Over the years, I've had the great fortune of coming to know and befriend a lot of intelligent and successful people.
Some of them used performance enhancers, some of them didn't.
Of the ones that did use performance enhancing compounds, some were a lot more successful than others, and it wasn't by luck or chance.
What's the best way to get the most out of Modafinil (or ABC performance enhancer)?
That's one of the most common questions I get asked and the answer isn't found in technicalities like how you choose to dose.
It has everything to do with changing your mentality and changing the way you spend your time. I chose 4 of my friends who have done well for themselves, and use/used PED's at certain stages in their life to give themselves an advantage in life. I'm going to let you in on what that guys that use PED's successfully have in common.
The friends themselves are...
Xavier- a former Division I college football player who also completed his degree in mechanical engineering
Donte, A close friend who majored in computer engineering while simultaneously working 40 hours a week full time as a web developer
James, Dan - 2 close friends who had heavy majors (chemical engineering and physics) and lived the partyboy life to the fullest, while maintaining above 3.25+ GPAs year round
Each one of these guys was already somewhat talented to begin with. Xavier was 6' 4", and was incredibly strong. Donte was an absolute genius when it came to anything computer related, while James and Dan were both just reasonably smart kids.
The traits I'm going to go over aren't "character traits" or virtues. Rather, they serve to expose their mindset and attitude, which impacts how they do everything.
1. They all agree that the only way to really get good at something is to put a lot of hours into it.
They all believe that hard work in the form of hours worked is #1
Time and energy investment is the #1 factor into how fast you can get good at something.
In all cases, the most time you invest into a certain activity, the better you will become at it.
If you want to get really good at playing a piano, you need to spend thousands of hours practicing.
If you want to get jacked, spend more hours in the gym and more time eating food.
If you want to get good at being a student, you need to be spending a ton of hours in studying.
If you're naturally talented, you'll grow faster. If not, you'll grow at a slower rate.
For Xavier, football and grades were everything to him. Even though we were pretty good friends, I wouldn't see him out and about too often at parties or social events. He was either studying, in class, training for football, or eating. A lot of his teammates didn't care as much academically since they had easy majors. Balancing being a college athlete and an engineering major is no joke.
2. Winning is the only thing that matters.
It didn't matter if I was a little hungover or sleep deprived in the morning. All that mattered was that I got my school work done. If I needed to workout, use modafinil, drink coffee, or stay up extra late to get the work done then I would do that.
But I wouldn't accept a bad grade.
And I wouldn't accept looking like shit.
So I made it a point to go to the gym and put however many hours school required in order to guarantee that outcome.
Making the change from a guy who used to get caught up in social circle drama, or always hanging out with people I didn't really care about for hours at a time, or killing hours of his life streaming shows and YouTube videos to procrastinate to someone who was working all the time didn't come without some pain. I would get withdrawal symptoms from surfing the Internet or Twitter and feel the urge to take a TV break even though I wasn't tired.
Going from years of operating in "novelty seeking mode" and multitasking to "always working mode" that often consisted of working on one task for long periods of time without checking my phone every 10 minutes didn't happen overnight. It takes practice to rewire your brain and it will gradually come over time.
At first, you will feel like you're going to die of boredom and rationalize procrastination in one way or another. Even with modafinil, it took a lot of personal willpower for me to change my habits and the way I spent my time.
After a solid month or so, you're mind will grow accustomed to it and you'll even feel satisfied getting work done.
Looking back, I don't remember or care if I was tired on any particular day or kept up with the NFL, or went to any school sponsored events, or if I took an obscene amount of caffeine and stimulants to keep me going.
I remember getting A's and I remember partying hard, and that's all that mattered at the time. I can never say I had any regrets.
3. The Best Way to use Cognitive Performance Enhancers:
In order to really get the benefits of Modafinil or any other cognitive PED (including caffeine), you have to be dedicating a lot of hours to working to begin with. They're called performance enhancers, not performance substitutes. If you don't put enough hours into your work you're not going to get a whole lot done, regardless of how efficient you may be. In my opinion, the reason any of these enhancers "work" is because they help you forget how repetitive something is and focused "in the moment".
Repetition by its very nature is boring. You're doing the same actions over and over for long periods of time without novelty around every corner. Modern entertainment is exactly the opposite. You flip from channel to channel between commercials, have 10 tabs open on your browser, and an endless stream of incoming Tweets to attend to. When you spend the majority of your day living in the digital world of novelty, you condition your brain for ADHD in the long term. Constantly thinking and working on a solution takes up a lot of energy, much like physical exercise.
When doing repetitive tasks such as:
Writing a 3,000+ word post
Drilling a baseball swing
Reading a textbook
Driving for long distances
it draws from your limited emotional energy reserve and taxes your attention. Over time you get bored, restless, and increasingly less alert. Certain PED's such as coffee, Adderall, or Modafinil allow you to maintain your attention span for longer periods of time without getting bored and make your energy last longer by either
Straight up giving you a boost of energy (Adderall)
Prevent your mind from developing fatigue (Modafinil)
Keeping you more alert and in a good mood (coffee)
The correct way to use PED's is to combining them with a ton of man hours.
4. Leverage any available resource to your advantage, and don't worry about equality.
The concept of one day attaining universal equality for everyone is a myth, and worrying about it or moralizing every advantage you have neither helps the problem not does it do you any good.
