Here is a quick reminder. Keep your focus on where your are going, not what you have to overcome to get there. By focusing on the end goal, your journey feels like…well…a journey. When you focus on each obstacle, life can feel like an endless series of obstacles. It can destroy motivation. Keeping your focus on the the prize can give you that little boost of passion and excitement that comes in handy when things seem darkest.
I suggest using as many senses and reminders of your end goal as you can. Have a picture somewhere you see regularly. Create an affirmation that fires you up emotionally. Have it printed out in several locations. Read it when you are feeling your motivation start to slip. Write out what your typical day will be like after your goal is reached. Read that several times a week to keep the image sharp in your mind. These tools will keep you focused on where you are going and the obstacles will just become part of the journey.
What methods do you use to stay focused on your goals? Share with us so we can all expand our ability to succeed.
Pick a situation in your life. It can be one you are happy with, or one you are not so thrilled with at the moment. Now, here is the fun part – start thinking backwards. The quote above is very true. We are where we are in life because of the choices we have made. This is a good thing. Taking responsibility for where we are gives us control. Many people confuse responsibility for blame. The two are not the same. When you blame someone, or something, for where you are, you give them or it control. When you take responsibility for your life, you assume control over it. What I meant about thinking backwards is looking at the decisions that have taken you to where you are currently, whether that is good or bad.
Even bad situations leave a key to success. Think about what decisions have left you where you are. Maybe you were not disciplined enough in your health and now you find yourself out of shape, or in a healthy crisis. Maybe you didn’t show up for work on time and now you find yourself on probation or looking for work. If you did not act loving and compassionate to your partner, you might be looking for a new valentine. Most people stop here. They might even stick around and beat themselves up over it. This gets us nowhere except feeling bad about ourselves.
Instead, look at how you can make better decisions next time. This is where the difference in blame and responsibility come into play. If you say, “Well, I couldn’t make it into work on time because they kept changing my schedule.” or “If the boss would have been nicer, I would have been more inclined to be there.” How about, “My partner was always nagging me so I snapped.” If you put the blame on others, you are more likely to make the same mistakes next time. Let us face it, finding the perfect schedule, boss or partner is impossible. If we did, they might not keep us around because we are not perfect. We also will feel helpless and not control of your own life. When take responsibility for your own role in your life, you know you can change it. You can show up on time, even if they change your schedule. If your partner does something to irritate you, there are better ways to communicate that and change it. You have control over all of those things.
Harry Truman, one of my favorite presidents, had a sign on his desk that said “The buck stops here.” Meaning, he was in charge of the country, so for good or bad, it was his responsibility. Imagine a politician with that attitude these days! We have been looking at how negative situations can be a great teaching tool, but what about positive ones? We can look at what decisions have helped us arrive there as well. Did we help someone in need and now they have helped us? Maybe we put in the work on a project and now we find ourselves done ahead of time and with a little freedom? We really worked to better ourselves and now we find we have more friends and our spouse is more in love with us than ever! We must look at what positive decisions we made. To take it to another level. See if you can apply these good decisions to an area of your life that may not be working so well. If you have been paying compliments and showing appreciation to your coworkers , but things are not going so good at home, maybe try being a little more attentive there. If you have been doing your 20 squats every day, but you are weeks behind on writing your fourth book (hypothetically) then apply making small efforts every day to that.
Taking responsibility for your lot in life is not blaming yourself. It is taking responsibility and control of your own life. It is using what you can learn from both the good and the bad to make the best out of the life you have left. What decisions have you made that you can learn from?
Here we are again, talking about daily habits. Why is this such a hot topic lately? It is because, as John Maxwell puts it, “The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” We have been discussing habits, routines and daily actions a lot here lately. We have seen how a seemingly insignificant action (20 squats) done over the course of enough time (200 days) can have a huge impact. Think of turning on your facet to just barely drip. Then place a glass underneath it. By the time you wake up, you will have a nice glass of water ready to drink.
We have been using this method to accomplish things such as keeping up with a healthy fitness habit. It can be used for things far greater. Let us look at your relationships. This could be coworkers, friends, family or your intimate partner. One of the ideas we gave for sticking with your habit was to set an alarm on your phone to remind you. What if you set an alarm for 5 minutes after you left work to remind you to give your spouse a sincere compliment? What if you set it for 5 minutes before work to remind yourself to show your coworkers signs of appreciation? It may not make a difference in the short-term, but hearing a sincere compliment or appreciation will strengthen and grow that relationship. Trust me, I use this myself. I no longer need to set an alarm, as it has just become part of a daily practice. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder.
Even if your compliments fall flat. Even if your signs of appreciation may seem…well…unappreciated, the effort will not. Your daily sincere compliments or signs of appreciation, or squats for that matter, are showing that you are trying to bring a better version of you to the table. That will always make you more attractive. Not to mention those squats will do wonders for your backside! Daily habits are the key to success in any endeavor. Think of what daily habits you can use to set yourself up for success!
