THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

The most common question I am asked anywhere I go from my day job, to book signings, to live events is this, “What is one thing that I can do to improve my life?” In a society where people are used to quick universal solutions, it can be hard to understand that the solutions can be as varied as the individual. That being said, there is one thing that I would recommend to everyone looking to improve their life. It is at once both universal and customizable. This may sound crazy, but let me assure you that it is 100% true. How can the same solution work for both neighbor Bob and me if I am trying to get in shape and he is trying to fix his relationship?

Let us take the example of getting in shape. Although this can work no matter what area of life you are working on, from parenting to going to a job that seems to suck your soul out of you. If you were to ask someone what the best thing to do to get in shape is, you would, no doubt, receive a million different answers. Some people, like my mother, say walking is the best exercise. I have read that a rowing machine uses roughly 87% of your muscles. Throw swimming, bicycling and other such things in the mix and before long your head starts to spin. If I seek the advice of my friends at peak physique, Jodi and Ricky, I may hear weight lifting, cardio or yoga. So who is right in all of this? They all are. What determines success in fitness, as well as self-improvement, is consistency. While it is true that certain activities use more muscles that others, they do not use any unless you do them. Therefore, the great secret to improving your life? Find something you enjoy. Why? Because you are more likely to keep doing it. Maybe you like battle ropes like the people in the picture above? Let me say, for the record, I have never seen anyone smiling while doing battle ropes, especially while being ‘encouraged’ by a trainer as seems to be the case here. While rowing or walking may use more muscle groups, if you do not like those activities, you are less likely to maintain doing them.

What does all of this have to do with the broad topic of self-improvement? Everything! What events are more likely to change your life? I think fostering an attitude of gratitude is number one on the list. How can you do that? The way that works for you. Do you like keeping a gratitude journal? Then do that because you are likely to stick with it long enough to make a difference. How about carrying a little talisman in your pocket to remind you of something you are grateful for? Then do that. The secret is maintaining a behavior long enough to see results. Relying on will power sets you up for limited success at best. The best chance at success in whatever area of life you are trying to improve is to find something you like and start with that. As things improve, which they will, you will find it easier to add things that may be more beneficial, but would have been harder to stick with in the beginning. You gain momentum by doing an activity that you enjoy. You can use that momentum to make sticking to the more difficult activities that might be needed to accomplish your goals. I would love to hear some of your favorite activities that you use to improve different areas of your life.

START THE WEEK OF RIGHT!

It is nearing the end of the year. No need to wait until January to start working on achieving your goals. This week we are going to look at little things you can do that will have a huge impact in your life. For today, realize we can start when we choose and that can be today. To begin the week, get clear as to what you want to achieve. Write it down so it is there and black and white! We will see you tomorrow for more insights.

HAVE A GREAT MONDAY!!!!

ARE YOU A LION OR A GAZELLE?

This is one of my favorite quotes. There are many levels in which to explore it. I have looked at a few on this website already. Such as the location of the motivation. In the Gazelle’s case, the motivation comes from the lion. If the lion were not present, the gazelle would probably be watching Netflix, eating grass and chilling. Lion appears and we are off running. In the lion’s case, the motivation comes from within, specifically, his stomach. He does not need the gazelle to be present. His running comes from an internal hunger. If the gazelle was not present, he may be running after a water buffalo or some other African neighbor of his.

Today we are going to look at this in a slightly different way and see how we can put it to use in our own life. Let us first turn our attention to the gazelle. What is its motivation? Fear. It is afraid the lion will kill it and eat it. If it does not run fast enough this fear will catch up to it and destroy it. In this case fear is the motivation to keeping this gazelle alive. Proof that fear can be a good motivator. Now let us look at the lion. Where does its motivation come from? Hunger, the desire of a goal. In this case that goal is the gazelle in front of it. It knows unless it runs fast enough, it will not achieve it’s goal and very well may go hungry. If it does not eventually catch a gazelle it will starve to death and be destroyed. Showing that passion and desire for a goal is a very good motivator. Which one of these is better in our lives?

