#blog - addicted to achieving: what j. cole (@jcolenc) taught me about how to get what you want while being thankful for what you have

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J. Cole is one my hip-hop heroes.

I've always been a fan of his story-telling abilities: songs like Light's Please, See World, and Let Nas Down tell complicated stories of love/sex/relationships, crime, adolescence, and how worshiping your hero's is a double-edged sword. 

Cole has always been honest in his music (let's excuse him for a couple of those tracks on Sideline Story (ahem Mr. Nice Watch 😂😂), which is why I've always messed with him.

With the release of his latest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, he did a couple of interviews discussing his creative process, themes for the music, and his mentality during recording. 

Love Yourz is a song about the trappings of success: we all want to be successful and achieve our dreams, but at what cost?

One of my favorite tracks on the album is a complicated song called "Love Yourz."

"Love Yourz" asks the listener the question: what's the point of success if you've lost yourself along the way? 

Yo! My name is Terence, and I'm addicted to success.

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Pause for a second before you call me a douche.

What I'm trying to say is that I like achieving goals. 

Setting a goal, doing the work required and accomplishing is one of my favorite activities.

The extreme highs, the extreme low's... it's all worth it.

Getting something DONE and basking in that 30 seconds of glory, gets me high. I love the Hustle. 

Don't act like I'm the only one.

It turns out, the need to achieve is something that's baked into ALL OF US: to one degree or another, we're all motivated to do... something.

What that something is, depends on you. Once you've identified what you NEED in order to be happy, we all have a desire to start working towards it.

Once we actually start working towards goals (being happy) we give our brain a point of reference by measuring how close we are to "hitting our goal." 

Some of us, are constantly checking against that internal measuring stick and looking for new ways to "make sure we're happy." 

Weird, right?

It turns out there's a scientific term for it: Adrenaline Addiction. In a nutshell, Adrenaline Addiction comes from an innate desire to "experience everything." 

Adrenaline Addiction comes in various forms:

Healthy Forms of Adrenaline Addiction

  • If 140 hour work weeks is your preference,  balance it with a sustained period of little to zero activity for an extended period of time. Allow for rest.
  • If you find yourself getting stressed driving, use a Saturday to hit the racetrack and hit top speed for as long as you possibly can.
  • For the soccer mom wanting to punch someone, sign up for a boxing class

Unhealthy Forms of Adrenaline Addiction

  • The over-stressed executive working 140 hour work weeks
  • The irritable driver on the 405 cutting people off in stop and go traffic
  • The crazy soccer mom slapping bitches when her kid gets tripped at soccer practice


Damn. So working on too many projects, checking e-mails at 3AM and most meals consisting of bowls of cereal is a misplaced need to express adrenaline? 



Yep. And just like any addiction, it can be treated. Dr. Pam Peeke discusses how when we make the decision to replace unhealthy addictions with healthy ones, amazing things happens in terms of our health. 

Step #1

Know what makes YOU happy

Ask yourself. What makes you tick? If you could do something, right now, what would it be?

Extrinsic Motivation: The performance of an activity in order to attain a desired outcome. Extrinsic motivation comes from influences outside of the individual e.g. a high school student working hard for straight A's to get a new car. 

Intrinsic Motivation: Intrinsic motivation is the self-desire to seek out new things and new challenges, to analyze one's capacity, to observe and to gain knowledge.

Step #2 

Define Your Limits

If our internal needs (your definition of being happy) aren't being met, we figure out new ways to express ourselves: stuff like working too hard, or being irritable all the time.

 If you don't know your limits, you run the risk burn out, and even losing yourself in the process.

Cole talks about that part of the process as well:

But I can feel my grip loosening
Quick, do something before you lose it for good
Get it back and use it for good
And touch the people how you did like before

Being mindful of what's important is the message of the song. When the journey becomes more about achieving than it does about appreciating Cole argues, you've lost your way. 

Step #3: 

Replace Unhealthy Adrenaline with Healthy Adrenaline

I like laughing at myself for being stressed all the damn time. 

Gym, friends, work, work, work, family, work, and finding time to travel are all eating up the majority of my time right now. And I get it! As an entrepreneur, this is the life that I signed up for. No regrets. 

Skydiving = Healthy Adrenaline

Skydiving = Healthy Adrenaline

I've had a couple of rude wake up calls in terms of how well I've been handling the pressure. I haven't been doing nearly as well as I thought I was.

Some recent L's (L equals "Learning Experience," never a loss), that have forced me to re ask myself:

What makes you happy? 

Taking a hard look at things, I think that I've been so focused on my work that I haven't been able to appreciate just how brightly the sun is shining, and just how loud those damn birds are chirping outside my apartment...


I'm blessed damn it! 

I love The Hustle, but I love life more.

No level of creative or professional success & achievement is going to bring me the same satisfaction as looking up and realizing how blessed I am.

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Being content with what you have and who you are, right now, is the only way that you can achieve your dreams of tomorrow.

Harvard scientist say that there might be a direct correlation between health and happiness, so finding a way to seek balance is going to serve you and I both well in the long term. 

So. I'm putting my money where my mouth is. My work is important to me, but so is my health.

I'm taking unhealthy adrenaline addiction habits and putting them into to something awesome:


In the past 3 months, I've picked up some new hobbies:

  • Biking
  • Yoga
  • Surfing / Boogie Boarding
  • Weightlifting

Rather than just having goals related to work, I'm also focusing on health and fitness, putting goals towards being mindful, thoughtful, active, and present.

The point is, I want to be able to look back on my life and be thankful and appreciative for everything that I have for that day, regardless of how things are looking for tomorrow. 

The present is a gift, and once you start treating it that way, achieving your goals for the future doesn't seem that scary anymore. 

Now, I don't want y'all walking away from this post thinking that The Hustle ever stops. It doesn't. 

On the hook to Fire Squad, Cole raps:

If you scared to take a chance, how the fuck we gon' get rich?

Taking a leap of faith requires courage: the ability to keep jumping after failing and ALSO being thankful for the learning experience of falling requires strength. 

So: I'm looking to actually do accomplish some things that I think are going to help me kick my adrenaline addiction.

I've got 2 goals for 2017 I'm looking to accomplish with ya'lls help: 

  • My fear of roller coasters

  • Solo Skydiving Certification

Damn! I said it. It's on the internet forever. That means I have to do it, right?