I use to describe myself.

Thank you for this article, Ramit.
You give me hope that one day I’ll rewrite my story, my story which I have since I can think. It is about the one Ukrainian guy who immigrated with his parents to Germany when he was four years old, grew up and lives in the lower class although Germany is considered as being one of the most wealthiest countries in the world. I thought for a long time that my family is damned to live such a life, like you know, fate just ***** you. But now I have hope that one day I will be a rich guy, living the way I want to and just see my family and everyone else stunning. To be honest, I was skeptical about all this Online Marketing stuff since I accidentlly clicked on that ad in Skype that changed (or at least will change) my life, saying how a dude earns 1,800€ per day. Now I know most dudes who are successful CEOs of Online Bussinesses in Germany. And you are the only one who is from another country but your stuff is so different from others that I actually stayed till today in your e-mail list. When I saw Zero to Launch (and especially an honest review on this course by Primoz) the first time I was so fascinated that I knew that one day I will sign up for this course and pay every price even it is 90% of my income. I always dreamed about having my own company but my father told me that I first have to work IN a company before creating my own one. Nevertheless, I am sure that I will live a Rich Life in the future. And I have a concrete idea of how does a Rich Life look like. I think it is easy to see it from the point of view of a little poor Ukrainian immigrant.

PS: Please don’t be too harsh with my English.

David Patzke

I want to add that I think it is possible to get that click moment, when you have enough information.

Unfortunately I don’t think there is a valid system to get the information you need at the time you would need it. Perhaps reading a lot of stuff helps. At least for me.

I first realised I was fat when I was 22. I then from one day to another started to get fit. 30 kg down so far. And they are down for over 5 years now.

Then after I failed in my first business I started a course by Noah Kagan and learned how to earn money without money. Something that was out of my thinking at this time.

Of course the next shift was when I started Zero to Lauch and I realized that my Goals are not matching my work ethic and I had to fix that.

The next one just occured lately and is the most important one so far.

I have never seen myself as someone good with women and I only met women trough tinder and my social circle or clubbing so far.
For 5 years now, I have known that is possible to meet women just by approaching them on the streets but never did it.

After my breakup I wanted to get rid of myself calling a *loser* with women and made a commitment to myself. Now it is 6 month after my breakup and for the last 6 days I approuched women and also got 2 phone numbers.

I think sometimes we need a little emotional push from the outside and from the inside but I am more than happy to have this handled now.

Hi Ramit, I have a couple of career related ones. I have been self-employed since 2006, but didn’t really start the transformation to business owner until taking your six-figure consulting course last year, as a direct result of which I am confident I will 3x my business in 2018. But even now, I still tell myself the story that I don’t want the responsibility of running a bigger company with lots of employees. Maybe it’s time to challenge that.
The second one is about niches. I’ve read lots of advice claiming that it’s better to find a niche and own it than to cast your net wider. But I’ve always resisted it, partly due to the influence of Alan Weiss and Tim Ferris, both of whom advise against it. I would love to hear your thoughts on how narrow the focus of a small professional services business should be, whether in terms of services offered, or vertical markets targeted.

Cleo Eleftheriades

Thanks Ramit. Awesome post. 2017 was the year I didn’t just rewrite my story; I literally stroke-through all my stored beliefs one-by-one (and I am just re-starting):
-“I don’t want kids; how will I travel the world?”
-“I have an amazing career and a 6-figure income; what is there to change?” (Exactly the Procter & Gamble example. Only I work in L’Oreal HQ)
-“I am 40+, isn’t it late to shift career and my way of living?”
-“Image in life is important; I cannot give that up”

So…just in 2017:
I gave birth to a little girl who turns 7m today; I went back to ZTL (bought in 2015) and work my ass off for my business to take off (What a myth…that I can do NOTHING with a kid! I hate my friends for this); I took a sabbatical (back-to-back with maternity leave) and are now living between Paris-Buenos Aires-Barcelona and Athens (yes…with the kid!)…as soon as my business takes off…I plan to give up 20+ years of an amazing career. (thanks but…there is more to just a prestigious position). IWT, ZTL & Success Triggers have been a big part of this journey. Thaaaaaanks

I’ll be honest and say I’m one of the people who has purchased a few of your courses and taken absolutely zero action whatsoever. My false mentality and story was that I could just drop some money on some courses and magically my life would get better, but for a year and a half now I have not put in the effort or time necessary to actually change my life.

It’s not just your courses either – I’ve dropped money on other courses by other people for numerous things like game/app development, starting an Amazon store, dropshipping, etc. And I think it’s high time I acknowledged I’ve been lying to myself by believing I could just simply purchase a course, put in zero effort, and magically see my life change. And it’s been a tough lesson on my wallet because some of these courses were rather expensive for an average middle-class guy.

I’ve been feeling a sense of dread and I think deep down I’m very dissatisfied with, in general, The American Dream™. There’s nothing appealing or satisfying to me about working 9-5 for several decades, slowly climbing the corporate ladder and receiving marginal wage increases year by year. And after the new year, my frustration has reached a peak as I’ve also been getting more and more pissed at myself for doing nothing to change it.

Everyday I came home, and instead of doing anything worthwhile with my time, I whiled away the hours playing games and reading motivational newsletters and blog posts believing that my reading was enough to make a difference.

No more. I’m tired of this game I’ve been playing with myself, and my commitment is to change this story.

What if I actually made good use of the time I had? What would I be capable of?

Thanks for reading, Great stuff as always, Ramit.

Ramit Sethi

Great to hear. My joy does not come from selling another program. It comes from seeing people apply them and change their lives. You can change your life in a month. Please write me back then with an update.

Your realization sounds very similar to mine. We need to stop procrastinating and actually do something for a change. I’ll be rooting for you! Good luck!

Hi Ramit. I had never looked at it from that perspective. I have taken many risks (some have worked out fine and others…well #EpicFail)
I started the What If exercise to try to get well known customers (i do public speaking in Colombia), which I have been saying I don’t care about, but maybe it’s just that I’m afraid to be rejected. Thank you

When I was growing up, all of my closest friends were gorgeous and fit–dancers, runners, etc. Physical activity was never a priority in my family, so I never thought that exercise was for me and I’d just be soft my whole life. Plus, I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in third grade. All of these factors combined to give me a massive “Velma Complex.” I was always the smart but physically unremarkable best friend to a knockout (though my friends were always smarter than Daphne).

I believed two things: that I could never be physically fit and that no one would ever find me as attractive as any of my hotter friends. And then I went to college and had access to a free gym and thought, “What if I just started going to the gym in the morning?” And soon I was waking up at 6:30 every morning to hit the gym (as a college student!). By my senior year I was on the rowing team, and I never thought I would EVER participate in a team sport. The other thing that happened to me during college (and frankly more so since graduating 5 years ago) is that I realized that I am highly empathetic and an awesome verbal communicator, which means people usually really enjoy talking to me. And I started to grow into this awareness that just by being a friendly, warm, and (admittedly) flirtatious conversationalist, I have a lot of personal magnetism. Basically, I started asking myself, “What if people are attracted to me when they talk to me because I’m interesting and I listen?” It’s not hard for me to date anymore, at all.

The best part of rewriting these kinds of stories is that I continue to surprise myself. I took up powerlifting a little over a year ago and I’ve never been in better shape. It’s fun to think about going into the gym and asking, “What if I could pick up 250lbs off the floor today?” (I’m a 135lb woman). And I can actually do that, even if I never would have imagined it for myself 15, 10, 5 years ago.

I love that there’s evidence in my life already of rewriting my story to positive results. Totally psyched to think about how to apply that same mentality to my work life.

Thanks for writing this, Ramit. Really struck a chord.

Thank you! I’m a firm believer in what you’ve mentioned elsewhere in the comments here and in your writing in general, which is that success begets success and not always in the way we anticipate. Something else that happened as a consequence of starting to exercise? I made a lot more friends, many of whom then reinforced my exercise habit.

Another tangential story. About a year ago I wanted to learn to woodwork but I had just relocated across the country with no job (was coming out of a very rough personal situation) and didn’t have the disposable income for classes. I thought, “What if I could find someone willing to let me sweep their floors in exchange for an introductory class?” I sent a cold email to a woman pitching the idea (I told her my parents worked in construction and I was comfortable with hard labor), she agreed to try out an arrangement. Fast forward a year later, and last month she asked me to help her co-teach that very same class I took with her when I first started out.

