If you’re a modern man, you’ve probably noticed how hard it can be to make real progress on your most significant goals.
Do you feel like nothing is changing in your life, despite having good intentions?
Or like you’re just crawling along in first gear, and not feeling enough traction or aliveness?
Or like the life you know you really want to be living is a million miles away?
If so, that’s probably because you’re bumping into a few huge obstacles standing in your way, which are built right into the way we live, and the way society is running.
Without seeing these clearly in your mind for yourself, you’ll be left frustrated, struggling, and floundering way more often than you need to. And when you add up all of that wasted time, it could potentially be many years of your life spent spinning in circles.
Experiencing some pain and stagnation is all part of the growth process. They are part of learning lessons and levelling up. But tons of men are just sitting stuck in this limbo stage all the time, and they often don’t even know why.
As I see it, what follows are the core obstacles that are causing men to struggle and get stuck today.
Read it, and then start kicking ass and making real strides toward becoming the powerful badass that you want to be.
So, let’s get to it. Here are the three biggest obstacles impeding men today.
1. Chronic distraction by endless opportunities
To simply be awake in an urban setting in the 21st century is to be constantly exposed to endless opportunities.
You have bottomless options for porn and video games at your fingertips, podcasts to listen to, restaurants and bars to hang out at, food to buy, movies and TV shows to binge watch, dating partners to swipe, plus all the distractions of advertising and pings on your phone.
So, if you want to focus, build something, and be productive, the deck is heavily stacked against you.
Because building anything in life – whether it’s a skill, a business, an intimate relationship, or a lifestyle – requires focus and attention.
Imagine that your body is a battery, and attention is the energy that fills it. You only have a limited supply, and it has to be recharged to stock up the power again.
Now imagine that your body is covered in leeches – sucking the energy of attention out of you, every day, and leaving you wasting away with no resources left for yourself.
All of the things I mentioned above are just a few of these energy sucking leeches. And one of the toughest parts of overcoming this obstacle of distraction is that some of these leeches have been intentionally designed and placed on you.
Tons of research and psychology goes into the technology and apps we use, and especially social media platforms. It’s the job of these developers and companies to keep you hooked and addicted to what they have to offer, because that means more cash in their pockets.
So, if you’re going to overcome this obstacle, you need to wake up and take control of your attention. You have to pick the leeches off, one by one, and start protecting yourself.
Take a look. What are your biggest energy sucks? It might be something I mentioned, like porn, TV, online dating, or video gaming. Or it might be something else very unique to you. Whatever it is, take an honest look at your life and see it for yourself.
Once you identify the biggest black holes that are sucking up your attention, and giving you nothing in return, you can either plug them up or just avoid them altogether.
Most modern guys are struggling to grow and build their lives because they can never sit still and do the deep work that truly matters, and adds to their overarching life vision.
Instead, they allow all of these distractions and choice paralysis to sap their vital life energy, which then prevents them from being able to truly commit to anything, and make the time to put in the work to build it.
In fact, because of all the exhausting external options, and energy leeches, few men have even connected to what their life vision is in the first place. Because being on purpose requires deep self knowledge. It takes reflection, and throwing away all the distractions of society for a while to ask:
“What do I truly want? What does my heart want out of this life? What do I want to give? What am I dedicated to?”
Instead of digging in to contemplate these questions, most of us watch and listen to what the world around us is telling us that we should do, how we should live, and what we should find important.
The journey of creating purpose also takes action, success, and failure – which again requires attention and reflection. It’s rare that you just jump to figuring out what you’re living for. You learn through contrast. You make attempts, test your hunches, hit some dead ends, and figure out what actually lights you up and what’s most true for you.
Every step of that journey to purpose and success requires narrowed attention, effort, and commitment. On auto-pilot, the world around us will be given free reign to occupy our minds and sabotage any forward movement.
2. Being overly diversified and under-specific
A major piece of collateral damage from having too many options is becoming a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.
As the weeks, months, and years pass, instead of making consistent progress and mastering one area of life, we dabble in dozens of different things and end up being a multi-faceted amateur, who is unable to gain real traction in any direction.
Being well-rounded or having side-hobbies is a healthy thing. But I’m talking about an unhealthy kind of ineffectuality and lack of focus.
