Pick ONE Thing And Make It Right

Too many of us wait around to “find our passion” or “figure it out” instead of simply picking one idea and getting to work.

As Elliott Hulse says (I’m paraphrasing):

There is no right decision, you pick an idea and MAKE it right.

Meaning, all of the options are generally equal, but it’s up to you to pick one and make it the right decision for your life.

Back quite a few years ago when I was trying to pick the college I wanted to attend (I applied to 10 and got into 5), all new areas in the country opened up as an option.

I was debating between staying in Michigan or going to college in either Colorado, California, or New York.

At the time it was insanely stressful and I was always worried about making the “wrong” choice.

The thing is, I had to decide. I finally decided on Colorado, and I’ll never know what would have happened if I picked the other states, but making the decision instead of wallowing in indecision is what ultimately mattered.

Once I got here, I was able to make it the right decision through hard work.

That’s the thing I need to continue to remember: every decision can be made right.

I continuously find myself waiting until some fictional day when I’ll have a decision “figured out” and I’ll know exactly what choice to make. Instead, the best thing is to just decide and get to work.

Yes, some decisions require thinking and time, but once you make a decision, see it through. Too many people make decisions, break them, make a new one, break them, and end up going in circles.

Whether it is workout programs, career choices, new living locations, jobs, relationships… whatever it is, you will get miles ahead if you get started.

This website is one perfect example of this exact problem. There were endless things I could write about when it came to living a virtuous, strenuous life. However, I allowed those options to consume my action steps and instead of simply writing consistently, it has sat here waiting to be brought to its true potential.

Now that I’ve remembered the simple virtue of decisiveness, that will never happen again. (The virtuous life can solve most of the problems we encounter in life.)

When you pick one and put forth the consistency required to make it start to come to life, that discipline bleeds over into other areas of life.

Back when I worked as a personal trainer at my college gym, I noticed time and time again that when my clients were consistent with working out, they started to stay consistent in the other areas of life that mattered.

Currently, I’m at a career crossroads, and I am not sure which path to pursue yet.

To deal with this, I’ve started a new workout program and I’m simply going to increase the amount of days I go and put in consistent effort.

Every time I stay consistent with my weight lifting, all kinds of new opportunities come my way and decisions become clear because I made a decision in one area of my life and put the work in.

I’m not much into the woo-woo aspect of life, but it’s amazing how much clarity comes through simple action in one direction. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

I’m not saying you have to figure out every decision in your life, I’m saying by simply picking one area of your life and making one decision, that will clear up all kinds of mental blocks in your way.

Sometimes life gets confusing simply because there are too many undecided options in our lives. Too many options can limit our overall happiness. Here’s a great article on this exact topic from the Art of Manliness if you feel like this is a problem in your life.

It’s as simple as a decision.

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How to Plan and Dominate 2016

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.

2015 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 2015. Success comes after you’ve put in the hard work, not any time sooner.

This is why I’m dedicating 2016 to insanely hard, focused work so 2017 can be a better year. I’m mentally preparing myself for the grueling work of long days, focused effort, and staying consistent. I’m aware I do not have the accomplishments I desire now because I fell of the bandwagon constantly in 2015. That’s why I’m in the same place living the same life.

I’m not going to coddle myself and say that hard work is easy and that everything comes to me if I just visualize, I’m going to understand that it’s going to take struggle. (Just to note: I do believe in the power of visualization, but it must be paired with focused effort.)

Doing what needs to be done isn’t always fun. Even when I added 14 lbs. of muscle on my body, there were days where I didn’t want to do it, but I knew the end result would be worth the struggle.

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)
  • My job as a CMO
  • 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:

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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.

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.

There is no such thing as a perfect system for everyone. Do what works best for you.

Your categories will be different, but feel free to test my system to see if it works for you.

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 reason “why” you can tie to each goal, the greater 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 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!

The Importance of a Morning and Evening Routine

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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! 

The Habit of Hustling

Being able to live the life of your dreams is no small task.

And, unfortunately, most of us haven’t built up the stamina to carry out such a task, but if you really want it, you can make it happen.

With all of the modern-day advances in our lifestyles and technology, it is no wonder that our generation has no tolerance for hard work. We no longer have to wake up and work on the farm, child labor laws prevent most children from experiencing real work until they are halfway through their teenage years, and if we want food we don’t have to saddle up the horse and ride it into town.

Our ancestors would look at us and wonder what we do with all of our time once you remove those things, and I’m positive they would be upset with our answers.

Twitter, Facebook, video games, maybe one or two chores, tv, and a half-assed attempt at homework.

It’s no wonder we have a bunch of lost 20-year-olds who don’t know how to build a good life for themselves.

Success comes at the intersection of hard work and an opportunity. The opportunity may come, but if you haven’t put in the hours and hours of hard work beforehand then you won’t get it when it comes. Every single day you have to be preparing for your opportunity.

Hustling is not something you can turn on and off when you need it. It is a habit that is built through hard work and sweat equity. If you don’t have the life you have always dreamed of, you probably need to work on your hustling habit.

So, how do you do that?

The best tip to developing any habit is one from Jerry Seinfeld.

When he was a young comic, he got a calendar and would put a big red X over the days that he wrote, and your only goal is to make sure that you develop a long chain of red X’s.

Seems too simple? Some of the best secrets in the world can be that simple.

Think of one, maybe two, areas of your life that if you could get on track you would be infinitely happier. Maybe if you went to the gym and worked out so you can get a clear mind, or maybe your living space is a mess and being able to actually find things would improve your productivity. Once you have built that discipline, you can handle the bigger goals.

What is the first habit you are going to work on this month? Share in the comments below!

The Secret to Becoming Your Dream Self

“Why do people quit? Because they are not yet personally identified with who they have to be to get this thing.” -Elliott Hulse

This quote is going to define everything we are going to talk about this month: HABITS.

Habits are the foundation you create to get all of the things you want out of life.

Along with habits, it is important to get your mind around the idea of growth and letting go of the story you tell yourself.

If you believe in your heart and soul that you were born to live a legendary life, you have to build your mind to handle such a mission. You have to see yourself of worthy of a legendary life.

That will take time.

Just practice wrapping your mind around the idea that you are a legendary person and building a legendary life around you is just a matter of expanding your mind. You have to let go of whatever self-limiting beliefs you have about yourself and your life.

As you practice that, you also must ask yourself the most important question of all:

Who do you have to become to get the life you want?

If part of your vision is to build an athletic body, what kind of new traits would you have to develop? Being mindful about your food. Someone who can commit to exercise multiple days of the week. Someone who is willing to stick it out no matter how long it takes.

How do you do that?

Well, each one of new traits you have to develop can be centered around habits.

Being mindful about your food = the habit of preparing your meals early.
Committing to multiple days during the week = create a habit of going to the gym.
Sticking it out = practicing your perseverance and creating a habit of reminding yourself why you want your goal.

This whole month I will be focusing on the topic of habits to make sure you can properly build the foundation for the rest of your life.

So, to get ready, get out a sheet of paper.

Write at the top why you want a legendary life.

Second, write down in detail the person you want to become and grow into.

Third, think of the traits that you would have to develop to reach this new goal.

Fourth, try to take each of those traits and turn them into a habit you need to create.

That’s your mission for today.

Also, feel free to sign up for my mailing list so you can get the free downloads to accompany this whole month’s worth of lessons into downloadable PDF’s you can fill out. Click here to sign up!