The Little Plane That Couldn't Lift Off
Have you ever met someone who's so talented but never seems to get anywhere?
We all know that person, right? Smart through high school but barely squeaked through college, and now working a job that they're good at but which means nothing to them.
They wake up each day dreading the commute, dreading another eight hours in office. The thought that a job should be meaningful seems laughable to them. Meaning — that's for other people.
And maybe this person is carrying some extra weight, and every time they've made a plan to lose it, they make it a few weeks before falling flat on their face. Or maybe they set a goal to run a half-marathon, and the training sessions go great until their shin hurts and then it's over.
Heck, even when they make a cleaning schedule, it lasts for a few days before it falls off the refrigerator and never gets picked up.
This person just can't deliver on their goals. Habits elude them. And though they live a pretty decent life — reasonable pay, the occasional vacation — they can't help but feel like they just can't succeed at anything they really try at. And that makes them feel like they are failures.
And Behind The Mask Is…
Let's just come clean: when we're talking about that person, we're talking about us, dig?
We are those people.
The stupid thing is that we clearly have passions, interests, and skills. We're awesome at the guitar, and we can sit and fiddle with it for hours like it's nothing special but we won't ever play a gig. We write huge novels that might be excellent but that nobody will ever read.
We're not afraid of working hard. It just feels like everything we should work hard at, we can't manage it. We rock the unimportant, and flub the important.
And of course we get inside our own heads: we convince ourselves we're not finishers, that we're dabblers. We convince ourselves we're broken, that we don't know how to fix ourselves.
And we can see clearly that it costs us: we stop taking risks. We don't get raises. We don't ask the guy or gal out. We never begin to sell that brilliant side hustle start-up.
Here Comes The Sun
Here cometh the good news: We aren't alone.
And maybe even more enticingly, we're not broken for good. Each of us in the Perpetual Failers Club can fix these problems for ourselves.
I'm not talking 'fix' them, like 'read an article that tells you why Elon Musk starts his day by combing his hair' and then suddenly you're inspired enough that you ask out your long-term crush and you quit your job to suddenly pursue your passion for surfing.
I'm talking about doing the real work. The nitty-gritty exploration of our perceptions of risk around our hangups.
The deep dive into why we act the way we do.
A (Small) Semi-Tangential Rant
Okay, we all read those James Clear articles, right? Those are great.
But we come away from them being like 'Oh! I just have to eat yogurt and I'll be a success! I get it!'
Those things are all about the psychology of why we tick. And if you want to know on a broad level how humans who are successful tend to be, those are what you should read.
But that doesn't explain why you perpetually shy away from conflict, or why you consistently revise your final drafts of projects over and over again.
Those personal issues — the ones that are your own personal demons, the ones that make advice books basically useless — are the things we need to solve to be successful.
We all know there's a fundamental difference between us and successful people, and it's usually either the successful person's foibles are in some trivial or beneficial area (neat freaks, looking at you) or they've learned to overcome them.
The latter is what we do here.
Why This Works
What those of us inside the Perpetual Failers Club usually fail to realize is that we really are in control of our destinies. We can act to fix our inability to succeed, our inability to form habits, our inability to achieve our goals. But to do that, we have to think differently from the tired ways we've rationalized our behaviour and failures in the past.
We have to Think Really Hard about why we actually act these ways. And then we think even harder about will actually work to address the problems.
And when we do, things become a little bit easier. Big risks don't seem so big any more.
Maybe you finally demand the landlord fix your fridge and you ask your crush out for coffee.
Maybe you set up a Facebook ad for your startup.
Maybe you quit your job, start a freelancing business, and triple your income the very next year.
These are all things that TRHers have done.
What We Do
ThinkReallyHard is a community organized around this idea of thinking differently about personal problems. Right now, we're just a mailing list, but we're growing rapidly.
When you sign up to the mailing list, you'll get an article (about once a week) about how to tackle these problems:
- Why Your Willpower is Sufficient, and Not To Blame For Your Failures;
- What Akrasic Behaviour Is and Why We Keep Performing Akrasically;
- What Process Should You Follow When You First Notice Failure; and
- What Success and Happiness Actually Look Like and How To Best Pursue Them.
You'll also get me directly on tap. An email doesn't quite ring true in your life? Just hit the reply button and we'll figure it out for your unique circumstances.
If you are one of these people — one of my people, one of the Perpetual Failers Club — then you need to sign up to this list.
And if I'm being honest, I need you to sign up to this list. And not just because I enjoy exchanging email with strangers, but because I'm fighting the same things.
Knowing you're not alone is the first step. But the truth about the Perpetual Failers Club is that we are Perpetual Tryers. And when you have the support you need to succeed, that is hella inspiring for everyone around you and we all want a piece of that.
So sign up, please. Do it for you. Do it for me. Do it for us.
Who I Am
My name is Rob. I've been running ThinkReallyHard on and off for the past year or two, and I've been a Never-Finisher and a Perpetual Failer since grade school. I also deal with the fun of depression on a seasonal basis.
In order to be even marginally productive, I've had to develop coping strategies. And over time, these have added up, and the community I've built around myself has lifted me even higher.
I don't have all the answers. But I have many of them, and some great systems that I'm happy to share, and I'm hoping you have some to share with me.