YOU CAN’T, OR YOU WON’T?

Earlier this week we talked about the person looking back at us in the mirror and how we can decide who that person is. How can we change from someone who sleeps in to someone who goes to the gym five days a week when we are ‘not a morning person’? Better yet, how can you decide to be a morning person when you just really are not a morning person? Leverage.

What do I mean by leverage? One way of looking at this is putting pressure on yourself. This may sound like a terrible idea to some. Being under pressure is generally not a good feeling for most. If we want to change, however, it can be a great tool. Hate cleaning the house? How much can you get done when you discover you are having an unexpected visitor in a little while? If we want to make a change we cannot rely on our willpower alone. After all, if it were that easy we would have made the change already.

How does one get leverage on oneself? One way is to make it imperative. In the above example of you saying, “I would love to go to the gym 6 o’clock in the morning, but I am just not a morning person.” What if I told you every morning you show up before work I am going to give you $5000? Where would you be tomorrow before work? Where would you be at 5:59a.m.? What has changed? It was what became important. What you need to do is find reasons that what you are trying to accomplish is important to you. To this end I suggest using two methods. What pleasure you will receive by doing it and what pain you will experience by not doing it. Then have those reminders in front of you…daily! Don’t like how you look in the mirror? Take a picture and look at it every morning. Being happy with your appearance may get you to the gym. If being that extreme isn’t comfortable, try hanging up an outfit you would really like to fit in. Keep that in front of you daily. Maybe try it on of few times a week.

We touched on the other thing that can keep us from succeeding, and that is our personal identity. How many times have you told yourself, “I am not a morning person?” How many times have you said it to others? That is why our list of who we wish to become is so important. Reading out loud twice a day “I am a morning person!” will slowly get you moving in the right direction. This will not happen overnight. Your identity has been created over years, maybe even decades of beliefs and saying and doing the same things over and over again. Try telling yourself a new story for 60 or even 30 days and see what changes.

Get leverage on yourself. Make the change you desire to make important. Change the story you tell yourself and others and you will be amazed at what kind of changes show up in your life. It will seem like magic!

THE MAN (OR WOMAN) IN THE MIRROR

This week is all about areas that affect our lives in a major way. Today we are going to talk about the person looking back at us in the mirror. It is time to give them a fresh look. When you see yourself in the mirror, what do you see? More importantly, how did you come to that opinion? If you were asked to describe yourself, what would you say? What if you could change that description? Even change parts of you that you may think could never be changed?

It is amazing when I hear people tell me “I am a procrastinator.” or “I am just not a happy person.” My first question is “Really? When did you decide that?” They will either give me one of those looks people give you when you ask thought provoking questions they do not expect, or I receive answers that include the following, “I didn’t decide, that is just who I am.” “I don’t know I have always been that way.” Sometimes an especially introspective individual will share with me some event from their childhood, or maybe their last relationship that prompted this belief. I listen carefully and calmly tell them, “Actually you did choose to be that way and you did so this morning.” Again, more crazy looks.

Here is the uncomfortable truth a lot of us do not like to consider. We choose daily who we are. If you are a person who is always running late, when could you decide to change that? If you are a person who was hurt by an uncaring person in your last relationship, when can you begin to deal with and heal from those experiences? The answer is right now. Let me assure you, I am not trying to make light of anything you have been through. I know a lot of you have been through very painful experiences. Allowing them to continue to hurt you, or to force you to live your life stunted, not experiencing the fullness of joy and love that is available to you is a choice we must make, consciously or unconsciously, every morning when we wake up. It may take seeking professional help or just reaching a point where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, but you are the one who must choose who looks back at you in the morning.

Some of us have even allowed others to tell us who we are. Les Brown, one of my favorite authors and motivational speakers was told throughout his childhood he was educable mental retarded. It took an embarrassing moment of having to tell the teacher he was too ‘dumb’ to solve a problem on the chalkboard to change his life. What the teacher told him not only changed his life, but can change ours as well. The teacher walked around the desk, looked right into his eyes and said, “Never let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.” Read that statement a few times. You may even want to print it out and hang it somewhere.

A lot of us were told by well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) teachers, parents and others growing up that we were not so good at this, or never will amount to that. I personally recall my senior year in high school my English teacher telling me, “I hope to God you never have a career in writing.” I have a website with about 800 posts and am about to publish my second book. More importantly, I have touched the lives of countless of people and will reach even more in the future. What if I listened to that teacher, and several classmates I might add, what would have happened? I never would have attempted to set up a website. I never would have believed I could write a book let alone more than one. All the lives I have helped? I never would have been able to reach them. Just thinking of that gives me a sadness in my heart.

