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Suffer Smarter, Not Harder: Discover What Lies Beyond "Just Getting By"

The Secret To Doing What You Want Is Not What You've Been Doing

By Jerrell JohnPublished 2 months ago 16 min read

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." ~ Charles Darwin


It's a word that conjures both hope and fear:

Hope for a higher quality of life in the future.

Fear of the unknown in the present.

Most of us instinctively cling to what's comfortable and familiar, even when we feel a persistent itch telling us this can't be all there is. We push down that voice, whispering its dangerous ideas.

It's too scary. Too out there. Too...uncertain.

So we willingly shove our clearest desires into some black hole, sacrificing our potential at the (societally validated) altar of safety and certainty.

Your job is a swamp you plunge into each morning to keep the creditors at bay.

- Trudging through thick muck, grabbing & pulling you in (draining, unfulfilling work)

- Superficial yet dense mist obscuring your vision (losing sense of purpose)

- Light steadily receding each day (hopes and dreams feeling far away)

Yet we push onward, believing dry land awaits somewhere ahead.

But it doesn't. The void remains, gradually consuming all light and color until one day, we wake up and realize it's become a gaping black hole at the center of our lives.

We've crossed some invisible line where the pain of regret is now unambiguously sharper than any fleeting comforts used to numb it.

And that's when something fundamental shifts. The appeal of the status quo fades. Fear loosens its grip ever so slightly as discontent builds momentum. We start seeking stories of others who faced the abyss and came out the other side transformed. Craving proof it's possible to change, hoping their courage might ignite our own.

The Hardest Step is Realizing You Have a Problem

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Often attributed to Albert Einstein

As long as you can successfully distract and deceive yourself that everything is fine, nothing fundamentally changes. But once you see the picture clearly, once the alarm bells start blaring, an irreversible process kickstarts.

Because now, discomfort and dissatisfaction become your accountability partners, prodding you daily, refusing to let you slip back into blissful ignorance & comfort.

And you realize that staying put and clinging to the familiar condemns yourself to a living death. A half-life. Racing against the clock, hoping to avoid waking up one day full of regrets about why you never dared to step an inch into the unknown and discover what lies beyond.

This letter is for those who have realized the path to fulfillment lies in learning the art of change rather than perfecting the illusion of stability. It's for those who know, at some level, they are squandering their potential on societially assigned goals (not of their own making).

You get a growing sense that merely surviving to pay bills and periodically distract yourself from the existential abyss is not a rewarding way to spend this fleeting gift called life.

And yet old habits and familiarity still anchor you firmly in place.

This letter aims to provide - fuel, direction, and reassurance to help you finally break free from foolishness and learn to build a life you actively participate in shaping rather than allowing others to shape for you.

You'll see that such total life reinvention is not easy, but it is absolutely within reach for those willing to put in focused effort over time and lean into discomfort in the service of growth.

To be clear, this isn't about chasing status or money for ego's sake but rather regaining autonomy over your time and potential so you can freely put energy into causes beyond yourself rather than just survival. It's about breaking the pattern of living for weekends and holidays while merely tolerating the bulk of your waking hours.

Act from inspiration rather than obligation.

The Secret to Doing What You Want Is Not What You've Been Doing

"People are too foolish to realize how miserable they truly are." ~ Me

The depths of human suffering are profound.

As conscious beings, we possess an awareness of our circumstances that allows us to make distinctions.

Comfort and discomfort. Fulfillment and regret. Inspiration and dullness.

We feel the endless rift between where we are and where we want to be.

Suffering is baked into the cake of existence. There is no escaping it. The question becomes: What justifies worthwhile suffering?

Jobs present unpleasant tradeoffs, persuading you to tolerate suffering for mere survival rather than pursuing meaning.

They trap you in a pattern of choosing stability over change. Comfort over purpose. Restraint over curiosity.

Like tricking a wild animal into a cage with treats so it forfeits its freedom for food. The cage seems perfectly tailored at first. Spacious enough. But the confinement sinks in slowly over the years. This is not to say that WE don't enter the cage ourselves willingly.

