Category: Articles

Articles to catalyze your life!

Eliminate Kipple

Eliminate Kipple

If you remove the kipple (clutter)from your life, you’ll have less stress, better concentration, and peace of mind.

What is Kipple? – Useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape (newspaper). When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. — from the book: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”

I have always been a bit of a neat freak anyway, but after reading about kipple in the book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” I’ve been even more diligent in the elimination of clutter.  You may not be aware of this book, but it was made into a movie you may be more familiar with (BladeRunner with Harrison Ford).  The movie doesn’t cover kipple nearly as well as the book, but you’ll see it lying around.

I find that I’m a lot more clumsy when there is kipple about.  If all of my counters are cluttered, I don’t have room to work on what I’d like.  That might be preparing dinner or working on my laptop.  I’ll be misplacing things, knocking things over, and getting more agitated by the moment.  If I keep the countertops clutter free, my mind is more focused and much more at peace.  The same goes for my garage, closet, and definitely my desk at work.

The more things you own, the more they own you. – Author Unknown

For more inspiration on removing clutter from your life see our Clutter Quotes page.

A Better Body in Minutes per Day!

A Better Body in Minutes per Day!

This is no gimmick, and I’m not here to sell you the next great exercise machine for 4 easy payments!  The key to a better body and great fitness is applying a few life principles such as the “Pareto principle” and “How to Eat an Elephant” to your workouts.

Most people start working out with workouts that are too hard, too fast, too soon.  They will get so sore the first workout that they don’t even come back for the 2nd time, or at best do it for a few weeks. Working out less, but regularly, throughout the months and years will take you significantly further than those intense “P90X”  extreme workouts that you will quit in a month if not a week. Sustainability is the key!

How to Eat an Elephant:  Lets talk about sustainability and how to eat an elephant first.  You want to do something you can continue to do for the rest of your life without it becoming a drudgery.  Let’s face it, lifting weights isn’t a whole lot of fun.  But, if you break it up throughout the day, you can do it without even breaking a sweat. As important as building muscle, is building the habit!  “Eating an elephant” means breaking up any over sized task into manageable bites.  Over sized tasks can be overwhelming in size or in difficulty.  A big 1 hour workout can be too much to take on many days.  It takes time to rest between sets, time you could be doing something else besides wishing the workout was over.  So, why not do your “3 sets” throughout the day instead of all at once?  In the morning, do a set before you shower, a second set after you shower, and a final set when you get home from work.  You’ve done your same 3 sets, and probably did each set a little better than if they were done all at once, and you didn’t even notice you’d worked out.  I do abs and chest one day, and biceps and back the next.  I workout every day, but alternating back and forth allows the muscles to rest and repair. For legs and glutes, I do lunges and plyometrics to build muscle every other day, and racquetball or Zumba every other day for cardio/aerobic fitness.  Granted, there is not a way to break up the cardio/aerobic fitness throughout your day, but everything else can be.  If you have no equipment at home, it will be difficult to apply this principle, but you could still do calisthenic or plyometric sorts of exercises.

If you must go to the gym I suggest you work on sustainability there too.  I’m always tempted to lift heavier and heavier weights, or push a cardio machine further and further.  This is unsustainable.  If you don’t end up with an injury, you’ll burn out or start skipping workouts.  Do a moderate amount of weight or cardio and do it regularly.  This will result in a sustainability that keeps you strong, lean, and feeling good.

Pareto Principle: Muscle burns calories, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn even when at rest (your metabolism will rise).  So, to lose weight, you need to build muscle. I have found that no matter how much cardio exercise I get, I don’t lose weight unless I include some weight training to build muscle.  To apply the Pareto principle to your muscles and your workout, think about your biggest muscles as well as what will enhance your looks the most if that is your goal for working out.  One little muscle in your forearm might be important for a body builder, but probably not worth the time to isolate and work by itself for the rest of us.  It can get worked as a side effect of working something more important such as your biceps, triceps, or chest muscles. 80% of your improvements in metabolism and looks can be done by working 20% of your muscles.

