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.

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.

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.

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