Written from my backyard on February 4th, 2013. No tea, no coffee, just me, the sunshine, and my pug Lincoln. This post inspired by the book Influencers.
How do you approach big challenges? Do you embrace them full on, guns blazing like John McClane in the Die Hard movies?
Or do you poke around a bit, throw around some idea and generally see what sticks?
Regardless, I think most of us tend to think that big challenges require big changes. But I don’t think so. I think more often than not folks convince themselves that a big change is needed in order to convince themselves that it’s just going to be too hard, they don’t have enough time, or the timing just isn’t right.
I disagree whole heartedly. If you want to change the world, or at least your own world you only have to change one thing….
How you behave.
Big Challenges = Big Changes? Not so fast my friend
There is a great quote in one of my favorite books on this 52 books in 52 weeks challenge I’ve got going.
“We pray for serenity rather than seek new solutions to what ails us. Left to our own devices, we don’t come up with the big ideas… we seek solace instead of solutions.” -Influencer
Here’s the equation.
Tray a couple of things – Fail – Give up
I’m sure you all know the Thomas Edison story. The dude tried to invent the light bulb over 1,000 times before getting it right.
More faith needs to be put in yourself. You are capable of amazing things and the great thing about that is there are millions of examples to prove it.
Just look around. People are doing amazing things every single day.
- From inspiring millions through videos like this.
- Pushing personal limits like this.
- Ignoring conventional wisdom and what the “experts” are saying like this guy.
- Or Simply doing what might seem like the ordinary, in a very extra ordinary way. Like this.
You were not put on this earth to simply try a couple of things, fail, and give up.
Each of us is here to leave a mark. Decide today how big of a mark you want to leave.
If you’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve been able to accomplish so far the first place to look is in your head.
The biggest deterrent to getting sh*t done is yourself.
The elephant in the room is often talked about. However, I think the biggest elephant in the room is always the self. The obvious truth that is often ignored is the belief in the self to make things happen.
Instead of taking responsibility the blame is often placed on others, circumstances, resources, time, or a host of other easy to identify scape goats that deflect the fact that the onus is on you to make things happen.
So where do our thoughts go wrong?
1. Your choices are based on what you perceive or think will happen: You anticipate the outcomes of events which affects your decisions and efforts.
2. You tell yourself stories: Instead of looking at the facts and what truly works, has worked in the past, and can provide guidance in the future you create myths and fairy tales about what “might” occur.
You look for exceptions to the rules to convince yourself that something unlikely to happen, will certainly occur.
I’m not ashamed to admit that “He’s Just Not That Into You” is one of my favorite movies. I actually saw this with one of my buddies on a man date (Jeremy), I’m throwing you under the bus to bud 🙂
3. You convince yourself that in order to succeed you somehow must give up something: Usually something that you consider a pleasure.
You may have to sacrifice something for a brief period of time but you will almost never have to give up something entirely. It’s about priority. If something is truly important to you than prioritize it.
Make time for it. How are you spending your days?
4. You believe that the only way is 100%. If you only give 99% you’re a failure: You give up, usually through complete sabotage, convincing yourself that starting from scratch or with a new plan is the only way.
This usually occurs on Mondays.
Focus on your behaviors more so than the outcome.
Success and downfall for most of us comes down to identifying a small set of vital behaviors.
In the book Influencers the example of a diabetic testing their blood sugar four times per day and adjusting insulin as necessary is given.
What are you trying to achieve? What do you need to do consistently in order to get there?
After you identify the key behaviors it’s important to make sure that they promote action.
I’d also say that most of us would agree that identifying those key behaviors is easy. Actually participating in them is much harder.
But take that first step. Get started. Identify those key behaviors that you will need to consistently practice in order to achieve what it is you want to achieve.
- Playing the piano
- Learning another language
- Fat loss
- Muscle building
- Starting your own business
- Meeting that certain someone
How to actually make it happen
It’s been proven that in order to make things happen for yourself there are a few things you can start to apply today in order to start dominating life.
1. Make the easy things easier and the hard things harder. Duh, right? Sounds easy enough but yet most of us don’t do it.
It’s easier to buy healthy groceries than it is to resist eating unhealthy food. If there’s ice cream in your fridge, it will get eaten. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually.
Instead of convincing yourself you don’t have enough willpower and can’t stay on your diet because every time you walk by a Cinnabon and smell that sweet-sweet aroma you end up cheating on your nutrition plan. How about simply not walking by the Cinnabon?
