Secret to Getting Everything You Want in Life

Photo by Dion Tavenier on Unsplash

The Little Known Secret to Getting Everything You Want in Life

Think you know It? Everything Is ____________

You’ve probably heard that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. That can make communication pretty tough sometimes.

But figuring out what your customers really want can be just as challenging, no matter what planet they’re from!

Here’s the problem: You may think what you are selling is the best thing since sliced bread. But if it doesn’t line up with your customer’s needs, you’re wasting your breath.

When you don’t know what someone really wants, you’ll be busy, but not successful. You feel active but frustrated that you don’t see results.

Every day becomes a chore as you pick up the phone or email, or set an appointment with one more person that you’re pretty sure will get you nowhere.

That frustration can be deadly.

  • It sucks the life out of you.
  • It drains your energy.
  • Worst of all, it kills your hope.

And when hope is gone, you’re career, your business, or even your life is in a whole lot of trouble.

So what can you do to make sure you know the customer’s needs so you can meet those needs?

How to Discover What Someone Really Needs

My sales mentor, Zig Ziglar, taught this 4 step process get to uncover what someone really wants — and deliver what they really need.

  1. Need Analysis
  2. Need Awareness
  3. Need Solution
  4. Need Satisfaction

Here’s how to put it to work for you.

Step 1 — Need Analysis: X-ray Your “Customers”

People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. — Steve Jobs

Need analysis is like an x-ray to discover what’s really going on beneath the surface.

Even if a customer is asking for your product or service, they may not be clear on what they need. That confusion can take them off-course pretty quickly.

You have to learn to acknowledge the needs the customer already recognizes and uncover other needs they’ve missed.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that it is your duty to discover those needs and get them out in the open. As you’re searching for needs, wants and desires will also surface.

People will often take action on their “wants” as well as their “needs.”

But be careful not to invent or create the needs and wants — that’s manipulation, not selling.

To sell is to serve.

When you uncover what someone really needs, you can truly serve them by meeting that need.

A sales pro, armed with integrity and an idea, product, or service that he or she believes in is a powerful force. The best pros do their homework and discover background information about people. But regardless of how much homework you might do, eventually you have to analyze your customer’s needs.

Develop an attitude of curiosity and sincere interest in the answers to your questions.

Step 2 — Need Awareness: Uncover What Lies Beneath

The smart ones ask when they don’t know. And, sometimes, when they do. — Malcolm Forbes

Need awareness has two distinct parts. First, listen carefully to what people say. Listen to identify specific needs then reply in a way that plays those needs back to the customer.

Second, help your customer recognize the need for what it is, so they can see how you can provide a solution. If your customers don’t see the need, you can’t meet the need.

Being well-versed in these 5 areas of knowledge will position you to make the connection between the need and what you sell:

  1. Product Knowledge.
  2. Industry Knowledge.
  3. Pricing Knowledge.
  4. Application Knowledge.
  5. Competition Knowledge.

Step 3 — Need Solution: Show the Benefits

Step 3 is where you present your idea, product, or service.

Notice that you don’t start here. You invest the first two steps discovering and tuning in to their needs and wants. You’ve established your authority with the 5 areas of knowledge.

It’s the time to stop asking questions and start presenting solutions to needs.

But a word of warning! Don’t disconnect with your prospect by leading with your product at this point. This may sound counterintuitive, but none of us buy products. People don’t buy a product, they buy what that product does for them.

We buy the products of the product, which are called “benefits” or “need solutions.”

Step 4 — Need Satisfaction: Meet Your Customer at the Need

This is the most important step when it comes to helping others.

  • If you have a sincere desire to help other people…
  • If you truly believe in your product or service…
  • If you honestly want the person to benefit…
  • If you really expect to benefit financially from your hard work and effort…

Then you’re now in a unique position to satisfy your customer’s need.


Ask For The Order!

Too many people go 90% of the way and stop. They miss the close. They forfeit the sale.

You’ve identified your customer’s needs and you have a powerful solution that has value. Now is the time to boldly and confidently close the sale! You’ve earned the right, so do it now and you’ll reap the benefit of helping them meet their needs.

Why Do People Give Up?


Everybody wants to eat, but no one is willing to hunt.

Everybody wants to be fit and strong, but no one wants to lift heavy weights. If only they could pay someone else to do their pushups for them…

People give up for a number of reasons. The following list contains 16 of the most common of them.

Okay, let’s take this one by one…

1. Expect fast results.

I often say that expectations can break your heart. It is sad but true that most people like the idea of something happening to them, but they don’t want to put in the time and effort required.

The idea is this: nothing works the way you expect it too. It takes longer. The matter of fact is that nothing works the first few times.

2. Stop believing in themselves.

If you are looking for someone who’s going to make all your dreams come true, take a look in the mirror.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Resilience is the ability to face disaster with a smile and keep on fighting for what you want.

3. Get stuck in the past.

The past is a place of reference, not of residence.

Learn from your mistakes, move on.

What happened, happened, and the more time you spend there, the more you’ll break your heart.

4. Dwell on mistakes.

You learn more from failure than you ever do from success, it is true, but it is equally important not to let said mistakes affect your current performance.

No one is perfect, and wishing for perfection is a waste of time and energy. Strive for progress – which means making a lot of mistakes, over and over again, until you become better and stop making them.

5. Fear the future.

The future doesn’t exist yet. Tomorrow is but a promise at best. You cannot control it, so let it go.

Carpe diem, so to speak.

Live in the moment, do the best you can with what you have.

There’s no reason to fear what has yet to present itself to you.

6. Resist change.

Keep an open mind. Embrace uncertainty. In fact, make it one of your principles and understand deeply that one’s ability to face uncertainty usually determines their level of success.

Change is the one true constant of life, and the most adaptable individual is the one to survive.

7. Give up their power.

People give up their power when they think they have none. They also like to find excuses.


Just don’t.

You are the master of your fate, the captain of your soul.

You are the only one who’s responsible for how you feel, how you act, and how you react to what happens to you.

And that is your power.

8. Believe in their weaknesses.

No one’s perfect. Accept that you aren’t either. Accept your faults. Understand that you can progress and learn. You can develop certain skills.

Nothing is set in stone.

Remember the previous part about change? Well, the good news is nothing ever stays the same. Neither will you.

9. Feel the world owes them something.

Being an entitled prick is one of the worst way to go about life.

No one owes you anything. No one. Don’t break your own heart by thinking that they do.

10. Fear failure more than they desire success.

Failure is inevitable. It’s not the opposite of success, but a part of it.

An integral part of learning.

We stumble and fall, over and over again, until we learn how to do it.

Winners keep on going. They do it and do it and do it, and they fail and fail and fail, until they succeed.

11. Never visualize what is possible.

Would you be able to hit a target you do not see? Or cook a dish without knowing the recipe?

12. Feel they have something to lose.

You are going to die. Whether you want it or not. What more do you have to lose?

In fact, the more you hold on to something, the likelier it is that you’ll lose it.

Loss is a part of life. Accept it.

13. Overwork.

Work hard.

Or is it work smart?

