I’ve made all kinds of mistakes in my life.
I spent four years fucking around in college. I backpacked around the world for a year like a dirty hippie when I should have been building my future like a grown man. I drank too much. I chased girls for the ego boost. I’ve slacked off in the pursuit of what I was put on this Earth to do.
These were the Five Mistakes I Made In My Early Twenties.
But – surprisingly – everything worked out great. Compared to the vast majority of men my age, I’m healthier, more financially secure, more successful with women, more knowledgeable, and surrounded by a network of high-quality friends and connections.
Despite the major screw-ups categorized in that post, I’ve still reached the age of twenty-eight with a great foundation for the rest of my life.
As I reflect on my life so far, I’ve realized that most of the good things that have happened to me have been the result of a few of simple habits. Simple doesn’t mean easy. But if you have the guts and the willpower to make the following six habits a part of your life, you will reach your late twenties in a much stronger position than your peers:
Habit #1 – Lift Weights
When I was in grade seven, the girl I liked was attracted to a friend of mine. I was a chubby kid at the time, and my friend had cool six-pack abs. I looked in the mirror and decided I wanted to make my body look like his.
I designed a simple body-weight exercise routine for myself and finished it every day for the summer. By grade eight, I had slimmed down and looked pretty good for a natty twelve year old. In grade ten, I started serious barbell training and never looked back.
There are a lot of surface benefits to weight training that you’re already familiar with:
- You will get bigger and stronger
- You will get more attention from girls
- You will get more respect and deference from other men
- You will have better overall health and energy levels
- Your athletic performance will improve
- You will have a higher quality of life in old age
But the truly important consequence of resistance training is that it teaches you the most valuable lesson you’ll ever learn in your life:
If you don’t like something about yourself, it is within your power to change it.
Obviously there are limits to this statement. We all have our natural strengths and weaknesses. Not every man has it in himself to be a fitness model or competitive power lifter. But every man has the ability to be a better version of himself. Every man has the ability to be the best version of himself.
Resistance training is the most ennobling of habits, because it is the purest expression of masculine values: Strength; Self-discipline; Control over your station in life.
If you have never lifted weights before, buy Starting Strength and start the program. Keep a training log, get a workout partner, eat steak and green vegetables, and never look back.
Habit #2 – Approach Women
A man must learn to accept rejection. Better yet, a man must learn to love rejection, and invite it into is life. Cold approaching women is the best way to cultivate this positive relationship with rejection.
You may never get over your fear of the approach. That’s OK. Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway. My heart still pumps when I’m gearing up for an approach, and I’ve done hundreds if not thousands.
Being completely immune to approach anxiety and the sting of rejection is like bench pressing five hundred pounds. It is a near-superhuman feat that only a small number of men are capable of.
But, almost any man can bench press three hundred pounds after a few years of hard training. A max bench of three hundred would get you laughed out of a real power lifting gym, but it’s still more than the vast majority of men will ever lift.
Similarly, the ability to overpower your fear and approach cute girls can be learned by almost everyone. Try the Good-Looking Loser Approach Anxiety Program, or The Pill That Cures Approach Anxiety. Once you get your first number from a girl you don’t know, you’re already ahead of the majority of men in this area of your life.
You may not have a lot of success with cold approaching, at first. That’s OK. The purpose of cold approaching isn’t to get laid. Cold approaching is about Conquering Your Ego. Cold approaching is about developing Social Freedom. Men must learn to cold approach, because not being able to cold approach is a symptom that you have deeper issues with your own self-confidence.
Tinder, Plenty Of Fish, OK Cupid, and whatever else the kids are using today – they are all valuable tools that have their uses. Cold approaching is not inherently better than Getting Laid On Plenty Of Fish or Tinder. But if you can’t walk up to a hot woman on the street and introduce yourself, that’s evidence of an internal obstacle you need to work on overcoming.
Habit #3 – Read Great Books
Human beings have been writing about their experiences for ten thousand years. If you have a problem in your life, chances are someone has already solved it and written a book about it.
Don’t look at reading as a chore. Books are not obstacles to be overcome, they are tools that help you overcome obstacles. You don’t have to feel obligated to read the “right” books. Instead, think about the problems you’re facing in your life, and read books that help you solve them.
If you want to get healthier, read books about health and nutrition like The Paleo Manifesto.
If you want a lucrative and fulfilling career, read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, Getting Things Done by David Allen, How To Fail At Everything And Still Win Big by Scott Adams, and Choose Yourself by James Altucher.
If you want to learn about morality, epistemology, and the human condition, read Shakespeare, Hume, Seneca, Nietzsche, Aristotle, and The Bible.
But if you don’t want to read those books, don’t force it. At least not right away. Train yourself to love the written word, and revisit the ‘difficult’ books at a later age. For more reading recommendations, check out my page of Great Books For Men.
Habit #4 – Earn Good Friends
Most networking advice focuses on how to meet people.
This is fine as far as it goes. Small talk and basic etiquette are important skills to master.
But how do you go from being a guy who collects a lot of useless contact information, to being a man who has earned the friendship and loyalty of many high-value people?