I have a lot of self-confidence at this point in my life, but I don’t think I’m uniquely capable of having awesome opportunities happen to me. I’ve just grown very comfortable with asking for what I want and seeing what occurs as a result. The fact that I’ve been able to grow and benefit so much from that behavior reinforces the notion that asking is totally worth it.

Great article.
There I countless things I tell my self that are false narratives and certainly countless more that I don’t yet recognize. Here are a few:

“I’m a ‘home body,’ i don’t like leaving the house.” I think its true that I don’t like going out of my comfort zone, but I don’t exactly like the consequences of that.

What if I did enjoy getting out of the house more on my days off….
seems likely that other false narratives might start correcting themselves as well. (Its too difficult to leave the house and do what I want to do with a young child; I feel awkward in groups of other people; I don’t have time to socialize; I dont have time to exersice; blah blah blah…zzZzzZ).

Here’s another:

I started studying my instrument (drum set) too late in life to ever become a valued musician. This one is tough because it takes a lot of dedication to learn this instrument and this false narrative can really make me lose motivation to practice. I have to fight the narrative of… “I don’t know why I even bother, its not like i’m going to ever amount to the skill level of the fabulous musicians I look up to.” I enjoy practicing but sometimes I make my self feel like its pointless.

What if I could become a valued drummer among musicians in my community.

Last one:

I have a false narrative that if I buy X course or read X book I will magically become successful. While there is certainly value in the books and course I read if I have yet to put in the hard work of taking meaningful action steps. I recently found these quotes in Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans (Tony Robbins chapter) that sums this up.

Warren Buffet: “Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life….There’s no financial investment that’ll ever match it because if you develop more skill, more ability, more insight, more capacity, that’s what’s going to really provide economic freedom….it’s those skills that really make things happen.”

the section ends with a quote from Jim Rohn which really resonates with the sentiment regarding my false narratives

“If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy.”

It always comes back to overcoming the fear of getting outside my comfort zone.

What if I could overcome the fear of getting outside of my comfort zone.

ABHISHEK kHANNA

Great story, Brennon. I’m an aspiring drummer as well and face the same struggle. I’d love to be come a professional musician, but I have a story that tells me that I’ve left it too late. Whoever plays professionally in my circles, either started during college (hence, never got a job) or went to music school. It makes me feel out of place. What can I do?

Would love to connect on this.

Thanks for the comment Abhishek, nice to connect with another aspiring drummer/Ramit fan.

I continue to battle those self deprecating thoughts which is why I appreciate this article. If you talk to another drummer you look up to its likely they have similar negative thought patterns that they have deal with as well.

Ramit ended his article by saying you can start to change the narrative by saying “what if …. I decided to practice drum set for 1-2 hours 1 day a week; or 3 days a weeks; or 5 days a week.”

Then “make yourself the hero of your story by (1) having fun.” Practicing can feel mundane. I’ve been trying to find ways to make practice feel more fun (listening to music that I love and inspires me and just using it as my time keeper for doing exercises has helped me have more fun doing mundane exercises).

(2) getting help of other people around you. I recently started taking lessons from one of my local drummer idols. I didn’t think he would be willing to take the time to teach and I would tell myself: “i’m not even good enough to study with that guy.” I would make time to go see him play and over time we became acquainted, one day I mentioned “I’d love to study with you” and he- to my surprise – was happy to do it. It inspired me to connect with other drummers/musicians I look up to as well. Ramit is right when says people want to help. I just needed to overcome the narrative that I would be a burden to even ask for help.

Also I study with an online drum teacher at mikeslesson.com, which I highly recommend for any level of drummer. If you have internet and are willing to make a small investment in your drumming the courses are well designed and fun to do. I pushed myself even further last summer and went to a drum camp hosted by Mike and it was truly inspirational.

Then Ramit wrote “look to the future: Don’t dwell on the past or just focus on the present. Imagine where you want to be.”

There is no use saying “well if I started drumming when I was 16 things would be different,” because you cant change reality. You started when you started. A dear friend of my started learning piano when he was 53 years old, and I love to hear him play. Also dwelling on your current skill level can feel discouraging because if you imagine that this is how you will play forever – what is there to look forward to.

One narrative I tell myself as a parent is: “who am I kidding, I have a family to take care of I cant be playing in some bar until 2 am.” Partly true, plus I don’t want to play in a bar until 2 am, but my kid will be 18 in 14 years. What if I made it a habit to practice drum set for 7 hours a week for 14 years. I don’t have to practice every day… but make a goal to practice 7 hours a week. Thats 5,110 hours in 14 years. What if I studied drum set for 14 hours a week. By the time my kid is 18 years old that would 10,220 hours – I could achieve mastery!

Im not sure what your situation is Abhishek but if you can find a milestone: maybe retirement or your kids graduating high school or college, or anything. Do the math and try and put into context how the work you put in today will add over weeks and years.

Cheers!

I have to say Ramit. I am incredibly glad I found you and bought ZTL last year. The course literally pushed my self limiting beliefs. I always dreamed of becoming a coach that helped people with ADHD. Your material, courses, and words of hard truths made that a reality in 2017.

In 2018 I really want to push my self further by connecting with other entrepreneurs and sift through even more of my limiting beliefs.

I am also extremely impressed on how often you comment on your posts. You truly do read every response you can and actively follow up. I am very grateful for the work you do and your ability to commit to your promises.

All The Best,
Kyle

Great article Ramit. This topic fascinates me, and I’ve found things throughout my life that I previously believed that I’ve been working to change. Those beliefs weren’t only internal, but external as well. I remember coming home and telling my parents I wanted to be a waitress in high school, and they were shocked and told me I’m too quiet and shy to be successful at it. After college I moved to Chicago without a job to force myself to meet new people, get out of my comfort zone and learn to adapt to new situations. I’m constantly looking for things to improve, and this year it’s communication! I know that this is a major skill needed to run and a successful business, and I have a long way to go, but I can’t wait to learn from you along the way.
Thanks for the inspiration!

The story I’d like to change is that I am not an entrepreneur – that I am an excellent support person/executor for someone else. I am confident that I have all the pieces to be a successful entrepreneur and I know what business I’d like to build (I actually have 3 in mind, in a particular order). I am excited to see how I’ll overcome this! Thanks for the inspiration Ramit!

The story I am going to change is that people from the area are born can not ‘make it’ as most people around here just let things happen to them and react – rather than putting systems in place to act. I have spent my teenage years and early 20’s learning from my peers mistakes and successful people’s ancedotes in order to provide the best life and save myself from as many ‘mistakes’ (meaning things I don’t want to encounter personally) as possible. To be physically, mentally and financially thriving in a location with much better weather and an outdoors lifestyle to live the rest of my earlier years and raise a happy family once I ticked off the majority of my bucket list. I’m en route to making it happen, and people like yourself have helped massively, thank you!

Excuse that very poor typing, I have just finished boxing and I’m still coming around hah!

My story is that I’m not charismatic – I’m a serious know it all who will never be fascinating. I’ve worked hard on developing empathy but I joke about how I don’t delude myself – I will never be the life of any party. I’m not flirty and proud of it. (A good example of the extreme reach barrier huh? As if I have to be inappropriately flirty to be fun to be around.)

I’m also not risky. I am too cautious to start my own business and the thought of putting myself and my opinions out in the world because I will be ridiculed (and the logic not torn down – I can handle that – it’s that I’ll simply be labeled sexist and cold and privileged or something) is terrifying.

There was a level of depth in this article unlike any other I’ve read from Ramit.

I changed my story around not being successful in dating after I bought a course and learnt about spotting signs from women that they’re interested, or, even how to make them interested. I’ve learnt that Sales skills and Dating skills have 90% overlap!

Love the story and also love the frame of ‘what if…?’

My story that I want to change would be the one I tell myself that I am completely and utterly in control of everything that happens in my life. If something bad/unexpected/negative happens, it means I didn’t prepare enough, try hard enough, put enough time in, coach my team well enough, etc. I need to acknowledge that not everything is controllable, that even the best laid plans will be shot to hell when the unexpected and unknowable happens. That neither I nor my team have failed if this happens, it means that there was something, perhaps many things, outside my control that I just couldn’t prepare for. And that it’s okay. I’m not a failure, I’m not a sh*tty leader or Project Manager, a terrible mentor, or overall bad human being. I am simply a human being that can do my best and try my hardest, and then hope the rest will work out in my favor.

