Cutting Off Ties: The Painful Cost Of Success

Lately, it feels like there has been a long string of personal development content popping up, mainly focused on the things you need to do to succeed, how most of us have it all wrong (BTW, we ALL have it wrong), and the things we do to hold ourselves back. Quite a lot of it makes sense but I wonder if maybe we over-complicate matters and stifle our growth sometimes. Maybe, for some, the cost of success and true fulfillment in life is too high.

What is the cost of success, really? Does it have to be so hard?

For those that like short and sweet answers, here’s an emphatic YES.

True success is hard and the cost is high, especially for those that like their comfort zones. When I say true success I mean the type of life that goes beyond the mundane and what everyone thinks you should do. I’m talking about the lifestyle where work and life flow together and you follow the beat of your own drum. I’m talking about resting easy at night, knowing you’ve found your calling, your purpose.

In a few words, I’m talking about the level of success that requires cutting off ties, leaving behind the world as we know it and the things that shackle us into restrictive or destructive ways. If success were easy, everyone with great ideas and strong opinions would win big.. But we know that’s not the case.

Allow me to rant here because maybe, just maybe, you may be in this weird place in your life…Fear Of Failure
I often speak of fear of failure and how it cripples us. These days, we hear it a lot but it doesn’t make it any less relevant or true. Fear of failure is possibly the hardest thing to get over. Many avoid this obstacle by going back to school and rejoining the work force. In this manner, if we fail, we fail as a group so it is a lot more subtle and there’s none of the fallout of *GASP* culture shock.

Hey, everyone else is doing it so it can’t be that bad, right?

Now, if everyone jumped off a bridge…

Creating A Bigger Fear
We’re conditioned to respond to fear so why not create greater urgency by creating a greater fear? For me, returning to the “9-to-5” grind is not an option. Been there, done that, bought a t-shirt. It’s for not for me, though I’m sure it’s great for most.

I just can’t be a robot.. Do you want to be a robot? What if you get decommissioned? Then what?

I’ve gone down many career paths only to hit dead ends and watch my personal life go down the drain for nothing (well, almost nothing). Jobs expect you to put them before all else and that’s not very appealing, even for someone like me that may be considered a bit of an introvert. The current state of the economy only amplifies the glaring problems with traditional employment. I hate seeing people fed up with where they’re at in life, but not pushing for something better. It just tears my heart up because I’ve been there.

Where’s The Freedom And Security?

No one is ever truly free in a mere job but some cope better than others.

There’s no security in regular employment but it’s comfortable. It’s what we are taught is right: go to school, get a job, go up the ladder, go to school/training again, climb further up the latter, rinse and repeat. Of course, there are people up that ladder that don’t want to see you succeed. They feel threatened and will take any opportunity to knock you off your cloud.

With most jobs, once you’re let go or decide to move on, you have to go back to square one. It’s a very disencouraging, demeaning cycle. What’s worse is if your employer lacks vision and integrity, they’ll fail and you’re going down with them. There’s no freedom, control, or security there. Staying in that situation is almost masochistic if you stop to think about it.

What’s the value in that path?

How much do you learn?

How fulfilled do you feel at the end of the day?

Are you merely trading time for money?

How long can you keep doing it before you break?

Think about it: at a traditional job, you are at the mercy of those further up the corporate ladder. The scariest thing is thinking about what you’d do if you are out of a job. At your current pay grade, how long could you go without a pay check and sustain your lifestyle? To me, that’s a much scarier thought than the thought of failing when you go out on your own. It’s simply unacceptable.

I can fail tons but I just can’t give up. How about you?

I’ll take my chances with my “crazy ideas”.. Yup!

A Different Path
Most are at least aware that there are other paths to take but those dirt roads look so lonely and scary. In all my transparency, I think I’ve made it clear that self-employment of any kind is tough.. But at least the work is more fulfilling, you learn more, and you have more freedom and control. It’s risky, yes, but you can make it if you really stick with it.

Who knows, maybe you’ll lead others who lost their way or are heading into oblivion. YOU could be the one that sets your friends free, the one that shows them that there are options. I’m sure each of you reading this have met at least one brilliant person stuck at a job, not a career, where their talents are wasted and their soul is slowly dying.

