Ryan Nicodemus (and his partner Joshua Fields Milburn) help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CBC, and NPR
Favorite Success Quote
“It’s not a matter of being busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are you busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau
“Love people and use things because the opposite never works.”
1. Embrace the Drudgery
Conventional wisdom states that “If you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life”. Unfortunately, as nice as the sentiment sounds, the reality is quite different.
If you want to succeed at anything in life, you are going to have to work and let me tell you, there will be times that, no matter how much you love what you do, the work will feel like endless drudgery.
I believe that a more accurate statement is, “If you love what you do, you will be able to stomach the hard work.”
Ryan loves sharing his message with millions of people across the world, but he doesn’t always love the daily grind of writing, marketing, and speaking.
I love empowering men all over the world to achieve their full potential, but I don’t always love managing employees, testing marketing campaigns, or putting out fires.
Because we love what we do, we are able to handle the drudgery.
That doesn’t make the work any more pleasant or any easier, but it does give those difficult tasks a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
This extends beyond the realm of business too. Think about dating and relationships.
Just because you are madly in love with someone doesn’t mean that the relationship will not take hard work.
There will be fights, there will be disagreements, there will be times when your partner is struggling and you need to stand by and support them. And guess what? It’s hard. But if you truly love that person, it’s also worth it.
So embrace the drudgery, realize that you will have to work and you will have to work hard.
But remember that if you are working on something you love, the drudgery will be worth every second of pain.
2. Get Clear on the Massive Action You Need to Take
The first step to success in any endeavor is gaining clarity on what you want to achieve. The second step is gaining clarity on the actions you must take in order to manifest that dream and bring it into reality.
Knowing what you want is not enough, you must have a very clear blueprint for the specific actions you are going to take in order to achieve your end game.
Do you want to be financially independent? Great! Now, what specific actions are you willing to take in order to achieve that goal? Will you work 10-12 hours a day for the next five years? Will you devote all of your free time to your side hustle? Will you break off friendships that are dragging you down and keeping you mediocre? What are you going to do to make it happen?
Do you want to be the healthiest man possible? Great! Now, what are you going to do to bring that goal to fruition? Will you give up drinking, smoking, and drugs? Will you commit to training 5 times a week? Will you cut out sugar, gluten, and processed foods? What are you going to do to make it happen?
You see, it’s great to set goals, but most people forget that every worthwhile goal requires massive action.
And before you set out to achieve a goal, you need to have a very clear picture of what it is that you are willing to sacrifice and what actions you are willing to take in order to achieve your dreams.
3. Giving is Living
While this might sound cliche and overplayed, the secret to living truly is giving.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to live for yourself. It’s fun to focus on your own happiness. It’s fun to do your own thing and give a single finger salute to the world.
But how long will it fulfill you?
When you stumble home drunk for the fourth night this week, a random girl from the bar on your arm, and unlock the door to your penthouse apartment, you’re having fun. But after a while, you will find that the endless cycle of living for yourself and your needs becomes tiring, and the very things that once brought you immense joy and happiness now leave you with a profound emptiness and a voice in your head asking “Is this it?”
Life isn’t meant to be lived for yourself.
It’s meant to be a shared journey.
And if you are struggling to find fulfillment in your current life, then I want to challenge you to refocus your intentions and desires on giving back.
It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture either.
Commit to giving away $5 a day in a creative way. Do one random act of kindness a week. Volunteer at a soup kitchen a few hours each month. Do something that gets you out of your bubble and allows you to give back.
Because not only will you be contributing to the greater good, but you will also be reminding yourself of just how good your life really is. It will help you remember what is truly important and it will reframe your current struggles and put your problems into perspective.
And what’s more? It will give you a profound sense of inner peace and fulfillment.
The secret to living truly is giving.
So the only question I want to ask you is this… What are you going to give?
4. You Must Know Your Values and Beliefs
In life, you will often be presented with difficult decisions.
You will find yourself at a crossroads where both paths seem appealing and you are unable to determine exactly which route to take.
During these times of decision, it is imperative that you have a deep understanding of what it is you truly value and what brings you the most fulfillment and joy.
To use a classic example, imagine that you are offered a promotion at work.
The promotion will more than double your salary but it will also take you away from your family and children and will require you to travel 3 weeks out of the month.
What should you do?
The answer depends on your values.
Do you value financial independence and leaving a legacy? If so, then the best course of action might be to take the promotion, be more intentional about the time that you get to spend with your family, and use the influx of cash to create a better quality of life (and guarantee a better future) for the people you love.
Do you value your relationships and your influence over your children’s development? If so, then forget the promotion and spend your time pouring into your children and shaping their future.
There are no right or wrong answers with these types of decisions.
But every big decision is predicated on your unique value system and beliefs.
So you’d better be damn sure that you take some time to define exactly what those are before you go making life altering moves.
5. Happiness Isn’t the Purpose of Life
Many people believe that happiness is the purpose of life.
But, as we alluded to in a previous point, this is far from the truth.
If happiness is all that we are here for, then 99% of the population should say “Fuck it!” and become a heroin addict.
Afterall, it’ll make you happy right? I mean it will make you really happy for every waking hour of your day.
But I think you and I both know that there is more to life than just feeling good.
While I don’t pretend to know what the meaning of life is, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is not manic levels of happiness.
Life is about the journey, it’s about contribution, and it’s about living in accordance with your own unique values and beliefs.
And even though I cannot tell you what you should do in your own specific situation, I can tell you that you must have a much higher purpose and calling than happiness.
Because if happiness is your end game, then you should expect to live the majority of your life in an unfulfilling and unproductive way.
1. Holy Bible
2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
3. How to Be Here by Robb Bell
4. 10% Happier by Dan Harris
5. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle