Stuck in a rut… AGAIN! The cycle we all go through and how to escape it

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“Hard times create strong men; strong men create good times; good times create weak men; weak men create hard times” This is the cycle that civilisations go through over the course of history. It is inevitable. However, we don’t often discuss how INDIVIDUALS also go through this cycle, and how the sensation of being “stuck in a rut” can be translated to being trapped in the hard times you created when you became weak from too much good times.

In this video, we explore the idea of the “comfort zone” and why it leads to disaster, and how to break this cycle so that you can create a good life without ruining it.

Dan’s Top Resources


Dan has 3 bestselling non-fiction books available in both written and audio form:

  • The Naked Truth, his latest release, shows you how radical honesty builds self-confidence and relationships
  • Nothing to Lose explores how to build confidence from the inside by correcting the programming in your brain
  • The Legendary Life is a very practical, action-focused guide on how to plan and execute a life plan that brings you your ideal lifestyle

Online courses

Dan continues to put out high quality online self-paced courses through the Udemy platform

Full transcript (unedited)

Hard Times create strong people, strong people create Good times. Good times create weak people, and weak people create hard times. This is the cycle that not only society but every individual human is subjected to, over and over again, repeatedly. I’m not sure who to credit that little quotation to because I’ve heard it from so many different sources. But that little cycle is obviously a kind of cliched historical truth that gets passed around from time to time we can currently see in the United States, they are in the strong people have created good times, which have created a weak people who are creating hard times during the hard times now in the United States, after they’ve had such a flourishing few decades prior to this, because of the hard work of the people after World War Two, and so on. So we can see the Empire crumbling, as all empires do when they’ve been at the top for a certain period of time. What I’m more interested in talking about today, as a coach of seeing that this happens at an individual level within a single lifetime. And what often happens, or what I want to talk about today, is where people behave in such a way where they actually stop the cycle in the hard times, and they can’t get out of it. So generally, this is what a lot of people go through as the start off is strong people. And then through various traumas and interference, when we’re younger, we get turned into weak people. And with their weakness, we create hard times for ourselves. And then if we’re lucky, somewhere in our 20s, and 30s, we take those hard times we take that crisis, and we turn ourselves into a strong person, or stronger person, which then creates good times. And you often see this when somebody transitions from the 20s to the 30s. You know, their 20s are a fucking mess. But they learn a lot and they grow a lot in that mess, and then their 30s, they start to get their shit together. Right? They get their career on track, they get their health sorted, maybe they find a great partner, you know, they build a life that actually seems to be working, I don’t want to age shame anyone here, if you haven’t got your shit sorted by the time you’re 30 Doesn’t matter. Because even the people who do are about to go through a cycle where they’re going to crash down again. So it almost doesn’t matter what age you sort your shit out, because the wheel keeps turning. Now what I see in my work when people come to me in their 30s and 40s, is that they were doing so well. Or they thought they were for quite some time. And then they lost it. And no matter how hard they try, they can’t seem to get it back. And what happens in my opinion is in the cycle that becomes strong person has created good times. And then they stayed in the good times for quite some time. And they become a weak person who then creates hard times by stronger weaker men compared to themselves and not comparing them to other people but to their own selves. So they often can look back there was a time was doing so well or you know relatively well. And I’m trying to get back there and I just can’t I’ve like lost it the cycle, the continuous spin of you almost get shit sorted and then it crashes down, you lose it again, is actually caused in my opinion by trying to stay in good times. That is the trap that I want to talk about today. So the ongoing cover, see ongoing comfort is what creates that weakness. Okay, when things have been going well for a while, whenever a while means for you know your careers finally on track, you got a partner who seems to actually like you, and it’s moving forward. And, you know, whatever it is you’re enjoying your life, you got like everything set up the way you like it, and so on so forth. You start to become attached to it, you start to be thinking, I can’t lose this, this is exactly how I want it, or it’s good enough as good as I’m ever gonna get. And so I’ve got to maintain this, I don’t want to risk it. And this is what we talk about being in the comfort zone. This is what that means doesn’t mean that you’re actually comfortable or they match comfort zone is generally quite an anxious place to be in. So it’s a weird name for it. But it’s the familiar zone. You finally understand everything you get it you understand where you live, you understand your job, you understand your partner and your friends, you got a hobby that you’re doing well that you’re like I get it, I get all of it. There’s nothing confusing here. There’s nothing particularly frustrating or depressing about this. So I just want to freeze it right here. Keep it like this because even though it’s not the best available, I know it could be much worse. I don’t want to get worse. So I’ll take this and some because it is quite enjoyable, like you might be really crushing it, you know, your version of being in good times might be really good times for you, whatever it is, you get the sense, I can’t lose this, I can’t let it fall. So then you start to engage in some behaviors that are actually the precipitant to the next part of the cycle, you start to behave in a weak way, that creates hard times, here’s some of the examples of what you’ll do. You’ll start to avoid acknowledging warning signs, you’ll notice things like journaling, or measuring yourself in any objective way starts to drop off, you’re no longer interested in how well you’re doing, you don’t really want to have a look, you don’t want to read through your bank balance and see how you’re spending, you know, you don’t want to measure your weight to see if you you know if going to the gym is working out, you don’t ask your partner like how’s this relationship going? You don’t ask your boss like, how am I doing, you just don’t want to know how things are going. Because you don’t want any bad information or any feedback that says actually, it could be better, you just don’t want to know. You start to avoid change, that’s probably the biggest warning sign, you become stuck in your ways you lose interest in evolving with the times, you know, you might start voting based on loyalty rather than assessing each new politician as they come up, you just go with your party kind of thing. Or you might just listen to your radio station or you’d like to have things done your way you stick with the same job even though you’re now skilled enough to apply for a better one. You don’t have any more discussions with your partner about improving life or changing things, everything in your house stays in the same place. There’s a lot of sameness going on a lot of familiarity. And you get like agitated by even little changes, you know somebody parked in your car park and you start getting or bothered by it or, you know, they don’t have your particular favorite type of bread at the supermarket. And that pisses you off, you know, you actually have emotional reactions, even slight variations of your routine, this warning sign that you find change, quite agitating and quite annoying. And you find sameness, very, very comforting. You start to see emotional suppression, you start to avoid anything that might disturb your comfort. You don’t want to have conflicts, you’re avoiding those maybe you’ve already done that your whole life but could be a new thing for you or happens less. You try to keep everything pleasant and happy. You only do things that you like and you don’t avoid you know, you don’t want to take the risk of doing something there might be unenjoyable, like, somebody suggests something new, you’re not interested in trying it in case you don’t like it. Kind of personal say like no to trying a new food because you think you won’t like it. And you just order the same shit at the restaurant every time you know, this kind of pattern of suppressing anything that might make you feel anything other than calm and comfortable and happy. You start to avoid failure. Start to avoid failure and risk taking. You stick with what you know and what you’re good at. And there’s nothing new or difficult, nothing potentially hard. You like to be the big fish in the little pond, you know like to crush it and be the boss and be better at the thing that everyone else around you. Even though higher levels are available to you. You just don’t want to do anything where there’s more than a 50% risk of failure and I’m gonna start something new where you’re going to be the beginner and definitely suck at it, and so on you just really risk averse compared to your former self and as these things are occurring, you’re going to notice warning signs okay, you’re gonna notice that your stress is growing. The comfort zone is a very stressful anxious place despite its kind of name in the connotation with the word comfort. You’re generally quite worried you’re worried about keeping things you’re worried about protecting things. You get stressed easily and there’s just a building stress that seems to have no location like why am I stressed all the time doesn’t make sense. I’ve got everything I want on paper. This is the life I want. Why am I getting stressed? That’s a big warning sign. Resentment building up. Dopamine seeking you might notice yourself binging a lot or engaging in unhealthy behaviors like you know you get pissed every weekend even though you don’t need to be watching Netflix like a zombie all night long and you know you’re smoking weed or you’re masturbating to porn a lot or you’re just kind of engaging in the same old same old stuff that just numbs you out you know there’s a lack of change like everything’s the same you kind of Groundhog Day. You might even have entire years that can like look like a copy and paste of the year before like you go on a holiday at the same time to the same place with the same and people, you know, you go to the job day after day do the same task day after day, you and your partner do the same thing in the week, and then in the weekends with the kids. And it’s like there’s not much changing, you could, you know, you’d be hard for you to distinguish two months from each other. And you start to get this denial thing, you deny any threats to this, you don’t want to know about it, you’re defensive about criticism, anybody giving you feedback, that maybe you should be doing things differently, or maybe you don’t know enough or whatever, you find yourself incredibly defensive about that, like, Get out of my head, I don’t want to think about this stuff, avoiding new ideas, maybe you watch the same news program, and you don’t get in like the other side of the story. Maybe you follow the same people and you read the same authors and you just kind of you don’t want anything new to come in and disrupt this. What you’re doing is you’re trying to freeze time, you found a relatively good place, I say relatively, because for a lot of you, this comfort zone isn’t actually that great. It’s just better than what you’ve had in the past. So it’s kind of like, I’ll take it, like the person who settles for a partner who’s okay. They just think, well, it’s better than being like rejected and hurt and going through a hell of dating. So I’ll take it rather than this person is amazing. And they add to my life, it’s more like, it’s better than not this kind of thinking, you know, I remember seeing a quote from a guy. I remember hearing a guy talk about male haircuts. mean, in particular, if you look at a guy’s haircut, you can pinpoint the his best time in life. Basically, a guy’s hair cut will freeze. From the best time of his life unless, like me, he’s going bald and decides to shave it or whatever. But if he knows the guy has kind of outdated hairstyle, it’s because whenever that hairstyle was relevant, in knew, that was his best time, and he’s trying to preserve that. And you can see these warning signs in yourself and others, they cling on to, you know, their favorite type of music or a car, even like possessions or hanging out with a certain group of people, even though it seems like they’ve kind of outgrown them, or they won’t move from their city or whatever. They they’re trying to stick with, kind of anchor a marker beacon of their best time. And then they try to freeze that moment. And they do and all these little subtle ways. Now you are going to go through the hard time that breaks this, this will end. But if you don’t enter yourself, it’s going to end with a massive crisis. So in your 30s, and 40s, you’re getting stuck in that comfort zone. What happens in your 50s is you have your crisis, you have your divorces, you have your kids don’t want to talk to you anymore, you have your massive heart attack, you have your Korea crashing down and you can’t find new work. You have these huge breaks. Just like I said, what we’re seeing in the United States, the places like collapsing isn’t, they’re not just having little bits here and there. There’s huge division in that country, there’s major problems going on at a fundamental kind of institutional level. You know, they’re really just rotting from the inside out. So it would appear from the outside from whom I talked to my friends there. It’s it’s, they’re going to have a huge crisis before they become strong again, I have no doubt the United States will eventually spin the wheel back to being strong, but they’re going to have to go through a hard time first. And that hard time has begun and may stretch out for many decades to come. Well, that’s what happens on an individual level as well, you crashed and you crash fucking hard, it might be suicide and almost depression, you know, might be panic attacks, it might be that midlife crisis, where you blow your money on crypto and try to buy a yacht and cheat on your wife. And you have these huge things where you’re just like, I don’t know what’s happening and you become a very weak person, you make some very bad decisions, or like a heart attack, you pay for previous comfort behavior. And you crash down. What I’m trying to say in this video, why wait for there, you know what’s going to happen? You’ve seen it happen. The cycle always turns if you’re still watching at this point, you probably aware of the warning signs if you’re currently in that part of the cycle, the good times creating weak people part of the cycle. Do you really want to wait for the big crash? I mean, what if the crash happens so late you can’t repair it. And the last part of your life sucks. You think of those people who are in like the miserable retirement. You know, they didn’t plan for it well, financially, they fucked up all their relationships later in life, whatever it is that they did, and now they’re kind of lonely and miserable, and it’s kind of too late to pull out of it. Do you really want to become that person will take that risk? Or do you want to figure out how to fucking break the cycle? Or should I say manage the cycle? Because you are going to go through these fluctuations of hard times and good times depending on whether you’re weak or strong, but you can make sure that you’re on top of it, so that you quickly just cycling back to good times, and just dipping in to bad times at your leisure by your choice rather than waiting for it to be done to you by kind of previous failures. So here’s how you can do it. Cheesy isn’t meant to sound cheesy as it might sound, you must choose discomfort. And what that means is when you don’t have to, you go and make yourself uncomfortable. It can be as small as taking a cold shower every morning or constantly upping your exercise regime. It can be as small as taking a cold shower every morning, constantly upping your exercise regimen. It can mean trying something new and difficult. Always being a beginner at something is a good idea. You can do this with hobbies, where you regularly start new hobbies we Ooh, how the fuck do you do this? You know, it can be little things like you drive a different direction to work every other week just without GPS, you know, just make things a little bit difficult for yourself. What you’re doing is rather than waiting for life to throw a huge chunk of discomfort at you like a divorce or a heart attack, you go seek it out in little pieces. And so you only have little pieces, right? So rather than waiting for your wife to break up with you because you’re spineless. So rather than waiting for your wife to break up with you, because you’re a spineless, nice guy, have little conflicts with her about the things that piss you off. And you’ll always have them for the rest of your marriage, but your marriage will last and you’ll love each other as opposed to a huge buildup of resentment from you being or pleasant all the time. Minimalism keep cutting the fat away. Comfort Zone is often about storage, it’s about hoarding. You see billionaires do this, they won’t spend their money, which really Fuxi economy like they need to get their money back out there. Maybe we wouldn’t have all this inflation and shit if they weren’t holding everything back. But this is a hoarding mentality. When people get good times they won’t let go of stuff, or good times is when you have to let go of stuff. Right, the more basically, the better your bank accounts doing, the worse your wardrobe should look. Essentially you get rid of stuff when times are going well you Don’t hoard, you hoard when times are bad, not when times are good, right? And you Don’t hoard for bad times, because all that does is guarantee you’re going to have bad times because you’re now getting into that cycle, you’re becoming a weak, fragile person who’s