It’s 3am in the morning and I’m wide awake. Not because I’d be a super early riser or say up really late… but because my sleep schedule is slightly messed up right now.
It might have something to do with staying up until 4am yesterday to help a coworker with a presentation, and trying to go to bed at 11pm next day… whoops.
It’s funny, because nobody sees this. Everyone thinks “well Primoz, you can work at any time, from anywhere… so you can take a lot of breaks, have plenty of time off, sleep as much as you want, have a good routine…”, and in theory that’s true. A lot of it is true in practice as well.
But when you’re working with a company where most of your team is in US, and the rest is all over the world, and you’re in Europe… it gets messy. I might need to do a webinar on one night at 3am, and attend a meeting on Friday at 9pm. 7pm meetings are standard.
Working on weekends happens as well when you want to run a live coaching class that works well with audiences from US and Europe and you don’t want to do a call in the middle of their work day.
You see, a lot of people think that being a successful entrepreneur or working remotely is all flowers and roses, expensive dinners and traveling the world while sleeping fancy hotels.
It’s what you might think when you follow successful entrepreneurs on instagram, facebook, or read their blog posts. Everyone wants to share their positive moments to inspire others, show it can be possible, etc. — and that’s fine. You’ll see that I do it as well, if you check out my instagram.
But the reality is that there’s a whole other side of entrepreneurship and being great that people don’t see, and not many people talk about.
What does it look like? Well, let’s just say it’s a crazy rollercoaster. There’s a lot of really awesome days and moments, and there’s a lot of really shitty ones as well. That’s why most people give up on their businesses early on, because they just can’t deal with it. It’s hard.
“But Primoz, the more successful you get, the better you are at dealing with it, and the easier it gets, right?”
It’s funny… it actually gets harder, way harder.
Why? Well, as you become more successful, you’ll learn how to take on even bigger challenges, push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and raise the stakes. In essence, you’ll fail more, and more often. I will say you’ll get better at being used to it / dealing with it, so it won’t hurt you as much as it would when you were just starting out. It does get harder though.
Here, I’ll give you an example.
If you’re working at a regular 9-5 job where you’ve been in the same position for the last 5 years, do similar work every day, know exactly how to do it… and then spend the evenings hanging out with friends and watching TV, how much will you really put yourself outside of your comfort zone? How many new challenges will you take on?
Not many. You’ll have a pretty predictable day, some of them will be good, others won’t. Chances are you’ll either really enjoy or really hate your job. There won’t be as much of a roller coaster.
If you’re super ambitious and are hustling at your job or at your business, chances are that every day and every week will bring on a new challenge, and chances are you’ll suck at it. Therefore, more unpredictable shitty (AND awesome) moments.
Here’s a personal example from one of my recent trips to NYC:
- AWESOME MOMENT: I had an awesome experience speaking at a conference, and the audience loved my speech.
- SHITTY MOMENT: At the same time, I realized that my social skills are really shitty and that I can be really awkward in in-person conversations with people that I don’t know, especially when I’m tired. And I realized that because I’m becoming more known and people expect more from me, that’s not ok any more (shit, I can’t imagine how celebrities feel…). Any mistake that you make gets amplified.
- AWESOME MOMENT: I spent 2 hours talking to one of the best mental toughness coaches in the world 1-on-1, and it was mind-blowing.
- SHITTY MOMENT: Next day, I had to leave a mastermind meeting early because there was a work emergency that I had to take care of.
- AWESOME MOMENT: I grabbed a 1-on-1 lunch with my mentor for the first time, and it was awesome (we only did coffee before). Weird as it might sound, this was a big milestone for me.
- SHITTY MOMENT: Wifi was really shitty in our AirBnB in NYC, so I rented a room (through Breather) in NYC to do my weekly coaching call there. When I came there, I realized I couldn’t get in because the app I needed wasn’t available in my country (wtf Google Play, are you serious?). I managed to somehow get in by getting a security guard to help me, only to realize that the battery on my laptop was low. I had my charger with me, but forgot the converter from the EU to US plug. And of course there wasn’t any of those in the room I rented. In the end I made things work by doing the call from my phone, but let’s just say it was very stressful.
Ups and downs like this happen daily. I’ll have a student that is crushing it and getting amazing result, and another one I’ll need to talk to at 1am because they’re really struggling with their mental barriers.