A few posts back, we spoke about making changes in your life. How easy it is to do a small change for a consistent period of time. In doing so, you create a major change. One of the examples we used was doing 20 squats a day. In one day, you probably would not notice a difference. In a week, you sill might not notice much, other than a soreness from using muscles that you haven’t used in a while.However, done over 200 days, which was the example we used, there would be a major difference.
Recently, someone mentioned they had forgot to stick with their squats already. This is understandable. Life is crazy for us these days. It seems we have 25 hours worth of stuff to do in 24 hours. Somewhere we also have to fit in sleeping. It is also easily correctable. There are a few things you can do that will make sticking to a routine easier than ever. The first one you might be holding in your hand right now. In fact, you could be using it to read this very post. Your cell phone. We seem to have them with us at all times. They may get in the way of healthy in person relationships, or compromise some people’s driving, but we can put them to work for us. Using the example of the squats, let us see how this is done. First, pick a time you can count on fairly regularly. Then set an alarm for that time. Most cell phones will make it a daily alarm. When the alarm goes off, you are reminded to do your squats.
Here is another great idea. Put your friends to work for you. Don’t worry, you won’t have to pay them anything. In fact, it works even better to put your critics to work for you as well. I am talking about putting yourself out there. Let everyone know what you plan to do. Tell friends and coworkers. One great way is to put it out on social media. This is kind of like throwing yourself under the bus. You are letting everyone know what you plan to do and they will be watching. Your friends to see how you are doing. Your critics to prove that you won’t stick with it. Both are good motivation.
The last idea for making it easier to stick with your goals, I do every single day. That is prepare the night before. If we wait until the action must be completed, many things can keep us from taking the actions we need. We could be pressed for time. We could not have our workout clothes clean and ready. A million valid excuses can come up. The way to beat them, and set ourselves up for success, is to prepare ahead of time. My goal was to eat oatmeal for lunch during the week. I like it with a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Occasionally, I toss some dried fruit in as well. I also get up for work at 4am. If I waited until then to pack my lunch and get my coffee together, my counter might look like the picture above. I also would probably forget the oatmeal and just stop for some unhealthy food by my work. So, I get the coffee machine all ready the night before. I get my oatmeal with the cinnamon and nutmeg ready. Even a little bag of dried fruit. Then, in the morning I just grab and go!
Sticking with goals, even small ones, can be difficult. I hope taking these steps will help you with your commitment. I know they work for me, I hope they will work for you. If you have any tricks that help you stick with your goals, please share them with us so we can all benefit.
I ended my third book with this quote. It is an interesting truth. Mr. Einstein was one of the smartest people to grace our planet and I have to admit he came up with a good one here. Going through my surgery and brief flirtation with death did give me a new perception on things. Leading up to the surgery, I think was even more profound. I am going to share this with you in hopes that you will not have to be sawed in two like I was to be able to see everything like a miracle.
How do we begin to see everything as a miracle? We take this bit of advice from another wise soul, Dr. Wayne Dyer. Changing the way we look at things is such a valuable tool that many of us do not use often enough. Let us start with a big one – life. In my book, The Beat Goes On, I share a story about being at the movies with Margie 2 months before my surgery. As we were watching superheroes rid the world of a host of evil villains, it occurred to me that I could be dead a mere 60 days from now. That may sound morbid, and a bit scary, to some of you. It wasn’t to me at the time. What it did serve to do was give me a swift kick in the rear end. Time was ticking. The sand was falling through the hourglass. I looked at Margie and realized that every second ticking by was one less I would have with her. If I only had 2 months, what did I want to tell her? What did I want to do together? How did I want to make her feel? Life had never felt so precious to me. If you want to hear more of this story, I highly suggest checking out my book.
It should be pretty obvious, but just in case it is not, I made it through. It would be tricky to be writing this if I didn’t. What I was left with was not only a really cool scar on my chest, but that sense of urgency. What I realized is that every day, every second is still one less that we get to spend with each other. Not just Margie and I, but everyone in my life. We never know how much sand is in the top of the hourglass, or how much time we have left. All we know is it is less than it was before. When you lay down and night, realize one more day on the planet has ticked by for you. Did you use it well? Were there some things you could have done better? Think of what did go right and the fact that you made it through.Give thanks for that. Really feel that sense of gratitude that your ticket was not punched that day.
When you wake up tomorrow, give a big stretch and be grateful that you made it to another day. Then, realize that the sand is still flowing through the hourglass. How are you going to make the most of this day? Are you going to do something to build your legacy? Are you going to take some time to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature? You could explore the world of a new book. How about telling someone how much you truly love them? Time is ticking. Get every drop out of the juice of life. Live your life as if everything is a miracle, because it really is.