You could save them.. IF they want to be saved.

The Sum Of Friends
In the self-help industry, there’s the notion that we are the sum of our friends. I agree and disagree. Certainly, friends with toxic energy and lack of ambition make it easier for us to limit ourselves.. BUT we still have the power to push ourselves further and make important changes in our lives. Still, you almost have to be selfish and practical when choosing those we associate with most, because they can either build us up or drag us down…

Living In Our Heads
It is almost guaranteed that any successful writer, web designer, game developer, or business person (all roles I currently play in my life) has spent more time in their own minds than lingering on the thoughts of others. This doesn’t mean we should block out feedback but it DOES mean we should not be quick to hang our hats on what the “experts” and “gurus” say. You also have to be wary of friends that never seem to have anything nice or valuable to say. Why do we keep them around?

We can externalize our mistakes and shortcomings or we can own them and take control of our lives.

I’d like to think everyone has what it takes to WIN in their own special ways. We just need to want it bad enough. There are people out there that want nothing more than to see us fail so they can feel better about themselves and maybe say, “I told you so.”

Screw What Others Say
We can be trend setters or bandwagon followers, pioneers or late-comers, free thinkers or sheep.. Do you want to be a leader or an obscure entity in the crowd?

I love reading and learning from others but I’m learning to consume less and produce more because

There’s too much crap out there.

Ultimately, those that go against the grain and follow their guts WIN while the rest are mostly just complacent, coasting along frivolously. BEWARE: there are far too many people out there peddling crap to capitalize on our own insecurities, laziness, and doubts. I take all the expert advice with a grain of salt because what works for some may not work for others.

Still, there ARE some that really care and have worthwhile things to share so let’s not be completely dismissive here.

Once again, I return to this: if what “they” say works, why aren’t more people happy and fulfilled in their lives?

Sure, some people lack the persistence, perseverance, and commitment to make things work but is that the case with everyone? I don’t think so. There just aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions out there so you’re better off pushing forward and learning along the way. Everyone has to start somewhere. Why not you?

Streamline Your Life
Cutting back on the things that don’t add long-term value to our lives is hard but necessary. It’s like going on a diet:

  1. First, you have to frame it differently and work it into your lifestyle because externalizing it with a label like “diet”, “resolutions”, or whatever only makes it easy to grow disdain for the plan.
  2. You can stop long-time habits overnight so practice moderation until you’re “weened” off the bad habits.
  3. Create good habits by focusing on what you gain in the end.
  4. Consider what you lose whenever you cheat on your plan. What do you want more?

Well, you get the idea. There are many ways we can “cut the fat” out of our lives and still enjoy our guilty pleasures. Once that discipline is created, we find ourselves in a position to enjoy new, better things!

For some, the biggest junk resides in associating with people that love drama or negativity, indulging in excessive “stupid media” (i.e. reality television and tabloids), and just idling about. You know, the stuff that has little value. I have my own escapisms and distractions but I’m proud to say I’ve whittled them down quite a bit. If you need help streamlining, just consider the stuff that makes it easy for you to procrastinate or just give up at times. How can you turn that stuff down a few notches to healthy levels?

Maybe It’s The Wrong Thing
Sometimes we simply lose momentum with our endeavors because we’re in it for the wrong reasons. That’s where those pesky passion and authenticity things come into play. Don’t be quick to jump onto a fad just cause it seems to be easy money or the “need” is obvious. Look at all the people that jumped into realty.. Where are they now?

I can go on and on about being fully-vested and focused on our “thing” but this should all be clear as day (unless it’s an overcast day, then that analogy fails). What we really should think about here is sustainability, which factors in much more than passion, knowledge, and experience in any concentrations.

Taking The Plunge
Today is YOUR day.

I hope I planted some seeds that you will continue to nurture and eventually sow. I say all these things not to lead you to a end-all, cure-all solution. Instead, I hope I got some of you thinking about some stuff that can change your life.. For the good!

Quick book recommendation: Jim Rohn’s “Seasons of Life”. It’s perfect if you ever feel you’re just stuck in the mundane. WHAT an uplifting book.. Such a quick read, too!

