Overcome Your Fear of Rejection

How to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Be Fully Yourself Every Day

“If you are fully yourself, the tribe may label you an outcast and you’ll never be included again.” -Kyle Eschenroeder

There is a great fear most people experience when they consider being “truly” themselves.

What if people reject me?

What if people laugh at me?

What if I’m permanently exiled from my community?

How could I ever overcome that shame and embarrassment?

These are real fears. When you choose to be fully yourself, you risk becoming an outcast and public humiliation.

I can keenly relate to this fear — maybe you can, too. I was dominated by the fear of rejection for most of my life growing up. In high school, I remember being constantly disgusted with myself for being such a doormat. I was a total pushover, because I was afraid if I said no, or stood up for myself, people would reject me.

needed to be chosen — by cute girls, by the basketball coach, by my teacher, by the guys in drum line. So I did things for people even when I knew I wasn’t being myself at all.

It’s only now, after 7 years of counseling, therapy, and maturity, that I’ve finally become comfortable being myself, and not what others — my family, friends, and society — wanted me to be.

Here’s how to overcome that terrible fear of rejection and be fully yourself…every day.

Want Freedom? Unlearn Your Constant Need to Be Liked and Chosen

“When we are not chosen, we feel bad. When we are chosen — even by idiots — we feel good. We need to unlearn this imprisonment. Not dissect and analyze it. Just completely unlearn it.” -James Altucher

Most people live their daily lives trying to please others.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I was totally over those behaviors and the fear of rejection. I still get that familiar feeling of dread when someone laughs when I stutter or when someone leaves a hurtful comment on my blog. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% rid of that.

But for the most part, I’m fully myself every day. I’m not afraid to cry in front of my wife anymore. I’m not afraid to say I love Les Miserables, fruity margaritas, or that I really don’t care about the NFL that much.

I got here by choosing to stop looking to other people to fill me up. Because as long as my focus was being “liked” and “chosen,” I’d never get to be fully myself. Because when you’re fully yourself, you’re going to disappoint a lot of people who want to see you help them more.

When you unlearn this limiting mindset, you allow your true self to start coming out. It will be scary and uncomfortable for many people, but it’s the only way to start moving away from the constant state of fear and dread most people wake up with.

Unlearn your need to be liked and chosen all the time. Trust me — it’s far better to be totally honest with yourself and others. It’s one of the most freeing things in the entire world.

“Remember: we all get what we tolerate. So stop tolerating excuses within yourself, limiting beliefs of the past, half-assed, or fearful states.” -Tony Robbins

Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

Don’t Play “Not To Lose” With People…Play to Win

In sports, it’s easy for the winning team to begin playing “not to lose”; being defensive, rigid, and focused on escaping with victory and withstanding their opponent’s comeback.

But when you play “not to lose,” you play weaker, softer, and worse. When you play not to lose in your life, you become defined by:

  • Risk-avoidance
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Panic
  • Desperation
  • Anger

But if you play to win…

  • You will cultivate a standard of excellence that will upgrade every other area of your life.
  • You will reach new levels of mastery and endurance.
  • You will see your old limits…and break them.
  • You’ll be braver.
  • You’ll be more relaxed, entering in flow states and deep focus.
  • You’ll be more confident and self-assured.

Are you playing “not to lose” — avoiding rejection, fearing failure, trying to get through the day unscathed?

Or are you playing to win — confident, focused, determined, full of action and strategy as you reach towards your biggest goals?

A lot of people are playing “not to lose” right now. They’re not actively trying to move forward, they’re just trying with all their might not to get left behind, rejected, or forgotten.

The problem is, this strategy was a bad one from the beginning. When your focus is being defensive and your actions rooted out of fear and risk-avoidance…you greatly increase your odds of failure.

In a letter to his friend, Bruce Lee wrote:

“Alive, a man is supple, soft; in death, unbending rigor. All creatures, grass and trees, alive and plastic, are pliant, too, and in death all feeble and dry. Unbending rigor is the mate of death, and yielding softness, the company of life.”

Stop focusing on “not losing.”

Start focusing on winning, every single day.

“The stiffest tree is readiest for the ax.” -Bruce Lee

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

True Happiness Only Comes in Living the Way You Were Designed

“If your lifestyle does not add to your healing, it will subtract from it.” -Benjamin Foley

If you are tempted to begin acting like everyone wants you to, remember this:

You can never be happy as long as you’re living your life for other people.

In his book As a Man Thinketh, James Allen wrote:

“A man’s wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.”

What Allen is saying is simple: you can’t achieve your goals or reach your dreams until your thoughts and actions are aligned. If you’re always thinking about how you want to live as you watch yourself live an entirely different way, you’ll always be stuck.

You need to realign your thoughts and behaviors to allow growth, well-being, and fulfillment.

You were born with specific needs, desires, goals, and wants. You’ll never be truly happy until you start living the way you were designed.

  • A car doesn’t run on soda, it runs on gasoline and oil.
  • A tree can’t grow if you pour paint on it; it needs water and sunlight.
  • You can’t grow if you stay in an environment dictated by others.

You can’t be yourself if you keep living in ways you weren’t designed to live — no matter what lies you tell yourself.

What are some behaviors you know you need to stop doing? Who are some people you should stop hanging out with?

What are some behaviors and activities that you know you should start doing instead?

One of the greatest pivotal moments in my life was when I decided to go to counseling and therapy.

Until that point, I had a severe addiction to pornography. I was a chronic people-pleaser. My self-worth was terribly low. I hated the ways I acted.

After counseling, I started to behave very differently. No more night-long Internet binges. No more hanging out with vulgar, negative people. No more tolerating merely “surviving” — I was determined to thrive and grow.

Start living the way you were designed to live.

“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone

It’s Not “How Can I Make Everyone Happy?”…It’s About “How Would I Like to Live?”

“People are always asking me about the secrets and tricks I use to get results. Sorry if this disappoints you: there are no secrets. There are no tricks. It’s simple: ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be instead.” -Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s personal trainer

A lot of people wake up every day focusing on one thing:

How do I please other people?

I’m not talking about service and loving sacrifice; I’m referring to the constant feeling that you need to please everyone around you to be alright.

For me, this desire seemed to stem from childhood, and since I never addressed it (I chose to binge on pornography, video games, and mental fantasy for all those years instead), it blooms into a powerful negative mindset that left me resentful, fearful, and exhausted.

When you face your familiar cycle of avoiding rejection, ask yourself:

How do I want to live?

This was the driving force behind my eventual move to leave my 9–5 desk job to travel the world and become a writer.

I worked in corporate America for 5 years, all the while wishing I could work for myself, and not have to deal with dysfunctional bosses, pointless meetings, and long commutes in rush hour traffic.

I had finally had enough, and after the 5th year, I couldn’t ignore that question any longer: how did I want to live? Simple: I wanted freedom, meaning, and control over my life.

I saw where I wanted to go, and I did the work to get there.

Now, I’m doing what I was meant to do — write. I own my own business. I work from home, helping people achieve meaning, clarity, and focus in their lives.

The truth is, there isn’t any “secret,” no magical trick that will get you to where you want to be. Stop asking yourself what others want, and ask yourself how you want to live.

Then, take the steps necessary to get there.

Stop letting other people lead your life.

“Many people think in terms of ‘I have to do what my colleague/neighbor/family member is doing’ instead of ‘I have to do what’s best for me.’” -Grant Cardone

In Conclusion

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” -ancient proverb

The fear or rejection is real. I know.

Those feelings you have aren’t silly, but they are holding you back. The way to overcome them? Do the thing you fear.

Afraid to paint? The solution is simple: go paint.

Afraid to write that book? The solution is simple: write that book.

Afraid to be yourself?

Then just be yourself.

Everything you want and desire is on the other side of fear. Whether you take the steps you know you need to take depends entirely on you.

But being fully yourself is something you can do, every single day — if you choose to.

Live Your Dreams

How To Know If You’ll Live Your Dreams

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” — The Alchemist

The Alchemist is among the top 25 most selling books of all time. If you haven’t read it yet, do so immediately.

In the book, a young boy meets an African King who teaches the boy how to live out his “Personal Legend,” or life purpose.

Most people are content simply dreaming about their dreams — that is enough for them. Only those who are willing to pursue their dreams will see the “omens” along the way — what most consider luck or coincidence.

When you become willing to sacrifice everything to discover and live your life’s purpose, as The Alchemist relates, “all the universe will conspire to make it happen.”

38 time NYT-bestselling author, Richard Paul Evans, has a concept he calls the “Five Kingdoms.” Kingdom One is reserved for only yourself and your connection to your higher power (or whatever you prescribe to). No other human being is allowed in your First Kingdom. The problem, Evans’ explains, is that people allow their spouses, friends, and others into their First Kingdom.

This clouds and confuses everything. It sends you on a path of conformity.

You must live in alignment with yourself, first and foremost. Otherwise, you have no powerful, conviction, or clarity to offer your relationships. You’re just a clone of whatever others want you to be. You have no sense of being and no clear purpose in life. The only way to truly live congruently in life AND in your relationships is to be congruent with yourself.

In order to fully live out your dreams, you must understand and embrace the following truths:

Both Success And Mediocrity Take The Same Amount Of Energy And Time

“The boy could see in his father’s gaze a desire to be able, himself, to travel the world — a desire that was still alive, despite his father’s having to bury it, over dozens of years, under the burden of struggling for water to drink, food to eat, and the same place to sleep every night of his life.” — The Alchemist

Whether you live out your dreams or not, life will be a struggle. It may be more convenient to settle-in to a life of mediocrity, but even still, life will be a struggle.

You’ll have to struggle through jobs you hate.

You’ll have to struggle through relationships that crumble due to lack of confidence, clarity, and openness. The only way to truly be powerful and present in your relationships is to live in congruence with yourself. Otherwise, you always appear and act in weakness in all of your relationships. You can’t fake it. It’s subconscious and energetic.

Deep inside of you will be a gnawing regret for the life you could be living and the person you could be. Even more, you’ll realize the negative impact your lack of congruence is having on those around you. To quote Dr. Stephen R. Covey, “We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.”

Similarly, the famed surgeon and religious leader, Russell Nelson, said “Decisions you first thought to be purely personal virtually always impact the lives of others… You must be mindful of the broader circle of family and friends who will be affected by the consequences of your choice[s].”

If you’re a parent, your children are intensely affected by your choices. If you’re out of alignment with yourself, how do you expect them to live a life of alignment?

If you’re out of alignment, how do you expect them to truly respect you? Of course they’ll love you. No matter who you are, you deserve love. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, you need other people to help you. The opposite of addiction is connection. Rather than judgment, what people need to get out of their dark hole or negative pattern is compassion. You can’t punish the pain out of people.

Similarly, you can’t punish yourself for not living in alignment with yourself. That won’t help you. What you need is connection — with yourself and other people. The longer you attempt to fight a silent battle through grit and willpower, the deeper you’ll bury yourself in your own negative cycles. You’re as sick as your secrets. You need to vulnerable and honest. Otherwise all relationships and situations around you are artificial.

Is there challenge and pain in living your dreams?

Are you often clueless as to what you’re doing and where you’re going?

Does it sometimes feel you’ve sacrificed too much?

Of course. But even in the midst of enormous difficulty, you’ll be living congruently. And nothing external is more important or powerful than being at peace with yourself.

You Can’t Be Overly Attached To Your Money Or Possessions

“‘If you want to learn about your own treasure, you will have to give me one-tenth of your flock.’… The treasure is at the Pyramids; that you already knew. But I had to insist on the payment of six sheep because I helped you make your decision.’” — The Alchemist

The attachment of what you presently own will stop you from making a concrete decision and commitment to pursue your dreams.

“Here I am, between my flock and my treasure, the boy thought. He had to choose between something he had become accustomed to and something he wanted to have.”

The act of decision and commitment is generally tied to the donating of money (or possession) in some form of fashion. When you begin giving your money away, it starts to flow back to you much more powerfully. Because you’re not holding on to it so tightly. You realize you can have as much of it as you want. You begin being far more generous.