Glutes and Legs – these are your largest muscles and can increase your metabolism the fastest.  If you do nothing else, work these muscle groups as a minimum and you can get results.  I used to walk to work every day which was about 45 minutes to an hour both ways.  Doing just that, I was able to eat anything I liked without gaining weight, and I probably lost some weight.  Not to mention what a long walk twice a day did for my mental health. If I had added in a few sets of lunges along the way, I’m certain I would have lost weight.

Make It Fun: I mentioned earlier in this article that lifting weights is just no fun and therefore unsustainable for most people.  The same goes for exercise machines.  I feel like I have a fair amount of discipline, but it is just too mind numbing for me to get on a treadmill or just about any exercise machine 3 times a week for any amount of time.  What I do love to do for any length of time is play a sport like racquetball, tennis, badminton, etc.  I will do this for hours on end without ever noticing I’m “working out”.  Another thing that is almost as good as a sport is taking a class such as Zumba, Dance Blast, etc at my local fitness club.  Once you get over “dancing in public” without a beverage to relax your inhibitions, it’s a lot of laughs and a lot of unnoticed exercise.

Don’t Over Do It:  I was reminded of this life/exercise theory just last week while travelling for work.  The place I was going to had the best food imaginable for lunches, and dining out every evening was beginning to take a toll on my waist line.  I had been doing pretty well at eating manageable portion sizes, but the food was just too rich.  So, on Wednesday, out of guilt, I did a lot more exercise than I normally would, trying to make up for it.  Thursday and Friday, I could hardly move without excruciating pain and didn’t do any workout at all.  Saturday I was still extremely sore, but finally was able to do 1/2 of what I would usually do.   You will end up working out less if you do too much.  So, start out pretty easy, and gradually work yourself up to bigger workouts, larger reps, more sets, etc. Remember to find a moderate level to stay at permanently too.  You will only set yourself back if you do too much too soon.

Injury prevention:  I see people taking huge risks all the time with their workouts.  I see people pushing their bodies beyond what they were made to do all the time.  Things like straight arm weight lifting (imagine a slow motion jumping jack with heavy weights). Yeah, it really works the shoulder muscle hard, but one day that shoulder is going to give out on you.  Then, you are not going to work out for 6 months while you recover.  There are hundreds of safe ways to workout every muscle on your body, so why risk an injury?  Think twice about the leverage, stress, and strain you are putting on your joints before doing an exercise.  Shoulders and knees are what I see people risking the most often.  Take plyometric jumping for example.  I see people jumping on and off platforms, usually very unsteady platforms, or even worse, bleachers!  You are really asking for it.  And by “it”, I don’t mean a staring role on Funniest Home Video’s.  You don’t need to take this risk.  Just jump as high as you can from solid ground, reaching for the stars.  Do 3 sets of 20 of these and see if you aren’t completely wiped out.  You get the same exercise, and almost zero risk of injury.

In summary, work your biggest muscles, one set at a time throughout the day, in safe ways, and increase reps/sets gradually to a moderate level. Also find some fun activities that you can do regularly and trick yourself into a workout.

 

Weight Loss Can Be Fast and Sustainable

Weight Loss Can Be Fast and Sustainable

The Pareto principle says that 80% of consequences stem from 20% of causes, aka, the 80/20 rule. This is true in many categories of your life, be that work, study, diet, habits, practically anything you can think of.  This principle can be used to help you lose weight fast!

Apply The Pareto Principle To Your Diet to Lose Weight

If you are overweight and want to see a remarkable change, just eliminate your biggest weakness.  When your weakness is just one thing (like sodas) it is a lot easier to remove than all things of that category (like all sweets).  If sodas are your weakness, get rid of them.  Find something you like to drink that has zero calories instead.  Surely there is something.  For me, this would be Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.  These are very dangerous for me.  I like them so much, I run the risk of eating an entire box in a day!  So, I eliminate them and eat something I like (Oreos), but that I seem to have some control over.

Some people are sweet snackers, some are savory snackers, and some are beer drinkers.  So, if eliminating one item within these categories doesn’t do much for you because you have 50 other choices, you may need to eliminate the category itself.  You’ve been eating these things for years, so you may need to replace it with something healthy just to satisfy the habit.

