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.

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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!

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.

Build Your Stamina For Life

When you want to get in shape, you’re aware that you must build your body through baby steps. You lift weights, do cardio, and make it progressively harder.

But when it comes to the mind and our lives, we forget these principles. We think we can just wake up and be disciplined, committed, and focused because it’s a new year or Monday or whatever new day you decide you’re going to get it together.

Instead of approaching it like fitness, and building a plan to make it progressively harder, you expect perfection from day one.

I’ve put myself through this trap too many times. No amount of planners, visualizing, goal-mapping, or anything else actually builds the discipline required to make these come to life.

It’s the small, committed steps that make the biggest difference.

The next day that’s slightly harder than the day before.

How long have you ever lasted on a completely new schedule? Only a few days, right?

Same with the gym if you start out too heavy and overwhelming right away. You’ll pull muscles and want to start skipping the gym immediately.

I would also argue that it is important to build your mind for discomfort and hard life struggles we all have to endure. Too many people live lives of comfort, only to be crushed by life with the smallest setback.

Comfort is a killer. It kills dreams, goals, passion, and grit.

Note: Comfort is different than contentment. People confuse the two all the time.

Comfort = complacent. The definition is, “A state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.”

Contentment = gratitude. The definition is, “A state of happiness or satisfaction.”

You can be satisfied with where you are, but complete freedom from constraint is not the right state of mind.

Being uncomfortable is a good thing, not a bad thing.

The problem is that a lot of us have struggles, but no purpose. When you’re focused and determined, struggle becomes easier.

Just being in pain all the time mentally or physically with no purpose is the root of an unnecessarily hard life. When you struggle in life and have nothing to work for, that is the root of some forms of depression. That’s when life seems unfair and thoughts of “why me?” begin to creep in.

Being in pain in the pursuit of something great makes the pain have a purpose.

Discipline is a great tool to build a quality life, but building discipline in the pursuit of a mission is what makes a legendary life.

Your mission can change, your goals can change, your passions can change, but never stop moving forward.

Whatever your goal is, you can make today harder than yesterday. You can build the beginning steps to achieving that goal. You can accomplish just a little more today than yesterday.

 

Staying Hungry When Life Is Tough

Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw via Unspalsh

Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw via Unspalsh

Life is tough. Period.

Even people with vast amounts of privilege still have their battles.

Buddhism has the rule of Dukkha, often translated to suffering.

When you accept that suffering is a part of life, you can move forward. If you think everything is supposed to be “easy” and all forms of pain are “bad” then you’re going to constantly meet mental roadblocks and fall into the “Why me?” pity party.

Struggles and problems force you to grow.

For a lot of us, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Life has ups and downs and it can be hard to stay hungry for your goals when life is kicking you in the teeth.

However, if you look at almost any successful person throughout history, they all had times that were incredibly hard on their journey.

Even Theodore Roosevelt suffered through his wife and mother dying on the same day.

A great related post: How to Deal With Sorrow Like Theodore Roosevelt.

What matters is the pushing through, but that’s easier said than done.

Not every person is the same in how they deal with struggle.

In past posts, I’ve mentioned coming to a career crossroads recently.

After escaping into the woods for a week to think about my next steps, I came to one conclusion: It was time to put my head down and get to work on all of the ideas I had.

Thinking about my problem wasn’t going to bring me any closer to a solution. Clarity can only be found through action.

Even in tough times, it’s important to not dwell. The dwelling on issues is what makes mental holes hard to climb out of.

What I learned on my vacation is that sometimes rest isn’t the answer. Sometimes you already know what you need to do, if you’ll just actually put some trust in yourself to make it happen.

It’s hard to listen to your own inner voice when the whole world is telling you how you “should” feel all the time.

When life is kicking you around and beating you up, listen to your own gut for once, because it knows more than you think.

The Wrong Path

Sometimes, your gut is screaming at you that you’re on the wrong path.

You’re in the wrong relationship/job/city/career/etc. and you’re just too stubborn to acknowledge it.

The Wrong Work

Sometimes, you’re doing the wrong work.

I don’t necessarily mean you’re in the wrong career, but you’re like a hamster running in a wheel: You’re not making the moves that matter.

For example, when I first started out in the writing field, I thought I wanted to be a journalist, then a copywriter, and now I’ve realized that all I truly wanted to do was write blogs like this that help other people.

Of course, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not just about writing well, it’s about marketing, too. I could spend all day writing, but if no one finds it, it doesn’t matter.

Make bigger moves in life.

Take Bigger Risks

Sometimes when life is kicking us around, the struggle comes from soaking in mediocrity.

My life is always shit when I’m not pushing hard enough.

I feel like everyone else around me is succeeding and I’m rolling around in an endless merry-go-round.

