Dealing With Stress: Use The 10/10/10 Rule

Stress is unavoidable.

If you’re choosing to actively live the strenuous life, you will encounter many times when you feel so outside your comfort zone, that you’re not sure how you’ll handle it.

You’ll stay up late with visions of failure.
Your palms will sweat.
You’ll feel like your whole world is caving in.

The good news is that a simple perspective shift will change these times.

Years ago, I heard this rule and I thought I would pass it onto other people. It is a way to deal with the overwhelming facts of life, especially in those moments of crushing worry.

This is called the 10/10/10 Rule.

I remember reading this in an article somewhere a long time ago. I can’t find it to link to it, but I’m going to recreate the general message.

When you feel that crushing stress, you simply ask yourself:
“Will this matter in 10 days?” Yes/No.
“Will this matter in 10 months?” Yes/No.
“Will this matter in 10 years?” Yes/No.

You’ll find that for the most part, the things you’re currently worried about will not matter in the grand perspective of life.

Every time I’m worried about paying a bill, passing a test, worried about friends, or any other stress that comes into my life, I write these questions out and actively imagine my life after that period of time.

Most of our problems will not matter in 10 years, but the astonishing fact is that I realize how soon most problems will be over. If something stressing me out, I realize that in 10 days it simply won’t matter.

Those school finals? They end.
Those payments on your debt? You’ll figure it out. Sell some stuff. Do some freelance work. You’ll be free one day.
That relationship problem? You’ll figure it out, or the relationship will end.

Once you realize there is an end point to a certain problem, you realize this problem won’t kill you. It forces you to get outside of your body and create a birds-eye view of your problems.

What do you do when a problem doesn’t go away?

You accept it. Period. If you can’t change it, you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and move on knowing this is a fact in life. Maybe you were born shorter than you want. Maybe you were born with a different skin color. Maybe someone close to you passed away.

These are all facts that cannot be changed, so the faster you accept it, the faster you move on to building your legendary life.

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The Importance of a Morning and Evening Routine

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 9.33.45 AM

Getting your day started and wrapped up on your terms is essential to maximum productivity.

We’ve all been there: You plan to have a productive day, and then the first distraction rolls in. Then the next one starts. Then the one after that.

Before you know it, half the day is already gone and you haven’t done a single thing that matters to you.

The same goes for the evening. When I find myself drifting without a routine, all of a sudden it will be 2 a.m. and I’m still awake doing mindless activities.

If you want to live a better life, you have to get the things done on your to-do list that matter the most.

Of course, there will be days where you have to break the routine, but I find that if I stick to a routine most days of the week, I get more done.

The best part about a morning routine is that most interruptions haven’t entered your life yet, so you can focus on what matters. It’s much easier to go through the day knowing you have made progress toward your ultimate dream instead of feeling resentful that someone else took your time from you.

1. Know what matters most

If you don’t know your ultimate goal, here is a great article from Art of Manliness to help you figure out your goals: Create A Life Plan.

You could also spend time meditating and trying out new things to discover what you feel most passionate about. A lot of people aren’t sure what they want to do with their lives, so they put everything off until “later”, only to realize they’re much older and should have started when they were younger. No matter your age, you can start today to discover your life’s calling.

2. Eliminate all distractions

This is especially important in the morning. If you check your e-mail or your phone first thing in the morning, you’re asking for everyone else to derail your day. Everyone else can wait.

This was a hard one for me at first. Waiting to check e-mail took about 3 months of trying for me to break. I finally had to remove e-mail completely from my phone at night so I couldn’t be tempted to hit that button.

3. Keep tweaking as you go

There are plenty of morning and night routines that might work best for you. Try keeping a journal and taking notes of what went right and what you want to change.

You’ll have days where you miss. Stay focus on what matters to you and get right back on the horse when you can. Don’t let one off day completely ruin your progress.

My morning and night routine:

Morning:

– Wake up at 6:30 and brew some coffee
– NO internet or cell phone under any circumstances.
– Take my dog for a small walk so she’s quiet during my work
– Sit down and start writing for about an hour or two
– Stretch for a little bit (to try and combat all the sitting)
– Plan the rest of the day depending on what I need to get done

Evening:

– Exercise (I’ve always been an evening exercise fan)
– Come back upstairs and review the day
– Brain dump everything on my mind. What’s nagging at the back of my mind? What do I need to do soon? What open loops do I need to close? Getting these out and on paper helps me sleep better
– Plan the next day, especially what I plan to get done first thing in the morning so I can sit down and get right to work.
– What can I set up this evening to make tomorrow immediately successful? Sometimes this consists of preparing the coffee, washing my outfit for the next morning, finding a notebook I need for a writing project, etc.
– Tidy up the important areas: my kitchen counter and desk. Clutter never used to bother me until I realized how nice it was to wake up to a completely decluttered surface area.