“Giving as you get acknowledges the Universe as truly abundant. Giving taps into the spiritual dimension that multiplies us, our thinking, and our results. There is an ocean of abundance and one can tap into it with a teaspoon, a bucket, or a tractor trailer. The ocean doesn’t care.”— The One Minute Millionaire

If you haven’t yet committed to making the decision to live your life in congruence — it’s because you’re still holding on too tightly to what you have. You need to being willing to give it all away.

What you’re holding on to is the price of what you could have. Your scarcity mindset is keeping you stuck. You’ll know you’re ready when you start giving away what you’ve got to a cause you believe in — or to other people in need.

Once you start mindfully giving your money away, you’ll open yourself up getting much much more. The reason is simple, it is the act of donating your money that cements within you the DECISION to live your life more powerfully.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness… The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” — William Hutchison Murray

You Must Be Willing To Risk It All

“If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.” — Admiral William McRaven

In the book, MAKE YOUR BED, Admiral William McRaven tells the story of training to become a Special Operations Officer for the Navy Seals. The most intense training program imaginable.

According to Admiral McRaven…

At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net and a barbed wire crawl, to name a few. But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot-long rope. You had to climb the three-tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life head first. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.

It was a dangerous move — seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training. Without hesitation the student slid down the rope perilously fast. Instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

According to the Biopsychological Theory of Personality, all behavior is either triggered by your “Behavioral Activation System” (BAS) or “Behavioral Inhibition System” (BIS).

Your BAS activates your behavior and moves you forward, despite risks. Your BIS inhibits your behavior and stops you from moving forward, because of risks.

According to the Strategic Principle of War, “The best defense is a good offense.”

In his book, When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake, Tim Larkin explains that when you’re in a hostile situation, if you’re hesitant, you’ll lose.

If you’re retreating backwards, that’s exactly what a perpetrator wants you to do.

If you hold your arms up in a fighting position — you’re also in a position of weakness, because you don’t know what you’re going to do. You’re acting socially — being reactive — and you’ve given your power of choice to them.

The only way to successfully win in a hostile situation is to aggressively move forward on the offensive. This is exactly the opposite of what a perpetrator is expecting. And it’s the only truly powerful defensive.

When you’ve committed fully to living in complete congruence, despite the risk — when you’ve passed your point of no return — you will often be in positions where you’re required to risk it all. To go on complete offensive.

Of course, you likely won’t be required to risk it all. But you must be willing to. It must be YOUR decision, not indecision that determines what happens. And if you’re in alignment with your First Kingdom, you’ll follow your gut and know what to do — and you won’t let the opinions of others cloud your final decision.

You will likely be very misunderstood. The cost will seem too high to most people. They aren’t operating at the same level as you. They don’t realize that your security is internal, and that you’re no longer tied to the outcome. You’re simply tied to living in congruence with what you believe you should do.

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” — The Alchemist

Sometimes, you’ll have lots of money coming your way and be required to give it all back to what you’re trying to accomplish. Consider Elon Musk, who was willing to sink all of his money into his companies. Had he not been willing to do that, he probably wouldn’t be where he is today.

Money for him is a tool. Not something he’s attached to. He doesn’t work to make money. He makes money to do more work. He makes money to fuel the mission.

Let Go Of The Need For A Specific Outcome

In an interview with SuccessMagazine, actor Jeremy Piven explained that as an actor, the only way to work is to go out and audition for specific roles.

The challenge most actors/actresses face is that they get in their own way. It doesn’t matter how much homework they’ve done. If they’re too tied to a specific result, they can’t be present in the moment. They can’t truly perform their art. They come off as desperate. They get in their own way. Their performance isn’t what it could have been.

Jeremy said that when he quit worrying about a specific result, he was able to be present during his auditions. He was able to be completely who he wanted to be. He wasn’t trying to be what he thought others wanted him to be. He performed his art.

If he didn’t get the gig, either they didn’t get it or it just wasn’t the right fit. So he moves on to the next. In this way, he’s able to get the jobs he’s supposed to have. He’s not just trying to get anything he can get.

According to Robert Kegan, Harvard Psychologist, the only way to truly experience the highest levels of transformation and “conscious evolution” is to detach from the need for specific outcomes.

THIS specific outcomes isn’t what matters. THIS outcome, regardless of what it is — win or lose — has no bearing on what you’re committed to doing and being. You’re fully committed and invested. You’ve already made the decision. And in your mind, you already know what you are. So THIS outcome doesn’t affect any of that.

You won’t be derailed by success nor defeat — as most people are. You’ve already made a decision. You’re committed to that decision. And you will move forward regardless of what happens here.

Conclusion

“The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being.” — The Alchemist

Living your dreams is available to everyone. Whether you choose to live your dreams or not, your life will be a struggle and a challenge.

Joe Polish, founder of Genius Network often says, “Life is easy when you live it the hard way, and hard when you live it the easy way.”

However, you will age yourself much quicker due to internal conflict if you choose the struggle of fear, conformity, indecision, and selfishness.

You have the option of evolving to very powerful places and having transformative experiences if you’re willing to. You won’t regret it. Your life will be far fuller and more powerful. The relationships you have will be deeper and more meaningful.

You’ll have a sense of purpose — and other people will respect you for tha

50 Ways To Live On Your Own Terms

1. Stop depending on caffeine

“Addictions embody repetition without progress. They produce incapacity as a payoff.” — Steven Pressfield

Although people think they perform better on caffeine, the truth is, they really don’t. Actually, we’ve become so dependent on caffeine that we use it to simply get back to our status-quo. When we’re off it, we underperform and become incapable.

Isn’t this absurd?

The problem isn’t the caffeine. It’s the compulsion and dependence. The need to rely on it to do everyday tasks which shouldn’t require it. Use it if it’s strategic, don’t abuse it to the point of ineffectiveness.

In his book, The Untethered SoulMichael Singer argues that your energy should come from within — from your why — not from external stimulants. The scientific backing is substantial and unsurprising: intrinsic motivationdestroys extrinsic motivation every day of the week.

Motivation aside — healthy eating, sleeping, and intensive exercise produce higher quantities and quality of energy than caffeine ever could. A holistic approach to life is essential. Garbage in, garbage out.

2. Pray or meditate morning, mid-day, and night

In a recent interview at the Genius Network mastermind event, Joe Polish asked Tony Robbins what he does to get focused. “Do you meditate? What do you do?” Joe asked.

“I don’t know that I meditate. I don’t know that I want to meditate and think about nothing,” Tony responded, “My goal is clarity.”

Instead of full-on meditation, Tony has a morning routine that includes several breathing exercises and visualization techniques that get him to a state of clarity and focus. For me, I use prayer and pondering (my version of meditation) as the same vehicle.

Whatever your approach, the goal should be clarity and focus. What do you want to be about today?

What few things matter most during the next 24 hours?

I’ve gotten the best results as:

  • My morning prayer and meditation are motivational
  • My afternoon prayer and meditation are evaluative and strategic
  • My evening prayer and meditation are evaluative and reflective

3. Read 1 book per week

People living ordinary lives seek entertainment. People living extraordinary lives seek education and learning. It is common for the world’s most successful people to read at least one book per week. They are constantly learning.

I can easily get through one audiobook per week by just listening during my commute to school and while walking on campus. Taking even 15–30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information changes you. It puts you in the zone to perform at your highest.

Over a long enough period of time, you will have read hundreds of books. You’ll be knowledgeable on several topics. You’ll think and see the world differently. You’ll be able to make more connections between different topics.

Reference #19 on this list if you feel you’re “too busy” to read one book per week. There are methods to make this task extremely easy.

4. Write in your journal 5 minutes per day

This habit will change your life. Your journal will:

  • Clear your emotions serving as your personal therapist
  • Detail your personal history
  • Enhance your creativity
  • Ingrain and enhance your learning
  • Help you get clarity on the future you want to create
  • Accelerate your ability to manifest your goals
  • Increase your gratitude
  • Improve your writing skills
  • Lots more

Five minutes per day is more than enough. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, recommends writing far less than you want to — only a few sentences or paragraphs at most. This will help you avoid burnout.

5. Marry the person you love

“For all the productivity and success advice I’ve read, shaped and marketed for dozens of authors in the last decade, I’ve never really seen someone come out and say: Find yourself a spouse who complements and supports you and makes you better.” — Ryan Holiday

Research done by economists have found — even after controlling for age, education, and other demographics — that married people make 10 to 50 percent more than single people.

Why would this be?

Being married gives you a higher purpose for being productive. You are no longer a lone ranger, but have another person who relies on you.

Marriage also smacks you in the face with what’s really important in life. Sure, hanging out and partying is fun. But too many people get stuck in this phase and miss the meaning that comes from building a life with someone.

You will never find a better personal development seminar or book than marriage. It will highlight all of your flaws and weaknesses, challenging you to become a better person than you ever thought possible.

Said Thomas Monson, “Choose your love; love your choice.” After you’ve chosen the person you love, love them. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. Said Frankl in, Man’s Search for Meaning, “For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

6. Make a bucket list and actively knock items off

Most people have it backward — they design their ambitions around their life, rather than designing their life around their ambitions.

What are the things you absolutely must do before you die?

Start there.

Then design your life around those things. Or as Stephen Covey explained inThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end clearly in mind.”

I must confess that until recently, I had put my work before my kids. Sure, I made time for my kids regularly — but in my head and heart, I put work before them. I won’t make that mistake again.

Here’s the truth — when you put the top priorities first, you find the time for the rest. I’ve become more successful and productive while working less because I’m putting first things first. This gives you a sense of confidence and integrity and also fulfills you much deeper.

When you’re fulfilled, you work better.

Working more shouldn’t be the goal. It’s doing brilliant work that supports the lifestyle you’ve chosen based on your values and priorities.

A simple mental exercise that may be helpful is imagining you only have 30 days to live. What would you do in those 30 days?

Now imagine you have 5 years to live. What would you do during those 5 years?

Get to work. The death-bed mentality is the only way to live. Stop pretending you’ll live forever. As Professor Harold Hill has said — “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”

7. Stop over-consuming refined sugar

If you stop consuming sugar, your brain will radically change. Actually, study after study is showing that refined sugar is worse for our brains than it is for our waistlines. According to Dr. William Coda Martin, refined sugar is nothing more than poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins, and minerals.

Refined sugar has now been shown to make us cranky, make us make rash decisions, and make us stupid.

Again, like caffeine, if you stop impulsively consuming refined sugar, you will experience some negative withdrawals. But, like any good habit, the effects of this will be seen in the long-run. What would your health be like a year from now (or five) if you were completely refined sugar-free?

Said Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”

8. Fast from all food and caloric beverages 24 hours once per week

One-day (24-hour) food fasts are a popular way to maintain health and vigor. Fasting leverages the self-healing properties of the human body. Radical health improvements occur when the digestive system is given rest and the organs get ample time to repair and heal themselves.

A regular practice of fasting can:

  • Improve digestive efficiency
  • Increase mental clarity
  • Increase physical and mental vigor
  • Remove toxins
  • Improve vision
  • Give a general feeling of well being

Like all the other habits, fasting gets easier with practice. I’ve been fasting for years and it’s one of the best things I have done for my health.

Fasting is also one of the most recognized techniques in religious and spiritual practices. I also use fasting to get spiritual clarity and refinement.

Honestly, I could go on for hours about this one. Give it a try. You’ll never be the same.

9. Fast from the internet 24 hours once per week

Your body gets an intervention when you fast. Your mind and relationships could use one too. Unplug yourself from the matrix.

If you haven’t caught on already, human beings are highly addictive creatures. We love our coffee, sugar, and the internet. And these things are all great. But our lives can be far more enhanced by using these tools in wisdom.

The purpose of the internet fast is to reconnect to yourself and your loved ones. So, you probably shouldn’t do it the same day you do your food fast. Because eating is one of the strongest ways to form bonds.

You’ll be blown away by how much more connected you feel to your loved ones when you can give them your undivided attention. It may even feel awkward for a while having a real-life conversation without looking at your phone every three minutes.

10. Stop consuming the news or reading the newspaper

Although the amount of warfare and deaths by human hands are reducing globally, you will not get that message watching televised news or reading the newspaper.

