Why and How to Be Selective in Your Life

22.09.2016 |

Episode #7 of the course The fundamentals of self-discipline by Martin Meadows.


Hi again,

I would love to tell you that you can achieve anything you want with the sheer power of self-discipline. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, no amount of willpower will change that, and you’ll forever struggle.

For this reason, I’m going to reveal how to be selective in life to ensure you’ll apply your willpower where it can make a difference. But first, a little story to portray the idea.

Like millions of other kids, when I finished high school, I was encouraged by my parents to go to college. “Without a degree, you don’t matter,” they said. I wanted to skip studying and start my own business, but in the end, I listened to them and (naïvely) chose business administration as my major, thinking it would teach me how to be an entrepreneur.

As I studied, month after month, I cared less and less. I found it harder and harder to attend classes and prepare for exams. I doubt you could find a student who cared less than I did, even though I’m a perfectionist by nature.

Research confirms that students tend to procrastinate more on tasks regarded as unpleasant or tasks that have been imposed on them. In my case, it wasn’t just some tasks, it was the entire idea of college that was an unpleasant imposition.

Less than two years after enrolling, I dropped out. No amount of self-discipline could have helped me keep studying something that I believed could only be taught in the real world. As much as my parents encouraged me to keep going, I couldn’t force myself to spend several years studying abstract ideas that couldn’t be applied in the real world.

For me, going to college was the biggest mismanagement of resources in my life. I wasted time and energy that could have been spent on something that would bring me closer to my goals.

Obviously, if you want to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, you’d better go to college, or at least educate yourself sufficiently to pass the professional exams. But that wasn’t the path I was on.

How can you avoid the experience of committing yourself to a process that you really don’t want and don’t care about?

First and foremost, whenever you set a new goal, be honest with yourself. Is it really something you want to do? Are you really ready for sacrifices? Is the thought of not reaching this goal unbearable to you?

If your answer is “yes,” you’re chasing the right goal. If you have doubts, chances are that no matter how persistent you are, sooner or later you’ll sabotage yourself just to stop working on the goal you don’t care about a lot.

Second, learn to trust yourself. Other people will want to impose their beliefs and views on you, but it doesn’t mean they know what’s best for you. Manage your resources well and teach yourself how to stay self-disciplined for the goals you care about, not the goals somebody else imposed on you.

Take care,


Recommended book

“Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell


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