Noise Pollution

When a party first begins it’s relatively quiet.  Not everyone has arrived yet and people are still unwinding from the work day.  As more people arrive and begin to loosen up it gradually grows louder.

People who were in comfortable conversations now have to scream for acknowledgment.  The noise level of the room continues to rise as more and more people scream to make themselves heard. Eventually it gets to the point where only the most important person in the room can be heard.  The DJ.

But it’s not just parties.  The same noise pollution can be heard in the rest of our world as well.  With every passing day the market gets more competitive.  There’s more options than ever before screaming for us.  We can’t possibly pay attention to all of them.

Instead we focus on the best.  The fastest.  The cheapest.  Everyone has different needs, and there is no ideal, but delivering the most value in a lightning quick, inexpensive fashion is the only way to guarantee acknowledgment.

Delivering all three was once an unconsiderable impossibility, but in the information age of the internet it’s more than just possible.  It’s a necessity.

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The Butterfly Effect

In science fiction there’s a popular time traveling phenomena called the butterfly effect. The idea behind it is time travelers needing to be extremely cautious as the killing of even a single butterfly in the past can have dramatic consequences on the present.

Killing a butterfly may prevent it from pollinating a plant, which may cause the plant to die and another animal to starve to death because of it. As a result of that animal dying, perhaps more spiders are able to survive, which then has a devastating impact on the number of insects in the area potentially screwing up the whole ecosystem.

Any hypothetical situation you could come up with would appear to be irrelevant as time travel is impossible. And that’s correct to some degree. But just as today’s past is yesterday’s present, the same can be said of today’s present being tomorrow’s past.

Any small change you make today can have a dramatic impact on your life tomorrow. If you eat stir-fried vegetables for dinner tonight rather than gorging on cookies, your body’s going to have an easier time digesting the food and as a result you’ll sleep better.

In the morning this could end up being the difference between getting up right away and hitting the snooze button. More importantly, waking up on time lends you the ability to go on a twenty minute run before work, which energizes you and leads you to being more productive through out the day.

Productive workers aren’t disciplined so today you don’t have to worry about Mr. Boss messing with your stress levels. And because you’re relaxed today you’re able to treat your spouse better and they end up rewarding you with… Well, you get the point. And this is only going one day deep. Many of these positive effects are bound to carry over to the next day and so forth as well.

Every little thing you do today has a huge run off effect on the life you lead tomorrow. Don’t look at only the immediate impact of the things you do. Even if killing a butterfly today seems irrelevant doing so has the potential to completely change the way tomorrow plays out.

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What If You Had A Gun Pointed To Your Head?

When you’ve got a gun pointed to your head it’s not so difficult to do the little things.  30 minute workout? No problem sir.  500 word blog post? Got it.

Unfortunately, we don’t usually have a gun pointed at our head.   Too often we lack the urgency that’s so crucial in getting things done.

We think we’ve got infinite time, infinite opportunities.  But we don’t.  Opportunities are scarce, and you’ve got to do whatever it takes to seize the ones that come your way.  Time is short.  Once yours is out it’s game over.  Start acting like it.

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Do They Suck, Or Is It Your Attitude?

I don’t like rich people because they’re stuck up. I hate popular people because they’re d-bags.  Really?  Well you know what? I don’t like your attitude.

We could get into the ethics of making such generalizations, but that’s a whole nother discussion.  The real question is why are you negatively labeling successful people?

There are stuck up rich people no doubt.  There are popular people who are complete jerks.  But the majority of them aren’t, and that’s something you’re going to have to realize if you ever want to take your life to the next level.

Rich people are rich because they’ve provided lots of value to the world.  They’ve provided some kind of product, or service  that people felt improved their lives.  In return these wealthy people received a fair compensation for whatever it is they’ve provided to society.

Same with popular people.  People who are experiencing great social lives have this abundance because they’re giving out lots of value as well.  Popular people may become popular because they’re fun, proactive in introducing people to each other and setting up plans, or maybe they’re just the ones who bring the beer to the party.  IT DOESN’T MATTER!  The common denominator is they’re helping everyone else have more fun.

The truth is, both rich and popular people should be respected.  But they’re not.  You know why? Because people let their egos get in the way.

It’s effortless to call rich people stuck up.  It requires no energy to call popular people d-bags.  You know what’s a lot harder?  Looking at yourself and admitting you could do better.