The key to getting rid of your food weakness is discipline.  If you can’t master yourself, be sure that you know yourself.  That means don’t even bring it into the house if you know you won’t have the discipline to leave it alone.  If there are others in your household who want it in the house, ask them to help you be accountable.

It is the simplest thing to do.  Eliminate your food weakness, and you’ll definitely start losing weight.

Get Comfortable with Discomfort

Get Comfortable with Discomfort

We all think we want a life of leisure, but it doesn’t end well if we are successful in that.  Although it sounds bad, a life of discomfort will set you up for success, health, and joy. Even though it sounds good, a life of leisure will lead to failure, disease, and disappointment. You might think a weekend of sitting on the couch, eating your favorite pleasure foods, drinking your favorite beverages, and watching your favorite football teams or movies would be wonderful. It is, on occasion, and in moderation. If your life defaults to this mode, you will end up fat, diseased, and incapable of doing things that require even a little physical or mental strength. No one is handing out trophies or getting paid for you doing the easy things in life.

Adversity is the ruler of the weak, but an instrument of the wise!

The difficult I do today, the impossible might take a little longer!

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him!

If you want to experience achievement, success, and enjoyment in your life, you will need to embrace discomfort. The definition of success in it’s simplest form is overcoming an obstacle. Until I wrote this post I never understood mountain climbers or rock wall enthusiasts. I had always thought it was such a waste of time and effort. However, what they are really doing is getting that dopamine rush we all get by accomplishing something difficult. Perhaps you know someone at work who is like the rock climber, who seeks out the hardest projects. You can bet that this person enjoys their work a lot more and gets paid a lot more than the one who is putting just as much effort into getting out of work.

You are not getting out of this life alive, you know. And, you are not going to avoid a lot of adversity along the way either. If you are running from adversity, you better get a good pair of running shoes because you will be running for the rest of your life. So, welcome the obstacles that come into your life as a chance to achieve, a chance for a rush of dopamine, a chance to gain instead of lose.

Fitness and weight loss is another great application for this life lesson. You simply cannot lose weight and get in better shape without a lot of discomfort. You can choose to stay comfortably where you are or experience some discomfort in a better direction. Our stomachs growl and we seek to immediately quiet them down with whatever is available. Instead of letting that slight discomfort be satisfied, enjoy it for a while. Think of it as pleasurable to burn a few fatty deposits for a little while. Don’t just think of it as discomfort. You will not be able to eat the most comforting of foods either. Gain a lasting trophy of fitness, attractiveness, and health through healthy eating rather than the short term reward of delicious junk food and it’s lasting trophies of weight gain and disease.

While you are busy taking the hard way, the road less travelled, don’t forget to rest on occasion.  I am a firm believer in “all things in moderation”, and sometimes we need a day of downtime.  Just be sure your habit is one of enterprise, not laziness.

Don’t believe that you can’t buy happiness. Buy it with discomfort, not money! Happiness comes from success which comes from overcoming obstacles, and that will be uncomfortable.  So, get uncomfortable, motivate yourself for adversity, and succeed today!

Delayed Gratification For Success

Delayed Gratification For Success

What is Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification refers to the ability to put off something mildly fun or pleasurable now, in order to gain something that is more fun, pleasurable, or rewarding later. For example, you could watch TV the night before an exam, or you could practice delayed gratification and study for the exam.

Delayed gratification is one of those fundamental skills that is hard to see in the moment, but becomes very obvious over a long period of time.  To be successful in life, you will have to master the tyranny of your desires.  The greater your ability to sacrifice today, the greater your success will be later in life.

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” – Lao Tzu

Stanford University Marshmallow Study on Delayed Gratification

Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s  psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University performed a study on delayed gratification.  In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward (marshmallow) provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned.  In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.

