Discipline equals freedom.
I remember first hearing this catchy aphorism four years ago when I read Jocko Willink’s book Extreme Ownership.
At the time, I was just beginning to realize how undisciplined I really was, and that book, along with that punchy quote, became my mantra. It kicked my ass into gear and got me committed to waking up at 4:30am every day for the rest of my life.
I barely lasted two weeks.
Then I went right back to snoozing my way into the late morning and waking up feeling like a failure.
I became frustrated with myself and wondered: why do us humans suck so bad at changing our behavior?
- 64% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions after just one month
- Out of those who attempt to quit smoking only 7.5% manage to succeed
- And about 80%-95% of dieters who have lost considerable weight end up gaining most of it back within a few years
What gives? Are we all just lazy? Mediocre? Addicted?
No. I refused to believe that.
Whether it’s going to the gym, eating healthier, quitting smoking, or anything else, most of us have experienced the all-too-familiar backslide that occurs when attempting to make any worthwhile change stick.
And the rebuttal is usually something like stop being lazy or just do it.
But that’s a shallow answer, and one that depends way too much on willpower, and as everyone knows by now, willpower is finite; I was craving a much deeper answer.
What most people call “lazy” is really a blanket term used to simplify and label a highly misunderstood emotional process.
Laziness implies that you have the free will to “do the work” and are simply choosing not to. But this is far from the truth of what is actually going on under the surface.
Behind your resistance to enacting discipline, in any domain, is not a conscious decision but an unconscious program optimizing for the fulfillment of your needs.
So when you cave, and eat the ice cream, skip the workout, watch the porn, or reach for the cigarette, it’s not that you’re lazy, lack willpower, or are self-sabotaging; it’s that you have an unconscious need that is being met by enacting the undesired behavior.
The problem is that the behavior has negative side effects you don’t want. And because of that, too many of us think there’s something wrong with us and immediately start to shame ourselves.
We think: “why can’t I be more like my idols?—I must lack discipline.” Then we get angry at ourselves for breaking our resolve and start doubling down even harder to force ourselves to be better. But this never works in the long run and only leads to burnout and shame.
But there’s another way—a better way—that doesn’t involve fighting against your nature but rather working with it. Because, the good news is, you can replace the undesirable behavior with a healthier, more desirable one that meets the same underlying need. It’s like doing a switcheroo magic trick right below your unconscious’ nose without it realizing.
You just need to learn how. Let me show you.
Your Needs (The Unconscious Drivers of Human Behavior)
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it Fate.” -Carl Jung
According to Tony Robbins and his research team (and Dr. David Tian’s refinement of the model) there are 7 core human needs:
- Certainty (Security)
- Uncertainty (Variety)
- Significance (Recognition or uniqueness)
- Connection (Belonging)
- Love (Intimacy)
- Growth (Development)
- Contribution (Purpose)
All of our behaviors stem from these core needs in some way, shape, or form; and we don’t get to choose them, we simply have them.
But we DO get to choose how we meet them. And as you’ll see, that makes all the difference.
Here’s an image to make things easier:
Each of us has a unique ranking of these needs that we live by and tailor our lives to.
The trouble is you can’t simply rank your needs however you wish. You must meet each need (in ascending order) in a healthy and consistent way before having control over it.
In other words, you must have your need for certainty met in an optimal way before a genuine desire for uncertainty can arise. You must have both your need for certainty and uncertainty met before a genuine desire for significance arises. And so on and so forth up the pyramid.
There’s a natural progression to these needs, and important lessons you must learn at each level. If you try to ascend up the hierarchy too quickly, or worse, skip over your lower needs for the sake of feeling (or coming off) more mature or spiritually evolved than you actually are, then life will humble you and you will be forced to descend back down the pyramid to properly meet the abandoned need.
Think about it like this: If you skip algebra and go straight into learning precalculus, you may be able to struggle your way through the class and pass with a C. But the gaps in your knowledge will only compound the next year in Calculus 1 and even more so the year after that in Calc 2.
Eventually you will hit a point where your lack of basic algebra is impeding your ability to advance and you will need to learn the fundamentals before progressing any further.
You must meet your needs in ascending order in a healthy and consistent way before having mastery over them.
Your 7 Core Needs
I’m going to give you a brief summary of each need so you have context for understanding why laziness is a myth. But these needs are the foundation for understanding so much more than that.
If you take the time to learn this and implement it in your life, you’ll not only be able to see through your own behavior but everyone else’s too. It’s like having the veil of behavior lifted and seeing the invisible puppet hands pulling everyone’s strings from within the shadows.
In next weeks newsletter we’ll go into these needs on a much deeper level and I’ll show you why it’s absolutely imperative to attracting women, but for now let’s rapid fire through each one so you get the gist of them.
This is your need for security: to know that you won’t die in the immediate future and that all your basic survival needs are being met. If life was pure chaos, it’d be impossible to get a foothold deep enough to climb higher. This is why certainty comes first.
