These four words have changed my life

My jiujitsu coach, Carlos Catania.

I’ve been going hard in the self-improvement paint for about five years now. Between books, blogs, and YouTube, I’ve consumed thousands of hours of content. The Kool-Aid tastes oh so sweet.

After a while, you start to realize all these gurus and audiobooks are saying the same things:

  • take action
  • make small, consistent changes over a long period of time
  • remove distractions
  • define where you want to go
  • exercise and eat well
  • get 8 hours of sleep
  • surround yourself with supportive and healthy people
  • focus on one important thing at a time
  • make lots of mistakes and get feedback on them

That’s really it. Please Venmo me @Dillan-Taylor for changing your life.

Jokes aside, I spent these last several years finding books and leaders whose messages really resonated with me. And there genuinely are books that have changed my life (Atomic Habits, Essentialism, The War of Art).

But one trap I’ve experienced and seen other people experience in the self-help world is that of endless searching. Seeking the perfect formula or concept to make the rest of our lives easy or effortless.

I would read a book about focus and, armed with new tools, feel super motivated to sit at my desk for hours each day to build a business or edit a podcast. Then when I sat down, it would be difficult, confusing, or boring. Then I’d think, “Huh, I thought this was supposed to be easy now?”

Shockingly, my business wasn’t building itself, my checking account wasn’t going up in my sleep, and my YouTube channel wasn’t flooding with subscribers. It’s like I thought the motivation I gathered from consuming content was all I needed.

Then reality would set in. “Wait, you mean I actually have to do this shit…like, all the time?”

After all this searching, and after coaching people for years, I’ve come to a harsh conclusion:

No matter how skilled or how wise we become, life will often feel challenging, confusing, and boring…and that’s okay.

There’s no place to arrive at. No enlightenment. No point where we’re just “good” from now on. It’s a never-ending mountain to climb. We’re never “done.”

So how then do we measure our success? If it never ends then how do we know we’re where we’re supposed to be?

For me, it’s these four words:

More often than not.

It’s not about choosing great habits and practices and never breaking them. If I want to get fit, it’s not about working out every single day. But it’s also never going to happen if I can skip and cheat whenever I want. So it has to be somewhere in the middle.

More often than not is that middle.

More often than not, am I doing the things I need to do to get in better shape? Am I eating well, exercising, and getting good sleep more often than I’m choosing not to do those things?

We can apply this to studying for school, growing a YouTube channel, or learning a new skill.

So let me ask you.

More often than not, are you doing the things you need to do?