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“So often it seems that we want to work easily at work worth doing. We want our work to be helpful and respected, but we do not want to struggle through our work. We want our stomachs to be flat and our arms to be strong, but we do not want to grind through another workout. We want the final result, but not the failed attempts that precede it. We want the gold, but not the grind.”
— James Clear There's a near 100 percent chance that whoever you are, you're not living the exact life you'd like. And I'd like to tell you, that's not only okay, but it's precisely where you need to be to figure out what you want to do with the next stage of your life. Heralded as one of the greatest rappers of this generation, you'd think J Cole would have a sense of comfort and contentment. Yet J Cole feels like he's constantly in a state of flux. The chase to remain relevant in an industry ripe with archaic rules of engagement is a good ol' game of cat and mouse that I'm sure you can relate to.

There's a guilt associated with not knowing what you want to do or feeling like you're in a rut, because it gives you that sinking feeling that you're stuck with the cards you were dealt. You're conditioned to seeing and believing that there are a set of rules (in nearly every walk of life) that are etched in stone and carry the same weight as a tablet brought forth from the heavens by Moses.

Want to have a seat amongst the successful? Follow the rules with absolute blind faith and you too shall be rewarded. But really, where does that leave you?

You start questioning your own sense of worth, talent and ability as you compare yourself against others who are scrambling for an opportunity to hit the dream roll in a game of snakes and ladders. Hoping the next move lets them scurry up the ladder and leave you in their dust. There's often no rhyme or reason as to why some people move up the ladder and others move a spot at a time. What makes each of these moments more painful than the last is the vomit-inducing feeling that this pain will last forever.

Sasha Dichter, CIO of Acumen – a company that tackles poverty by investing in sustainable businesses, leaders and ideas – is one of those innovators who cast aside the rules and made his own playbook. He introduced me to The Forever Problem, the feeling that whatever is happening to us right at this moment is real, true, and permanent. As he describes it, "The Forever Problem often stands in the way of changes we want to make in our lives. Nearly all worthwhile change starts with discomfort, and we mistake temporary hardship – a jolt of fear, a sense of clumsiness when we try a new approach, a bit of shame when the new thing doesn’t quite work – for something permanent. We over-ascribe meaning to these missteps, thinking they represent something other than 'this moment, right now, which is fleeting,' and we ultimately give up."

In an intimate interview with GQ, writer Allison Davis paints an enlightening portrayal of how artist J Cole continually has to reinvent himself to escape the forever problem. J Cole early in his career "tried stardom the conventional way, retreated, retooled, and then achieved real success by trying it again." These moments could easily be chalked up as failures or missteps. But they also give us the opportunity to see life from a new perspective. Treat these moments like rumble strips on a highway. They're simply signalling you to pull yourself back in line with what matters most to you.

As J Cole sees it, "I've reached a point in my life, where I'm like, how long am I gonna be doing this for? I'm starting to realize like, oh shit - let's say I stopped this year. I would feel like I missed out on certain experiences, you know? Working with certain artists, being more collaborative, making friends out of peers, making certain memories that I feel like if I don't I'm gonna regret it one day." He saw what comes from stepping out of your comfort zone, memories created from experiences worth remembering.

At any point, you can toss your cards and choose a new hand based on where you're at in your life. As much as it feels like it, you're not stuck in a forever problem, your thinking is.

Step 1 - The Shuffle

The first thing to do is to give yourself some space to breathe. Be compassionate with the fact that there's probably an element of pain with what you're wanting to leave behind. Be it a crappy relationship, a job you're sick of doing or coming to grips with the realization that you're having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Like your Uncle Terry who left his job to invest his inheritance in what he describes as an untapped gold mine, cat walking for busy professionals.

This is called the shuffle stage. It's a period of stepping back from what's not working in life. Your sole purpose is to reflect on what about your current life is leaving you unsatisfied. It's your chance to dive into your core values and decide (perhaps for the first time in your life) what's most important to you.

For Cole, "He realized he'd lost touch with who he was: Jermaine Cole from Fayetteville, who'd always wanted to make music... Now he was depressed, and the confidence he'd always had was shaken." This transition period allowed Cole to "...pause, relax a little, turn inward, and figure out how to change everything he was doing."

Show yourself the same patience you'd give someone learning to read. You can't act on what you don't yet understand. It will feel like you've lost control of your life, but these are the moments that provide the biggest growth. If you're not in a rush to escape the discomfort of sitting in the unknown, you will avoid the fate of your Uncle Terry. As you begin to explore, uncover and connect with what's important to you, you can start forming a plan.

Step 2 - The Deal

This is when you're ready to be dealt a new hand. It's taking everything you discovered when you turned inward and deciding how to change what wasn't working. You're taking action with a level of clarity to what you're working towards. You might still feel a little reluctant at first, but it's a commitment to taking one step at a time. It's about trusting yourself and the path you've chosen forward.

Cole rented a house in L.A. and "recorded 2014 Forest Hills Drive, an album that was a reaction to everything he disliked about making the first two albums really. He didn't record a single, he didn't have any features, he hosted a listening event for fans at his childhood home, revealing the address the day of. He was risking a ton to do it his way and was pretty sure it might be the last album he ever made, but it turned out to be bigger than anybody expected."

Step 3 - Play The Game

When you decide to play the game with your new hand, your path forward can lead to success as it did for Cole. But it can also be the setting for disappointments, setbacks and new challenges. But if you've taken the time to sit in the unknown, you now know your values and what's most important to you in life. You'll never have to start from scratch again.

Cole had no idea if that move would be his winning hand. Why it worked was because his focus was on getting back to simplicity. It lets you step out of the need for external validation. Your sense of fulfillment comes from your alignment of having a purpose to what you're doing. It comes from having an open mind of where you're at. No one knows what they're doing, as Cole eluded to when he said: "I don't even know how this shit works all the way anymore, the game, and if I don't know, I've got to learn."

There's a point where you have to let go of having absolute certainty before you make your move. Uncle Terry had one thing right, the desire to leap. Let's just hope he reads the rest of the piece because he's now at the fourth and final stage of making a change.