On the contrary, these media outlets have an agenda. Their goal is to appeal to your fears by inflating extreme cases — making them seem normal and commonplace. If they didn’t do so, their viewership would plummet. Which is why Peter Diamandis, one of the world’s experts on entrepreneurship and the future of innovation has said, “I’ve stopped watching TV news. They couldn’t pay me enough money.”

You can get high-quality news curated from Google news. When you detox from the toxic filth that is public news, you’ll be startled as your worldview becomes radically more optimistic. There is no objective reality. Instead, we live in perceived realities and are thus responsible for the worldview we adopt.

11. Do something every day that terrifies you

A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” — Tim Ferriss

But you don’t have to constantly be battling your fears. Actually, Darren Hardyhas said that you can be a coward 99.9305556% of the time (to be exact). You only need to be courageous for 20 seconds at a time.

Twenty seconds of fear is all you need. If you courageously confront fear for 20 seconds every single day, before you know it, you’ll be in a different socio-economic and social situation.

Make that call.

Ask that question.

Pitch that idea.

Post that video.

Whatever it is you feel you want to do–do it. The anticipation of the event is far more painful than the event itself. So just do it and end the inner-conflict.

In most cases, your fears are unfounded. As Seth Godin has explained, our comfort zone and our safety zone are not the same things. It is completely safe to make an uncomfortable phone call. You are not going to die. Don’t equate the two. Recognize that most things outside your comfort zone are completely safe.

12. Do something kind for someone else daily

“Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed. Has anyone’s burden been lighter today, because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there?” — Will L. Thompson (music and text)

If we’re too busy to help other people, we’ve missed the mark. Taking the time to spontaneously — as well as planned — helping other people is one of the greatest joys in life. Helping others opens you up to new sides of yourself. It helps you connect deeper with those you help and humanity in general. It clarifies what really matters in life.

As Thomas Monson has said, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” That would truly be a failure.

13. Go to bed early and rise early

According to countless research studies, people who go to bed and rise early are better students. Harvard biologist Christoph Randler found that early sleep/risers are more proactive and are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which leads to being more successful in the business.

Other benefits of going to bed and rising early — backed by research — include:

  • Being a better planner
  • Being holistically healthier as individuals
  • Getting better sleep
  • More optimistic, satisfied, and conscientious

Waking up early allows you to proactively and consciously design your day. You can start with a morning routine that sets the tone for your whole day. You show self-respect by putting yourself first. In your morning routine, you can pray/meditate, exercise, listen to or read inspiring content, and write in your journal. This routine will give you a much stronger buzz than a cup of coffee.

14. Get 7+ hours of sleep each night

Let’s face it: sleep is just as important as eating and drinking water. Despite this, millions of people do not sleep enough and experience insane problems as a result.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) conducted surveys revealing that at least 40 million Americans suffer from more than 70 different sleep disorders; furthermore, 60 percent of adults, and 69 percent of children, experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.

In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month — with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more.

On the flip side, getting a healthy amount of sleep is linked to:

  • Increased memory
  • Longer life
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Decreased fat and increased muscle mass with exercise
  • Lower stress
  • Decreased dependence on stimulants like caffeine
  • Decreased risk of getting into accidents
  • Decreased risk of depression

And tons more… Google it.

15. Replace warm showers with cold ones

Tony Robbins doesn’t consume caffeine at all. Instead, he starts every morningby jumping into a 57-degree Fahrenheit swimming pool.

Why would he do such a thing?

Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness. When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life. It can also increase weight-loss because it boosts your metabolism.

2007 research study found that taking cold showers routinely can help treat depression symptoms often more effective than prescription medications. That’s because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals which make you feel happy.

To me, it increases my willpower and boosts my creativity and inspiration. While standing with the cold water hitting my back, I practice slowing my breathing and calming down. After I’ve chilled out, I feel super happy and inspired. Lots of ideas start flowing and I become way motivated to achieve my goals.

Here’s a tip if you’re just starting out: start your shower warm, as usual. Let the warm water on your muscles allow you to stretch them out. After you’re stretched and washed, completely turn-off the warm and completely turn-on the cold. It really isn’t too bad at all. It feels incredible. Just do it for 60–90 seconds, then get out. You’ll be very pleased.

16. Say “No” to people, obligations, requests, and opportunities you’re not interested in from now on

“No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no.” — Derek Sivers

Your 20 seconds of daily courage will most consistently involve saying “no” to stuff that doesn’t really matter. But how could you possibly say “no” to certain opportunities if you don’t know what you want? You can’t. Like most people, you’ll be seduced by the best thing that comes around. Or, you’ll crumble under other people’s agendas.

But if you know what you want, you’ll have the courage and foresight to pass up even brilliant opportunities — because ultimately they are distractors from your vision. As Jim Collins said in Good to Great, “A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.”

17. Say “Thank you” every time you’re served by someone

It’s amazing when you meet someone who is expressively and genuinely grateful. It’s amazing because, frankly, it’s rare.

I remember one day while working as a busser of a restaurant as a teenager. Every time I went by a certain table, whether I was refilling waters, bringing food, anything… the kid at the table (no more than 20 years old) graciously said “thank you.” I even heard him from close proximity saying it to all the other employees when they stopped by his table.

This experience had a dramatic impact on me. It was so simple what he was doing. Yet, so beautiful. I instantly loved this person and wanted to serve him even more.

I could tell by how he looked in my eyes when saying “thank you” that he meant it. It came from a place of gratitude and humility.

Interestingly, one study has found that saying “thank you,” facilitated a 66 percent increase in help offered by those serving. Although altruism is the goal, don’t be surprised as your habit of graciously saying “thank you” turns into even more to be thankful for.

18. Say “I love you” 3+ times a day to the most important people in your life

According to neuroscience research, the more you express love (like gratitude), the more other people feel love for you. Sadly, people are taught absurd mindsets about being vulnerable and loving in relationships. Just this morning, my wife and I had to coax and prod our three foster kids to say one nice thing about each other, and to say they loved each other.

It took several minutes for our 8-year-old foster boy to muster the strength to say he loved his sister. Yet, all of our kids constantly berate and belittle each other.

You know the feeling: when you want to say “I love you” but hold back. What a horrible feeling.

Why do we hesitate to express our love?

Why do we hesitate to connect deeply with others?

This may be strange, but if you tell your friends and family you love them, they’ll be blown away. I once knew a Polynesian missionary who told everyone he loved them. It was clear he was sincere.

I asked him why he did it. What he told me changed my life. “When I tell people I love them, it not only changes them, but it changes me. Simply by saying the words, I feel more love for that person. I’ve been telling people all around me I love them. They feel treasured by me. Those who know me have come to expect it. When I forget to say it, they miss it.”

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” –Harriet Beecher Stowe

Here’s a pro-tip: In the morning when you first wake up, write in your journal (see #4 above). But during your morning journal writing — include your family.

Write about your spouse and kids. Answer the following prompt in your journal: How could I show love and appreciation for them today?

As you write in your journal, two things will happen: 1) self-awareness and 2) creativity.

Self-awareness will show you where you’re taking your loved ones for granted. You’ll quickly see that you haven’t been as engaged and devoted and thoughtful as you could be.

Creativity is all about taking the relationship to the next level. In your journal, write the ideas for how you can positively impact that relationship today. Then, thoughtfully and courageously act to bring about a deeper connection.

You can transform your relationships and develop deep emotional bonds quickly with some awareness and thoughtfulness. Your relationships do not have to be a pattern of the past. You can design them for the future.

19. Consume 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up

Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. Similarly, Tim Ferriss, in his book, The 4-Hour Body, also recommends 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after waking up.

According to Tim, his father did this and lost 19 pounds in one month.

Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevents spikes in hunger.

Eating protein first decreases your white carbohydrate cravings. These are the types of carbs that get you fat. Think bagels, toast, and donuts.

Tim makes four recommendations for getting adequate protein in the morning:

  • Eat at least 40% of your breakfast calories as protein
  • Do it with two or three whole eggs (each egg has about 6g protein)
  • If you don’t like eggs, use something like turkey bacon, organic pork bacon or sausage, or cottage cheese
  • Or, you could always do a protein shake with water

For people who avoid dairy, meat, and eggs, there are several plant-based proteins. Legumes, greens, nuts, and seeds all are rich in protein.

20. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts on 1.5 or 2x speed, your brain will change faster

Listening to audiobooks at normal speed is so three years ago. There is a going trend — particularly in Silicon Valley — to listen to audiobooks at 150 or 200 percent called “speed listening.”

In 2010, the tech blog GigaOm suggested “speed-listening to podcasts” as an overall time-saving technique. Software called FasterAudio promises to “cut your audio learning time in half.”

If you want to get hardcore, a particularly useful tool is Overcast — a podcast-playback app with a feature called Smart Speed. Smart Speed isn’t about simply playing audio content at 150 or 200 percent of the standard rate; but actually attempts algorithmically to remove fluff (e.g., dead air, pauses between sentences, intros and outros) that bulks up the play time of audio content.

Use this technique and you’ll be consuming as much information as you once consumed caffeine.

21. Decide where you’ll be in five years and get there in two

“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?” — Peter Thiel

There is always a faster way than you originally conceived. Actually, goal-setting can slow your progress and diminish your potential if you rely too heavily upon it.

In an interview with Success Magazine, Tim Ferriss said that he doesn’t have five or ten-year goals. Instead, he works on “experiments” or projects for a 6–12 week period of time. If they do extremely well, the possible doors that could open are endless. Tim would rather play to the best possibilities than get stuck on one track. He says this approach allows him to go drastically farther than he could ever plan for.

22. Remove all non-essentials from your life (start with your closet)

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” — Greg McKeown

Most of the possessions you own, you don’t use. Most of the clothes in your closet, you don’t wear. Get rid of them. They are sucking energy from your life. Also, they are dormant value waiting to be exchanged for dollars.

Getting rid of underutilized resources is like injecting motivation and clarity into your bloodstream. While all of that untapped energy gets removed, a new wave of positive energy comes into your life. You can use that energy in more useful and productive ways.

23. Consume a tablespoon of coconut oil once per day

Coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

Here are 7 reasons you should eat coconut oil every single day:

  • It boosts HDL (good) cholesterol and simultaneously blocks LDL (bad) cholesterol buildup
  • It has special fats that help you burn more fat, have more energy, and maintain a healthy weight
  • It fights aging and keeps you looking and feeling young
  • It reduces fever and acts as an anti-inflammatory
  • It is antibacterial and thus wards off possible illnesses
  • It improves memory and cognitive functioning (even for people with Alzheimer’s)
  • It can boost testosterone for men and balance healthy hormones level for both men and women

Coconut oil is a healthy alternative to caffeine. Eating a small amount will give you a shot of energy without the side-effects.

24. Go for 3–5 walks per week

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” — Thomas Jefferson

In the book, Daily Rituals, Mason Currey highlights the routines and rituals of some of the most successful artists, scientists, writers, musicians, etc.

A very common feature in these people’s lives is WALKING.

It’s the most healthy form of exercise on the planet. It’s also incredibly good for self-awareness and creative thinking. You give yourself space and allow the scenery around you to trigger creative mind-wandering, which leads to powerful insights and emotional commitments.

If you make walking a habit in your life, you’ll become far more healthy, creative, and successful.

25. Choose to have faith in something bigger than yourself, skepticism is easy

In the timeless book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill explains that a fundamental principle of wealth creation is having faith — which he defines as visualization and belief in the attainment of desire.

As Hill famously said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

If you don’t believe in your dreams, the chances of them happening are slim to none. But if you can come to fully know the things you seek will occur, the universe will conspire to make it happen.

According to Hill (see page 49 of Think and Grow Rich), here’s how that works:

  • “Faith is the starting point of all accumulation of riches!”
  • “Faith is the basis of all ‘miracles’ and mysteries that cannot be analyzed by the rules of science!”
  • “Faith is the element that transforms the ordinary vibration of thought, created by the finite mind of man, into the spiritual equivalent.”
  • “Faith is the only agency through which the cosmic force of Infinite Intelligence can be harnessed and used.”
  • “Faith is the element, the ‘chemical’ which, when mixed with prayer, gives one direct communication with Infinite Intelligence.”

