I was out on a walk in the desert arroyo when I found myself throwing stones at a target 60 yards away. No matter how hard I tried, or how many times I switched my stance, I couldn’t get the (goddamn!!!) stones to hit. But then I looked at the target again, and I asked myself, “Are you really looking at the target?” And I realized that I had been taking my eyes off the target for a fraction of a second as I was releasing the stone. Barely even noticeable.
So I tried the target again with three smooth stones. And I committed my mind and my eyes to the target from address to release. I was that target. And when I slung the first stone, I felt the target the whole arc of my swing. And unlike the 30 stones prior, this one rattled into the drainage ditch halfway up the dried up creek bed. And the next one hit as well. And the next. And it was all because I focused my whole being on that target from start to finish.
What a difference a little focus can make.
Now I’m reflecting on my life and my journey. And I’m realizing that every single failure was a result of broken focus. I took my eye off the target, even if only for a day or a week, and that was enough to derail me from the results I wanted. I wasn’t fully in charge of my mind.
And now I’m reflecting on my success as a writer and a coach. I’m realizing just how focused I am. I wake up and visualize my success, and pray for the resources I need to hit my target. Then I work towards my goals. And then I meditate on my career in the middle of the day, visualizing some more. Then I work some more. Then before bed I reflect on what I did to reach my goals, and what I could have done better. I am 100% focused. All day. And when I throw myself into a day, just like the rocks this morning, I’m hurling all of that effort precisely at my target, because that’s where my eyes are. That’s where I am. I am nowhere else.
So where are you? Are you 100% focused on your target, or are you not? What’s distracting you?
Figure that out. Then throw all of yourself into what you really want to do. Don’t even blink.
People pick up oodles of habits just to taste success. We wake up before God, start planning, adopt new routines—we even spend tens of thousands of dollars on seminars and personal coaching. But how much of it actually makes a difference?
In my experiments with lifestyle design, I’ve found that what I omit is tenfold more important than what I commit to. Because a person can say they’ll do x, y and z. But if their time and focus is wasted on bad habits, they’ll be hamstrung—and only feel worse for not sticking to what they know is best. I’ve been there.
Falling Back Into the Wrong Habits
Several months ago I was rolling in it. After a few whale clients, I was having fun making money and doing what I loved. I’d worked like a mule to enjoy the fruits of success, and I’d disciplined myself to stick with the right habits. But there was a small hitch about my latest gigs…
I had to check email every morning.
In order to reach any success, I had to cut out all reactive habits (like email and social media) so that my daily routines boosted my confidence and productivity. I’d made a career by refusing to check email. But, for the month of large projects, I was fine with breaking my routine. I still did work I was proud of; I still ended the day feeling accomplished and successful. But the bad part happened after that month ended.
Even though I had absolutely no need to check my email first thing, I kept doing it. And since I didn’t have an all-day project to jump in to, I’d check it again before I’d done any work…and again…and again. And after email checks got boring, I’d jazz it up with a little Facebook, and some Twitter. Doing the wrong thing just gets easier and easier.
Of course I rationalized it, feeling that I needed to respond to comments on my articles and posts. Then I’d progress naturally into texts. And finally, I’d resort to unabashed Internet surfing, thinking it was okay since the day was practically done anyway. And then the day was over. Poof. And then the week was over. Flash. And then half of the month was gone without my having done anything that could even come within a fathom of the term “accomplishment.”
I was crushed. A month before my confidence was at an all time high. Now? I’m no bigger than an amoeba on a wart on a frog on a log.
How I Got Out of My Rut In 10 Minutes
I started waking up in cold sweats at three am. I felt my grip on success slipping; and because my days were zipping by so fast, I started to panic. I just couldn’t get any traction. That all changed on a Sunday night.
Again, I found myself up in sweat-drenched anxiety during the witching hour. I tried reading to get back to bed, and meditation, and visualization. This problem wasn’t going away. I’d had the inchoate feeling that I needed a drastic change, but I wasn’t willing to part with the comfort of my new routine. Not until now.
So I grabbed my journal and I wrote down the thoughts I’d been feeling and ignoring: I am disappointed in myself. I’ve let myself down. I’ve stopped doing good things for myself–just the plain truth.
Then I reflected on the most important question: why?
And before I knew it, the answer was staring me back in the face. I’d abandoned all of my winning routines. And I’d slowly given a foothold—and then a stranglehold—to all the habits that defeated me.
The Habits I Gave Up to Be Successful
My two weeks of misery were over in an instant. At 3:30 in the morning, I made the split-decision to quit Facebook for a month; to check email only once a day after four hours of real work; and to limit my texting to one round in the evening.
These had all been my primary sources of comfort in the past week. But, paradoxically, they’d brought on the greatest anxiety and discomfort I’d felt in several years. So I sacrificed them without hesitation.
Working back into my normal creative routine wasn’t exactly easy. I had to deflect a thousand niggling thoughts like, “Ah, come on…one little email check couldn’t be the end of the world, could it?” But I persevered. And by the end of the day, I’d written my first real article in over two weeks and accomplished a dozen back-burner necessities that I’d abandoned in my hiatus. I went to bed that night feeling an overwhelming sense of pride. And that was a feeling I wanted to replicate.
Within the next week, I’d managed to secure $5,000+ in new business—which was double what I’d made in any week before. Good habits have made me successful. But I wouldn’t have room for the good if I hadn’t eliminated the bad.
So what’s holding you back from the results you want? It’s not a lack of good habits, I can tell you that. It’s the little things that you’ve probably made excuses for over the past weeks and months—like Facebook, or binge drinking on the weekends. You know you best. But when you do figure out that one or those several little things, plan against them. Write them down. Then make a decision to cut them out of your life over the next month. You will be amazed at your success.
