Take Action Before Analyzing

The worst thing you could ever do to a goal or dream is to keep planning it forever.

Every month, you get a burst of inspiration, pull out the dry erase boards, and map out all your big plans.

You follow through on them for maybe a day or two. Then, momentum slows down.

You go back to the drawing board and keep reading books and tweaking your plans.

Before you realize it, months, if not years, have gone by and you’re still in the planning and tweaking phase.

I know this because I’ve been there too many times. There are some areas in my life that are incredibly easy to map out a plan and then take action on, and sometimes projects seem to get stuck in development hell until the end of time.

Do you think Theodore Roosevelt sat around, looking at his planners, dreaming of accomplishing things? No. He was a man that focused on action which is why his life was so incredibly full.

The importance of habits

Lately, I’ve been reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and it’s been one of the best books on how important it is to take your goals and turn them into systems.

He poses an important idea in the book: If you were to only follow your system, would you hit your goals anyway?

If not, that means your system and habits aren’t good enough.

For example, lets say your goal is to lose 15 lbs. If you’re not keeping track of your food and going to the gym, you’re not going to hit that goal, no matter how much you want to.

The thing about habits and systems is that they’re also mindless. You should be able to do them with ease and fit them into your schedule.

In my career, the only way I’ve been able to make it as a freelance writer is simply due to the fact that writing is a habit for me. I still get writers block and some days the words don’t flow as easy as others, but sitting down and getting it done is what I’ve trained myself to do.

Outlining your habits and systems

If you’re going to set a goal, you need to break it down into the habits and systems you need in place before hitting the goal.

Continuing with the gym example, I’d go even further and say you need your workout outfit laid out the night before. You need your gym bag packed and your workout routine entered into your phone.

There are action steps and systems within every single goal that can help make the process easier.

If you think your goal doesn’t have a habit or system, you’re wrong. There’s always something you can do to get closer to a goal on a consistent basis.

Even when it came to building my business, there was no set dedicated habit that made it happen, but just getting into the habit of working on it while also building systems to make things easier helped and is one of the key reasons my business is still alive years later.

The thing that keeps people from doing this is that habits aren’t sexy. Dreaming of having a six-pack is much more enticing than thinking about the number of times you’ll have to turn down extra snacks at dinner.

Developing discipline and grit

There are few goals out there that are easy enough to make happen without any effort. However, the idea that we have to power through 24/7 even when it’s hard is just as ridiculous.

Building habits is definitely hard, but the more you do them the easier they become.

You’ve probably heard of Jerry Seinfeld’s calendar for habit building. Although the story is disputed whether he actually said that, the gist is that he took a big monthly wall calendar and put a big X on the days when he wrote. After a while, he had a chain of X’s and he didn’t want to break it.

You can also approach your goals with time-blocking. Setting apart one dedicated chunk of time to getting things done and focusing with full intensity, like Roosevelt did.

Expect failure

If you’re not a person who follows a schedule or is particularly disciplined when it comes to your life, it’s going to take a learning curve.

Expecting yourself to execute on your habits perfectly every time is not realistic and is just going to lead to you beating yourself up and falling harder off the wagon.

When you expect failure, you can plan to get around it. “Oh I missed twice this week, great, that was expected!” as if failure was part of the plan all along.

Sitting around beating yourself up is a waste of everyone’s time. I know a ton of people who beat themselves up every second of every day and instead of it motivating them it just ruins their confidence slowly but surely.

Some days life gets in the way, but if you’re working hard to keep yourself accountable, that’s all you can ask from yourself.

On the days we feel motivated, it’s easy to take on extra work and crush it. However, on our bad days we simply fall into our habits. If your habits are video games and sleeping all day, that’s what you’re going to fall back to.

If your habits help you and progress you toward your goals, even in the smallest way, you’ve done an excellent job.

The people around you who seem to continue to progress year after year probably have rock-solid habits and systems to help them grow.

They are in the habit of going to the gym. They have a system to network with people who can help their career. They make a habit of going on a set number of dates each week so they can meet someone they want to be in a relationship with.

Taking action steps first

The next time you feel the urge to bust out the planners and map out your big goals, start by taking action. Just take action on anything small you possibly can.

Want a goal of getting in shape? Go to the sink and chug water.

This seems silly, but in the long run, it’s going to train your mind to value taking action on an idea as soon as it’s in your mind.

Action will always beat out naval gazing, and with the right system and habits hitting your goals will quickly become second nature.

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.

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.

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.

Doing The Job That Needs To Be Done, A Lesson From Theodore Roosevelt

In our journey to success, sometimes we lose focus on the job right in front of us that needs to be done.

Theodore Roosevelt was always aware that he needed to focus on the job he was in instead of focusing on calculated moves to get him to the next position.

[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

Reading this quote from Theodore recently made me literally stop everything I was doing to think about this. Some of the best ways to deal with our problems today is to look at history.

I thought about how many jobs, relationships, internships, chances for growth, etc., that I have wasted by focusing solely on the future and not on the job and work in front of me. I had forgotten the great disconnect between doing the work that needs to be done to get to that future I was dreaming about.

Think of how great this world would be if people focused on doing the best they could in the position they had.

I would invite you to reflect and ask yourself if you are making the best of the situation you are in, or are you dreaming too much about how you want it to be?