easily upset by losing something. Now, if you purposely get rid of stuff. And stuff can also mean like people it can mean, you know, people that aren’t right for you, it can mean changing a job that isn’t good for you, or can be moving to a new location because the area is no good for you. so on so forth. If you’re constantly getting rid of that plus your positions, then when you do actually lose stuff, you’re not gonna have a crisis, you’re just gonna as normal. Breaking echo chambers is a big one, you got to make sure you’re always being battered by new challenging ideas. You don’t have to do this often. But if just once a week, you jumped on YouTube, and you found someone you really disagree with. They’re on the other side of the fence of your beliefs. And you sit down, you try to hear them out, right? You try to hear what they’re saying and get their side of the story and try to have empathy for them. Listen to the other side of the story, have new people give you ideas, make sure every time you buy a book, it’s from an author that you’ve never read before whatever it is to make sure you’re getting new influences on your ideas all the time you don’t have to accept these he’s still read it and get that shit that’s fine as long as you’re open to it not being shared as long as you can take on some new influence and go alright, change my mind I’m ready. And if they do you let them that will really keep you out of the comfort zone when we look at as you’re gonna fuck up the Facebook algorithm. In other words, algorithms Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, they get to know you and they just start feeding you the same stuff that you always like, what you should see in your feed or annual whatever is such a mix that it makes no sense you know, you should see right wing right next to radical left. You know, you should see feminism next masculine ism, you should see you know, a cooking show next to a show about UFC. You should be exploring so many different ideas that the algorithm doesn’t know what to make of you. There will show you that you’re keeping on track. travel and explore now for a very small amount of people traveling actually is their comfort zone and might look like they’re doing lots of new things but actually not settling down and committing to something as the thing they’re afraid of. But for most people in their comfort zone what you’ll see is they physically stay still. They stay in the same place. They don’t travel when they do they do A nice holiday thing rather than like getting down and dirty and into the mix of a different country, you should really not be living in the same house for more than a few years at a time, you should be moving to different countries, various points throughout your life, you should immerse yourself at least in different social groups and different activities and just constantly kind of break what you think of as normal. And moving around physically is probably the best way to do this. So if you are going to travel, say, once a year, go somewhere weird and do it the hard way, right? Don’t go to the nice resort that’s organized by the agency booked it all yourself and go stay at the hostel and eat the street food and meet the locals and get immersed in the culture. And just break out of this pattern of being comfortable and doing things the easy way all the time. And one way you can do is you can actually play act crisis. This is what the ancient stoics used to do these two right to each other about this, many of the prominent stoics were quite rich and famous for their time. And one of the ways that they avoided making this for making themselves fragile and weak from this, you know, kind of luxury is that they were deliberately engaged in acts that poor people have to do every day, they would eat lentils, rather than delicious meals, they’d sleep on the floor rather than the comfortable futon or whatever the fuck they use back then. And you can actually do this, it can be fun, right? So you can camp outside with the family every month for a couple of nights, you know, sleeping on the dirt, you know, cooking over a fire, digging a hole for a toilet, even if it’s just in your own backyard, you can sleep on the floor in your house, you can turn the air conditioning off and you know, wear lots of clothes rather than get the air temperature perfect all the time. Like I said before, you can do ice baths and ice showers. You can go climb a mountain that for no reason, you know you do the stuff where you just purposely go and do something that you would have to do if times were hard. But do it now so that if times do get hard, you’re like I’ve done this before, and then you’re not so scared of it. And therefore, you’re less likely to avoid acknowledging threats and so on, you’re actually going to prevent hard times by hat from happening by going towards them and embracing them. Alright, you find anybody who’s doing well in life consistently. And you’ll see this pattern, they always like take on hard things, they do things the hard way they throw out their own rubbish they work out and they get the calluses on their hands or whatever, even though they don’t have to. They make life hard for themselves so that when times do get hard, it’s no major change. Now, this doesn’t mean you should just suffer constantly, though there are some philosophers that recommend that. To some extent, what we really say what we’re really talking about here is manufacturing the cycle, getting in charge of it and managing it taking little moments of hard times throughout the day throughout the week. And not avoiding them either going towards things that need to be done or manufacturing situations that are uncomfortable. And that will actually maintain good times for you. Of course and I’m gonna say this out I one of the best ways to keep the cycle moving in a healthy way for you. Coaching and Mentoring. Make sure you’re always working with someone who challenges your ideas gets you uncomfortable and keeps you moving forward and evolving. Someone like me or just you know anyone as long as they like me, and they are me. So get in touch If you want to keep evolving, and I’ll see you guys next time Cheers.

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