It wasn’t that the children who could wait had better genetics than the ones that couldn’t. They were simply better at distracting themselves.  They would sing, walk about, kick the table, do just about anything to keep their mind off the temptation.  If you remain in the presence of and with a focus on the temptation, your willpower will not be enough.  Keep yourself distracted until either you or the temptation are separated.  Go and do something productive to not only distract you but to achieve something as well.  Focus on the goals you are trying to reach that the current temptation will distance you from.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality” – George Lucas

Delayed Gratification Will Make You Successful Financially

Your finances are the easiest thing to see where delayed gratification will reap benefits.  Without a good practice of delayed gratification, you will end up with mountains of debt and never being able to retire.  Those small daily spending habits certainly add up.  I used to know a guy who went to an expensive coffee shop twice a day.  No kidding, he was spending $10 or more per day just for coffee.  He was smart, but obviously not good at math.  That is $3650 a year just for coffee!  He could have purchased a decent used car with coffee money.  Math is your ally when considering a recurring expense.  Before you make the purchase, multiply it out and decide if the purchase is better than what you could buy at the end of the year.  Besides, the coffee you make at home would probably taste better and be less fattening.

Retirement is an area people struggle mightily with delayed gratification.  It is so hard to decline today’s desire for a need you might have 50 years from now.  The worst case scenario isn’t that you’ll be dead by then and have missed out on so much.  The worst case scenario is that you’ll be alive bye then and have too little to live comfortably.  Neither your brain nor your body will be in great shape to work, but you’ll have to because of the petty purchases you made in your 20’s.  It is hard to see as a young person, or even middle aged person.  It will be starkly obvious as an old person.

“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” – Richard G. Scott

Delayed Gratification Will Make You Successful in Health and Fitness

Your health is probably the hardest thing to know without a doubt how the lack of delayed gratification will add up.  You will even use the argument of “who knows if we’ll even be alive tomorrow” to justify your indulgence of the day.  Either way, you will not be better off by indulging today.  The amount of pain and suffering you will experience in later years, as a result of the indulgences of a lifetime, will be far worse than suffering through today’s denial of one temptation.  Whether it is smoking, drinking, junk food, or lack of exercise, you are making deposits into the account of your health.  Keep your focus on the “balance” of your account.  Don’t skim over this paragraph.  Re-read it, and meditate on it.  It is important that you “know” this, understand this, and weave this into your thoughts and life.

Anticipation is More Enjoyable Than Instant Gratification

You don’t have to avoid every indulgence for the rest of your life.  Indulgences just need to be the exception rather than the rule in your daily habits.  You will find the indulgence yields far greater pleasure if you have to wait for it.  We live in a “now” world these days and waiting for something is a lost art.  I can shop on my phone and have just about anything I want delivered in an hour or two.  There is nothing wrong with that, but I could end up buying things I’ve not thought through.  Impulse purchasing.

The thought of the object of desire is always better than the execution.  Most of the cars I’ve bought over the years were wildly exciting the day I bought them.  It didn’t take long until they turned into just another way to get from point A to point B.  Never have I been thrilled with the indulgent item I ate or drank after it was consumed and frequently I have felt terrible afterward.  It seems that only recently have my purchases been satisfying for longer periods of time.  Hopefully that is a result of putting more thought into what I buy.  All of the things I have purchased 15 years ago are now gone.  Focusing on what you will feel like months after obtaining the desired object might dissuade you from getting it.

In summary, whether the choice is about what you eat/drink, how you spend your money, or how you spend your time, learn to bypass the empty calories in life so that you will have a more abundant life in the future.

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Author Unknown

Success Through The Pareto Principle

Success Through The Pareto Principle

What is the Pareto Principle?

The Pareto principle was named for Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, and states that 80% of consequences stem from 20% of causes. Vilfredo discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  He also found that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.  Like Vilfredo, you will find percentages like these in many aspects of your life.  They can be found in your work, study, diet, habits, practically anything you can think of.

Focus on the 20% of what you are trying to accomplish that will have 80% of the impact. Master the main concepts that will be tested on an exam first and fill in lesser details as time allows.  Don’t try to memorize every little detail.  80% of the exam will probably be on the 20% of the material that were the main concepts.

Lose Weight and Gain Fitness Easily

Work on your largest muscles first to get a better body in minutes per day, and leave the rest to nature.  Work on the 20% of muscles that are largest and you’ll get 80% of the looks and metabolism gains you are searching for. The Pareto Principle will help you  lose weight fast by eliminating your main food weakness.  Your main food weakness may very well be 80% of the reason for your current weight though it is only 20% of what you  are eating.