The problem with attaching these negative connotations to people experiencing abundance is even if you want the same abundance for yourself, you won’t get it.  You’ve already sabotaged yourself.

When you say bad things about rich or popular people you’re actually reinforcing these beliefs in your head.  Even if you don’t realize it on a conscious level you’re still programming your brain in a way that’s not beneficial.

When you have opportunities to improve your financial or social standing, you won’t because your subconscious is now working against you.

This business move could make me a lot of money?  Sweet!  But wait, if I make this money I’m probably going to end up becoming a jerk… Bummer.  I guess I’ll just communicate to the conscious mind that this move is too risky.

And just like that, an easily seizable opportunity, is now gone because your brain is working against itself.  Reaching a high level of success in any given field is difficult enough as it.

There’s no need to make things even more difficult for yourself.  Don’t hate rich or popular people, respect them.  After all, they are often the ones providing the most value to the world.

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The Secret To Getting Everything You’ve Ever Wanted

is to want it more than anything else. Like Eric Thomas says, “When You Want To Succeed as Bad As You Want To Breathe, Then You’ll Be Successful.”

The difference between someone who’s massively successful vs someone who gets average results lies in their hunger. Success is a much higher priority to successful people than average people. They want it more, and that’s key.

Discipline and willpower are important, but they’re limited. This is an oversimplification, but once you’ve depleted your daily willpower energy you’re essentially on autopilot until you wake up the next morning.

This is where having success as your highest priority and wanting it more than anything else comes into play. For someone who’s truly dedicated to their success, taking massive action is the only option; it’s their autopilot. Inaction and failure aren’t.

There’s a lot of areas in my life I’m not yet putting in one-hundred percent, but one I’m completely dedicated to is my diet. My family can’t always afford organic food, but from what’s in my control I’m eating a nearly perfect diet. The two unhealthiest things I’ve eaten this month are Clif Bars, and two frozen Organic Bean Burritos.

I haven’t always been this way though. I used to down candy bars by the dozen, begging my mom for money every time we went to the store. The difference between then and now? My priorities.

Unhealthy food now disgusts me, and I’ve gotten to the point where eating healthy is actually easier than eating junk. I’ve gotten to the point where eating healthy is actually easier than eating junk.

You’ll never be successful at anything until you get your priorities straight. Taking massive action should never be the problem. The problem should be not taking action and watching everything you’ve ever wanted slip away.

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The picture is of me juggling five rings during the month leading up to my Variety Show Performance.

Also featured in the picture is an awesome shirt I got from Eric’s store. Regardless of if you’re going to buy anything, check him out. As of now, he’s hands down the best motivational speaker in the game. Watch out though Eric, I’m coming for you.

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The Problem With Swinging For The Fence

I don’t watch a lot of baseball anymore, but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’d know that I think there’s some great metaphors in the sport.

When I was younger I remember always hearing the announcers talk about simply putting the ball in play instead of swinging for the fences and trying to be the hero.

Being a 10 year old I thought the idea was absolutely stupid.  I didn’t have much logic behind my rationale, but I knew that home runs immediately added to your score and were a lot more exciting than singles so why not go for the long ball?

Of course, the thing I never considered was the opportunity cost of the go big or go home mentality. If you swing for the fence and miss you’re out.  The bases remain empty and your teammate coming up to bat has nothing to work with.

I’m not a strategic baseball mastermind, however, so we’ll leave the direct application of going for the long ball vs putting it into play for the announcers to discuss.  What’s more important is how you can use this idea to easily build momentum and dramatically increase the chances of achieving your goals.

Let’s use exercise as it’s a simple objective example.  Say you’re fifty pounds overweight and you’re so sick of being fat that you decide you’re going to begin running every day.  What’s the intelligent way to begin doing this?

Most people will run for an hour the first and second day, skip a day, run for 20 minutes the next, and then ultimately fall off the train all together.  Why?

Because they tried to be the hero.  We tend to overestimate our will power and once the initial motivation of starting a new workout program wears off I’ve found that nearly everyone who tries to hit a home run ends up striking out.

But if hitting a home run isn’t the answer, what’s the solution to this problem?  Yep, you guessed it.  Just putting the ball in play.

It’s great to use motivation as a push to change your behaviors, but you have to understand that motivation rarely lasts long enough to cement them as habits.

The intelligent way to adopt running or any new behavior for that matter, is to start so trivially small it’s impossible to fail.