Keep up the hard work, love hearing your stories and from the other folks on here as well. Take care!

Matt kowald

The story I’m going to change is that an athlete can’t be successful in a career at the same time as being successful as an athlete. I’ve come along way, and look forward to creating so many opportunities in 2018 and through out the rest of my life journey!

Loved the article, especially the point of relating to people that have already done it. (My extra motivation came from Lewis Howes who found balance between training for the dodgeball team and being an entrepreneur). It completely makes sense! I guess that’s why the things we thought were impossible 5 years ago are booming now!

Thanks for the amazing article, I appreciate the effort you put into writing it and the content you provide!

Ramit, this is one of the most original pieces I have seen from you after years and years of reading your material. Bravo!

I have no idea how many stories of mine need to be written but I am on a mission to identify and rewrite them. In fact, I will be attacking one of my longest-held stories tomorrow night.

STORY #1: I can do it on my own.
Based on sleep issues of my own and a number of other issues that I have not been able to figure out on my own, I have decided to see a therapist. My first appointment will be tomorrow.

I have been resistant to the idea of therapy since I was a child. I had anger issues and my mom wanted me to see a therapist. As a child, I defiantly told her I would sit in the room, say nothing, and waste her money.

Today, I am still skeptical that a total stranger can help me figure out my “issues,” which is a word in serious need of a rebrand by the way. With that said, several of my closest, most trusted friends gave me sincere recommendations to see a therapist. One such recommendation came after I nearly burst into tears of sadness in the middle of a restaurant talking about a friend’s suicide that happened over 10 years ago.

But what if the therapist actually helps me? What if I start sleeping well again? What if I feel happier and more fulfilled? The majority of the costs will be covered by my insurance anyway. Why not try it?

STORY #2: I am frugal and am not the type of person who would waste money on an expensive apartment.

I have lived in cheap apartments for as long as I can remember, telling people I am a minimalist, a utilitarian, a Stoic, etc. because I did not want to spend the money. I did not want to be a pretentious person who lived in a nice apartment.

But what if I did live in a nice apartment? What if my view was more than a brick wall? What if my walls weren’t so thin I could hear my neighbor pour cereal into a bowl, yell at her cat, and fart at 4:00 AM when she wakes me up every day?

The truth is, I like the apartment and want to live there. I make more than enough money to cover the rent and have almost enough cash on hand to write a check for the entire first year. I also know plenty of wonderful people who live in nice apartments.

STORY #3: I am cocktail party funny, not stand-up funny.

I have wanted to try stand-up for years but have always been too intimidated to try. I see my comedic heroes and think, “I could never be as funny as them. You don’t understand. Making someone laugh at a cocktail party is easy. I’m not funny enough to make a room full of paying customers laugh.”

Yet I completed the one-year improv comedy program at The Second City in Chicago. Lots of people paid money and laughed during our performances. Since then, I have had numerous friends tell me I should do stand-up.

What if I tried it? What if I took a class at The Second City to learn the frameworks and practice the craft in a safe, supportive environment?

I have more stories, as we all do. But those are some that came to mind tonight.

Hey Ramit, love your stuff, been following you for years. Here’s my story:

– “I’m a hardworking, results oriented, ambitious person. Which means that I shoot from the hip when I talk and I get right to the point.”

– “I keep calm in tough situations”

New story that I want to rewrite:

– “I’m hardworking, ambitious, and results oriented, but I’m also very tactful and socially skilled with the people I deal with.” In doing this, I am actually being more direct, since my message is being received more clearly.

– “I keep calm in tough situations”. Def not true, esp in all cases. There is for sure a limit to how calm you can keep. But now it is better than I am aware of it.

“I’m an editor, not a writer.”
That’s what I said to protect myself in case my parenting book was panned. (It wasn’t.) Turns out if you write a book, however tortuous the process, you’re a writer. And if you write weekly blog posts for a year after that, writing becomes much, much easier.

“I’m a writer, not a speaker.”
I went from being terrified to speak up in a room of coworkers to giving paid talks to 100+ people. I didn’t seek out that first speaking opportunity, but I accepted it. I made myself get on stage, every word of my speech in hand, and it wasn’t pretty. It’s still not. But at the statewide conference I spoke at recently, some teachers said it was their favorite session. Content rules.

“I like to think things over; I don’t think on my feet.”
Slow thinking is a part of my personality that I like and that I think is underappreciated in our society. However, it’s not so either-or. I actually enjoy the Q&A at the end of my talks, which requires thinking on my feet. A preference isn’t the same as an absolute. Aha moment: I always defined “thinking on my feet” as being brilliant about something when I didn’t know the answer. It can instead mean being brilliant when I didn’t know the question … but have a lot of knowledge from which to answer.

“I’m a night owl, not a morning person.”
I wanted to get stronger and knew I’d do better in a workout group with a coach, where I was expected to show up and could be a little competitive. I don’t like gyms but I love the outdoors, and I got fixated on an outdoor boot camp. For whatever ungodly reason, these are at 6 a.m. I was used to staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. But I’m also a person who believes that “I do hard things” and “I do things that other people think are crazy,” like bike to work in the rain or pay off my mortgage. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and went to boot camp, one day and then another. Do that and you can’t physically stay awake late. Same if you train for a triathlon. Boom, you’re a morning person. And if you change your workout habits back to purposeless inconsistency, boom, you’re a night owl.

For 2018, my new belief is: “I run a business.” I recently told a friend I just registered my company, and he said, encouragingly, “You’re taking baby steps.” No, I’ve been taking baby steps for four years. Ready to run.

Thanks for this manifesto, Ramit! And congrats. Turning around your sleep is big, but becoming more empathetic is huge.

ABHISHEK kHANNA

One story I’ve told myself for a long time is, “I don’t care about money or fame or success (as most people define it). I’m happy with where I am and I believe in making the most out of what I have.”

I think that’s a good place to be. But what if this story is preventing me for achieving my dreams? You are right, I’ve had the same 3 goals for the past 3 New Years. But the needle hasn’t moved much. 2 of those 3 goals are being more successful (starting a business and becoming a musician).

Perhaps I need to change my story and tell myself that it is okay to pursue fame or success. Perhaps, it’s a GOOD thing. Life is better when you have these things, as long as you’re balanced about it.

This has certainly given me a lot to think about.

Angela scott

I had the script for a long time that I wear jeans and hoodies – always. If the creative farts in the golden tower get to come to work in jeans, why shouldn’t the office staff?! I eventually realized that my jeans rebellion was holding back my career. So I started dressing in “Biz Cas”. The hardest part was over-writing the scripts other people had about me. If I wore slacks, they’d ask what the special occasion was. If I wore a skirt (gasp), they’d ask if I was going to an interview over lunch. It made an uncomfortable practise even worse. Eventually I did get a better job elsewhere, but the new company I went to- guess what- they wouldn’t have let me show up in jeans and a hoodie, either.

Now, I tell myself that I am SUPER PRODUCTIVE and EFFECTIVE. This was true, 2 years ago. It’s Less true today. I keep telling myself this story, even though I know I’ve let things slip. I also know that if I keep lying to myself, I won’t be as compelled to put things back in order.

The story I want to change this year is that I can’t build a successful online side – business from South Africa, it’s been holding me back for way too long.

Thanks for this article! Admittedly, I haven’t wanted to truly finish reading anything in a long time (in general). I love that I learn not just from what your content offers, but on how to write better.

In response, two beliefs I told myself for some time was (1) I’m organized and (2) I’m disciplined. I believed them because I was told these things time and time again by friends, colleagues, and family. I am those things to an extent, but in the past couple of months, I’ve been able to see how much improving I need to do in order to uphold those beliefs.

Why the past couple of months? I quit my job. It was an immensely scary move, but one that got me into a big consulting project between now and the next couple of months as I seek out my “dream job.”

Crazy thing is, I don’t see myself going back to working for a company at a 40h+ work life pace. I’d like to see myself grow my consulting clients, and essentially, work on my terms.

