Do you ever know what you need to do, but you just don’t feel like doing it? The answer is probably every day!
Most of us know what we should do, but we just don’t have the emotional feeling to support that action. My mom has always kept it simple. She says, “Sometimes you gotta do things you don’t want to do.” I bet I heard that hundreds of times in my life.
For me, I learned that feelings and emotion is a terrible leader. If I elect them as the leaders of my life they may make a mess of my life. They are important, but they are better followers than leaders.
The feelings and positive emotions will follow behind the action, but they won’t lead it. Tony Robins says, “Motion creates emotion.”
So whether you want to hear it from Tony Robins or my momma, the principle is the same. We often won’t feel like it, but let’s do it anyway. The feelings we want will follow behind.
I have observed that certain actions in life are so closely connected to other similar actions. We all know that actions taken consistently turn in to habits.
Take an action like exercising, for example. When we exercise, that action or habit is closely connected with eating something healthy like a protein shake or some scrambled eggs and vegetables. If we eat a healthy breakfast it is often linked to eating a healthier lunch. Eating the healthier breakfast could also be linked to taking a vitamin. It goes even deeper because habit linking crosses over to other areas of our life. Exercising may encourage us to listen to a positive podcast for example. The podcast then encourages us to pick up a book. Life is connected. Actions or habits are closely linked.
In my mind, I visualize a chain above me and I have a hold on both ends of the chain. On one side I have all the negative habit links and on the other side is the positive habit links. What side am I pulling harder on? What side is gaining more momentum in my life?
The couch. I love the couch. Who doesn’t love a good couch, especially your own couch? The trouble with the couch (for me) is that it is so closely linked to junk food and mindless bing-watching (2 things I love as much as my couch). Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there because those things are linked to staying up too late which is linked to lack of sleep which is linked to desiring an unhealthy breakfast and sugar to try to get a fast pick-me-up. It really doesn’t end there. In fact, it never ends. A negative action (turned habit if done consistently) is always going to be linked to another equally if not more negative habit.
This may sound discouraging to some. Maybe the negative chain links has a real strong hold and momentum in your life. How can you reverse it when the negative links are so strong?
Start with one positive link. Anyone can do that. It doesn’t have to be a big link. Just a little one. It could be as small as getting up first thing and drinking 8 ounces of water before doing anything else. It is small. It is tiny. But it is a positive link. Do it enough and it becomes a habit. As you are doing this, you will look around and observe your life. You will find another action very closely connected to drinking the water. In fact, it will be so closely connected that it will actually be easy to do. So easy that it now becomes a habit and a second link in your chain.
And that is how you change the momentum in your habit chain.
What side of the chain has more momentum in your life?
Yesterday I played golf with one of my boys. I was reminded of the power that water and hazards can have on the mind of a golfer.
It is easy to become fixated on the hazard that you are trying to avoid. You tell yourself, “Don’t hit in the water. Don’t hit it in the water.” It becomes so dominant in our mind that it almost becomes a target and our body listens. It hits the ball in the water.
Life is similar. There are hazards that we want to avoid in life. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t be aware of them or even that we shouldn’t prepare for the hazards of life. I believe we should prepare, but I have also found that we need to be careful how much mental space that we give them.
If we focus too much on the hazards, they may actually become our target. We may start taking actions and speaking in a certain way that leads us right in to the very hazards we are trying to avoid.
So let’s prepare but then let’s spend more time focusing on the targets we want and the outcomes we want. If we do that we will increase our odds of hitting the desired targets and we will probably enjoy life more in the process.
I have eaten a wide variety of delicious foods from all around the world. Few things are better than a simple slice of toast with butter.
Growing up, my mom would often make me toast. More often than not she burned it. It is actually incredible to think how often she would burn a simple piece of toast. To her burning a piece of toast just wasn’t a big deal. She would simply remind us in her upbeat tone, “It’s scrapable!”
It happened so often that if you were to stop by and visit you would probably notice the layer of black, burnt toast scrapings on the bottom of the kitchen sink. My mom was able to salvage even the most burnt pieces that most would consider not good. It may have had holes through out where it had to be scraped all the way through, but she made it work.
As I reflect back, I learned a great lesson from my mom’s approach to toast making. We all have plans and goals about the way we think or want things to turn out.
We want our vacation to go a certain way. We want our business growth to go as planned. We want the wedding to turn out a certain way. But life doesn’t often go as we planned. In fact, it usually doesn’t. But that’s OK. It isn’t ruined.
My mom rarely made the perfect piece of golden toast. It wasn’t what she planned. It wasn’t what most would call a good piece of toast. But maybe it was. Maybe it was the best piece of toast because it turned out ok and even gave us more fun memories than we otherwise would have had.
So when things aren’t going as planned, look on the brightside. Find the positive. It’s scrapable.
I attended a funeral yesterday. The family is mourning the loss of their loved ones that were taken way too early. Their entire world was flipped upside down in a moment.
It was a reminder for me. A reminder that the most important things in life we already have. We tend to focus on the future. It is so easy to think about the things that we don’t have. We live in an incredible time with more to be thankful for than any generation in the past, yet we still focus on what we dont have.
There is nothing wrong with ambition. We should strive to make ourselves and the world around us better. But let’s not miss the most important things that we have in our life already.
Let’s be grateful and cherish the most important things that we already have. Chances are they are actually way more important to us than all the other stuff we think we want in the future.
I have worked with and run sales organizations for my entire adult life. There is a question that always comes up. You can’t escape it. It doesn’t matter the industry. The question will always be asked…
“What does the average person do?” or “What does the average person make?”