Here is what I suggest. Take some quality time by yourself and think about who you would wish to be. Write down the ideas you come up with. It is vital you do NOT consider your current situation when coming up with this list. If I had done so back in my senior year, becoming a best-selling author and speaker would have never made the list. When you come up with your list take a good hard look at it. Then, take a look at that person in the mirror. Read this list to yourself every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed.

Next time you reach for that twinkie, think of your list. If ‘I am a healthy vibrant individual’ is on there, you might want to give that a second thought. If you choose to eat that twinkie, remember you have made that decision. If you need help, seek help. Remember you and only you should define the kind of person you wish to be. It is time to take control of the person we see in the mirror. Tomorrow we look at another way in which we can gain leverage on ourselves and help move us in the direction we are wishing to go.

DON’T WAIT, CELEBRATE TODAY!!

In past posts we have discussed the importance of not waiting to be happy until. In today’s post, I would like to add a caveat to that, do not wait to celebrate yourself until.

We all have people we know who are chasing worthwhile goals, or really working hard on improving themselves. These are both very noble pursuits. Ironically, these people can be the hardest on themselves, refusing to give themselves any acknowledgement or reward until the have completed the goal or reached their desired improvement.

This can actually be contrary to helping you achieve what you are attempting to do. By denying yourself reward until the very end, or being hard on yourself if you slip up can leave you feeling like a failure.

Examples? Your trying to lose 30 pounds and you eat better for a week and then you slip and enjoy a ‘taco tuesday’. Sure giving yourself a little pain will serve well to get you back on track, but beating yourself up can leave you feeling like you will never succeed. On the contrary even a verbal acknowledgement of the great week of eating could help instill pride and keep you motivated. Sure, you are not down to your goal weight, but you took steps toward a healthy lifestyle, that’s good work!

What about success goals? Maybe you want to write a book to help people live a more positive and rewarding life. You write the book, but then run into problem after problem promoting it. It is important to remind ourselves of our why. Knowing if you help a few people you could start a ripple effect and maybe change more lives than you thought.

These examples are purely hypothetical, but show how delaying recognition of our own accomplishments, even if they fall short of our end goal, can make us feel like a failure and dampen our enthusiasm going forward.

Take time to notice what you have done. Look how much further you are than a year ago, or last week, or maybe even yesterday. When you do mess up? Sure, give yourself a little bit of pain, but then use that feeling to propel you to avoid that pain in the future. Let it strengthen your resolve.

KNOWLEDGE IS POTENTIAL POWER

THE ESSENTIAL KEYS TO SUCCESS KEY #1

One of the things I am asked the most is “How can I quickly change my life?” Such a tricky question because your life up to this point has taken years to develop. Still, I understand we live in that nanosecond world where we expect change instantly. It is with this understanding that I have distilled my essential keys to success. These represent the pillars that most of my teachings are based on. Each one is a powerful belief that you can adapt into your life that will have a profound effect.

The first key is that of action. We have all heard the axiom that ‘knowledge is power’. That is simply not true. Anyone who knows me may find it odd that I am the one bringing you this message. I love learning, quite often for the sake of learning itself. Knowledge, however, is only worth anything if it leads to a specific action. Without action, the knowledge is completely useless. Allow me to explain.

Let us use the analogy of getting in shape. There are plenty of people who spend weeks and months finding the perfect trainer and perfect gym. The watch every video on the perfect exercise for their abs, their butt and whatever other body part they hope to transform. If they were to spend years acquiring this knowledge, yet never so much as picked up a weight or got on a treadmill, would they find themselves in any better shape? A few of you may argue that you want to find the activity that will give you the maximum effectiveness. That is all well and good, but while you are looking you are not taking any steps to getting closer to that beach worthy body.

Now let us look at the opposite side of the spectrum. Consider the person who has no idea what they are doing in the gym. They really want to get in shape so they start taking a walk every morning before work. Gradually they take longer and longer walks, maybe even jogging a little here and there. Even if they never read a book, watch a video or try any other workout they are still going to be getting in shape. Simply by taking action and learning as they go they are able to pick up a few things here and there.

The perfect mix is a blend of the two. If the person going for a walk spent a few minutes learning about nutrition or different resistance workouts as they continued to walk they would find themselves in shape in a surprisingly little amount of time.

The same holds true for those of us working to improve our lives. Millions of dollars are spent on countless self-improvement products every year. At this rate we should all be fit, happy and successful. So, how come we are not? Here is a shocking statistic, only 10% of that material is ever consumed. Most of it is purchased, maybe perused, used to gain the feeling of improving one’s life and then cast aside. Some of it, a small percentage, is even consumed and then not acted upon. Does that sound a bit extreme? Ask yourself this question, is there anything in your own life you know would improve your life, but you have yet to do it? I think we all do.

Today, take action and begin to do the little things. Continue to learn along the way. You will make mistakes, learn from them they are part of the lesson too. Before long you will gain momentum and you will begin to see progress. That will keep you motivated to continue to push forward.