And if you need help along the way, check out my coaching package.
You are locked in a colossal battle. It’s invisible. And given that you haven’t produced a bead of sweat yet, you might be incredulous that this war exists. But those who win it will go on to the highest levels of success in business and in life.
I’m talking about your inner dialogue.
Learn how to change your thoughts and change your life
If you could see the bombs most people drop on themselves daily—I’m stupid; I suck; etc.—you’d know this war is real. But we don’t even hear these bombs exploding, let alone realize we ordered the strikes. Our internal war of the words has been going on for so long that we’re inured to the concussions, much like a veteran soldier, or a Syrian refugee. Most people are oblivious to the immediate damage they’re causing.
But how are we supposed to change our thoughts if we can’t see them? How are we supposed to connect them to concrete consequences, like the job we hate, or the debt we own? I had as much difficulty as anyone.
Three years ago I was stuck blaming my parents and girlfriends for my situation—everyone but me. I’d been living on mom’s couch for two years, and the longest I’d kept a job was six months. My life was an embarrassment. I just didn’t know the cause.
It took a trip to rock bottom for me to search for the answers.
I’d never been desperate enough before to make a change. But when you’re in existential anxiety, wondering whether life is worth living, you’ll do just about anything to make a change. For me, that meant reading self-help books…the ones I’d always marked for losers. And through reading all the greats—Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard—the same answer kept cropping up:
Change your thoughts,
Change your life.
I hadn’t thought about my thoughts. Chasing a new girlfriend, yes. Getting drunk as often as possible, yes. But thinking…I just hadn’t seen the point in thinking about that.
Someone broke down the significance for me:
“Your thoughts feed your emotions. Your emotions fuel your actions. Your actions form your habits. And your habits define your life. –It all starts with the thought.”
Not seeing another option, and for the first time in my life, I took control of my thoughts.
Thinking positively starts with affirmations.
I got into the habit of speaking highly of myself. A strange thing for someone like me to pick up—a loser by all accounts. I thought it was silly too. But I reasoned that at the very least it wouldn’t hurt me. And at best, I might just change my life.
So I looked in the mirror and said, “I am independent; I am bold; I am courageous, I am dependable”—everything I’d never been. And nothing happened, at first. But by consciously choosing any thoughts, I trained myself to tune into the subconscious thoughts that defined my life.
Within a week I started noticing all of the belittling thoughts that had been on repeat; I became aware of the war that had been going on inside me since birth. And with that new awareness, I started consciously thinking positively.
When I noticed a negative dialogue, I’d break the pattern by practicing affirmations. I diffused the “suck” bombs with conscious positivity. And within one month, I was a brand new me. For the first time, I saw life with eyes for opportunity.
I read the how-to books; I adopted a writing routine; I pitched my first publications—things I never could’ve done before. The next month I was getting paid $50 an hour to write. Three months later I was published on websites with millions of viewers. Six months later I was writing full time. And a little over a year later, I was finally living on my own.
Most people who are desperate for change don’t attempt the long-term strategies. They’re hurting now. And they want to escape the suffering now. But now takes a long time to build. If you can change it all around within a year, that’s fast.
But if I can do it, you can do it too.
Making a habit of positive thinking
All the mental work seemed tedious at first. But once it became a habit, choosing the right thoughts became automatic. I just had to make sure to start my day off with inspiring and uplifting thoughts—then I’d schedule activities that advanced my dreams—and within a year, I’d broken all the subconscious barriers that made life hell. I’d made a habit of positive thinking.
A year doesn’t seem fast when you want change today. But if you can commit to choosing the right thoughts for one year, starting today, you’ll pinch the new you one year from today. It’ll pass in the blink of an eye.
So choose a set of affirmations that work for you. Commit to doing them for thirty days, three times a day. Make daily goals for your affirmations and self-encouragement. And if you need help after a month, I will coach you to success.
How do you get out of a rut?
Much as we hate them, ruts happen. We spend our mental energy griping about the rut, wishing it hadn’t happened, and pretending that it’ll disappear on its own. But ruts are completely under our control. And they most often occur when we’ve stopped our success routines.
Take me, for instance. I make a good living writing, and I’ve worked like a dog to get where I am. But I’m not immune to reality: if I stick to my good habits, good things happen. If I stop, even for a day, the proverbial shit hits the fan. Like last month.
How to fall into a rut
I’d been working on several large projects for state agencies and foreign companies over the last month. These accounts demanded a lot of my attention, and I had to adjust my schedule accordingly: where normally I’d spend my first three hours exercising, meditating, writing, then reading, this month I checked my email first thing in the morning.
Not a big deal. I handled my accounts well and nailed my assignments. But after the major projects concluded, I kept checking email first thing in the morning. I didn’t even have anything to check—I just kept doing it because I didn’t discipline myself to get back into my normal productive routine. And a funny thing happened.
I lost all of my motivation.
Before I knew it, two weeks had slipped away forever and I hadn’t the slightest accomplishment to show for it. I felt restless, uninspired, and helpless—the opposite of my normal charged self. I didn’t know what was happening. Even my daily staples like journaling and studying seemed harder than cleaning out the Augean Stables. And writing…forget about it. I did 500 words a day at max (normally it’s closer to 2,000), and some days I didn’t write at all.
That’s when I realized that no one is immune to bad habits. I’d gotten cocky, and thought I could do whatever I wanted and still keep kicking ass like usual. But after two fat weeks of nothing, and me feeling like a fraudulent toad, things came to a head.