Being an entrepreneur is a lot of work. This year, until my vacation in August, I haven’t had a single vacation day. I was either working or traveling (and when I travel, I usually work as well). I worked a lot of weekends, even though I didn’t technically “need” to be working. But there was stuff that needed to get done, and I wasn’t about to not do it.
Because I push myself very hard and always want to do more and more and more, I’m on the edge of burnout a lot. I’m not proud of it, and I know I should take it a bit easier sometimes. And yet, I feel like it’s the right thing to do…
You see, throughout the last few years, I’ve studied two groups of people:
- People who are “successful”, who do better than most people. Think about people who follow through with their ideas and manage to build successful businesses. People who are in top 5% of a certain sport. People who always get the promotions and massive raises in their jobs. etc.
- People who are the best at what they do. Steve Jobs, LeBron James, Christiano Ronaldo, and others.
It took a while for me to really understand what separates these groups of people, and what it takes to become successful, and what it takes to become the best.
There’s something I noticed that totally surprised me.
I noticed that the game constantly changes. It takes a totally different skillset and approach to become successful, than it does to become the best. And to become the best, I believe that you need both skillsets. Ok, that sounds a little bit abstract, so… let me explain.
Here’s the mistake that I think people make: they study and model the people who are the best before they become successful.
For a long time, I laughed at the people who read the book from Steve Jobs when it came out. Because I saw these people talk a big talk, get inspired… then give up after 2 days, until they found another inspirational story. They never made it. They thought they could work 17 hours per day and become successful because that’s one thing they read in the book, and then then they collapsed the next day. Whoops.
And for a long time, I actually avoided reading biographies like that, because most of them were contradictory with what the personal development books talked about (you should work smarter, not harder, etc.).
And since those books worked really well for me and helped me build multiple successful online businesses, I just kept following the advice from there.
Then, after a while, I realized that I already knew most of the stuff from the books I’ve read, and I was doing great. I had my routines down, a lot of recovery, worked smart, connected with the right people… I did everything right. And it worked.
But over the last year, I realized there was more to it through conversations with some of my mentors (Kim and Christina… thank you.). There was another level that I had to reach. And most importantly, I realized that there was another level that I wanted to reach. Being moderately successful wasn’t good enough any more. I realized that I wanted to become the best at something.
And that realization scared me. It scared me so much I actively ran away from it for a while.
Because I didn’t believe I could do it.
You see, before in my life, I was either mediocre or moderately successful at things.
- In primary school, I won all of the maths championships at my school (which felt great), but I was like #100 on the national level. My dad was #1 in maths competitions when he was a kid, and I could never live up to that. I felt I just wasn’t smart enough. And I didn’t understand all the maths concepts other kids did.
- I was better at chess than most people. Yet, when I started competing, I realized I wasn’t that great at it after all.
- I was mediocre at sports that I trained for a while, like badminton and breakdance. Yeah, I was better than an average joe, but when I started competing, I never really made it anywhere.
And the list goes on and on. It was always the same mix of mediocrity and being moderately good, but far from the best.
That’s why it took me a while to get out of the “I can be good, but I can’t be great” mindset. But I did it.
And once I did, my whole world changed. It became a game of “I know I can do this, all I need to do is find out how.”.
And this big, impossible vision of becoming a person that impacts millions of lives like Steve Jobs started to become possible.
So how will I do it? By doing what I do well — studying people who are the best, understanding what they have in common, then implementing the hell out of it.
In other words, I have acquired the skillset that allowed me to become successful in business. Now I can keep using that skillset and acquire a new skillset that I will use with my existing skillset to allow me to become the best.
And one of the things I’ve noticed (that helps me deal with shitty days) is that the best people show up every day, and do what it takes to succeed. And they sacrifice a lot to be able to do it.
For example, arguably the best CrossFitter in the world, Rich Froning, does 5-6 workouts when he’s preparing for the competitions. Every single day. Which goes against all rules of recovery. But ultimately, it’s what allows him to be the best. He shows up and does more than the rest. And it works for him.
Now here’s the deal: if you were just starting out with crossfit and wanted to just model Rich’s workouts, you would probably get seriously injured immediately. But if you took a few months to get good at it, learn the ins and outs etc. and THEN progressively start pushing the envelope more and more, and pushed yourself further and further with each day, you would become great at it.