14. Assume their problems are unique.

Maybe your parents, your teachers, or your friends told you that you are unique.

You are not.

Someone else went through what you are going through right now. Learn from them.

Someone else accomplished what you are dreaming about right now. Learn from them. Let their feats inspire you.

15. See failure as a sign to turn back.

Failure is a sign you are trying. Failure is a sign you should try harder. Failure is a sign you are getting closer to success.

Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.

16. Feel sorry for themselves.

Don’t. Just don’t.

Worrying and feeling sorry for oneself never solved any problem. It just gave people who felt powerless something to do while still feeling powerless.

Like sitting in a rocking chair and pretending you are going somewhere.

Depleted By Decisions

Depleted By Decisions (How Your Brain Makes Choices That Sabotage You And What to do About it)

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

In the digital age, information comes at you like a tsunami.

From the moment you wake up, notifications (news, social media, email, chat channels) fight for your attention.

With all of the information vying for your attention, you make choices and use a lot of your mental energy before the day even starts.

Even ignoring information is a choice.

The more choices you make, the harder it becomes for your brain to make more because it gets tired.

And your brain makes impulse decisions when it’s tired.

It’s similar to how your muscles get tired at the end of a workout, the strength of your willpower fades as you make more decisions.

Without your awareness, your brain creates shortcuts in the form of cognitive biases to help you process the influx of information as the day progresses.

In many cases, it doesn’t want to make decisions at all.

The brain takes these shortcuts to conserve energy.

Short-term gains are a priority for our brains especially when your willpower is running empty.

Think about how many decisions you make the moment you wake up till you go back to bed again at night.

By the time you’re winding every day, you’ve made an average of 35,000 decisions!

What to wear, what to eat, how to take care of your home and family, what to do at work, how to approach a task.

These are all important decisions.

This is why conserving energy is so important to your brain.

Here is the problem.

No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price.

Low mental energy is a problem we all face.

The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, hence the need to take shortcuts at the expense of what will really benefit you in the long-term.

In his research about self-control, Baumeister and his team explained that there is a link among decision-making actions, self-control, and willpower.

Self-control appeared to deteriorate over time from repeated exertions, such as decision-making.

The brain uses two approaches to take shortcuts.

The first shortcut is to become thoughtless or careless: it acts impulsively instead of using the energy to first think through the consequences.

The second and most preferred for a tired and depleted brain is to do nothing. Instead of thinking about the impact of the decisions, it avoids any choice and goes into strict energy saving mode.

If you have ever “ducked” a decision, your brain was heavily conserving energy for the future.

Ducking often creates bigger problems in the long run, because the problems, issues and what needs sorting don’t go away.

Your brain doesn’t care about long-term effects.

It’s designed to conserve, ease mental strain and keep you going for as long as possible.

Which is why it’s insanely important to make life-changing decisions early in the day when you are most active, mentally alert, and can think clearly.

If you want someone’s best attention, energy, and focus to go toward the decisions that are important to you, schedule it in the morning.

And, don’t hold important business meetings late in the afternoon.

You may not get the best results.

But if you are holding a creative brainstorming meeting, schedule it at a time when you are tired because your brain does creative work better when you’re tired. This sounds crazy, but it actually makes sense when you look at the reasoning behind it.

In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue is one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.

Start your day right

What’s the most important decisions you have to make every day?

Is it about life, family, work, or long-term financial goals.

Whatever it is for you, put your best energy toward it every day.

Start your day by working on the most important thing in your life.

I’ve written previously about the importance of morning routines.

Start your day right and you will have the

Automate decisions you make over and over again

For millions of people, the decisions that drain them are the ones they make over and over and over again.

Put less mentally demanding decisions on autopilot.

Save yourself the energy and automate some of your decision-making processes.

Don’t waste precious willpower on some decisions.

Make fewer good decisions by automating “inconsequential” choices.

Things like food, clothing and media consumption can be planned in advance whilst you save mental energy for important life and business decisions.

Schedule purposeful brain downtime

It makes perfect sense that our attention spans and concentration need to be rebooted, at several points throughout the day.

According to research, the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. You lose your focus and your performance on the task declines.

Studies have shown that workers are most focused and productive when following the rhythm of a work/rest ratio.

When faced with a long creative problem, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task and improve your idea generation approach.

A structured downtime can help you do your best work.

By giving your brain a break, you allow it to make improved neural connections and ultimately better decisions.

Conserve your brain space and energy for larger decisions by building better routines.

Why you shouldn’t share your goals

Originally published on JOTFORM.COM

The race to get the world’s first plane in the sky was a hard fought battle between The Wright Brothers and a lesser-known gentleman by the name of Samuel Pierpont Langley.

You will discover why you’ve never heard of the latter here shortly.

As you probably read somewhere inside that history textbook you were forced to lug around through elementary — The Wright Brothers were responsible for creating the first successful airplane. You remember how the story goes

“… it was a cold windy day on December 17th, 1903 in the Kill Devil Hills of North Carolina… Orville watched nervously as his brother Wilbur climbed inside the plane they had spent years perfecting… miraculously it flew for 59 seconds for a distance of 852 feet…”

While today “The Wright Brothers” is the first name that comes to anyone’s mind when they hear the word fly, once upon a time the pair were major underdogs.

In fact, during the race to the sky, most of America had its money on the man I mentioned earlier, Langley.

Hewas an extremely outspoken astronomer, physicist and aviation pioneer who was on a mission to make history. Langley’s high stature as the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution gave him both the credibility and hype he needed to get America on his side.

Not to mention, he was extremely well-backed by the War Department who contributed $50,000 to help him be the first to get a bird in the sky.

Long story short, despite all the hype, Langley’s flying machine ended up crashing and burning while The Wright Brother’s plane ended up soaring.

One party had the entire world, vast resources and plenty of moolah on his side, while the other just had a small bike shop and a passion to fly.

So, let me ask you this… can you guess why The Wright Brothers achieved their goal to take flight while Langley failed?

Early praise feels like you’ve already won.

The Wright Brothers victory over Langley came down to passion, intrinsic motivation (Langley was very status driven) and perhaps praise.

While Langley was sharing his ambitions with the world and being heavily praised for feats he had not yet achieved, The Wright Brothers were receiving little to no attention whatsoever.

Some experts argue that early praise can leave the individual receiving the praise feeling like he or she has already won… in turn causing them to beless likely to follow through with their goals.

For example, in Peter Gollwitzer’s research article, When Intentions Go Publiche raises this very question:

Are scientists more likely to write papers if they tell colleagues about their intentions or if they keep their intentions to themselves?

Gollwitzer and his team of researchers carried out a handful of studies, here is a brief excerpt from their findings:

“Other people’s taking notice of one’s identity-relevant intentions apparently engenders a premature sense of completeness regarding the identity goal.”

In English, what Gollwitzer found was that when individuals set a goal that is closely tied to their identity and then share their intentions with others, they are less likely to achieve the goal.

For example, if your goal is to start drinking more water and you tell your friends and family that you’re going to start drinking more water, this would probably have little to no impact on whether or not you actually drink more water.