How to get out of a rut
This weekend I woke up at 3:00am feeling worse than I could remember. I was gripped by an intense mixture of fear, guilt, anger, and uncertainty that wouldn’t budge. I tried deep breathing—nothing. I tried reading to fall back asleep—nada. That’s when I realized this was one problem I had to fix proactively. So I picked up my journal (which had collected a week’s worth of dust) and started scribbling maniacally. I was determined to earn my life back.
And I was brutally honest.
I wrote about every little habit that was keeping me down. I wrote about my inconsistency, and how I wasn’t living to my own standards. And in the free flow of words, the answer to my weeks-long funk stared me right in the face:
I had completely abandoned my morning success routines.
Where normally I’d wake up with purpose, meditate, plan my day, exercise, knock out a writing project, and study, I was checking email. It doesn’t sound as heinous as I’m painting it to be, but the influence was subtle. It stole my confidence bit by bit till I was paralyzed.
Normally, every part of my morning would boost my confidence—I’d boost my mood with exercise; I’d feel proud of how disciplined I was as I wrote my first article; I’d feel smarter and more capable after having studied—and on and on. But now I was starting my day with a confidence drain.
When there wasn’t anything in the inbox, I felt worthless. And I was more focused on what I received than the effort I gave and the work I produced. That slight shift in focus was enough to degrade my sense of purpose, and it happened gradually. I didn’t notice much after a day or two. But then a week passed, and I felt bad about myself. Two weeks passed and I was no better than a speck on a frog on a log.
That’s how fast your life can change when you ease up on your success routines.
But the best part of this story is how fast you can turn it all around.
In that midnight session of infuriated journaling, I figured out exactly what went wrong, and what I needed to do to turn it all around. I spent an hour identifying the major gaps in my daily routine and planned for something better the next day. After my hands and sheets were covered in blue pen-scratches, I lay in bed confident that tomorrow would be different.
If I won the morning, I knew I’d win the day.
I’m not going to say breaking the routine was a piece of cake. It took every bit of my willpower.
I forced myself to meditate—to fight the urge to head straight for my laptop as I’d done the past 15 days. And after getting my mind right, I forced myself to do my normal morning exercise routine, which takes about 45 minutes. I hated it at first, and felt I’d much rather be surfing the internet and checking my email. But midway through the workout, I felt my old sense of confidence growing. The real challenge would be when I got back home—when I had to write.
Again, I forced myself to pick up the keyboard and to deny every impulse that screamed, “Check your email!” The keys were heavy, and my mind was slow. But I persevered. And after two hours—normally an article takes 30-45 minutes—I’d worked through three paragraphs. But I was proud of myself for the effort. And when I felt that pride surge, I tapped into a creative wave. Soon I’d finished my first real piece in over two weeks.
I still didn’t feel like my usual chipper self. But I knew if I stuck to my confidence building routines, I’d be back in no time—definitely later in the week. But I surprised myself.
By the end of the day, after hitting my standard goals, and then going above and beyond to reach my dreams, I felt as if I’d never been bucked off in the first place. I was high energy, high productivity, and high on life. Instead of the dread I’d known for two weeks, I felt optimistic about the future, and excited about my opportunities to kick ass, refine my skills, and make life better.
By the end of the day, I hit my pillow knowing that I’d done the absolute best that I could do. And that gives me the self assurance to strive for and accomplish great things.
So what will you do about your rut?
After making a profession of clawing through ruts, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But if I can turn my momentum around on a dime, in under a day, so can you. All it takes is focus, clarity, a plan, and a promise:
• I will do only the things that boost my confidence
• I will start first thing in the morning,
• and I will keep it up all day.
Success is that simple.
The more specific your plans for an ass-kicking day are, the likelier you are to stick to them and build your confidence. So choose positive thoughts and habits—you’ll do more inspiring things. And when you find yourself in a rut, be brutally honest about the thoughts and habits that are holding you back. That’s how you’ll get back out.
If you’ve been in a rut for over a month, you may want to consider a life coach.
Regard the old man at the bar. He’s boisterous and jolly, a merry old fellow with ruddy cheeks. But, in quiet moments, there’s a wistful look in his eye that begs explanation. It’s the one that got away.
I’m not talking about the girl—she’s back home watching her stories. I’m talking about his Everest.
This old man, Greg, in particular, wanted to be a baseball player. He claims to’ve had the fastest pitch in all of Pennsylvania—you really should have seen it. His words, of course.
In between the brags and tall tales of his glorious youth, the subtext of his story reads a little different: “I don’t know why, but I didn’t stick with it. And I regret it every day of my life.” My words, not his, of course. But the look says it all. The eyes glaze over enough to look tearful. But it’s the gaze. He’s staring a million miles ahead. Or back. And he’s seeing all the things he just knows he could’ve done.
Another beer, he orders. Another beer. Ironically, the drink that lured him away from the game is his only consolation.
You’ll find Greg at the Stone Face Tavern in Albuquerque, New Mexico. But you’ll find Frank, and Cecil, and Henry, and Don, and Pete, and 50 million others at different bars across North America—all with different variants of the same sad story.
How do you avoid joining the sad-lonely-old-man club of America? you might be wondering. It’s pretty simple, actually. You just have to persist in your passion. On the road to your dream, never stop.
Here are five tips you can count on:
1-Stop Your Bad Habits
Greg had a little too much fun with the booze. It didn’t seem like a huge problem back then, but it was enough to make him regret the things he didn’t do. TV is my bane. I promise myself a little, and then I’ve squandered 5 hours; 5 hours that could’ve brought me closer to my goals as a writer. That’s why I don’t watch TV. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch my dream life slip away.
So name your bane—the one thing, obvious or subtle, that would keep you from persisting. Then cut it out of your life. Period.