Like expressing love, in our culture, many have become uncomfortable with ideas like faith. Yet, to all of the best business minds in recent history, faith was fundamental to their success.

26. Stop obsessing about the outcome

Research has found that expectations in one’s own ability serve as a better predictor of high performance than expectations about a specific outcome. In his book, The Personal MBAJosh Kaufman explains that when setting goals, your locus of control should target what you can control (i.e., your efforts) instead of results you can’t control (e.g., whether you get the part).

Expect optimal performance from yourself and let the chips fall where they may. The organic output will be your highest quality work. Put most simply: Do what is right, let the consequence follow.

27. Give at least one guilt-free hour to relaxation per day

In our quest for success, many of us have become workaholics. However, relaxation is crucial for success. It is akin to resting between sets at the gym. Without resting, your workout will be far less than it could have been.

Foolishly, people approach their lives like a workout without rest breaks. Instead, they take stimulants to keep themselves going longer and longer. But this isn’t sustainable or healthy. It’s also bad for productivity and creativity in the short and long run.

28. Genuinely apologize to people you’ve mistreated

People make mistakes several times every single day. Sadly — and hilariously — much of the time we act like kids and blame our mistakes on external factors. Research has found that people who don’t openly and often apologize experience higher levels of stress and anxiety.

You don’t need that pent-up energy in your life. Make amends and let it go. It’s not your choice if people choose to forgive you.

29. Make friends with five people who inspire you

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

Who you spend time with is incredibly important. Even more fundamental is: what types of people are you comfortable around?

Your comfort level is one of the clearest indicators of your character. Are the people you enjoy being around inspiring or degrading, hard-working or lazy?

What kinds of beliefs do your friends have?

What kinds of goals are they pursuing?

How much money do they make?

What does their health look like?

All of these things dramatically impact you. And it is one of the most painful experiences in the world to become uncomfortable around people who have long been your friends. When you grow and evolve and long for more, you’ll begin seeking a different crowd to surround yourself with.

Misery loves company. Don’t let them hold you back. Move on but never detach from the love you have for those people.

30. Save 10 percent or more of your income

“I would have saved 10 percent automatically from my paycheck by direct deposit into a savings account earning the best possible interest compoundeddaily. I would have also disciplined myself to deposit 10 percent of any additional money from gifts, refunds or other earned income. I would havebought a small house outright with the money I had saved (instead of renting an apartment for over 30 years). I would have found a job that I loved and devoted my life to it. At least you could be happy even if you were not where you wanted to be financially. Hope this helps someone out there.” — D. Lorinser

Tithing yourself is a core principle of wealth creation. Most people pay other people first. Most people live above their means.

In total, American consumers owe:

  • $11.85 trillion in debt
  • An increase of 1.4% from last year
  • $918.5 billion in credit card debt
  • $8.09 trillion in mortgages
  • $1.19 trillion in student loans
  • An increase of 5.9% from last year

The U.S. Census in 2010 reported that there were 234.56 million people over the age of 18 years old, suggesting the average adult owes $3,761 in revolving credit to lenders. Across the average household, American adults also owe $11,244 in student loans, $8,163 on their autos, and $70,322 on their mortgage.

Simply switching to home-brewed coffee will save you an average of $64.48 per month (or $2 per day) or $773.80 per year. By putting the savings into a mutual fund with average earnings of 6.5% interest and reinvesting the dividends into more mutual funds over a decade, the $64.48 saved every month would grow into $10,981.93.

My wife once took an accounting class from a world-renowned accountant. His words on the first day of class, “The most important thing you’ll learn in this class, which most people will never learn: spend less than you earn. If you do this, you’ll be financially free.”

31. Tithe or give 10 percent of your income away

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer.” — Proverbs 11:24

Many of the wealthiest people in the world attribute their healthy financial life and abundance to giving some of it away.

Most people are trying to accumulate as much as they can. However, a natural principle of wealth creation is generosity. As Joe Polish has said, “The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.”

From a spiritual perspective, everything we have is God’s (or the Earth’s). We are merely stewards over our possessions. When we die, we don’t take our money with us. So why hoard it?

As you give generously and wisely, you’ll be stunned by the increases in your earning potential. You’ll develop traits needed for radical wealth creation.

Although a religious example, this next story is incredibly instructive and fascinating.

George Q. Cannon was a leader of the Latter-Day Saint Church some time ago. As a young and impoverished man, he approached his tithing practice in a unique way. Tithing, in that faith, is Biblical and encourages members to pay 10% of their income.

But George was highly imaginative in how he paid his tithing. Rather than paying retroactively, wherein he paid 10% of what he earned, he decided to pay 10% of what he intended to earn in his future.

In a talk, Dr. Wendy Watson further expounded on this story:

When his bishop commented on the large amount of tithing poor young George was paying, George said something like: “Oh bishop, I’m not paying tithing on what I make. I’m paying tithing on what I want to make.” And the very next year George earned exactly the amount of money he had paid tithing on the year before!

George Q. Cannon was not transactional in his religious approach to tithing. He was transformational. He didn’t see tithing as a cost, but an investment in himself and his relationship with his faith.

Whether you are spiritually-minded or not, the implications of this story are psychologically instructive.

How was he able to turn his financial investments into upgraded skills and mindsets?

Rather than acting from your present circumstances, you act from your future circumstances.

Rather than living from the present or past, you can “assume the feeling of your wish fulfilled.”

This is one of the reasons to write down your goals daily — it allows you to live as though your desired future is already a concrete fact.

But this is also another reason to invest money in yourself, your relationships, your priorities, and your future. When you invest in something, you upgrade your subconscious mindset around that thing. Essentially, you’re saying to yourself — I can be, do, and have more than I currently am. This is why imagination is so key.

In George Cannon’s case, he invested in his relationship with his God, which led to a 10X transformation. Investment is always a more powerful mindset than seeing things as a cost.

32. Drink 64–100 ounces of water per day

Human beings are mostly water. As we drink healthy amounts of water, we have smaller waistlines, healthier skin, and better functioning brains. Actually, as we drink enough water, it’s safe to say we’re better in every way.

It’s a no-brainer. If you’re not drinking the healthy amount of water each day, you should critically assess your priorities in life.

33. Buy a small place rather than rent

Unless you live in a big city (which many of you do), I’m baffled how many people pay outlandish amounts on rent each month.

When my wife and I moved to Clemson to begin graduate school, we did a lot of front end work to ensure we’d be able to buy a home. What’s shocking is that our mortgage payment is far less than most of our friend’s rent payments. By the end of our four years here in Clemson, we’ll have earned several thousand dollars in equity and even more in appreciation. Conversely, many of our friends are simply dumping hundreds of dollars into someone else’s pockets every month.

Paying rent is like working hourly. You get money while you’re on the clock. When you’re not on the clock, you get no money. Earning equity is like having residual income. Every month you pay down your mortgage, you actually keep that money. So you’re not “spending to live”as most people do. You’re living for free while saving — often earning in appreciation.

34. Check your email and social media at least 60–90 minutes after you wake up

Most people check their email and social media immediately upon waking up. This puts them in a reactive state for the remainder of the day. Instead of living life on their own terms, they’d rather respond to other people’s agendas.

Hence, the importance of having a solid morning routine. When you wake up and put yourself, not other people first, you position yourself to win before you ever begin playing. As Stephen Covey has taught in his book, Spiritual Roots of Human Relations“Private victory always precedes public victory.”

Make the first few hours of your morning about you, so that you can be the best you can for other people. My morning routine consists of prayer, journal writing, listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I workout, and taking a cold shower.

After I’ve had an epic morning, and I’m clear on the direction of my day, I can utilize email and social media for my benefit rather than a detriment.

35. Make a few radical changes to your life each year

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”— Alain de Botton

Reinvent yourself every year. Novelty is an antidote to monotony. Jump into new pursuits and relationships.

Try things you’ve never done before.

Take risks.

Have more fun.

Pursue big things you’ve been procrastinating for years.

In 2018, my wife and I went from having no kids to having 5 kids. We adopted three siblings from the foster system and had twins. We also moved from South Carolina to Orlando, Florida. Many other insane things happened and we’re honestly still recovering.

Creating huge changes in your life also produces huge amounts of stress. But when you have your priorities clear, and when you’re engaging in healthy habits — you can make it through the other side a much different and more mature human being.

As Jack Canfield said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Similarly, a different and more powerful version of you is on the other side of change. Don’t let the emotional pain and learning stop you from evolving.

36. Define what wealth and happiness mean to you

“Be everything to everybody and you’ll be nothing for yourself.” — John Rushton

No two human beings are the same. So why should we have one standard of success? Seeking society’s standard of success is an endless rat-race. There will always be someone better than you. You’ll never have the time to do everything.

Instead, you recognize that every decision has an opportunity cost. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously don’t choose several others. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s beautiful because we get to choose our ultimate ideal.

We must define success, wealth, and happiness in our own terms because if we don’t, society will for us — and we will always fall short. We’ll always be left wanting. We’ll always be stuck comparing ourselves and competing with other people. Our lives will be an endless race for the next best thing. We’ll never experience contentment.

37. “Change the way you feel, think, and act about money” — Steve Down

Most people have an unhealthy relationship with money. It’s not necessarily their fault; it’s what they were taught.

In order to change your financial world, you need to alter your paradigm and feelings about money.

Here are some key beliefs the most successful people in the world have:

  • In a free-market economy, anyone can make as much money as they want.
  • Your background, highest level of education, or IQ is irrelevant when it comes to earning money.
  • The bigger the problem you solve, the more money you make.
  • Expect to make lots of money. Think BIG: $100,000, $500,000, or why not $1 million?
  • What you focus on expands. If you believe in scarcity, you’ll have little.
  • If you believe there is unlimited abundance, you’ll attract abundance.
  • When you create incredible value for others, you have the right to make as much money as you want.
  • You’re not going to be discovered, saved, or made rich by someone else. If you want to be successful, you have to build it yourself.

When you develop a healthy relationship, you will have more. You won’t spend money on the crap most people waste their money on. You’ll focus more on value than price.

38. Invest only in industries you are informed about

Warren Buffett doesn’t invest in technology because he doesn’t understand it. Instead, he invests in banking and insurance. He’s not a tech guy. He invests in what he understands.

Yet, so many people invest in things they don’t understand. I’ve made that mistake. I once invested several thousand dollars in an overseas rice distribution. Although the investment sounded incredible on paper, it’s turned out to be a disaster.

I didn’t have the understanding to make an informed decision. I put my trust in someone else’s hands. And no one cares about your success more than you do.

From now on, I’m going to responsibly invest in things I can make informed decisions on.

39. Create an automated income source that takes care of the fundamentals

We live in unprecedented times. It has never been easier to create automated income streams. No matter your skill-set and interests, you can put a business in a place that runs 24/7 even while you’re sleeping, sitting on the beach, or playing with your kids.

An entrepreneur is someone who works for a few years like no one will so they can live the rest of their life like no one else can.

If you want to free up your time and energy for the things that matter most, either invest in stuff you’re informed on (e.g., real estate, businesses, mutual funds), or, create a business that doesn’t require you (e.g., create an online educational course about something you’re passionate about).

40. Have multiple income streams (the more the better)

Most people’s income comes from the same source. However, most wealthy people’s income comes from multiple sources. I know people with hundreds of income streams coming in each month.

What would happen if you set things up so you were getting income from 5 or 10 different places each month?

What if several of those were automated?

Again, with a few short years of intentional and focused work, you can have several income streams.

41. Track at least one habit/behavior you’re trying to improve

“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” — Thomas Monson

Tracking is difficult. If you’ve tried it before, chances are, you quit within a few days.

Research has repeatedly found that when behavior is tracked and evaluated, it improves drastically.

It’s best to track only a few things. Maybe just one at a time.

If you want to track your diet, a fun approach is taking a picture of everything you eat. Everything. This allows you the time to determine if you really want to put that in your body.

So, your tracking can be creative. Do what works for you. Use a method you will actually do. But start tracking.

As a consultant and executive coach, tracking and reporting behavior, daily, has been the number one factor in my client’s success. When you track something, you become aware of it. When you report something, you become accountable to it.