I’ve been exploring this (my business) for just 1 month. Discipline – If I had it, I wouldn’t have the email inbox I do. Organization – If I had it, I wouldn’t have the clean, minimal box (from the outside) filled with paperwork to be filed (from the inside). These are just a couple of examples.

I look forward to a day when I’m not indebted to a looming cloud of old news hanging over me (old emails, old filing paperwork, etc.). I will be disciplined and organized when I wake up able to focus on the present and future, not those PLUS the past.

Thanks for everything.

Mike mathews

The story I want to rewrite: I am not organized enough to be successful. I have always been disorganized, like the stereotypical absent-minded professor.
What if I was an organized person? What could I accomplish?

I grew up painfully shy (as in, I would shake and almost cry if I was called on in class). I HATED it. But my mom was painfully shy, and my brother was shy, so I thought it was just who I was. In college I decided to major in art history, a safe choice for a shy, artistic girl. Then I swear one day I just sat up and thought “fuck this shit! I’m sick of being shy!” I switched my major to communication studies, then eventually got a job in Hollywood, often presenting in front of studio VPs and attending events. And I recently appeared on a baking competition TV show (as a contestant!). That last one still makes me hyperventilate a li’l bit, but I did it, dammit. However, I very VERY clearly remember that exact moment I thought “enough of this bs — I need to change.”

Thanks so much for the reminder and a look into the psychology behind these moves. I’ve been working for myself for a couple years now and keep hitting mental blocks, without any clear idea how to get around them. And I think you’ve managed to hit the nail on the head here: I’m believing a bunch of stories I’ve been telling myself about my limitations. Just like I thought being shy limited me.

Thanks Ramit! I seriously never fail to glean something from your emails. They’re pretty much the only ones I actually take the time to read, and I always wonder what nuggets I’ve missed when I skip one.

I think this post is exactly what I needed!! Thank you so much. I actually just signed up for a kickboxing gym that’s not the cheapest, but I’m determined to get my mind and body back together. I had to just bite the bullet and do it! I’m going to work on the same principle with traveling. I have a hard time just booking the tickets. You know the classic case of the time and/or money isn’t right. I’m a procrastinator in most areas of my life and that is one story I’m more than ready to change!

Also the fear of failure. I want to start cooking for people and eventually open a restaurant, but because I watched my mom not be successful at it, I have in my mind that I won’t be. That’s the next story I plan to change.
Thanks for not only telling your stories but for giving us a platform to tell our stories as well.

Cindy Holtom

In order to be successful, I need to be an expert in a new, hot, innovative industry like AI, blockchain, VR, etc. — or come from money and be able to name drop. I know it’s not true but it still limits me. Also, that I need to be an entrepreneur to make real money. I took a big risk 2 years ago by leaving a stable job to build my own company. I fell flat on my face and hated it. But I learned an incredible amount about my skills, my limitations, and what makes me tick.

My story that I am going to change is that people don’t take me seriously/respect me on a level needed to start my own business.

The last story I rewrote was about only being an idea person and not an executor. I started to dig into my past and find all of the ways I’d executed and focused only on those memories. I finish things so much now, that I call myself an idea person that can execute on the right ones. It’s amazing how much I feel the need to execute and complete what I start now. Excited to rewrite some more. Thanks and congrats on your engagement, your deeper subtle knowings about yourself and the necessary changes in your business!

Great post! Here’s one story (maybe belief is a better word even) I want to change about myself: I am an uninteresting person, which has little to share with others.

Many of the comments talk about pivotal moments and life changing insights. But for me, at least one story in my life changed slowly, over the years. I’m a computer engineer and I used to think that I am a rational, technically inclined person, with little to no passion or talent for artistic pursuits. But, about four years ago, I started taking dancing and acting lessons (mostly to help me with my shyness and to improve my social skills). After the initial awkwardness, I discovered that I enjoy these immensely and, after some time, I realized that I have become more interested in artistic pursuits (now, I’m thinking about learning to play an instrument) and art enjoyment than in technical hobbies.

One story I used to tell myself was that I am shy and introverted. Ummm, I am soooo not shy or introverted. I love the limelight. I am a social butterfly. I just need a fog machine, backup dancers and a stage, and I’m ready!

Next story I used to tell myself was that I was Type A powerhouse that was a super achiever who could do anything she set her mind to. I was, until I wasn’t. That’s when my body broke down under the weight of a succession of major illnesses, some temporary, others chronic, genetic and rare. So my life drastically changed because I had to slow down, stop working, and focus on my health.

Now, I feel the fire and passion that I once had in my Type A days has been re-lit. It’s been years since I felt it; I thought that woman was gone forever. My ambition, my vision, my prolific idea generation continues. I know my purpose and the impact that I can and will make on the world. But I am in dire circumstances once again, that must change.

Only now I realize, I am finally ready to change. Your question of what if? coincides nicely with the power word I have selected for 2018 of Unstoppable. It’s clear that I have some stories that I still hold that must be changed.

So now I need to ask myself the critical what if statements that will change my life.
What if I am unstoppable in 2018?
What will my life look like one year from now if I stepped boldly in the direction of my dreams? What if everything on my vision board I created a few years ago all manifested this year?
What if I broke our family’s generational curse of just making do, just getting by and become prosperous, wealthy, and rich this year?
What if I find the love of my life and get married to the man God has for me this year?
What if I start the foundation I imagined to give generously with reckless abandon?

Thank you for this post. It spoke to me in the most profound way.

I’ve been afraid of success for my entire life. In my world, success has often led to pain and suffering. I’ve got all the other tools, just a mindset problem. I’d like to view success as something pleasurable and worth achieving.

I am in the process of rewriting my story. I went to college, got a good job and thought I would be on easy street the rest of my life. So what do you do when you hate your job ? I was told to suck it up, most people hate their jobs is the philosophy that I grew up with. You go in , deal with it and go home, and hopefully in 30 years you can retire. I switched jobs a few times, realizing that no matter where I go I find the same old problems. I have had several jobs that by most people would be considered very good, good pay, retirement etc. But I have no interest in climbing the corporate ladder or making real money for my company when they pay me beans (compared to what they make).

Slowly I am realizing that if I want to leave this cycle it’s going to take small steps, and calculated risks. Each step builds on the last, and in the near future there will be a day that I can leave my day job for good and not look back. I am changing my story from being employee to an entrepreneur.

I feel like I’ve been trying to “change my story” for about a decade– particularly about making money. My story has always been: I don’t make money, other people make money for me. First my father, then my ex-husband, and now my current husband and business partner (“It’s his skills not mine that are valued and relevant.”)

We’ve taken the dive to leave jobs this year (2017) in hopes that we could focus fully on our freelance/online businesses to make them thrive, which they aren’t and it’s at that point where it’s getting scary (aka: need to get a JOB– btw not scared of this, just feeling like a failure).

How do I change this story once and for all? I’ve spent years meditating, writing affirmations, therapy, etc. And yes, of course, applying action…

Being a loner in primary school, having only a small circle of nerdy friends in early adulthood, I always felt an outsider. I guess I told myself the story I’m not a social person.

A couple of years ago I discussed this with one of my nerdy friends. His response was not what I expected. He looked like I told him the biggest lie and he said I’m so wrong. According to his words, I’m always talking to everybody and I have the greatest stories to tell at parties. That might have been very true, but on an emotional level, I never accepted this for true.

In one of the companies I worked for – one of those having a personal development program – I told my manager I wanted to improve my socials skills and the smalltalk game. He didn’t understand why, since I was talking with everybody.

Last year, in a casual chat with a colleague, he mentioned people “like us” can talk ourselves into any company we want. In my mind I was screaming “YOU DON’T KNOW ME, I’M FAKING ALL THIS.”

What if I’m not faking all this? What if I actually have social skills? What if I am a social person?

How will it change my life if I start believing this? If I try to picture myself being a socially skilled person, I feel weird and a bit scared. What if it is true?

What if I wasn’t smart ? Thinking I’m smart blocks me from really studying my field, and drilling down important areas. The story tangles everything up together. I’m really more intutative and in flow, things make sense when I’m learning but I fail to internalize everything enough.
What if I didn’t already know so much about movement ? This too is about needing to break open and really learn more and learn more widely.
What if I wasn’t in pelvic/hip pain anymore? What would that take? What would I be able to do with and enjoy in my life? Why don’t I want to be happy? Street cred?

