Add MORE to Your Plate to Combat Stress

screen shot 2019-01-24 at 10.37.07 amIn times of overwhelm, the common thought is to cut back.

To remove things from your life.

To start saying “no” to things.

That’s not always the best way to deal with stress.

The truth is, most of us are living far under our potential. We’re way under the level of stress, focus, and productivity we could endure.

There’s a common theme that you might have heard about, the 40% rule. The general idea behind is that when you’re saying you’re done, you’re only 40% done. You can handle 60% more, you just think you can’t.

For years, I took the other advice. When I was overwhelmed with work, personal issues, etc., I started cutting things out. I’d cut until there were just the bare bones left.

Did I feel relaxed? Fully zen? Stress-free?

Fuck no.

This wasn’t just once or twice in my life. It was quite a few times where I’d do this expecting to feel all this relief, and instead, it just produced more anxiety.

That’s the paradox to this situation. We’re told to relax when everything feels tough, but sometimes the answer is to do more.

Yes, sometimes you truly need to cut back, especially when it comes to most of us and our possessions.

Anyone reading this blog probably wants a bigger, successful, fulfilling life.  This doesn’t mean materialistic success, this means true, deep fulfillment.

And to hit that fulfillment, you need more. You’re hiding from your true potential.

Start adding in more hobbies. Ones that make you happy and ones that challenge you.
Take on more work responsibilities.
Expand your friend group.
Try a new exercise routine that pushes you.

As soon as you do, you’ll hit a wall. You’ll whine. You’ll want to take things off your plate because you’re “overwhelmed”.

You’re not overwhelmed. You’re adjusting.

Think of your life like a body. When you start to work out, you’re sore and generally miserable for a bit. Then, one day you wake up and realize your body is craving being active.

What this does for your mind

When you view yourself as someone who welcomes more and welcomes a full plate, you’ll be magnetic to the people around you. Not to get all woo-woo on you, but this is the mentality of people who view life through an abundant lens.

If you’re like most people and you want more friends, more connections, a bigger network, more dates, becoming someone who views the world and their life as abundantly as possible is a rare trait.

Experiencing many things and opening your mind up to possibilities adds more joy to your life and will cut your stress.

Dealing with stress is all about perspective, anyway. There are millions of people who would kill for the stress you complain about every day because their situation is worse.

How this changes your stress

When you have more things on your plate, you’re able to handle more stress once you get through the initial “suck” period.

If you don’t have much on your plate, your partner fighting with you or your boss yelling at you is enough to ruin your week, because those things are all you have in your life. Your threshold is a lot lower because you don’t have enough stress.

It’s like someone who works out a lot: a 20 lb weight is nothing to someone strong, but it is too much for someone weak. It’s just a 20 lb weight. Same weight, different reactions.

The same goes for the stress in your life. Your boss yelling at you will destroy you if that’s all you do with your time. However, if your boss yells at you and then you have kickboxing followed by a hot date that night, you’ll care a lot less.

This doesn’t mean you fill your plate up so much that you never have time to process things, leaving you an emotionless human. It just means you’re able to put your stress into better perspective because you have other things going on.

Life is something you have to experience

You can’t think about having a full life. You have to go LIVE it.

Enough reading.
Enough planning.
It’s 2019, it’s go time.

Advertisements

How to Plan and Dominate 2019

This site is about the pleasure that comes from putting in hard work and focusing on leaving a legacy.

This journey isn’t for most people. It’s one I find myself continually struggling with: the ease of comfort instead of the worthwhile journey of effort.

2018 is over. You can’t go back. Spend zero time feeling bad about any unaccomplished goals and instead focus on the year ahead.

After browsing around the internet, I realized that most of the conversation about the new year has a thick layer of sarcasm about setting goals. People say that the only thing that changed is the date on the calendar. I disagree.

At any point in time, you can choose a different life. You can quit that bad habit, start going to the gym, get organized, get off the couch, donate your tv, start dressing better, laugh more, delete people from your life, change your sleeping schedule… Anything you want as long as you decide and commit.

Success is as simple as a decision.

Every “guru” out there wants you to believe you can’t simply change your life with a decision. You need the new gadget, a perfect plan, their program, their book, or whatever else the world is constantly trying to sell you.