Be prepared! This post will have some uncomfortable truths in it. We have reached the end of January. Those of us who have set goals for the new year are hopefully still committed to them. If we are not, why is that? One of the top excuses I hear about why people don’t commit to improving their lives is that they “Don’t have time.” Let me fill you in on a little bit about yours truly. With my daily commute, I work 55 hours a week at my day job. I DJ with my beautiful lady on Sunday night. We have had a daily blog for 210 days straight now. I am also working on my fourth book. While doing this, I make it to the gym at least 3 days a week. How can I get all of this done? Easy, it is important to me.
When people tell me they do not have time for things, or that they simply ‘can’t do it’. I answer, “No, you just haven’t made it a priority.” When people say that they can’t be a morning person, I ask them, “If I would give you $1000 every day you woke up at 6am, where would you be at 5:59?” Why could you get up early then? It was a priority. You knew you were going to gain something. Nobody is offering you $1000, but do you know what you could accomplish with an hour of focused activity first thing in the morning? It would be priceless. There is a great book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Great book. I highly recommend it. In this book, Hal outlines a great morning routine to transform your life.
I can tell you a few things that will change your life if you decide to make your life a priority. How about 15 minutes of reading something informative or inspirational? Multiple that by 260 days if you don’t do it on weekends, and that is a lot of learning. How about 15 minutes of some sort of stretching or exercise? Again, multiply that times 260 and you will definitely see a difference in your body. How about 15 minutes of repeating an empowering affirmation or looking at your vision board? Multiply that times 260 and it will be sure to affect your emotional well-being and state. How about sitting calmly and meditating for 15 minutes? Again, done for 260 days and you will have a great deal of inner peace, less stress, and be better able to handle life’s challenges. You could do all of those things in an hour, 5 days a week and your life would be dramatically improved. We know this to be true. Still, we don’t do it. We may say we are too busy or that we can’t get up early. If we are honest with ourselves, we are not making our life, and ourselves the priority it should be.
This post may hit a little close to home for many of us. Understand it is not coming from a place of judgement, but one of caring. We must make our lives, and ourselves a priority. We must do so now. Why? If we wait until we have a life emergency, it will be too late. Develop a routine to strengthen your life. When life’s challenges show up at your door, as they do for us all, you will be ready and better equipped to face them. It is my sincere desire that everyone develop a sense of urgency for making their life the best it can be.
We have discussed this many times before. This is not only the key to the Law of Attraction, there is real science behind it. Using the part of the brain called the reticular activating system, which filters what the brain deems important, makes all of the difference in the world. Anecdotally, we see it when we buy a new car or outfit, and suddenly see many people with the same car or outfit. It is just what your brain decided was important.
If we know this happens with cars and outfits, why do we not take advantage of it for more important things? When I urge people to focus on what they have to be grateful for, or what is positive in their lives, this is the reason why. It is not being ignorant to what may not be going well. Indeed, we can use that to better clarify what it is we do want. What it does do for us is reveal more and more things that we have to be grateful for or that are a positive in our lives. It also works in reverse. Every have a bad day at work and when you come home you notice every little annoying thing that your spouse does? Normally, these wouldn’t even bother you. Perhaps you even snap at them when they don’t deserve it? How about if you have a disagreement with your spouse before work? How is the day at the office going to be that way? Productive? Singing kumbaya with your coworkers? I would imagine not.
Enough doom and gloom here. Let us practice thinking positive! What happens when your partner starts the day by showing you a loving gesture? You go into work and don’t even mind if the boss is yelling all day. You are just looking forward to coming home to more of that loving feeling. Maybe you have a great day and work and a relaxing drive home? Then if your spouse seems to be a little more sunshine challenged than you, it might bother you as much. You might even be able to lift them up as well. Why? You were feeling good.
Take having a good start to the day. Maybe you get a hug from that special someone? Maybe your dog snuggles up to you with a cute look on their face? Maybe you just had the perfect cup of coffee? Whatever it is, you leave the house with a smile on your face. You start to drive to work and notice songs you like on the radio. Oh, and what is that new little place to eat that you have never tried? Wow, the trees sure are a pretty shade of green. This may all sound a bit silly, but it is really how our brain works. The crazy thing is that we leave this up to chance most of the time. I did a video on my YouTube channel a few years ago called “Waking up in neutral” We need to act more in life, and react less. Set a determination to have a good day. Read something positive and inspiring. Recite some empowering affirmations. Have your happy playlist set to go. Whatever it takes. Start your day on a positive note and commit to staying focused on the positive. Life will feel like magic.