Do we let our fears follow us around and keep us running? Do we keep our goals in front of us and keep running after them? The answer is a simple one – YES! When it comes to seeking an amazing life, we should use every tool at our disposal! We should take our ‘gazelle motivation’ and think of what may happen if we do not keep running. What will happen, for example, if we don’t keep on top of our health? We may develop a very serious condition. We may subject ourselves to a great deal of pain or discomfort. We may even pass away prematurely and lose valuable time with loved ones. I say find a symbol of that and keep it in front of us. It is like that lion lurking to catch us to busy grazing on a pizza and too out of shape to run away from it. (Come to think about it, this could work for my own fitness) It may even help to print out a vicious picture of a lion and keep it somewhere that would motivate you. Maybe by your gym bag. Think of what might happen if you don’t maintain your discipline. Would it result in pain? Lose of health? Lose of time with your loved ones? Maybe even lose of your life?

Next, let us look at our lion motivation. What does achieving our goals represent? Will failing to achieve our goals have serious repercussions for us? What might they be? How many times can we miss our gazelle and go hungry before we starve to death? Take our relationship for example. If we fail to show our spouse, or more to the point have them feel, that we love them? How many times can this happen before the relationship starves of love? We need to keep chasing our goals and feed them with a successful ‘feeding’. As in the case of a lion, this could be a process that never ends. We may need to keep chasing happiness in a relationship for the rest of the relationship. If we miss to many ‘meals’ that relationship will begin to starve. Print out a picture of your goals and keep them somewhere you will see them. I like next to the bed so we can see them first thing in the morning to motivate us and last thing at night to remind us what we are working towards. If you worry about people knowing your goals, although if they are in your bedroom they should know your goals, then you can even print out a picture of a gazelle. As long as you know the meaning and it has an emotional connection, it will work.

When it comes to our goals and to living an amazing life, just like the lion and gazelle, we must wake up running. It would help to use both our fear of failure (gazelle motivation) as well as our passion and desire (lion motivation) to motivate us to run. Whatever we can do to accomplish this goal, we should take advantage of. What do you do to stay motivated and focused on your goals? Do you use both fear of failure and passion towards achievement?

STICK WITH IT

Who likes to wait for their goals? If I were back to giving seminars, I would not expect very many hands to be raised in regards to this question. Many of us are like this small child in the picture above. We get on that new diet, head to the gym, maybe even go inside and then come home and look in the mirror to see if magically we lost a few pounds on the drive to and from the gym. We have all done something like this, haven’t we? Expected results that were disproportionate to the time we had spent working on them.

I once read a description on the relativity of time that stated “How long 3 minutes is, depends on what side of the bathroom door you are on. The same is true when you are working on your goals. I know the journey of getting in shape is certainly an example of this. When you begin to eat healthier, it may feel like you haven’t had pizza in the last decade, when really it was just last Thursday. Same thing for working out. You may hear yourself telling your friend that you can’t remember the last time your muscles didn’t hurt. It is then when they help you with a comment like, “What do you expect? It has only been a week since you have been working out .”

It is the middle of the week as we post this. So much can seem overwhelming or that we are even running short on time to accomplish our goals for the week. We must remember to be patient with ourselves. Remain focused on the long-term solution that we are striving for. The principle of compound interest works not only in the world of finances, but in our professional and personal goals as well. Beginning with small steps towards our goals and maintaining and building on them is the formula for success. After 20 years of poor dietary choices, swapping fast food for a healthy lunch may not seem to make the pounds melt off, but doing so for 6 months will make a huge difference. Building on that lunch time improvement to discover additional healthy meals, some you may want to try for dinner, can lead to a healthier lifestyle long-term. Attempting to give up all your burgers and fries and only eat salad and water for every meal, would certainly lead to you giving up and going back to the burgers and fries. Not to mention, it is not very healthy to begin with.

Remember to be patient with yourself as you work towards your goals this week. Consider what small steps you could take, that will be sustainable. This is the secret to success. In a world where we are all looking for the ‘six-minute abs’ solution to all of our problems, remember lasting change is the secret to success. Look for small action steps you can take and maintain over time. Remember that there is a good deal of time between planting and harvesting. A quick note on that. Different plants take different amounts of time until they are ready for harvest. Your beans do not ripen at the same time as your tomatoes. In fact, one tomato plant may bloom before the one right next to it. Although this seems obvious, we may forget this same rule applies to people as well. Just because neighbor Bob got his degree and new Bugatti by the time he was 40, does not mean we are falling behind. It may be that our plans may bloom later. Sure, it may be a little deflating waving to neighbor Bob in his fancy ride from our Ford Escape, but we must be patient with ourselves and keep tending our own garden. Like compound interest in investing, our small actions over time will lead us to look up one day to amazing results!

