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How to Get What You Want In Life: The Value of Struggle

by: JD

by JD on November 12, 2010

Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent and constant self-awareness. The path to such success is punctuated by failure, consolidation and renewed effort. It is wet with the tears of emotional breakdown. Personal reconstruction is art. Discovering one’s self, one’s talent and ambition and learning how to express it is a creative process so may not be rushed. What’s the hurry?”

Mark Twight

This is by far one of my favorite quotes.

The brutal truth of any matter, however, is that if you haven’t yet gotten the results you want out of any area of your life, you haven’t struggled long enough. You haven’t grown enough. And that’s a process most of us want to rush. In fact, sometimes we’d rather it was just handed to us.

But if it was handed to us, our triumph would be empty, and our victories shallow.
We have to struggle. There is meaning in struggle. Never forget that.

I’m reminded of that as I work to build my blog. The posts go up slow, it takes hours to write them. Hours more to edit them and get them online with as few errors as possible.

But as I work on building the kind of lifestyle I’ve been dreaming about, It reminds me that this isn’t supposed to be a quick and easy process. Writing a blog, editing posts, saving money, and preparing to travel the world consume large amounts of time and effort.

After damn near 150 hours of work, I’ve only got ten posts up. But then I remember what I’m doing. Not only am I building something valuable for myself and others, I’m learning what it means to create and write for a successful blog. And eventually that will be something I can re-create in as many different forms and fashions as I want. But I have to pay the price in effort first. (And so do you.)

Why You Don’t Want it Handed to You

But, let’s just pretend I suddenly inherit tons of cash and I decided to go out and buy a blog that already has a tremendous amount of traffic. I start posting, things are going well, people are listening, and I’m even making some money.

Then, all of the sudden Google changes it’s page ranking strategy, or my server dies, and my traffic dries up. Now I have a serious problem. My website has died, and I have no idea how to bring the readers back because I never took the time to learn how to build traffic, backup my data, or write compelling and valuable content. My victory was shallow and ultimately meaningless. And now my impact on the world is nonexistent.

By Struggling, You Ensure Your Future Results Are Positive

By working hard at something, making mistakes, and blundering forward, you guarantee (assuming you don’t quit) that your results will be more or less, permanent. (In a relative sense. Nothing lasts forever.) The lessons you learn will be put into practice immediately, and if the chips on the board change, you can adjust your game on the fly.

No one can take away what you build because you’ve put in the time it took to learn how to build it. And, if it disappears, you can simply build it again. And the second time, you’ll do it twice as fast because you already have the tools and knowledge.

Imagine you achieved an Olympic level of athletic ability. Perhaps you’re a downhill skier.

Let’s imagine that you suddenly you have a catastrophic accident, and you can no longer ski. But you’re resolved to return to your passion, so you slowly begin to recover and ski again.

You get better, you improve. It’s hard work, and it hurts, but you’re making it. And I bet in less time than it took you to learn to ski at an elite level in the first place, you will have managed to become competitive again. And that victory is not shallow, it is ripe with the sense of self worth and accomplishment that you deserve – that you’ve earned.

What Are You Trying to Accomplish?

What is it that you’re trying to do in life? Are you willing to put in the effort? Are you willing to spend months, years, even decades of grit and determination to get yourself there?

It doesn’t matter if you’re building a blog, traveling the world, raising a child, or working towards a promotion. Perseverance is king. You will either arrive at your destination with the knowledge acquired from pain and struggle, or you will quit and never realize your dream.

Don’t quit. Struggle.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex November 16, 2010 at 4:19 am

Hey I like your style. I saw your post on advrider. I want a free life too but I’m taking the more conservative route of saving a few hundred k first. I figure it will take 5 years but then I won’t have to worry about money again if I keep expenses low.

I read the book How I found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne and it changed me a little bit. The earlyretirementextreme blog was helpful too.

John DeVries November 16, 2010 at 8:15 am

I think that’s awesome man.

As I continue to get into all of this, I find that everyone has a different approach to breaking free. Being conservative about things has never worked all that well for me! But, a few hundred K would definitely give you a lot of breathing room.

You gonna get on your bike and ride? Where to?

I love to interact with people and talk about this stuff, so, thanks for the comment amigo.

Alex November 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I’d like to travel around the US and live out of a camper van. I would bring along my DRZ400 dual sport motorcycle on a trailer for the heavy duty exploring. I’m into hiking and bicycle riding too. Since I want to have a home base I bought a mobile home here in Reno, NV. It is cheap and lets me save most of my income.

I figure if I pull a small enclosed trailer to act as a garage I could make money on the road by fixing bikes, buying and selling motorcycles, etc. I already do this in my garage at home and do pretty well.

If I was truly brave I would just leave now, or set a date like you did.

John DeVries November 16, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Ouuu, I love the DRZ. I secretly want to own one of the supermoto styled ones.

Where have you been hiking? That’s also a hobby of mine.

I’m sure I will be a serious candidate for a mobile home at some point. I love the idea of having a home base, but also living cheaply. Any good rock climbing near Reno? I’ve never been Southwest before.

I am fairly mechanical, but know nothing about actually fixing bikes. This is something I’l need to work on. I’m jealous.

Johnny boy September 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Hey man,

Great stuff here! Thanks for the inspiration and the good example of what dedication can do. The blog looks great, the master plan looks better.

I found you via Jason Robillard who has sold the farm and moved into a trailer with his family. I sold the farm and went back to school to be what I want to be.

Keep it up brother!

JD September 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I love it when people comment!

Thanks Johnny. Glad to hear from someone who believes in following their passions. Best of luck to you in all your pursuits. :-) Keep in touch.

Bradley Gauthier November 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

Man this is so true. I have had more than my fair share of struggles with life. And the one thing that I’ve always believed is that the more remarkable the story we live is, the better we become as a person.

Thanks for writing this!

JD November 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

I couldn’t agree more. “Story” is something that has become a lot more important to me over the last year or so. I want my life to be a story worth telling (and listening to). Sounds like you’re of the same mind. :-)

Thanks for commenting and sharing, Bradley. :-)

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