Step 4 - The Toss In

Sometimes life will serve you a heaping plate of failure, drizzled in syrup that sticks to your negative thoughts like gorilla glue. And other times you'll ride high on success, forgetting none of these stages ever last forever. You'll constantly be in a state of flux. The sense of certainty and calmness you're chasing comes from being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Either way, this is a game where you get to make your own rules and experiment. But remember the words of author Thomas Berger, "The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge." What can you learn from your success, but more importantly, what can you learn from your failures? How have you grown from this?

It's normal to go through a rollercoaster of emotions. As much it may feel like you're starting over, you have the experience of each past ride, and life is all about taking another ride. Philosopher Elbert Hubbard distilled this thought down to a perfect simplistic directive. “The happiness of this life depends less on what befalls you than the way in which you take it.”

Solving problems gives you confidence that you can solve more problems. You don't develop confidence in a vacuum. You develop it by exposing yourself to things outside of your comfort zone as J Cole did. The experience that comes from pushing the toe-edge past the comfort line is how you build unstoppable confidence. Too often, we quit and assume that this is our inescapable future. But really, like any discomfort, it's never a forever problem, it's a problem with our perspective.

Before Finding 'The League' Jason Mantzoukas Nearly Quit Acting - YouTube

Jason Mantzoukas loves to perform, but before being cast in FX's 'The League' the industry wasn't giving him the green light as an actor. He painfully came close to quitting.

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“At the core of all human behavior, our needs are more or less similar. Positive experience is easy to handle. It’s negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.”
— Mark Manson Do you have a set of specific and empowering ways to make yourself feel good at a moment's notice? Can you accomplish this without the use of devouring a cheeseburger, downing some booze, getting high, hacking cigarettes or other addictive vices within an arm’s reach of any of us? I sure as hell didn't.

One of my biggest takeaways from university was becoming a prolific binge drinker. My drink of choice was Sailor Jerry's spiced rum. A couple of times a week I'd polish off a 26’er before heading to the bar. My night would end with me passing out wherever – front lawns, under a barbecue, hallways, random people's houses, basically anywhere but my bed. I was a blast to be around, unless you happened to be dating me.

If I wasn't getting blackout drunk, I had no desire to even have a sip. It seemed like a waste of time. If I felt good, I wanted to feel better. If I felt better, I wanted to feel incredible. I wanted to continually outdo myself to a point that wasn't physically possible. I drank to escape the reality that I felt stuck in. Booze, drugs and food gave me an immediate way of becoming someone who didn't have to give a shit about anything but having fun.

I was doing a workshop the other day with some small business owners and I shared my journey in discovering what's most important to me. I spoke of the death of my cousin, and of hating who I was for years, and how identifying these issues helped me clarify what was needed for a fulfilling life. One woman shared that it was enough to spark an a-ha moment to what she was missing in her own life, and why she had been feeling lost. It reminded me of what a stranger had once done for me.

It was a scary part of my life. I had no doubt that I'd be dead by thirty. Either from alcohol poisoning, overdosing on drugs or killing myself to escape the shitty reality that I only felt good when I was drowning in vices.

On September 12, 2011, at 4:51 pm, I pushed send on an e-mail to a woman who had written a column in the local paper about living with bipolar illness. In my subject line, I wrote Today I was diagnosed with Type 2 Bipolar.

Today I opened the Hamilton Spectator and your headline caught my eye. For today I was to visit with a doctor regarding my chronic depression and hopefully put a more specific label on what seems to be going on in my life.

My therapist through all our interaction believed there was an underlying issue beyond the depression, one which could explain my mood, my personality and how I go day to day in my life. That's when I first heard the term bipolar, at least in regards to myself.

I had been dreading going to my appointment all day. It's scary. I'm only 28 and even now as I write this I'm crying because I'm still afraid, but I see that there's a possibility of having a family, seemingly living a normal life with children and being able to have a wife.

There was comfort in your words that said I would be able to find a way and a life worth living. Your words have given me the strength to push on to another day. I don't feel that crushing weight upon me that wouldn't let me out of bed. I want to be something. I want to have goals that aren't restricted to what seemed liked inabilities to succeed based on having a mental illness. This is my first time reading your article which is quite ironic but you've now gained yourself a new loyal reader.

Six days later I was reminded of the beauty that can be shared by two complete strangers. At that moment she made me feel at peace with who I was for the first time in my life with her emailed response:

Here’s the thing: you’re you. You have talents and attributes and abilities that have nothing to do with being bipolar. You also have some that are better because you’re bipolar, believe it or not. I fully believe my writing ability and my humour are hugely affected by the crazy – and in a good way. I’m more empathetic, and less judgmental. I’m kinder. If the trade off is some unstable days or having to monitor my sleep more carefully, or to listen to my body and shut down once in a while, so be it. I trust the meds when I’m debating not trusting them, because this is a long term investment in my future. And that future is as bright as anyone’s, and limited only by how hard I fight myself.

As for relationships, you have to believe me when I tell you that everyone – everyone – has their shit. Truly. Every single one of us has some dark secret we think will send someone running for cover. And it might. But we’re all keeping something back, and the longer it stays out of the light, the harder it is to address. I’m not saying haul out ‘Hi, I’m bipolar’ on a first date (though I frequently have); your own comfort level will predict theirs. It takes some time. Spend that time getting your own shit together. I think of it as a new puppy, in some ways. I don’t introduce people to it until it’s housebroken and isn’t chewing their shoes.

This is the card we got dealt. It’s not necessarily a bad one. In fact, after all this time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve gone through some horrendous stuff, but much of it was me not being able to recognize threats or deal with external pressures. I’ll put the word ‘ex-husband’ in here for a clue. But life is good. Great, even. I’m me. Yeah, I pop a couple of pills every day, and will for the rest of my life. Because I want a life, and I want a great one. I deserve great, and so do you. I’m willing to do the work I have to on my end, and you will too.