The golden handcuffs feel increasingly heavy...time moves faster when each day bleeds into the next indistinguishably. You're mostly functioning on autopilot - reactive rather than responsive, passive rather than directed.

Just carrying out assigned tasks handed to you by FACELESS higher-ups with objectives bearing little meaningful connection to your deeper pursuits.

You're SURVIVING, aiming to simply get through each day intact. A 3-day weekend or 2 weeks off per year are the carrots that keep you trucking forward with faint hopes for "one day" when you'll do what you really want.

But we all know how that goes.

So we seek spikes in dopamine and distraction to numb the pains of selling our birthright for porridge - As our minds desperately cling to highlight reels to live vicariously through others actually chasing their dreams.

Anything to avoid facing the harsh reality that we've imprisoned ourselves in cages of complacency, forfeiting the very autonomy that makes us human.

Here's the root issue: most are simply unable to conceive of reliable alternatives to traditional jobs because they haven't yet mastered control of their own survival.

Jobs leverage this lack of financial mastery to extract astronomical amounts of life energy from us without providing meaning or fulfillment in return.

It's a terribly lopsided tradeoff: we get money but sacrifice autonomy.

Since money is required for survival and survival precedes all else, we find ourselves stuck choosing the consolations of financial security over the inherent human needs for creativity, purpose, and self-direction.

So, we willingly hand over decision-making power and control to employers who structure our days around what is optimal for their success, not our well-being.

Micromanagement to the max. Days filled with an endless parade of assigned tasks. Little time for self-directed pursuits or activities that actually bring joy and meaning.

Just keeping your head above water to handle the next responsibility flung your way. No flotation devices allowed.

Solve for Survival First

The remedy lies in mastering control over your own survival first.

This alone won't directly grant happiness but lays an essential foundation. Because creative freedom hinges on no longer needing a job you dislike just to keep the lights on.

When survival is covered, it buys you leverage. Leverage grants you optionality - the freedom to say no and walk away from what kills your spirit without ending up homeless.

That's why solving for reliable survival income outside of traditional jobs is priority number one.

It removes the leverage employers currently exploit to siphon your precious time, attention, and effort reserves.

It lets you reclaim ownership over your days to spend as you see fit rather than allowing them to be dictated by another's agenda.

This independence allows you to take the risks and creative leaps required to build a life infused with purpose on your own terms.

A life derived from vision rather than assignment.

Aligned to values rather than responsibilities.

Directed from within rather than instructed from above.

Lacking this financial autonomy places hard ceilings on your growth and contribution to the world, no matter how skilled or inspired you may be.

Because starving artists can only bleed for their craft so long before needing to compromise integrity to survive.

Starving for your art is romantically noble for a period, but rent doesn't accept noble intentions as payment.

Even with all the downsides, why don't more people leave jobs they dislike if the impacts cut so deeply?

Why tolerate such an existence when we all intrinsically yearn for so much more?

The answer lies in becoming aware of how our minds deceive us. How do we avoid acknowledging the true costs incurred in the name of survival and stability?

The mind desperately wants to pull your attention towards relief in the form of pleasure, entertainment, and distraction for good reason - to keep you alive. Venturing into the unknown does not guarantee safety whatsoever.

It throws out mental bait, trying to hook you with flashes of satisfaction - a big paycheck, some gas (weed) after work, the distant dream of promotion - dangling enticements to keep you stuck in a job slowly numbing your spirit.

The mind latches onto superficial wins that provide bursts of feel-good neurochemicals yet leave you substantially unfulfilled at a deeper level.

Anything to pass another day without facing the scary notion we may need to reconstruct the very foundations our realities are built upon.

Easier to self-medicate discomfort than boldly build a life that resonates at one's core.

And so the vast majority slip into a pattern of choosing predictable pain over unpredictable pain - Rather than electing to endure short-term struggle in the service of meaningful ambitions that justify suffering.

Unwilling to sacrifice stability for the sake of significance.

Lacking full creative control over how you spend your waking hours because survival necessitates depending on unfulfilling jobs that kill your spirit one drained day after another.

Spirit-crushing jobs that suffocate, restrict, and restrain rather than uplift, expand, and empower.