Most of my clients simply send me an email at the end of their workday with a few bullet points (e.g., I did 4 hours of work on my startup, I made 3 sales, I didn’t check social media before noon). Accountability to a spreadsheet or app is not the same as accounting to a person — particularly one you trust and respect.

42. Have no more than 3 items on your to-do list each day

When you shift your life from day-to-day reactivity to one of creation and purpose, your goals become a lot bigger. Consequently, your priority list becomes smaller. Instead of doing a million things poorly, the goal becomes to do a few things incredibly — or better yet, to do one thing better than anyone else in the world.

“If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.” — Jim Collins

So, instead of trying to do a million small things, what one or two things would make the biggest impact?

Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, explains that there are two economies: The Economy of Hard Work and The Economy of Results.

Some people think hard work is the recipe. Although this is completely true, the effort is often misplaced. Most people focus on the process, or work first, and the result second. Conversely, those who determine the outcomes their seeking first can better discern which strategy will be most effective. Sure, that strategy may be out of your comfort zone, but as Tim Grover has said in Relentless, “When you crave the end result, the hard work becomes irrelevant.”

Tim Ferriss, in his book, The 4-Hour Body, explains what he calls Minimum Effective Dose (MED), which is simply the smallest dose that will yield a desired result and anything past the MED is wasteful. Water boils at 100°C at standard air pressure — it is not “more boiled” if you add more heat.

What is the fastest way to get your desired outcome?

43. Make your bed first thing in the morning

According to psychological research, people who make their bed in the morning are happier and more successful than those who don’t. If that’s not enough, here’s more:

  • 71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy
  • While 62 percent of non-bed-makers are unhappy
  • Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested
  • Whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired.

Crazy, right?

Something so simple. Yet, when you make your bed first thing in the morning, you knock-off your first accomplishment of the day. This puts you in a mindset of “winning.”

Do it! It only takes 30 seconds.

44. Make one audacious request per week (what do you have to lose?)

“Rainmakers generate revenue by making asks. They ask for donations. They ask for contracts. They ask for deals. They ask for opportunities. They ask to meet with leaders or speak to them over the phone. They ask for publicity. They come up with ideas and ask for a few minutes of your time to pitch it.They ask for help. Don’t let rainmaking deter you from your dream. It’s one of the barriers to entry, and you can overcome it. Once you taste the sweet victory of a positive response, you’ll not only become comfortable with it, you might even enjoy it. But making asks is the only way to bring your dream to life.” — Ben Arment

I got into graduate school way after applications were due because I asked.

I’ve gotten free NBA tickets by asking a few players I saw at a hotel.

I’ve gotten my work published on high tier outlets because I ask.

I recently heard the story of someone who wrote “Fast Pass” on the back of their business card and presented it to a Disney employee. After some fun and light-hearted conversations, the employee let them through.

Very few things in life are just randomly given to you as an adult. In most cases, you need to earn it and/or ask for it.

Yet, there are many opportunities currently available to everyone if they would muster the courage and humility to ask.

The entire crowdfunding industry is based on making asks.

Start making bold and audacious asks. What’s the worst that could happen?They say “No”?

What’s the best that could happen?

When you don’t ask, you lose by default. And you’ll never know the opportunities you missed out on.

Don’t sell yourself short. Ask that beautiful girl on a date. Ask for that raise or big opportunity at work. Ask people to invest in your idea.

Put yourself out there. You’ll be blown away by what happens.

45. Be spontaneously generous with a stranger at least once per month

Life isn’t all about what you can achieve or acquire. It’s more about who you become and what you contribute.

Interestingly, research done at Yale has found that people are instinctively cooperative and generous. However, if you stall and think about being helpful or generous, you’re less likely to do it. And the longer you wait, the likelihood of you being helpful diminishes. This principle applies to other areas as well, like creativity. The longer you wait to do something, the less likely it is you’ll do it.

So, be spontaneous. When you get the wild thought of buying the person’s food in the car behind you, just do it. Don’t think about it.

If you’re driving down the road and see someone with car trouble off to the side, just do it. Don’t think about it.

When you want to say “I love you,” to a loved one, just do it. Don’t think about it.

Paralysis by analysis is dumb. And Malcolm Gladwell explains in Blinkthatsnap-decisions are often far better than well-thought-out ones.

46. Write and place a short, thoughtful note for someone once per day

The messages of handwritten letters impact deeper and are remembered longer than electronic messages. There is no comparison to this traditional form of conversation. Handwritten messages are so powerful that people often keep these notes for a long time. Sometimes a lifetime.

Jack Canfield has taught that writing 3–5 handwritten notes per day will change your relationships. In our email world, it can seem inefficient to hand-write and mail a letter. But relationships aren’t about efficiency.

Not only will handwriting letters change your relationships, it will change you. Research has shown that writing by hand increases brain development and cognition more than typing can.

Consequently, the things you write will be seared into your own memory as well, allowing both you and the recipient to reflect back on cherished moments.

Writing handwritten notes spices up your relationships, adding an element of fun. It’s exciting placing kind and loving notes in random places for your loved ones to find. Put a note under the windshield wipers of your loved one’s car to find after a hard day’s’ work. Hidden, wait til they come out and watch them from across the street. You’ll see their eyes light up and smile spread.

Other fun places include:

  • In the fridge
  • In the closet
  • On the computer keyboard
  • In their shoe
  • In their wallet
  • The mailbox

Anywhere that makes the experience a surprise…

47. Become good friends with your parents

“The parent-child connection is the most powerful mental health intervention known to mankind.” — Bessel van der Kolk

Many people have horrible relationships with their parents. I once did myself. Growing up can be tough and sometimes our parents make horrible decisions that negatively impact us.

However, my parents have become my best friends. They are my confidants. I turn to them for wisdom and advice. They understand me like no one else. Biology is a powerful thing.

Although I don’t see things the same way my parents do, I love them and respect their viewpoints. I love working out with my dad and talking about big ideas with my mom.

I couldn’t imagine not being close to them.

If your parents are still around, rekindle those ties or increase the flame. You’ll find enormous joy in those relationships.

48. Floss your teeth

About 50 percent of Americans claim to floss daily. My guess is that’s a large over-estimate. Either way, the benefits of flossing are incredible.

Doing so daily prevents gum disease and tooth loss. Everyone gets plaque, and it can only be removed by flossing or a deep cleaning from your dentist. Plaque buildup can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and a high body mass index.

Yes, not flossing can make you fat.

Not only that, but it greatly reduces bad breath.

49. Eat at least one meal with your family per day

If possible, eat a sit-down meal with your loved ones daily. It doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

We’ve become so high-paced in the world that everything we do is on the go. We’ve forgotten what it means to just be with our loved ones.

Eating together creates a sense of community like nothing else.

Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report.

50. Spend time reflecting on your blessings at least once per day

Gratitude is the cure-all for all the world’s problems. It has been called, “the mother of all virtues,” by the Roman philosopher Cicero.

When you practice gratitude, your world changes. There is no objective reality. All people perceive reality as they selectively attend to things that are meaningful to them. Hence, some people notice the good while others notice the bad.

Gratitude is having an abundance mindset. When you think abundantly, the world is your oyster. There is limitless opportunity and possibility for you.

People are magnets. When you’re grateful for what you have, you will attract more of the positive and good. Gratitude is contagious. It changes not only your world, but everyone else’s you come in contact with.

Build Powerful Mental Strength

Man Lifting Barbel

Using mantras to build powerful mental strength

“You stupid, dumb fool! What have you done?”

How often do you talk to yourself like that?

We can get so used to talking this way, we don’t notice how often we do it.

Most of us are so brutal to ourselves in thought over so many years, we lose touch with what it’s like to be genuinely at ease in our souls.

You’ve heard of all the ‘cures:’

Meditation, affirmations, exercise, hypnosis, pills, sleeping more, and therapy.

 

Let’s keep it simple.

When we spend our lives thinking things that put us down; when we replay ugly memories and focus on what isn’t working, our reality is literally being moulded into a colourless form of hell.

We become what we repeatedly think. We put into motion on what we dwell.

Those thoughts, obsessively replayed, and revisited, dictate how you behave, how you hold yourself, and how you experience the texture of life.

Do you repeatedly think of the world as a terrible, frightening place? Then your visions will be granted.

How would you act in such a world?

This is a two-way system. Your environment will respond to how you behave within it, reinforcing your running theme.

Be a positive life force, and your world will wobble itself into alignment with you, appearing vivid and joyful.

Think of yourself as inept, and reality will impose itself brutishly.

Bleak thoughts cloud your mind and your world in darkness.

But you cannot turn OFF darkness. The dark is merely the absence of light.

In the same way, negative thinking cannot be forced shut. It is the absence of thinking about what’s good.

The solution lies in focusing on what is good.

Mantras are repeated phrases used in meditations, and they can be adopted into everyday consciousness.

“I love myself.”

“I believe in myself.”

“I am more connected to others than I think.”

“I am a good person.”

We can obsessively think about what isn’t good, or we can obsessively think about what is good. That is the choice that can change everything. It’s so simple, and it holds the solution for so many.

The more obsessive your negative thoughts, the more obsessive we need to be in the positive.

Flood your thinking with good thoughts continually. Whenever you remember, say your mantra or various phrases. That is how to lift yourself out of a shadowy world.

I was reminded of this idea in Kamal Ravikant’s book: ‘Love yourself like your life depends on it’. He’s one of the few people who has dared to show us the almost comical simplicity of the solution.

Tell yourself you love yourself. That’s all you need. Experiment with other encouraging phrases.

Mantras become visions that get absorbed into your reality-defining subconscious. Do it repeatedly. Be unreasonable and ridiculous with how you pile the light onto the dark.

Repeat good mantras and positive affirmations to yourself whenever you can. Out loud and silently.

Read Kamal’s book.

You might be thinking — like I did — that doing this is ludicrous, and not natural. Well, neither is thirty-plus years of calling yourself an idiot. That negative self-talk needs a counter-weight. And we do this with positive self-talk.

Telling yourself that you love yourself will be a challenge to start because you’re not used to it. And it will feel stupid. It will also be challenging to keep it going. That will be the hardest. Doing it every hour of every day. Difficult yet supremely simple.

‘Being positive’ gets a bad rap because some see it as deluded and unrealistic.

There is a difference between being ‘positive’ to the point of neglecting your issues and being positive to lift yourself and others up to better deal with a problem.

Think about those who comforted the men beside them during the Great War. Were they deluded, or were they brave in the face of unimaginable terror?

Follow Alex’s adventures and art on Instagram

Nothing has changed in this regard. Monsters encroach all of us. All we have is the choice to lift ourselves up or to succumb to victimhood — to letting those monsters in.

Choose to lift yourself up.

Reverse the painful and distressing pathways you’ve built for yourself in the tapestry of your mind.

Say enough good things to yourself, and new pathways will form. Don’t worry when you slip. Just start with self-warmth now. Like any habit — those actions will become more and more automatic.

When you fill your consciousness with positive ideas, you will deny negative thoughts the opportunity to emerge and be ruminated on.

And — like with any habit — the warning is the same: don’t stop. You will do this when you’re in a low place and feel lifted. But don’t stop when you’re high again. This is the time you need to repeat your mantras more than any.

I did this years ago and then stopped, and then got depressed. This happens when things go well, and you don’t feel as much urgency. But like any habit, it must be done all the time.

Many of us suffer when we don’t do things that seem too risky. We are filled with shame and regret. Most of our excuses are unfounded. We become avoidant, and we lose out on many of life’s better moments.

This is unacceptable. I have missed out on a lot this way. All because of my own self-imposed barriers.

What we need if we are struggling, lifting ourselves out of our ‘sunken place,’ is a cushion — something to give us a sturdier baseline that helps us see what we are capable of — something that helps us feel — even if fleetingly — that there is magic in this world.

Use the simple tool of speaking good things to yourself, even if you don’t believe the words. And do it a lot. It is a continual practice. With persistence, you will start to feel it.

You will sense a new strength running through you. This is how to build that cushion.

With time, you will wonder how you were so blind to bliss.