Apply the Pareto Principle to everything you do to save time, make your work more productive, and make your work sustainable.  There simply isn’t time or energy to do 100% of the things in your life, 100% of the time.

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Tim Ferris

8 Steps to Defeat Bad Habits

8 Steps to Defeat Bad Habits

One of the huge imbalances in life is the disparity between your daily existence, with its routines and habits, and the dream you have within yourself of some extraordinarily satisfying way of living. – Wayne Dyer

The plans you made in the “Planning the Dream” article will set your direction.  The habits you have now or habits you make in the future will enable or prevent you from accomplishing the steps to overcome the obstacles.

What habits do you have that are distancing you from your dream life?  Who you are and your happiness boil down to your habits and choices. If you do realize you are not satisfied with your current life and have been going the wrong direction, turn around and start making the choices you know are right, eliminating bad habits, and reinforcing good habits.

1.) List The Bad Habits

Identify the habits you want to change and write these down!  You may have many habits you want to get rid of.  Bad habits are there to fill a need, and they don’t go away easily.  You may want to focus on 1 habit at a time to ensure success, perhaps 1 habit per quarter.  This would be a good time to apply the Pareto Principle and pick the 1 habit that is the biggest problem.  It is kind of like snowballing credit card debt payoffs where you pay off the one that is charging the most interest first and then proceed to the next highest, etc.

2.) Find the Root Cause of the Habit

Find the root cause/ trigger for the bad habit.  Don’t just start eating carrots instead of Snickers.  You will have more success in changing bad habits if you figure out what the root cause of the behavior is.  Stress is one of the greatest triggers of bad habits.  It causes us to eat the wrong things, smoke, drink alcohol to excess, and more.  You can’t eliminate stress from your life, but you can limit it, find ways to cope better with it, and at least recognize when it triggers you into a behavior that is inconsistent with your life goals.  Causes of stress are work , relationships, finances, illness, moving, and even exercise among many other causes.  For each habit you wrote down in step 1, list the trigger(s) which cause the behavior.  Simply recognizing the trigger will help you stop the natural flow to the reaction and reward system you have been using to cope.  You know who the enemy/trigger is now, and we all love to defeat our enemies.  “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” – Henry David Thoreau

3.) Reward Yourself 

Reward yourself with a shot of dopamine to counteract the shot of cortisol by recognizing yourself as the conqueror that you are each time you successfully beat the habit.  Seriously, “I am the Stress Slayer!” feels good to say.  Reward yourself by meditating for 5 minutes, taking a short walk, doing a quick exercise, or any other healthy activity that can replace the unhealthy one.  Think of how fit you could be in if you did 5 push-ups, 5 squats, or 5 sit-ups for every stressful email that comes your way in a day instead of eating/drinking/smoking your stress away?  Remember that  “Adversity is the ruler of the weak, but an instrument of the wise.” – Author Unknown

4.) Recognize This Could Take A While.

Some sources say it takes 30-90 days to change a habit.  You’ve spent a whole lifetime becoming who you are, so don’t expect to reverse all the things you don’t like over night.  The patterns of behavior are well ingrained in your mind and body.  I don’t even have to tell my hand to reach into the drawer where I used to keep my snacks whenever something stressful happens at work.  Often, I find my hand has opened the drawer all on it’s own before I even know what it is up to.  “He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still” – Lao Tzu

5.) Get The Right Mindset.

If you slip up and repeat an old habit, don’t wallow in self pity over it.  This is really hard work after all.  You must have the right mindset and recognize that mistakes are learning opportunities.  It may be a new trigger you’d not identified before, it may be something that is too big to handle sometimes and needs to be avoided.  Learn from the mistake, adapt, and overcome it.  If it is too big to overcome, avoid it all together next time.  I’d hate to admit it, but chocolate snacks in my desk drawer are just too big of a temptation for me to overcome.  I’ve learned, I’ve adapted, and I don’t keep them within reach anymore.