I know this is all new and not particularly shiny. It’s scary. But how I wish you could see my mail this week. 250 letters. All supportive. We are out here, thousands of us, and we have families and friends we love and who love us. People will let you down; people will surprise you in a good way. There will be loss, but there will be gains. Be kind to yourself, seek out a rhythm, and alter the course when you have to. If you stumble, get up. You matter.

Give yourself some time to get used to this. It’s been there all along, it just has a name now. And tossing a saddle on this pony means you can ride it now. That’s all.

I wish you all the best, truly. There is much good here. Nobody gets a free ticket, we just know the cost of ours.

In many ways, her own willingness to be honest saved my life. It gave me a perspective that I had never thought of. Life wasn't happening to me, life was happening for me. I had a new creative superpower gifted to me. It just required some routine maintenance.

It took me another four or five years to fully feel like I knew how to ride that pony with a level of grace and skill. But that's the reality of dealing with heavy shit. We won't immediately feel good. Most of society is a mirage of quick fixes and immediate relief bullshit. But what they forget to tell you, is that if it comes easy, the solution is always temporary.

That's why so few of us ever find what we're looking for. We're unwilling to put the hard work in. Easy choices, hard life. Easy life, hard choices.

If it's not hard, it's not worth doing. You will not escape the life you so desperately want to leave behind if you expect it to be solved with an external solution, or Superman to swoop in and carry you off to safety when you're afraid to face your own Lex Luthor.

That's why the first thing to do when you get knocked off your horse is to get back on a pony. The Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, The Big Bam aka the greatest baseball player to ever live said it best. “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

What I lack in finesse, I make up for in persistence and relentlessness to be the absolute best fucking version of myself possible.

I've done my best to replace the short term fixes with a list of compelling ways to experience pleasure, regardless of the time, place or how I'm feeling.

  1. Cuddle with Chugs (my plump little pug).

  2. Hug Lindsey, Mom, Sister or Dad.

  3. Message someone I care about and tell them what they mean to me.

  4. Go for a walk.

  5. Listen to music.

  6. Watch a funny video.

  7. Meditate.

  8. Write about what I'm feeling.

  9. Play a podcast that inspires me.

  10. Listen to a Tony Robbins audiobook

  11. Read a book

  12. Tell Lindsey how thankful I am she's in my life.

  13. Read one of my essays.

  14. Bathe in a memory of something that puts a smile on my face.

  15. Watch a thought-provoking movie with Lindsey.

  16. Go to the gym.

  17. Contribute to someone else's dream.

  18. Help others get unstuck.

  19. Grab coffee with a friend.

  20. Tell someone I love why I love them.

I encourage you to make your own list. Don't stop until you have a minimum of fifteen ways to instantly feel good (without the guilt). Hell, go for a hundred. I double dog dare you.

If I failed to change my perspective, you'd probably think the worst possible fate I could have faced is death. But as Henry David Thoreau said, "Don't get to the end of your life and realize that you never lived." Everything else in life to me is trivial. My car is covered in dents, I don't own a house, I'm not rolling in cash, and yet I'm happier than 90% of the people I meet.

I'm not afraid to alter my course when times get tough. I've been blessed to see what really matters in life and luckily for me, those are a free all-you-can-eat buffet. Perhaps that's not the best analogy, but the point is, my list carries with it the ability to indulge to my heart's content on a daily basis and "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives," as author Annie Dillard lovingly reminds us.

I don't know who I'm writing this for. In some senses, I feel like I'm writing for myself to remind me of how far I've come. I hope whoever reads this finds comfort in knowing that even on your darkest days, you too will be blessed with a sunrise. This too shall pass. You've arrived at this moment so you can learn what you must learn, so you can become the kind of person you need to be to create the life you deserve.

Kristen Bell Explains There Is No Shame In Feeling Anxiety & Depression - YouTube

Kristen Bell Explains There Is No Shame In Feeling Anxiety & Depression.

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“What are the most powerful words in the universe? The ones you use to talk to yourself.”
— Karen Salmansohn What if striving to be great is what's holding you back. Brad Stulberg dropped this truth bomb in a piece featured in Outside magazine. He went on to say, "We’re told that striving to be great and never being satisfied are necessary to meet the ever increasing pressures and pace of today’s world. It’s the only route to success. But what is it all for? What does success even mean?" I latched onto his thinking like a fly trapped in a spiderweb. I found myself entangled without a way to escape the grasp of what I had believed up until this point.

It's a thought so far removed from mainstream that it's like a friend trying to convince you to give brussel sprouts another try. Knowing full well you swore them off when you were six because you're still so damn attached to the belief that they're digusting. Mom had a strict nothing-left-on-your-plate policy. But then your sister-in-law makes them, drizzled in olive oil, tossed with bacon bits and topped with parmesan cheese and your mind is blown. You're actually a little angry at yourself for letting such a stupid belief guide your decisions. And this is brussel sprouts! What the hell else have you been totally blind to?

One of my mentors, Mark Silver, said something that carried a similar shock value when I was stuck in my business. "99% of your business and marketing problems can be solved with honesty." This speaks to the wisdom that so many before you have been preaching for thousands of years.

A far cry from today's abysmal attempt at "leadership," Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wanted to be told when he had made a mistake or had seen things from the wrong perspective. Truth mattered to him above all else. Truth, he said, "never hurt anyone."

Continuing to hate brussel sprouts, or holding onto a belief because you're afraid of losing face, is kryptonite to success. Well, maybe not brussel sprouts, but you get my point. There's enough societal glass ceilings in place to keep you from growing; don't build your own.

Here's the problem as Aubrey Marcus CEO of Onnit sees it:

"We are conditioned in countless ways, and this conditioning becomes part of our belief structure. The most universal cultural conditioning is perhaps the idea that money, success, handsomeness, or a beautiful partner, will bring us happiness. And it may for a moment. We will give ourselves love and praise for ‘doing a good job’, according to our conditioning. But this is always short-lived. As soon as we achieve that goal, we will lose our purpose of fighting for that goal, so we will have to reinvent a new purpose. Maybe MORE success, wealth, fame, or lovers. But that fails too. So imagine our disappointment, our disenchantment, when we finally realize our belief structure is faulty! But all too often instead of questioning our conditioning, we question ourselves instead. We choose to believe that we are broken, that we are ‘depressed’, or we have a ‘chemical imbalance’ -- rather than believe we are just operating under a false hypothesis."