I know I touched upon many different things here. My intention is to get us all thinking…

What do I really want from life? Am I any closer today?”

If you don’t like those answers, what is holding you back? (HINT: It’s probably you.) How long must we be sick and tired of being sick and tired? Will it be too late by then?

Let’s Discuss:
I asked many rhetorical questions here but feel free to step up and share the answers with others that may need to simply see they are not alone. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. We could all use work-out buddies at times, even us workaholic hermits!

What is something you have sacrificed or are sacrificing to reach your success? Was/is it worth it?


12 thoughts on “Cutting Off Ties: The Painful Cost Of Success

  1. Yogi, I really identified with your statement, “Screw What Others Say – We can be trend setters or bandwagon followers, pioneers or late-comers, free thinkers or sheep.. Do you want to be a leader or an obscure entity in the crowd?” I feel like I have mostly lived up to this ideal, of not following the crowd, but there are important areas in my life where I have not. I hate to admit it but in these areas I’ve been dealing with fear of failure, as you mentioned, but I’m at a point in my life where I am doing my best to ignore those thoughts and am making progress one step at a time consistently. I get impatient. I like microwaves and like how my food is cooked in 30 seconds, but I am trying to develop a longer view and focus on the small steps and trying to talk myself into having faith that those small steps will get me to where I want to be regardless. I may stumble. I may run into a wall. But when I do I need to move around those mental and real obstacles and press on.

    Press on.

    The Game Preacher

  2. Your ideals are evident in how you speak and the wonderful blog you have started over at We all fall off the horse sometimes, bud, but all that matters is that you get back up on it and keep riding!

    Press on.

    I love that. You know, the tough part about life is that we live so much of it playing by the rules set by others because, if we don’t, we could end up really lonely, right? There’s a delicate balance between having strong convictions and forcing your world view onto others. I try to stay away from the latter but, sometimes, you have to push a little hard to bring about change.

    Certainly, leading by example works.. But it takes time. Time is a commodity we cannot afford to waste so, really, we have to step back and assess what really brings value into our lives now and in the future. That’s where the streamlining comes into play.

    We all succumb to quick fixes and instant gratification. That’s the way the world around us is. Even the way we consume information and entertainment nowadays is so much more condensed, if not watered down. This is why we have to check ourselves and make sure we remember to enjoy the simple things that really matter.

    Press on.

    That is very powerful there, my friend.. I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog. Hopefully, your thoughts spark some great conversations. I want to see what everyone else feels because this isn’t about you or me.. It’s about the urgency in setting things right in the world, little by little…

    Press on.

  3. Amazing and motivational post, Yomar…
    I felt very energized after reading it, especially so early in the morning when I need it haha ^^..”True success is hard and the cost is high, especially for those that like their comfort zones.” – This is sooo true. It’s funny because lately I’ve been thinking about things that I should be doing but avoid because of my fears of change and failure – I can be pretty stubborn sometimes. I usually don’t go out of my comfort zones unless I really really want or need something, which makes it all worth it and much easier to accomplish. My mom believes that it’s possible to learn to enjoy things that might seem terrible at first, as long as we keep doing it – she’s constantly pushing me to do things I don’t like because it will help in the long run. Kind of makes sense.. like that whole idea of the “mere exposure effect” where you start to like things merely because they are familiar to you. Perhaps I need to work more on becoming more comfortable with things that make me uncomfortable – such as public speaking O.o errk.

    • Ooohhh.. Now you touched upon some even deeper concepts here. Public speaking is always a rough spot for us more “introverted” folks. I spoke with one of my mastermind group members and new friend about this just yesterday.

      The consensus seems to be that folks like us (avoiding any convenient labels) rather engage people one-on-one or small groups where our voice is heard and we can forego “small talk”. Fear of failure or fear of crowds? Are they so different? That’d make for an interesting discussion in itself!

      Exposure definitely helps in the conditioning process. Some can take big leaps, others need baby steps.. I say both are fine if you’re going in the right direction; after all, we need some sort of comfort when we step out of our zone.