6.) Schedule Your Priorities.

Often our bad habit doesn’t come from just one stress, bur rather from a series of stresses throughout the day.  We feel entitled to “something fun” every day and by the end of the day, if all we’ve had is stress, we feel it is time to indulge!  To prevent this from happening, be sure to build some good healthy fun into your schedule throughout the day.  Fun is a priority for all of us, though we may not have realized this.  “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

7.) Modify your influences.

It is said that you become the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most.  If you are trying to stop smoking weed and your 5 best friends are all potheads, you are really going to struggle.  Now, don’t get rid of your friends unless it becomes obvious they don’t have your best interests at heart.  Do get some new friends to spend more and more time with, who more closely align with your new values.  It isn’t just your friends that influence you either.  What do you spend your time reading?  The news?  That is a sure fired way to keep your stress levels high.  Your adrenaline and cortisol are a great thing for the occasional bumping into a bear or snake.  They are there to save your life.  But, our bodies were not made to constantly be under the influence of adrenaline/cortisol.  Give yourself a break from the news/TV/internet and see how much more you are at peace.  You will have much more control of your reactions to other stress that enters your life.  What do you spend your time listening to?  Where do you go when you surf the internet?  Are these positive areas in your life that are getting you closer to your dream life?

8.) Write down and share your goals.

A habit is bad when it distances you from the goals that are part of living your dream life.  It is proven that goals are more easily reached when written down and shared with friends and/or family.  Writing them down and reviewing them every day helps reinforce your resolve and memory.  Your friends and family will help you keep your eye on the prize.  If they know, they can also help by not being a bad influence on you themselves.  A struggle or pain is halved when shared with someone else.  A victory or joy is multiplied when shared with someone else.  So, decrease your pain, increase your pleasure, and defeat those bad habits!  Goals are much more effective when they are specific.  Everyone I know wants to “drop a few pounds”, even the skinny ones!  But, most never lose a pound.  Set a specific goal, for example, of losing 5 pounds in 5 weeks.  Weigh in and communicate this weight along with the goal to your family or friend.  With the habits you identified in step 1, now write down the goals these habits are preventing you from reaching and review these at least once a day.  It will help you more easily defeat the bad habit.

Now that you’ve the steps to conquer all of your bad habits, keep in mind not to begin new ones.  Keep your eye on the prize of the dream life you’ve imagined and defeat all that distances you from that dream.  “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” – Benjamin Franklin

For further inspiration, see our “Habit Quotes” page.

Pseudo Success

Pseudo Success

There are many blogs and books out there that recommend you think/will your way to success.  This is known as “The Secret” or “The Law of Attraction”.  I’m sorry, but there is no way this could possibly work.  I really really wish this would work!  I’d have been a billionaire a long long time ago if this were the case and probably so would you.

While you can’t will your way to success, there certainly is room to always have a positive frame of mind.  There is also room to constantly be thinking of ways to be more successful.  There is definitely something to “what is always on your mind being what you become”.

So, keep thinking about your success and you will get there, but not because the universe granted it to you.  🙂

For more scientific analysis of why these don’t work, please read this article in Psychology Today.

 

Choices For Success

Choices For Success

The plans you made in the “Planning the Dream” article will set your direction.  The choices you make in the future will determine how much success you have in accomplishing the steps to overcome the obstacles.

“It is the big choices we make that set our direction. It is the smallest choices we make that get us to the destination.” – author unknown

We must come to the understanding that where we are now is the sum total of the choices we have made.  We can try to blame, complain, or pout, but it really comes down to ourselves as being responsible.  Of course we didn’t choose disease, medical conditions or crimes, but we did chose the job, the spouse, the debt, etc.  Even some diseases could be the result of your lifestyle choices.  Prior choices are in the past now, and there is no point in beating ourselves up over them if they didn’t turn out well.

“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of their choices.” – Author Unknown

The good news is that we’ve the rest of our lives to make better choices!  We make hundreds of choices every day.  Starting now, make sure your very next choice leads in the direction you want to go. If it is a food/beverage choice, will it be one to improve your health and fitness?  Sure, all things in moderation, even good choices.  Just make sure the “habitual” choice is a good one.

