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The Mirage of Progress
Beads of sweat cling to your brow. Some of them unite with their neighbors and gather enough momentum to fall next to your feet, half-submerged in the searing sand.
Welcome to the land of opportunity.
It’s not some picturesque, green land of abundance. It’s a desert. And you’re in the middle of it.
There’s nothing but sand in your immediate surroundings. But, as you look out across the heat-waved horizon, you can see faint outlines of promised lands. Visions of what your future could look like.
In one direction, you see an oasis of what your life would look like as a writer. Your punchy Twitter threads go viral and fill the funnel to your free newsletter where a high percentage of readers convert to true fans and begin paying you every month. You build up a big enough audience to ink a book deal and you’re off to the races.
You turn around and make out what your life would look like as a coder off in the distance. You see yourself hammering away at a mechanical keyboard sporting noise cancelling headphones as the dark-mode screen in front of you is filled with lines of logic faster than movie credits. Your products delight. You can’t count the new users or profits fast enough.
Somewhere in between those two desert sanctuaries, you see your life as a health nut and fitness influencer. You’re in the best shape of your life, mentally centered, calm and making money doing what you’ve come to love: working out.
And in another direction, you can see your life as a startup founder. Talking with customers, leading your company through funding and on to product-market fit…..
From where you’re standing in the sandy abyss, all the options are yours. So, you start traversing the desert toward your desired promise land.
You look for the latest writing apps, take an an online coding class, or research the best workout plans.
The destination you picked starts becoming clearer. That fuzzy vision in the distance grows.
“Ahh, now I know how websites are made. I can definitely do that.”
“Oh yea, I heard similar ideas on 3 other business podcasts. I’m connecting the dots and identifying opportunities. I’m just as good as these voices in my ear drums.”
So, you keep going. Keep consuming. Inching forward.
You walk over a particularly challenging dune. You finish the course. Write the business plan. Settle on the best workout program and have all your gear.
Now, you’re there!
That vision you saw is right in front of you. You just need to take one more step from that barren desert wasteland and…
It vanishes right before your eyes.
Just as vividly as it was there, it’s gone.
It was a mirage.
You’re left standing in the middle of a desert, still, having made no progress, wondering what the hell just happened.
Maybe you, like me, have experienced that mirage of progress before.
That intense feeling of making progress toward a goal only to look up and realize you haven’t actually accomplished anything.
Constantly moving, but never going anywhere.
The fool’s gold of goals - fool’s goals.
Maybe you’ve spent your entire life chasing after mirages progress.
It’s not your fault. It’s never been easier to fool yourself with fake progress.
You can buy an infinite number of courses to make you feel successful, access all the tools the pros use and even mimic the dopamine hits of success just by telling people you’re successful on social media.
It’s so easy to ‘feel’ like you’re moving forward without going anywhere.
But real progress is doing the thing, not taking steps to get closer to doing the thing, or worse, talking about doing the thing.
It’s writing and publishing now, not thinking about what to write with.
It’s shipping useful code now, not deciding what framework you should use.
It’s going for a walk around the block now, not searching for the best workout program.
Real progress is doing the thing.
It’s building the desert oasis from where you stand rather than taking steps to one you think you see in the distance.
From the lab
The goal of this newsletter is to document the experiments on my way to becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise. Shoutout Ben Franklin! Here’s an update on those experiments:
Still cruising on 75 Hard. Only down 10lbs or so because I’ve added muscle but look and feel completely different.
Ecommerce store experiments - testing some influencer campaigns. Excited to share what comes of this.
Niche newsletter - Domains purchased. Beehiiv set up. Twitter running. Got my first subscriber! Actually…I’ve done everything except for the most important piece…actually writing the newsletter. Need to get on that.
Wise (read happy)
Still searching for meaningful experiments to run here.
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