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month. – Theodore Roosevelt

All you need is the right frame of mind, some goals, and a strategic plan.

From there, it’s the values of discipline and tenacity that will make them come true.

This year will be your best year if you decide it will be. When you put in the hard work day in and day out, you’ll find yourself closer to your goals at every step.

Most people want the success now, even though they were lazy all throughout 2018. Success comes after you’ve put in the hard work, not any time sooner.

Doing what needs to be done isn’t always fun. That’s all I’m asking from myself and from you this year: Know that it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but it will be worth it in the end.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at my own planning process:

1. Write out all the categories.

While it can be good to focus on three main areas of life, I tend to go a little overboard to keep all the areas of my life in balance.

In the past when I focused only on three things, I found myself out of balance because other areas were neglected.

Here are some of the areas I have listed:

  • Financial
  • Fitness/Health
  • All of the websites I write for (broken into separate categories)
  • Freelance writing and clients
  • Writing (passion projects)
  • My dog
  • Fun and travel
  • Business
  • Family, friends, social
  • Personal development
  • Home
  • Service to others

It might seem like a lot, but keeping all of these continually moving forward and not letting them slip through the cracks removes about 99% of useless stress.

I carry a small notebook with me everywhere, and at the end of each day I filter my “to-do’s” and ideas into each category in my Trello account. Here is my Trello home page:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.40.10 AM

For some people, that’s insanely chaotic. For me, it’s incredible and I rarely miss anything I have to do. When I need to plan something out or remember it, I know exactly where to put it.

However, if simple categories work for you, do it! There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” system. Your categories will be different, but feel free to test my system to see if it works for you.

I used to have general areas, but then I would miss really important events and things in my life. This way, I have a handle on everything.

2. Set goals for each category.

You might not have goals for every single category, and that’s perfectly fine.

Here’s a huge secret to goal setting: Set goals that focus on your own effort instead of a goal outside of your control. If you want a six-pack, focus on going to the gym 300 out of the 365 days this year.

Too many people set goals that depend on outside circumstances such as landing a book deal, finding a relationship, or buying a house instead of focusing on their own efforts.

For example, when I was a full-time freelance writer, I always wrote down that I wanted to hit certain financial goals each month.

However, in the world of freelancing some months are awesome, some months are horrible I’d be hard on myself when I didn’t hit my goals even though I was working relentlessly to make it happen. Instead, if I had focused on sending out a certain number of pitches, I could focus on my own efforts day in and day out instead of feeling like a failure constantly. Putting my feelings of accomplishments into other people’s hands and waiting for their “approval” was a bad idea.

Do not overlook the importance of feeling good with your hard work. Hating yourself for not achieving your goals means you’ve set the wrong goals, not that there’s something wrong with you. You should go to bed with satisfaction knowing you put everything you have into your day instead of with bad feelings because the world didn’t give you what you want.

Do what you need to do, and pay no mind to if the world responds.

A strange phenomenon usually happens when you focus on your own efforts: the world responds accordingly. You will be pleasantly surprised, but only if you stay focused on your work and feeling positive.

The world might not cooperate with the goals you have for yourself, but you can always put forth your own effort.

Devote yourself to the PROCESS, to the hard work, instead of the outside circumstances.

A study done at the University of California found that people were 42% more likely to achieve their goals when they wrote them down. Take the time to go through each area of your life and write down what you want.

Also, the stronger the reason “why” you can tie to each goal, the greater the chances of it happening.

3. Break those goals down.

Take each goal and break it down by quarter or month.

What is vital to the overall goal?
What has to be set in motion over the next one to three months?
Which goals can wait?

From there, break everything down by week.

Weekly planning is HUGE, by the way. Out of all the things you do, investing an hour or two on Sunday to mapping out the week ahead will change your life if you haven’t started this practice already.

It’s up to you how detailed you want your break down to become. Personally, I break goals down by: 3 years, 1 year, quarterly, and monthly. Then, I have a monthly planning session each month to see where I’m at and break it down by week.

There is no doubt it’s a lot of work, but even doing this for one area of your life you care about the most will change everything.

4. Set a schedule and reminders.

Look at your goals and get right into your planner.