Make the commitment to put on your running shoes and run to your mailbox at the end of your driveway.  You may feel stupid, but it’s virtually impossible to fail.  The next day put on your running shoes again and run to the next door neighbors mailbox.  Each day go one mailbox further, and in a couple months you’ll have a respectable running habit.

The catch?  You obviously won’t be getting immediate results.  That’s irrelevant, however, on the backdrop of your whole lifetime.  The weight may not come off immediately, but by dropping your ego and intelligently leveraging momentum you’ll begin dropping weight quickly within a few months.  More importantly you’ll have cemented running as a lifelong habit.  In addition, you’ll also have improved your self-discipline and have an increased ability to adopt any new habits you want.

For each new habit you decide to take up you can start less trivially small than the previous.  The important thing is you’re able to honestly evaluate your level of self-discipline and then set an appropriately small starting point for it.

Although I still occasionally attempt to hit home runs, I’ve found that the majority of the time doing so ends in frustration.  Try both approaches for yourself and let me know how you tackle goal achievement in the comments.

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I apologize for this being my first post since Friday.  Ironically enough, the reason it’s been so long since I last posted is because I’m working on a HUGE post that I know is going to be a big home run.  It’s still a week or two from completion, however, so I’ll get back to putting it in play and writing daily blog posts in the mean time.

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Decluttering Your Life

My computer’s been dragging the last few weeks.  I’ve seen the spinning load wheel more than I’d care to admit and it’s been quite the annoyance having everything operate so slowly.

I’m on a 2009 Macbook, so it’s starting to get on its last legs, but if it was just the age of my computer I would’ve noticed it slow down more gradually.  The real reason it’s been at a crawl?  I only had 521 megabytes of free space left on my hard drive.  I’d been so busy with school that I’d forgotten to clean it in months.

I had games on it that I hadn’t played in two or three years.  I had justified keeping them on my computer in case I ever went on a long flight or car ride, but it’s now clear to me that I just didn’t want to decide on what I wanted to do with them.

They were easy to get rid of once I realized I was probably never going to play them again, and that even if I did go on a long flight the time would be better spent writing articles or studying Spanish.

I also had 150 gigabytes of juggling video that I had already uploaded to Youtube and no longer needed.  I had made the justification that I would keep the video on my computer “just in case” anything ever happened to my Youtube account.  Initially that was fair, but I’ve been backing up all my videos to an external hard drive for several months now so really, I’ve just been procrastinating.

I’ve recently began taking steps to become more minimalistic as I’m not a big fan of materialism.  Freedom’s much more important to me than the acquisition of useless things I don’t even want.

Even if I was rich I still wouldn’t want a ton of stuff.  Every single thing you own costs more than just the initial money you paid for it.  You also have to pay for maintenance and repairs that are bound to be needed at some point.

I don’t know much about cars, but let’s use them as an example. Most cars are going to need repairs at some point, but even if you’re lucky and you happen to buy one that never breaks down you’re still going to need money to maintain it.

You’re going to have to pay for gas, oil changes, insurance, and a countless number of other expenses that I can’t think of, but someone more car literate could probably point out.

Money’s not even the biggest issue when it comes to having lots of possessions.  Even more important is the time and energy they require.  There’s the time spent researching the best deal on a product, going to buy it, maintaining it, and for many products, eventually selling it.

Possessions also have an invisible energy cost to them.  It’s the reason people who have cluttered houses feel so overwhelmed.  Every single thing you have takes a small energy toll on you.  Even things like old clothes that don’t require maintenance.

Excess possessions weigh you down because you’re worrying, even if it’s only subconsciously about what you should do with them.

I’ve noticed that whenever I’m stressed my room is almost always a mess.  Could it be that the mess causes the stress? Sure.  Is it also possible that it’s simply the stress causing the mess? Certainly.  But, regardless of which one initiated my lack of tidiness I’ve found that I always feel better after cleaning my room.

You don’t need to get rid of all your stuff, but I’ve consistently found that I’m happier when I only have possessions that are really important to me.

Do I need a camcorder? No.  But having one’s important to me because it’s allowing me to document and share the progress I’m making with my juggling.

On the other hand there’s some things that are clearly contributing to the clutter and therefore stress in my life without benefiting me in any way.  For example, my Wii.  I haven’t played video games in almost two years and I have no intention of ever playing them again.