ENJOY THE PROCESS

I am going to open this post with a bold assumption. Your definition of success is entirely incorrect. If we were to look up the definition of success online, or even in a dictionary for any old-school souls out there, it would, undoubtedly, say something about achieving a goal, reaching a destination or something similar. I say that definition is incomplete at best. If we were to consider ourselves a success only when we accomplish a goal or reach a definition, we would have to consider ourselves failures most of the time.

I am more inclined to agree with the above definition of success coming from Earl Nightingale. The key word in his definition is progressive. We are progressing, or in the process of achieving our goal roughly 90-95% of the time. If we wait to celebrate until we achieve our goal that would mean that we would be unhappy the vast majority of the time. This would not only be unhealthy, it would be rather foolish. One of the ways we could greatly increase the happiness in our lives, is to find ways to enjoy the process. Not only would this increase the joy we experience and the amount of time we spend in joy, but it would greatly increase our chances of succeeding.

At one of my seminars I had someone ask me, “What does happiness have to do with success?” I equate that with asking what granite has to do with the Himalayas – everything! If something is enjoyable, you are more likely to stick with it. That is why I advocate to add something positive rather than worry about getting rid of the negative. At the very least, do both at the same time. Let us take trying to get in shape. Not a lot of people enjoy going to the gym, especially when they are first starting out. Some people enjoy swimming. Some of us like going for hikes in the park. Still other like riding a bicycle or walking with a dog. Maybe playing a game of basketball with friends or joining a group of friends who go for runs. Which one of these would help you get in better shape? The answer is all of them. The best answer is the one you enjoy doing most.

Why? Life will give us every excuse not to stick to our goals. You had a tough day at work are you more likely to do something you don’t enjoy or something you do? I think we all know the answer to that question. Same with changing your diet. Focusing on what you can’t have can make you feel like you are starving yourself. What is the solution? How about finding fun meals to cook with the one you love? Subscribing to a healthy cooking magazine or website? Joining a healthy cooking class? The possibilities are endless. I had to really work on this while finishing my second book, Living the Dream. Creating content is fun for me, but I had to find a way to enjoy the formatting, editing and things of that nature. These lessons will serve me well as I work on my third book.

Finding ways to enjoy the process allows us to enjoy that 95% of the time that we may otherwise overlook. It will fill our lives with a lot more joy and increase our chances of succeeding at whatever goal we may be pursuing. If our goal is to live a more positive life, than enjoying the process will allow us to succeed 100% of the time. Even the “negative” experiences bring us closer to, and often increase the joy we feel when we reach our goal. It makes the successes that much sweeter. The tougher the fight, the more rewarding the victory. Keeping this thought in mind will allow us to enjoy every step of the process. Even when it seems we are taking steps back, or getting further away from our goals, we are still learning valuable lessons. Success is seldom, if ever, a linear journey. Enjoy the process my friends. It will transform your life.

HERE’S THE SECRET TO SUCCESS – JUST START!

Most of us know a great deal of things that would help our lives be better than the one we are currently living. We may even know some of the steps we should take to increase the quality of our life. Yet, even armed with this knowledge, many of us don’t take those actions. As a life coach and self-improvement author, this can be one of the most frustrating things I encounter. So much so, it is often a subject of discussion with my friend Nick when we get together for coffee. The million dollar question is “If people know what to do to improve their lives, and they even know how to do it, then why are they not doing it?”

The answers can seem as complicated and wide-ranging as the people who have them. If we boil it down to the facts, it usually falls into one of two categories. How do I know this? First of all, through this website I communicate with people in over 150 different countries. These include people of all different ages, cultures and geographies. I also connect with many people at book signings and seminars. Plus, I find myself falling victim to this on occasion. If you think it is frustrating wondering why people you are coaching will not take the actions they know will improve their lives, imagine how frustrating it is when you, the coach, do not do it.