How you value your time is how you value your life

 

Photo by Marcelo Matarazzo on Unsplash

Pretend Your Time is Worth $1,000/Hour and You’ll Become 100x More Productive

How you value your time is how you value your life

“Pretend your time is worth $1,000/hr. Would you spend five of them doing extra work for free? Would you waste one on being angry?” –Niklas Göke

You have very few hours here on on this earth.

Still, many people waste much of their time on pointless, low-quality activities that don’t help them reach their true goals — their mission.

The truth is, most people value their time at far, far less than it’s worth.

They say yes to things they have no business doing. They give away their talents, attention, and effort to others who take, take, take.

They spend hours watching low-quality television and social media when they should be productive and effective.

See, many people could be making a fortune (if they used their time well)…but instead, they give away their time in unproductive ways that leave them broke, unhappy, and stuck.

But what if you placed a high value on your time?

How would that change you? Your life? Your family? Your future?

Imagine that an hour of your time is worth $1,000.

What would your life look like?

What people would you stop putting up with?

What problems would you stop wasting time on?

What things would you stop — and start — doing?

Your results would be incredible. You’d become exponentially more productive, focused, and effective.

“Most people have no clue what they are doing with their time but still complain that they don’t have enough.” -Grant Cardone, NYT best-selling author

“Busyness” Isn’t a Badge of Honor; It’s a Sign of Weakness

“Being busy is a form of mental laziness.” -Tim Ferriss

It takes discipline to not become “busy.”

If you let it, your world and the people around you will take all your time. Your time is not unlike your paycheck; if you don’t budget for things, you’ll have nothing left over by the end of the month.

This is how lives are wasted — by doing thankless work for ungrateful takers that didn’t deserve your time in the first place.

We’re all busy — with work, our families, our friends. It’s not bad to be “busy.” But in the words of best-selling author Jeff Goins:

The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.

Are you focused, making tangible action steps towards what truly matters?

…Or are you just “busy?”

When you’re busy, you are on autopilot. You can’t see the hours slipping away, time you’ll never get back.

Wrote the ancient philosopher Seneca:

“Indeed the state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations…If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect how small a portion is their own.”

Who’s in charge of your time?

You?

Or everyone else?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Busyness and Stress Are the Enemy

“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.” -William Irvine

Most people prize “being busy.” They proclaim it with pride, as if it’s a badge of honor.

But for most people, this “busyness” is nothing more than distraction and procrastination from what really matters. They just like feeling busy.

Said author Benjamin Hardy, “Most people lack the confidence to go big. They prefer the dopamine boost of getting lots done, even if they aren’t making any progress.

For world-class performers, busyness and stress are the enemy. They’re a sign you’re off-track. It means you’ve been lazy and undisciplined, and have let too many unimportant tasks take you away from what really matters.

“Being busy is a form of mental laziness.” -Tim Ferriss

Bestselling author Jeff Goins once wrote, “The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.” Extremely successful people don’t tolerate busywork or distraction. They have crystal clear vision on their goals, and do what they need to do to get there, every single day.

In his landmark book Deep Work, Cal Newport recounts some choice insights on how to develop insanely productive results through removing all distraction and entering flow states:

“Busyness and exhaustion should be your enemy. If you’re chronically stressed and up late working, you’re doing something wrong. Do less. But do what you do with complete, hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of your day.”

Deep work means absolutely not tolerating distractions and producing monumental quality and quantity in a very short time. This is how you can complete far more with focused efforts than unfocused efforts with far more time.

Do you want incredible productivity?

Then cultivate extreme focus with whatever you do.

If you don’t manage your time, it will manage you.

“When you have less time available for work, you have to make better choices about what to work on (and what not to).” -Tim Metz

As You Think, So You Are

“As a man thinketh, so is he. As he continues to think, so he remains.” -James Allen

You teach people how to treat you.

If you let people know your time is free and low-valued, people will treat it as such.

But if you teach people that your time is expensive, important, and valuable, then people will respond in kind.

What you think is what you become. If you think your time is worth a few bucks an hour, that you’ll begin to act like it. You’ll find yourself saying “yes” to meaningless, pointless obligations.

But if, in your heart, you know your time is valuable…

People will recognize that.

People will respect that.

People will treat you differently.

Wrote author William Irvine:

“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If you don’t treat yourself and your time with respect, you will become unhappy, resentful, and tired. Your body and mind long for mastery and freedom; you can’t have those things if your time is cheap and easily taken.

You become what you are.

You attract what you look for.

Back in my early days of writing, I didn’t think I was much of a writer. So I spent a lot of time on low-quality activities, like begging other low-tier/no-name bloggers to let me write guest posts.

No one responded to me. I rarely was invited to write. I think people could see how little I valued myself, and didn’t want to promote my message. I don’t even blame them.

Years later, I finally began seeing my time as very important. I began saying “no” to almost everything. I had a mission, and I became unwilling to fill my valuable time with things that wouldn’t help me achieve my goal.

I turned down high-paying, exciting, interesting opportunities…because they weren’t the right fit. In the end, they were all wasting time I needed to focus on my mission.

As you think, so you are.

Treat your time as a valuable commodity, and people will begin to treat it like that, too.

You Can Do Amazing Things, But Only If You Have Time to Do Them

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” -Warren Buffet

You probably need to say “no” more.

Every time you say yes to something, it means you’re saying “no” to a dozen other opportunities. The world’s most successful and extraordinary people say no to almost everything, but yes to a few things.

Those few things determine their career, legacy, and livelihood.

Warren Buffet, investor extraordinaire and a net worth of over $70 billion dollars, has said that for every hundred opportunities he is given, he might say yes to 1–2 of them.

Really successful people say no to most things, because most things won’t get them to where they truly want to be.

Steve Jobs also shared this mentality. Decades ago, Jobs was quoted:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

This process of weeding out the merely “good” for the truly great opportunities is easier when you value your time at $1,000/hour. Anything you can honestly justify doing for $1,000/hour is probably a good thing.

In Conclusion

“Living in frenzy is a sign we’ve squandered too much.” -Niklas Goke

In reality, a lot of people are living a frenzied, busy life. They wear their business as a badge of honor, and brag about their full schedules.

Frankly, most people prefer the little dopamine boost of checking boxes on a to-do list than actually getting important work done.

How do you value your time?

Take stock of the things you did this week. How many of them were worthy of $1,000/hour?

How many activities were a true waste of time?

Value your time at what it deserves to be. The higher the value, the more important and productive work you’ll do — and the less trivial and mindless tasks you’ll get caught in.

Tips for Learning Anything Faster

Photo by Elijah Hail on Unsplash

Some Tips for Learning Anything Faster

It’s great when we finally learn something new. It’s wonderful to finally have grasped a new topic or have mastered a new skill such as a foreign language.

Yet, the task of actually sitting down and putting in all that nasty work to learn seems overwhelming. It seems like learning anything new will take years, and you have an insanely busy life to lead.

Of course, like anything else in life that is worth doing and requires work, the first thing is to get your mind right. You have to really want to do it. It has to actually mean something to you. It has to hit you on an emotional level.

Until you truly commit to doing something you are likely to fall short of your goal. Here are some tips that will convince you to commit, but also help you reach your goals faster:

  1. Practice and Repetition: Doing the same thing over and over again eventually hammers it home. The more your mind is exposed to something the quicker it learns it. Use flash, i.e. note, cards to practice any material you are trying to learn. Writing something down over and over again is also foolproof. No, it’s not sexy, and it’s not exactly fun. It just works.
  2. Listening to Music: Listening to music has been shown in studies to stimulate learning. Listening to Megadeth at full blast probably ain’t gonna do it, but listening to classical music has been shown to boost performance on tests when taken immediately after learning while listening to music. It also helps to listen to ambient electronic music as well as listening to the same song on repeat many times. You fall into a groove and focus harder.
  3. Visualization: Picture yourself actually working on what you will learn. See yourself sitting down with a book, or using flash cards, having the music on, what you are wearing, the time of day, the whole nine yards. And most importantly, picture yourself enjoying it and being successful at it. This way you’ve taken some of the dread out of it, and gotten used to the idea of putting in that work.
  4. Overviews: If you are learning from a book or an online course, take a look at the table of contents and skim the topics. Then go to each chapter and get a brief overview of what it is about. Again, this can take away some of the dread you may feel, and it may even make you look forward to it. It will also demystify the subject and ease you into it.
  5. Learn by Dreaming: Say what? Stop laughing! This sounds hokey as hell and I don’t blame you for rolling your eyes but I can assure you I have had so many good ideas come to me in the middle of the night. The key is to think about what you are learning right before you go to bed. The best thing to think about is something you are confused about. Our minds actually do process information in our sleep. It might not work every time but it does work.
  6. Discuss with Others: Working on just about anything with other people usually leads to quicker results. Talk over hard material with other people. They can give you tips, but just explaining it to them is a new and different way of learning material that you may have struggled with locked away alone trying to learn. Albert Einstein had his most important breakthrough in formulating his Theory of Relativity when discussing it with a friend. He had been close to giving up before that conversation.
  7. Know Why You Are Learning: Learning about history is easy for me because I enjoy history. Learning about constitutional law was not easy for me, but I did it because it was necessary to become a lawyer. Figure out why you are learning and that will aid you in actually getting it done. There has to be something in it for you; figure out what it is.
  8. Engage Your Senses: When I was studying for a 19th century American history final in college I went out and saw a movie called Dances with Wolves. Yes, I sort of rationalized going to see a movie to get out of studying but it actually helped synthesize what I had been studying. Seeing how Indians lived and how they interacted with whites gave me a better appreciation of that history. So if you are learning about a subject don’t just read about it, watch a show on TV or Youtube on it or listen to an audiobook.
  9. Take Some Well-Time Breaks: Cramming for an exam can help you learn a lot of material in a short amount of time, but you only retain it for a short amount of time as well. To really learn something you need to take your time. Work intensely for short bursts, and then take a break. You avoid burnout this way, but your mind also needs this time to refresh itself. Your mind also subconsciously continues to work while you take a break.

I hope that takes some of the stress out of learning for you. To have learned something is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but putting in that work is not always pleasant. Follow these tips and I know you will find learning easier and faster than you previously imagined.

Why You Can’t Break Your Bad Habits

bad habits

I’ve tried many different ways to break my bad habits. But none of the conventional tips and tricks brought me lasting success.

We try the weirdest things to get rid of our bad habits. And we blindly believe every single person who gives us advice on the topic.

The most popular advice is this: “Replace a bad habit with a good one.”

It’s wrong. It doesn’t work.

I’ve discovered a much more effective way of changing our lives by changing our habits. I’d love to share it with you. But first, let’s ask ourselves a question.

What’s A Bad Habit?

To me, everything we do that doesn’t have a positive return is a bad habit. Sometimes, it’s what we don’t do that’s the bad habit. For example, I consider laziness as a bad habit.

If you’re too lazy to get out of bed in the morning, clean your house, or go to the gym; you’re not a worthless person—you simply have a bad habit that you need to get rid of.

That’s how I look at most unproductive behavior. I’m not saying that everyone has the same ideas about the meaning of life. But if you, like me, believe that the purpose of life is to be useful, you need the right habits to back that up.

Simply put, anything that prevents you from being useful is a bad habit. We all know that a lot of our behavior is bad. It doesn’t require a genius to understand that eating junk food, smoking, drinking alcohol, complaining, watching the news, browsing social media, lashing out to people, and sitting on your ass all day are bad things.

They have no positive return. No one feels good after doing those things. And yet, we keep sticking to our bad habits because we can’t break them.

Advice About Habits Is Misunderstood

What’s the best way to form a habit? I’ve been researching that question for more than a decade. And I’ve tried every piece of advice that I’ve read about.

I’ve learned that you’re more likely to actually form a habit when you focus on ONE habit at a time. To be honest, that’s not a groundbreaking finding. Every single person who writes about habits will tell you that.

But as humans often do, we’ll blindly assume that the same is true for BREAKING habits.

However, it doesn’t work that way. I only discovered that recently. I will tell you more about that in a minute.

Here’s something else that I’ve learned recently. We have the ability to form more than one habit at a time.

“What?! So I don’t need to focus on one habit at a time?”