Why? Because drinking more water isn’t something you hold close to your identity.

Onthe other hand, if your goal is to lose 40 lbs and drop 2–3 waist sizes, it might not be the best idea to post about it all over Facebook. Your appearance is something you very much so identify with. So, if you tell people you plan to lose weight and everyone tells you how awesome you are and how great you’re going to look, you might be less likely to lose the weight.

This finding is a bit counterintuitive, considering we were told by our teachers and coaches growing up to set our goals, share our goals, hold ourselves accountable.

But, the theory certainly holds some weight (pun very much intended), and is one that has been adopted by highly successful serial entrepreneurs like Derek Siversfounder of CD Baby.

Sivers gave a TED Talk on this very topic nearly a decade back. To prove his point, he asked the audience to imagine how they felt when they shared their goals with others:

“Imagine their congratulations and their high image of you. Doesn’t it feel good to say it out loud? Don’t you feel one step closer already? Like, it’s already becoming part of your identity?

Well, bad news. You should have kept your mouth shut. That good feeling makes you less likely to do it.”

Sivers goes on to explain that it’s this “warm feeling” that keeps us from battling on to actually achieve our goals.

When we openly share our goals, we experience a feeling of success that normally only takes place upon completion of the goal.

The result? We don’t ever actually pursue the goal.

Alternatives to sharing your goals.

I’ve recently shared 3 real-life business tactics to achieve your “big hairy goals”. But now, let’s talk about what can actually work when it comes to successfully reaching your goals.

For two counterintuitive yet effective approaches to this, we look to a philosophy called “fear-setting” and making an effort to surround yourself with competition.

Embrace fear-setting over goal-sharing.

Entrepreneur, angel investor and writer, Tim Ferriss, gave an incredible TED Talk where he discussed how fear-setting is instrumental in achieving one’s goals.

He recommends that instead of obsessively sharing your goals, you should come to terms with all the fears that are preventing you from achieving them.

For example, let’s say your goal is to start your own business. Ferriss recommends that you write down all of your fears that are associated with starting a business.

These might include… “Losing all my money”… “Getting fired from my day job”… “Getting laughed at or judged if I fail”.

Once you write down these fears, you should then write down how you would go about preventing these fears (or mitigating the likelihood) of them actually happening.

For example, for the first fear “losing all my money”, your prevention might be… “I’m only going to invest $2,500 that way I can’t lose it all.”

Finally, after you have written down your preventions, you should then write down how you will repair what you fear from happening… if it actually ends up happening.

So, to repair losing the $2,500, you might write down, “Get a part time job as a bartender in addition to my day job until I make the $2,500 back.”

By concentrating on fear-setting over goal-sharing, it allows you to remove the fear that is keeping you from actually achieving your goals.

Surround yourself with competition.

In addition to fear-setting, it might also be a good idea to surround yourself with competition.

A healthy dose of competition can be good for your business, too. At JotForm, we love to use competition to our advantage with events like hackweeks to achieve our product release goals.

study published two years ago in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, sheds some light on the impact that competition has on our goals.

The study put 800 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania through an 11-week exercise program where each person was assigned to work out alone or in a team.

In addition, the teams were designed to be either supportive or competitive.

Bythe end of the study, researchers found that students involved in the competitive team programs were 90% more likely to attend their scheduled exercise sessions than any other group.

Not only is this number staggering, but it also proves that competition can create a higher level of commitment among people chasing down goals.

When you surround yourself with competition, it doesn’t mean that you have to share your goals with the competition. You don’t have to tell the other folks in the spin class, cross-fit training or pick-up basketball leagues that your goal is to lose 50 lbs.

But, by simply showing up and placing yourself in a competitive environment, you will be more likely to push harder and show up more often — two factors that can help your reach your goals.

The science behind achieving goals has always been an interesting topic.

While some entrepreneurs advocate the idea that you should never have a goal, I’ve recently explained why setting big goals can make you miserable.

Whether you decide to share your goals or not, what I’ve found out across 12 years of entrepreneurship is that you should craft your own path.

What works for others won’t always work for you. And what works for you today won’t always work tomorrow.

Unsuccessful People Focus On “The Gap.” Here’s What Successful People Focus On.

“The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.”

— Dan Sullivan, THE GAIN AND THE GAP

Key concepts to understand in this article that will be explored:

  • Your ideals and your goals are two separate things
  • Ideals are general and immeasurable
  • Ideals are constantly changing and moving as you change and move as a person
  • Your ideals should not be your benchmark for achievement
  • Instead, your ideals should be the source from which you create your specific, challenging, time-bound, and measurable goals
  • Moreover, your ideals are intended to produce positive emotions such as excitement and anticipation — but these emotions are not what you’re trying to replicate in the future (most people get this wrong and it creates a great deal of unhappiness)
  • The emotions you want in the future relative to this ideal are happiness, satisfaction, and confidence that come from achieving your goals
  • If you measure your current-self against your ideal, you’ll never be happy because there will always be a gap
  • If you measure your current-self against your previous-self — where you were when you set your goals (and even before) — you’ll experience happiness, satisfaction, and confidence
  • If your goals are not specific, they’ll be hard to measure (which is one reason you shouldn’t measure yourself against your ideals, because your ideals are general)
  • If you don’t have a specific measurement criteria, you won’t experience the joy of the progress you’ve made
  • Once you hit your goals and have taken the time to adequately measure where you are, you should set new ideals and re-experience the excitement, anticipation, and motivation that comes from pursuing new adventures and growth
  • If you’re not making progress, you can’t feel happy
  • If you don’t feel happy, your brain will be less adaptive and less effective toward future endeavors
  • If you’re not making progress, you can’t feel confident — because confidence is a byproduct of prior success
  • If you don’t regularly take the time to review your progress, you’ll never appreciate the small details, which will rob you of the experience and of all the benefits of gratitude
  • If you fail to appreciate where you are, you’re missing out on the benefits of mindfulness as well, which can lead you to pursuing the wrong goals and missing the small moments along the way
  • When you set and measure your goals in this unique way, you get the benefit of deeply experiencing all of the positive and energizing emotions that will allow you to become increasingly successful

With this foundation in place, we will further dial-down the process and also detail the science behind why this process is so brilliant.

Here’s the thing: most people have a negative relationship with goal-setting. There’s a lot of emotional baggage associated with the concept.

One group of people may believe they should be happy just the way they are. Another group is constantly striving for more and are never quite happy with what they’ve achieved.

Both of these approaches to goals are ineffective because neither can produce actual joy and happiness.

  • If you’re not growing and changing, you’re not happy. Research is clear that as people, we are happiest when we are improving. Self-acceptance is important, but self-acceptance is also intended to be a vehicle for positive growth, not for staying stagnant and justifying mediocrity. Moreover, you can’t have hope for the future if you don’t believe you can change. Trying to force yourself to remain the same stunts hope and happiness.
  • If you’re growing but constantly measuring where you are against your ideal, you’ll never get there. This will lead you to always feeling dissatisfied with yourself, which isn’t helpful to your future goals and it robs you of the joy of the distance you’ve made. When you rob yourself of the joy of measuring how far you’ve come, you don’t experience happiness, gratitude, or confidence. And when you don’t experience these, you actually set lower and less clear goals. Put simply, when you take the time to reflect and measure how far you’ve come, you’ll set clearer and more powerful goals, because those goals will be set from a place of confidence, happiness, and gratitude. They’ll also be set from a place of tangible measurement, not abstract idealization.

