Skipping a Level Isn’t the Same as Beating It

-by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound

Skipping-levelI get it. You’re not where you want to be in life and you’re overwhelmed by all the hard work it’s going to take to get there.

You’re constantly bombarded with advice from friends, family, coaches, therapists, and gurus: Read books. Socialize more. Lift weights. Take classes. Change your diet. Find a new career. All of these options—many of which aren’t right for you now or contradict one another—no wonder you’re starting to tune them out.

Obviously, you can’t do everything at once. The key is to pick a single area and make that your focus for a while.

Take meditation, for instance. Setting time aside every day to simply sit and breathe is one of the best things you can do for your mental health and overall well-being.

At first, the temptation might be to go hard right away by signing up for a ten-day silent meditation retreat. However, chances are it’ll be too much, too fast and you’ll risk burning yourself out on the practice altogether.

Instead, my recommendation is to find a quiet spot in your home, sit down on a cushion on the floor or a chair, set a timer for one minute, and (eyes open or closed) focus on your breath going in and out of your nostrils. Every time a stray thought wanders in, acknowledge it, and then return to the breath.

Do this every day for a month. After a month, double it to two minutes. After another month, go up to five. Another month, try ten minutes. Then—and only then—consider the retreat.

The secret—for meditation or anything else—is going from A to B to C, instead of fooling yourself (and stressing) about jumping all the way to Z. Whatever you’re doing, you want to take ridiculously small bites and chew them well so you can digest them fully. That’s how you achieve the small successes which give you that “high” of accomplishment that motivates you to keep going. Generating momentum is the hardest part, but once you’re moving, it’ll take a lot to slow you down.

Remember: The true path to mastery is completing every stage from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced. Skipping a level isn’t the same as beating it.

Wes Colton, CEO and founder of Introvert Unbound, skipped a bunch of levels in his teens and twenties and had to go back in his thirties to finish them. Ask him about it by contacting him at

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