“It’s a difficult task to talk about success in tangible terms. For me, success came in the form of a realization that I wasn’t a very happy person. It wasn’t a revelatory experience, however. The process was drawn out over many months in 2017 and is still to this day a battle to ensure I don’t fall back into old habits which had gripped me for the better part of a decade.
At 31 years old, I realized I had partied my way into a false sense of accomplishment. I’d celebrated my 20s with big dreams, bigger goals, and the annoying habit of putting my desire to drink and socialize above that of hard work. It sounds fun, and it was fun, but sometime last spring the lie I had been telling myself for years came crashing down. Everything I’d ever dreamt of accomplishing, the desire to be a bestselling author, an inventor, a podcaster, or an entrepreneur with a billion dollar business started out of my garage, not a single one of those goals was ever going to just happen. Not overnight, not in a week, and not by devoting a mere 20 minutes of brainpower per month chatting about these ideas while scrolling through my Facebook News Feed.
At 31 years old, I realized I had partied my way into a false sense of accomplishment.
I realize as I write this I am without a doubt writing to an audience of grinders and hustlers and girls and guys who crush it 20 hours a day. For you, I hope this reminds you of why you’ve worked so hard to build amazing companies and write books we’ll still be reading for generations to come. For the rest, for those in the midst of their journeys, or perhaps most importantly the ones still looking for a place and a reason to start, the first step in changing your life is realizing you actually want to. It sounds easier than it is.”
Photo: Oura Community Member and Blog writer Trey Kauffman
When Trey submitted his story to our call for entries, we were inspired and awed by the transformation he made in his life. Read on to hear the rest of this story.
Trey meeting with the author Augusten Burroughs.
“As 2016 bled into 2017, I was at the height of a social media addiction. I’d gotten to a point where I was letting my personal value inflate or deflate based on how the internet reacted to stories I was feeding it. My happiness was tied to likes, and the great deal of anger I had been managing had a direct correlation with the opinions of others.
There would be times when I would set out with the best of intentions to flex my creative writing skills, or code an email for a client, or do any number of tasks important to propelling myself into the future I desired, and an hour after sitting down I would look up from my phone wondering why the page was still blank and where the sun had gone. I was in a constant state of emergency, apologizing to clients for late projects, or making up reasons not to see family or friends. The relationships I should have been nurturing were being dissolved at the root level.
Last spring, when I realized I truly wanted to be happy, I made a whirlwind of life changes. So many, in fact, it’d be impossible to detail them all here, but just like the cream, the best rise to the top. As you might imagine, I called it quits with Facebook. With the exception of pushing out updates for my clients, my relationship with Facebook went from hot to not even once. The amount of reclaimed time I had at my disposal after that was staggering, and it made me realize two things. The first was that my time does have value, and it was important I started carrying myself around knowing that. It also made me realize there were a number of other inefficiencies in my life.
My work commute, for one, accounted for about an hour of my day, and that time had been spent listening to morning radio. At the best of times it was entertaining, at the worst I could feel IQ points flitting away. It was a far cry from the realm of self-betterment I was hoping to enter into. With that I made one of the best decisions of my life. I dove headfirst into the world of podcasts, consuming every piece of information I could get my ears on. To note, Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose were major influences on how I chose to reshape my priorities and habits.
For the better part of a year, I’ve built a morning routine based on the advice of some of the smartest minds in Silicon Valley. Each day I pull myself out of bed at 6 am (not something I’d ever imagined myself capable of), sit down at my computer, and do two things. First, I listen to a motivational speech on Spotify. Two or three minutes of pure hype puts me in the mood to tackle the objectives needed to get me closer to my goals. Second, I work myself into a comfortable position and meditate for 20 minutes. Tara Brach is my guide of preference and has helped me accomplish increasing levels of mindfulness.
Perhaps one of the biggest drivers in my success has been my adoption of the Bullet Journal methodology. For years, as a digital purist, I refused to write anything down, trying instead to make mental notes of what to stuff into my Google Calendar for later review, or adding to a growing list of virtual stickies I’d never see again. My system was less than ideal, and Bullet Journaling helped me change that.
In the time I’ve spent focused on making these habits stick and building a foundation to get my life and career to the place I’d always dreamt of, I’ve written and edited the second draft of a young adult novel, I’ve developed a patent pending invention and am in the process of sourcing materials overseas to have it manufactured, I’ve produced and released an ongoing weekly podcast, and I’ve taken the time to help develop a Meetup group in Columbus, Ohio, focused on building strong leaders.
It’s important for me to point out that everything I’ve accomplished or am on the road to accomplishing, I had let fear cripple for years. None of these accomplishments were on a whim, they were all goals I’d told myself would happen one day. Because I didn’t know where to start, and because I knew it had to get easier with more life experience, I let time slip past me. I had no idea where to begin the patent process, or how to distribute a podcast, or how to file for an LLC. Fear had paralyzed me to a point where I was too scared to look for these answers, not because I knew the work required would be hard, but because I knew if I wanted to accomplish these goals, I would have to change who I was.
I knew if I wanted to accomplish these goals, I would have to change who I was.
That change, at first based on new habits alone, turned into a mental and biological reset. Tim Ferriss introduced me to the study and practice of Stoicism, a subject I feel wholly underqualified to write about, however one which freed me from my outward anger by focusing my thoughts on not giving negative circumstances the power to affect my course in life. On top of a positive purview, part of Tim’s allure is his human guinea pig brand. Biohacking (or body hacking) caught my fascination with the promise that I can, and should, feel amazing every day, and that my productivity can shoot through the roof with proper nutrition customized to my body’s needs.
Ignoring my debilitating fear of needles, I told my doctor I wanted him to test some of my biomarkers to see what, if any, deficiencies I have. Of course there were some, and fortunately for me the solution was adding nutritional supplements to my diet. Today, I no longer live with fatigue and a lack of ambition, instead I strive to look for other ways in which I can improve my focus, concentration and output, which is how the Oura ring came onto my radar. The notion that Oura is helping people live up to their body’s true potential is the very reason I’m so thrilled to use it.
This is just the beginning of my story, and if you’re waiting to start yours, I encourage you to remember an old Stoic saying, memento mori. We all must die, and our time is valuable and limited, make the most of it while you can.”
– Trey Kauffman, Oura Community Member
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