When I stop whining, I realize it’s because I’m not putting more on the line.

Taking risks is the only thing that truly pays off.

Daily Reminders

Some people think they’re a little “woo woo”, but a vision board can help a lot.

It’s important to soak into your subconscious your new vision for your life as often as possible.

If vision boards aren’t your thing, write out your goals every single morning.

Never, ever forget what is important to you.

A Deeper “Why”

Sometimes what you think you want, isn’t what you really want.

Maybe you think you want a mansion, but upon further thought, you realize you just want to be able to provide for your family and never worry about money again.

One great exercise for this is to ask yourself what you want and follow the answer up with “Why?”

For example:
“I want a mansion.”
“Why?”
“So I have enough room for my friends and family.”
“Why?”
“Because I want to be able to provide for them.”
“Why?”

You get the point.

Get with a friend and challenge each other to go deeper.

You’ll know you found your true purpose and motivation when it chokes you up a little bit.

Accountability

Maybe your struggles come from stopping and starting on the goals you want.

Get accountable. Find someone who will hold you to what you promise, even if you’re only friends online.

There are few things more motivating than having to report to another person your progress for the week/day/month.

Needing Perspective

If you really feel down in the dumps, remember that there is someone out there who would kill for the life you have.

Go volunteer.
Go help someone.
Spend time with someone who isn’t as lucky as you are.

Get out of your own head and into the world around you.

Stay Focused

There were too many times when life was kicking me around and I backed down instead of just putting my head down and staying focused on what mattered.

It’s cheesy, but it’s absolutely true: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

What Deserves Your Attention?

Photo by Gilles Lambert via Unsplash

Photo by Gilles Lambert via Unsplash

Everything wants your attention, but what deserves your attention?

Everything in today’s world wants our eyeballs.

The news makes us all terrified.
Social media makes us afraid that we’re missing out.
Another inflamed argument on Facebook grabs your attention.

This is a never-ending loop we all fall into: reading things that don’t enhance our lives.

Sure, it’s important to stay informed on the world and what’s happening, but when it is during a time you should be working, it’s only a negative.

Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness made a great post about this topic, and it’s something I haven’t stopped thinking about since reading it.

After working for a few years in marketing, I have intimate knowledge of how companies go the extra mile to get our attention.

It’s debatable how ethical some of the ways are, but the main thing to know is that they’re doing it all the time.

I get it, companies need to make sales.

However, you need to be just as tough with your time as they are with their tactics.

Of course Facebook wants you on their site 24/7.
Of course ads are meant to be ridiculous to get your attention.
Of course Tinder wants you to be on there swiping your thumbs off instead of actually out in the world meeting people face to face.

What deserves your attention?

That’s the big question: Which of these things deserve your attention?

That’s what I’ve asked myself when I find myself deep in something that has my attention.

Will this distraction contribute to your legacy?

Nothing comes before your legacy work

Whatever it is you want to be known for and contribute to society, there is nothing in the world more important than that.

I always remember that humans have survived an incredibly long time before now without the internet and without these distractions. So, no, that article is probably not going to change my life.

(But keep checking in on this blog, please. 🙂 )

Nothing comes before your goals this year

If you’ve planned out your year (I have post on this: here), then you already know what needs to be done.

You know what you need to focus on this month, this week, this day, and this hour.

Keep those goals next to your computer at all times so you stay focused on what matters.

Side note: If you need more tips on staying focused when you’re online, here’s a great post from the Art of Manliness on setting up systems to make it happen.

Does it actually contribute to your life?

There’s an argument to be made for doing activities that make you happy.

Maybe you have a favorite YouTuber, TV show, book, or group of friends you love to hang out with.

You should absolutely include those things in your life (only after you finish your work).

However, we all also make too much time for the things that don’t make us happy.

  • Checking in on people on social media that we don’t care about.
  • Reading news articles that have a clear bias and are out to make you intentionally angry (aka every single political article in America this year).
  • Seeing what your ex is up to on Instagram.
  • Feeding the rage machine online.
  • Consuming useless content that provides no actual value.
  • Hanging out with people you can’t stand.

All of those things need to be deleted from your life as often as possible

None of those deserve your attention, not now and not ever.

Every time you find yourself distracted, pull yourself back to what matters and remind yourself WHY you want the goals you want.

Stay focused.

Make The Required Sacrifice: The REAL Secret To Success

Photo by Liane Metzler via Unsplash

Photo by Liane Metzler via Unsplash

 

In a world focused on constant “life hacks”, it’s hard to find tangible advice for success.

Endless apps, Medium posts, YouTube videos, morning routines, blogs, “successful” people on Instagram showing off watches and cars they don’t actually own… The supply of bad advice is endless.

