Episode 101: “Leveling up” in your Life

When the very things that once excited us now feel boring and repetitive…  When we’ve achieved our big goal but now feel as if we are stagnating and wanting more… When we’ve mastered a set of skills and feel a new call to adventure and change…

It’s time to ‘level up’.

Taking an area of life to the next level can be both exciting and frightening as you move from your comfort zone where you feel a high level of expertise out into a new area where the rules may suddenly feel unclear and the learning curve steepens.  Standing beside the new possibilities for growth are also new challenges and fears that we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re going to fail.  So how do we know when to ‘level up’ and how do we handle the the process?


This week Clay and Sarah discuss what it means to ‘level up’ in life.


In this episode:

* What it means to ‘level up’

* Why would we want to?

* Stephen Pressfield’s idea of the Amateur vs. Pro (from his book Turning Pro)

* the positive role of Ambition

* leveling up is a continual process

* two models of change – continual change vs. step change

* How Clay is leveling up – running, fasting and beyond

* Sarah’s efforts to level up – work, life and kids


There is a saying – “Every next level of your life will demade a different you.”

And maybe ‘demand’ is the operative word, because while times of “levelling up” can feel exciting, they can also be scary as hell.  Not knowing what you’re doing when the thing you’re working on is something you really really care about — well, it’s enough to make some people turn back and set up camp in their comfort zone permanently.

”Once you’ve mastered a certain level of principles, you’ll become aware of and exposed to higher-order principles.  Immediately you’ll feel like a child again.  You don’t know how these rules work.  You’ll begin making mistakes.”  This description from Benjamin P Hardy in the article “13 Things That Will Happen When You ‘Level Up’ As a Person” feels pretty accurate, whether I’m thinking about my own work as a writer (and podcaster!) or my kid’s experience moving through school.

“Levelling up” can happen in any area of life – work, relationships, personal development etc.  But there is a common experience of a drop in confidence, feeling as if things could easily fall apart, the need to recommit to your new ‘bigger picture’ and to adjust (because as Hardy’s article reminds us – what got you here won’t get you there).

Levelling up is inevitably, however, if we want to grow.  “Ambition,” Stephen Pressfield writes in Turning Pro, “I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being.  To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls.  Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.”

But in order to “level up”, Pressfield would argue we have to end our youth-oriented ‘amateur’ attitude and ‘Turn Pro’.  “The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits… both are dealing with the same material, which is the pain of being human and the struggle against self-sabotage.  But the amateur and the professional deal with these elements in fundamentally different ways.”

One copes by distraction and displacement, by running away from these things that scare us.  And the payoff is tantalising – incapacity.  We are let off the hook.  We’re too busy, too WHATEVER, to do the thing we know in our heart of hearts we should do next.

“When you turn pro,” Pressfield explains, “your life gets very simple.” We face our fears instead of running away.  We do the work – in our relationships, in our selves, in our careers…whatever that work is.


This conversation about Levelling Up came at a great time for both us, as we are finding areas in our life that need to be taken to the next level. We talk about this throughout the episode so listen in.

What about you? Be brave, get involved, level up…and share your thoughts with us here.