2-Reassess your friendships
For every bad decision made, there’s an enabler friend. The more enabler friends you have, the greater your chances of making bad decisions that keep you from pursuing your dreams. So prune your friend list.
Keep the friends who challenge you to keep up with them. Keep the friends who call you out on your bullshit—like flakiness. Keep the friends you admire for their character. All the rest? Dump, dump, dump.
Friends are tricky because they seem so irreplaceable once you get to know them. But if they don’t inspire you to strive for greatness, you might find yourself kicking back beers with them forty years from now and regretting the life you didn’t live.
The friends who are worth having will be there when you need them. In the meantime, take this advice from George Washington:
“I’d rather be alone than in bad company.”
3-Marry the right one
Remember Greg’s ol’ lady, watching her stories at home? Behind beer, she’s the top reason he quit playing ball. She got jealous of the time he spent away from her. And she set an ultimatum—“Me, or baseball.”
He dropped the glove and bought a ring.
I’m not knocking marriage. But I’m suggesting you pick someone who will indefatigably support your wild-ass goals. Better yet, focus so intensely on your career that you find success before you find love. You won’t have as many distractions. And you’ll prevent the #1 cause of divorce—financial problems.
4-Stick to successful routines
A famous author once said that talent is as common as table salt; it’s hard work that’s rare. For Greg and so many other would be pros, they allowed their talent to inflate their egos, which kept them from being disciplined in their craft. Don’t make that heady mistake.
Instead, structure your days so that greatness becomes a habit. Devote equal parts of your time to learning, applying, and sharing. Remove the daily obstacles (facebook, email, etc) that would keep you from persisting in your goals.
Burnout—this work phenomenon can stop you cold in your tracks. Hard work is a virtue, no question. But there has to be a balance. And fun—just for fun’s sake, not connected to profit—is an essential part of the balance.
Some people think that a couple weeks on a cruise or in the Bahamas will be enough. But that’s just another symptom of imbalance: you shouldn’t need two weeks of bliss just to feel sane. Instead, strive to have fun every day. Schedule it. And try not to deny the impulses to do what you love.
I’ve heard that regret for the things you didn’t do is the most painful deathbed emotion. You can palliate that feeling with any number of distractions now…but what about forty years from now? When your story comes to an end, will you be proud to tell it?
Keep these five tips in mind. And never stop chasing your dreams.
When it comes to your sexual drive, you’ve got two options: control it, or let it control you. Most people go for option #2. And for most of my life, I was no exception.
I craved porn as a kid, thinking it was normal—healthy, even. And for sex, I adopted the policy that most men do: whenever I can get it, and as long as it’s convenient. Which led to my first several relationships. And my first several heartbreaks.
Like most, I assumed I was doing it right, and that peaks of ecstasy and waves of anguish were par for the course. But then my life fell apart.
After my last live-in relationship, I sunk into a depression so deep that I considered taking my life. My health fell apart; I lost my mind; and the one thing I felt the least of was control.
So I blamed sex. It had to be sex’s fault, since it had gotten me into so much trouble. To spite evil, evil sex, I pretended I didn’t have a penis. I repressed all my urges, and thought I was taking the high road. But I still wasn’t in control.
I still lived with my parents. I still wasn’t living the life I wanted, or loving the life I lived. And I was beginning to have irrepressible sexual thoughts; compulsive even.
Evil, evil sex! At it again! Ruining my life! When will this end?!?! I thought. I felt like a powerless speck—a slave to all my bad decisions, and a rag-doll toy to the force of nature inside of me. Sexual desire, I will conquer you yet!
A person can only try something so many times before the effort becomes insanity. I would’ve been insane to carry on my relationships and sexual habits as I had done, as it had caused me so much grief. I would’ve been equally insane to continue repressing those urges, as much as it drove me nuts. But I’m not insane. After those two options failed, I experimented with a third way.
I harnessed my desire
I found sexual desire to be much like a wave. I could let it keep pummeling me into oblivion, and smashing me into bits and pieces. Or, I could study it, move with it, channel its force into forward momentum, and have fun with it, like a surfer. And like surfing, that took mindfulness.
Before, when the urge hit, I’d wax off to porn, chase some tail, or, in the later stages, pretend like I never had the urge in the first place. Not much thought involved. And none of those options advanced me personally. So, I trained myself to acknowledge the urge, to be grateful for it, and to direct that powerful energy into a life that I could be proud of.
Like any surfer just starting out, I wiped out. I fell back into old ways of doing things, and I let myself down. But, unlike the old me, I kept trying. I forgave myself. And I got better.
I learned how to stay present when the wave hit, and to keep my mind focused on what I really wanted. I wanted to be more disciplined, more successful, more grateful, more independent, and more selfless so that I could serve others through my talents. So I practiced that. I started regarding my sexual urges as reminders for what I hadn’t done when it came to my dream life. Take last summer for instance.
I was on a road trip driving from New Mexico to California. And for some reason I was being pummeled with desire, wave after wave of salacious thoughts. I tried to keep it at bay and just forget it, but it kept pounding me and pounding me. Then I reached for my higher self. I thought about all the husbands and wives who have difficulty controlling their sexual desire, and all of my clients and readers. So I started praying for them. As I channeled my sexual desire into prayer for others, I became a more disciplined and selfless man. I surfed the wave, and I overcame.
I can also use my sexual desire as a litmus for my accomplishments. If I’ve slacked in a week and haven’t accomplished as much as I could’ve, or if I haven’t stretched myself, I’ll have stronger and stronger desires to masturbate, or to watch porn—to let my desire control me. At first I didn’t connect the two. But one week recently, after a holiday, I found myself lying in bed, my mind racing with sexual thoughts.