The only real way to learn about success is from the people who have actually achieved something worth admiring.

In al my years of reading about successful people, I’ve learned they all had one major thing in common: they practiced their craft relentlessly.

They put in the time and they reaped the rewards.

That’s what none of these con artists online want to tell you, that real success requires the dedicated time and effort. It’s not an overnight phenomenon.

No book, video, blog, or pill will solve the years that go into being good at anything.

If you want to be shredded for the summer, you need to consistently go to the gym and stick to your diet. On a side rant, only losers complain about people on steroids. People on steroids have to work hard, regardless of any “cheating”. The fact is that getting in shape is easy, but staying committed is hard.

If you want to be a writer, you must sit in your chair and get writing. 1,000 words a day is the minimum. It’s simple, but staying consistent is hard.

If you want to be an actor, you must practice as often as possible and get metaphorically slapped across the face with rejection over and over.

All accomplishments require discipline

No matter what your goal is, there are sacrifices that must be made and time that must be put in. If you aren’t willing to dedicated yourself to both of those, just walk away from the goal right now.

After almost a decade as a paid writer, I’ve heard from hundreds of people who “wished they were a writer”, but almost none have taken the action steps to make it happen. Getting started as a writer is easy: you write. Your work is embarrassing to read at first. Then you stay committed and you get better.

All goals can be broken down to simple action steps that must be put in day in and day out. Staying consistent requires you to become a person who stays disciplined through all the trials and tribulations of life. Not every day will be perfect, but every day will be closer than you were yesterday.

This is the crossroad I’m at right now in my own life, deciding what I’m willing to commit to and what I’m willing to sacrifice in the direction of my goals. If I’m not willing to sacrifice and commit, I should just turn back now and give up.

If there’s something you truly want, the time to decide is right now. RIGHT NOW. As you read this. Not later. Not when the “time is right” (there is never a right time). Not when you retire. Not when you graduate. Right now.

The action steps

Here’s how I’m breaking this down in my own life:

1. List your goals

Go crazy and dream big. List out everything you want and have even thought about wanting in your life. Go through goals for relationships, work, travel, finances, health, family, hobbies, philanthropy, awards to win, materials items to posses… all of it.

2. List the sacrifices for each and also the work required for each goal.

Write out everything you know it would take to achieve these goals. The necessary sacrifices, like time away from your family, less Netflix time, being sore, dealing with writers block, moving to another country, dealing with rejection, etc.

Then write out the work you must put in to make it come to life: staying committed, studying your craft, showing up when you don’t want to, going to events, showing up to classes, doing unpaid internships, ALL the work it takes.

Also know that it could easily take decades before you see any return on investment from your hard work. Which leads to the third step:

3. What are you willing and ready to do?

Take an HONEST look at the list. What are you willing to commit to? What are you willing to give up?

Be real with yourself. Cross off the goals you aren’t ready for. Know you can come back to them at another time when your life is different, but now you can put your mind at ease knowing you can stop thinking about those for this moment.

Narrow your list down. It’s nice to imagine a life where we are working on 10 big goals at once, but you won’t get the results because of the time it takes alone.

Are you willing to wake up early?
Put yourself out there?
Put your ideas into action?
Stay committed when you don’t want to?
Spend less time partying?

If you’re having trouble deciding, here’s one of the few truths I know for sure:

You must always do the thing you’re afraid to do. If it brings up any kind of fear, consider it.

Goals should both excite and terrify you. If they don’t, go back to step 1 and search your heart again for new goals. Aim BIG. Forget aiming small, that’s in the past. Your future can be anything you decide it to be right in this moment.

4. Put it in your planner.

Here is where it gets real.

Side note: One of the best books I’d highly recommend on planning out goals is the book Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want by Barbara Sher. It’s an old book, and not as big as popular as other ones, but it’s a gem. Her other book, Live the Life You Love and I Could Do Anything are also amazing as well. I’ve read hundreds of goal planning books, and those are the best.

Anyway, the point is that if you’re serious about these new goals, you need to make the time for them.

Look at your “commitment” category and see what the first steps are. Put them in your planner NOW. (Also, if you don’t have a planner, it’s time to get one.)

You need to start on these steps today. Your goals can’t wait.

Or, do the Jerry Seinfeld productivity hack where you get a calendar and mark an “X” on every day you work toward your goal. Then your goal is to never, ever break the chain.

You know what you need to do. You know the sacrifices and the commitment you have to make.

Now the decision is whether you want to live the life you’ve always wanted, or to let another year on the calendar go by and wishing you wouldn’t have wasted it.

I know I don’t want to let 2016 go by and have 2017 be here with nothing to show for it.

Don’t read another thing. Don’t debate another moment.

Decide. Commit. Succeed.

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.