I had kept the Wii simply because subconsciously I thought that sometime if a friend was over on a rainy day we might bring it out.  But even if that were to happen, would keeping it all this time have been worth it?

Once I found out the answer to that question there was no doubt in my mind that it was time to sell it.  I’ve finished rounding up all my games and controllers and plan to list it on eBay or craigslist sometime this week.

Procrastination with electronic clutter is even more expensive than other types of clutter because in addition to the constant energy they steal from you, electronics also lose value the longer you keep them.  I probably could have sold my Wii for twice as much if I had sold it the day I decided to stop playing it.

My recommendation to you is to keep only the possessions that are clearly contributing to your life.  You don’t need to be a hardcore minimalist and fit all your possessions into a backpack like some do.

Doing so could provide for some interesting opportunities to travel, but it’s not a necessity to benefit from the idea behind minimalism.  Regardless of whether travel’s important to you or not, everyone can benefit from getting rid of the excess possessions that aren’t truly important to them.

When you’re trying to decide whether you should keep something or not ask yourself these two questions.  Is this object contributing significant value to my life?  If not, is it likely it will in the future?  If you answer no to both questions, it’s probably time to get rid of it.

Of course, some things have sentimental value and are worth keeping.  Your diploma, the last letter your grandpa wrote you before passing away, the first picture your child ever drew.

But most of the clutter you’ve got lying the house is exactly that. Clutter.  Useless garbage you’re only keeping because you don’t feel like making a decision on what you want to do with it.

I urge you to consciously evaluate the clutter in your life.  You won’t regret it.

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Tough Times

Instead of complaining about unfavorable circumstances use them to push you to heights you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to achieve.   Many successful people were once depressed or addicts in the past.

At some point, however, they hit rock bottom and were able to use that pain as leverage to push themselves to where they are today.  Going through depression or being a former addict isn’t a prerequisite to success, but the pain you endure through out those time periods is an amazing opportunity for growth.

Being able to look in the mirror and accept that you’re the one who’s responsible for the life you’ve created is a tremendously empowering experience.  If you’re going through a tough time in your life, realize nothing’s going to change until you’re willing to do so.

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Aren’t You Going To Say Hello?

I was cutting the grass at my grandma’s house yesterday.  She’s too old to do it these days so I cut and she pays me for it.  It’s a win-win situation.  Normally these grass cutting visits end up being relatively uneventful, but I had an interesting observation yesterday.

I was pushing the lawnmower towards the front yard and I heard a noise.  I looked up and it was just my neighbor driving up his old driveway.  I noticed he had his hand out as if he was waving to me, but I was in such deep thought that he had already pulled into his garage before I had the idea to wave back.

Sometimes when I cut the grass I get into a really meditative state and don’t notice the things that are going on around me.  I don’t try to ignore them, but I become so present to the moment and being involved with what I’m doing that they just never register.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely my neighbor realizes that.  He probably thinks that I’m just an arrogant teen who thinks he’s too cool to say hello.  It’s far from the truth, but I can definitely see where he’s coming from.  We all make split judgements of people without ever fully understanding them.

We get pissed when someone on the road speeds past us because we think they’re just being a jerk.  Really, however, it’s entirely possible that the “jerk” that just passed us was only speeding because his wife was going into labor and he needed to get to the hospital.

We feel angry with a store clerk because she’s snotty and lacks personality, but really it’s just she’s going through the roughest time of her life.  Her grandma died last week and the love of her life broke up with her earlier the same day.

The reason we make these split second judgements is because our brain wants to know a reason for why these people did what they did.  These unusual events stray from our normal model of reality and our brain needs a reason to rationalize why they happened.

The rationalization that requires the least effort to think about is that the other person is simply a jerk.  Our brains don’t want to invest extra energy in thinking about what’s going on in other people’s lives so it just spits out the first answer it thinks of.

Fortunately, now that you’re aware of this issue you can proactively use it to reduce the negative thinking in your life.  It’s entirely possible that the guy who cut you off on the road really was a jerk, but thinking that way isn’t going to improve your situation so it’s better to just have a selective blind spot.

The girl who didn’t text you back doesn’t think she’s too cool for you. She’s just at the beach and didn’t bring her phone with her.  The waiter that gave you the wrong order wasn’t a bad guy.  It’s just that another waiter didn’t show up and now he’s got to pick up the slack and take care of twice as many tables.