I wanted to indulge them, and I began to. But then I thought, “What haven’t I done that I need to do? To live the life I really want to live?” The answer was write. So I channeled my sexual desire into two inspired articles, one after the other. Those articles went on to help tens of thousands of people live better lives. And, in the short term, they boosted my confidence, my sense of self, my professionalism, and my independence.
The more mindful I am of my sexual desire, and the more I channel it into high-value activities that bring me closer to my goals, the better I become as a man, friend, husband, lover, and role model. It’s difficult. And it’s not at all common for a man my age to live like this. But when it comes to the alternative—allowing myself to be bashed around by a desire that I wasn’t mature enough to control—it’s really not as hard.
Heartbreak is hard. Depression is hard. Losing your sense of self is hard. Divorce is hard. But being mindful of your desire and channeling it into your higher self…that just takes discipline. And guts. It’s difficult, but overall, life is infinitely better and more pleasurable. I direct my desire into my fitness and career and relationships—into my self improvement. And in doing so, I’ve created the career of my dreams. I’ve fought hard to earn my independence. I’ve transcended the toxic relationship patterns that had ruled my live. And I’ve become someone that I can be proud of.
I’m by no means perfect. I still struggle, and sometimes I falter. But each time I use my sexual desire as a reminder to accomplish the things I need to be whole, and to love my life, I grow as a person. Bit by bit. Those incremental gains have lifted me out of depression. They’ve made me independent. And they’ve altogether rewritten my life’s script.
Two years ago I was another lost millennial who lived on his mom’s couch and depended on everyone but himself. Today? I’m mentor and role model for my generation. I’ve blazed my own trail as a writer, as a coach. And because of my mindful approach on sexuality, I can count on growing as a man every single day. Anybody who has the courage to ride the wave can do the same.
Do you went to become the man or woman of your dreams? Do you want to learn how to love selflessly so that you can have the relationship of your dreams? Do you want to love the life you live?
Here are 5 steps that will put you in control of your sexual desire:
1. Have a plan for your life
If you don’t have a goal to focus your sexual desire on, you won’t be able to channel it through to a better and brighter you. So make goals for what you want to be, who you want to help, what kind of relationships you’ll have, and things like that. Write them down. Break down your goals into realistic steps. And start stepping. Make sure to have achievable goals that you can attack every single day; that way, you always know of some outlet to pour your sexual energy into.
2. Give up porn and masturbation
Never will there be a time when you can say, “I absolutely need to do this before anything else.”—referring to porn and masturbation. In fact, there’s always some self-improvement or career goal that needs to come first. So it’s best to cut P@M out of your life and to stop using them as crutches. Really, they’re just dumps for your sexual desire; better to channel that energy into your career and self-improvement.
Casual relationships are an easy dump for your sexual desire. For me, and for many people I know, they kept me from directing my desire into a higher cause—into the life I wanted. So, if you’re in a casual relationship right now—convenience based, founded on sex—get out. Get out of it as fast as you can, and before your life becomes permanently average. And if you’re not in one, make a commitment. Mark today as the first day of your single year. And commit to growing so much this year that, by the end, if you were to start a relationship, you’d be the selfless and successful kind of husband or wife who a partner could grow with for a lifetime, and raise a secure family with. That’s the extraordinary life that you want. And you’ll get it if you can learn to channel your impulses into self-improvement.
4. Be mindful of your sexual impulses
Most people feel sexy and then do something sexy and then look back on their heartbroken lives and wonder WTF. Not you. From now on, train your mind to become aware when sexual desire hits. Acknowledge the feeling. Be grateful for it. Then, instead of indulging it, ask yourself, “What haven’t I done?” Usually, that intense urge signals that your energy isn’t being directed into the life of your dreams. (If you’re married and you’re already living the life of your dreams, that urge will be a signal to pounce on your spouse.) Ask, “What could I be doing instead that would make me better at my career, that would make me more independent, that would make me more joyful?” Then do those things.
Those questions are hard as a mug to ask, especially when you’re being pounded with desire. Many times I feel like I’d rather give in and sink into the pleasure of myself. But that would be letting my desire control me; and I’ve already lived that life. It only brought me sadness, and it sunk my relationships with selfishness.
So keep asking those questions. Use sexual urges as reminders to check in on your progress. And if there are things you absolutely need to do—which there always will be—redirect your sexual energy into those accomplishments. It can be done. And when you do it, you’ll feel proud, accomplished, confident, and disciplined. And those are the emotions that will feed into your greatest personal achievements.
5-Get an accountability buddy
It’s easy to jump off the wagon when it’s just you. And it’s double easy when the path you’re on is so hard. But when you’ve got a buddy who can help keep you accountability, you quadruple your chances of success. And better still, you feed into their success.
So find someone who wants to walk the same path; who wants a life of constant improvement; who wants to grow in faith. Then share your journey together. Meet up once a week to talk about your struggles, and about your progress. Keep each other motivated and share the strategies that work. You’ll be glad that you did.
Hiring a personal coach is another option. I would help you come up with personalized plans to take control of your sexual desire and to create the life and success you dream of. Contact me today.
I cherish every second I spend talking to my Dad. Hearing his voice transports me to a place of peace. But now I’m thinking…if our relationship is this meaningful to me now, with all of the constraints of neglect and suffering, how much better could it be for me and for him? And, zooming out, what if every father and son did the best they could to strengthen their natural bond? How much more secure would we be as men? as communities? as families? as nations?
How to be the best Dad (and man) you can be
What are you doing with your sexual desire?