Ah, winter in Wisconsin. Not my favorite season. I am more of a beach and sunshine sort of man. Still, there is those strange bits of wisdom that you can only get in the snow. As I was driving to work at roughly 4:30 in the morning, this bit of wisdom was brought to my attention. One of the not-so-great things about living in a cold climate is having to scrape the ice off your windshield before heading out. When start work before the sun comes up, you do not always do the most thorough job. As I was making my way down the street, I noticed there was a bit of ice stuck under one of my wipers. This created a nice streak across the window.
Here is the funny thing about a streak on your windshield. Tell me if you can relate. Whether that streak is right above the defroster, or on the top of the windshield as mine was, it always seems to be right where you are looking. A good 90% of my windshield was clear, yet my eyes kept being drawn to this area where the streak was. It occurred to me this was a great parallel for life. 90% of our life can be going great and all we can fixate on is what is not going great. This is especially true if you have a toothache.
Just like driving in winter, if we are staring at the annoying streak, we will miss all the wonderful beauty there might be around us. If we are focused on what is wrong in our life, we will not appreciate the love, beauty and all that is right within our life. The flip side of this is after the car warmed up and the windshield defrosted, the ice melted and the streak was gone. In life, we must often wait and soon our problems will melt away. I could have also pulled over and addressed the problem sooner. Just like in life, we can take action and addressed the issue that is vexing us.
I hope next time you see a streak on your windshield, instead of becoming annoyed, remember this little bit of wisdom. Perhaps it will remind you to look at all of the beauty in your life and not just fixate on the streaks on the windshield of life.
Today is Saturday, the first whole day of the weekend! Let us celebrate by doing exactly what this picture says. Let share one kind word (or group of words) with someone today.
Let us not do this in response, such as “thank you” for a service done, but instead something purely unmotivated. Let us call up a friend out of the blue to tell them we appreciate them. Compliment a stranger on their smile, outfit, or kindness. Speaking of kindness, how about just doing one (more if you like) random act of kindness?
Share with us what kind word, or action, you did, or are planning on doing. Even if you read this on a day other than Saturday, please share the kindness.
Raise your hand if you have ever felt burnout. Now you can put your hand down. If you are reading a blog like this, you have probably felt exhausted, overwhelmed and burnt out. When we do our best to live an amazing life, we can tackle too many things. Juggling, work, parenting, social obligations, family and friend obligations and maybe if we are lucky, throw in a little self-care. Does this sound familiar? As a high achiever, we are all guilty of this at one time or another.
The quote above highlights a good reason why. By doing so, it also gives us the key to getting out of these feelings. The part of the quote that I am referring to is the part about your soul departing. How many times have you been pursuing a passion and you just felt totally overwhelmed? I would say that is a rare moment. When we are doing something we are truly called to, we could be without sleep, haven’t ate in 2 days and barely drinking any water. That is why pursuing a passion is one key element to avoid burn out. You may be thinking, “I already have too much to do! That is why I am feeling burned out.” That leads us to our second, and very important, tool to eliminate burn out.
The second thing you should do is to question the why behind what it is you are doing. Are you doing something because you would feel guilty if you did not? Stop it. Are you doing it just to please someone else? Stop it. This can be a very difficult process for a lot of people. We can find ourselves doing so many things that do not serve us in any way. That is not to say you cannot help or do something for someone else. If helping your neighbor move would make you feel good because he is always doing things for you, then go right ahead. If going to grocery store for your spouse even though you are dead tired would make you feel good because you feel it would demonstrate how much you care, then go ahead.
Here is the tricky thing, if your neighbor has never spoke to you, or maybe you have a bad back, then feel free to say “No”. If you feel that driving to the store would be unsafe because you are too tired do not do it. If you are only going because you feel your spouse would be mad, don’t go. Saying “No” and standing up for ourselves can be one of the most difficult things we have to do. The payoff, however, is having the energy to do what we should be.
Have you ever felt like you are doing everything right and still nothing good seems to be coming of it? It may be that you are doing everything right, but you are not doing the right things. Remember saying “No” does not have to be mean. It does not make you a mean person. When we take control of our own physical, mental and spiritual well-being, we have more energy to bring to the items that stir our soul. This is far from easy, and may have to be done several times. Personally, after a long day working at the post office, I am so tired, it is hard to have the energy to write. Honore de Balzac once said, “Were it not for coffee one could not write, which is to say one could not live.” He also used to drink 50 cups of coffee a day. I am working on my third as I sit at Starbucks typing this very post. This is not the best health regimen. However, writing is my passion. Looking forward to this allows me to have the energy to make it through my 10 hour day at the post office. It also allowed me to say “No” to an additional 2 hours that were offered to me.
We must also look at the payoff of the actions we choose. Had I accepted the additional 2 hours, it would have been some nice money. This is good as Margie and I are planning to go on vacation soon. It would, however, leave me feeling to exhausted to get any writing done. This would not only leave me tired, but frustrated. Not having the energy to pursue my passion and purpose. Make sure this weekend you only say “Yes” to what you have a good why for.