There is an old cliché that asks, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. ” Meaning, if you have a large project, tackle it by doing one small aspect at a time. This is what I want us to ponder this weekend.
In my life coaching career, we look at where a person is currently and where they wish to go. Can you imagine what we do next? We set up smaller goals between those 2 points that would get them there.
I can’t think of many worthwhile goals where you go to bed one day, wake up the next and they are complete. At least not many worthwhile goals. This weekend write where you are on a piece of paper. On the bottom, write where you would like to be, or so you would like to become. Then, begin to ponder small steps you could take between those.
Make sure to celebrate 🍾 your small victories while staying focused on the big goal. This will allow you to use the power of momentum!
Important note – no elephants were harmed or eaten during the writing of this blog.
Here is a notice I got from WordPress the other day. I have posted blogs for 200 days in a row. One of my resolutions is to have a blog everyday this year, so that number should be a lot higher come the end of the year.
It got me thinking of resolutions we make and why they fail. As a regular gym goer, it is amusing to see how busy the gyms are on January 1st, and how dead they are on January 31st! This is because most people miss a key ingredient to success. I’m writing this so you are not one of those people.
Let’s say you do 20 squats today. If you look in the mirror, what difference would you see? My guess is not much. Let us say you do 20 squats a day for a week. Now look in the mirror, other than the look of mild discomfort on your face, I’m not sure there would be much difference. Now…let us say you did 20 squats a day, which should take no more than 5 minutes of your day, for 200 days. If you look in the mirror would there be a difference? You know the answer would be yes. In fact, the way your clothes fit would tell you the answer before you looked in the mirror.
Here is the funny thing. We know if we did this minor change, that takes all of 5 minutes, for 200 days there would be a significant change. Yet, after a week, maybe two, we have given up on most of our resolutions. Why? We forgot the key of consistency! Even a small change, done long enough, will bring big results. What small change can you start, and stick with for 200 days, that will make a big difference?
Here’s another bonus. If you stick with it for 200 days, like my blogs, you won’t want to stop. Once you see the big improvement, your motivation and dedication will be through the roof!
There are lots of things that come to mind when you think of strength. A plant is usually not one, but I am here to set the record straight. House plants, and plants in general, are some of the most adaptive and strong organisms out there. They are able to do many things that are seemingly miraculous and could teach us a great many life lessons. What lessons could we possibly learn from a plant? I am going to answer that question, and you will never look at that potted neighbor of yours the same again.
The first lesson that plants can teach us is how to use just about everything that comes into our life. When the sun shines, the plants turn that sunlight into energy. Based on how I feel during the winter, I might do this as well. What about when it rains? Plants soak up that water and use that as well. They put both of them to work. Both the good and the seemingly bad. In everyone’s life there are moments when a little B.S. seems to come around. You lose a job. You have relationship challenges. Whatever it might be, these are like the manure of life. What do plants do when you cover them with the stuff? They find the good in it they can use and end up stronger for it. In fact, the more manure you cover a plant with, the better it grows! When life gives us a little ‘manure’ we can do the same thing. Find the good, or at least something we can use, and force ourselves to grow.
As I was pondering the amazing aspects of plants, another analogy came to mind. One of the wonderful things plants do for us is an exchange of gas. They take carbon dioxide, a gas that is considered waste, combines it with water and turns those two things into glucose and oxygen, respectively. I am, of course, simplifying the process greatly. In essence, they take a waste gas, do a little rearranging, and release something refreshing that helps other things live! They also use the glucose for fuel to help them survive. This reminded me of the negative gases we all face. I am not talking about being stuck in the elevator with a man who consumed too much Mexican food the night before. No, I am talking about the gossip we hear. It is the negative attitudes we encounter. The people always telling us the sky is falling. If we could take the ‘waste gas’ they expel, combine it with hope and the good that we know is the truth, we could emit something far more healthy. Words of encouragement and praise are like the oxygen for the soul. Being able to turn all of that negativity around and instead speak hope, love and encouragement will make us feel good as well. This is kind of like the glucose the plant uses to help itself grow.
