Some say life is like chess, running a marathon, or playing a video game. I like those simplified looks on life because it’s already complicated enough.
But even though those ideas are fun, they don’t provide a practical strategy to base your life on. Sure, you must be smart, strategic, try to accelerate your learning, get results, and be consistent at the same time. We get it.
But what do you do when things don’t work out?
About three years ago, I wasn’t satisfied with my life and career. It’s difficult to explain why. To be honest, I didn’t understand why at the time. I just didn’t know what I was doing.
I just did what others expected me to do. Or, things that conventional wisdom tell you to do. I went to college, got two degrees, started a business, but I thought I also needed to work for a multinational firm, live in a big city, buy expensive stuff, and drive a cool car.
I felt like I participated in other people’s races, trying to rack up degrees, titles, and money I didn’t want. So even though I looked successful to others, I didn’t feel that way myself.
I like what Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle, says about success:
“Most of our failures are in races for which others enter us. Most of our success comes from races we ourselves want to enter.”
Everyone can win and be successful in life. You just have to choose the right competition and method to win. For example, if you do things you’re good at, you’re more likely to win.
There’s Always A Pattern
When I felt stuck, I initially blamed the universe, my own bad luck, the economy, and a handful of other things and people who had nothing to do with my lack of success and happiness.
But I soon realized that strategy was not helpful. So, in need of answers, I started reading more books about business, productivity, psychology, entrepreneurship, history, biology, you name it.
And after reading a few dozen books, I started noticing patterns across different subjects.
Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic, and author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, put it best:
“If you find yourself in a state of continual failure in your personal or business life, you might be blaming it on fate or karma or animal spirits or some other form of magic when the answer is simple math.”
Life really is math. You must find the patterns in whatever you’re trying to achieve. Take happiness.
Every single philosopher in the history of humanity tells you this: Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. And only focus on things you do control. That’s the key to happiness.
Buddha tells you that. Seneca tells you that. William James tells you that. Even people who’ve never read a book but have a lot of life experience will tell you that’s the key to happiness. How? After years of living, we learn to recognize the patterns by ourselves.
But, I prefer to see things earlier and not learn through my own mistakes. Otherwise, it might take decades to learn what I can from reading a biography.
Whatever kind of success you’re looking for, don’t stop until you’ve cracked the code.
Scott Adams says:
“There’s usually a pattern, but it might be subtle. Don’t stop looking just because you don’t see the pattern in the first seven years.”
So keep looking. Make mistakes. Learn from it. But make sure you learn even more from other people’s mistakes.
The funny thing is: It’s almost like magic. You think of something, look for the patterns, and then you make it happen.
Ideas that manifest in your mind become a reality. Whatever you desire, you can achieve.
Not through magic. Only math.
Now go and solve an equation.