The Gap vs. The Gain: How Happy, Motivated, And Successful People Approach Their Goals

Your future growth and progress are now based in your understanding about the difference between the two ways in which you can measure yourself: against the ideal, which puts you in what I call “The Gap,” and against your starting point, which puts you in “The Gain,” appreciating all that you’ve accomplished.

When you’re in The Gap, you feel as though you haven’t accomplished anything at all. This is because even though you’ve moved forward, the ideal remains distant from you. The ideal is a moving target. It might even get bigger, leaving you worse off than where you started if you measure against it. You’ve also used up time and energy getting to where you are, so if you don’t measure the progress, you’ll feel like you’ve wasted that time and energy and have fallen even further behind.

But if you turn around and measure your progress against where you started, then you’re in The Gain, and you’ll experience a sense of having moved forward, of having achieved something, and you’ll be motivated to continue on to your next stage of growth.

— Dan Sullivan

Here are two definitions of “ideal”:

  • satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable
  • existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality

Here are two definitions of “goal”:

  • the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result
  • a specific, measurable, and time-bound outcome or experience a person is seeking

Once you’ve made tangible progress on your goals, it’s important to measure, track, and report your progress. That progress should clearly be measured against where you were when you set your targets, not against some vague imagination.

Creating Your Vision And Experiencing The Excitement And Anticipation

“Some adults try not to engage in make-believe anymore because they think it’s childish, but I don’t think we ever really outgrow it. In fact, I think that make-believe is the basis for all our motivations in life.” — Dan Sullivan

Children are generally considered more imaginative and creative than adults. This isn’t actually true.

The ability to imagine and fantasize about the future never actually goes away. Some adults constrain themselves from indulging too deeply into their fantasies, because the positive emotions related to those fantasies are quickly shattered by the pain of their reality. Or, they’ve experienced the disappointment that comes from achieving goals and not feeling satisfied.

Indeed, people adapt quickly and if the target for happiness is always moving and in the future, it’s impossible to reach. Hence, those powerful and positive emotions end up being reframed in the memory as negative, which creates a negative association between goals and happiness in people. Thus, people stop setting goals and develop a personality of being comfortable where they are — and never truly happy.

Again, it doesn’t have to be this way. This process Dan Sullivan has created allows you the playfulness, the excitement, and the motivation involved in creating ideals and dreams for your future.

Lots of science has found play to be extremely important for productivity and creativity. As Greg McKeown explains“Very successful people see play as essential for creativity.”

In his TED talk, Stuart Brown said, “Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity… Nothing fires up the brain like play.” There is a burgeoning body of literature highlighting the extensive cognitive and social benefits of play, including:


  • Enhanced memory and focus
  • Improved language learning skills
  • Creative problem solving
  • Improved mathematics skills
  • Increased ability to self-regulate, an essential component of motivation and goal achievement


  • Cooperation
  • Team work
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership skill development
  • Control of impulses and aggressive behavior

One of the core learning styles is “imagining,” and it’s something that few people allow themselves to do enough. Imagining and fantasizing are learned skills, which can also be like muscles that atrophy. If you don’t develop these muscles, you’ll lack the creativity and excitement of pursuing crazy dreams and ideals. You’ll “grow-up” as they say and settle for reality as society and the norms around you have deemed-it.

Instead of such a bleak and uninspiring existence, you want to spend a great deal of time fantasizing about your future. You want to dream big and dream creatively. You want it to be fun and playful. Set no boundaries on your ideals and what you imagine.

The more immersive you can get into what Dan Sullivan calls, “Make-believing,” which is creating a make-believe future or ideal, the better. You want to experience all of the excitement, anticipation, and motivation that comes out of that possible future. These emotions drive you forward. But again, they aren’t the emotions you’ll experience when you get to your intended goal.

Your future should be big, fun, and playful. In in Sullivan’s words, “Your future should always be bigger than your past.”

The more playful the imagining, and the more immersive, clear, and specific you get about that imagining, the more creative and powerful will be the goals that you set to strive for that ideal.

However, it’s important to realize a few things:

  • this ideal that you are forming is always changing
  • once you reach a destination, your ideals and fantasies will change
  • these dreams and ideals are the direction for guiding and creating tangible goals to move toward
  • if you constantly measure yourself against your ideals, you’ll be living in what Dan Sullivan calls, “The Gap,” which will create feelings of unhappiness and disatisfaction
  • instead of measuring yourself against your ideals, happiness and satisfaction come by measuring yourself against where you were when you formulated the ideals and set the tangible goals
  • when you measure yourself against where you were, you live in what Dan Sullivan calls, “The Gain,” which helps you realize and appreciate how far you’ve come

According to psychological research, the anticipation of an event is almost always more powerful than the event itself. Both positive and negative events are generally more emotionally-charged in your head than the actual experience ends up being.

Very quickly, we adapt to our new experience and the event itself is underwhelming compared to how we imagined it to be.

Because we adapt so quickly, it’s easy to take for granted where we currently are. Moreover, because our ideals and dreams are like a horizon which is constantly moving — we never reach our ideals. The horizon always moves, no matter where you are. It’s the direction, not the destination.

This is what creates feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. We quickly adapt to where we currently are and our ideals are always out of reach. This is living in “The Gap.”

We mistakenly believe that our experience once we hit our goals should be the playful and exciting emotions we had when we were imagining the goal. This is not the case.

The playful and joyful experiences of imagining our dreams and ideals are not the experiences we are to have in the future. We have those experiences to draw us forward. Actually, when you expect these same emotions to be what you’ll experience when you get there, you downplay their importance. These emotions are both a means to an end, and an end in themselves.

They are a means to the end of allowing you to create highly specific goals which lead to growth and happiness. But they are an end in themselves because the playful anticipation and excitement of ideals is a beautiful part of life. Don’t downplay these emotions. Allow them to be what they are. You get to experience them again and again as you continue to expand your horizon and dreams.

Once you’ve developed that horizon, you then need to set tangible, measurable, challenging, and time-bound goals to move toward that horizon.

Set Measurable And Highly Specific Goals

“Specifics must be measured against specifics. Trying to measure a specific against a generality is not real measurement. Setting up a goal of making $10 million is specific, and you’ll feel successful once you’ve done that by measuring from there back to where you started. But if you have the imprecise goal of “being wealthy,” that’s a generality. You may never feel like you’ve achieved it, and even if you do feel as though you have, this feeling won’t last because it’s not grounded in specific reality. The goal — being wealthy — will continue to change and always seem out of reach.”— Dan Sullivan

If your goals are not specific and measurable, then you won’t be able to measure your progress. If you can’t clearly discern the progress you’re making:

  • you won’t know where you actually are
  • you won’t experience the joy, gratitude, and confidence of growth
  • if you don’t enjoy the the gratitude and confidence of growth, you won’t operate as well in the future and you won’t set bigger targets to strive for

Thus, when you don’t set clear targets and measure yourself against what you’ve gained, then you cheat yourself out of your past, present, and future.