In a recent Daily Stoic email, bestselling author Ryan Holiday pushed this thought one step further by asking, "Holding different beliefs today than you did ten years ago? That’s called growth, maturity, evolution. Being won over by someone else’s argument is not a sign of a weak mind...it’s proof of an open mind. The best kind to have!"

No matter how you define success, living a fulfilling life hinges on adopting a belief of growth and evolution above all else. It's as fundamental to life as oxygen is to breathing.

Personal beliefs are chronic self-fulfilling prophecies. This is a good thing when your beliefs serve you, as you’re likely to create a positive upward spiral that lifts you toward success. But you need to learn how to overcome limiting beliefs when they are negative. Otherwise you'll be stuck in a life playing out like Groundhog Day, without the comedic relief of Bill Murray.

A lot of coaches are goal driven. A lot of personal development is goal driven. A lot of life is goal driven. Yet, goals are a horrible measure of success. Because for 95% of the people out there, goals are set and based on your limiting beliefs. Or they fall into the trap of setting a goal like, "I will make a million dollars by the end of the year." You have to remind your Uncle Terry that he works at Taco Bell and still owes you a hundred bucks.

That's why I don't even set goals with clients until we've spent time working on the foundation pieces. Sure, it might feel like it's the goal you're after, but what you'll come to realize is that it's about so much more. It's about growth and becoming the person who can accomplish that goal. It's the feeling you desire, not the outcome.

One of the biggest beliefs that sabotages success is tied into procrastination. This comes back to three things in most cases. Looking to bake a cake of procrastination? Here are the three ingredients.

1) Fear (of both success and failure)

2) Perfectionism  

3) Thinking our work isn't good enough

Each of these stems from a laundry list of beliefs you have about yourself. Multi bestselling author Cal Newport introduced me to a fourth that I had never thought of. You need a plan. It wasn't until much later in my life when I became a coach that I really understood how a plan works. "Fail to plan, plan to fail." Some dude named Benjamin Franklin said that. Look him up. He's kind of a big deal. He's everything your Uncle Terry wishes he was. The difference? Franklin had a plan.

In nearly all cases, what keeps you from doing what you want to do is that your brain doesn't buy your plan. And in order for your brain to buy into your plan, it needs to believe it's possible. Experience is what the brain uses as evidence behind your beliefs. Your job is to expose yourself to people doing what you want to do. Give it a new perspective and something to believe in.

I've worked out regularly for most of my adult life. I've done crossfit (injured myself), sessions with a personal trainer (ridiculously expensive) and the typical standard gym (so bloody boring). Then I did a whole lot of nothing for a year or two. I adopted a belief that working out was work. I already went to work; why the hell would I want to do more work? Work sucks.

I decided to give it another try. Tacking on thirty pounds will do that to you. There's a gym ten minutes by foot from my back door. It seemed like the perfect fit. Close proximity meant distance wasn't a valid excuse. They even gave me a fob for 24/7 access so I was really starting to run out of reasons for me not to go.

I went once in four months. It wasn't fear, it wasn't perfectionism and I wasn't wrapped up in thinking I wasn't good enough. I thought willpower would be enough to get my ass to the gym. How did I expect my brain to buy into the idea that I'd go when I felt like it? I had no bloody plan to follow.

My girlfriend Lindsey heard about a gym called Shift that does classes. She took advantage of a trial period and came home raving about the experience. I had just left my 9-5 and knew I needed some structure and a reason to get up each morning, so I joined too.

Not to mention, I've read enough to know that emotion comes from motion. If my business had any chance of being successful, my mind is the most important resource I have. I had to get over this belief that the gym wasn't for me. I need to keep my mind humming if I want to perform at a level that allows me to take advantage of opportunities. And to ride the emotional rollercoaster of entrepreneurship.

I put together a plan to set me up for success. I sign up for classes two weeks in advance and use 4 pm as a definitive end time for my work day. I spend zero time thinking about going to the gym or stirring up motivation because it's set in my schedule. I went from going once in four months, to 4-5x a week for the last year and a half. It's been a game changer for my mental health.

Sometimes, I'll find my monkey brain is still chasing bananas at the start of class. I'm distracted by what happened during the day. Entire workouts have disappeared lost in thought. I felt robbed of the experience. Joe Rogan mentioned having a similar issue before realizing what it meant. If he had the energy to get lost in these thoughts, it was energy he was diverting away from his workout. The cure it turns out is a simple one. Give it your all. Every last ounce of your energy. Replaying my day when I'm working out is not an effective use of my time or energy. Working out is an effective use of my energy.

The gym is the perfect place to see and crush your limiting beliefs. On those days you feel that's all you have, you're basing that on a belief that it’s all you're capable of. But in a class, you're in a community of people who push you beyond the status quo.

For thousands of years, people held the belief that it was impossible for a human to run the mile in less than four minutes. But in 1954, Roger Bannister did it. Within a year, 37 other runners did the impossible. The year after, 300. His experience provided a reference that it was possible. That has nothing to do with physical ability and everything to do with your mental capacity to grow.

Setting a plan you can stick to helps you eliminate all the reasons that keep you from doing the work you know needs to be done. You are what your choices make you, nothing more and nothing less.

Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter once said that “Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” This speaks to the fact that holding tightly onto beliefs is about getting out of your own way. I had always attached a belief that working out was about looking good. That didn't exactly serve as a long lasting emotional buy-in. But changing my belief that it's part of my identity, of who I am at my very core - a healthy, energetic, creative, it's now who I am as a person.