The most common criticism that I’ve heard about the “form one habit at a time” idea is that it takes “forever” to change your life. I think there’s some truth in that. Given that it sometimes takes months to form a habit, it can take years to build a foundation of good habits that support your goals.

To be honest, that’s not my biggest concern. Like the cliché says, patience is a virtue. And I think we all need to be more patient. Good things come in time.

But that’s not the problem most people face with habits. Most of us give up before we actually have formed a habit. And if we quit a good habit, we often fall back to our old (bad) behavior before the season changes.

You Need A More Extreme Approach

Look, I’m not saying that replacing bad habits with good habits is bad advice. The problem is that most of us only apply that advice to one habit at a time.

And yes, that does not work.

Think about it. If you drink alcohol every day and eat unhealthy food, what will happen if you quit drinking? If you continue to eat candy bars, salted nuts, potato chips, burgers, pizza, it will not take long before you think “a beer would sure taste nice with this burger.”

If you’re addicted to consuming content on social media and watching tv shows, you can’t “just” get rid of your social media apps on your phone. If you have a tv, you’ll simply binge watch some crap on Netflix. And before you know it, you’ll reinstall those apps with one click. Most of the time, you can pick up right where you left off. You don’t even have to sign in again.

Don’t go down that road. Instead, be committed to change. If you truly want to break your bad habits, go extreme on yourself. Yes, I’m actually saying you should take it seriously. Why? Because your life is a serious matter.

Remember this: If you want to break your bad habits, BREAK THEM ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Go all in. Or don’t go at all.

What We Need Is A Different Lifestyle

It all comes down to one question. How serious are you about living a purposeful life?

I’ve asked myself that question many times in the past. And every now and then, I still have to ask myself that. Falling back on bad habits happens for a reason.

Life is hard. We experience setbacks, stress, and hurt all the time. And our natural reaction is to escape our challenges. Every time we say things like “I need to relax with a glass of wine on the couch,” we’re fooling ourselves.

We’re trying to escape the desperation of life. Inside, we feel lonely and empty. And we try to fill it with bullshit. Now, that bullshit is different for every person.

I might crack open a bag of potato chips and watch a movie, you might be on the phone all night with your friends, another person might hit the nightclub to pop pills, and another one might buy the latest gadget.

But if you want to make a contribution and make yourself useful during the little time you’ve been granted on this planet, you and I both need a different lifestyle.

We need to take care of our body and mind. We need to sleep well, eat healthy, work out, read books, reflect on our lives, and most importantly: Be someone others can count on. You can’t do that with bad habits.

What’s Next?

Think about how serious you are about living a meaningful life. Then, identify the habits that are holding you back. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’ve created a list of 11 unproductive habits that I’ve quit in the past.

Once you’ve identified your bad habits, decide to quit them ALL. And decide that RIGHT NOW.

Now, all of a sudden, you’re a new man or woman. You’ve been given a clean slate. You can form new habits. This article with a few practical tips to form habits might help.

Remember earlier, when I said that you don’t have to form only one habit at a time? What I meant was that if you quit ALL your bad habits, you have the mental ability to form more than one habit at a time.

There’s only one limitation: Focus on one habit per area of your life. To me, the areas are career, health, learning, money, and relationships.

For your career, you might want to show up earlier every day. For your health, you can run every day. For learning, you can spend an hour a day on learning a new skill. For your relationships, you can practice kindness. For your money, you can save 20% of your income.

And yes, you can do all those things. Why not? But remember, your chance of success decreases when you try to take on too much. Can you learn multiple skills at the same time? Can you save money for your retirement and buy a new car? Maybe, but you’ll be much more successful if you do just one thing at a time.

We can achieve many great things in life. We only need the right habits to support us.

 

LIFE – How to Break a Bad Habit and Replace It With a Good One

How to Break a Bad Habit and Replace It With a Good One

Woman Drinking Using Mug

by James Clear
Read this on JamesClear.com
Bad habits interrupt your life and prevent you from accomplishing your goals. They jeopardize your health — both mentally and physically. And they waste your time and energy.

So why do we still do them? And most importantly, is there anything you can do about it?

I’ve previously written about the science of how habits start, so now let’s focus on the practice of making changes in the real world. How can you delete your bad behaviors and stick to good ones instead?

I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but keep reading and I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to break a bad habit.

What causes bad habits?

Most of your bad habits are caused by two things…

Stress and boredom.

Most of the time, bad habits are simply a way of dealing with stress and boredom. Everything from biting your nails to overspending on a shopping spree to drinking every weekend to wasting time on the internet can be a simple response to stress and boredom. [1]

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can teach yourself new and healthy ways to deal with stress and boredom, which you can then substitute in place of your bad habits.

Of course, sometimes the stress or boredom that is on the surface is actually caused by deeper issues. These issues can be tough to think about, but if you’re serious about making changes then you have to be honest with yourself.

Are there certain beliefs or reasons that are behind the bad habit? Is there something deeper — a fear, an event, or a limiting belief — that is causing you to hold on to something that is bad for you?

Recognizing the causes of your bad habits is crucial to overcoming them.

You don’t eliminate a bad habit, you replace it.

All of the habits that you have right now — good or bad — are in your life for a reason. In some way, these behaviors provide a benefit to you, even if they are bad for you in other ways.

Sometimes the benefit is biological like it is with smoking or drugs. Sometimes it’s emotional like it is when you stay in a relationship that is bad for you. And in many cases, your bad habit is a simple way to cope with stress. For example, biting your nails, pulling your hair, tapping your foot, or clenching your jaw.

These “benefits” or reasons extend to smaller bad habits as well.

For example, opening your email inbox as soon as you turn on your computer might make you feel connected. At the same time looking at all of those emails destroys your productivity, divides your attention, and overwhelms you with stress. But, it prevents you from feeling like you’re “missing out” … and so you do it again.

Because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it’s very difficult to simply eliminate them. (This is why simplistic advice like “just stop doing it” rarely works.)

Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit.

For example, if you smoke when you get stressed, then it’s a bad plan to “just stop smoking” when that happens. Instead, you should come up with a different way to deal with stress and insert that new behavior instead of having a cigarette.

In other words, bad habits address certain needs in your life. And for that reason, it’s better to replace your bad habits with a healthier behavior that addresses that same need. If you expect yourself to simply cut out bad habits without replacing them, then you’ll have certain needs that will be unmet and it’s going to be hard to stick to a routine of “just don’t do it” for very long.

How to break a bad habit

Here are some additional ideas for breaking your bad habits and thinking about the process in a new way.

Choose a substitute for your bad habit. You need to have a plan ahead of time for how you will respond when you face the stress or boredom that prompts your bad habit. What are you going to do when you get the urge to smoke? (Example: breathing exercises instead.) What are you going to do when Facebook is calling to you to procrastinate? (Example: write one sentence for work.) Whatever it is and whatever you’re dealing with, you need to have a plan for what you will do instead of your bad habit.

Cut out as many triggers as possible. If you smoke when you drink, then don’t go to the bar. If you eat cookies when they are in the house, then throw them all away. If the first thing you do when you sit on the couch is pick up the TV remote, then hide the remote in a closet in a different room. Make it easier on yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.

Right now, your environment makes your bad habit easier and good habits harder. Change your environment and you can change the outcome.

Join forces with somebody. How often do you try to diet in private? Or maybe you “quit smoking” … but you kept it to yourself? (That way no one will see you fail, right?)

Instead, pair up with someone and quit together. The two of you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your victories together. Knowing that someone else expects you to be better is a powerful motivator.

Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live.You don’t need to ditch your old friends, but don’t underestimate the power of finding some new ones.

Visualize yourself succeeding. See yourself throwing away the cigarettes or buying healthy food or waking up early. Whatever the bad habit is that you are looking to break, visualize yourself crushing it, smiling, and enjoying your success. See yourself building a new identity.

You don’t need to be someone else, you just need to return to the old you. So often we think that to break our bad habits, we need to become an entirely new person. The truth is that you already have it in you to be someone without your bad habits. In fact, it’s very unlikely that you had these bad habits all of your life. You don’t need to quit smoking, you just need to return to being a non–smoker. You don’t need to transform into a healthy person, you just need to return to being healthy. Even if it was years ago, you have already lived without this bad habit, which means you can most definitely do it again.

Use the word “but” to overcome negative self–talk. One thing about battling bad habits is that it’s easy to judge yourself for not acting better. Every time you slip up or make a mistake, it’s easy to tell yourself how much you suck. [2]

Whenever that happens, finish the sentence with “but”…

  • “I’m fat and out of shape, but I could be in shape a few months from now.”
  • “I’m stupid and nobody respects me, but I’m working to develop a valuable skill.”
  • “I’m a failure, but everybody fails sometimes.”

Plan for failure. We all slip up every now and then.

As my main man Steve Kamb says, “When you screw up, skip a workout, eat bad foods, or sleep in, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human. Welcome to the club.”

So rather than beating yourself up over a mistake, plan for it. We all get off track, what separates top performers from everyone else is that they get back on track very quickly. For a handful of strategies that can help you bounce back when you make a mistake, read this article.

Where to go from here

If you’re looking for the first step to breaking your bad habits, I’d suggest starting with awareness.

It’s easy to get caught up in how you feel about your bad habits. You can make yourself feel guilty or spend your time dreaming about how you wish things were … but these thoughts take you away from what’s actually happening.

Instead, it’s awareness that will show you how to actually make change.

  • When does your bad habit actually happen?
  • How many times do you do it each day?
  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • What triggers the behavior and causes it to start?

Simply tracking these issues will make you more aware of the behavior and give you dozens of ideas for stopping it.

Here’s a simple way to start: just track how many times per day your bad habit happens. Put a piece of paper in your pocket and a pen. Each time your bad habit happens, mark it down on your paper. At the end of the day, count up all of the tally marks and see what your total is.

In the beginning your goal isn’t to judge yourself or feel guilty about doing something unhealthy or unproductive. The only goal is to be aware of when it happens and how often it happens. Wrap your head around the problem by being aware of it. Then, you can start to implement the ideas in this article and break your bad habit.

Breaking bad habits takes time and effort, but mostly it takes perseverance. Most people who end up breaking their bad habits try and fail multiple times before they make it work. You might not have success right away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it at all.

LIFE – This Is How to Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously

This Is How to Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously

Just follow rule number 6

“The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” — Frank Zappa

If you follow just one rule in life, choose rule Number Six.

Two prime ministers were having a casual conversation. One was intrigued about this rule that seemed so simple. The other man has just recommended it on two occasions with an immediate positive outcome.

First, a subordinate came to see him. He was upset, banging his fist on the desk. Then, a hysterical woman who was gesticulating wildly. After their boss reminded them of rule number 6, they both left the room in a positive mood.

The other prime minister was intrigued, “What is rule number 6?”

“Rule number 6 is don’t take yourself so damn seriously.”

The first prime minister laughed. He wanted to learn more, “So, what are the other rules?”

“There are no other rules,” was the answer.

The secret of life requires following one single rule. If you want to succeed and be happy, don’t take yourself too seriously.

The Center of the Universe

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” — Mark Twain

When we take ourselves too seriously, we believe everything revolves around us. That’s why we fear being ridiculed — we don’t want to face we are not so special.

The fear of shame kills our drive — we censor our desires to avoid being laughed at.

The paradox of shame is that, by looking for approval, we turn others into our judges. The fear of rejection makes us desperate for pleasing others. We become prisoners of other people’s judgment.

The fear of ridicule is anticipation — we worry about something that mighthappen.

As Brené Brown explains in his book Daring Greatly, seeking approval disconnect us from our desires. Women are expected to be naturally perfect. Men live under the pressure of not being perceived as weak. The author captures the need for worthiness in the sequence “pleasing, performing, and perfecting.”

External expectations are a moving target, as I wrote in this column. By trying to please everyone, we end pleasing no one — ourselves included.

Our self-worth is tied to how our audience receives our performance. If they love it, we are worth it. If they don’t, we feel worthless. Living our lives as an endless performance is exhausting — we are always playing a part.

Perfectionism is the enemy of change. The bar is so high that we never rest to have fun. We want to do everything the right way — one single mistake could ruin everything we’ve built.