  • you cheat yourself out of your past because you never take the time to appreciate and measure against it
  • you cheat yourself out of your present because without measurement, you never know where you truly are
  • you cheat yourself out of your future because without happiness, gratitude, and confidence, you won’t imagine and create more compelling ideals and goals

Psychological Benefits Of Measuring Your Progress Against Where You Were

According to the research of Harvard psychologist, Shawn Achor, happiness is the secret to success.

Being happy allows you to work more effectively. It allows you to embrace your experiences more fully. It allows you to be far more open to feedback. Happiness is a powerful way to create high performance. Even my 10-year old son is realizing this when he practices the piano. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be happy if you’re living in “The Gap.”

Not only will you be happier if you measure yourself against The Gain, you’ll be more confident. Research has shown, confidence is the byproduct of past-performance. So when you take the time to live in “The Gain,” your confidence can increase, which will allow you the ability to set bigger and more imaginative goals.

It will also give you the clarity to create better plans, which according to research will give you more hope and expectancy in your future that you’ll achieve those goals.

According to psychology’s Hope Theory, hope reflects your perceptions regarding your capacity to:

  • clearly conceptualize goals
  • develop the specific strategies to reach those goals (i.e., pathways thinking)
  • initiate and sustain the motivation for using those strategies (i.e., agency thinking)

Hope is a byproduct of confidence, which is a byproduct of past success. Thus, as you set clear and measurable goals, and measure your progress against the Gain, you’ll recognize the changes and progress you make. This will give you both confidence and hope — which will allow you to set bigger ideals and dreams in the future, and to make better plans and strategies for achieving those goals.

This is how you increase in your motivation overtime. According to According to one of the core theories of motivation — known as Expectancy Theory — motivation involves three components:

  • the value you place on your goal
  • your belief that specific behaviors will actually facilitate the outcomesyou desire
  • your belief in your own ability to successfully execute the behaviors requisite to achieving your goals

As your happiness, confidence, and hope increase, your motivation will increase. This motivation comes because you expect to achieve your goals and you highly value those goals. As you become more confidence as a person, you’ll stop setting goals that society has placed on you.

Your goals will come from inside and be uninhibited by the standards and expectations of those around you. Instead, you’ll purposefully surround yourself with better mentors, teachers, and collaborators, which will allow your dreams and ideals to expand far beyond what you could conjure-up on your own. Psychologists call this “The Transforming-Self,” and it’s the highest level of conscious evolution.

You’re constantly seeing yourself improve. You’re grateful and appreciate that progress. You spend just as much time soaking-in the Gains and you do imagining and indulging in the dreams. You then use your gains and the confidence you’ve built to get back to the playful and fantasizing process of imagining new ideals!

One other potent psychological benefit of measuring The Gain is gratitude, which has nearly unlimited benefits to well-being, happiness, and high performance. Gratitude may be the most important key to success. It has been called the mother of all virtues. According to Sullivan, “growth and gratitude” go hand-in-hand. Yet, those who only focus on The Gap rob themselves of much of the benefits of gratitude.

Gratitude journaling is a scientifically proven way to overcome several psychological challenges. The benefits are seemingly endless. Here are just a few:

  • Gratitude makes you happier
  • Gratitude makes other people like you
  • Gratitude makes you healthier
  • Gratitude boosts your career
  • Gratitude strengthens your emotions
  • Gratitude develops your personality
  • Gratitude makes you more optimistic
  • Gratitude reduces materialism
  • Gratitude increases spirituality
  • Gratitude makes you less self-centered
  • Gratitude increases your self-esteem
  • Gratitude improves your sleep
  • Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor by strengthening physiological functioning
  • Gratitude lets you live longer
  • Gratitude increases your energy levels
  • Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise
  • Gratitude helps you bounce back from challenges
  • Gratitude makes you feel good
  • Gratitude makes your memories happier (think of Pixar’s Inside Out)
  • Gratitude reduces feelings of envy
  • Gratitude helps you relax
  • Gratitude makes you friendlier
  • Gratitude helps your marriage
  • Gratitude makes you look good
  • Gratitude deepens your friendships
  • Gratitude makes you a more effective manager
  • Gratitude helps you network
  • Gratitude increases your goal achievement
  • Gratitude improves your decision making
  • Gratitude increases your productivity

It’s a beautiful process and it allows you to experience ALL of the powerful emotions along the way.

The Importance Of Keeping A Record Of Your Goals

If you’re achievement-oriented, you probably write down your goals and you probably achieve a great deal of them. However, it’s powerful and important to regularly go back and examine your previous goals.

Even if it was just the goals set for the previous 30 days. It’s insane how many of our targets we hit without appreciating it because our targets and ideals are continually moving.

I recently looked back at my goals from the previous 30 days and realized I’d achieved something I’ve wanted to accomplish for almost 4 years.

I hit a major milestone and didn’t even realize or appreciate it because my mind quickly moved to the next ideal. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for setting new targets, but it also robs me of seeing how far I’ve come.

Moreover, when you immediately move from achievement to visualization without taking the time to regularly measure how far you’ve come — you rob yourself of the satisfaction, happiness, and CONFIDENCE of accomplishment.

Yes, all of these things can be subconscious — your happiness, satisfaction, and confidence. But you can compound the experience by making them conscious. By actually indulging in the moment and truly appreciating where you currently are vs. where you were when you set your goals. You then get all the benefits of the past, which allow you to create a more compelling future.

You’re Probably Living Your Dreams Right Now

When you measure yourself against “The Gain,” you often realize that you’re currently living your dreams right now. Where you are right now may be far beyond the ideals you had even one or two years ago. Yet, you’ve probably adapted to your current reality and are now striving for newer and bigger ideals.

But if you take the time to examine your previous goals, you often realize that your current reality is beyond the wildest dreams of your past. Indeed, your current reality has become your “new normal” even though it may have been completely unimaginable to your previous-self.


The daily experiences you’re currently having are the IDEALS of your past-self just a few short years ago!

Appreciate that fact.

Allow that fact to create more confidence to set bigger and bigger ideals and clearer and more tangible goals!

This is a beautiful and rare process!

Enjoy it. Soak it up!

How To Take Your Life From Stuck to Awesome

Feeling Stuck in Life? How To Take Your Life From Stuck to Awesome

Photo by GREG KANTRA on Unsplash

It sucks to feel stuck.

You’re in a rut, and you can’t get unstuck.

You’re convinced that something must change, whether in your work or personal life. But you are struggling to figure it out. It happens to all of us. The most important thing is to act and refuse to stay stuck.

Staying stuck and refusing to do something about it, is the biggest obstacle to your recovery.

Alistair Smith once said,“Getting stuck is not a problem. Staying stuck is. Good learners practice getting unstuck,”

Many people want something better for their lives, but they don’t know where to start. Others have done amazing things in the past, they are struggling in the present to be awesome again.