It was the same wit Rich — he didn’t start with 5-6 workouts per day and he doesn’t do that many all year long, only when he’s preparing for a competition. He actually started with one workout per day. Then he slowly added a second one. When he saw he could handle it, he added another one, etc… He also didn’t sacrifice other parts of his life when he was just doing 1 workout per day. Now he probably sacrifices a lot more.
In the end, the lesson here is to show up, and give it your all every single day. 110%. Which can help you push through shitty days.
“Duh Primoz, you didn’t know that you just need to show up every day and do more than all the other people?!?”
Of course I’ve heard this before. Everyone has. It’s in so many motivational speeches out there. But KNOWING and INTERNALIZING or DOING IT CONSISTENTLY are different things.
Can you honestly say for yourself that you do whatever it takes to succeed and make things happen? I know that for a long time, I couldn’t. I knew I had more energy in the tank that I couldn’t use. Now I know how to do it without burning myself out completely.
Now I understand that yes, working smart is important, recovery is important, etc… but I also know that sometimes you do actually need to work all day or all week, and sacrifice certain parts of your life if you want to be great.
I had to first become great at creating habits, routines, understanding burnout, working smart, etc. so that when I try to model people who are the best, I wouldn’t collapse and give up.
Going back to sacrifices… I’ll admit that right now, my life isn’t really balanced. It usually involves:
- Working… a lot. Weekdays, weekends, etc. It often feels like I work all day long.
- Working out — I usually do at least 5-6 workouts per week, mostly with a personal trainer. This is what helps me feel good throughout the day. My nutrition is also on point, which helps.
- Sleeping — This is another priority of mine, so I do get 8-9 hours of sleep on most nights (it’s a bit harder when traveling). Apart from nights like this when I’m still writing this e-mail at 4:56am…
- Hanging out with friends — I do what I can to meet up with my friends 1x/week and play some board games, card games or old video games. It helps me recover.
- Hanging out with family — I go and visit my parents roughly once every 1-2 weeks, that’s about it. I would have liked to do more of this, but it’s hard for me to do it. Finding the time for my family is something I’m not that great at.
- Hanging out with my girlfriend — Well, we live together, so that makes things easier… But we spend a lot less quality time together than I’d like to, usually because I’m just drained from all the work so we just go out for lunch or watch some TV series. Another thing I want to work on.
“But this seems pretty balanced to me…”
Yeah, if you look at it like this, it does seem balanced. But when you know that out of the time I’m awake, I spend maybe an hour or two of “quality” time with my girlfriend, and the rest is either working or working out, it doesn’t really feel like it’s balanced.
It feels more like I’m working all the time (and hey, it’s because I LOVE working and because I want to be the best at what I do). I know that I “should” spend more time to recover, but luckily the systems that I have set up allow me to stay on 80-100% of my game most of the time.
At the end of the day, I’m making massive progress in my work and business, and I’m making incredible progress at the gym as well (I went from 0 to deadlifting 440lbs/200kg in a year). I had hired a personal trianer to help me reach my goals, this is the personal trainer I use. I’m sacrificing a lot of the time I could spend with my family, friends and girlfriend in order to be able to do that though.
It seems like it all works out — as long as I take a few days off when I really need them, surround myself with the right people, and give 110% whenever I work or work out, the progress is insane.
So, what does all of this have to do with shitty days?
Well, the solution to dealing with shitty days (from my experience) isn’t really a tactic like writing down the bad things that happened to you or meditating for an hour. It’s a long-term process of developing a mindset that you get better at (that most people don’t see or won’t talk about). In other words, you don’t use a magical solution to deal with shitty days. You learn how to do it over time.
To make it easier to really see how this mentality works, here’s an entry from my fitness accountability group about a really shitty day, and how I handled it:
If I break it down to a framework in which you could think about it, it comes down to something like this:
- Acknowledge and anticipate that shitty days and moments will happen, and that the more of them will happen the more successful you become. Become OK with that [I know that shitty workouts will happen].
- Go into every day with the mentality of “I’m going to show up and be successful no matter what.” [I go into every workout with that mentality]
- When shit hits the fan, work through it. No BS excuses. Embrace the suck, fail, learn, improve. Keep moving. [I keep going on every workout until I give it 110%]
That’s it for today! It’s 5:20am and I’m going to try and get back to sleep. It’s actually 5:56am since I wanted to include some photos and format it nicely… SLEEP!
P.S. Want to learn more about what I do to make massive progress in my business, despite having my fair share of shitty days? Check out my free 21-page on how I became a star student in multiple online business courses.