Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
July 04, 2013

Why You Should Let Yourself Succeed and Go Get the Life You Want

By Mark Sisson
68 Comments

FreedomHow many of us get in our own way when it comes to leading the best life possible? The forms of self-obstruction are many and varied: We might only be dutiful about small changes. never taking the important big steps. Or we might hem and haw, cycling back and forth between rigor and passivity. We perhaps commit to improvements in certain health dimensions but forgo effort in others. We feel good about our positive choices but back away from scrutinizing the half measures. “I’m just too busy to do more than I’m already doing.” “I’ve made it further than I ever thought I could: I’ll quite while I’m ahead.” “I’m doing better than most people I know.” “This amount of change is manageable. I don’t want to push the envelope.” We tell ourselves a million things on the precipice looking out from good to great. There might be a hundred circumstances legitimately figuring into our decision to stay where we’re at in the “good enough,” but we need to be honest. Is there something in the view itself – the overlook to bigger success – that causes us to seize back consciously or unconsciously?

Maybe we fear ultimate success because we don’t like change, because we don’t think we deserve a truly great life, because we can’t imagine ourselves being “that” person – the person who has it together, the person who is really fit and optimally healthy. “Optimum” anything, we tell ourselves is too extravagant. It’s for the lucky few or maybe just better-adjusted many. We might even tell ourselves we don’t “need” optimum, that we’d be just as satisfied with good. No. Trust me – you won’t be just as satisfied.

Sit back and play a game for a minute. Imagine yourself in that “optimal” existence  (e.g. of health, of vitality, of self-fulfillment). Imagine all the amazing things you could want but think are too lavish for you somehow. Imagine living that very life. Are you getting uncomfortable yet?

Sometimes we keep deeper success at arm’s length because we’re afraid of what we’ll be called on to challenge or give up about ourselves. More than weight or weakness, sometimes our self-concept is the hardest thing to shed.

In some dark, hidden corner of ourselves, we stop short of believing we can have it really good – that we should have it really good – that we deserve to have it really good. The corner stubbornly refuses to be filled or changed or otherwise improved, choosing to retain some portion of deprivation. Obscured, perhaps long-entrenched messages limit our thinking in this way. We’re conditioned to not ask for too much from our lives. We were taught to not aim too high or expect too much. Think of how this might play out for you and in what areas of your life – relationship, vocation, social life, creative life, body image, fitness, etc.

Maybe we survived parts of our lives by learning not to expect much. Our circumstances in those situations were the inputs in our personal adaptation. However helpful these patterns were in the past, at some point we need to understand that they do nothing but hinder us in the present. This is not the script we have to go through life with. If it doesn’t serve you any more, stop repeating it. Understand what you need to about what went into it (i.e. why the messages are what they are). Accept being uncomfortable and lean into the self-defeating parts until you’ve managed to diffuse their influence. Then let it all go.

More importantly, fill your life now with different messages that will come together in a new script. Sure, it will take a certain amount of retraining. However, with time you’ll be able to rewire your thoughts and shift default tracks. Next time you begin to make a choice that isn’t in your best interest, remember it doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply tell yourself, “I could do it differently. I may be doing this just because it’s comfortable/easy – or not doing that because it would require a personal change in identity (i.e. I’m now the person who says no to bread. I’m now the person who prioritizes my sleep and doesn’t stay out until all hours. I’m now the person who makes the effort to get to the gym instead of happy hour.) Other times, we find we don’t think big enough in envisioning our goals.

This isn’t about perfection, mind you, but it is about letting yourself succeed. It’s about giving yourself a shot at expanding your expectations. It’s about saying no to sub-consciously self-sabotaging and yes to what is possible but perhaps entirely obscured by your own assumptions about what is attainable and what you deserve. It’s about doing exactly what you probably don’t want to do – push the envelope.

Let me tell you this right now in no uncertain terms: you get to have optimal health when you’re ready to own it (and, yes, work for it). You get to have vitality when you feel you deserve it. You get to have deep and genuine well-being in as many areas of your life as you’re willing to let it take root. Sure, your journey and version of success will be unique. The fullness of life isn’t any more generic than life itself. The experience of it – the nuances and gratification – will undoubtedly surprise you. The key is first being open to the Primal potential itself.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. Have you ever been your own impediment? What would you add to the idea of letting yourself succeed? Have a happy and safe 4th of July.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

48 Comments on "Why You Should Let Yourself Succeed and Go Get the Life You Want"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
2Rae
2Rae
3 years 4 months ago

Good encouragement! I will have my husband read this. He is close to making some big changes and is already beginning to change his thinking actively, refusing to buy into the negative mind set at his work. I can think of a few people that I’d like to have read this as well.
Thank you Mark!!