The good news is, it’s just a feeling, when you start to make positive movement forward, the feeling will change.

Mandy Hale says:

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”

When you’re stuck, things feel immovable, entrenched, even hopeless but the good news, you can always do something about it.

When you are stuck, Bruce Chant recommends that you ask yourself three important questions to re-calibrate and get moving in the right direction again.

Those three questions are:

  1. What do you want? Name it. Define it. Call it out.
  2. What is stopping you? A belief or mindset. Fear. An excuse.
  3. What do you need to do to obtain it? Now you can work to address the issue, but do so by starting small.

Take a break to restore flow

Sometimes all you need to restore flow, is to take a step back and ask where the current patterns are leading and whether you are making progress or not.If you feel stuck in a different area of your life, break the norm.

When was the last time you deliberately broke your flow. Taking a break every now and then is important for your work. Do yourself a favor and take sometime off to recuperate.

Don’t stay put in one spot for too long. Move. Get up. Take a 15 min walk. The faster your blood moves, the faster oxygen gets to your brain. Hence, better ideas, better results.

Practice solitude.

If you are distracted by too many things, it pays to disconnect. Remove distractions. Turn off notifications. Or better still, turn off your phone, mobile devices and leverage silence to think or relax. In other words, block out the external world and retreat inwards to find new energy.

Sometimes all you need is a change of environment, style, routine or pattern. Break away from the usual.

Sura, a Meditation Coach, recommmends you move and play. She writes:

Being immersed in movement and play really gets the flow of energy moving in your body and your life. Try a new way of moving: dancing, tai chi, racquetball. Go see a comedy. Paint. Play Twister or Monopoly. Whatever it is, let yourself be free without restriction. What are the silly, playful things that you don’t usually make time for? Giving yourself time to play and unwind can make an immense difference in bringing new energy into your life.

Try lateral thinking

Lateral thinking means deliberately setting out to look at a challenge from completely different angles to find great solutions that would otherwise remain hidden.

As Einstein said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. A new approach is probably all you need to get unstuck.

Break away from vertical thinking.

Vertical: Step by step, analyzing, based on facts and convention, one expected result.

Lateral: Provokes, jumps from one to another, breaks the rules, looks at possibilities, many results

Shane Snow, author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success explains:

Lateral Thinking is the process of solving problems via different angles than you might expect. It doesn’t happen when you do more of the same thing. So just simply working harder may not accomplish a goal like rethinking the approach you’re taking. Lateral thinking is about getting in the mindset of breaking the rules that aren’t really rules; they’re just the way things have been conventionally done in the past.

Changing Course

Changing course can be challenging, but what makes it exciting is the restoration of hope.

Give yourself a new and significant challenge.

To get that momentum back, give yourself something to pursue and find an accountability partner to help you take actionable steps.

Your pursuit should be meaningful to you. Why you pursue something is equally as important as what you pursue. Start something greater than yourself. Something you truly believe in.

Just doing something different can boost your mood, change your perspective and give you a sense of optimism to move forward.

Pursue something that bring out the best in you. That way you will enjoy the journey and the process.

You can easily lose the motivation in the process and give up. But everything changes when you leverage an accountability system.

To “be accountable,” all you need is a clear goal and a willingness to let others help you achieve it.

When you tell yourself — and no one else — that you will quit smoking, start a new gym routine, write a book, launch a meaningful project or quit your “just okay” job in order to pursue something greater and better, you are less likelyto do it. It’s easy to choose something else more comfortable and make excuses.

When you make your goals public, you receive a combination of responses you can use to fuel your desire to succeed!

Find someone who will challenge, engage and evoke a sense of accomplishment in you.

Move beyond mere talk and commit to specific actions that will move your goals forward, and agree with someone else to hold you accountable.

Take the easiest step you can imagine to change course!

Once you start moving, you’ll feel unbelievably better. You’ll feel the power of motion, you’ll feel the rut moving behind you. That one step — it’s all it takes to start moving and creating again.

You don’t have to be stuck. You can choose to take action today to move yourself forward, making progress towards your ultimate goal in life.

Know what you want, discern what’s stopping you, and take the next smallest step to get there. Choose to make your life better, even when you are not stuck!

Dig deeper

My new course, Thinking in Models is open for enrollmentIt’s designed to help you to think clearly, solve problems at multiple levels of depth, and make complex decisions with confidence. Join the community of people on a mission to think clearly, work better, solve problems at multiple levels of depths, and make complex decisions with confidence! Click here for details.

You can also subscribe to Postanly Weekly (my free weekly digest of the best posts about behaviour change that affect health, wealth, and productivity). Subscribe and get a free copy of my new book, “The Power of One Percent Better: Small Gains, Maximum Results”. Join over 45,000 people on a mission to build a better life.

Ways to Manage Feeling Stressed and Overwhelmed  

4 Ways to Manage Feeling Stressed and Overwhelmed

How often would you say you feel stressed? If the answer is “every day”, you are not alone. Between work, family, social and personal lives, there are many obligations to balance. Furthermore, in our modern digital age, with distractions, stimulations, and stressors coming from all directions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. This increased business leads to higher stress levels and that can seep into all aspects of our lives and have deep negative effects.

What is stress and where does it come from?

Stress is your body’s reaction to perceived pressures and threats from your environment. It triggers your body’s flight-or-fight response, which increases your heart rate and blood circulation, leading to faster breath intake and feelings of anxiety. When prolonged, this feeling will cause you to be unhappy, short-tempered, and tired. You might suffer from a weakened immune system, insomnia, depression, body aches or tension, and weight gain. Stress has many ways of manifesting itself. In more severe cases, chronic and serious stress can lead to heart disease. Clearly, if left unmanaged, this will overwhelm you, as it has a very real and profound effect on your health.

When is it a problem?

If stress is so common, then how and when is it a bigger issue? If you can grow from a difficult experience and learn to move past it, it isn’t a problem. But remember to periodically take a step back to reflect on your mental health. Are you generally happy with your quality of life or do you feel panicked, trapped, and hindered from being productive?

What you can do about it?

1. Take a deep breath

Remind yourself to slow down. Try inhaling deeply and then slowly exhaling to help re-focus and calm your shaky nerves. Doubtful? Give it a try, and you will be surprised at how much it can help. Counter nervous and panicked hyperventilation with controlled, deep breathing to let your brain know that you are doing just fine.

2. Make a list

Identify what is making you feel the way that you do. Like any other problem, the first step is always to acknowledge it. Whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed, or even at the start of every day, write down a list of things you are stressed about and need to do. The physical act of writing it out, as well as being able to visualize everything, will calm you down. Once it’s all on paper, you should feel as though your mind and thoughts are no longer as clouded. You won’t need to stress over remembering what to do and you can experience the satisfaction of crossing things off your list when you complete them.