      Believe me, there are many times I sell myself short but, for me, it’s more a matter of analysis paralysis than fear of failing. I like to plan out all the details of stuff, especially things that are bigger in scope. Laurinda made a good point during our recent chat: don’t systemize the wrong behaviors. Again, another topic for great discussion!

      What I’ve found is that sometimes the best thing to do is just jump in. I learn best as I’m doing stuff anyway. My mother has been a great role model for me as well. She lacks formal education in some areas but she is a quick learner because she spends less time thinking and more time doing. Seems like your mother is wise herself! Of course, we “kids” always have to learn the hard way. Haha

      How about you? How do you learn best? What gives you the courage to push on? =o)

  4. Hmmm…

    I love most of this, don’t love some of it. I love the idea of passion and getting things accomplished. I love the idea of streamlining one’s life, taking the plunge, and not listening to the doubters. I even like the idea of sacrifice… to a degree.

    It’s also the part I don’t love, this idea of sacrifice. Rather, what people sacrifice, or consider sacrifice, or possibly the term “sacrifice” used in this way. I tend to believe we might have to step away from those people who are toxic in our lives. I also tend to believe that we might not see our other friends as much, but that goes with life in general.

    However, deciding to sacrifice everything for the sake of trying to achieve things is a horrible idea; why would anyone really want to do that unless they hated all their friends and family and their entire life in general? If you’re a good evaluator of people you shouldn’t drop your friends. Those are the people you’re probably going to rely on when you’re depressed and need a boost. Those are the people you’re going to rely on when one day you want to go to lunch or dinner with someone, or even have someone to hang out with on a weekend. Those are the people you’re going to commiserate with when things are bad, and if you work for yourself things will be bad here and there.

    I guess I’d rather say be prepared for things to change, especially if your goals aren’t the goals of the people you hang around. Your true friends will always be there; your family, hopefully, will always be there for you. If you can get positive energy from them, keep them close. There’s never enough positive energy in the world for any of us.

    • Very good points, Mitch!

      To be clear, I never said we should drop our friends and completely reboot our lives but, for some, maybe that is necessary. I believe I made this clear when I said that I agree and disagree with the concept of “we are the sum of our friends”. Having positive energy and people that believe in our vision certainly keeps us going so why WOULD anyone want to get rid of such influencers?

      This article, like many of my pieces, is meant to get you thinking and play both sides of the fence. I don’t take a firm stance here other than saying that, really, to reach new levels in life, changes need to be made.. Hard changes, at that.

      I feel that, no matter how good you are evaluating friends, there are those that come into our lives for a reason and those that come into it for a season, like Jim Rohn says. It’s crucial to acknowledge that. Sadly, what I’ve seen in my own life, and the lives of those whom I coach, is that we all have at least one friend that likes us so long as we play by their rules and share similar goals. Some friends want a yesman and, though they may be great people at heart, the potential for growing disdain and negativity, the elusive toxic energy I spoke of, may require some degree of separation.

      There’s also the matter of socializing and actually being productive. Depending on the scope of your work, engaging in what some may call “high-maintenance” relationships can really hold us back. As such, I’m merely planting the seeds of thought for folks that may need to see how much time they are spending systemizing, cultivating, and consuming things that may not have long-term value.

      Certainly, when you consider matters of the heart and soul, being completely objective is not realistic, nor can all of us turn off our emotions like some convenient little switch.. And I’m not saying that we should by any means!

      I like your points about your friends being your biggest advocates and comrades. That is the ideal. For me, the friends I have had for many years are mainly just hang-out buddies. Most lack the ambition and open-mindedness to hear and appreciate what I am most passionate about. The few that “get it” become part of my mastermind group, the folks that are there for each other to talk about the stuff that others find too taboo or embaressing to discuss (like failure, procrastination, depression, etc.). These are all things we face in the self-employed world.

      As a social media enthusiast and believer, I feel that the social web enables deeper relationships with the right people. The level to which we develop social circles depends on a number of factors but, regardless, friends are important, even for the jaded “introvert”.