Let us look at the reasons why people will not take the actions that they know will make them happier, healthier, wealthier or whatever improvement they are looking to make. The first one is overwhelm. This is one I often suffer from. We tend to look at the entire process instead of the first step. I want to get healthy but I am going to have to eat more vegetables everyday, workout 5 days a week, drink more water and less soda. STOP! Start by making one simple change. Maybe after, or even before, dinner go for a walk around the block. This may seem insignificant but it serves many purposes. It gets the ball rolling. It starts to build momentum. Same can be said for wanting to write a book. You may think of the hours, days, months and sometimes years it will take to complete. Trust me on this one. Instead, just commit to sitting down and writing 1000 words. In many cases, you may find that this progress is moving a little too slow for you and you will find yourself pushing to do more. Add a healthy meal once a week, type 1000 words several times a week. As we mentioned before, you gain momentum.

The danger in this is on occasion the progress can seem so slow that we give up. That is because we forget our why. I have written several posts on the importance of having a strong why. I devote a whole section of it in my new book Living the Dream. For the sake of brevity, we are going to look at how to keep our why strong. The secret is to keep it in front of you. There are 2 ways you can do this, and I highly suggest you make use of both of them. We are motivated as humans in 2 ways – our desire to experience pleasure and to avoid pain. When it comes to motivating ourselves, we should use both. There is no sense in throwing away 50% of our motivation. Let us say our goal is to lose weight. Find a picture of yourself that you do not like. Couple that with a picture of your goal weight. If you don’t have one of yourself, you can find a picture of who you would like to become. Worried about not being healthy for your children or grandchildren? Maybe a picture of them would motivate you as well. You can use these same techniques for any goal you have. Many of you may say “How could I forget why I want to be healthy, I see it in the mirror everyday.” I will be the first to agree that life has a way of reminding us of situations where we might not be quite at our goals. I also know that sometimes I walk into a room and forget why I am there. It is easy to forget that we are pained with how we look in pictures and how much we want to change when there are doughnuts sitting in the break room. Keeping a visual reminder of our goals in front of us increases our chances of success significantly.

When it comes to our goals, remember it is important to just start. I love increasing my happiness and joy in my life. I saw this picture at a place Margie and I like to eat and it made me laugh. Not sure why it seemed so funny to me, but it did. I decided to take a picture of it to look at on occasion and make me laugh. Do the same with your goals. Add one thing, one simple thing. Do this over and over again. You will start to build momentum and it will gradually become easier. Also, be kind to yourself. If you forget, if you mess up do not beat yourself up. Success is seldom and linear journey. Just recommit and refocus. Keeping a picture of our goals in front of us will help that. Do your best to include the pain of what will happen if you do not reach your goal as well as the pleasure of what will happen if you do. Don’t concern yourself with everything you have to do to reach your goal, just start by doing something. You will not only feel better, you will be one step closer to success.

BUILDING THE WALL

A quick disclaimer. This post has nothing to do with Donald Trump, a border wall or any political opinions. What is does have to do with is how to build a successful life without a mountain of stress. I think that is far more useful than the afore mentioned.

Most people do not know this about me, but I listen daily to other success and motivational videos. I am continually learning and growing myself. When I come across something particularly useful I come here to share it with all of you. In this case I was listening to a video by Will Smith. He told a story about his youth that I believe all of us can put into practice in our own lives. When he was young his father told him and his brother they were going to build a wall in front of his fathers store. When they began, his father gave both of them this incredible advice. Do not set out trying to build the best wall ever. Start out with trying to lay the perfect brick. Make sure that brick is placed as perfect as a brick can be. Do the same with the following brick. You repeat this over and over again. If you do this with every brick you will have built the perfect wall.

Some of you may not see the amazing power of this advice. In our lives we hopefully have some grand goals. Perhaps we want to start our own business? Maybe our goal is to finally get in shape and lose those unwanted pounds? Another popular goal is to get our finances in order. All of these are great goals and I commend anyone who has them on their list.

The problem many of us run into is the overwhelming nature of all of these problems. In other words we try to build the perfect wall. Changing our eating, going to the gym every day and meditation? Instead, do your best at the gym…today. Eat healthier than you did yesterday. Perhaps try to be more mindful than the day before.