Most cannot conceive of transcending this predicament. The unknown path is beyond too frightening to consider. It is easier to cope with slow suffering than to risk boldly birthing unfamiliar fulfillment.

Until the pain of regret eclipses any fleeting comforts that once kept the creeping angst of squandered potential at bay.

I don't think I'm saying anything you haven't felt deep down already:

All suffering stems from wanting circumstances to be other than they are.

Jobs force us to sacrifice autonomy - a core human need - for survival. This inevitably creates suffering.

The mind pulls our attention to momentary pleasures that subdue suffering's signals, keeping us oblivious.

Avoiding necessary pains in the name of stability leads to a different kind of suffering - the lifelong variety flavored with regret - that taints all superficial comforts once our eyes open to recognize the chains binding our potential.

Remember: People overestimate risk and underestimate themselves.

Master your survival, then master whatever you want.

My 4 Pillar Leverage Creation Process

"Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs." - Farrah Gray

The path to meaningful change, beyond barely scraping by, starts with taking back control - of your time, priorities, and survival. As long as you depend on unfulfilling work to pay the bills, your agency is limited.

Your days belong to someone else's agenda.

The system presented here provides a roadmap for constructing a lifestyle centered around personal goals rather than being pulled along by societal scripts. It's designed to help you methodically shift from reactionary survival mode into creative director mode.

The four pillars focus on cultivating awareness, expanding possibility, creating leverage, and building momentum through aligned systems.

This isn’t an overnight process.

They work together to incrementally lift you out of autopilot behaviors into conscious choices. Ultimately, this grants the autonomy and resources to participate in crafting a purpose-driven life on your own terms.

Shift Out of Autopilot

Blind spots and assumptions limit available choices, so getting clarity on your starting point is crucial for effectively charting a new direction. Peel back the invisible scripts running your life behind the scenes with these steps:

Step 1: Adopt a Daily Writing Habit

I prefer to use the first hour upon waking for building, so I'm not too fond of "Morning Pages," per se.

However, when I religiously carve out time each day to stream-of-consciousness write, I feel like I free up mental storage, so I do like the principle of writing daily. I recommend framing your writing session around detailing your current life situation.

No filtering allowed - detail your lifestyle, work, relationships, and ambitions openly. Treat it like a brain dump to register your raw perspective on your current life situation.

Be as holistic as possible.

Aim for 10-15 minutes daily. Add more time blocks to progressively overload instead of increasing the time within the blocks. Over weeks and months, patterns around beliefs, recurring challenges, and hidden desires will emerge, revealing the contours of your inner landscape’s structure. This builds familiarity with the structure of your inner landscape so you can start reshaping.

Step 2: Define Your Minimum Viable Vision

Analyze these patterns to construct a simple vision for how you want daily experiences to make you feel – your minimum viable vision.

Identify activities currently aligning with or diverting you from matching this vision. Are there recurring behaviors serving an outdated vision?

Observe WITH judgment. Contrary to popular belief, judging & holding yourself to a standard just high enough that it's uncomfortable but manageable is what makes life feel like a game where you can construct your character to become whoever you want.

Judgment with projection is what we're avoiding here:

You cheating on your diet with ice cream isn't BAD - it's just misaligned with your vision.

You showing up first thing in the morning to knock out your priority tasks for the day isn't GOOD - it's just aligned with your vision.

You playing video games instead of writing your newsletter isn't BAD - it's just misaligned with your vision.

There's a clear difference that will show once you've made this mindset shift.

Step 3: Systematize Aligned Actions

Choose 1-3 small actions embodying your vision (eg meditation, exercise, journaling) to systematize as daily habits, requiring no added decision-making.

This builds consistency in vision-aligning activities, freeing mental bandwidth normally drained on resisting distraction.

Compounding gains motivate bigger steps.

Reprogram Your Mind

With clearer vision and aligned defaults in place, the next pillar focuses on mental shifts, enabling belief expansion into purposeful action.

Step 1: Recondition Habits

Identify thoughts and environmental cues triggering habitual reactions. Write out desired responses aligned to vision when those cues arise.