Using both the sunshine and the rain of our lives is not easy. Taking those ‘manure moments’ and using them for growth, also not easy. How about absorbing all of that ‘waste gas’ of gossip, negativity, doom and gloom and tweaking it a little so that we end up releasing hope, love and encouragement? If you think that is easy, you must have never tried it. Here is the simple fact. All of these situations are possible to do. House plants do it all of the time. When they do it well, guess what happens? They grow a lot! When they stop doing them, even for a little while, they begin to die. We could be the same way. Let us put everything to work for us. Let us use it all. The sun, the rain, the manure and the waste gas of life. Let the plants of the world remind us that when you put your environment to work for you, instead of falling victim to it, you will experience a vast amount of growth.
With the last couple posts about being self-disciplined and driving for becoming a better version of yourself, many people may get the wrong idea. Wanting better for your life, your relationships, and the world we live in, does not mean you are in a constant state of wanting or unfulfillment. Quite the contrary. Gratitude is one of the most powerful motivators. Here is a secret to an amazing life – if you want more to be grateful for, work your butt off. It is a tricky balance. Like the photo above says, “Be happy with what you have, while working for what you want.” I would replace the word happy with the world grateful but the idea is the same. Are you grateful you have that special loving person in your life? Good. Feel grateful, but be self-disciplined enough to continue to work on making that relationship healthier and more loving and you will always have something to be grateful for. Are you happy your healthy? Good for you. Appreciate your health. It is one of the most underrated forms of wealth. Guess what happens if you don’t continue to push to maintain and improve your health? You lose it. The same holds true for your relationship, your job and any other area of your life.
Spend some time, first thing in the morning always works well, to feel and express gratitude for what you have in life. Spend the rest of the day working to make it better. There is nothing in our life that maintains if we do not continue to work on it. Our fitness, our mental health, our relationships and even the plants in my house. Do some soul searching. What in your life are you most grateful for or happiest with? What do you think would happen if you just ignored that area of your life? I can promise you it would not get any better and in all likelihood, it would begin to break down. While you are working on improving any area of your life, thinking of how grateful you are for it can be a great motivating factor as well. Imagine your life without it. That will keep you working to improve it. What areas of your life are you most grateful for? How do you plan to improve them?
I have spent the better part of 2 decades in the field of self-improvement. I have been an author of self-improvement books for over ten. I have been doing this blog for over 10 years as well. I have been a life coach, keynote speaker, podcast guest and host on the subject of improving your life. I have been on several television shows and appeared in a few publications as well. I tell you this not to impress you, but to tell you that I would have to be a complete idiot at this point not to realize the patterns and tools that work to positively impact your life. There are certain skills that if developed, have major impacts on your life. Skills such as becoming a life-long learner, developing a personal health plan, reducing your stress or developing your skills in dealing with others. There is one skill that stands above all of the rest. With this skill, you can accomplish anything. Without this skill, life will be hard and you are unlikely to get very far in it.
That skill is discipline. More to the point, self-discipline. You can have the greatest fitness knowledge. You can even come in and knock out a great 2 hour workout. If you don’t come back several times that week, you are unlikely to see the results. You can know all there is to know about nutrition. You can know about macros and micros. If you eat a healthy plant-based meal on Monday, but down a burger or two the other 6 days of the week, you are not going to have a healthy physique. Doing the right things once in a while does not give us an amazing life. The secret to an amazing life is self-discipline. It is consistently doing the right thing, even when the mood to do so is not present. This is easy to say, but very difficult to accomplish.
If self-discipline is so“ difficult, why should we bother working on it? That depends, what kind of life do you want to have? If you do not have the self-discipline to get up on time, and get to work on time, you will never be able to keep a job. If you don’t have the discipline to control your emotions and constructively convey your feelings, you will find it very hard to maintain friendships or relationships. As we mentioned with diet and exercise, if you want to live a life full of health and vitality, you need self-discipline. You want to own your own business but can’t get up without hitting the snooze button 5 times? Good luck. Here is one thing people confuse about having self-discipline. They think they can be undisciplined is some areas of life, and still be disciplined in others. It seldom, if ever, works that way. To steal an analogy from our last post, these are ‘gazelle people’. Their motivation is driven by outside factors. “If they pay me enough and my boss is nice to me I will show up.” “If there is nothing good on television, then I will go to the gym.” These people live a life of excuses and not one of results.