When we take ourselves seriously, we take others seriously too — that’s why their opinions hurt us. You let their judgment define your identity — you accept the labels people give you.

The solution lies in finding balance: take life seriously, but not yourself.

As Alan Rickman said: “I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously.”

Goodbye Measurement World

“The notion that leaders need to be in charge and to know all the answers is both dated and distracted.” — Peter Sheahan

I consider myself a serious person — I take life seriously.

However, my peculiar sense of humor has allowed me to cope through turbulent times. A long time ago, I learned to stop looking for other people’s approval. If something goes well, I enjoy it. If it doesn’t, I move on.

I’m not immune to other’s people influence, but I’ve learned to own my actions. I do what feels right and take full ownership — there’s no room for blaming others or myself.

I feel comfortable being uncomfortable — vulnerability is recognizing my perfect imperfections. I learned to take life seriously, but not myself.

In the Art of PossibilityRosamund and Benjamin Zanders share 12 rules for bringing creativity into all human endeavors — rule Number Six is the best. The authors invite us to take a distance from our serious and heavy selves.

Our inner-self has been trained to ‘measure up’ in a competitive world — we look for external references to define our performance.

We live in a measurement world. Everything we do is measured against others. How much money we make. How beautiful our partners are. How happy we are. Our identity is relative to what other people have or do.

“The frames our mind create define and confine what we perceive to be possible. Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves in life, only appear unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view.” — Rosamund and Benjamin Zanders

Change your outlook. Move from measurement to possibilities.

When others laughed at you, they measure you against their expectations. But if you focus on achieving what you wish, regardless of what people think, you will reach your full potential.

Take leaders, for example. Those who feel superior try to suppress other to look even better. Those who feel inferior try to make others suffer too. When you stop measuring yourself against other’s expectations, you are not only free, but you don’t feel the need to change others.

We have two selves, according to the Zanders, our Calculating-Self and our Central-Self.

The Calculating-Self it’s us in survival mode — it sees everything as an attack on us. The Central-Self represents the generative, prolific, and creative nature of ourselves and the world. Instead of putting us at the center of everything, it appraises reality without an agenda.

The Central-Self is a softer, brighter, and lighter version of ourselves — it’s ego-less.

Rule Number 6 is a reminder to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously! It releases us from selfish and self-limiting views — instead of trying to be appreciated we stop giving a damn.

The Power of Humor

“You can’t deny laughter. When it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.” — Stephen King

Do you consider yourself a serious person? Do you find it hard to let go?

There are two types of people. Those who find it easy to laugh at themselves. And those who take themselves too seriously. Laughing at yourself is more than a positive mindset — it improves our health also.

Research links laughing at oneself with having an upbeat personality and good mood. It’s at the foundation of having a sense of humor. However, laughing at oneself is not easy — it represents the most difficult (humor) level.

Those who laugh at themselves regularly are less prone to chronic stress too.

Adaptive humor — cheering people up or seeing the humor in adverse events, is connected to well-being and psychological health. It increases resilience, diminishes the risks of heart attacks, and helps us manage pain better.

Humor gives leaders an edge too. Employees mentioned “sense of humor” and “work ethic” twice as much as any other phrases to define what makes a good leader, according to a study by Bell Leadership Institute.

Taking ourselves with a grain of salt gives us perspective — we can learn from mistakes by observing from a distance.

Tips to Take Yourself Less Seriously

“Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.” — Chinese proverb

1. Confront the fear of being ridiculed:

End the vicious cycle — fear fuels more fear. Face it and get over it. As Seth Godin said, “Dance with fear. As you dance, you realize that fear is, in fact, a compass — it’s giving you a hint that you are onto something.” Use that fear as energy to leap forward.

2. Drop the ball on purpose:

I don’t mean metaphorically, just let something fall through the cracks. This will not only help you realize that one mistake won’t kill you — but it will also help you regain control. If someone complains, smile and tell them you did it on purpose. Erring on purpose prepares you for unexpected mistakes.

3. Change the tone, change the conversation:

The best way to overcome pressure from perfectionists is not taking them too seriously. Perfectionists tend to think in right-or-wrong terms — either you succeed or fail. Use humor to disarm their approach: show them life’s shades of grey.

4. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

This simple question can help you, and others, put things in perspective. I’m not telling you not to aim high, but to find balance. Write everything that comes to your mind. Are you worried about real things? Or are you taking small things too seriously? Reflect and separate worries from facts.

5. Become shame-resilient:

Learn to acknowledge the voice of shame when it’s calling your name. Face that emotion. Brené Brown suggests talking to your shame, “This is disappointing, maybe even devastating. But success and recognition and approval are not values that drive me. My value is courage. You can move on, shame.”

6. Add more humor to your life:

Surround yourself with funny people. Turn off the news and violent shows; watch a comedy instead. Use self-deprecation instead of nasty labels. Smile. Especially, when you feel nervous or upset. Find the humor in something serious. Getting used to laugh at yourself will make you immune to your audience’s laughter.

7. Let go of your reputation:

Your image is not you. It’s just what people perceive. Don’t let your self-worth depend on your audience’s applause. When your self-worth is not on the line, it’s easier to take more risks and be courageous. You stop thinking if you know how to dance or not. You just start swaying.


Life’s too short. Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. I know, it sounds easier said than done, but trying to impress others requires more energy. Learn to see the opportunity hidden within challenges.

Don’t take others too seriously either. Free yourself from the Measurement World. Be okay being vulnerable. Take life seriously, not yourself.

Regain the reins of your life

Life Is What Happens When You Are Not on Autopilot

Regain the reins of your life

Does life just happen to you?

A man is riding a horse that is galloping very quickly. He seems to be in a hurry — probably heading to an important place.

“Where are you going?” a man yells at him.

“I don’t know. Ask the horse,” the rider replies.

Sometimes, life feels like a horse we cannot control. We don’t know where we are heading or why. We are just running as this Zen parable captures. Most of us are living on autopilot — the horse holds the reins, not us.

We Are Sleep-Walking

“The inertia of the mind urges it to slide down the easy slope of imagination, rather than to climb the steep slope of introspection.” ― Marcel Proust

Who holds the reins of your life?

Adults make an average of 35,000 decisions a day. We’ve developed an unconscious decision-making system to manage routines. It prevents us from overloading our brains. However, modern life has hijacked our lives — the mechanism that should protect us is creating social disengagement.

When we live on autopilot, it feels like the horse is riding our lives, not us.

Our minds wander around most of the time. 96% of people admit making most decisions on autopilot, according to research — it has become an epidemic.

Autopilot is becoming our default operating mode — we are sleep-walking into our choices.

39% of respondents say they slip into autopilot while relaxing at home. And two-fifths say they’ve forgotten something while operating on that mode.

“People recognize that the choices they are making don’t add up to the life they want to live. We can all do better at living more purposefully. The opposite of autopilot is purposeful living,” explains Dr Mark Williamson.

Much of our lives are wasted by doing things mindlessly. Most people can’t remember what they watched on TV — research shows that binge-watching diminishes memory and perceived comprehension.

We are living on autopilot in the place where we need to pay the most attention: our home. People make decisions — such as what to eat, what to watch on TV, or what to wear — without putting any thinking, the study concludes.

As Professor Renata Salecl says, “We’re forgetting that, when we are at home, the important things are to interact with family and friends, without being constantly distracted.”

There’s another way to ride.

Autopilot Is Not Your Only Option

“The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.” ― Vilayat Inayat Khan

Living on autopilot disengages us from both our present and future.

One exercise I love facilitating to help people reconnect with their life’s purpose is the future-self meditation.

Participants ‘travel’ to the future to visit themselves 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now. The goal is to help people visualize their dreams and wishes. Each visit, in a different point in time, helps them visualize the progression but, most importantly, to understand how they overcame their fears and constraints.

To my surprise, most people find it hard to project their future — they are so disconnected from the present that they can’t dream.

Living on autopilot means leaning towards the most comfortable thinking mode. But we have two; we must learn to use both.

Though System 1 and System 2 have been around for quite some time, it was Nobel awardee Professor Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, that turned them mainstream.

System 1 is an automatic, fast, and unconscious way of thinking — it’s our autopilot. This system is autonomous and efficient, though deceiving too. It’s more prone to bias and to make the same mistakes.

System 2 is slow, conscious, and effortful — it requires attention and energy. It’s more reliable and can filter the System 1’s misjudgments.

Our brain is lazy, as I wrote here — that’s why it leans towards System 1. Self-awareness helps us train our mind and avoid living on autopilot. It’s not that one is better than the other — we must learn to use those in a balanced way.

System 1 is ideal for quick decisions, based on little information. When you are driving your car or doing the laundry, you don’t need to overthink. However, you wouldn’t use it to make more significant life choices like choosing a career, which home to buy or whom to marry.

System 2 is ideal for handling more complex mental activities, such as logical reasoning, managing interpersonal relationships, learning new things or building habits. It can help you turn off the autopilot.

Take the Reins of Your Life

“If you feel like you don’t fit into the world you inherited it is because you were born to help create a new one.” ― Ross Caligiuri

Your brain has an autopilot mode — it’s called the ‘default mode network.’ This function is perfect for mundane activities such as driving or shopping.

To study this brain network, scientist taught participants how to play a new card game. Brain scans showed how memory regions were activated while participants learned to play the game. Once they familiarized with it, the brain ‘switch-off’ and the autopilot region lit up. Participants started to play better, performing more accurately and quickly.

Your brain autopilot boosts your performance when it comes to repetitive tasks. However, your life is not a card game — to think through a situation, problem or dilemma requires paying attention. Being more mindful is the answer.

But, first, regains the reins of your life.

1. Notice how you ride

Become more aware of your behavior. Are you living on autopilot because you want to or because it just happens? Are you making choices or merely letting your autopilot choose what shows you watch or the food you eat? Write a journal or take notes to increase awareness and challenge your behavior.

Be patient. It takes time to regain the reins of your life.

2. Ride with a purpose

What’s your end destination in life? How do you want to be remembered? As the saying goes, “Choose something worth dying for, and live for it.” Your life’s purpose should guide and inspire your actions. Having a clear destination will help you avoid useless shortcuts.

Keeping your purpose present will bring more intention to your everyday activities.

3. Bring meaning to your routines:

There’s nothing wrong with letting the horse ride freely — the problem is when autopilot becomes your driving system of choice. Habits drive focus and efficiency. However, they must be connected to your life’s purpose and goals.

Don’t let your routines dictate how you live, bring mindfulness to everyday chores.

4. Stop and reflect:

When you squeeze back on the reins, the horse comes to a halt. A pause is more than slowing down — it’s creating space to start paying attention. You can reflect on your life. What do you like? Are you enjoying what you are doing? What’s going on? Are you focused or distracted? Why?

We are prisoners of our busy minds; pausing sets yourself free.

5. Go beyond your comfort zone:

When we live on autopilot, we stop challenging ourselves — you end up bored and repeating yourself. Discomfort is a doorway to personal discovery and growth. Learning happens when you stretch beyond your comfort zone. Test your limits. Try new things.

Build a habit of continually experiencing new things — you don’t need to skydive to feel alive.

6. Make better decisions:

For simple things, follow your gut (System 1). However, if your gut is not certain, think it through. Avoid cognitive biases — challenge the first solution that comes to mind. Remember, your lazy brain will jump into the most comfortable conclusion, not the best one. Lastly, for important decisions, always think them through.

7. Move from FEAR to DARE

Sometimes, choosing to drive on autopilot could be an excuse to not paying attention. When you don’t know what’s wrong, you don’t feel the need to make any changes. FEAR is the acronym for Fighting, Excuses, Avoidance, and Repetition — it’s how resistance manifest. The antidote to FEAR is DARE — Discovery, Autonomy, Reframing, and Experimentation. Here’s how.

Be authentic. Be brave. Dare to change.


Letting life happen to you is easy. But, if your autopilot is always on, you are just existing, not living.

Being on autopilot prevents mundane activities from overloading your brain. However, behaving with intentionality and mindfully lets you enjoy life, not just live it.

Regain the reins of your life — you decide when to drive on autopilot and when not. Not the horse.