Dreaming is great, but doing is where the magic happens. Write down when and where you will accomplish your tasks throughout the week.

It’s up to you how detailed you want your schedule to become and how you choose to map it all out. Some people use digital planners, some use paper, some just use one sheet of paper… Feel free to try a wide variety of options and see what works best for you.

However, do not jump from one to another at lightning speed. Too many people are addicted to trying the newest planning software. Stick with one for at least a month to see if it works for you.

Never forget that it’s more about getting the important things done than having the fanciest system. Theodore Roosevelt accomplished more than 99% of people and he did not have an iPhone or the internet. He focused on getting things DONE.

Although I use digital trackers like Trello to keep all my paperwork and to-do’s in order, for my day to day planning I still use a paper planner. I’ve had far too many times where technology failed me and I couldn’t access my task lists, so I still have my paper planner. Crossing through something on paper seems to also be more satisfying than clicking a button.

Commit every single morning to your goals and your mission. Create a morning and evening routine that get you set up and focused for the day.

5. Set yourself up to succeed.

I mentioned earlier that achieving goals requires discipline and tenacity. Understand that life will get in the way. Understand that you will be challenged. Understand that it takes time to build willpower.

One tip to combatting these outside forces is to be BRUTALLY honest about what distracts you. For example, I know I’m a GIANT sucker for ice cream. Few things ruin my willpower like ice cream. My solution? I never, ever buy any unless it’s for a cheat day.

Studies have shown time and time again that willpower is a depleting force throughout the day. Even the strongest people can crack after a tough day.

Go through all your goals and list the possible things that will knock you off track of your goals, then make a list of what you will do to combat these forces.

When generals plan to go to war, they don’t just say, “This plan will go perfect and nothing will happen.” NO. They say, “Here’s our plan, but if the enemy does x, y, and z, we will do this to combat that.”

Plan your life in the same way. Adjust as you go. Every day start fresh no matter what happened the day before and if you fell off the wagon. Just keep on keeping on.

Another idea is to also plan in fun. My working day has had much better success by scheduling in the internet browsing for fun. Instead of feeling like I’m missing out on good YouTube videos, I know I’ll have time to binge this afternoon after I come home from the gym.

Don’t completely deprive yourself of what you enjoy, just put it in the schedule at the right time instead of letting it distract you from what you need to focus on right now.

That’s my planning system, and I’d love to hear about any goals you have this year. Leave a comment below or Tweet me: @SLManifesto!

How to Break Free From Technology and Cell Phone Addiction

If you’ve ever browsed /r/NoSurf or been on the internet for any length of time, you realize how common technology addiction is. The problem is that it’s so addicting as other types of addictions, but society doesn’t see it that way.

We see “no smoking” signs everywhere, there are laws about alcohol across the world, most drugs are illegal, but there are no rules or regulations when it comes to technology (except in some countries where it’s outlawed or regulated completely… but that’s a different topic).

Actually, if you’re on your tech devices all the time, people think you’re a hard worker or that you’re hip to new technology. (However, your significant other and family members will hate it.) While that may be the impression externally, what you deal with internally is a whole other battle.

If you’ve ever read Deep Work by Cal Newport, you’d understand the dangers of allowing technology to run rampant in your life.

The whole premise of the book is that you need to regularly dive deep into the thing that matter most in your career. He’s an excellent example of this theory because his writing is so deep and thought-provoking. It’s a must-read for any creative.

In there, he makes the point that people who are interrupted all the time or who multitask are mental wrecks. They can’t filter out irrelevancy. We know the dangers of technology addiction and how much it can wreck your mind and productivity. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a chance you want more out of life than endlessly scrolling through social media, so let’s take a look at how you can combat this addiction and get your life back.

And no, this won’t include a “digital detox” because I don’t believe it’s realistic in today’s world. If you want to delete social media, that’s fine, but I already tried that experiment and for me, it didn’t work so I don’t believe in it.

Confront the real problems

I know at least half of you (or more) are going to click off here. This step is real and heavy. Instead of feeding you some BS about “oh just install some social media blockers and you’re cured!”, we’re going to go deeper than that.

Technology addiction is a bandaid to something real going on, just like most addictions.