If you have been wanting to take a trip to Thailand but can’t seem to save enough to go, make it easier on yourself.
Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account every week or two that puts a few green in your “happy trip fund.”
Start reducing your spending by only spending on necessities and for the time being ignoring the non-essentials. Cancel cable, sell some of your crap, workout at home instead of holding on to a gym membership, skip dinning out, and avoid Starbucks…. yeah, I just said that.
Although when I took my around the world trip the decision was made on a whim, it had been something I was planning for a little while. I used my spending habits as a way to pay for some of my airfare.
I took advantage of frequent flyer miles offered by various credit card companies. I charged all my normal day-to-day expenses like groceries, gas, and bills and paid the card off in full at the end of each month. Before I knew it, miles and miles galore 🙂
Here are some amazing resources to help any of you interested in travel.
2. Start small. Like really, really small: You already know you need to exercise and eat right to get fit. But that doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your current diet or sign up for a gym membership and run 10 miles on the treadmill.
Make it easier like in example number one above. Eliminate as many excuses as you can. Not enough time to go to the gym? Workout at home. Don’t know what to do? There are free workouts and videos on here.
Start eating healthier by just starting with your breakfast. Yes you’ll want all your meals to be healthy and Paleo friendly (I’m biased. Hence the free e-book). However, figuring out what to eat for every meal can be tough. Make it easy on yourself by just starting with breakfast. Commit to that for a week. Develop the habit, and then move on from there.
3. Use peer pressure: Like Tim here, most of us find it easier to let ourselves down then it is to let others down. Start an accountability group with some friends that are interested in achieving the similar things.
Or take advantage of technology and use a website like stickK.com. You can create commitment contracts for yourself that feature incentives, support, and let you choose the stakes you’re willing to risk…. scary 🙂
4. Make it automatic: I’m not going to lie, I forget stuff. One habit I am trying to make happen is taking fish oil everyday. I’ve never been able to make it happen. I am constantly forgetting, wasting money by throwing away fish oil I can’t finish, and getting frustrated by my inability to remember such an easy task.
I started using an APP on my iPhone called Lift. It gives me the chance to join a community of people who are also trying to achieve the same habit, I have to check in daily and track my progress, and I’ve even set up a daily reminder that gets sent to my phone every morning so I don’t forget.
I’ve also covered habit creation on the site as well. Definitely worth your time or pick up Charles great book that the post was inspired by. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
5. Make it fun: If you are not enjoying something, chances are you are not going to follow through with it. Now not every single waking moment you will enjoy but if you’re a fan of the 80/20 rule like me then enjoying yourself at least 80% of the time is totally doable.
Especially when first starting out, just concentrate on making the experience enjoyable for yourself. If you don’t like to exercise then find activities you like to enjoy that create more activity you love.
- Join a soccer league
- Take dance classes
- Go on walks with family or friends
If you’re looking for a career change and struggling at your current work it may be tough to just up and leave. How can you create a more human environment and less of a corporate environment?
To often we’re looking for to someone else for the answers when most often it is up to us to provide them.
6. Don’t forget rewards: There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Create little checking points for yourself so has you hit milestones you earn little rewards.
I started doing this with saving money. I use mint.com to track all my personal finances and spending so I know exactly where my money is going (or not going).
I’ve set small little savings and spending goals for myself each month. As I hit those goals I get give myself little rewards. Most of them are super small and may seem insignificant to others but they mean a lot to me.
- A glass of red wine out at my favorite place
- A salt bath
- A guilt free day of laziness 🙂
7. Have a recovery plan: I think this is the most important. There will be hiccups along the way. What will you do about them?
- Take time out to brainstorm some of the obstacles, challenges, or tests you may face along the way.
- The cookies in the break room
- The family outings
- The grumpy boss
- Unexpected expenses
Plan for the unexpected and even if something happens that you’re not ready for you’ll have more confidence to handle it knowing that you’ve already thought about many things that could already hamper your progress.
An excellent idea is to create an achievement journal. Pick up a small notebook for whatever it is you are gunning for. Use these 7 tips (and maybe some others that you come up with) and start planning.
Refer to the journal often. Start you day with a review of it. End your day with a recap. Keep you head in the game often.
Don’t be a bystander. Actively participate. What are you going to do toady that gets you one step closer to what you want?
PS: Don’t forget to check out a pretty awesome Paleo resource (ULTIMATE PALEO GUIDE)to help get your nutrition in check. I’m also doing some consulting over there and would love to help you out in anyway I can.
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