Eirik
3 years 4 months ago

Good post! I feel that one of the hardest things of being content with life is to find the balance between being happy with what you have and enjoying life, while at the same time aiming higher and planning for the future.

After years of following MDA I really like the direction the blog is going, happiness an a gooo life is so much more than iet an exercise.

Harry Mossman
3 years 4 months ago
Much of this has been true of me throughout my life. (I’m 70.) Unfortunately, a carb fog kept me from seeing clearly how to make good decisions. I’ve made lots of terrible ones. Primal has given me focus, and intensity. Thanks for that Mark! Fortunately, I made a few good decisions that allow me to have a comfortable semi-retirement. I wish I had made better financial plans but I’m not going to start a new career. I’d rather enjoy my hobbies and friends. As for optimal health, no, I am not going to do what it takes to get that… Read more »
Primalsaber
Primalsaber
3 years 4 months ago

This hit home for me. Thanks so much.

Karen P
3 years 4 months ago

Great post! So important to strive for optimal- IMO. Lot’s of life to live and living healthy (body and mind) is important. I’m living the next 40 years much differently than the first 47.

Charles
Charles
3 years 4 months ago

Thanks, Mark. This was so on point.

Kim
Kim
3 years 4 months ago
I love this post. I found that after feeling like I was on a slow and steady march to death, that I’ve been given life back. I was so used to feeling wrecked after any activity or fun that I now fear it a little. I am not used to being able. I am so grateful to MDA and this new life. I want all this optimal living, I am only just learning to expect vitality and energy instead of what I had the last 39 years. I am surprised by it every time. I am sure I am not… Read more »
Tom
Tom
3 years 4 months ago

A few months ago, I finally had enough of feeling self-conscious the few times we’d go out to eat and order a burger “on lettuce, no bun please.”

I asked myself, “why do I feel so self-conscious about this?” I realized I thought it might matter what I think someone within earshot of me thinks for 5 minutes.

Then I realized it doesn’t. I realized it’s my life. Mine, not theirs.

It changed everything. Not a whole lot, but it truly changed everything. (Now I wear Vibrams wherever the hell I feel like it! 🙂

leida
leida
3 years 4 months ago

No, on the opposite, I set my expectations too high and after a few years of channeling heart and soul and trying real hard, now am all broken and disillusioned. Try this, try that game and give it all you’ve got… and fail, again and again, and again. I can’t say I am a better person for trying. I wish I did not. And all I wanted was a firm body. Stupid.

George
George
3 years 4 months ago

So setting up a plan to eat healthy, exercise, sleep well, manage stress and have some enjoyable recreation “broke you”? I’ll need more than what you posted before I host a pity party for you. If you were OCD about doing something harmful like non-stop cardio and high carbs then you need to review the resources available here and start all over. Unless you have a terminal illness you can ABSOLUTELY improve your health situation if you implement a solid plan and take it one day at a time. Best wishes to you.

Casey
Casey
3 years 4 months ago

Maybe what you didn’t address was low self esteem or body issues? I find it hard to believe that if you really did optimize your eating/exercise/sleep/stress, etc.. that you wouldn’t have uncovered a healthy, fit person. Maybe your idea of that is unrealistic and is rooted in an unhealthy perception in your mind. So, perhaps what you need to optimize is something mental and not physical to create the happiest, healthiest you.

Bjjcaveman
3 years 4 months ago

Happy 4th everyone!!

Great post today and something that’s important to be read every so often.

My only issue is that sometimes I want too much!! Perfect thyroid hormone levels… Perfect cholesterol… Optimal testosterone…. It can be easy to be lost in chasing these numbers when I need to step back and just assess how I feel.

Gayle
Gayle
3 years 4 months ago

As far as the Prima/Paleo lifestyle I am all in, I let myself succeed and I love the Primal/Paleo way of eating and moving around.
I really need to use this advice for the rest of my life especially my job which I do like for the most part and I make good money. But why not really strive for more financial rewards. I say to myself ‘well it probably won’t get that much better’ wow that is terrible. I am going to start trying to get more and better for myself!