I’m rewriting my story that I can never start a side business cause I don’t have a good enough idea. I’ve made the leap of faith to join your Earn1K (largest investment I’ve made on an online course, ever), and I can’t wait to change the story I’ve been telling myself all this time!

Abigail S.

Last year I changed the false belief that I’m not a healthy person. I lost 40 lbs. in 9 months by simply eating clean and working out. And I’ve been keeping the weight off through the summer, birthday celebrations, and holidays.

I used to tell myself “It’s the holidays. You’re not some type of fanatic who has to eat clean EVERY day.” That belief led me to yo-yo diets and generally not being able to maintain my weight loss.

But this Christmas I was that health nut. I ate whatever I wanted in moderation–but what I wanted was more green things and lean proteins. I exercised everyday (yes, including Christmas) and it never felt like a chore! At the end of my vacation I had lost weight and shut down that damaging internal narrative for good. I’ve finally achieved a great balance. I am indeed a healthy person!

This year, I want to change the false belief that I’m NOT the life of the party.

I’m an All-American girl with a very bubbly personality. I was a college cheerleader, Miss America Organization contestant, and you guessed it–the social chair of my sorority in college.

Now, at 30 years old and having just graduated from an elite MBA program I don’t feel that people are naturally drawn to me like they used to be. When I plan social events I worry if folks will show up. And I often question if I’m being left out of social activities. I want to get back to feeling like I’m a super fun, engaging, and fascinating person to be around.

One of the best posts I’ve seen in a while and really resonates with my goals for 2018. Thanks for the insight. Happy New Year!

I want to change several stories, but most of them relate to one theme: Abundance. As I did meditation (laugh if you want; it works wonders for me) I realized that I don’t believe I deserve a rich life. I’ve worked hard all my life and deep down I keep saying that I don’t deserve a life-sustaining salary, a lasting relationship, a lively group of supportive friends, or a thriving online business. It’s scary and painful to realize that thoughts can keep you stuck. I have plenty of experience, skills, and opportunities but because I don’t believe I deserve anything good, nothing good sticks around long. I can see how the thoughts have led to paralysis and my actions have been random instead of focused. I have a lot of remodeling to do inside. Thank you for the kick-in-the-pants article. You do more to help by telling the truth than the ego-patching that goes on in most blogs and “inspirational” quotes. Keep it coming!

I’d like to rewrite that I’m not the “salesman” type – that I’m not a good communicator and not good at confrontation.

That’s interesting. A lot of people seem to think you have to be a “smooth talker” to be good at sales. My personal experience is that you just need to be genuine.

Sales is about alignment. There is no place for convincing or persuasion, it’s about finding out if what you are selling can truly help the other person and if them becoming a customer truly helps you.

If someone is a good fit for what you are selling, you simply need to talk to them as though you’re already friends. Look for win-wins and you will never lose or feel sleezy about selling.

Sneha jhanb

Hi Ramit,
Thank you for the inspiration. For years, I have been telling myself a story that I am afraid of camera and scared of public speaking because I have two childhood experiences of forgetting what I was talking about on stage.

I admitted this publicly on a live event last year (hate to admit but I cried when admitting that in front of 100 people…way to live your fear) and then took the courage to create a video summit with collaborating 35 people. The summit did not work out financially but it helped me 100% to change my story of public speaking.

Am I an awesome speaker yet? No, I am a work in progress and have a story to craft there and talk about but I am more confident than I ever was to show up.

I am now in process of testing ZTL immersion to help people re-wire stories aka limiting beliefs in order to show up confidently using NLP and few other tools. I am proud of my journey and happy to be your student for life.

After my annual physical and having an overweight PA inform me that I need to lose some weight (which I knew already), I decided to something new and scary.

I have been a swimmer, a weight-lifter and a runner. Nonetheless, I have been spending countless hours behind a desk going back to school at 30 and starting a business immediately after graduation. Let’s just say health & fitness went straight to the bottom of my list of priorities.

I was so offended by the platitudes dished out at my physical (“your BMI is a little high”, “you should fill at least 1/2 your plate with leafy greens”) that I went to sign up for a month of Barre classes. They are expensive, high-voltage and required me to be “the fat kid in class” for a torturing 55 minutes of sweating like hell and trying not to fall over in a room full of ballerinas and triathletes. 5 classes later, I am hooked and seeing my life through a very different lense. The uncomfortable truth: I have been wasting a TON of time, energy and money feeling not so great about myself for the past few years. I am redirecting all of these resources as we speak, and rewriting my story. To be continued…

Hey Ramit,

Really loved your most recent post about rewriting your story- it’s really the most powerful thing we can do. You mentioned that we have to beware of letting other people write our story, but I think that if we are smart and careful, we can actually use this our advantage. I’ll share my own example of this.

A little background about myself: Almost all my close friends have been in my life between 12-25 years. In my circle, I can safely say I’ve come to be known as a little bit flaky, definitely lazy, and someone who loves sleep more than anything in the world. Not only do they think this about me, but long ago I started telling it to myself as an objective truth.

About 10 years ago I was a college student in Boston. As is tradition, every April the entire city shuts down for “Marathon Monday” to watch the Boston Marathon. As an energetic (and frankly, pretty intoxicated) college student, I watched endless streams of octogenarians, amputees, and military members carrying 50lb rucksacks run the race thinking, “these people are INCREDIBLE. What a feat of a human existence! There is no excuse for me…I need to run a marathon.” Nevermind the fact that I’ve never really been a runner, or any kind of athlete for that matter, in my life.

So for TEN whole years, I kept telling myself that my #1 bucket list item was to run a full marathon. Over that time, I ran a few half marathons here and there. My training was typically pretty inconsistent and my goal was always to simply make it over the finish line without collapsing.

About a year ago I started a new job, which required me to work much longer shifts than I had in the past (typically ~7:30am to 7pm). Around the same time, I signed up for another half marathon (still convincing myself that I wasn’t ready or able to make the leap to full marathon). My new schedule left little time for training, so I started waking up at 5am to get in my 3-4 runs a week. My new coworkers were amazed. “Wow you must be a really dedicated, disciplined runner!”

“Hah!” I would think to myself, “these people really don’t know me at all yet. Soon they will see what everyone else already knows about me. I am flaky, lazy, and love to sleep in.” But soon these coworkers started regarding me as something of a running guru. They would ask more advice on which sneakers to buy, how to get rid of shin splints, recommended training regimes, etc.

“Hmm,” I thought, “I’ve run 4 half marathons and dozens of 5ks and 10ks over the last decade. I wake up early to make sure I log my miles for the week. Could it possibly, actually be that I really am a runner? That I’ve just been clinging to a false story because other people that know me well have not yet shifted their idea of me?”

My coworkers story about me helped me to internalize a new story for myself- one that is actually more closely aligned with reality. As a result, I finally got the courage last year to sign up for the New York City Marathon. After about 3 months of dedicated early morning training, I unfortunately broke my toe (completely unrelated to training) and wasn’t able to complete the marathon this go around.

However, my self-view has changed dramatically. I see myself as a morning person who is not flaky, but actually capable of following through on the things she starts. By planting a tenuous little seed of a story in other people’s’ minds, it actually helped me to believe it and solidify it for myself.

Again- great article Ramit. I look forward to hearing how more of your readers have changed their stories.

A story I have rewritten but sometimes fall back into is ‘I’m socially akward and that is bad’. I was told 2 times (in not a nice fashion) as a teenager that I was too quiet and once didn’t get a job because of it, so it was hard to shed this one. But I’m not socially akward by definition. In a lot of situations I’m not. I’m a warm and open person. I just don’t feel like talking all the time and I don’t force myself (anymore) to talk when I don’t feel the need. Talking ALL the time is overrated.

Wow, I got emotional writing this

A story I would like to change is that I’m not fit to lead workshops. I have lots of excuses for this: people won’t like me as a workshop leader, I’ll do a bad job, I’ve nothing to share, I’m suffering from depressions and I never know when an episode comes so I can’t plan ahead, etc. I even did a facilitator training for a writing programm, so I don’t even have to think about what to teach. But I keep telling myself that I did it for my own development. That is true, but that I did this training in the first place should show me were my interests lay, shouldn’t it?

I think I’ll be doing a lot of what ifs in my diary in the near future, so thank you Ramit!

