Time To Get Serious

I remember playing video games with my friends when I was little. Back then my entire life revolved around video games, and because of the sheer number of hours I’d put into them I always ended up beating my friends.

To make things more fair I’d often handicap myself against them. When we played Fifa I’d go easy on them, and let them get a 3-0 lead going into half time. Or when we played Mario Kart I’d let them get a 30 second head start.

I had a huge ego as a kid, and even though we were only playing video games I couldn’t accept losing. As soon as my friends began to get cocky, and trash talk me I’d pause the game, look them in the eye, and say, “Time to get serious.”

9 Times out of 10 I’d then proceed to beat them 4-3 in Fifa, or hear them groan as I used a turbo and passed them on the final stretch of the last lap.

Of course, I’m not much of a gamer these days, but the memories have gotten me thinking. Where am I allowing myself to just coast by in my own life? I’m doing better than most people, but that’s meaningless to me.

When I used to play video games with my friends a close match either meant I was in a slump, or I was allowing myself to be brought down to their level. When you’ve invested thousands of hours more into your craft than your competition the results shouldn’t be even be close.

And yet, I’m just doing alright in life. I’ve read dozens of books over the past couple of years, and tens of thousands of blog posts. I’ve invested more time into knowledge acquisition than anyone I’ve ever met. Yet, my life is only marginally better than it was a couple years ago.

However, I’ve maintained a consistent dedication to developing the skill of juggling for over two years now. I’ve averaged about two hours of juggling practice 6-7 days per week for the last two years, and juggling is the one area of my life that’s completely different than it was two years ago. Why?

Because with the other areas of my life I’ve only been interested in improving them, but with juggling I decided to, “Get serious.” I made a firm commitment that as a juggler consistent progress was the only option, and nothing was going to stop me from becoming the very best I could be.

Looking back, that single decision is what caused me to make rapid progress over the last two years. It’s a hell of a mindset. When what you should do becomes what you must do, any obstacles in the way of your success become irrelevant. It’s inevitable that you’ll overcome them.

Starting today let’s take a look at our lives, and see where we’ve just been allowing ourselves to get by. Places we know could use improvement, but we’ve justified as being “Not that bad.”

No matter how great any of us may have been performing, human beings have a tendency to slip back into complacency, and rationalizations. Let’s take a moment, and realize that no matter what level we’ve been performing at there’s always room for improvement, and we certainly aren’t doing the best we could be.

Starting now let’s raise our standards, and stop putting up with our rationalizations of how our lives aren’t, “That bad.” We only get to do this once so we might as well do it right. “It’s time to get serious.”

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Picture is of a clown juggler I drew in 2011.

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The Power Of Personal Standards (Must Vs. Should)

There’s a lot of things you should be doing right now. Exercising, preparing healthy food, catching up on sleep, meditating, checking your email, etc. We live in a busy culture, and if you’re not moving you’re probably getting left behind. That’s we’re told.

People go, and go, and go. Constantly stimulated because they need to check their email, or their droid is vibrating or they need to creep on the cute girl that poked them on Facebook.

But what does it all amount to? Mediocrity. Constant distractions. A fragmented focus.

It’s interesting that we have time to zone out in front of the boob-tube or be on half-a-dozen social networking sites, but yet somehow we can’t find the time to hit the gym a few times per week.

Even right now, you’re reading a self-improvement blog so kudos to you on your upgrade from the boob-tube, but there’s a good chance there’s something much more valuable you could be doing with your time.

I’m not judging you, as I’m not perfect either, but in the time it takes you to read 4-5 blog posts you could have gotten in a quality cross fit workout. Alternatively, you could have been practicing Spanish flashcards, or reading a high quality book whose ideas have certainly spent more time being polished than any blog post.

Of course, I’m not trying to make you paranoid. I don’t want you unable to sleep tonight because you read a self-improvement blog post, as there’s certainly far worse ways of using your time. I’m not even going to say that wasting a day in bed surfing Pinterest means you’ll never be successful (Girls tell me about their addiction all the time).

However, it’s not a bad mindset to have. The most successful people are those that are most conscious of where their time is going.

Must Vs. Should

We all know we should exercise. We know we should eat healthy. We know we should get our 8 hours of sleep each night. So why are there so few of us who actually do those things?

Because most people are comfortable with not doing them. People’s circumstances tend to be about what they’re comfortable with. Why? Because if they were uncomfortable with their circumstances they’d have changed them, or currently be in the process of changing them.

Most people are so stressed out that gorging themselves with food and mind numbing entertainment is an attractive option because it allows them to escape.

They likely know that they should exercise, but for them feeling comfort in the present moment is a must. Thus their pain vs pleasure response tips in a way that makes exercising nearly impossible.

Raising Your Personal Standards

We talked a little bit about using momentum as a means of raising personal standards in my last blog post. If you haven’t checked that out yet I’d recommend it, but what I’ve found to be even more powerful in evolving your standards is changing your environment.

When I played soccer I noticed a HUGE change in my personal standards after making the switch from recreational to club. Going from the best person on your team to the worst is a huge slap to the ego, and affords you little energy to be complacent.

Moreover regardless of what you’re trying to improve you’ll find the best people have a tendency to bring the best out of others. Excellence is contagious to some degree.

However, I think the most important piece of advice I can give you is to take some time for yourself, and really think about what it is you want. Turn off your phone, turn off the TV, and just give yourself quiet time to think about what it is you really want out of life.

Not what your parents want for you, or what you think you should want, but what would really move you on an emotional level. If they found cancer in your body, and you had only a year to live, what would you do?

(Truthfully, all of our lives are ticking closer to death each passing second, and on the backdrop of eternity it matters very little if you live another 5 years, or 50.)

Create a vision for the most inspirational life you could imagine, and then be unreasonable in demanding the manifestation of that life.

It’s not that you shouldn’t live you dreams, it’s that you must. And if you’re comfortable with not getting exactly what you want out of life you won’t. Failure is the default, and if success isn’t your only option, that’s the reality you’re going to live.

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I apologize to anyone who’s had trouble accessing the community here over the last 24 hours. My hosting account with SETT had some confusions. Everything should be better now! 🙂

(Picture was taken of a dinosaur exhibit in the Milwaukee Public Museum in January 2013)

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