You Are 23 & Want to be Successful, so Do These Things

Cole Schafer Blog
Hanging around. Hanging around. Kid’s got alligator blood. Can’t get rid of him.
— Teddy KGB

I am 23, not successful and still have a lot to learn before I will ever reach success. But, I can share with you a few things I am doing in hopes to one day be successful. I can’t promise that it will work for you, but thus far it has worked to bring me very modest amounts of success.

I wanted this post to be relatively concise, providing actionable steps you could implement today. So, let’s jump right in.

1. Stop Scrolling

The average person spends 2 hours of their day scrolling through their social feeds. Over the course of the year, this adds up to 730 hours or 30 days. You are spending an entire month out of every year scrolling, mindlessly, through social media. If you spent these 730 hours selling lemonade from a lemonade stand for $5 an hour you would be spending your time more productively because at least you would have $3,650 to show for it. I have a lot of opinions on social media, you can read more here

2. Work on Your Craft Every Day

I don’t care if you are a wood whittler, a painter or a coder, success is only achieved through deliberate, consistent practice. Find a 1-2 hour window each day that you can spend perfecting your craft. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is, you will not become better unless you submerge yourself in deeply focused, purposeful practice.

3. Be Patient

You are going to work your ass off at something you love every single day of your life and chances are nothing is going to happen for 3-5 years. You need to understand this, you need to accept this and you need to keep being patient. If you can’t wait until you are 28 years old to reap the rewards of your hard work, you aren’t doing something you are passionate about.

4. Stop Waiting for Your Big Break

I have been alive for 23-years and I know of only one person that has ever gotten a big break. 99.99% of the time people don’t get ‘big breaks’. I have interviewed some crazy successful people who make a lot of money and make a lot of difference in the world, and none of them have ever had a ‘big break’. They became successful through everything I described in points 2 & 3 -- deliberate practice and patience. You will not fall in the .01% that gets lucky, so get out and make your own luck.

5. Force Yourself to Suck at Your Passion

If you were to have watched me go through basketball drills in my driveway while I was growing up, it would have been painful. I would dribble two basketballs, and would just pound them against the concrete until one of them went flying off my foot or off the opposing ball. Sometimes one would take a weird pop off the concrete and strike me in my fingertips, ripping the flesh between my finger nails. The pooling blood would then decorate the basketball as I continued on -- harder, harder and harder. Each time dribbling harder and faster than the time before. When I would get done with my drills, my hands would be as black as the asphalt and my shoulders, wrists and fingers would throb.

When I practiced, I practiced so hard that I sucked -- always forcing myself to perform 10% faster than a speed I was comfortable at.

That is how I got good at basketball, I forced myself to suck. It is the same way I plan to get good at writing, too.

6. Create The Life You Want, Stop Following Someone Else’s

I have always been a sucker for a damn good Instagram account. As a creative, I have a habit of falling in love with pretty pictures. There have been times where I have found myself spending too much time admiring other people’s lives on social media, wasting valuable time I could be spending on my own. Social media is responsible for creating a lot of dreams and killing just as many.

Every second you spend thinking about what someone else has is taking away from the time and energy you could spend creating something for yourself.

7. Stop Caring What Other People Think

A couple weeks back I had a creative director that I had contacted email me back a shitty condescending note that said, “I would stop writing about topics like depression and anxiety. Cool. It drives 20-something traffic, but it isn’t going to land professional brands, they won’t have much faith in you.” I used to allow notes like this to obliterate my confidence, but now I take a deep breath and then politely destroy the individual who thinks they can take on a writer in an email exchange -- politely, of course.

When you believe in your mission and are passionate about the change you want to see happen in the world, you stop caring about what other people think about you. My writing is vulnerable because I want to be that conversation for the person who is struggling, the person who is struggling in relationships, struggling with their anxiety and struggling to see their potential.

I am fighting for something much bigger than one person’s opinion.

You should be too.

By Cole Schafer