Maybe you’re lonely.
Maybe you’re going through a breakup.
Maybe you hate your job.
Maybe you know you need a divorce.
Maybe you haven’t overcome abuse from your childhood.

Whatever the issues are, you have to acknowledge it.

Yes, technology is designed to be addictive, but the fact is that there’s something more going on.

You don’t have to change your life overnight, and I’m not going to pretend like it’s just that easy. You have to start by acknowledging what’s going on. This will give you perspective on your life. Instead of beating yourself up and thinking, “I’m a loser because I can’t stop scrolling Reddit,” it gives you the power to switch it to, “I can’t stop scrolling because I picked the wrong college major and I don’t want to confront it.”

Start scheduling blocks of no technology

Even if it’s 5 minutes a day, schedule blocks of time where you don’t use any technology at all. No phone, no tablet, no computer, no gaming, no iPod.

Do anything else in its place. Clean your place, walk around outside, go grocery shopping, or do anything else that keep you away from your devices.

Do one mindful activity a day

Mindfulness basically means giving your full attention to something. Pick one thing a day where you’re going to sit and focus on that activity.

One of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness is when I eat. Get away from technology, stop scrolling through Twiter, don’t play your favorite tv show, just sit and focus on your food. Pick whatever activity works for you.

This is a form of meditation because every time your brain starts to stray away from what you’re doing, pull it back.

If you’re truly deep in a tech addiction, you probably can’t pick your work yet for your mindfulness activity. It usually takes too many hours and you need to build up your stamina. This is why you need to be careful committing to something huge. Going from zero focus to wanting to play an instrument for an hour a day when your focus is destroyed will only end in disappointment and hurt your confidence.

Start to measure

Most iPhones now have a screen time measurement in Settings. There are also a ton of computer apps for tracking how much time you spend online. Get these numbers and start measuring.

Find quiet places

Silence these days seems non-existent. From constant notifications, emails, roommates, partners, children, etc., we’re left with no quiet time to think.

Most of us go to coffee shops to think, but have you ever noticed how insanely loud coffee shops are too.

You need silence, WITHOUT music. Yes, without music. You can introduce music back into your routine down the line, but for now, you need to treat yourself like you’re in recovery. You need to retrain your mind.

Use technology to fight technology

If you’re looking to use technology to fight technology.

Here are some articles to help with that:

How to Quit Mindlessly Surfing the Internet and Actually Get Stuff Done

How To Apply A Minimalist Mindset To Your Screen Time Without The FOMO

The Complete Guide to Breaking Your Smartphone Habit

Podcast #168: The Value of Deep Work in the Age of Distraction

How To Overcome Internet Addiction and Build Deep Work Habits

There are some incredibly valuable nuggets of wisdom in there to combat your internet and cellphone addictions.

Get to know pen and paper

I don’t even need to go over the benefits of carrying pen and paper. You can get a notebook for $1, and start carrying it around. You’ll see the benefits.

Start doing your to-dos offline

So many tasks require technology to finish them. Unless you have incredible discipline, it’s too easy to start browsing in the middle of when you should be productive.

Start batching your to-do’s by internet to-dos and offline to-do’s. For example, I wrote this whole post on paper first, and although it’s time-consuming to have to type it, I was able to write far more than usual.

Schedule in your mindless browsing

The last thing to do to start to combat your endless scrolling, you need to schedule in time for you to mindlessly browse. Don’t pretend like you’re going to go cold turkey, because you’re not. It’s easier to work hard when you know at 5 PM you can freely browse for an hour that evening.

These tactics won’t guarantee you’ll beat it overnight, but with baby steps, you’ll be able to start to conquer it.

Rise to the Challenge in Front of You

In your life right now, there’s a challenge you’re avoiding.

Actually, there’s probably a lot of challenges you’re avoiding.

Day-to-day life can feel exhausting. Work, obligations, home duties, friends, relationships, family, hobbies, kids… The list of things to do each day is a mile long.

However, for every single person who has so much to do, there was someone out there who overcame the daily grind and still pursued their dreams.

Being busy has become a band-aid term for not pursuing dreams.

It’s a constant excuse that makes us feel validated in our whining. We get to avoid the pain of realizing we’re not putting enough effort in.