Neuroplasticity allows reconditioning mental habits.

Consciously rehearse aligned responses when those cues arise to rewire neural pathways.

Step 2: Expand Possible Outcomes

Catalog past successes and list future aims once deemed impossible that materialized unexpectedly. See that historical assumptions of what you can achieve often prove wrong.

See possibility despite improbability.

Step 3: Take Aligned Action

Lean into emotional resistance towards unconventional ideas or aspirational projects once considered unrealistic. Build momentum by taking small steps to initiate action before inner critics kill ideas.

Track progress to build trust in unfamiliar paths.

Consistency builds trust in unconventional ideas and confidence to navigate uncertainty. Compounding visible progress spurs further action.

Build a Personal Brand

Autonomy requires leveraging your expertise to create value for others by solving meaningful problems. Start directing your efforts outwards by solving real problems in niches that light you up.

Step 1: Identify Your Niche

Mine your reflections to uncover the burning problems, frustrations, and desires you keep circling back to.

Do people ask you for advice on specific challenges?

These clues reveal niches where you can provide value. Remember: YOU are the niche so don't think you're marrying the subject matters you find.

With your increased ability to solve problems in your life, distill them into solutions unique to you, & package them up for others to use - The higher quality of problems you'll register in your awareness to solve.

Problems never go away, we just get better at solving them.

Step 2: Outline Content Offerings

Brainstorm frameworks, stories or actionable advice addressing audience needs in your emerging niche.

Inventory relevant experiences demonstrating embodied authority.

Map products you could create right now without more expertise.

Using myself as an example, Idk how to make $10,000 a month, but I have been mastering my ability to create content (long, medium, & short form) on a recurring basis in a sustainable manner that holds lifestyle design as a guiding principle.

That's expertise that I acquired from solving my own problems. I could package it into a product, right now.

Step 3: Start Creating Content

Choose one platform and consistently publish weekly content centered around your specific burning problem.

Let real needs shape your content roadmap.

I used to think my burning problem was not understanding how to successfully build my online business, but after implementing this process, it became apparent that I was mistaken.

Building a successful business through personal branding is the vehicle or path (my unique mechanism) I'm using to SOLVE my burning problem... lack of autonomy.

Mind you, I only came to this realization a few months ago & I've been pursuing this vision for going on 4 years, lol. So just keep an open yet observant mind.

Construct Aligned Systems

The final pillar applies systems thinking to intentionally design lifestyle ecosystems, spurring compounding gains.

Step 1: Map Your Current System

Visually chart how your daily behaviors, knowledge, environment and external forces relate, highlighting vectors currently driving outcomes.

Diagnose gaps sapping momentum towards aims.

Where are the collisions, gaps, or inertia losing momentum towards aims? Which components can be influenced?

Hard question: What recurring roadblocks thwart progress?

Step 2: Redesign System Flows

Brainstorm small changes to input variables, connections, and feedback loops that reconfigure energies to propel yourself forward:

Remove distracting links breaking focus.

Fortify existing aligned connections.

Add new reciprocatory links, increasing relevance and motivation.

Step 3: Build Controls

Engineer checks, reminders, and data tracking to quickly detect misalignments you can reconcile. Continuously route your system's emergent behaviors towards vision-based metrics.


Trading reactive existence for conscious direction grants the autonomy to confidently shape your life’s story. But it requires trading comfort-based living for curiosity-driven expansion beyond previous limits.

Everyone craves security on some level.

But purpose often necessitates venturing into the unknown guided only by an inner compass pointing to North Star metrics. Peak vitality arises by balancing these opposing needs not resisting tension.

Through small but compounding realignments to awareness, thinking, outputs, and environments via these 4 pillars, you can gradually embody this dance, shedding unconscious behaviors driving outcomes not matching your vision.

Incrementally, take back the pen and participate fully in writing your next chapter.

The choice comes down to this: Will uncertainty keep you locked in known scripts, or will you embrace the polarity and grow through purposeful tension?

How will your unique story unfold?


About the Creator

Jerrell John

A visionary constructing his life purpose as an Author/Educator by building an impactful personal brand (& documenting the process).

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