Tryphenna C BASTIAN

First, this article has completely blown my mind. Thank you for changing the course of my life just by sharing. I want to change the story that because I am a widow with 4 kids that I am too financially challenged and time starved to pursue my real goal in life of becoming an award winning, best-selling author. I keep telling myself that I don’t have time to sit down and write all these books I O have in my head. I don’t have the money to even self-publish less known to be able to take time from my steady job to promote and market my books.

I’ve always seen myself as lazy and “having a lot of potential. If only I worked a little harder.” It’s what my teachers (all of them, every term) wrote on my report card. My parents always told me I was smart but I didn’t study. “If only you tried.” It was a fatalistic statement. What if were disciplined, self-motivated and proactive with my life? I wouldn’t just be a college kid living off my dad’s income. I’d be an adult, financially free to travel world, or study. It would be my choice, not my parents’, whether I continued my education or not. I would earn more money, meet more people, start singing up for courses on photography and building a successful YouTube channel.

My story I want to change: I am about to turn 34, have no job right now, no savings, paid my last rent and utilities by borrowing from my parents. I have been selling my plasma lately to have grocery and laundromat and gas money.

I am also a licensed attorney, having passed the bar exam and gone to a Tier 1 (best category) law school. That law school education, combined with the worthless undergrad degree known as Political Science, has me over $325K in debt, with no job to show for it right now.

Every place I apply, every networking thing I go to, seems to lead to nothing in particular. I’ve been strung along in the legal services industry, going from one temporary project-based (and frankly really shitty and stupid), contract attorney (aka ‘doc review’) gig after another.

Yes, you do have to be a licensed attorney to do these really stupid, really shitty contract attorney jobs. When I describe them, people will ask if it is paralegal work. It’s not. Law for most lawyers is horrible now. It’s just a really shitty, horrible profession. A giant pile of excrement, worms, maggots and garbage.

So one lesson here folks is DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL unless a specific legal employer has told you they want you to go and they will pay for it.

I have no health insurance or retirement account or investments right now, many, many debts, and collection calls are coming in frequently for the payments I’ve missed on my stupid-ass little Toyota Yaris hatchback.

I also have a novel manuscript I’ve been working on since February of 2012. I have no agent, no talks with any yet, and the manuscript isn’t finished just yet.

But I have hope and believe I will re-write my story. On jobs, I am in talks with some good people who might hook me in with some job possibilities very soon. I have to grease the wheels to ‘carry some water’ for them if you will, with a political cause these people are working on. It’s always good if you can find ways to do that for smart, successful or even just connected people.

If I do carry that water, these people may connect me with some employers who could give me jobs that are full time and have benefits, and which could themselves lead to other and better jobs.

I am continuing to go to certain events that have networking potential – although they are not strictly called networking events. They are events where I can connect with people, smart connected people.

As for my literary dreams: I will continue to hone this darn manuscript of mine and make it even better, then even better, then even better.

I have a side hustle thing I’m working on too, which is too much to go into right here, but I’m working on it. Onward I say! Onward!

Balal Naeem

What if I actually like making phone calls and staying in touch with my family??

Hi, I am Balal. I live in Ireland. My mum and dad live in Pakistan and my one of my sisters live in Spain. And the biggest complaint I always get from them is that I don’t call them very often. For as long as I can remember, I have told myself that I don’t like phone calls especially with the family because its all just small talk. “How are you?”, “What did you eat today?”, “How is the weather?” and stuff like that. I know if I call my mum more than once a week, she will be over the fucking moon. But I still don’t do it because I always hated phone calls. But I am gonna try and change that story about me. And as I am writing this down, I realize another story about me that I would like to change. Thanks for the amazing post Ramit!

ERIN OMALLEY

For me, one of my go-to stories is that I get to a certain time of day and I’m “too tired” or “don’t have enough energy” or “am not in the right space”. Then I don’t do the work. Then I get pissed and frustrated. Which is a complete waste of energy!

I’m now getting systems in place to manage and protect my schedule better. And when the days get away and best laid plans go awry, as they did yesterday, I’m re-writing my “I’m tired” narrative to “I’m a business owner” and sat down at 4:00 on a Friday and got a productive hour and a half worth of work in!

Thanks for the timely read yesterday and for the thoughts. I love the “what if” reframe!

I’m inspired a lot ,Thanks so much Mr. Ramit,i must rewrite my story this year 2018.I used to procrastinate and unfocused on my particular career to decide on. I want to do all the three careers that I choose to pursue because I found it difficult to know my real passion career. This brings my setbacks although I didn’t got support to further my education. This year 2018 I will decide on one career and do the most important things first.
Yours sincerely,
Peter Agbemashior.

Hi Ramit,

Thanks for sharing your insights for finding vision in 2018. You’re a great writer and I enjoyed reading them!

I would like to change my voice in my life’s story from passive to active. I have a negative view of money. Sales people talk a lot about money but I never feel less motivated (sic) to make it than when people talk about how much you can earn. I respect legitimate success. I want to be successful. I want to be respected. But I associate sales with BUYER’S REMORSE, people feeling they were manipulated to purchase something they didn’t want. And I don’t want to cause people to feel that way because I will feel cheap.

How do I create a desire for money and me?

One fake story I kept on telling myself about myself is the one that I’m very connected to my sincere feelings, to my inner self, that I treat myself really well.
I thought I did, as I do live healthy, buy good food, I do take time off, I travel, I work out, I do Spa & Wellness regularly and so on – I pretty much am “good to myself”
But – and thats a big but – thats only the outside, only half of the cake.
Only after 2 of my best friends died within 7 days in September, my internal bs (and pretty much everything else) started to crumble so bad, that I came to realise what an unbelievably hard and strict and judging asshole I have been to myself all the time.

If ever I had treated anyone else, the way I treated myself internally (psychology talks about the “Inner Child”) I’d be dead lonely, as no one would be willing to put up with such a bullying idiot for more than a day.

So, thats the story I am (forced to) let go this year. It feels liberating. At the same time, I guess it’ll be a lot of hard work to learn one major thing this year: Love. Towards myself.

Even though I am my own boss, I am doing well, I’ve always done what I wanted… Nothing matters if your relationships, especially the one to yourself, are faulty.
2018 is my year of Love. Yes, very cheesy. But thats what it is.

Happy New Year Ramit,

Like many of the comments above, I have enjoyed reading your blogs for years and signing up for multiple courses. But this is one of the best written and impactful pieces that I have read from you.

I have multiple stories that I would like to rewrite. But the biggest one is my money mindset and how this has limited my success in business. In the past I charged my way to nice things such as vacations, nice cars, and even paid for many different courses that I didn’t need. I wanted the rich life without having the income to do it. Before I knew it I was in my late 20’s in debt and nothing to show for it but memories of good times and stress.

This financial stress caused me to go after higher paying jobs in my company that I may not have enjoyed, but at least I knew it would pay the bills. Even though I was paying off my debt, I was miserable in my last job and lost a lot of self confidence. I have since realized that I should focus on my happiness and what I am really good at instead of just a higher paying job. I am currently self-employed and actively working on my business. Without a full stream of income, the insecurity and stress has creeped up again and this is limiting my ability to grow my business.

In 2018, I will focus on rewriting my money mindset story of abundance instead of what I dont have financially. This will hopefully free me up to focus on growth instead of dwelling on what I dont have.

what if I am good with finance ? What if I can make 100k this year and move into a nice apartment by the beach ?

Traffic problems Ramit? Can I help?

I hated you until I read your article bitching about those idiot f*ckheads that brag about being ‘vulnerable’ to score Facebook brownie points.

Now I like you because I think you’re funny.

I’ve worked in product development and marketing for online businesses in the financial space with annual digital product/education sales ranging anywhere from $1 million to $40 million.

In every case, a handful of products were hugely profitable, and of course that money was p*ssed away on the dog sh*t.

Classic 80/20 rule stuff.

I worked for a company that managed to have 4 products making a PROFIT of $15 million+, but managed to lose $20 million on the rest of the company!

But management always thinks diversification is important. (morons)

You need to fuel your best stuff and kill everything else.

I’m looking through your product suite and asking myself WTF?

This is what’s great:

Zero to Launch
Call to Action
6-Figure Consulting
$1K on the Side

Most of your other stuff sounds like it should be a $15 book.