Of course, there are a million difficult things that can get in the way of what you want.

Cancer, death, paralyzing fears, car accidents, natural disasters…

But the truth is that things will always keep happening. There is never a time of perfect circumstances or where the “time is right”.

Theodore Roosevelt lost his mother and his wife on the same day, and he managed to overcome it. It doesn’t mean it was easy to get through. It means he looked the challenge in the face and took on the emotional pain, woke up every day, and kept putting one foot in front of the other.

There has to be a point where you start chasing your fears instead of running away from them.

There will always be a lot going on, but you need to decide what matters most to you and make time for it.

 

Sometimes the challenges are small, such as finally cleaning out your garage. Sometimes they’re big challenges, such as finally moving across the country.

Whatever it is, it’s time to tackle it on.

 

Make a plan of action and start today.

Your life is waiting.

How to Focus When Everyone Seems to Be Farther Ahead

Ah, social media. It’s brought about some of the best in humanity but also brought about new challenges we have to deal with.

Before, we only heard about all the things our friends are doing through catching up with them or by hearing it through other people.

Now, you just flip on your phone and can see all of the things everyone you’ve ever known are doing with their lives.

Sure, it would be nice to say to simply delete social media and never use it again, and that’s great for the people who can do that. However, not all of us can. Some people like social media or work in a career that needs it. This will be more of a balance when you have no choice but you still need to stay focused on your own life, even when the people around you are doing cool things.

Accepting your path

The first thing you need to accept is that everyone is on a different journey. We can’t all be on the same blueprint, because what would be the purpose?

When you look at successful people over time, you’ll see that every single one of them had a different journey. Some found success at 18, some became successful in their 60’s. Some with a family, some without. Some with parents some without. You get the idea.

Knowing what YOU want

On this site, I’ve said time and time again that the most important part of life is to know what YOU want. Not what your parents want for you, not what your teachers want, not what your friends want, not what your partner wants… What YOU want.

A lot of us turn to social media instead of facing those hard questions and thoughts. Every time we feel uncomfortable or realize we’re unhappy where we are, we pop up those stimulating apps that distract us from that discomfort.

When you realize you’re falling into that pattern, it’s more important than ever to take a social media break and step back a bit.

Compare what you want to what you see

My career requires me to be on social media far too much (digital marketing), so I had to figure out a way to deal with this.

The best solution I have found is to notice when I’m feeling jealous or behind and ask myself:
* Am I actively working toward what I want?
* Is this thing I’m jealous over something I actually want?

The biggest thing I’ve realized is that when I’m not actively working toward what I want, it’s easy to become bitter when you see other people happy. (That’s also the case for every single troll on the internet.)

When you’re making progress every day toward what you want, you have little time to be jealous or upset. You’ll actually be happy for other people doing the same thing.

The second question helps you realize that so much of what we see online isn’t something we actually want. For example, if you saw your friend giving a speech to a huge crowd and you were a little envious, ask yourself if public speaking is even something you want.

Avoid self-sabotage thinking

It’s so easy to get caught in a downward spiral of feeling like there’s something wrong with you when you see other people succeeding. This is especially true if you see people achieving the things that you have on your own goal list.

Remember that the things you already have, someone in the world is praying to have. You’re blessed in different ways, whether you see those blessing or not. Someone would kill for your life.

Stay focused on what you want, remind yourself that your life path will be unique, and take note of how far you’ve come.

100% is Easy, 99% is Hard as Hell

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 10.15.48 AM

“100% is Easy, 99% is Hard” is a quote I came across recently that took me quite some time to absorb.

The essential premise is that when you’re 100% committed, everything becomes easy. When you’re just 1% hesitant, that hesitancy can destroy your productivity.

This has been a year of a lot of 99%. And the problem is, 99% sounds great, right? Like, you’re almost fully committed. “It’s a lot more than 1%!” you tell yourself.

However, every number on the scale to 100% is enough to stop you. Only being 10% committed… 40%… 51%… It doesn’t matter.

If you aren’t getting the right things done, take a minute to think for a second. Ask yourself if you are 100% committed to what you want.

If you’re being honest with yourself, you’ll know that you are somewhere under 100% committed.