The secret to success, in both wealth and mental health, is achieving mastery.
And mastery requires specialized focus and dedication, which often come from being willing to say ‘No’ to everything that doesn’t align with our core focus.
Yes, money isn’t everything in life. But money is a significant force multiplier in our lives. It allows you to accomplish things, do things, create impact, or fuel fulfilling adventures. It lets you do the worldly things that feed your soul and fill you up.
At the end of the day, money is just energy. And that energy flows to those who create value in the world. And those who create value and receive that energy have made themselves invaluable. They are irreplaceable. Indispensable. They are so authentically dialled in on their trade or skillset that the world around them can’t help but reward it.
But jacks-of-all-trades are a dime a dozen. If you don’t specialize in anything in life, you’re not creating value, and thus the world will not reward you. I mean, who would you rather be operated on by… the heart surgeon who ‘dabbles’ in heart surgery every now and then but only does it part time, on and off… or the heart surgeon who has been doing it for 30 years and has successfully done it 50 times this week?
Without focus and mastery, it becomes damn near impossible to achieve any kind of significant material success, which has all the merits and benefits of serving the other areas and values in your life.
Plus, in the new economy we’re living in, with a decentralized job market and the rise of freelancing, anyone who can’t specialize will be boxed out.
FAR more importantly though, the beauty of mastery is about how it makes you feel.
Because working for something, feeling yourself improve, and seeing recognition come back for all that hard work and skill, breeds insane confidence.
It makes you feel an intrinsic sense of worth and purpose. And that’s something that can never be taken away from you. It’s a permanent upgrade in your brain that you’ll always swagger with.
So many men feel weak, depressed, and lost because they’re not moving forward on any one key path, or becoming truly effective in any one given skill.
Some main parts of the nature of masculine energy are building, creativity, discipline, and action. Engaging these qualities, and thereby activating a fulfilling, confident sense of masculinity, requires laser-pointed focus.
When I talk about that path, or that purpose, you might already know exactly what it is, but you just aren’t getting in gear to actually commit to it and make progress. Or, you might feel like you have no clue, and that’s fine too.
If the latter is the case, the answer is to just start somewhere. You don’t have to (and probably can’t) crack that case overnight. Just focus on building momentum. Period. In any direction. Place your whole heart and the bulk of your time in one specific place.
What’s the thing in your life that you can tackle right now? Is there a project you can sink your teeth into? Is there a class or workshop you can sign up for to hone certain skillsets, and give you a kick in the ass to get going?
Or, if you’re flat broke, and constantly worry about money, maybe you just need to find another job, or a side project, so you’re not so overwhelmed by finances all the time. Then you will have built up the internal fire and the outer resources to start invest in yourself.
The feeling of making progress and hiking up one trail is very different from the feeling of sitting back in the parking lot, spending the entire day staring at ten different trail heads and wondering which of them you should take.
No choice is permanent. Pick one thing for now, and as you start taking a few steps, you’ll be filled with exhilaration and the fantastic feeling of getting shit done and gaining traction. Let the sense of accomplishment fill you up and propel you toward the next thing.
Just. Keep. Moving. Forward.
3. Being confused about their masculine/feminine balance
“Should I be more feminine? Or more masculine? Which one is okay, or better? Which one does the world want me to be?”
Not every man asks this question consciously, but many men are feeling confused these days as to how they should be showing up in the world.
Some of that has to do with the messages we received as kids, as to what men are supposed to be. A lot of it is based in twisted ideas of being an “alpha,” or constantly flexing our strength and showing no emotion. We learn what behaviours, hobbies, and careers are “manly” and which aren’t.
Not only is a lot of that destructive and disorienting, but all of those stereotypical 20th century norms are rapidly being disintegrated, like sand castles in a tidal wave.
Times have changed. The kinds of lives we lead, the society we live in, and what is being asked of people by that society is very different.
In that note, there is another big reason why men are confused about this: developments in gender dynamics and societal trends.
Gender diversification and the fight for rights and acknowledgement has been so needed. The overly dichotomous split of traditional gender norms has been suffocating for so many people. Men not feeling allowed to express emotions. Women not being allowed to own property, have a credit card, or have a right to manage their own bodies without their husbands (or the governments) allowance, is absolutely, painfully ridiculous. So the de-polarization of the gender roles of our grandparents generation was an absolutely necessary step.