Despite the fact that I’m often an extraordinarily difficult person to get along with, I’m fortunate to have many great friends. They are great people, from a morality and loyalty standpoint; They are great friends, in the sense that they have gone to great lengths to help me; and they are doing great things with their lives, with impressive careers and social circles of their own.
Why have my friends stuck by me, despite my long history of generally offensive, incendiary, socially inappropriate behaviour?
The only possible answer is that I bring more value into their lives than I take. Yes, I’ve ruined some parties and a wedding or two. Sure, I’ve broken some hearts. And there may have been a day of non-consensual hallucinogenic madness for some unwitting travel partners of mine in Laos, a story told in The 2012 End Of The World Tour.
But beneath all of that, I have made a lifelong commitment to offering value to my good friends.
The only way to consistently earn the friendship and loyalty of other strong men is by genuinely being a helpful and self-sacrificing person. If you want to come across as genuine and value-giving, you must actually be genuine and value-giving. If you truly go about your life with the goal of helping your friends and colleagues achieve success, you will attract similar-minded people into your life.
Here are some practical habits you can adopt that will help you cultivate a high-value social circle:
- Enter social situations with one question on your mind: How can I help this person? How can I make it easy for them to enjoy this interaction? How can I make this an exchange of value, and positive emotions?
- Once a week, send an email to someone you don’t know well, and help them with something. Suggest a business idea. Introduce them to someone useful to their goals. If they wrote something that impressed you, tell them.
- Find a protege. Someone younger than you, but who has the potential to be greater than you will ever be. Mentor that person and make their success one of your primary goals in life.
- If you think you have enough wisdom and life experience to help out the anonymous and far-flung men of the Red Pill blogosphere, start a blog of your own.
Do these things, and you will eventually find yourself surrounded by successful people who will have your back and who will be eager to help you out, because they know that when it comes down to it, you’re going to do the same for them.
Habit #5 – Live With Less
An acquaintance once told me about his business idea. I told him he would need a website, which he could build and host for less than a hundred dollars. That’s less than one hundred dollars, for a potentially life-changing idea. Ultimately he never followed through. This guy has a $1500/month mortgage and a new car, but he doesn’t have a hundred dollars to spare on a new business endeavour that could have changed his life.
I never bought a fancy condo. I never drove a new car. I rarely buy electronics or other expensive toys. I use all the same sports equipment I had when I was 19. I’m almost thirty and I still live in what is basically a frat house. I get a new student ID every year so I can get discounts.
Most people live paycheque to paycheque, no matter how much money they make. If I lived like that, I would ever have been able to travel. I would never have been able to quit my job to start a business. I would have to count every dollar while out eating and drinking with friends and girls, rather than just letting the night flow.
Frugality is not about being “cheap.” In fact, frugality will free you from financial concerns and will allow you to be more generous.
I spend money prolifically in a few areas of my life. I buy tons of books, I eat out, I buy organic meat at twice the price of regular stuff. I’m able to be prolific on the important things that actually improve my life, because I’m cheap when it comes to the bullshit trappings of yuppie status-climbing.
When I’ve had to work nine-to-five jobs, I’ve saved between one quarter and one half of every paycheque. This has given me the freedom to leave those jobs whenever I’ve wanted to.
The last thing you want to be is the cheap guy who disappears whenever it’s his turn for a round. But if you have the self-control to rein in your spending on the unimportant status markers, you will have much more financial and time freedom to pursue what is actually important in your life.
Habit #6 – Prayer
Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and every other religious and spiritual tradition known to man, all strongly emphasize the importance of regular prayer. They may use different words, but the practice is the same: Quiet reflection on what we are grateful for, what we desire, and the cultivation of humility.
It would be very surprising if a habit practiced by civilized men throughout human history was not beneficial. Unsurprisingly, prayer (and variants such as meditation and gratitude journals) are regularly found to improve physical and mental well-being.
Prayer does not require a man to adopt a certain pose, recite a certain set of lines, or face in a certain direction. Many of my former athletic coaches insisted on a game day ritual of one hour spent silently visualizing what we wanted to happen on the field. Several people who I trust have reported shockingly powerful results from writing and reciting daily affirmations.
You can call your prayer habit “meditation,” or “gratitude,” or even Neurolinguistic Programming, if you are still tainted with a politically correct bias against Christianity and traditional Western Civilization.
Here are some simple steps to get started. A secular habit of daily prayer could go something like this:
- Recite a short mantra, to trigger a calm and meditative state
- Reflect on what you have to be grateful for from the day
- Reflect on any wrongs you have done. Ask for forgiveness, and grant it to those who may have wronged you.
- Reflect on what you currently desire in life. Humbly ask for help in fulfilling those desires.
(I am an agnostic and was raised in a thoroughly atheistic household, but I find this to be as good a mantra as any.)
Life isn’t easy, but it’s also not complicated. If you follow the six habits outlined in this post in your early adulthood, you will reach your late twenties in a very strong position. You will be healthier, wealthier, happier, and more socially successful than the majority of other men.
Maybe that sounds too easy.
But it really is that easy, because the men of our generation are broken. They are fat and weak; they are ignorant; they are impulsive; they are selfish; and they are fearful. If we lived in a healthy society, it would take more than these six simple habits to rise to the top. We don’t, so it doesn’t.