Of course, we can accomplish the things on our to-do lists that are required to get done without being 100% committed. If your parents need a favor, you need to finish something your boss gives you to do, you need to go grocery shopping… Those are different.

I’m talking about the true passion that burns in your soul. The one your mind just went to. The thing you’re dying to do that you just keep putting off.

2018 is just around the corner, how much longer are you going to wait?

For years, I’ve been a writer for my work. I can write client projects without much of a struggle and without writers block getting in the way. However, look at this blog. I love this site. It’s a baby passion project. But look at how few times I post. (Yes, this is me calling myself out.)

It’s easy to sit down and be like “oh, I can’t write today, writers block” but in the back of my mind I know that’s not true.

Think about all the other areas of your life. Where are you lacking 100% commitment when it’s important?

Whether it’s in sports, relationships, goals, or for any other thing that matters to you, it’s essential that you remove that one percent that’s holding you back.

You can be scared, you can be nervous, you can want to scream, but you must be fully committed and follow through.

Let’s go through some examples you’ve probably been in.

If you aren’t 100% committed to your diet, you’ll easily excuse those cheat meals here and there that add up to additional weight. When you’re 100% committed, you don’t even look at those tempting snacks. You already know you’re not going to touch them.

If you aren’t 100% committed to your relationship, all kinds of temptations are everywhere. You’ll start flirting, your thoughts will start looking outside your relationship. Most of all, you won’t put in the commitment to fix it, you’ll just want to bail out. When you’re committed, you’re ready to fix whatever problems come up.

If you aren’t 100% committed to pursuing that burning passion or dream, you’ll let things like your feelings, the weather, or being tired get in the way. You’ll do it “tomorrow”. When you’re 100% committed, it doesn’t matter how you feel.

Until you’re at 100%, you can kiss progress goodbye.

All throughout time, the people who truly accomplished what they wanted to hit the 100% committed mark.

It’s time for you to do the same.

For A Successful 2017, Audit Yourself And Find A Purpose

There is a lot to be said for planning out a year. (If you still need to plan your year: this guide will help.)

At a certain point, though, you can only add so many things into your life before you need to start subtracting to make room for all the new.

One of the best ways to start doing that is to track your time.

Most people think they’re utilizing every single minute of every day, but if you actually track your time you’ll see plenty of holes.

When I spent time tracking what I was doing during every hour of every day, I realized I was wasting a lot of time waiting on responses from people. Once I realized this, I found productive things to do while I wait for edits, responses, or anything else that depends on someone else getting back to me.

So many people claim they don’t have time, yet can tell you every detail of what happened this season on Game of Thrones.

(On a side note: Consuming media isn’t a bad thing, but consuming media at the expense of your goals is where people start to get in trouble.)

Finding A Goal

The first step is to know what goals you want in your life.

If you don’t have goals, you have no idea if you’re using your time well or not and when you have free time, you don’t know what to do.

When you have a vision for your life, or at least an overriding goal for the year, it’s easy to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now getting me closer or farther from that goal?”

Your time becomes clear.

This is what a lot of “productivity experts” overlook: having something to work toward.

Who cares if you meditate, clean your room, exercise daily, plan your day, or anything else if it’s all meaningless? I’ve seen on a lot of posts on productivity forums along the lines of, “My life is totally in order yet I feel empty inside… why?”

Simple: Because we humans are meant for more than to be tidy.

Being tidy for the sake of looking like you have it together doesn’t make sense. Being tidy because that helps you spend less time on clutter and more time on what matters makes sense.

Having goals, values, a purpose gives meaning to the small tasks.

You might not know what your life’s purpose is, but having literally anything to work toward gives meaning to the day-to-day grind.

Plus, it removes that, “What should I be working on?” feeling when you have downtime.

Track Your Time

There are multiple ways to track your time.

Some prefer digital tools like RescueTime that can track your web activity.

Some prefer paper, and what has worked for me is this planner, where I can track each day 15 minutes at a time. Plus, each day is blank so you can track the days you want without wasting paper when you miss some days. I don’t work at my computer all the time, so I had to find something else I could take offline.

Every 60 minutes I go back and write down what I worked on for the past hour.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to keep writing it down and I actually had to set a 60-minute timer to remember to do it, but it’s eye-opening.