You may have begun to understand how important self-discipline is, but how do you get it if you do not have it now? That is a great question. There are many books and suggestions on how to develop self-discipline. One of my favorites is Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink. There are also a host of videos on YouTube. One of my favorite speakers that propels me to be the most disciplined and best version of myself is Inky Johnson. I highly recommend you check out his story. There are also instructional videos with a host of ideas. Look up several and see what works for you. Developing your self-discipline is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
To get you started, I am going to recommend some of the same things we mentioned in the last post, along with one more. First, get a strong why. Know why becoming a self-disciplined person is so important. Think of everything you can gain by being so. Trust me when I tell you that everything you want is on the other side of self-discipline. I mean everything. You want to be a good parent? That takes self-discipline. You want to be the best lover and partner for your spouse? Yep. Self-discipline. I am a fan of using the carrot and the stick as they say. Use the power of both pleasure and pain. Think of what you will lose if you are not self-disciplined. In the long run, that is everything. You want to keep your job or have your business continue to succeed? You must be disciplined to consistently show up on time, work hard and bring good results or they will begin to look for someone who will. You want to keep your partner head over heals in love with you? You must be disciplined in your approach to that relationship. You want to keep people’s respect? You must be disciplined to show up on time and do what you say you will, even when you don’t feel like it.
Yes, self-discipline is hard. It is also the golden key to accomplish anything you want in life. Nothing can withstand disciplined consistent action. It is like the water that slowly wears away the rock. If it flowed for a day and said, “This is not having any effect.” nothing would happen. By flowing over that rock, day after day, after some time, it will completely wear the rock away. I suggest starting with something small. Prove to yourself that you can be disciplined. One of the best is to start waking up early. If you can beat the snooze temptation, you already start your day with a win. What do you really lose anyway? 5 or 10 minutes of low quality sleep…if you are lucky. What happens if you decide to wake up without hitting snooze and you fail? The pillow or the sexy person, or warm dog next to you is too tempting? This shouldn’t be too shocking of an answer. You stay disciplined. You go after again the next day. What if you fail again? You guessed it. You stay disciplined. You commit to doing it again the next day. Once you implement discipline into your life, you will wonder how you got anything done without it.
I have written several times about the story of the lion and the gazelle. How every morning if Africa a lion and a gazelle both wake up. If the gazelle doesn’t run fast, the lion will eat it. If the lion doesn’t run fast enough to catch the gazelle, it will starve. Either way, they both have to run. On the surface, you would say they are both motivated by the will to live. There is one difference I noted. The gazelle’s motivation comes from an external source – the lion. If there was no lion present, the gazelle would just relax and watch Netflix, or whatever gazelles do in their free time. It is like the coworker who only seems to be busy when the boss is watching. Otherwise they might be in the breakroom…watching Netflix. Their motivation is based on an outside source.
The lion, on the other hand, has inner motivation – his hunger. If there is no gazelle present he will look for one or hunt something else. He has to eat. Here is an employee who has the work ethic to do a good job even when the boss is on vacation. They often come to work early or stay late. Their motivation is driven by a desire to do a good job, whether anyone will ever know.
How about you? Are you a lion or are you a gazelle? Do you need outside motivation to chase your dreams and goals? Are you running from and responding to every situation in life or are you laser-focused and running after your dreams? Does your realization that you are not quite the person you wish to be drive you to push to get better? If not, how could you develop this lion mentality? Can you only go “Beast Mode” in the gym, when you have got enough sleep, the sun is shinning and everyone in your household is getting along, or do you workout because it is Tuesday and that is what you do? Are you working out to impress everyone else, or because you want to be the strongest healthiest version of yourself?
One of the best ways to develop that inner motivation is to get clear on your ‘why’. What are the reasons you are chasing a goal? What makes is so important to you? What would you gain if you achieved it? What would you lose if you did not? Get clear on that and you will become a lion and pursue your goals and dreams with the ferocity of a lion on the hunt.
This is one of those post titles that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but if you stick with me, I believe you will appreciate the wisdom. Love can be a crazy and difficult thing at times. Doing your best to make sure your partner is happy and satisfied could, and should be, a full-time job. Put that responsibility on top of your job and you can feel worn out on occasion. In many cases, we use certain opportunities to wow the love of our life with some meaningful gift. Maybe jewelry, flowers, a new car or some other grand gesture. These are all well and good, but I do not believe they are completely necessary and often miss the boat when it comes to what love is truly about.