3. Create a clear actionable plan

Big tasks, projects, and plans can seem daunting. The thought of needing to do something can invoke feelings of dread. Take some time to write down what you need to do to complete that task. Break all your larger projects down into much smaller subtasks that you can do easily. For example, if you have a business trip planned in a few weeks, book your flight tickets today, plan your car ride tomorrow, book your hotel rooms the day after, and keep going until you’ve finished planning your trip. You don’t need to plan your entire journey in one sitting. When you are only focused on the next step, your stress surrounding the entire task will dissipate.

4. Stop multitasking

Multitasking can seem like the best solution, but in reality, it divides your focus and prevents you from being efficient. By severely limiting the amount of time spent on each task, you are not allowing yourself to do your best work. You will lose time in the process of shifting gears, rather than spending it wisely on actual work. If you do have multiple things to do, don’t worry. Just give yourself a set time frame to work for each task and avoid trying to work on all of them at once.

40 Keys to Lasting Happiness

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

A complete list of things you can do more often that will bring you joy, peace, meaning and success. According to the Internet.

Look. I’m like you. I abhor lists like this. They’re all the fucking same. A minion sits down at a keyboard after having just had a birthday, or just gotten married, or just secured their first round of seed funding, or — even worse — just after they’ve read a self-help book, distills their “expertise” into clickbait, and preaches to you that if you just do somewhere between 3 and 100 tasks all the time that you will unlock a blissful utopia within the inner recess of your soul, find everlasting love, live in a perpetual state of abundance, and radiate a cosmic energy that people will find irresistible.

That shit’s not workable. There’s not 36 hours in a day. You’re not a superhero. Stop setting your expectations that high. Instead, let’s take a deep breath and work on incremental change — which everyone knows is the key to success in everything anyway.

In that spirit, I’ve scoured the Internet for you — or, at least, every reputablewebsite I could find (all due respect to Mind Body Green) and cross-checked every happiness/success master list, and documented every happiness hack on which a plurality of these content factories could agree. I’ve presented this list below in no discernible order, since there’s no real wrong order to make progress, with the intention that this list feels a little less hollow than the vapid, patronizing Self-Help Industrial Complex would.

I do promise you this: If you do these things a little more often than you currently do, no, you will not suddenly spend your life sipping Prosecco on a Yacht at sunrise while kissing the love of your life under the sun just off the Amalfi Coast. As a matter of fact, if that’s important to you, the whole trip — flight / AirBnB / Yacht / Prosecco — will run you approximately $1,836 to do one time, so if that falls somewhere in the zip code of your definition of #lifegoals, there’s the bar you need to clear.

I’ll make you one more promise before I present the list: If you do any or all of these things a little more often than you currently do, yes, you will find your life to be less stressful, more meaningful, happier, wealthier and healthier. How much? Depends how often you do them. Maybe 5%. Maybe 500%. But definitely a number greater than 0%, barring circumstances outside your control. I’ve also, where applicable, identified a “dosage” for you, a metric existing in a squishy space somewhere between maximum benefit and minimum effort.

  1. Call your immediate family, as often as once a week.
  2. Schedule time to hang out with your 5–15 best friends, one evening per week and/or one afternoon per weekend.
  3. Say “thank you” literally every time you feel like you should, as genuinely and graciously as possible.
  4. Help people achieve their goals, small or large, so long as you’re not the type of person who feels easily slighted or used.
  5. Every six months or so, identify what you’d like to do in the next six months or so. You could probably get away with doing this yearly. Five-year plans are too long and too Soviet.
  6. Eat food that you love to eat. Both hunger and life are finite. Make the most of them.
  7. That said → Eat more fruits and vegetables. Potentially as much as 80% of your food by volume. Just, you know … when you get around to it.
  8. Always have a project. It doesn’t matter if it’s building a bar cart, or cross-stitching a vulgar pillow, or writing Dallas Cowboys slash fiction, or pickling your own artisan kimchi. Projects bring you satisfaction. Satisfaction brings you confidence. One project at a time is fine.
  9. Do things you enjoy doing. Love pinball? Cool. I won’t judge you. Get you a roll of quarters and go full-tilt on a drizzling afternoon. This is the non-goal-directed version of №8. Do something small yet amusing daily. (Not a euphemism.)
  10. Schedule something to look forward to. Doesn’t have to be the Amalfi Coast. Call your friend and ask them if they’d like to go to the local Bills Backers bar to watch them get mashed out by the Patriots by 40. Do something like this weekly.
  11. Drink coffee or tea. There’s a reason caffeine is the world’s most-consumed substance in the world. Because it works.
  12. However much sex you’re having … you could probably stand to have more sex.
  13. Exercise. Somewhere between 3–6 hours per week, broken up into 30–60 minute blocks almost daily. Split fairly evenly between strength, sport and cardio. Sure, sex counts, too. And it doesn’t have to be SoulCycle. RegularCycle is fine.
  14. Do a small favor for someone. Preferably daily. And don’t tell people about it, unless you want people to think you’re a douchebag.
  15. Document your progress in a journal or a spreadsheet or on a pretentious Medium page. Nothing can be improved without first being measured.
  16. Keep in regular touch with approximately 150 people. Why 150? Seems to be the number that’s floating around. What’s regular? Probably more often than you currently are with your 3,500 Facebook friends.
  17. Wake up earlier. 6 a.m. seems to be the popular target, but anything’s better than 15 minutes before work, you hot mess express.
  18. Worship or meditate or practice yoga. Or all three. And if you don’t believe in god, don’t worry, there’s no good reason to start.
  19. At night before you go to bed, write down one thing you’d like to do the next day. This is weird, but it’s popular. Like Goat Yoga.
  20. Create a “Jar of Awesome” and fill it. This is batshit crazy. But I think it’s closely related to the overly Pinterest-y and homework assignment-y “gratitude journal,” and sounds way more badass.
  21. Try new things. Do something slightly different every day, or something moderately different on a regular basis. It emboldens you and makes you interesting. Eat out for Ethiopian. Buy a sex swing. Skydive. Maybe all three.
  22. Go outside. Daily, if possible. Apparently, sunlight, exercise, and digital detoxification are all good for you, and this is the lazy way to knock out all three. Speaking of:
  23. Go analog. Whenever possible, write in a real journal, read a real book, talk instead of text, and schedule your screen time strategically. It facilitates deeper focus which fosters better flow state. (Though, so can Tetris. See also: №8, №9)
  24. Take an annual vacation. Somewhere new, if possible. Somewhere they don’t speak your language, if you can afford it. And use all your vacation days, if you get them.
  25. Take a class. Learn a language. Learn to ballroom dance. Learn Tai-Chi. Learn to code. What you learn doesn’t matter as long as you’re learning.
  26. Learn something new every day. This is the close cousin of №8, №21, and №25. Again, it doesn’t much matter what.
  27. Be kind to others. Given the opportunity. If you’re into making friends.
  28. Forgive people. Given the opportunity. If you’re into keeping friends.
  29. To the extent that you can, make your role models your close friends. I hack this by making my Facebook “Close Friends” list the people I admire the most. You’ll find yourself subconsciously adapting their (desirable) behaviors. And you’ll forget all about your high school BFF who’s posting political memes with typos.
  30. To the extent that you can, do what you love, and find a way to monetize it. Five years ago, I was homeless. I decided if I was going to be broke, I’d be broke as a writer and musician. I started doing both for free. Then I started charging for it. Today, I am still a writer and musician. And I am no longer broke. Even though I work 60+ hours per week, I feel like I still haven’t worked since 2011. (I get that this is a super personal, super specific anecdote and lacks the typical snark of the previous 29 entries.)
  31. Celebrate other people’s successes. Throw surprise parties. Never miss a chance to say happy birthday or congratulations.
  32. Ask people specific questions about themselves. This is sort of a hybrid of selflessness, empathy, compassion, education, edification and relationship building. This is the slam-dunk, actionable way to do all of that quickly and efficiently.
  33. Sleep eight hours. Your mileage may vary.
  34. Try not to drink. There’s a million mental, social, physical, emotional and legal benefits to temperance or sobriety, but I’ll label the top-line benefit: Unless you’re drinking *while* doing one of the other things on this list, you’re wasting your time.
  35. Try not to smoke. (*Glares at self in mirror.*) You’ll have more oxygen and more energy to do everything else on this list, plus, you know … cancer.
  36. Spend time alone doing something other than watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. (Just not *too* much time alone, you sociopath.)
  37. Shower daily. You know why.
  38. Tidy up daily. Clean weekly. Purge monthly. Donate seasonally. Clutter is the NOS button on the superhighway to crazy-town.
  39. Read something interesting regularly. Again, preferably analog. Graphic novels? Go nuts. Astral projection guides? Be my guest. As long as it can hold your attention.
  40. Cook your own meals. As often as reasonably possible. Depending on context, this could potentially fall under №2, №6, №7, №8, №9, №14, №21, №25, №26, №27, №30, or №36, and could probably lead to №12 if you play your cards right.