Next time you have the urge to masturbate, watch porn, or hook up with someone, I want you to ask yourself these questions:
- What haven’t I accomplished?
- How could I better myself right now?
- What things could I do right now to be the most selfless and loving and successful husband and father I can be?
- How powerful is my desire for sexual pleasure? Is that more powerful than my desire to be the right man for my family?
- Am I willing to deny my temporary sexual wants in order to build a lasting future?
- How can I creatively channel this urge into improving myself enough to be valuable to others?
- What goals am I working toward?
- If I could direct my sexual energy into living out my dreams, would it be worth sacrificing temporary sexual gratification? (If not…your dreams aren’t big enough).
- And (lastly)–what would make me proud of myself in this moment?
For me, the answer to that last question is never to play with myself… (I’ve lived that life, and I wasn’t proud of who I was, or of my nonexistent accomplishments….) The answer is writing, or planning for my future, or reading, or in any way to do the best I can.
When I’m mindful f my sexuality, and when I ask myself the right questions, I guide myself to become the best version of me. And that’s what has made my life worth living; it’s what has made my writing worth sharing; it’s what has given me independence through my dream job.
So now it’s time for the most important question of all….
Will you have the courage to take the hard path?
Human habits are funny. Not SNL-in-the-90’s funny, but the type of funny that makes you raise one eyebrow and shake your head a little.
We’ve historically persisted in not-so-good things, like bad relationships, negative self-talk, and exposing ourselves in public. And we quit the good stuff–like pursuing our passions and improving our lives.
After observing this phenomenon in my life and others’, I’ve come to one conclusion:
We only have so much power to persist in good habits. And if all your power is spent on being average, you’ll never persist in the things that can light up your life. I speak from firsthand experience.
(You can skip the story and go straight to the 5-minute life-changing exercise…but I recommend the story.)
How I Changed My Habits and Found Independence
My 18-25 life was a looooong series of suck. (I’d have to add another 12,576 “o’s” to accurately depict the length of my suck. My editor suggested I cut that true-to-life representation in favor of this explanation.)
I was addicted to TV, Facebook, cigarettes, partying, toxic relationships, feeling sorry for myself, and being dependent on everyone but me. I remember reflecting on my days at night—all the nothing—and I’d think, “What the heck am I doing wrong? Why can’t I just succeed?”
But looking back, my shit-fest was an inevitable byproduct of my shit habits.
What does your energy pie look like?
If our life-force energy were a pie, 97% of mine would’ve been eaten up by mediocre sh!t. And at 25, when I’d been sleeping on my mom’s couch for two years, jobless and hopeless, I had an epiphany:
“I can change my pie!”
*That epiphany had everything to do with listening to podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Experiment, and reading books by Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar.
So I consciously shifted the ratio of my daily habits. I put a moratorium on mediocrity—like constant texting and social media. And I forced myself to do more of the every-day, eat-your-spinach type of stuff—reading, studying, creating, meditating, etc.
It turns out that what I had to create was valuable to others—everyone has something valuable—and I ended up selling my writing to websites and companies around the world. By today, at age 27, I’m independent through my passion—I’m on fire for living, and for inspiring people to change their lives.
I finally learned how to persist in the things that were good for me.
But my transformation didn’t happen instantly.
It took time and reflection to identify the activities that had made me average. Journaling was my saving grace. It also took a brain storming session every morning, where I’d commit to the broccoli (or avocado) activities—(depending on your power food—) that would energize my life.
As my energy pie shifted, my life improved commensurately. My depression and anxiety began to disappear. And I knew I was really on to something when I’d ask people how they were doing—“Oh you know, same old shit man”—and I’d think, “Are you serious? Of all the incredible shit that you can do, of all the mountains to climb, you’re stuck in same-old-shit?”
That incredulity happens when you clear out your crap habits and make room for extraordinary things.
And you can do that today.
The 5-minute exercise that will change your life forever
Get a pen and a notebook. (It’s okay, I’ll be here when you come back…) Now take an inventory of your daily habits–time spent on social media and TV, exercising, reading, creating, etc. Then mark each habit as a growth activity or a comfort. For most, the comforts will far outweigh the growth activities.
Now write down all the growth activities that you want as habits—exercising, making money through your passion, etc. Imagine how good you would feel living that kind of life. Visualize what life looks like when you’re constantly challenging and improving yourself in your relationships and in your career. Then ask yourself,
“Can I persist?”
It might be a resounding no right now. But when you take an X to every comfort that you have persisted in, your “Yes” gets a little bit louder. And after you’ve slashed 90% of your habitual comforts, your Yes will be loud–so loud that you’ll actually believe it. And that’s when you’ll persist in all the things that make life extraordinary.
So what are you waiting for? Examine your life! (Socrates, the father of self-improvement, highly recommends it.) Dump the comforts that hold you back. (Yes, even if they’re people.) And commit to the life-broccoli that you know you need.
Since tomorrow is granted, you’ll not want to delay this simple exercise for another minute. Start now. Stop reading this. … ? ….What are you still doing here? Go change your life!
Article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.com
“How do I stay focused?”
This is the most popular question from my coaching clients and readers. They have dreams, and they’re inspired to be better. But when it comes to working toward a goal, there’s always some distraction: family issues; health issues; kids—the list goes on.
The usual approaches to focus haven’t worked for them.
They’ve used schedules and calendars and reminders; you name it, and none of it has worked. Maybe that’s your story. Maybe your personal and professional dreams have been shelved because you simply lack the focus. And maybe you’re on the verge of letting these dreams slip through the cracks.
Don’t. Your dreams are part of your identity. And when they fade away, you fade away.