We often few love like we do these grand gifts. We see the romantic movies and have read the fairytales. We look for kings, queens, castles, and someone to come sweep us off our feet. Like love is either this grand thing, or it is nothing. Not only is that not realistic, but it is not sustainable. Yes, love can do amazing things, and yes, love can make you feel like royalty. Those moments are great, but they are the exception to the rule. What is love truly about? It is about toothbrush covers. What the heck does this even mean? Love is about being for someone day in and day out. It is about taking out the garbage when you are already tired from work. It is about taking time to listen to your partner’s day when you barely have energy to get through yours.
What does any of this have to do with toothbrush holders? It is those gently daily reminders that someone loves you that mean the most. We can often take them for granted. While diamond jewelry is certainly able to blow us away with romantic feelings, how often will we wear that necklace? How often does it get taken out and appreciated? I am going to share a little personal story about a gift that my love lady, Margie, got for me. One day she came home excited from the store and exclaimed, “I got us toothbrush covers!” Seeing the appreciative, although less excited, look on my face, she went on to explain. “You know all of the germs flying around your bathroom and how they can get on your toothbrush.” I must confess this is something she is far more concerned with than I am. Still, I thanked her and put the little device on my toothbrush. Months later, I happen to be brushing my teeth (I brush them everyday, this thought just took months to occur) when I took a second to look at that silly toothbrush cover. I thought about how concerned she had been about the germs we might get on our toothbrush and how excited she was to have found, and purchased a solution. In her way, she was showing how much she loved me. Every tooth brushing (Which I must again stress happens twice a day) I think about how much she cares and loves me and it is because of that toothbrush cover.
Gifts do not have to be large. If we look behind them, we can see that some of the greatest love is given in some of the smallest gifts. Twice a day I am reminded that my lady loves and cares about my health. You might not view a toothbrush cover as romantic, but that would be your loss. Perception drives performance. How I perceive that gift of the toothbrush holder makes me feel loved and cared for. When I feel that way, guess how I treat the lady who gave it to me? With love and appreciation.
I wanted to share a recent Facebook post I had. Before we get to that, I need to clarify why I am sharing this. It is a great example of how we can both make a stranger’s day, thus improving our world just that little bit more. As a bonus, you will see how this also can improve your life as well. To recap – you will be improving a stranger’s day, making the world a little brighter place, all while giving yourself a great feeling! Forget a win/ win situation. This is a win/win/win situation!
Here is the experience I posted about several days ago.
Further proof that doing something for others can be the most selfish thing you can do. I’m sitting here writing ✍️ and a little old lady walks in. She looked overwhelmed, confused and a little bit scared. She had obviously never been to a Starbucks before. The manager patiently explained everything to her. After some initial confusion, she seemed to grasp it. As i listened, an urge overtook me. As the manager rang up her coffee ☕️ and doughnut 🍩, I said, “let me get this young lady’s order”
Not sure what possessed me to do so. I guess I didn’t want her to think a coffee shop, or the world was a scary place. Funny thing, she may have gotten a coffee and doughnut, but I got a really good feeling knowing I might have made her day better.
Do something kind for a stranger. It may be the most selfish thing you do all day. ❤️
Something as simple as helping an elderly lady who was scared and confused improved her day, my day and made the world a little brighter for both of us. You may think you are doing the other person a favor, but really you are doing yourself, and the world at large, the bigger favor.
The great thing is these opportunities are around us every day! All we have to do is begin looking for them. Holding the door for the person behind you. Returning your shopping cart instead of leaving it in the middle of the parking lot. Taking advantage of the countless volunteer opportunities. Do a good deed today!
Coming up on the first full weekend of the new year. How are those resolutions going? Hopefully you made it a full 2 weeks. One of the reasons resolutions, or goals, fail is that we rely too much on motivation. Once motivation starts to fade, we are often unable to stay committed to our end result.
A great way to make sure that we stay on the path to our goals is to set up habits that serve us. Think of your goal for the new year. Is there a small habit you could set up to keep you moving in the right direction? Simple examples are swapping your coffee for green tea if you want to cut down on caffeine. Parking future away at stores if your goal is to increase your steps. Pick a time to tell your spouse one thing you are grateful for if your goal is to increase the appreciation in your relationship.
What is your goal? Is there a simple habit you can start before the motivation begins to fade? Let’s make the new year a success!