Trying to get all of your financial affairs in order? Instead, pay $5 extra on your credit card bill. Make coffee at home once a week instead of going to the coffee shop.

Starting the perfect business can be difficult to say the least. Instead, search logo advice on YouTube. Maybe draw up a business plan. Order business cards.

In other words, focus on one brick at a time. Instead of attempting to solve the problem in its entirety, work on one aspect of the problem. This will not only prevent overwhelm, but give you many moments of accomplishment.

THE KEY TO SUCCESS


Before I began writing this post I put the word ‘success’ into Google and this is what came up. I am calling B.S. on this definition! While it is true a part of success is the obtaining of goals, it is by far not the whole picture. In both of my books and on this post we have pointed out that the gain of material things does not bring happiness. Can your life truly be considered a success if you are unhappy? I think we can all agree the answer to this is ‘no’. We have witnessed countless celebrities end their lives in what seems like the world of their dreams. They have “achieved their desired aims and attained prosperity” as our definition above leads us to believe is what success is all about.
What is the problem? What part of success is missing? What is left out of this definition that makes all of the difference? Much like fitness, nutrition, love and relationships, spirituality and every other area of life, success and its definition should not be about obtaining an end. If you got in the best shape of your life and then stopped taking care of your body would you stay that way? If you wow your partner with the most beautiful romantic moment ever but cease to put anymore effort into that relationship, how long before it fell apart? I think the point has been made.
What is the solution? How can we achieve a success that leaves us fulfilled and full of joy? Once again, I want to refer to the definition given by one of my mentors, Mr. Earl Nightingale.

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

Earl Nightingale
There are two very important words to note in that profound statement. First is the word progressive. Success, much like fitness and love in the examples above, should be a life-long pursuit. Your goal should include certain ends but not be defined by such. This will accomplish several great things for you. First, it will allow you to experience several wins. Let us say your goal is to get into great physical shape. As you are progressing towards that and every time you take an action that gets you closer to that you are a success and should celebrate. Once you get in great shape, the same will hold true. Every day at the gym, every healthy meal you chose…success! In your relationship the same is true. Every romantic gesture you show is a success. Every action you do that makes your partner feel loved and appreciated…success! The more you do to get better, the more reasons you have to celebrate. The more you make them feel loved, the more you can celebrate.
The second word of note is worthy. It mentions pursuing a worthy ideal. Is the accumulation of material goods and wealth the exclusive ideal to pursue? On a personal level, I would love to be a famous best-selling author. That type of goal only serves to get you out of bed so well. It is the deeper ‘why’ that accomplishes that goal. I really want to be someone who can positively affect others and make positive changes in the world we all share. By accomplishing my goal of becoming a best-selling author I would be more likely do that. It is not the wealth or notoriety that drives me, but the desire to make a difference. That is a goal that is larger than myself. That is what we all need, a goal larger than ourselves.


One other key that speaker Steve Rizzo does a wonderful job in describing is ‘Falling in Love with the Process’. This is vital. We spend the majority of our lives in the process and very little time reaching goals. Which would you rather attach your happiness to? Yes, being able to fit in that pair of pants that used to be too tight is a great feeling, but so should be working out in the gym knowing you are getting closer. Seeing the smile on your love’s face is amazing, but so should be putting together the very thing that will bring it out. Recalling our definition of success, remember if we are progressing towards a worthy ideal we are successful. We should celebrate every step closer we get.
As a bonus, I will tell you how I have come to learn how to celebrate even the failures. When I eat a huge meal that I know was no good for me, I either use the feelings of guilt and disappointment I have in myself for motivation to eat healthier in the future. ( a “remember how bad you felt?” sort of thing) or if the meal is not that bad, I celebrate that fact that eating healthier and working out at other times gives me the freedom to eat a little crazy every now and again. Same for my relationship with Margie. Try as I may, I am not always the perfect boyfriend. (I know I found this hard to believe at first too) Seeing the upset or disappointment on her face is a terrible feeling that drives me to never take such actions again. Not to mention, I relish in the fact that I learned a way in which NOT to behave/talk/cook/clean etc. when it comes to our relationship. Yes, of course I would rather have everything be sunshine and unicorns (that in itself would be a great compromise) but then I could never celebrate growing and learning to become an even better version of me. Fall in love with the process. It will add immeasurably to your experience of success and the amount of joy you have in your life.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH MORE IDEAS FOR MAKING YOUR LIFE AMAZING!!!