In the same sense that you can always tell smokers from non-smokers by the language they use. Would you like a smoke? "No thanks, I'm trying to quit." That person still associates and believes they are a smoker. Versus, "No thanks, I don't smoke." They've changed how they view themselves and their identity.

One will forever lead to temptation and surviving on willpower, the other is a line drawn in the sand, with a decision to choose their identity. The choice to choose empowering beliefs over disempowering beliefs is always present. The choice is yours to make. No one has the ability to take that personal power away from you unless you decide to hand it over.

This little flip of the switch takes a lot of the pressure off your goals. Because you start to see that you're learning more from your failures than you are in your successes. If you're never coming up short on your goals, you're not giving yourself enough credit to push you somewhere you could fail. Pick a goal and go all in.

Goals should push you out of your comfort zone and force you to think long term.

You aren't striving for greatness; you're taking steps towards the person you're capable of becoming. It can sometimes feel like you're being rushed to the surface of the ocean with a tank empty of oxygen. Come up too quick and you'll suffer some serious side effects. You have to suffer through the pain of a slow descent to survive. It's the same for entrepreneurship. You need to take your time if you have any hope of surviving.

Recognize that you cannot change what's out of your control, but you can change your mind. This is the very basis of what helped me make the choices that I needed to make so I could live a life aligned my with my values. Author, lecturer and activist Marianne Williamson put it in terms that remind us that, "We are the product of our choices, so it is essential that we choose well. This week, consider and reflect on the choices you have: about your emotions, your actions, your beliefs, and your priorities."

Linda Cardellini Reveals the Decision That Changed Her Career - YouTube

Linda Cardellini explains why she chose Freaks and Geeks over two other shows - against the advice of studio execs.

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“What are the most powerful words in the universe? The ones you use to talk to yourself.”
— Karen Salmansohn What if striving to be great is what's holding you back. Brad Stulberg dropped this truth bomb in a piece featured in Outside magazine. He went on to say, "we’re told that striving to be great and never being satisfied are necessary to meet the ever increasing pressures and pace of today’s world. It’s the only route to success. But what is it all for? What does success even mean?" I latched onto his thinking like a fly trapped in a spiderweb. I found myself entangled without a way to escape the grasp of what I had believed up until this point.

It's a thought so far removed from mainstream that it's like a friend trying to convince you to give brussel sprouts another try. Knowing full well you swore them off when you were six because you're still so damn attached to the belief that they're disgusting. Mom had a strict nothing left on your plate policy. But then your sister-in-law makes them, drizzled in olive oil, tossed with bacon bits and topped with parmesan cheese and your mind is blown. You're actually a little angry at yourself for letting such a stupid belief guide your decisions. And this is brussel sprouts! What the hell else have you been totally blind to?

One of my mentors, Mark Silver said something that carried a similar shock value when I was stuck in my business. "99% of your business and marketing problems can be solved with honesty." This speaks to the wisdom that so many before you have been preaching for thousands of years.

A far cry from today's abysmal "leadership," Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wanted to be told when he had made a mistake or had seen things from the wrong perspective. Truth mattered to him above all else. Truth, he said, "never hurt anyone."

Continuing to hate brussel sprouts, or holding on to a belief because you're afraid of losing face, is kryptonite to success. Well, maybe not brussel sprouts but you get my point. There's enough societal glass ceilings in place to keep you from growing, don't build your own.

Here's the problem as Aubrey Marcus CEO of Onnit sees it:

"We are conditioned in countless ways, and this conditioning becomes part of our belief structure. The most universal cultural conditioning is perhaps the idea that money, success, handsomeness, or a beautiful partner, will bring us happiness. And it may for a moment. We will give ourselves love and praise for ‘doing a good job’, according to our conditioning. But this is always short-lived. As soon as we achieve that goal, we will lose our purpose of fighting for that goal, so we will have to reinvent a new purpose. Maybe MORE success, wealth, fame, or lovers. But that fails too. So imagine our disappointment, our disenchantment, when we finally realize our belief structure is faulty! But all too often instead of questioning our conditioning, we question ourselves instead. We choose to believe that we are broken, that we are ‘depressed’, or we have a ‘chemical imbalance’ -- rather than believe we are just operating under a false hypothesis."

In a recent Daily Stoic email, best selling author Ryan Holiday pushed this thought one step further by asking, "holding different beliefs today than you did ten years ago? That’s called growth, maturity, evolution. Being won over by someone else’s argument is not a sign of a weak mind...it’s proof of an open mind. The best kind to have!"

No matter how you define success, living a fulfilling life hinges on adopting a belief of growth and evolution above all else. It's as fundamental to life as oxygen is to breathing.

Personal beliefs are chronic self-fulfilling prophecies. This is a good thing when your beliefs serve you, as you’re likely to create a positive upward spiral that lifts you toward success. But, you need to learn how to overcome limiting beliefs when they are negative. Otherwise you'll be stuck in a life playing out like Groundhog day, without the comedic relief of Bill Murray.

A lot of coaches are goal driven. A lot of personal development is goal driven. A lot of life is goal driven. Yet, goals are a horrible measure of success. Because for 95% of the people out there, goals are set and based on your limiting beliefs. Or they fall into the trap of setting a goal like, "I will make a million dollars by the end of the year." You have to remind your Uncle Terry that he works at Taco Bell and still owes you a hundred bucks.

That's why I don't even set goals with clients until we've spent time working on the foundation pieces. Sure, it might feel like it's the goal you're after, but what you'll come to realize is its about so much more. It's about growth and becoming the person that can accomplish that goal. It's the feeling you desire, not the outcome.

One of the biggest beliefs that hold most people back from success is tied into procrastination. This comes back to three things in most cases. Looking to bake a cake of procrastination? Here are the three ingredients.

  1. Fear (of both success and failure)

  2. Perfectionism

  3. We think our work isn't good enough

Each of these stems from a laundry list of beliefs you have about yourself. Multi bestselling author Cal Newport introduced me to a fourth that I had never thought of. You need a plan. It wasn't until much later in my life when I became a coach that I really understood how a plan works. "Fail to plan, plan to fail." Some dude named Benjamin Franklin said that. Look him up. He's kind of a big deal. He's everything your Uncle Terry wishes he was. The difference? Franklin had a plan.