melissa
melissa
3 years 4 months ago
ah once again so timely. i’ve been doing some reading on self sabotage lately and am actively trying to change some patterns in my life. i’ve actually been pretty good about aiming high and feeling limitless when it comes to my work, my fitness and my health. but one area that needs A LOT of work are my romantic relationships… i am consistently investing in the wrong person. men who are emotionally and/or physically (long distance) unavailable. i think i am a good catch, not perfect by any means but a good person nonetheless. i’m turning 40 this year and… Read more »
Ruth
Ruth
3 years 4 months ago
Sometimes that can be accomplished by pulling a George Costanza. Just do the exact opposite of what you think you should do. Case in point: I went out with a guy who was not my normal type at all. At the end of the date, I was thinking I wouldn’t go out with him again. Then I told myself that I had made some shitty choices when it came to men and relationships, so maybe I should give him another chance, do the exact opposite of what I would normally do. We ended up getting married and our 13th anniversary… Read more »
melissa
melissa
3 years 4 months ago

haha! you are speaking my language Ruth.
that’s great advice i will apply. 🙂

Sj
Sj
8 months 27 days ago
Hi I would be interested to look at the reading material for self sabotage. Re investing in the wrong relationships, I would highly recommend therapy or an exploration into your childhood. The relationship with your father sets up expectations for your future relationships with men. It’s all subconscious though. It’s v interesting as by discussing with a professional therapist I got to the bottom of why I endured a v lonely marriage and it’s all down to my upbringing. Am getting divorced now so all good but such an steep learning curve and by recognising this now will hopefully ensure… Read more »
Rachel Ann
Rachel Ann
3 years 4 months ago

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! I’m taking my GRE (Graduate Record Examination) tomorrow, and this is EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO READ!!!!!!! I’ve been terrified about the competitive nature of graduate school admissions and thinking that maybe I’m not good enough to get a Ph.D, to even get into a program, so this encouraging article was the perfect thing to help correct my mindset 🙂 🙂

Mark P
3 years 4 months ago

Good things to apply to life, here in this post.

Happy Independence Day, groks and grokettes!

Craigface
Craigface
3 years 4 months ago

Couldn’t have come at a better time. Seriously 🙂

Sandra
Sandra
3 years 4 months ago

Yes, Oh Yes. I constructed an image of myself during my childhood and that image, which I changed only slightly thoughout my life, stopped me form seeing or even being aware of the wonderful opportunities within and around me. It still does. Now you have given me a way to see if changed.

kspatti2020
kspatti2020
3 years 4 months ago

Like others have said here – thank you for this post! It’s very timely

wildgrok
wildgrok
3 years 4 months ago

Very inspiring, like it a lot

I would edit this line:

Accept being uncomfortable and lean into the self-defeating parts until you’ve managed to diffuse their influence. Then let it all go.

As this:

Accept being uncomfortable and don’t sweat over self-defeating parts until you’ve managed to diffuse their influence. Then let it all go.

Danielle Thalman
Danielle Thalman
3 years 4 months ago

“Lean into the self-defeating parts” is my favorite part of the post. I think facing our pitfalls is critical. The metaphor of leaning in resonates with me.

Danielle Thalman
Danielle Thalman
3 years 4 months ago

…though I also like the idea of “diffusing the influence” of our self-defeating behaviors.

George
George
3 years 4 months ago

Good post, and hints at the power of manifesting your ideal life. As Mike Dooley says “thoughts become things”. A mixture of discipline, daydreaming, the audacity to have huge goals, serendipity and being grateful for the journey and what you have are key IMHO.

Paleo-curious
3 years 4 months ago

I was a physically fragile, very shy, anxious child, & it’s still a constant struggle for me claiming any sort of power. A belated Celiac diagnosis (& more recently Primal) helped a LOT with my health, but I still have to work on my deeply ingrained self-image as a hopeless wimp. Not just physically, but in my career too. Drawing was always my solace… promoting my art, like pulling teeth!

Thanks for the reminder that achieving strength in any sense always takes effort but is ultimately freeing.

Noah
Noah
3 years 4 months ago
I think that, for many people, this is a manifestation of the struggle between giving up the things we enjoy, crave our are comfortable with. We tend to mourn the loss of french fries and cup cakes rather than the loss of health and well being we may have had if not for those fries and cup cakes. Even in unhealthy patterns, we find comfort. To be successful in any long term change we have to shift the paradigm and become uncomfortable or dissatisfied with the status quo. The dissatisfaction drives lasting change allowing us to become comfortable in the… Read more »
Stacie
3 years 4 months ago

A great post, and meaningful in so many ways. It took me a very long time to feel like I deserved to be healthy, and I’m currently working on overcoming my mental roadblock when it comes to running. Physically, I know I’m capable of doing it, but mentally I need to stop telling myself that I can’t and start saying I CAN. (Warning, plug coming!) I’m trying to win a spot in a half marathon right now so if you feel inclined click my name and read more on my blog 🙂 I would be ever so grateful to you!