Once, you’ve got enough certainty that you won’t die, your need for uncertainty (or variety) comes online. Without it, life would be boring and predictable. You can see an exaggerated display of this need in people who work all week at a job they hate and then let loose on the weekends; they’re attempting to bring balance to their repressed needs.
This is your need to feel worthy, special, important, acknowledged, different, unique, or good enough. Some people do it through their achievements, and others by becoming helpless victims. In both cases, you are not average, you are special.
This is your need for belonging. It usually refers to connection with other people, but can also apply to the universe, nature, yourself, or a higher power.
This is your need for intimacy. It’s similar to your need for connection but goes deeper. You can connect to a stranger on the street but it takes time and vulnerability to cultivate true love. Sexual intimacy is also an aspect of this need, but It’s important to note that some people (like monks, nuns, and celibates) choose to forgo sexual intimacy and are still able to get this need met through a form of universal love that is different than romantic love. It’s also possible for people to have sexual intimacy without love.
This is your need for learning, improving, expanding, and evolving. All of life grows or dies, there is no standing still.
This is your need to help others and make a positive impact on the world. Contribution is the last need to come online because you can only contribute from an empowered place, and you can only do that once you’ve got all your other needs met and your shit together. Otherwise, you’ll be contributing for the sake of meeting a lower need instead of from a place of true unconditional contribution.
Meeting Your needs
Now that you understand that all your behaviors (including procrastination and laziness) stem from an attempt to meet unconscious needs, you can work to make those needs conscious and find alternative strategies to meet them.
For example, when I tried to wake up at 4:30am every day and failed, I asked myself: “what is really stopping me?”
Part of the problem was that I was staying up until about midnight, leaving me with less than 5 hours of sleep a night.
That was clearly unsustainable, and the solution was simple: go to bed earlier.
But no matter what I did, I just couldn’t bring myself to hit the hay sooner. Bed time would roll around, and I’d just keep doing other things.
Most of the time it was hanging out with friends into the late evening, or if I was alone, I’d usually spend it unwinding from the work day and doing any number of things like, watching Netflix, playing guitar, smoking weed, etc.
To the untrained eye, some of these behaviors could be seen as bad habits causing me to procrastinate on sleep. But when I peered deeper, I realized that each behavior was helping me meet some unfulfilled need; otherwise, I wouldn’t have been doing them.
Hanging with friends was meeting my need for connection and significance; watching Netflix, my need for uncertainty and connection, playing guitar, my need for uncertainty and significance; and smoking weed, my need for uncertainty and connection.
Do you see a common pattern? In most cases, I was attempting to meet my need for uncertainty and connection.
This makes sense since all day I was at home alone working on my business and mostly only fulfilling my need for certainty.
By the time evening hit I was starving for some connection and uncertainty. So when bed time approached, I would feel myself procrastinating, not because I lacked discipline, but because my unconscious was trying to ensure I didn’t go to sleep on an “empty stomach”.
It’s like a mother calling her son home when she’s only let him play outside for a few minutes with his friends—of course he’s going to put up a fight.
When I finally realized what was going on, I started working less and intentionally making time to socialize and do things that added variety into my life. After doing this consistently, I found that by the time bed time rolled around, there was no need to procrastinate because I had already met all my needs for the day.
This made it so much easier to go to sleep earlier, which made it easier to wake up at my desired time.
Which (currently) is 6am.
Although I could wake up earlier if I wanted to, I find that 6am is a more sustainable time than 4:30am as the latter would require sacrificing some of my needs or significantly changing my lifestyle (which, I see no reason to do). I would rather consistently wake up at 6am then try to be all hardcore and wake up at 4:30am sporadically.
Replacing Bad Habits With Good Ones
Over time, I realized that if I don’t have a game plan in place to meet my needs in a healthy way, my unconscious will devolve to the path of least resistance, which usually leads to low level activities like watching TV, scrolling on my phone, smoking weed, watching porn, masturbating, eating junk food, or pretty much any other dopamine depleting activity.
None of these activities are necessarily bad; the problem is that for most people they are done as an unconscious compulsion rather than a conscious choice.
But when I started carving out intentional time to meet my needs in healthier ways, these “bad habits” started falling off like flies. Not because I was trying to stop enacting them, but because the underlying needs were already being met by my positive habits, and there was simply no need for them any longer.
I hope you can see the power in this approach.
All you need to do is figure out what need your current disempowering habit is fulfilling and replace that behavior with a more desirable one. Then, before enacting the undesirable behavior, simply enact the positive behavior first. Then (within reason) give yourself permission to enact the negative behavior afterwards if you still want to.
With consistency, I’ve notice that the desire to enact the negative behavior simply fades as the positive habit builds momentum. After some time, you can reduce the undesirable behavior and drop it altogether.
Test it out, and let me know how it goes.
Next week, I’ll show you why meeting your own needs is a non-negotiable trait you must possess to attracting high quality women. If you want to learn more about cold approaching women check out my past letter here.
If you want help with any of this, shoot me a DM on Instagram and let’s chat.
Otherwise, ‘till next time my friend.
Breath deep, face fear, become whole,