Do you have a certain routine? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

Accepting Death Helps You Live Life

American culture completely rejects death.

This is why the “anti-aging’ industry makes billions of dollars.

We will do anything to hide from the fact that we only live a certain amount of years on this planet.

For whatever reason, March was a crazy month. Things were piling up, my inbox was bursting at the seams, family drama, etc.

Most people I know have been there: where it feels like no matter what you do, everything seems to be going wrong.

At the same time, I have been big on the idea of having mental mentors. A council you can go to so you can seek advice.

I thought about what Theodore Roosevelt would do in this situation.

While I was flipping through one of my many books about him:

...too many?

…too many?

I came upon his quote:

The worst lesson that can be taught to a man is to rely upon others and to whine over his sufferings.

Which was exactly what I needed to hear.

Worry, complaining, anxiety, fear… all have their purpose but rarely do they help accomplish anything worthwhile. Sitting around and worrying solves nothing.

Then, I thought about our culture and the rejection of age.

What I have found to be completely counterintuitive is the fact that accepting death releases worries.

I thought about all my stress and asked, “Will this matter when I’m dead?” Nope. None of it will.

Bills won’t matter.
Credit scores won’t matter.
College degrees won’t matter.
Jobs won’t matter.

All those sleepless nights of worry will die with us.

What matters is packing as much life as possible into those years we have.

The legacy we leave behind is what truly matters.

Stop worrying. Start doing.

Overwhelmed? What to Focus on Instead

To get what you want, you need to focus on the end goal, but what happens when the steps along the way get overwhelming?

This is something I see all the time and I get caught in myself.

We see the chiseled body and can’t understand why it’s taking us so long.
We see people making six figures the first year in their business and get frustrated our journey seems to be taking longer.

The daily grind can get to us if we focus too much on the end goal instead of the next steps in front of us.

The problem is that the next steps aren’t “sexy”. We live in a world where we are constantly being sold on the end result instead of the process.

Ads show us fit, rich, successful people. They don’t show the sleepless nights and the exhausting workouts.

The end result is always built on the hard next steps in front of you.

I recently got caught up in overwhelm while thinking about the big vision. Some days the big vision is motivating, but some days I just need to focus on the next things in my “to do” list and get them done.

The legendary life isn’t found in ease. It’s not found in comfort.

The next steps in front of you are usually the hardest. It’s hard to start a business, pitch to people, start working out, ask that classmate out, or whatever your goal is.

Without taking those next few steps, you’ll be stuck in mediocrity. Just dreaming of the life you could have while other people are out there living it.

You may not “feel” like hustling, but you have to if you’re ever going to build the life you want.

The secret to the life we want can be found in conquering the day in front of us. When we focus on conquering the day, before we know it, we have conquered the week. Then the month. Then the quarter. Then the year.

A year of putting in the work every single day will bring each of us closer to our overall goal.

Sure, focus and day dream about your end goal, but never quit tackling each day as it comes.

What is on your list today? Where can you push yourself farther than you planned today? What do you want a year from now and how can you get one step closer today?

Become A Beginner Again

On our journey of self-development, one of the best things we can do is to allow ourselves to try new things.

The problem comes when we don’t allow ourselves to be beginners at something new. I get it, it’s awkward. You have to try something your body and mind aren’t used to, and it clashes with our idea that we somehow should be perfect at everything.

We all remember the kid on the playground who wasn’t particularly good at tag and every time they got tagged, they immediately gave up instead of trying to improve.

When we don’t try new things, we don’t know if we could potentially be good at a new passion we didn’t know we had.

For example, a few years ago I started weightlifting. It was so incredibly awkward to lift the weights and move in between huge, bulky dudes to try and get my sets in. My form was a mess and I could barely lift anything heavy.

I wanted to quit all the time.

I was still deeply identified with the lacrosse player I had been all through high school. That sport is 80% speed and running instead of heavy weight lifting. Although lacrosse and weightlifting were both under the same umbrella of exercise, it took quite some time to get over my own ego and accept I was going to look awkward for awhile.

To be honest, few people cared about what I was doing in the gym, I just thought I looked a lot more awkward than I probably did. I made sure to ask the smartest trainers to coach me to make sure I was going to seriously mess myself up, and I decided to just practice as much as I could.

Although I learned that lesson a few years ago, I find myself constantly at battle with my own idea that I should be great all the time. Our society preaches the importance of mastery, but overlooks the even more important factor of practice.

The unfortunate part is that practice isn’t fun. We always look to the end result as what we desire instead of understanding that every master started as a beginner.