In sports, some players are born with better body structures and talent than other players.
In school, some people have higher IQs and have a higher affinity for learning new material.
Some people are born with money and have unlimited access to libraries and the Internet and other people are born in some rural third world country with no electricity or clean drinking water.
In the past, I've been accused of "cheating" because I had an "unfair advantage" over classmates who didn't use PED's. It's only happened a few times, and the majority of people couldn't care less either way. Deciding to skip out on using Modafinil or anything else I could leverage because other people didn't have access to the same resource was never an option to me. A year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now, the question everyone (including yourself) asks is "Did I get what I want?"
It's either a yes or a no.
How you prepared or went about doing it is all details.
If you have natural talent or inclination towards any particular skill, take advantage of it.
If you have insider information and access to limited or exclusive resources, take advantage of it.
If you have good genetics for something, take advantage of it.
If you have money or connections, take advantage of it.
Losers point fingers and whine about how other people's success is illegitimate because they know deep down they aren't capable of attaining that success. More often than not, they are extremely ungrateful for the good fortune that they themselves have
Being born in a first world country with the best free public resources and the freedom to do as you please
Never having to worry about going hungry or not having clean water to drink
Having all of their limbs intact and a healthy disease-free body
Living in the age of the Internet
If you were born in a mud house in some rural agricultural based society in Sub-Saharan Africa with no electricity, you're life options would be a whole lot more limited. Warren Buffett once said
There are 7 billion people in our world, and given the state of the majority of the world's population, if you were given a chance to roll the dice and be reborn as a random person, would you do it?
The vast majority of people would say no. Chances are, most people in the world have it worse than you. A lot of people also have it better than you. You can whine about how any advantage is "cheating", but the world doesn't care.
What caused me to go from a time waster to a disciplined student in college? Modafinil wasn't the reason, it was only a tool.
The reason was because I had no choice but to change.
The consequence of not learning how to focus and manage my time would be losing out on over $50,000 in scholarship money. If that happened, I would have to take out a bank loan and be forced into servitude after I graduated. The thought of losing out on all that time and money over some bullshit like "motivation" ate me up inside and it fueled me in everything I did.
My goal going in was to take up a specialized STEM major, avoid taking any kind of loan to pay for it, and live the college experience to the fullest.
I wasn't willing to compromise on any of that and I knew I would regret it so much in my mid 20's if I failed to meet the GPA requirements and be forced to work a job I hated just to pay back the loan.
The fear of having to live like that a few years down the road is what kicked me out of bed on those hungover mornings where I was utterly exhausted.
Could I have stayed home more often and lived a "healthier" more balanced lifestyle? Sure.
But that's not what I wanted.
I wanted to go to school without having to worry about debt, and live out a wild experience.
And I did whatever it took to make that happen.
Straight A Students by Day, Hardcore Partyboys by Night
(feat. Dan and James)
Out of all of my friends who partied a lot, I only had two, Dan and James, who were able to succeed tremendously in their academics (both STEM majors) while partying harder than anyone else at the same time.
The majority of people I've seen attempt to pull this off fail miserably. If they have some BS major and are fairly smart to begin with, they can go out more often and cruise by with decent grades no problem.
For people with STEM majors, it usually went one of two ways.
More Common: They'd either go try to party hard/experiment with a lot of drugs for a semester, get shit grades for that semester, and cut down on the partying and drugs significantly in subsequent semesters so they can graduate on time.
Less Common: They switch to an easier major that requires less work, or end up being mediocre across the board.
In practice it is rarely ever pulled off, because the two activities directly conflict with each other.
If you asked us how we did it, its pretty simple. We did nothing but study, prepare for class, drink, and party. Leaving some gym time and time for meals, that was all we did. No video games, no internet surfing, no watching TV, no wasting time on random community events, nothing.
In the end, it all came down to hours spent. On a day where I planned to go out at night, I would spend around 3 hours in class, 2 hours outside of class working on assignments, and another 3-4 hours studying. If I wasn't sleeping, eating, working out, or preparing to go out, I would dedicate every available hour I had to school.
We'd follow that exact protocol a good 3-4 days a week when we went out. If we didn't go out, we'd spend the extra time on school.
It's a simple formula, but requires a sort of discipline that most people don't have.
I told myself
This is all that matters to me. All other commitments are secondary.
I remember watching former roommates who would goof around all day, wait till a couple days before the exam, and go on study binges all the while complaining about how "college is just so hard, man."
We didn't bother fucking around with all the bullshit events the university threw or hanging out for no reason. All we wanted was to get the highest grades we possibly could and enjoy our college experience to the very fullest.
While my friends had a more balanced life where they would spend hours on pickup sports, video games, chilling out, and multitasking on Facebook and Netflix, I kept mine pretty simple. Did I miss out on anything?
Not anything that mattered to me.
In the end, I got exactly what I wanted most - good grades, close friends to do exciting shit with, and the best possible college experience.
Before I really started getting immense benefits out of cognitive enhancers, I had to change my own mindset. Going from a guy who was lazy and burned a lot of hours through procrastination to centering my entire day around work was not an easy feat, and it didn't happen all overnight.
It deserves to be covered in depth, in a post of its own.