The boy who didn’t wave back wasn’t trying to diss you.  He was just too much in his own world to notice you.

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Overcoming Writer’s Block

The two words bloggers are most afraid of.  Writer’s block.  There’s nothing worse than staring blankly into an empty word document.  I’ve gone through several periods of writer’s block, but over the last few months I’ve developed a good process for getting through it.

I’ve found that while there’s several causes of writer’s block, they’re able to be overcome if you’re willing to proactively work through them.

You’re being a perfectionist

I’ve found worrying about making my next post perfect often occurs after writing a really good post.  Most recently, I struggled to write anything after my article on Walnut Grove.

Although I still sometimes fall victim to it, I think trying to live up to the expectation of making every post a masterpiece is a bad idea.

Trying to make all your work perfect prevents you from being creative because you’re afraid to make mistakes. Strive for a nine out of ten in your work. Perfectionism is the reason Dr. Dre hasn’t released a new album in more than a decade while Jay Z has had half a dozen best sellers in the same time.

You edit while you write.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first began writing was I tried to edit my thoughts for perfect grammar and sentence structure from the beginning.  I’ve found that doing so is completely ineffective.

I consistently write my best posts when I’m writing my first draft as a continual stream of consciousness.  Obviously I go back and edit later so you don’t have to read a mess, but writing this way prevents the logical part of my brain from getting in the way of the creative process.

I can’t cite this as I don’t remember where I read it, but supposedly writing and editing use two different parts of the brain.  I’m no brain scientist so I can’t confirm this, but I can say that trying to multitask and do both simultaneously is ineffective and leads to dry academic writing.

That’s fine if you’re writing essays for english, but in the real world, humans respond much more to emotionally charged writing.

You don’t have anything to say.

This is probably the most common cause of writer’s block.  It’s simply impossible to produce anything worth reading if you’re not passionate about what you’re writing about.  If you don’t care about getting your message to others why would they care to read it?

This is why choosing a niche you’re passionate about is so important.  The stupidest thing you could possibly do is attempt to write a book or maintain a blog on a topic you don’t care about.

If you do, you’ll never feel motivated to research or write.  Even if you’re able to force yourself to produce content, it’s going to lack passion and you’ll ultimately end up being unsuccessful. Even if you’re writing somehow became popular you’d still be unhappy because you know you could have written about something you loved and done better.

You’re stuck in a daily routine

Along the same lines of not having anything to say is being caught in a boring daily routine.  It’s important to switch things up occasionally.  Try something new, hang out with friends, or go on an adventure.

One of the biggest reasons I still get writer’s block on occasion is I’m sometimes tempted to stick to the same schedule day in day out.  Wake up, shower, eat, write, juggle, etc.

If I’m not going out and doing juggling shows or being social I simply can’t be creative.  Going out on adventures benefits you as a writer because doing so helps eliminate work related stress and can provide you with a new perspective on whatever you’re writing about.

You’re in a bad mood

Although my default state is being a happy, optimistic person, I’m still sometimes sucked into being in a bad mood.  It’s happening less and less frequently, but I doubt it’ll ever go away completely.

My friend Mathias actually wrote about why it’s difficult to be creative while you’re sad.  I agree with most of his points, especially that it’s difficult to produce motivational work while you’re feeling down.  Your emotions often come through in the words you write and your audience can tell how you were feeling when you wrote a given post.

When I’m feeling down my thinking is cloudy and irrational and I’d never want to spread those types of feelings to you guys. I want my blog to be a place where you derive positive feelings and leave feeling more ready than ever before to tackle life.

My solution to this predicament is keeping a couple posts up my sleeve.  I’ve trained myself to never be in a bad mood for more than a day, so I’m able to use this strategy to maintain my posting frequency during those times.

If you’re struggling with low level emotions for extended periods of time I’d focus more energy into building a fulfilling lifestyle than writing.  If you need to write to move towards that lifestyle I’d recommend writing about more logical topics rather than motivation pieces or other creative works.

However, it’s also worth noting that some of the world’s greatest art has been created while the artist was feeling down.  Adele had writer’s block for months, but the day after her boyfriend broke up with her she went to the studio and used that pain to begin recording 21, the best selling musical release of 2011 AND 2012.

Overall, I’d say extended writer’s block is almost always an excuse.  If writing’s important to you, you’ll make it happen.  What strategies have you used to cure writer’s block?  Be sure to let me know what I missed in the comments.

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