But many modern men now find themselves to be at a loss for where they should be falling on the behavioural spectrum.
Should you be a stoic, unfeeling badass? A sensitive new age guy with hair down to his butt? A mix of both?
The answer is: Look inward to discover the most honest expression of you. And then guard against all distractions and outside messaging trying to influence you otherwise.
If you want to be and feel more masculine, fine, do it. Challenge yourself and step up. Do your integration work. Practice being more assertive, and create an accountability system around taking action and making things happen. Develop your masculine edge. Join a men’s group, or start your own.
If you want to integrate your feminine, awesome. Slow down. Feel more. Cultivate a more sensual and loving relationship with your body. Be more tender with yourself. Do specific exercises to cultivate your feminine energy. Allow yourself to receive with more ease. Engage in some talk therapy, and generally be with your body and emotions more often.
Neither polarity is right or wrong. We all need both, and more of one or the other at different stages of life. Maybe even different times of the day. Just concern yourself with what is true for you right now. And what is true for you today may not be what’s true for you tomorrow, or 10 years from now. Our personalities are very fluid.
Just look at what direction you feel you want/need to grow in over the coming year, and prioritize that.
The Way Forward – In Summary
The core strategy to overcoming each of these obstacles all of this boils down to narrowing the inputs in your life and focusing on building YOU.
There is way too much noise in the world, and it will completely overwhelm you if you allow it to.
Cutting off all the unnecessary options and distractions will fill up your well of focus and energy, which you can then invest in developing mastery in one specific area.
Not sure where to start? Start with one of these three things.
1. Try an elimination diet
These days, we’re obsessed with eating. For many, it’s a sport and a pastime. If it’s safe for you to do so, try carnivore for a week, or commit to the Paleo diet for a month, or quit drinking for 30 days.
This massively cuts down the available options for inputs and keeps life simpler (while also improving your energy and focus by cutting out any shitty, processed foods.) Plus, you’re building a sense of power and confidence by taking control over cravings and unconscious habits.
An elimination diet applies to information and media too. Try cutting out excess mental inputs. Stop listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos unless they are directly relevant to something you’re doing in your life, or need to learn about to serve a purpose.
We waste so much time and clutter our minds by excessively consuming useless idle static and babbling. Start doing more with your life than being passively entertained.
2. Sign up for a training
Invest in yourself and start specializing in something. Explore and develop a skill that you’ve always been curious about, or feel fulfilled by. It could be cooking, or martial arts, or web design, or personal development work.
But don’t go signing up for a ceramics class or fitness training if you don’t actually care about it. The rule of thumb is it has to be connected to a longer-term vision that’s fuelled by passion.
If you don’t know what that is exactly, then at least try something you think might be a contender for a vocation, career, or steady source of fulfillment.
3. Join forces with other men
There’s nothing I’ve experienced that will accelerate your growth and deepen your sense of manhood more effectively than sharing this journey of self-actualization with other men.
A big reason we suffer from all these obstacles is that we’ve become more detached and distant from deeply supportive male community.
You don’t have to join or start a men’s group, like I mentioned above. You could just pick up the phone, right now, call a male friend and say, “Hey, I’m feeling driven to take my life to the next level and really get serious about getting better. I’m looking for someone on the same page who wants to meet up every week to chat and get help and support. You in?”
And if you don’t have anyone that comes to mind, there are tons of groups online of other guys in the exact same spot, who are coming together to get honest about their lives and hold each other to higher standards. Even through a screen, you can find massive inspiration and motivational fuel.
I’ve seen it time and time again. If you follow this simple advice, chances are you’ll feel like you unplugged from the Matrix, busted out of a straight jacket, took the drivers seat in your life, and threw the clutch into 6th gear.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also love checking out:
– Wanted: Strong Men For Soft Times
– How To Start And Run A Men’s Group Successfully
– 5 Ways To Help Reduce The Male Suicide Rate
– Being A Healthy, Balanced Adult Is Sexy As Fuck
– 11 Ways To Be A More Attractive Man (or How To Fight Entropy 101)