In the introduction I congratulated you on becoming aware that you might need a change.  Awareness that you’re making choices, while you are making them, will have a huge impact on the future you.  For example: Today I hadn’t had much for breakfast (choice 1).  I was really hungry by 10:30, and getting home to eat wasn’t going to happen until 1:00 or so.  I was sitting in a cafe for the free WiFi and really wanted to order something to eat (choice 2).  Last week was Thanksgiving, so I’d certainly had my fair share of calories lately.  I chose to wait until I got home.  This decision not only saved me unnecessary calories, it also saved me about $10.  The easy choice would have been to satisfy my hunger right away.  Instead of adding to my waistline, I subtracted from it, added to the bank account, and didn’t come close to starving as feared.  Until you have rock solid habits that are taking you in the direction you want to go, you have to eliminate these auto-pilot choices  from your life.  Be aware when you are choosing, to not distance yourself from your goals.  You can pretend you are making the choice for someone else which makes the answer ridiculously obvious in most cases.  Make your choices for the future you, not the tempted, desire-driven person you are at the moment.

For another example, picking the honey bun out of the vending machine at work one afternoon seems a small decision.  It’s just one honey bun right?  Not if it becomes a habit.  You will gain a few minutes of pleasure, but nothing more.  It will probably take 2 hours of working out to make up for that choice.  I rarely have the luxury of this much time.  So, you gain a few pounds a year due to “small decisions”.  After 30 years of that, your are 60 lbs overweight, your knees are going out, your back hurts, your blood sugar is high, and you might even have type II diabetes.  The small but frequent choices can really add up over the years.  Do you know someone over 50 who is in great shape, lots of energy, and great health?  I bet they don’t just have good genes, but have done well on the “small decisions”. So, give yourself some healthy options when it comes to snacking, and choose well!

“You cannot manage your life if you do not manage your self. You cannot manage your self if you do not manage your choices. Manage your choices, and you will manage your life.” – author unknown

Important Choices for Success

  • Friends – we become the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.  This should awaken you!  🙂   Imagine if your best friend in high school and through life had been Warren Buffet.   Think your life might be different today? Now, don’t go sending your best friend off packing. But do try and find some people to hang out with that might take you up an notch.  Spend time with people who are more successful than you and learn from them, whatever you consider to be “success”.
  • Thoughts – if your thoughts dwell in the negative, your life will too.  Choose to keep your mind on positives and steps to success.
  • Reading – like your friends, what you read influences where your thoughts go.  Feed your mind with things that enrich you and move you toward success.
  • Listening – Are you a good listener?  Open minded?  Be thick skinned and listen for opportunities for yourself to grow.
  • Exercise – It is surprising this even has to be listed.  If you are physically able, you know it is the right thing to do.
  • Appearance – I try not to judge a book by its cover, but I sometimes do as does the rest of humanity.  It is important for success that you and your home don’t appear disheveled, smelly, etc at least for first impressions.
  • Spending – Are you spending your money wisely?  Wasteful choices are pretty easy to notice.  Definitely you need a budget or system of managing your money to get you to your financial goals.  Definitely you need financial goals.  🙂
  • Socializing – A network of friends, family and mentors are one of the most sure paths to success.  Be sure you have a good network and spend time nurturing it.
  • Punctuality – Your punctuality will reflect on your integrity as being on time allows you to fulfill a promise even though it wasn’t promised explicitly. Being late gives the impression that you consider your time more valuable than those you are meeting and damages the relationship. When you are on time it shows you can pay attention to detail. Being late is disruptive to others and will result in lost opportunities, stress, and embarrassment.
  • Start and Finish Days Well – Success starts with a great morning routine.  This time will set the course for the rest of your day.  Ending the day well includes getting to bed in time for a good night of rest.  Getting enough rest is one of the most important steps to success.

Choices For Disaster

How do people end up in life circumstances no one wants to be in?  I often see homeless people in my city and I wonder how they got there.  It may have taken many choices along the way, but at some point one choice started the tumble.  Bad decisions can put you on the fast track to an unimaginable life. Something as simple as one more drink before getting behind the wheel of a car can cause you to lose your job, put you in jail, or even take someone’s life.

