Arbitrary Future Dates

It’s funny how every year people decide they’re going to start exercising January 1st.  They claim that starting January 1st they won’t eat a single serving of unhealthy food.

But almost everyone who begins a new diet on January 1st breaks their New Years resolution.  Why?

For one, they set goals that are initially too aggressive. Because willpower is a finite resource, they’re setting themselves up for failure.

But more than that, the reason they fail is because they set an arbitrary future date to begin forming new behaviors.

This alone almost guarantees they’ll fail.  If making a change in your life is truly important you won’t wait until tomorrow.

If you truly cared about changing something in your life you’d start working towards it now.

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The Right Thing Is A Must

The vast majority of times we know what we should do.  But often we just don’t do it.  And because we don’t like to admit being wrong, we find lame excuses to justify why we don’t do the right things.

It’s been said that we tend to get pretty much whatever we settle for.  Which is exactly why the right thing can’t be a “should.”  The right thing has to be a must or it’s never going to happen.

Change requires one of two things.  A situation so painful, that changing would actually be less painful.  Or a desired outcome where the potential gain is seen as being more important than the pain of change.

In other words, if you want to change something in your life, stagnation can no longer be an option.  You’ll never improve an area of your life until you get to the point where as difficult as doing the right thing may be, doing the wrong thing would be even more difficult.

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Quality Questions

One of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned came from a speech by Tony Robbins.  In Tony’s speech he really emphasized the importance of the questions we ask ourselves.

Our brains create answers for whatever questions we ask them. The difference between successful people and average people, is successful people ask better questions. Successful people ask how instead of why.

Instead of asking, “Why can’t I do this?” and getting a demotivating answer of, “Because you’re not smart enough.” They ask, “How can I do this?” and inspire themselves with a plan of action.

It may seem like a trivial change, but often the only difference between average and successful people is in the quality of the questions they ask.

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Habits With One Percent Payoffs

It’s relatively easy to break habits when you’re certain they’re bad for you.  It becomes much more difficult, however, to break habits that are negative ninety-nine percent of the time, but occasionally produce positive results.

For example, many people are addicted to Reddit.  For every hundred articles you read there, ninety-nine may be a waste of time.

But, because there’s the one article that may have information applicable to your own life, it’s easy to spend an endless amount of hours mindlessly browsing.

The solution?  Consciously assess the benefits vs time invested for your habits.  If a habit isn’t the best possible use of your time, eliminate it.

And more importantly, consciously fill the void created by the elimination of that habit.  Otherwise you’ll end up with another less than optimal habit.

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Why Over Promise?

Most companies over promise and under deliver.  It’s not uncommon for a company claiming to have the world’s best customer service to take 2 weeks to answer their emails.

In my own life I recently promised my youtube subscribers I’d have my latest video up by Friday.  I figured it was a reasonable estimate, but it’s Saturday morning now and I still haven’t finished.

I’ve only mildly disappointed a handful of people, but in doing so I’ve started to change the way I make promises.

People were disappointed in me because I didn’t live up to my word.  If I would have said to expect the video sometime this weekend, they would have been satisfied because their expectations would have been met.

People don’t like when others break their promises.  However, they love when they’re promised something and the promiser over delivers.

It’s like a straight “A” student getting a “C” vs someone on the verge of dropping out getting a “C”.  Same results, but because of wildly different expectations, the reactions for the two will be completely different.

Instead of making promises to others you can’t live up to, why not set low expectations and pleasantly surprise them?

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More Hours vs Productive Hours

The obvious solution to getting more work done is working longer hours.  Simply working more hours, however, usually isn’t the best solution.

It’s been said the average employee only spends 25% of their time doing productive work.  In a 40 hour week that amounts to about 10 hours of productive work.

If an employee was to work for 50 hours each week they would complete 12.5 hours of productive work.  Better, but still less than desirable circumstances.

However, if that same employee was to continue working 40 hour weeks, but increase their productivity by just 10% they would complete 14 hours of productive work.

Thus saving an extra 10 hours per week for their personal lives and still doing an extra 1.5 hours of work vs their workaholic counterpart.

Putting in more hours can be effective in getting more work done, but often it’s more beneficial to look at how you work.

Doing either will help you get more done, but if you’re a real hustler, you’ll do both.

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Waiting For The Perfect Pitch

If a baseball player decided to wait until they got a perfect pitch to swing, they’d never swing.  They’d strike out.  Every single time.

It sounds like common sense, but most people live their lives in the exact same fashion.

They wait for the perfect opportunity.  An opportunity with no chance of failure.  But they’ll never find it.  There will never be a situation where every possible objection can be answered.

If you drift through life waiting for one to appear, you’re going to strike out too.

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Looking Great vs Being Great

When filming juggling montages I have a personal policy of never spending longer than five minutes on a given trick.  Spending longer than that is a poor use of practice time, and I feel that if I can’t get a trick within five minutes I have no business showing that trick off to the world anyway.

I know jugglers who spend hours filming each trick and while their videos are great, they just don’t live up to the hype at conventions and performances.  I see this a lot in other areas of life as well.

Take fitness for example.  Most people spend more time trying to look like they’re in good shape instead of actually getting into good shape.  The same thing applies in social situations.  Most people put more effort into looking cool, instead of becoming the type of people who actually lead interesting lives.

Maybe we should spend less time trying to look great, and spend more time trying to be great.

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Forcing Your Beliefs On Others

Trying to force my beliefs on others is a huge issue I’ve struggled with as I’ve worked on my personal development over the last couple years.  For example, when I first quit watching television I would often hear people talking about the latest episode of a reality show and feel compelled to tell them why watching television is a waste of time.

I would try explaining to them how they could better use that time.  Something I quickly realized, however, is as valid as my arguments against watching television were, other people just seemed to brush them off.

They would completely ignore any evidence I had presented to them.  And after being constantly rejected in my efforts to help others improve their lives I really began to question how I was going about things.

Then I had a simple, but profound realization.  People weren’t listening to me because they didn’t like having my beliefs forced upon them.

Just like the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”  Similarly I could present people with the perfect argument on why they should stop watching television, but because they hadn’t had the previous referential life experiences to lead them to same conclusion, they wouldn’t be able to accept it.

So, I began to tweak my approach.  I decided that I was no longer going to attempt to force my beliefs on others, but instead live by the old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

I wasn’t going to criticize others lifestyles until they were open to change, or asked for advice.  I’ve noticed that in addition to improving my relationships, this approach is infinitely more effective than attempting to help people that have no intentions of improving their lives.

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Qualifiers Are Excuses

I’ve never been a big fan of qualifiers. I can see how they could be used as marketing ploys, but the real reason most people use them is they just aren’t willing to put in the work needed to be the best at their craft.

Nobody tries to be the best male, Hispanic, salsa dancing, rapper from the west side of Chicago.  But if someone isn’t willing to grind and hustle to become the best rapper in the world, using that title helps them feel an artificial sense of accomplishment and more importantly, helps them preserve their ego.

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