Finisher’s Formula? You seriously want $236 for a course on… finishing stuff?

Resume makeover? For $228? Why buy that when I can use the money to hire someone? (even if you can’t get the best for that much, people will think it)

I’m going to guess that half your stress comes from managing all this stuff.

Please take all these lower-priced courses and sell them as $5-$10 eBooks on Amazon. Kind of like Dan Kennedy with his ‘No BS’ guides.

Your buyers will hate you, but it will be worth it.

Those books will become:

-A lead generation source that brings YOU revenue
-An insanely well-qualified traffic source

My guess is you take a minor temporary revenue hit but have a massive rebound in 6 months.

Every time you appear on a podcast, a bunch of people will buy your cheap eBooks and then end up in sales funnels for higher-priced stuff.

Despite being a high flier from primary school all the way to high school, I gave up on studying after not making the cut to college, and I always thought it was too late for me to go back to studying. Now, at the age of 25, I have decided that it’s never too late to be a student again and to continue chasing my dreams. So I am applying to go back to school this year, so fingers crossed!

I always love your emails! My story that I want to change: I can’t make enough money being a writer/stay at home mum/growing my own vegies, that I should stay in my dead end job until I DIE!!!!! That even though I have won many world titles as a natural athlete in both Figure and Physique categories, nobody wants to hear from me about how to train or eat, as I don’t look like my stage photos right now.

HI, BRIDGET. I UNDERSTAND YOU SO WELL. I THINK NOT BELIEVING THAT PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BUSINESS IS RELATED TO A NEGATIVE MINDSET. I TRY TO CHANGE MY BELIEF THAT I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO BE PAID HIGH RATES AS A WRITER WITH JOURNALING AND POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS. GOOD LUCK

That’s so funny- I used to sleep like a rock. My little brother would sneak out of the house to party and I always said I would do it, but then be sound asleep by 9 pm. When I joined the Navy, I still slept like a rock. I snored so loud my roommates probably wanted to smother me.

Then I hit a series of circumstances that were not conducive to sleep hygiene – single mom of an infant on sea duty, then years of rotational shiftwork interspersed with deployments. But I came out of it with great reviews and accolades for juggling so many things well. Cool under pressure! That’s me! Have a tough job nobody else wants to touch? I’ll take it! I love solving problems!

When I started having difficulty functioning, tried cutting coffee, changing my exercise routine, setting different sleep rituals, aromatherapy, blackout curtains, white noise, and finally, OTH meds. It helped a little, but not enough. My “wake up call” happened when I tore a ligament in my knee, falling down due to fatigue.

To be honest, when I went to medical, I expected a “shift work disorder” diagnosis… not anxiety. Anxiety? I don’t FEEL anxious. I have no reason to be anxious. My kids are healthy, my job pays well enough, I’m good at what I do, we live in a nice house, etc.

And then I realized that although I do have much to be grateful for, I’ve been complacent. It’s apparent that I have reached the end of my usefulness in the bureaucracy of my current profession – staying means burning myself out so others can get promoted. I’ve been dabbling in entrepreneurship for several years but never took the jump because all of my experience is in the military. Why would anyone in the private sector hire me?

I’ve reinvented myself a couple of times. This is the year I retire from the Navy and start my own business. (I compromised and went with a franchise opportunity because it comes with training and mentorship, but at least it’s better than being a Federal civil servant doing the same thing until I’m 57!!! Just to be “safe,” I went back to doing real estate part time, which is how I made ends meet as a single parent.)

So anyway, in case anyone is wondering, yes… reinvention is something that can happen more than once. At least, if you’re someone who’s always trying to grow and improve.

Coincidentally, my family is Japanese… and the family crest is a moth.

“I need to fix some fundamental flaw about myself in order to be ready for a relationship.” That’s one story I’d like to change.

My story starts as a child when I was told repeatedly that I am not worth it. I wasn’t worth spending money on to take me to the doctor and instead ended up in the hospital twice for dehydration. I also wasn’t worth spending money on new clothes that fit and instead had to wear ill fitting clothes on my very thin but tall frame. I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love. Since 2014 I have known that I am worthy of love but that is another story. The money part is still one I am struggling with. Who am I to make money? Who am I to have a rich life? What knowledge do I have that I could impart to others? Zero to Launch is calling to me. What if I am worthy of having a rich life?

Ramit, I just want to say – all those puns, those little humorous comments (“By the way, you look amazing today” “A P-R-O-D-I-G-I-O-U-S champion”) – they are noticed, and they are brilliant. Keep up the good work.

This really resonated with me today!

There are two stories I tell myself.

1. I’m calm under pressure.
Yes, this is true when it comes to acute stress. The crisis moments that are short-lived. I thrive, I’m decisive and when others are panicking, I appear calm. However, I’ve recently realised through a pretty similar experience to you Ramit, that actually, although I’m calm under acute pressure I’m incredibly bad at identifying when I’m chronically stressed. It took my hair falling out and experiencing night tremors were I could hear sounds that weren’t there and feel pressure on my body that wasn’t there (the horror!) and someone else telling me that it was stress for me to take note!

2. I don’t need help
I’ve built up walls of “independence” that I’m starting to dismantle which are really walls to protect me from judgement. I’ve recently come to realise I do this from the most trivial to the most important things and it’s stopped me from achieving what I want in my relationships and past business attempts. It’s hard to make money if you are too scared to tell people what you do! I’ve not yet worked out how to overcome this one…

I feel you, Lauren. I believed these stories too, and it took an earth-shaking crisis to break down these stories. It’s great that you’re seeing them as stories now.

Here’s what I did, or rather, allowed myself to do. You’re different from me, but feel free to use it as food for thought.

1. I’m calm under pressure
For years I was always the one who had it together under stress or in crisis situations. Like you, I’d be the one to come up with an action plan and take care of anyone affected.
To this day, I still perform under stress. But my underlying approach has changed. About 2 years ago I asked, “What if I told the truth about how afraid and clueless I sometimes feel?” So I gave myself permission to break down, first in private (in the bathroom or wherever), and subsequently with (a) a good therapist and (b) a handful of close friends I trust with my life. I found spiritual comfort too (Jesus, God). I find prayer to be a tremendous release and have built it into my morning and night routines. I also find journalling to be very helpful.

2. I don’t need help
I identify with this a lot. Still struggling but got better at asking for help. When I examined my beliefs under this story, I realised it had to do with being disappointed and hurt by as a young child. Internalised the story that everyone disappoints, so rely less on people if you don’t want to get hurt. When I realised that it was just a story to help me get through a tough time, and that it no longer serves its purpose, I could gradually let it go. Also, see Point 1. When I saw how my friends rallied around me–and not just emotionally but also practically–it sunk in how much I need help. It’s still difficult for me to ask for help but it gets easier over time. I’ve realised that the worst that can happen is that they say no. Then, good, I can move on and ask someone else.

This post resonates with me, but I do find myself wondering something: have you actually changed your story? I’ll bet you fundamentally still believe that you are cool under pressure, but now there’s a caveat about how this doesn’t apply when the pressure is excessive business-related stress. You’ve made adjustments to reduce stress at work to get you back into a state where you are cool under pressure. It seems to me that what you did wasn’t actually changing your story, but rather you made changes to your work situation to get yourself back into a state consistent with your original story.

I’m asking because I’ve been in a similar situation myself recently and have struggled with how hard it is to have my vision of who I am conflict with reality at times. (Vision: smart, hard working, responsible, never misses deadlines. Reality: high stress job + a toddler and a preschooler). I really like the premise that it’s helpful to question what you believe as fundamental to your identity, but I’m trying to reconcile that with actions that actually serve to reinforce this belief.

Curious to hear your thoughts!

JOSHUA DOMINGO

Being the center of attention, being the one that attracted people to a place using their personal charm is something that I’ve visualized I could never do.

I’m not the most outspoken person at first and normally I like to just lay back and relax. I don’t think I want to be that person annyways, however, I’d like to at least know that I am able to entertain a crowd.

The story I’d want to change is to be a main actor in a group setting, no longer laying back, but a main part of the entire conversation.

Fateme arab

Im from iran
My common stories are:
I think i cant be a morning person if i’m free i
Sleep as long as i can .
And i think i have many ideas but theyrnot goood enough to make money from them.