When you complain about not having enough time to work on that creative project, but then write down “Facebook” as what you’ve spent the last hour doing, you understand where your time has gone.

Cut, Cut, Cut

Once you have an accurate look at your week and where your time went, this is when you need to re-prioritize.

There are a million reasons our time goes out the window. Not being organized enough, having too many things on our plate, saying “yes” to too many things, falling into time-wasting activities, and so on.

You can’t audit your life until you have an actual overlook at where your time goes.

This is when you can make plans for the time-sucks that eat away at your life.

For example, here are some things I’ve altered:

  1. I made my Facebook password ridiculously complicated and I sign out after being done. Having a complicated password prevents me from signing in at any moment. I also took Facebook, along with some other social media platforms, off my phone so I stopped burning time on those mindless activities.
  2. I meal prep as often as I can. One huge time suck was cooking every single day, so I’ve been working to change that. I don’t want to eat out every day, because that’s a financial drain, but just having things prepared has made everything so much easier.
  3. Stopped multi-tasking. I thought I was getting so much done when I would multi-task, but after tracking my time I discovered this wasn’t true at all. Doing multiple tasks took longer than me focusing and doing one at a time.
  4. I now only consume media I really enjoy. Sometimes we all get sucked in to keeping up with the “hot” things of our time, but that can be such a waste of time. I stopped watching a lot of TV shows for that reason.

Keep Modifying

It’s normal to fall off the wagon when you’re trying to build new habits or shift your focus, but if you keep tracking and trying to improve, you can make your life better with each passing day.

What have you realized was a complete time-suck, and how did you change it? Leave a comment!

Is this associated with AofM?

Hi everyone!

Since our little team has received a ton of e-mails about if this site is associated with The Art of Manliness’  Strenuous Life program, I wanted to be clear that it’s not. This blog was started years ago.

We wish we were because AofM is one of the best blogs on the planet, but no, this is another completely separate site. We just both happen to share an interest in TR, his legacy, and living the strenuous life values.

You can read their post about the New Strenuous Age. <- A MUST read for anyone interested in the strenuous life.

And sign up to read about their program: Here.

Black Friday, Consumerism, and Character

It has always amazed me how America goes from being grateful for everything we have (Thanksgiving) to immediately feeling like we need to spend money to fill some void in our souls for the next few weeks until Christmas.

(Actually what I’ve really realized is that people barely spend any time actually being grateful and they spend most of it overindulging, but that’s not the point of this post.)

Through analyzing consumerism, I’ve realized so many people buy things to feel like they live exciting lives instead of actually living an exciting life.

There’s nothing you could buy on Black Friday that can actually change your character. It can give you the appearance of someone exciting, but it doesn’t actually make you that way.

Once I realized this within my own life, I no longer have a strong pull to shop all the time or buy junk to impress people I don’t actually like.

I can’t even imagine what Theodore Roosevelt would say about our consumerism in the new world. He’d surely think it was over-the-top and at an excessive level. Of course, he thought capitalism was a good thing, but not at the expense of character development.

People buy fancy tech gear, yet they never do anything creative with it.
People buy athletic shoes that they only use for taking laps around the processed food aisles at the grocery store.
People buy fancy TV’s so they can keep watching Netflix alone.
People buy another book on business instead of actually launching the one that they have been dreaming of starting.

You can’t buy character, morality, or values. Those are things you must earn, but only a select amount of people want to put in that kind of work.

If you want a better 2017, focus on the values you need to develop instead of the items you need. I get it, your family expects gifts. There’s not much you can do there, but you can choose to opt-out.

Creating the life you want will always come from your own efforts and determination, not some cheap plastic that will end up in a landfill and take far too long to decompose.

Just something to mentally chew on as you navigate this holiday season.

Either way, it is Thanksgiving and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for ever reading any of my posts. Thank you for taking the steps to live the strenuous life. Thank you to T.R. for existing and leaving us all a legacy to study.

Don’t Find Yourself, Create Yourself

Everyone seems to be on a mission to figure out who they are. With the rise of self-help books, magazines, tv shows, and seminars, there’s a lot of hype around “finding yourself”.