This article addresses the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of focus. You’ll discover a more holistic approach that uncovers the root cause of focus issues, which is rarely (if ever) a lack of willpower. And when you’re finished reading, you’ll have action steps you can take today to improve your powers of concentration and your ability to complete the necessary tasks on your path to success.
Are you ready?
Physical steps to stay focused
Even though it’s only 2% of your total body weight, your brain consumes 20% of your energy. That’s a massive demand. And if you’re short on energy, your greedy brain is going to be the first organ to notice. You’ll feel brain fog, listlessness, impatience, and ennui—not the razor-sharp focus you need to slice through your to-do list.
There are a few reasons your body may not be producing enough energy.
You can eat all you want. But if your body isn’t absorbing the nutrients and minerals, you won’t have energy. Dehydration, low stomach acid, and imbalanced gut bacteria are a few culprits in weak digestions.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to boost your digestion and increase your focus:
• Stomach acid is 90% water—you need to hydrate more frequently. Shoot for half your weight in ounces of water, preferably in small sips throughout the day.
• Increase your stomach acidity with appler cider vinegar before meals. Take 2 tablespoons in 4 oz of water to boost your stomach acid and aid the beakdown of your food.
• Take a probiotic. David Perlmutter, author of ‘Brain Maker’, says that probiotics are key players in nutrient absorption and brain activity. He recommends supplementing with varied strains of beneficial bacteria—all of which can be found in his patented probiotic line.
Water is essential in converting fat into energy, lubricating your joints, and shuttling waste out of your body. But it’s estimated that over 60% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Is it a wonder we Here are 5 steps you can take to stay hydrated:
1-Drink warm water with lemon. Warm water expands and relaxes capillaries in your stomach and intestines, making it more readily absorbed. And the lemon provides electrolytes and minerals that support hydration.
2-Eat more water-containing foods—like apples, celery, yogurt, watermelon, cantaloupes, and leafy greens.
3-Drink more milk.
A 2011 study out of McMaster University found that milk was more effective at hydrating a body than water. The combination of fats, salts, and sugars bring more water into your cells.
4-Eat more salt.
Sodium is the electrolyte we lose most of during stress. And when you lose enough, it decreases your body’s ability to retain water.
5-Use an electrolyte tablet
We lose electrolytes through our sweat. Nuun, a popular electrolyte replacement among athletes, provides sodium, calcium, and magnesium in proportion to what you lose through exercise.
Known as coenzymes, B vitamins are essential for converting sugar, protein, and fat into energy. But they are one of the first nutrients to be depleted by physical or mental stress. They’re also one of our greatest nutritional deficits.
You can replace the full b-vitamin spectrum with a single supplement. Or, you can replenish your B’s through food—like eggs, spinach, and lean meats.
Mental steps to stay focused
Once you’ve addressed your energy issues, the mental aspect of focus comes next. Whether you call it discipline, stick-to-it-iveness, or perseverance, focus is a muscle that strengthens with use. Flex it often and it won’t feel like work.
The first step to increase mental focus is to eliminate distractions. Some are insuperable—like kids and family. But everything else can be controlled. And the more of them you control, the more focus capacity you’ll have.
Here are a few distractions to cut out or limit immediately:
Aimlessly surfing the web
Compulsive email checking
Dead-end relationships (romantic or otherwise)
If you’ve struggled with focusing, and you make habits of any of the above, you’ll be shocked at how much more focus you’ll have when you cut them out. You’ll also be amazed at how much time these distractions consume without your being aware.
But eliminating distraction is easier said than done. And you have to keep yourself accountable—or find an accountability coach. The other half of mental focus is making habits of focus-building activities.
Such activities include:
Taking notes on things that interest you
Having fun often
And sticking to schedules
If you find your focus first thing in the morning with meditation, or journaling, or scheduling, your next decision to stay focused will be much easier. It’s like Tim Ferriss’s quote—“Win the morning, win the day.”
So schedule 5 focus-building activities in your day alongside all the things you know you need to accomplish. Make reminders on your smart phone and computer. Enlist the help of a friend to keep you accountable in reaching your goals, or hire an accountability coach. And when you find yourself bored, or puzzled about what to do, resort to your schedule and your focus-builders. If you look back at the end of a low-focus week and think, “What the hell did I do?”, then put a microscope to your week and search for the distractions. They’re there.
Emotional steps to stay focused
The final aspect of focus is something rarely talked about in the business world: emotions. These gossamer little things are hard to define, hard to control. And because of the challenge they pose, most people simply ignore their emotional blocks. But everyone has them.
Take my coaching client, Kim, for instance. She was fighting to feel alive again in her career and relationships. But no matter how many distractions we eliminated, and despite the nutritional and mental progress we made, she couldn’t stay focused enough to make any progress.
One of her goals in our initial session was to “achieve clarity on what to do in her marriage.” For 10 years she had been unhappy and unfulfilled. And the longer she put off confronting the issue, the more paralyzed she became. That feeling of dread spread out and infected other areas of her life: like her career, and fitness goals. She was emotionally blocked from focusing.
So, after our second session—where she declared zero progress in the goals we established—I told her she needed to make a decision about her marriage if we were to continue coaching. I instructed her to call a relationship counselor as soon as we ended the session and to schedule an appointment.
That doesn’t sound hard. But because she had put off decision making about her relationship for 10 years, it was the scariest, most dreadful thing in the world. And when she blasted through her emotional barrier by making that phone call, she magically found her focus. The next week was the most productive week she’d ever had in her life.
So, if you want to be able to focus on the little steps that lead to success, you have to clear away any emotional debris that’s impeding you. The best way to do that is to acknowledge the problem—like a relationship gone sour, or a fear that’s been holding you back—and take action toward a resolution.