In nearly all cases, what keeps you from doing what you want to do is because your brain doesn't buy your plan. And in order for your brain to buy into your plan, it needs to believe it's possible. Experience is what the brain uses as evidence behind your beliefs. Your job is to expose yourself to people doing what you want to do. Give it a new perspective and something to believe in.

I've worked out regularly for most of my adult life. I've done crossfit (injured myself), sessions with a personal trainer (ridiculously expensive) and the typical standard gym (so bloody boring). Then I did a whole lot of nothing for a year or two. I adopted a belief that working out was work. I already went to work, why the hell would I want to do more work? Work sucks.

I decided to give it another try. Tacking on thirty pounds will do that to you. There's a gym ten minutes by foot from my back door. It seemed like the perfect fit. Close proximity meant distance wasn't a valid excuse. They even gave me a fob for 24/7 access so I was really starting to run out of reasons for me not to go.

I went once in four months. It wasn't fear, it wasn't perfectionism and I wasn't wrapped up in thinking I wasn't good enough. I thought willpower would be enough to get my ass to the gym. How did I expect my brain to buy into the idea that I'd go when I felt like it? I had no bloody plan to follow.

My girlfriend Lindsey heard about a gym called Shift that does classes. She took advantage of a trial period and came home raving about the experience. I had just left my 9-5 and knew I needed some structure and a reason to get up each morning so I joined too.

Not to mention, I've read enough to know that emotion comes from motion. If my business had any chance of being successful, my mind is the most important resource I have. I had to get over this belief that the gym wasn't for me. I need to keep my mind humming, if I want to perform at a level that allows me to take advantage of opportunities. And to ride the emotional rollercoaster of entrepreneurship.

I put together a plan to set me up for success. I sign up for classes two weeks in advance and use 4pm as a definitive end time for my work day. I spend zero time thinking about going to the gym or stirring up motivation because it's set in my schedule. I went from going once in four months, to 4-5x a week for the last year and a half. It's been a game changer for my mental health.

Sometimes, I'll find my monkey brain is still chasing bananas at the start of class. I'm distracted by what happened during the day. Entire workouts have disappeared lost in thought. I felt robbed of the experience. Joe Rogan mentioned having a similar issue before realizing what it meant. If he had the energy to get lost in these thoughts, it was energy he was diverting away from his workout. The cure it turns out is a simple one. Give it your all. Every last ounce of your energy. Replaying my day when I'm working out is not an effective use of my time or energy. Working out is an effective use of my energy.

The gym is the perfect place to see and crush your limiting beliefs. On those days you say that's all I have, you're basing that on a belief that's all you're capable of. But in a class, you're in a community of people who push you beyond the status quo.

For thousands of years, people held the belief that it was impossible for a human to run the mile in less than four minutes. But in 1954, Roger Bannister did it. Within a year, 37 other runners did the impossible. His experience provided them a reference that it was possible. That has nothing to do with physical ability and everything to do with your mental capacity to grow.

Setting a plan you can stick to helps you eliminate all the reasons that keep you from doing the work you know needs to be done. You are what your choices make you, nothing more and nothing less.

The Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter once said that “Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” This speaks to the fact that holding tightly onto beliefs is about getting out of your own way. I had always attached a belief that working out was about looking good. That didn't exactly serve as a long lasting emotional buy-in. But changing my belief that it's part of my identity, of who I am at my very core - a healthy, energetic, creative, it's now who I am as a person.

In the same sense that you can always tell smokers from non-smokers by the language they use. Would you like a smoke? "No thanks, I'm trying to quit." That person still associates and believes they are a smoker. Versus, "No thanks, I don't smoke." They've changed how they view themselves and their identity.

One will forever lead to temptation and surviving on willpower, the other is a line drawn in the sand, with a decision to choose their identity. The choice to choose empowering beliefs over disempowering beliefs is always present. The choice is yours to make. No one has the ability to take that personal power away from you unless you decide to hand it over.

This little flip of the switch takes a lot of the pressure off your goals. Because you start to see that you're learning more from your failures than you are in your successes. If you're never coming up short on your goals, you're not giving yourself enough credit to push you somewhere you could fail. Pick a goal and go all in.

Goals should push you out of your comfort zone and force you to think long term.

You aren't striving for greatness, you're taking steps towards the person you're capable of becoming. It can sometimes feel like you're being rushed to the surface of the ocean with a tank empty of oxygen. Come up too quick and you'll suffer some serious side effects. You have to suffer through the pain of a slow descent for you to survive. It's the same for entrepreneurship. You need to take your time if you have any hope of surviving.

Recognize that you cannot change what's out of your control, but you can change your mind. This is the very basis of what helped me make the choices that I needed to make so I could live a life aligned my with my values. Author, lecturer and activist Marianne Williamson put it in terms that remind us that,  "We are the product of our choices, so it is essential that we choose well. This week, consider and reflect on the choices you have: about your emotions, your actions, your beliefs, and your priorities."

Linda Cardellini Reveals the Decision That Changed Her Career - YouTube

Linda Cardellini explains why she chose Freaks and Geeks over two other shows - against the advice of studio execs.

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“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”
— Thomas Berger Where are you headed? Avoid the temptation to ignore such a simplistic question. It's one of the most valuable questions you can ask yourself. When you aren't sure what you want to do with your life or business, start here. Why? If you start with the wrong questions, then even the right answers will steer you wrong... eventually.

I worked a summer up at my Uncle's farm when I was sixteen. Thinking back, it feels like a cheese ball Hallmark made-for-tv movie. Send a city kid to learn some much-needed life skills. Let's just say, my Aunt still laughs at how little I was able to accomplish. My six-year-old cousin made me look like Billy Madison going back to grade two to learn the fundamentals.