Wt if i could change these bad stories of my life.
C i think in bad economy if iran u cant do anything
And if u can u should be in central ,TEHran
Not in another city
Like mine , GORGAN

I have a few that I’m aware of already – not a morning person, can’t do maths, not very academic – all of which need some work.

But the one that struck me which I wasn’t consciously aware of is that “I’m not photogenic” and it’s stopping me from starting my website -‘cos everyone likes to see the person behind the blog. But I’ve realised that not being photogenic is more to do with me not being confident in front of a camera, because I’ve always been told I don’t photograph well. I’m sure I could pay someone to help me with that – and it’s certainly not worth blocking my rich life for!

I am creating my website today, nothing ventured…

I am 25 years old, live in CT and for most of my life the story I clung to was that I wasn’t smart and was a bad learner… A pretty convenient, and creative excuse for any kid who wants to be lazy and not complete school work.

Amusingly, despite basically failing out of college around age 23.. I realized the story wasn’t true, and my input strategy was flawed.

I am far from anti-education by any means. I am in fact obsessed with learning, I’m endlessly curious. I read books, newsletters, blogs, watch informational videos, and listen to podcasts for several hours each day no matter what. But unlike the quote attributed to Mark Twain “I have never let schooling interfere with my education.” All I did was let schooling interfere with my education lol.. The truth is the structure of most classes in academia don’t align with my learning styles and ultimately are extremely inefficient for me. I actually loved school even, but was agonizing over my grades, and lack up results, failing basic courses yet I always worked full-time even before starting college and excelled in practically every job, I loved volunteering and helping people, and every time I would take time away from school I would learn more in a month than I did in previous years of schooling.. Thats when I realized the story I had told myself all of my life wasn’t true. And I left school once and for all.

I dove in even deeper to learning, and continue to do so daily, I take massive action to implement what I learn and document my progress and results.

Less than a year out from leaving school I am engaged to be married, own a house, I’m a licensed real estate agent, licensed contractor, I work full time as the manager of a real estate investment company in CT, I am working on helping my cousin grow his real estate and engineering business, and I am also working on gaining experience in writing and consulting because I love being creative and as someone obsessed with learning I am equally excited about teaching and would love to own a leadership business management, real estate, self-improvement, personal finance consulting business to help others who want to learn, grow, and make meaningful change in their life.

Long story long… lol Ramit is 100% right. Don’t be cynical, be curious but always skeptical, especially of the stories you tell yourself.

Thanks for all the great work Ramit, I’m inspired by what you do and I am eager to use the incredible lessons you teach, and to teach others as well.

Best,

Ryan

BTW:This article, along with the “I am amazing at eating chicken wings”, have been my favorites so far.

I think that everyone does tell themselves that they can handle pressure and stress well. I mean, they tell themselves that, but their bodies exprience the toll that the stress takes on them. I think, even if you don’t think you have stress, it’s always good to revamp something in your life. Who knows? It could be one of the best things to ever happen to you.

I really like your post.
I thing there are 2 stories I tell myself :
– “I have to do everything on my own. Nobody can help me.”
I always thought it was a weakness to ask help. For every tough situation, I always tried to deal with it alone whereas I have amazing friends and family ready to help me.
– “My diplomas allow me to work for big companies, I better have to work 40h a day for a boss than be an entrepreneur. That’s not for me.”
I am just at the beginning to accept this “story” but I’m working on it very seriously now.

Thank you 🙂

Thank you for this piece, Ramit. I love the concept of changing our story.
My story is not being a good enough writer to be paid high rates. Or to be published by big publications. Guess what? I changed my story this month by reaching out to these publications and being accepted to write for them.
The next step is to change the story about charging a modest rate for my writing. I deserve to be paid what I’m worth, damn it.

Thanks, again.

The biggest story I tell myself is “If I start my own business, I will never see my kids and they’ll resent me for it.” My father was a solopreneur who worked long hours and wasn’t home much. I am afraid I’ll miss out on their childhoods, like he did in many ways.

Another story I struggle with is “I’m not good enough to succeed.” When I started freelancing years ago, I was told this by family members. They reminded me I was “just” a mom and didn’t know anything about doing business. It killed my self-confidence and, as a result, I lost a big client by procrastinating and not giving the job my all.

Awesome.

At last you are thinking about the frameworks around people reading your messages.

Every single person has a different framework of habits, commitments, engagements, obligations, lifestyles, etc, etc etc around them. Think of it as a cage that you built up over time, most of it your own construction, the rest what other people have put in place. It is a strong cage, so complex you can barely see outside.

If you want to step up to the door to the next level and be able to kick it in, you have to eliminate the cage or at the very least remove a lot of the girders that hinder your progress.

“No” is a great tool because it stops additional frames to be built to hem you in further.

Resolutions are always great because you learn about yourself in the process. Some you fail at, and grit your teeth to repeat the Resolution with more effort and tools! Losing weight is so common a failed Resolution as to be laughable, but if the resolution includes dismantling some of the frames that are keeping you fat, it works … soooo … “losing weight in 2018” is out. Better is “Vegan one day a week + use the exercise equipment you own every day (even for 5 minutes) + join DIETBET for $100+” because you are committing.

In 2015 I had an awesome resolution that surprised me so much, I am taking it again: “Less Complaining, More Results” (I read the book Complaint Free World”).

Ok, here are my Resolutions:

Resolutions 2018:

(1) C.O.R.E. ( Clarity, Organization, Respect, Encouragement )
(2) “Less Complaining, More Results” ( 2014 it worked)
(3) Drop 10% of my weight by Q3, keep it down in Q4 (Vegan one day a week is a tool)

.oO(Add to that my poker saying “The lucky poker player is usually the player that knows how much to leave to chance.”)

No need to make a list of 25 … I have my written Goal list that runs for 100 and about 90+ Project files but Resolutions are all about fundamental inner changes IMHO.

If I get these three Resolutions nailed down for 2018 I have made progress. I am always hammering away at my goals. Projects require the resources, of course.

One thing I have learned as I have reshaped my life is that you have to slip on the work gloves. First identify the girders to move out of your way and then comes the heavy lifting – with the right mindset – clearing girders out of the way.

In 2018 think about fragmenting your approach to your audience. This “one massage fits all” may make the job easier but does it really make sense? Does advice to a 20/30 working in a job going to resonate with a 60+ owner of a group of companies that is significantly self aware already?

I like your material and what you are doing, so no complaints (especially considering my Resolution …)

Yves

This article hit on something I’ve been dealing with for a long time. I’ve been trying to rewrite these stories for a year now.

My Stories
This is very personal, but I’m sharing it because it might help someone else.

I have a lot of stories I believe, but these are the ones that are holding me back the most in my life right now. These are what I’m focusing on.

Story 1: “I’m a horrible cook. My food is either uncooked or burned. Cooking is too hard.”

Story 2: “I will never earn enough to meet more than my basic needs. Abundance doesn’t exist for me.”

Story 3: “I can’t run a successful business because I don’t personally know anyone who does.”

Story 4: “I’m not a natural leader. I’m too introverted to lead anyone. I failed in a leadership role before so it isn’t for me.”

Story 5: “I’ll always be overweight and have poor eating habits because I’ve always been this way.”

And the biggest one of all – Story 6: “I will never find a partner because I don’t know how to be a good one myself and that makes me unworthy of being loved and cared for by someone.”

How will I change these stories?

I’ll address each story with logical thinking, not emotional thinking. Emotions are why I believed what I believe for so long.

I’ll counter my story with a “What if ” statement that allows me to imagine if I were successful in that scenario.

Then, I’ll create a goal to reach surrounding my story and set as many steps as needed to reach that goal.

Rachel robertson

Hi Ramit,

Thank you for sharing. I think this is so interesting and you could not be more on point haha. It is crazy what we tell ourselves sometimes, affirmations are very powerful.

To answer your request for feedback, mine would be that I am introverted and also that I am too goofy, a story which has kind of created this awkwardness where I sprint through sentences so fast that people will only catch every second word (not on purpose) and also panic for about an hour leading up to any time I have to lead a discussion (which is borderline insanity because it is something I have to do daily for work).

Thank you for a great article, I will work on steps to change this story! Glad to hear you are sleeping better as a result.

Rachel

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