There are so many things I’m discovering about myself and what I like to do, but I have to get out of my own way and embrace the awkward, endless practice.

To experience life in all of its glory, it is essential we try everything our heart calls us to do.

Maybe you feel a calling to try writing a book.
Maybe you feel a calling to try a new sport.
Maybe you feel a calling to move to a new city.

You already know what you want to try, because when you see it you can’t get it out of your head. You think about it at night when you’re brushing your teeth, staring into the mirror wondering what life is about. You watch YouTube videos about it.

Being consumed with something new is not the problem, it’s only a problem when you don’t allow yourself the space to go toward it and see if it is something you want to incorporate into your life.

Challenge yourself this month by allowing yourself to be a kid again and embrace something new for once.

Allow the awkward feeling. Allow the stumbling. Pursue what you want. Become stronger.

Welcome Your Struggles

Most of us are taught that life is better when we have less struggles, but I’ve learned over the past few years that embracing our struggles is important to living a fulfilling life.

I have found that the more we avoid our problems, the more we struggle when we encounter them.

There is a mental difference between:
“Oh no, not another problem.”
and
“Ah! A problem! Yes! Come here so I can solve you.”

It is within challenges where we meet our own weaknesses.

When I am meeting the weaker parts of myself I feel the tension between who I am and who I want to be.

When I feel myself wanting to quit, to throw in the towel, to abandon a project simply because it is getting harder, that is where I get to see my own faults.

The past few years have been testing me.

There always seems to be roadblocks and hurdles to what I’m trying to accomplish, and I know many people feel the same way about their lives, too. It feels like running uphill without ever hitting at least a plateau.

I thought at a certain point, life would get easier.

“When I moved here…”
“When I get this job…”
“When I graduated college…”
“When I started my own business…”

With each new venture, there always seems to be more hurdles, but with each hurdle I get to see where I have a chance to strengthen. I have another chance to prove to myself that I can do something I never thought possible.

I know who I want to be. I know what I want. If I quit, I won’t ever get to where I want to be. I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering “What if?”.

(In case you didn’t know, the “What if?” question is one of the mental layers of hell, so keep yourself as far away from that as possible.)

When you find yourself stuck, ask yourself if beating this hurdle will get you closer to where you want to be.

If the answer is no, then that’s up to you to keep going or not.

If the answer is yes, then prepare for war and go win.

50 Days Left in 2014

Mind blowing, right?

2014 went by faster than almost any other year before for me.

This is the point where most people start slowing down, relaxing, buying eggnog and pie… However, if there are still big goals left on your list there is no reason you should be slowing down at this point.

I was reviewing my year, as I commonly do, and I realized that I didn’t check off a few big things that I wanted to accomplish this year.

So, I won’t be slowing down. This will be a full-out race to the finish line.

In 50 days, anyone could:

– Lose weight
– Write a book
– Gain muscle
– Instill a new habit or 2
– Run a marathon
– Build the foundation for a business
– Build a chair by hand
– Read 30 books
– Learn to cook

You get the point. 50 days are a LOT of days left to accomplish almost anything in the world.

Get to it.

The Warriors Life, Minimalism, and 2014

Legacy.

What a strong word.

If you didn’t know, I work as a writer. I love strong language, strong words. Words that provoke a whole sensation of emotion.

I’ve been watching movies over the course of the past few months that bring out strong thought of the virtuous life, the noble life, the strenuous life.

Movies such as 300, Cinderella Man, Gladiator… all the greats.

The most common disconnect I see in my life is the fact that they are living the Warrior’s Life. They own very little. They have one main purpose in life. They train at every given opportunity. They go into their own versions of battle and are willing to sacrifice everything.

Living in America in this century is a a blessing and a curse. The world is at our finger tips, but so are all the possible possessions.

I own far too much. Not nearly as much as some of my peers, but things have been accumulating since childhood.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was a simple goal: Consume less, produce more. I want to say I dominated this goal, but I fell far from my first intention. I consumed far too much. I love the internet and the availability of knowledge, but I have lost my ability to think deeply about the issues that matter.

Issues like: What is my legacy? What is my purpose? What do I want to be remembered for?

Life is the most precious of gifts, and wasting moments has been a curse. It is a constant battle between the information at our fingertips, the desire for knowledge and learning, but also to forge our own path, and stay away from the information overwhelm.

The good new is that 2014 isn’t over yet, there is still time to defeat this dragon; time to regain clarity and win.

The new goal is to purge for the rest of the year so 2015 is focused on full clarity.

You Can’t Think Your Way Out of Being Stuck

Success is a delicate balance of thinking and action.