MW
3 years 4 months ago
Timely post for me as well. We have been discussing the possibilities of moving to another province (Canada) where lifestyle and health are more valued but it would mean I would need to ramp up my working week in order to afford to live there well. Right now we are really “comfortable” and I don’t need to work full time. The position I am considering is one that is outside my comfort zone and I’m scared I won’t have the energy nor be able to rise up to the challenge — That I’ve passed my prime — Very limiting thoughts… Read more »
specialk
specialk
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you! Danke! Gracias! Merci! Just what I needed to day! Motivation and the encouragement to get out of my own way! I so appreciate this blog!!

Shells
Shells
3 years 4 months ago
I need to re-read this post every day! Very good message. I step back from greater achievement in many areas of life (weight loss, health, work). I do the whole ‘deer in the headlights’ kind of thing when I’m on the edge of achieving something awesome and back down from taking that metaphorical last step. I also often feel ashamed with myself for wanting ‘more’ when I see news reports about abused children, people living in appalling poverty etc. I think “wow, I have a good life already when so many others don’t, and still I want to achieve xyz?!”… Read more »
Pat
Pat
3 years 4 months ago

Sometimes taking care of yourself is the best way to inspire and help others. You never know who is watching you.

Kristen
Kristen
3 years 4 months ago
I love to be inspired! This did it! I have this long standing self-sabotage pattern bc of an incident in my past. When I was in college I was very good at a sport quickly and made my peers on the team angry. I somewhere deep inside decided not to be great, but instead to have friends and family “love” me. Silly, I know anyone worth their salt would love their freind or family member’s successes. I really dumbed it down after that and keep hitting that wall or ceiling-despite finally realizing it’s there. I fear success in all areas.… Read more »
MetalStorm
MetalStorm
3 years 4 months ago

“you can see your greatest enemy in the mirror”

James
James
3 years 4 months ago

Bu you can also see your greatest friend.

Ponee
Ponee
3 years 4 months ago

Great post! Thank you so much for your help in my life and my husband’s life!

Kareen C.
3 years 4 months ago
It is true that some people are having a hard time imagining themselves to be successful and very healthy individuals. I’ve had that problem in the past and still a bit struggling with that mindset a bit til now. However, as people grow older, their views begin to change. Some start to believe in themselves and strive for change and become successful. Others refuse to change and get nowhere in life. What you say is true, it’s just a matter of mindset and self-confidence. If only people believe that they can achieve the best of almost anything, that will definitely… Read more »
Rebecca C
Rebecca C
3 years 4 months ago

WOW!!! Thank you Mark for this post, it came at the best time, just when I really needed it. I am one of those people that feels like I don’t deserve the best life, that I am not good enough, so I sabotage myself. This post was like looking at myself in the mirror. Its time for some deep personal reflection so I can learn, and accept, that I do deserve a healthy, fulfilled, and joyus life. Thank you, thank you and thank you!!! This is the push I needed. 🙂 <3

Brian p
Brian p
3 years 4 months ago

One of my fav mark articles. Very pertinent, as often it is not the diet that really needs tweaking, but the mental set of the individual that is holding them back. Those who are open minded enough to except the knowledge that this blog provides can benefits from it, others fear change too much to let it help them.

Good luck with change folks it is worth it

Dr. Mark
3 years 4 months ago

I got into my profession out a desire to help others, but more than anything, it has been a journey of self-discovery. It is true that to reach our potential, we have to know ourselves, and that is a voyage that never ends.

Sarah
3 years 4 months ago

i’m my own impediment all the time! but i’ve worked very hard on cultivating self-reflection so at least i’m able to see where i’m blocking myself and i can work to overcome it. i saw the life that i want in my mind and i’m steadily working towards it. it took a lot of courage but i finally launched my freedom business. it’s not perfect and it’s just getting started, of course, but at least the hard part is over and now i can refine it. just like any project, i suppose.

Matt
Matt
3 years 4 months ago

Right on with the post.

Judy
Judy
3 years 4 months ago

Excellent. Thank you for this.

Femgrok
Femgrok
3 years 4 months ago
This resonates so much for me, but can anyone offer HELP! about YOUNG ADULT KIDS who Do have sky-high expectations but aren’t demonstrating the work ethic/ job consistency required to even come close to supporting themselves? All googling/ book reviews I have read deal w/ raising younger kids/ teens to prevent this from happening, but nothing on young adults (23 yr old male son). Yes, I would change some aspects of parenting if I could go back; Our kids went to schools for academic giftedness, & we didn’t want to put addl. pressure on them by piling on lots of… Read more »
BILL
BILL
3 years 4 months ago

MATT. 6:33 SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED UNTO YOU

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you Mark, I’ll consider this post a birthday present, as the fourth of July is my birthday.

Ella Imison
2 years 2 months ago

Fear of success is more dangerous than fear of failure. Many people never reach their full potential because they are afraid of change. I’m glad I was able to surpassed it.

wpDiscuz