This was a time before phones. I had little to distract me, but as a teenager, you're a master of distraction. I was mesmerized by the amount of flies that would pile up on window sills. It looked like I had stumbled upon a post-apocalyptic Mad Max scene where the world had been left for dead. Crawling into bed I watched the flies buzz around my room, knowing every last one of them would be dealt the same horrific fate. They'd search for light, head for the window and repeatedly smack itself against the glass. I'd fall asleep to the soft buzz of life. Knowing sunrise would start with a heap of lifeless bodies that never found their way.

When you don't know where you're headed, you follow what everyone else is doing. Here's the problem, how do you know that the person you're following (or society) is pushing you in the direction you want to go?

Seth Godin in a recent post reminded me why so many of us fall into this trap. We take the path of least resistance by asking, "Wouldn’t it be great if we always had a map? A set of step-by-step instructions on how to get from here to there, wherever we were and wherever wanted to go…"

This is like the people who talk about wanting to try something new when they dine out, but default to chicken fingers and fries. They know it's a safe bet. It's so damn tempting because it feels like you can avoid the pain and discomfort of the unknown. But, you're also missing out on taste bud melting deliciousness like the Cronut burger (food poisoning be damned).

Have you ever noticed yourself or others do this? You're highly motivated to change or try something new. But all the motivation in the world won't help if you keep trying the closed window like everyone else.

You've got to change your approach. The fly stands a chance only if it backs off and looks around for another exit.

What I mean by this is, you must take time to get clarity on where you are now. This lets you understand where you truly want to go, so you’re not just copying someone else’s idea of success.

Knowing where you are and understanding where you want to go is like being given a compass for life and business.

As Godin brilliantly put, "Happy endings come from an understanding of the compass, not the presence of a useful map."

It's too bad flies can't read. Steven Pressfield shared a magical story of one man who was able to find his way home despite facing a closed window. "A Ghurka rifleman escaped from a Japanese prison in south Burma and walked six hundred miles alone through the jungles to freedom. The journey took him five months, but he never asked the way and he never lost the way. For one thing he could not speak Burmese and for another he regarded all Burmese as traitors. He used a map and when he reached India he showed it to the Intelligence officers, who wanted to know all about his odyssey. Marked in pencil were all the turns he had taken, all the roads and trail forks he has passed, all the rivers he had crossed. It had served him well, that map. The Intelligence officers did not find it so useful. It was a street map of London."

A similar sentiment of self-discovery was expressed by the entrepreneur Sam Altman, who has helped thousands of startups over the years with his work at Y Combinator. When he was interviewed by Tyler Cowen for the Conversations with Tyler podcast he said:

“I think one thing that is a really important thing to strive for is being internally driven, being driven to compete with yourself, not with other people. If you compete with other people, you end up in this mimetic trap, and you sort of play this tournament, and if you win, you lose. But if you’re competing with yourself, and all you’re trying to do is — for the own self-satisfaction and also for the impact you have on the world and the duty you feel to do that — be the best possible version you can, there is no limit to how far that can drive someone to perform. And I think that is something you see — even though it looks like athletes are competing with each other — when you talk to a really great, absolute top-of-the-field athlete, it’s their own time they’re going against.”

Part of the realization that changed everything for me was when I understood what practicing gratitude really means. It's what you feel when you want what you already have. You don't need a map to tell you where to go. You were born with an internal compass to guide you in your life. But you were never taught how to use it. It's not some mystical woo-woo bullshit guided by The Secret. It comes from an unwillingness to ask questions that scare you. When you refuse to ask yourself empowering questions, you set yourself up to fail.

It’s your choice. Be grateful and free, or be imprisoned by your own fear. This is what leaves you waiting for the ideal path to appear. But it never does. In most cases, you find you’ve got the wrong map because you had let others (parents, teachers, friends, partners, a psychic who channeled the far nethers of space) decide where you should go.

This moment is a chance to sink into life just as it is presenting itself right now. Again, where are you headed? No matter what happens in life, your compass will get you home if you know how to use it.

Linda Cardellini Reveals the Decision That Changed Her Career - YouTube

Linda Cardellini explains why she chose Freaks and Geeks over two other shows - against the advice of studio execs.

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“Had I not been on that one certain corner at that one certain moment; had that one hand not reached out to mine when another held back; had I had courage when I stopped in fear; or fear when I went on in courage; had I said ‘no’ when I said ‘yes’; had I had a dollar more or less, or been born a mile or two nearer to the dawn, my life would have been another, as distant from this life as from a story or a dream.”
— Anonymous Yesterday I went to bed staring at the ceiling because I was afraid if I closed my eyes I'd have the spins. In my younger years, it was spurred on by one too many rum and cokes. Now, it's from taking on too many projects or setting ridiculous expectations for when I'll get it all done. I'm all for audacious goals, but it's almost like your ego forgets to check in with your life. Is it so much to ask for a little common courtesy to see if you and your ego are on the same page?

The ego is a typical self-centred nut driven by a need to prove themselves to the world. I'm sure a politician or two pops to mind that embodies this wholeheartedly. The ego is a well-crafted smoke and mirrors show. New York Times bestseller Michael Pollan likens an overactive ego to a tyrant over your life. It blinds us to the reality of the pain we often find ourselves battling with.

I have a reminder set in my phone that pings every year on April 16. I don't know why I even set it because I'll never forget that day. Every night I pass my dresser I see his face sitting on a hockey-sized card with the words, "In Loving Memory of Danny Wilson, March 1, 1994 - April 16, 2011." It's impossible to capture in words the void someone leaves in your life when they're ripped from your world unexpectedly. One moment they're here, living, breathing and being. The next moment, a phone call, "Are you sitting down?", your head collapsing into your hands as you try in a desperate attempt to steady whatever semblance of a reality still exists.

I was not at a good place in my life when that moment shattered into a million little kaleidoscopic pieces. I hated my job. I hated the city I lived in. I hated who I was as a person. These realizations popped out like a ping pong ball unable to withstand the pressure of life any longer. I drifted back into the conversation with my Dad as he choked back tears. He was attempting to keep it together, but the pain was far stronger than any idiotic desire for men not to look weak.

