For the first decade of my adult life I contemplated suicide every day. Every single day. Some times it was just a pleasant fantasy, a way to lighten the perceived heaviness that reality seemed to heap on me. You know, the thought that there’s always a safety exit so I needn’t feel too hemmed in. Kind of like if you’re at an awkward dinner party it’s nice to know that there’s a sneaky back door you can always escape through.
Yep, life felt like an awkward dinner party, and I just wanted to go home.
Addicted to internet porn, a heavy user of drugs and alcohol, and unable to either hold down a job or set up my own business, I lived in a state of constant resentment and depression. Everything seemed too hard. The world was a bleak place and I didn’t want to be a part of it. Thankfully, I didn’t have the courage to end it all. Or maybe I always knew, deep down, that eventually I’d figure out how to play the “game of life.”
My real problem was that I hated working meaningless jobs for other people. I’d worked in bars, post-offices, factories and retail outlets, never lasting more than six months. In my late twenties I decided to go to university, figuring that might solve my problems. It didn’t. I couldn’t pretend to care enough about the subject matter. Within four months I’d dropped out. Now I was unemployed, receiving welfare and constantly dreaming up ways of getting myself out of my self-imposed shithole.
It wasn’t all in vain. In my year of unemployment I studied fitness manuals, read up on business ideas and concentrated on building myself up as a person. I taught myself new skills and attended a boxing gym. I kept a daily journal and even wrote two novels, which had been a goal of mine since childhood.
But all the while I felt this impending dread that every fortnight my payments would be cut and I’d be forced back into the horrible routine of working minimum wage to make somebody else a profit.
I always wanted to run my own business. But every business idea I had immediately conjured images of mountainous obstacles. How could a tired, grumpy bastard like myself ever overcome them? I was too cynical, too jaded, and too — what I thought could be described as — “genuine.” Capitalism seemed to benefit the phonies, those who didn’t care about their personal authenticity.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, capitalism is the system I lived in. It’s the system most of us live in. And because of that, most of us, probably 99% of us, will spend our entire lives at the beck and call of other people. Bosses, family, debt collectors — you name it. However, the system’s one saving grace is this: If you dedicate yourself, throw caution to the wind and are willing to risk your reputation, your dignity and your social standing, you can escape the 99%.
But you have to ask yourself: do you want it that bad enough? If the answer is yes, then you need to do some serious soul-searching. To give up the security of working for other people’s businesses and having that socially sanctioned approval, you need to shock yourself into a state of action. It is not about your skills, your talent or even your ability to “make friends and influence people.” It is about changing your attitude.
You need to develop the iron will of a centurion and the persistence of a hungry tiger.
You need to shed the shackles of other people’s assumptions and opinions.
Your friends, your family and your colleagues — without admitting or even realizing it — want you to squirm in the same swamp as they do. They want you to fail. And maybe, subconsciously, that’s what you want, as well.
Intellectually I’d understood this for most of my life. I’d always believed in the redemptive force of brute individuality. But I’d never internalized it, made it a part of my very make up. To do so, I needed to shock myself out of my routine, my habits, my system. To unlock the subconscious safety valve that kept me in my state of constant failure, I needed something that would drive home the point from being just an intellectual understanding, to being a core value that I understood (even without always consciously understanding).
It needed to be something that would divide me from my old self — a clear demarcation between the old, unsuccessful me, and the new, resilient, courageous and unyielding iron-me.
You see, I’d become a weak and lazy slob, always justifying my behaviour with my cynical worldview. What’s the point? had become my subconscious mantra. I could never get out of bed in the morning. When I did, it felt like a waste of time. Dreams were so much nicer. Consciousness was easier in front of a computer screen, jerking off to pixellated women. I had to apply for jobs as a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits, but I hoped like hell I wouldn’t get them, and pretty much knew, that even if I tried, I probably wouldn’t. I occasionally wrote up business ideas, but lacking the capital or the drive, they’d fester by the wayside.
The one positive to come out of this period, as mentioned before, was I read a lot of self-help and fitness guides. Without realizing it, I was becoming a bit of an intellectual expert in the art of self-improvement. Ironically, none of the lessons had sunk in to my actual core. But I knew if I could distill everything I’d learned into a manageable program, I’d be able to change myself.
So this is what I did. I compiled all the best knowledge into a workable program. And then I made myself a goal: I would stop receiving welfare and be forced to live off my own wits. The last thing I wanted was to get another shit-kicker job for some sadistic boss, so I had to think long and hard about what I wanted to do. And the change within me would have to be physical, as well as intellectual. It had to seep into my very core. And the only way to do this was to follow a program that would ensure I couldn’t fall back into self-destructive patterns.
So I came up with the Six Week Super Challenge. I’d tried various online self-help / fitness programs in the past. They’d all been beneficial but not particularly life changing. I’d do the program, feel good for a while, and then, a month later, be back to my old ways.
The advantage of my self-written program is that it addresses the mind, the body and the spirit. And I don’t mean the spirit in any religious or new age kind of way. I mean the way you feel about the world. Not just how you physically feel or how you intellectually understand things, but the inexplicable sense of motivation that wakes you up in the morning and carries you through your day.
It’s what I’d been missing out on my whole life, and it’s why I’d never succeeded.
The Six Week Super Challenge changed my life. It really did. It was the demarcation I needed between the old me and the new me. Afterwards, I stopped receiving benefits, didn’t need to work a shitty job, and have never looked back. Of course, it’s not some magic pill that you take once and are forever changed. Today I am actually embarking for the second time on the challenge, because I have felt old ways of thinking start to seep back into my brain.
I don’t regret the ten years I wasted being a depressive no-hoper. I learned a lot in that time, and without it, I couldn’t have written the program that not only changed my life, but has improved the lot of my friends and some of their friends too. For this reason, I want to make it available to anybody, who feels they need to shock themselves out of their apathy and become the iron-willed centurion that our society requires you to be in order to flourish within it.
Remember, you need to do the work. The Super Challenge won’t do it for you. And as the weeks pass you can adjust it to suit your own temperament. For the second time, I embark on this challenge, because I remember how it motivated me and the ensuing twelve months were the best and most productive of my life. I am by no means a perfect person, and some days the clouds of old pessimistic thoughts still block the light, but the Challenge is about building the strength to keep going regardless of whether it’s sunny or stormy.
I look forward to the next six weeks of hard, life regenerating work.