A PART OF SUCCESS

After my heart diagnosis, I have spent a good deal working on finding a workable stimulant-free preworkout. Something that will give me a little extra ambition to go to the gym without making my heart explode. I have already tried quite a few. None have really worked extremely well. When I try one and I really don’t feel anything I think to myself, “Ok, this one didn’t work. I will have to try a different one.”

Over the course of the last year since I was advised to limit my caffeine consumption I would guess I have purchased and tried somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 or so of these supplements. When they fail to achieve the desired result I just consider it a learning experience and move along to the next one. I do not dwell, at least very long, on the money invested. I do not have some fatalistic thoughts about how I will never find something that works.

This is a personal example but another is one we have all went through. Ask a parent how long they would give their child to learn to walk before giving up and deciding they will crawl for the rest of their lives. The average parent will tell you that their child will keep trying until they learn to walk. If you could get into the complex thoughts of this toddler, I highly doubt you would find depressing thoughts of giving up. They just keep getting up, falling, getting up again and repeating the cycle. First they take one or two steps, then five or six. Pretty soon they are running around like a college student after four espressos. Their parents wishing, if only for the moment, they hadn’t learned to walk quite yet.

 Why is it as adults we cannot maintain this persevering attitude? We start a new business and it goes belly up. We decide perhaps being our own boss is just not for us and look for a new 9 to 5. We fall in love and end up getting our heart broken. Do we learn from that experience and searching for someone who is more in tune with our values and values us more? A lot of us decide love is not for us and we should spend our lives in a one bedroom apartment surrounded by small furry animals.

I do believe part of the issue is mistaking life for a series of destinations instead of a journey. I can’t recall any person who accomplished anything of great value who did so without overcoming a few, or more likely quite a few, challenges along the way. Success is rarely if ever a one-step process. You do not wake up with a goal, go out and nail it the first time and be done with it. On occasion that would be nice, but let us face it that would also make life pretty boring.

I think the world ‘failure’ is too often used and has a terrible connotation. As the picture says, failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of success. This brings to mind one of the best definitions of success I have ever heard. Coming from Earl Nightingale, one of the most profound teachers of success principles. He defined success as follows, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” Meaning, as long as we are working towards our well-defined goals we are a success. It also means success is progressive. It is not all ‘all or nothing’ proposition. Mistakes, lessons and what we often refer to as ‘failure’, are merely steps getting us every closer to our final goal.

TO BE LIST

Much like last post, today’s post will show you how a slight change of focus can make a really big difference. Most of us have ‘to-do lists’. If not written down or in our phones, then we at the very least keep a running tally of things that we want to accomplish in our heads. This can lead to feelings like exhaustion and overwhelm. What if there was a better way to not only accomplish more but do it with less stress? That is the golden ticket of the modern age.

Great news, there is! Change your focus from what you have to do, to who you want to be. This will not only allow you focus on tasks that will push you in the direction you wish to go but also help you prioritize those actions. Instead of thinking “I have to eat 7 servings of vegetables this week.” you focus on “I want to be a healthier person a month from now.” Knowing that is what you like will give you guidance as to what actions you should be taking. Certainly a healthy person would not eat an entire large pizza by themselves. If you goal is to become a happier person who is more at peace it may give you the strength you need to say ‘no’ to things that deprive you of that.

I suggest, and make note of it in my upcoming book, that we all have a life mission statement. I believe knowing where you want to go is more important than focusing on the steps you are taking. Plus, telling yourself “I have to…” every day will not only get old really quickly, but have you feeling obligated to do things that may not even be important to your life. Another thing about ‘to-do lists’ is they usually never get completed. That can leave you feeling like you are constantly falling behind or worse like a failure.

 When you have a written life mission statement somewhere you can see everyday it will guide you and leave you feeling fulfilled and motivated. If your goal is to have a more happy and peaceful existence, and you read that statement to yourself everyday, you will make time to meditate or some other form of self-care. You will not need a to-do list to tell you that.

In any journey it is vital to have a destination. The journey of life is not different.