“There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.” – author unknown

I recently heard a comedian relay a hilarious set about himself being first generation white trash. While this was a truly funny set, I thought it could be valuable on a more serious note as well. After all, who wants to be the first generation of trash in a long family line of successful upstanding citizens?

As I thought about what makes a person to be considered trash, it seems to be primarily someone with bad habits. Or as Kyle Kinane puts it “generations of bad decision making”.  Sometimes it only takes a few years of bad decision making to end up in a very bad place. Sometimes, it only takes one bad decision.  So, enjoy the set below.  As you make decisions and reinforce habits over the coming weeks, months, years, be sure they are good ones!  🙂

 

Plan The Life of Your Dreams

Plan The Life of Your Dreams

There is a life you can imagine that is the life of your dreams.  It is time to write that dream down, make some plans, and begin taking steps toward their fulfillment.  Don’t just read the following steps, but implement them today!  Successful people don’t get where they are by chance.  The concept of entropy states that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder.  This is true in our lives as well.  If we do not live intentionally, we will wander from one distraction to the next and never achieve a higher standard of living.  You wouldn’t set out on a 1000 mile journey without a map.  Why would you live your life without a plan?  Why would you live a day without a plan?

“Unhappiness is settling for less than your dreams, Happiness is having a dream and ever moving closer to achieving it.” – The Catalyst

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

1.) Write Down Your Dream Life

Dreaming is the first step in planning.  Layout your dream job, health & fitness, financial state, relationships, and other dreams.  Don’t be afraid to dream big.  You can break a seemingly insurmountable dream into easily manageable steps in the planning step coming up.  It will help if you find images to copy/paste into your dream plans.  In doing this, a dream I had always imagined was clarified.  I’ve always imagined I wanted a sailboat.  In searching for the right image for this, I found many frightening images of sailing at sea and realized that my sailboat would be one on a lake, not the sea.  After all, this is a good dream, not a nightmare.

“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“Do not plan for mediocrity or you may reach your goal or even come up short!” – The Catalyst

2.) Believe Your Dream is Possible

Know that you can and will do what it takes to get there.  You have to believe in your dream for the times when no-one else will.  If you don’t believe in it, you won’t be able to commit to it and you won’t inspire anyone else to follow along with you either.  Anything is achievable when broken down and taken one step at a time.  Visualization is a key training concept in sports, and it will be beneficial to your life as well.  You have to see yourself putting in the work and making the shots to achieve your dreams.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” – Henry Ford

“You can do anything you set your mind to.” – The Catalyst

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

3.) Make an Actionable Plan 

Now that you have your dreams all laid out, success is achieved by overcoming the obstacles that separate you from them.  Now is the time to write down these obstacles along with a plan for overcoming each one.  Obstacles could be deficient skills, lack of financing, lack of time, poor fitness, poor diet, bad habits, etc.  If an obstacle seems insurmountable, it may need to be broken down into smaller obstacles so that achievable solutions can be created and accomplished.  Without specific steps to overcome each obstacle, your dreams will remain just that, forever.  If you cannot come up with a way over, around, or through an obstacle, enlist a friend or even better, a mentor who can help.  You will have to be resourceful to conquer all obstacles and that will involve enlisting help from others.

Start with what you will do over the next 5 years, and proceed to break that down to what you will do in the next 1 year, quarter, month, week, and today!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton – Hilton Hotels

4.) Focus All Available Energy and Activity

After making your plans, your next step is to stop the distractions.  Stop doing the things that distance you from achieving your goals, and start checking off the steps that overcome the obstacles in your way.  A plan without an action is still a dream and we’re no longer dreamers here.  Having initiative means making an introductory act or step.  Nothing else on this blog makes much difference if you have no initiative.  Even if you can only take the smallest of steps today, getting that much closer to your dreams will feel great!  You will have made the day your first success!

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

“The reason everybody likes planning is that nobody has to do anything.” – Jerry Brown

“Plan your work and work your plan.” – Napoleon Hill