Every adult has a decision to make. They can go down the path where they buy clothes, look cool, express themselves via material possessions, exchange work for fun, and basically put stickers of symbols on the outside of themselves. The other path is to travel down that dark, dirty, demonic abyss of a cave where every inner demon is exposed, unlocked, and confronted. The process digs out your insecurities by the roots, which are usually connected to other insecurities. The process is horrible in the short-term, but allows for an honest exchange between genuine effort and real forward progress forever. It allows you to engage in the actions that really work, rather than the actions that society says will work. It's the difference between living life in a practice round and living life in an exchange of values. It's how the juice of your highest values are released and spread. The path of the dark cave results in honest adult development that makes the rest of adult life easier. It produces results that release fulfillment forever. As I come out of this cave, I notice a lot of people are trying to have the rewards of a book, a business, an independent life, or a great relationship without entering the cave. It’s a form of cheating. It’s kind of heartbreaking to notice and see, especially as society encourages it. Every day we make decisions, the choices of those decisions become what we value, and values have returns. We get in life what our highest value returns. I'll repeat: We get in life what our highest value returns. It is that transactional. In other words, we get the fruit of what we make the most decisions for or towards. Make the most decisions around Netflix? You'll get what it returns. Make the most decisions around playing it safe? You'll get what it returns. The exchange is hard to accept emotionally, but its logic is extremely formulaic. I think a lot of people learn this after they feel it's too late, but it's never too late to engage in this process. It's a universal principle based in love that will work for anyone at anytime. Beginning the process of change is as simple as making new decisions, but short-term pain and the scariness of uncertainty are real. We have so much junk, justifications, weird beliefs, and unresolved trauma buried in us, positioned in a way for us to do the same thing every day. Real change breaks those chains and lets new energy flow. There is no greater feeling a person can experience than properly releasing negative emotions and the brain filling that void with natural chemicals. It’s the most cleansing sensation in the world. It’s like a boulder being removed and the yellow, bug-filled grass getting new air to breathe. To truly do this we have to go a path/make decisions that challenge how our current inner web is positioned. I think every human being knows how to do this and that they should, but they won’t. Smart marketers know this and give you things to justify not doing it. “Look how scary the world is. Your dreams will have to pierce through that,” the news says. “Don’t communicate in a way that’s awkward at first, then fulfilling later. Avoid it and become depressed in the long-term,” is what social media really does while pretending to save the world. “Exercise is too hard. Here's a crash diet," screams crash diet marketers. The system is set up for you to cheat yourself because that’s what sells. The tools of a cheater lifestyle are subconsciously positioned as a way to make up for the debt of good decision-making, honest thinking, and painstaking efforts towards your highest values. Hard work is difficult. Bravery is terrifying. Independent thinking makes the lives of politicians and media people harder. In a way, it’s your life vs. theirs. They’re working to give you a jolt in the short-term, not caring you'll become depressed in the long-term because they'll benefit. We live in a cigarette culture. There is no greater use of your time than to set and move towards long-term goals. The process will clear you of delusion and produce results forever in the form of fulfillment, ideas that can be executed for a return, and effort that will move you forward. It takes rejecting others and their way of life to do this. The loneliness is real. All we do in life is play a role. A pre-set role that our decisions led us towards. We get the benefits that reside in that role. It’s kind of like we’re inside one of those big metal balls that roll. The ball rolls down a particular path, the engine is the momentum of our past decisions. To get on a different path, we have to leave that ball and get in another one. That means we’ll be without a ball to ride in for a while. This represents the uncertainty of going a new path. As a person who’s lived my life like this, there’s a pattern to switching roles/balls. Once you recognize the pattern, the scariness is easier to manage. Getting out of the ball/role by making new decisions will at first feel like you're jumping out of a plane with no parachute. This is the time when the growth is taking place because you're the most vulnerable and most open to change. After you've learned the lessons you need to learn and have changed internally, a zip cord will appear. Not a parachute, but a zip cord. You will have to pull it. You will pull it because you'll be very alert and receptive to it and because your life will depend on it. The zip cord will only release a small parachute. From there, there'll be a little less uncertainty but still enough to keep you alert. The pattern will repeat itself. You'll experience more vulnerability, you'll learn a lesson, you'll grow, then the next zip cord will appear. It will release a slightly larger parachute. The process will repeat itself until you've grown enough, discovered enough zip cords, and released enough parachutes to make it to the next ball/role. Internally, you'll now have everything you need in order to survive in that new ball/role. And you'll honestly be able to reap the benefits that the new ball/role offers. This pattern has no limits. The long-term arc of this pattern can be engaged with forever. It can begin anytime in your life. Over time, you'll become an expert at the cues of this pattern and gain more and more control over yourself. As your steps through this pattern become more intrinsic and natural, the cues may not be as strong, but they definitely can be if needed. This way of life has no equal and does not care about your socioeconomic class, ethnicity, relationship status, or material possessions. This type of scariness is easier to manage. Once you start, the fear dies down and the strength of your faculties kicks in. There will be pain, but it's the pain of growth, not regret. I've learned this is called an "intentional" life. I invite you in.