In short, perhaps this world would be a significantly better place if we all just learned our way around the kitchen.


Photo by Jose Chavez on Unsplash

Humans are creatures of habit. If you could build good habits, you’d be on your way to a better life.

But building good life long habits is hard.

You will feel amazing if every time you put your mind to something, you got it done in a specific and realistic time.

You didn’t start and stop. You never got off track.

You just finished what you started — no questions asked.

The truth is, you’re more than capable of achieving every goal you set.

But if you really want to accomplish the goals you set, you need a better strategy for getting things done.

A proven system that helps you stick to — and finish — everything you start.

And it all begins in the mind.

If you are not satisfied with your life and desperately want to change, you will find a way. Many people would rather find an excuse to support their inability to change.

Marshall Goldsmith explains in his book, Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts — Becoming the Person You Want to Be“If we’re satisfied with our life — not necessarily happy or delighted that we’ve exceeded our wildest expectations, just satisfied — we yield to inertia. We continue doing what we’ve always done.”

When you set a new goal, you’re unlikely to achieve it unless your habits already support it or you are fully committed and dedicated to your new routine.

If your goal runs afoul of your current habits, you’ll need to change your habits in order to achieve your goal.

And change, any change is difficult for the human brain.

If you set a goal to write a single page of your new book every day, but you aren’t already in the habit of writing on a regular basis, you will struggle.

Most likely you’ll never complete the book. That goal will just sit on your to-do list for years.

If you want to quit your job and start working on your passion project, but you aren’t in the habit of making time to work on things you care about, that goal is also unlikely to be achieved.

It will simply remain a fantasy, overridden by the habit of showing up to work each day and doing nothing about your long term dream.

If you perform a certain task every day for weeks on end, it’s usually pretty easy to maintain.

However, once you take a day or two off, it can be harder to start up again on your next “on” day.

When you make your habits specific (identify when, where, and how you’ll implement them and leave nothing to chance), you are more likely to develop and stick with it.

The proven method: ride the motivation wave

According to BJ Fogg, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University who has studied behavior change for more than 20 years, doing something you don’t enjoy and subsequently failing to make it habitual is actually more detrimental to a mission for change than doing nothing at all.

To create a real lifelong habit, the focus should be on training your brain to succeed at a small adjustments, then gaining confidence from that success, he argues.

Sticking with good habits it’s not about trying to increase your motivation so much as taking advantage of motivation when you do have it, says Fogg.

Jim Rohn once said ‘Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.’

In an interview with Ramit Sethi, author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” Fogg explained how to ride what he calls the “motivation wave,” or the fluctuations in our motivation levels.

“Motivation only has one role in our lives and that’s to help us to do hard things,” Fogg said.

“Motivational waves” are those moments where we feel really inspired to take action on a list of to-dos.

However, when the Motivation Wave subsides, you will not respond to triggers for difficult tasks.

So when your motivation is high, take immediate action on all those hard things you find difficult to start and maintain. The motivation wave might help you create long-term good behaviours.

BJ Fogg explained in the interview that he wanted to drink more tea.

So when his motivation was at its peak, he bought a bunch of tea, an electric kettle to boil water, and set everything up in easy-to-reach places on his kitchen counter.

He built a system so that it was a no-brainer to make tea whenever he was in the kitchen.

How to take advantage of the motivation wave

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The next time you’re feeling “motivated” — either right now or later this week to either either write a book, start a business, go to the gym, learn a language, or a skill — use the motivation wave to your advantage.

Make a list of everything you need to get in order to accomplish your goal. Then, sketch out a rough outline of your fail-proof system that’ll help you follow through.

When you put structures in place, you are likely to follow through.

For example, you could set up an automatic savings transfer at your bank if you want to start a savings habit.

This way, you have no choice but to save, whether you’re motivated or not.

Or, if you’re trying to launch your passion project, register a domain and start building an audience when you are highly motivated, or find a mentor, schedule a meeting and discuss your action plans.

You could even make an arrangement with an accountablity partner when you hit a motivation wave to keep you going.

Later, when you’re not as motivated, you’re still obligated to go to the meeting or report your progress to your accountability partner.

The key takeway of the motivation wave is this: take as much action as you can when the wave hits you, and safeguard yourself from future discouragement.

The 30-day trial approach

“The long span of the bridge of your life is supported by countless cables called habits, attitudes, and desires. What you do in life depends upon what you are and what you want. What you get from life depends upon how much you want it?how much you are willing to work and plan and cooperate and use your resources. The long span of the bridge of your life is supported by countless cables that you are spinning now, and that is why today is such an important day. Make the cables strong!” — L.G. Elliott

Many people use the 30-day trial approach to kick-start a new habit.

This method has a high success rate and can be adapted for virtually any habit you’d like to develop.

For 30 days you commit yourself to doing all of these things without exception.

It works if you are highly committed and dedicated to forming and sticking to your new habit.

Even if you later get off track, it will be easier to re-establish the habit with in the 30 days peroid.

If you want this approach to work for you, take time to identify other habits that will support your main habit, thereby supporting your primary goal as well.

If you’re like most people, you may fail to maintain consistency.

You probably won’t even make it through the first week, and the odds of making it through the 30 days successfully are more than 100–1 against you.

So if you want to have a chance of succeeding at this, you can’t be like most people. The more prepared you are when you kick off your 30 day trial habit, the better your odds of success.