I’ve heard it so often that it is difficult to patiently give a reply. Why are we so obsessed with average?
The average person is out of shape.
The average person is broke and in debt up to their eye balls.
The average marriage ends in divorce.
The average sales person struggles and eventually quits.
The average new business won’t even exist in 5 years.
Average is a terrible thing to aim for. If average is our plan, we shouldn’t even do it. I would say I’m an average chess player, but chess isn’t that important to me. It is something I do very rarely for fun. It is better than watching TV even if I’m just average. That’s OK. It doesn’t mean much to me.
For anything important, we should avoid average. The better questions are, “Who is succeeding? What are they doing?” Then let’s aim at that. Sure, we may fail. We may not be at their level YET. But we can aim at it. We can measure and improve a little each day. If we do that, we will rise above the average.
Where do you stand on making your bed? Some are those on the side that feel there is no need to make the bed because we will get back in it anyway. I’m sure much of this stems from people’s natural personalities. Some prefer neatness and order over chaos. I don’t like clutter (and unmade beds). I prefer things in their proper place.
However, I think there is more to making your bed. If it was just about tidiness, I wouldn’t think much of it. I would leave it unmade more often.
Making the bed in the morning does two things for me…
It gives me an early win. It may seem small, but I did something. Maybe I’m half asleep, but I made my bed. Some days it may be my first win. Yes, it is small, but a great day is full of small wins. It is rare that we get a big win. Some days we may be blessed with a big one. Mostly, they are just little ones. So making the bed is a great little win to start the day. It is something.
The other thing making the bed does is remind me that I can clean up something in my life today. When making my bed, I am cleaning up the mess I made while sleeping. I’m straightening the sheets to put a little order back from all the chaos. I can do that. Making the bed is something I can fix. What else can I fix? What other chaos in my life can I put order to today? What other small things can I clean up in my life today?
We have a lot to clean up today. We can start by making our bed.
For many years if you asked me one of my favorite quotes, I might reply with “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
I would give that answer partly because I love movies and because I am a huge Star Wars fan. I also love the wisdom in the simple phrase. It addresses the mindset of fully committing to something and burning the bridges leaving no option for failure. Clearly, I still love the advice given by the greatest Jedi Master of them all, but maybe it isn’t right all the time?
What about the person who is sitting on the sidelines scared to get in the game? What about the person who is so concerned that their new product or business idea has to be perfect so they aren’t even taking action?
“Do it” implies that our attempt will succeed. If we don’t think we are “ready” yet, we may wait to do anything. Waiting, procrastinating, fear of failing is what keeps us from making progress. We are never ready. If we wait for the feeling of being ready, we may never act.
Who am I to challenge a Jedi Master? I’m just a normal guy. I can’t use the Force to send objects flying through the air. But I can try.
Maybe that is the right advice sometimes. Let’s just try. What if we don’t succeed? Well, let’s just try it. Let’s take the first step.
Let’s not be scare to try and fail. At least, we started. We should celebrate trying. It is a whole lot better than not trying. Once we are trying and taking action, Yoda’s advice makes sense when we want to master it. We have to fully commit and go beyond trying. But we don’t have to start there.
I have challenged a Jedi Master. I may have failed in my attempt, but at least I tried. I can feel good about that.
It seems almost all health experts have different opinions. There are certainly a lot of common themes that all the experts agree on like eat more organic green vegetables. No one really denies that is a good idea.
Some will boast of the health benefits of being a vegan while others will sound just as convincing on why we should live on a high protein meat diet.
Many promote the health benefits of vitamins and nutrition while others say it is wasted money and does nothing for your overall health.
This can cause us to just think, “What is the point? I could die tomorrow.” And therefore, we don’t worry about our health because we aren’t sure if it makes a difference anyway.
There really isn’t anything we can do to guarantee that we live longer. We can try, but we all know our time is limited and we don’t know how long we have.
So what if energy was our goal?
I don’t mean the fake and temporary energy that we get from a Starbucks or Monster energy drink. I mean real, consistent energy throughout the day. What if that was our goal?
Maybe we don’t know if the vitamin regime that we take will add any extra years to our life, but do we have better energy throughout the day when we take it?
Maybe exercising in the morning doesn’t extend my lifespan, but do I feel more alive the rest of the day if I do it?
What if we made energy the goal? I think it helps us cut through the confusion on what we should do. At least it does for me.
What gives you more energy?
Why is it that we push back against the simple plans but gravitate towards the complicated?
If we have something we want to achieve we tend to push back against the simple strategy. Surely, it needs to be more complex. We need to use a strategy that almost no one has ever thought of or maybe only the most successful have and that is their secret.
Could it be the most successful just execute? I was speaking to someone I really respect several years ago and I noticed he had lost a lot of weight and was looking really good. I asked him what he had been doing. His response was so simple. “Yea, I’ve just been eating less.” I kept waiting for the complicated, long answer on why his plan was better than all the others. Turns out it was a pretty simple strategy. He didn’t even have to sign up for a course to do it.
Don’t most of know this? We can all get healthier if we just EAT LESS and MOVE MORE.
Deep down most of us know that works, but why do we insist on the complicated? Maybe it is because if we find a complicated plan and it doesn’t work, we can blame the plan? We can always say that we didn’t fully understand it or that it wasn’t the right plan for us. So then we can turn our focus on finding the next plan.
The good news is capitalism is alive and well. There are endless entrepreneurs out there to sell us a complicated strategy whether it is fitness, business or anything else.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to ignore the simple strategies. The only challenge is then we may not have anything to blame but ourselves if we don’t do it.