      There’s so much we touched upon here that I will certainly revisit these topics. It’s great to see the direction thoughts are going in.. And for those few true friends out there, I thank you for being there through the good and the bad. Words can never quite express my deep appreciation but, believe me, it’s there.

      (One last note about the “sum of friends” business. This is something I’ve seen spouted by many “successful” businesspeople. They claim that you can only be truly successful if you associate with successful people. I strongly disagree. Some of us may need those success stories to model ourselves after but some of us find more motivation and inspiration within ourselves. Besides, this approach limits friends into mere tools and selling channels, which is crazy talk.. But people buy into this horse crap all the time and make some very radical changes for nothing, really. Sacrifice is necessary but not many people need to completely switch up their lives like that. That’s a bit much.)

      • Thanks for replying to my initial comment. See, I’m one of those people who feels I can make great determinations between people who are my friends and those who are more acquaintances than anything else. Most of my friends I’ve known for years, many close to or more than 20 years, and it’s a very small circle. They’re the most supportive and thus I don’t have to impress them at all, and they believe in me. The group I’ve known for less than 15 years that I might call a friend is much smaller, and those people believe in me as well. So, I don’t have to worry about any of them pulling me down.

        And that’s what I mean by a judgment call on friends. I think most people, because they want to be liked, accept almost anyone into their group of friends, which includes a lot of people they probably shouldn’t have been associating with to begin with. Those people could be rich or poor, if you will; doesn’t matter. To me, there’s really only 3 criteria for judging friends: honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness. If people you meet don’t fulfill all 3 to total satisfaction, then they’re not good for you.

    • I love what you said so much, Mitch, that’d I’d like to outline key take-aways:

      * Our friends, true friends, should be the people we can count on any time, whether we “got it together” or not.
      * Separating ourselves from the truly-taxing and soul-draining relationships, even if just a bit or briefly, is part of life.
      * Change is inevitable, prepare for it but remember that control is an illusion and thinking we own it completely is not a healthy approach to life.
      * Life and work should be one, especially in the new business world.

      Thanks for sharing, Mitch! I always enjoy reading your thoughts on your own blog and on Christian’s blog mainly. Your interview with him was great and I think it’s a must-read for those figuring out the elusive “next steps” in their lives. 8)

  5. Ok.. so it took me a few days to think about this.

    Yes.. I am exactly at that point. Where I’m rebuildling a life after divorce, death of my mom, illness of my dad. I have to figure out how to balance kids / dad / work etc. Not easy. I’m struggling under the weight of responsibility.

    And although it is cliche, my answer is taking the time to focus on me. Not career, not kids, not dad… but me.

    I got asked.. what do you do for fun… And was ashamed that I could not answer it (besides helping others and reading).

    If you want success. If you want to ride through failures. If you want work/life balance. You need to get to know yourself. Love yourself. Understand yourself. This is HARD work… but the more you do this, your confidence grows and the universe presents to you exactly what you need, when you need it. And you will have the strength to take it.

    Ok.. end of soap box.

    • I really, deeply appreciate this honest account of your life. Honestly, I can relate on soooo many levels. I went through a few really bad break-ups, lost a lot, and bounced around from dying company to dying company.

      After facing so much adversity, I realized something had to change. I knew I could not control the things around me so I focused more on myself. This is definitely hard, especially when others count on you, but it is necessary. If you fail to develop and love yourself, you’re not good to anyone, anyway.

      I feel that more people need to be honest with themselves and others. The account of these struggles can help others push on during tough times. How many successful people do you know that share these intimate stories? Not very many that I can think of!

      Even with all the personal growth in the world, there will be some very tough days. Having people you can lock arms with to keep on definitely helps. Really, beyond the formulation period, we still have the ongoing tweaks and course corrections to make sure we get to where we want to be in life.

      Oh, and with regards to fun stuff, I may be a very boring person these days. I find joy in the simplest of things and I know when to unplug and just empty my mind a bit. That’s important, especially when you can’t take a “real” vacation.

      We’ll make it together, Laurinda – I know it!

      /.end rant

  6. Pingback: Your Success In Simple Terms (K.I.S.S. Revisited) « Yogizilla's Blankity Blank-Blank (An NoF Portal)

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