They make all kinds of money on the idea that you’re not good enough and if you buy their book and go to their seminars you’ll be “fixed” and “find your passion” so you can “live your dreams”. <- All the buzzwords and marketing I see every day.

Like there’s some great part of you that’s hidden and you could only find it if you look hard enough.

Yes, there’s something to be said for taking the time to explore in silence and get to in touch with what matters to you or to reset your values if you’ve fallen off track.

However, at a certain point it, trying to “find yourself” just becomes a form of procrastination.

You’re fine just how you are. You just might need to work harder on what matters. Thinking too hard about yourself and your life can cause you to think too much, then you’re stuck in your head going nowhere because you’ve built up this idea in your head.

Instead of taking small action steps, it becomes and endless chase of finding the next form of media that will have the “right” answers you need.

I know a ton of unemployed people and people working way below their qualifications who are so busy “finding themselves” instead of working on their big goals. They spend their free time drinking and smoking weed instead of putting in the hours to excel at what matters.

There are so many people who have real, serious talent, but they don’t progress in life because they refuse to put in the work. Talent isn’t enough to carry anyone without some sweat put in.

That’s what these self-help books rarely look at: the hard work that must be put in. The effort that it takes to create something new out of your life.

If you’re going to take the time off to find yourself, you must get somewhere quiet or out in nature.

Not long after losing both his mother and his wife within the same 24 hours, Theodore Roosevelt moved to North Dakota to become a cowboy and deputy sheriff.

 

In the silence and hard work, he was able to sort out his mind. That’s a part of what Roosevelt calls living the strenuous life. The ability to work hard and spend little time dwelling over any misfortunes. To wake up, serve the world and your community, and not paralyzing yourself with your thoughts.

There is also another theory I’d like you to think about: Instead of “finding yourself”, what if you made up your mind about who you were going to be and what you were going to achieve and simply made it happen?

This is a lesson I must keep reminding myself of: the ability to create your own life.

The ability to just decide in a moment that you’re going to work on a new path and put in the work.

I recently fell into the “what do I want” black hole. You can spend months thinking about life and what you want, but until you get out in the world and put in the work, you’ll never really know.

I realized at a certain point, all you need is a small idea and commitment to your new path.

I wrote out all the traits I would need to start to get the things I want:

  • Discipline in writing
  • Outgoing enough to meet people in a new city
  • Perseverance to overcome rejection
  • To be able to finance an apartment not far from the beach and also to eventually save up for a house
  • Relentless effort day in and day out
  • The ability to overcome rejection and not let it ever stop me

This is also what I did when I decided I was going to leave my hometown and move thousands of miles away to Colorado.

I am not the brave type to generally do things like that, and if I had sat around and thought about it too much, it never would have happened.

Instead, I knew I needed to be brave, so I just was.

No second thoughts. I decided to create my life because the thought of regret was greater than the fear of going.

I’ve known to many people who blame their lives and actions on “who they are”. Sure, we all have our own preferences and quirks, but at a certain point it’s just a lame excuse.

“Sorry, I lied / cheated / stole / didn’t reply / am always late / get angry / I can’t help it, it’s just who I am.”

Yes. You can help it. You’re not a lifetime victim to your mind. Some things may take more time to fix, but it’s always possible.

You don’t need to “find” anything. I have a sneaking suspicion you already know what you want out of life, but you’ve just been either too scared to go after it, or you built it up so much in your mind that you’ve stopped yourself from taking action.

Here’s what you should do:

1. Cut the shit.

You know what you want. If you don’t, take only a few days and get away with a notebook.

2. Write out the habits and virtues you need to develop to achieve these goals.

Every single goal requires different virtues to be developed. More discipline, effort, focus, etc., or whatever it needs.

3. Get working.

There’s no book, workshop, school, or anything else that will teach you more than simply diving in and getting started. Almost every single successful person just started.

They didn’t focus on anything else but crossing things off their To Do list every single day.

Stop over thinking. Start doing.

That’s it. Literally three steps. Decide what you want, outline a simple plan, and get going.

The world has tried to convince you that it’s harder than that to make things happen, but that’s simply not true. It’s not sexy marketing, so it’s not easy to sell.

If you liked this post, subscribe for future updates so you don’t miss a post. Click here to sign up (it’s free!)