School taught us to analyze, to think, to dissect every single part of a problem to solve it.

Sure, there is a time and a place for thinking, but it must never take the place of action, and it must certainly never happen before we take action.

Our society is full of people buying countless self-help books, paying thousands of dollars for seminars, and everything else to somehow bring clarity, when the best way to bring clarity is to start getting your hands dirty.

We see this clearly in the fitness world: All of the fitness knowledge possible is already out there. If you want six pack abs, find a plan, print it out, follow the plan, boom: abs. Clearly, information isn’t the problem.

The problem is in the doing.

All of the knowledge in the world does not replace one night of hard work.

People think if they create this incredibly detailed plan, all the pieces will fall perfectly into place and success will just come in a neat little package at their doorstep.

The problem is that real life is messy. There are problems and pitfalls we could never plan for, and as soon as they come instead of adjusting we just burn all the plans to the ground. For some reason if it all doesn’t go according to plan we just quit.

This is where plans are dangerous. We can’t control the world but plans give us the illusion that we can.

As I read more and more books about Theodore Roosevelt, a man who accomplished more in his life than many of us could dream of, it is apparent to me that he rarely planned. He was a man of action. He did the job in front of him to the best of his ability and let the chips fall where they may afterwards.

I quoted this in my past post, but this quote is still relevant:

[A]t one period [I] began to believe that I had a future before me, and that it behooved me to be very far-sighted and scan each action carefully with a few to its possible effect on that future. This speedily made me useless to the public and an object of aversion to myself; and I then made up my mind that I would try not to think of the future at all, but would proceed on the assumption that each office I held would be the last I ever should hold, and I would confine myself to trying to do my work as well as possible while I held that office. I found that for me personally this was the only way in which I could either enjoy myself or render good service to the country, and I never afterwards deviated from this plan. – Theodore Roosevelt

Could you imagine a world where the job you’re doing is the last job you’ll ever have?

For a lot of people, that is a terrifying thought. We all have so many dreams and goals for the future that it is hard to imagine a world where they don’t exist.

However, all this day dreaming can distract us from the present. We’re so focused on our plans, hopes, and dreams that we forget to put all of our energy on the tasks in front of us. This creates a reality where we are giving a half-assed effort to everything around us and ultimately robs us of a better future.

Think about your average day. You’re probably on autopilot as you go through your usual work routine, day dreaming of a time when it will all be different and somehow “better”.

When you do this, you’re not excelling at the job in front of you. This can rob you of promotions, seeing a new solution, and doing the work that will get you recognized.

Are you day dreaming about publishing a novel, or are you actually working on it every day?
Are you day dreaming of being fit, or are you in the gym every day?
Are you day dreaming of starting a business or are you working on your side hustle every night?

Living the strenuous life means you’re working hard at all times. It means you’re looking at the tasks in front of your face and doing them to the best of your ability.

When you are constantly performing at your best, it will always be noticed by the people around you. It is hard to determine when a new opportunity will come, but by focusing on producing excellent work, it multiplies your opportunity for luck tenfold.

Today, look at the tasks around you. How can you give more of an effort? It does not matter whether the task is big or small, what matters is how much you put into it.

Give your full effort. Stop day dreaming. Do the job in front of you so well that you don’t even think about anything else.

 

Make Your Week HARDER (yeah you heard that right)

In our continual search for comfort, sometimes we create our own dungeons.

Too much comfort and too much ease can be our worst scenarios.

Nobody ever tells us about this dangerous trap. We think creating comfort and stability are good things.

The problem comes when you feel a longing in your heart for a new goal and you are too scared to rock the boat. At that moment, all of your safety and comfort becomes your worst enemy.

You’re stuck in a routine, habit, and place that you cannot easily escape from. You are addicted to the comforts around you.

Things are good, so we slow down our hustle. Our jobs are going well so we don’t give as much attention to our side hustle.

We have friends around us that don’t like it when we pursue something new. you’re going outside the mental box they have you in and most will do anything to keep you in that box. They are creatures of habit and comfort but you must be stronger than that.

You must break the chains of your comfort. You must get in touch with your rebellious, creative side.

Identifying your vices is a great first step. Make a list of all the things you do that don’t get you closer to your goals.

This week, I challenge you to go one full day without one of your crutches.

Some ideas are:
-Work in a different place than your regular shop.
-Turn off your phone after work.
-Don’t watch TV or play video games when you get home.
-Decide to go for an adventure this weekend.

Instead, work on your dream. Get uncomfortable. Scare yourself. Break free of mediocrity. Your life will be determined by the amount of things you finish and share with the world. No one is ever remembered for the dreams and goals they kept inside themselves.

Make yourself legendary.