*Accountability coaches are particularly helpful in tackling emotional blocks.
Sometimes our problems can seem so big and bad that we’re put off from making the first move. But it’s imperative that you do. And for some, like Kim, regaining your emotional focus can be as simple as a phone call.
If you’ve beaten yourself up for not being able to focus, you’re in need of a more holistic approach. So address the nutritional issues that are holding you back. Eliminate your distractions and commit to focus-building habits. Lastly, confront the emotional blocks that have paralyzed your decision-making.
Stick to this protocol for 1 month for dramatic results.
Article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com
Article originally appeared on FastCompany.com
Most freelance careers take a little while to build. But for a long time, my growth curve looked like the readout of a dead man’s EKG. The main thing holding me back was myself: I was ashamed of being a beginner.
So I hid behind cheesy LinkedIn taglines like “Professional Writer,” and I spun my writing history into sounding impressive. But what that really told the world was that I was scared to be me–somebody new to the game.
Looking back, I lost business this way. Clients who might’ve hired me were turned off by my pretentiousness. Here’s how I finally got over it.
BRUTAL HONESTY WORKS BETTER
I realize now that the better strategy would have been candor:
Hey Businessperson, I don’t have much experience. I’m just starting out—but I can write. And I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. You’ll love my work, guaranteed. If you don’t, you don’t have to pay.
Using this strategy, I wouldn’t have had to wait so long to build up my credibility. And while writing on spec would have been risky for me—putting time into a project without no promised payout—it still would’ve been valuable experience to pad my resume.
Not only that, but in exposing myself and failing more, my confidence and resilience as a new freelancer would’ve doubled in half the time. Instead, my fear of being recognized as a neophyte slowed my progress. Worse, I put more energy into building and preserving a false image than in developing my value. Because I didn’t believe in myself, I couldn’t count on others to believe in me either.
Writing my way out
Fortunately, my favorite area of writing is self-improvement. And the more I practiced things like journaling, self-affirmations, and meditation, the less embarrassed I became. Steadily, my work became more genuine and my strategy for getting it out there more ambitious. I pitched national corporations and painted myself just as I was: an underdog passionate about writing and inspiring others. When I pitched the real me, clients were more willing to take a chance. And I delivered.
Once I shook off my beginner’s nerves, I gave other people a real chance to accept me as is. And why wouldn’t they? I write for hours a day, edit for just as many, and do my best to live and breathe my craft. Businesses need that kind of ethic–and that conviction is my personal brand as a writer. It’s part of my value proposition. I’ve found that clients are willing to bet on me if they sense it and know that it’s authentic—even if my competitors have (much) more experience under their belts.
Here are a few of the bad habits I had to shake–and the new ones I learned to adopt–in order to compete successfully with other full-time freelancers despite being a newcomer.
DROP THE CHINTZY TAGLINES, AND JUST BE A PROFESSIONAL
Professionalism is evident in your conduct and in your work. No amount of taglines can make you a true professional, and other professionals know that. So don’t be afraid to embrace whatever level of your craft where you find yourself. Just be a “writer” or a “designer” or a “consultant”–no need to be a “professional writer” or “expert graphic designer.” Scrap the adjectives. Be humble. People like that.
Professionals are known for their work ethics, not their job titles–and that’s especially true of freelancers. They go to conferences to learn the latest techniques. They read trade publications. They do the thing they say they do for hours and hours a day. So do that.
Many would-be pros drop out of the game before they get a chance to make real money because they aren’t earning enough. And it’s true that working for yourself full-time can take a long time to become sustainable. Many people spend years in the the part-time phase. But if you accept that the money will come eventually–and that it will come faster the more you practice–you’ll feel better about devoting several hours a day to whatever it is you do. Just make sure to do it. Be the professional you want to be seen to be.
How? Start small and work up from there. Browse websites and businesses to see where your work would be useful. Try solving a problem that a company doesn’t know it had, even if it’s a minor a design flaw, or just a clumsy landing page–and even if you’re doing it on your own rather than for money. Work on that project as if you weregetting paid. Stick with it until it’s completed. And at the very least, you’ll have refined your craft. And at the most, you’ll have something real that you can pitch to the company, and if they like it, they’ll buy it.
VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE COUNTS, TOO
Writers can learn from their own mistakes and successes as well as others’. If you study others practitioners’ experiences and absorb them vicariously, you won’t have to stumble around for years learning the same lessons firsthand. You can apply the book knowledge to real work.
I improved my writing considerably after reading just a couple of books. I took frenzied notes on just about every page, then focused on implementing each lesson into my next work session. Super simple. But it takes a level of discipline and persistence that not everybody has.
PRAISE YOUR EFFORT, NOT YOUR RESULTS
The key to sustaining your growth is to praise your effort, not your outcomes. If you rely only on your successes for confidence boosts, you’ll putter out before you earn 10 bucks. You’ll fail dozens if not hundreds of times before you get a positive result. So applaud every ounce of energy you devote toward your goals, whether that means studying or working. If you can’t learn how to support yourself emotionally and psychologically, you may not manage to support yourself financially, either.
START A SELF-ACCEPTANCE PRACTICE
In my experience, the easiest and most effective way to improve your self-acceptance is journaling. It only takes a few minutes at the end of the day. And all you have to write about are the things you were grateful for, especially the things you did–the effort you showed, what you were proud of, and so on.
This simple habit teaches you to accept yourself no matter what level you’re at, whom you’re competing with, and which setbacks you’ve recently encountered. It teaches you to look for the best in yourself, relentlessly, even when that’s hardest. And that’s how you’ll get everyone else in the world to accept you, too–clients and employers included.