I didn't have some glorious miracle-worthy transformation that followed the death of my cousin. What I had was the deepest pain that I have ever felt. As a kid, you're told that if you dig deep enough you'll end up in China. I felt like I was stuck somewhere in the middle of the earth. No way forward and no way backwards. But what that moment did give me, was a starting point. I knew where the hell I was for the first time in my life. Simple truth = we're not on this planet that long. I decided I would never again settle for less than who I thought I was capable of becoming. If not for me, for Danny. I didn't have the right to piss away my life because I was too afraid to confront my demons.

Helen Keller, a woman who triumphed in the face of great adversity chose her words wisely when she spoke. Stricken with illness, she was robbed of her hearing and sight at two years old. She not only learned how to communicate, but became the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her wisdom is part of what helped me see life for what it is. She reminded me that, "What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

Pain becomes a pivot point. When it's deep enough, strong enough, emotional enough, it has the power to change the entire course of your life. Pain launches a SWAT-team battering ram through the basement door you've kept under lock and key because you're too afraid to open it and confront the monsters.

When you're confronted with your own mortality, you see that life only exists here in the present. Everything you thought mattered only holds power if you relinquish your ability to make decisions. It's like as a kid watching a puppet show, you're so focused on the puppet that you're blind to the person controlling its movement and voice. The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life, you claim the power to change anything in your life.

I moved back in with my parents, found a counsellor and started to think about what I wanted from life. It led to a realization that much of my life up until my late twenties had been living in a fog of chronic depression, anxiety and bipolar unbeknownst to me. And sadly, one more reminder that school is the worst possible place to prepare you for life. I had learned zero coping skills and had an empty toolbox.

Pain turned the entire world into a mirror that reflected a person that feels like a shell of who I am today. I didn't have to spend years stripping the rotting layers of an onion to get to the core. It forced me to focus on the decisions that needed to be made. This is what pushed me to take control of my life in the only way I knew how, one day at a time. The decisions that you're making right now, every day, will shape how you feel today, as well as who you're going to become.

Nothing else matters without a healthy mind. Ideas, creativity, a fulfilling life come from a beautiful state. The decision to live in a beautiful state is yours alone to make. You can go on living a skeleton version of yourself, or you can sink into the flesh and bones of who you are. A life well lived has the scars to prove it. You are alive. Take care of yourself and those you love (and even those you don't). Helen Keller reminds us that "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."

When you begin to think long term and look at what you want to accomplish in life, the concerns of a shitty day are often laughable. I'm blessed to be alive. My staring at the ceiling with a mind racing is a pain I'm choosing to put myself through. No one else can put me through that but me.

Much of the pain you face in the day to day is created from the choices you make when you're focused on the short term. In Tony Robbins’ book Awaken The Giant Within, he explains that "It's not actual pain that drives us, but our fear that something will lead to pain... We're not driven by the reality but our perception of reality."

There are times in life that pain will crash over you as a rag doll tossed in the undertow of life. But there are far more times when we project pain onto ourselves needlessly. The cure is a simple one. Lead with empathy and practice compassion. It helps to recognize that pain is inevitable in life. Suffering is often because we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

Dax Shepard: Rock Bottom Isn't Always What Makes You Change Your Life - YouTube

Dax Shepard talks about the struggle of recovery, and that there are just some things in life that money can't fix.

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“The best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.”
— Dale Carnegie You started a business because you want to be in charge of your life. You found something you're passionate about that makes you feel alive. You're doing something you're proud of. You know your business will take off, but it's taking longer than you thought it would. You're starting to feel lost in the day-to-day.

You're one person, so there's only so much you can do. But how do you know if you're working on what's most important? You close your eyes at night and your mind continues to race over the day, tomorrow and the uncertain future. It feels like it occupies your every waking moment. You notice it taking away from your ability to be present with your friends and family. You feel guilty for stepping away from the business for any amount of time, and question whether you're taking it seriously enough. It's scary to think it might not work. You worry that you won't have the energy or desire to keep going if something doesn't change.

What if you took the time to step back and ask yourself what the ideas, strategies or elements are that you need to put into your life and business to make it work? Are you able to answer that question? Or does the thought of venturing down that path drape you in a wet blanket of overwhelm? You're feeling unclear on the next step. It's pretty damn hard to imagine what comes next.

Here's what I've come to realize in building a business that can support and provide a healthy income and life. A single decision made in clarity is the equivalent of a hundred decisions made in overwhelm. Overwhelm comes from not knowing what to do next. In almost all cases, the next step is unclear because you haven't taken the time to decide where you want to end up with your business.

The time to have the map is before you enter the woods. I can't recall where I heard that gem but it reminds me of that sage advice you'd expect to hear from a grandparent. There are probably a lot of life's questions my grandpa could have helped me answer, but I didn't have the sense in my youth to ask him. Now, I ask a lot of questions. I learned that if I'm sick of the answers I'm getting, I need to ask better questions. It's what has helped me figure out what the hell I want to do with my life.

If you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to get ahead, what is it specifically that you want to get ahead to? And, is it what you really want?

Do you want to make 10 grand a month? Live on a sailboat in the Florida Keys and work remotely? Build a business so you can sell it and do it all over again? Or is it to work for yourself, make a healthy living, live a fulfilling life and go on a couple of trips each year?

Do you want these things or are you unconsciously believing these are what will make you happy because that's what you've been led to believe? There's no collective right answer, but be sure you're asking the questions that give you the answer that's right for you.

Here's why answering those questions is so damn important for your life and business. It lets you put a pin on a map. You can say, "This is where I want to go." When you make the decision to plot out where you want to go, you can begin to pull together a plan on how you're going to get there. You are not the first person to do what you're doing. Hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of people have walked the same path before you. You are never more than an arm's length away from the world’s most brilliant minds. And the beautiful thing about successful people is that they leave breadcrumbs. They write books, have blogs, send out newsletters, are interviewed on podcasts, post on Twitter. There are endless ways to connect with their thinking.

What you'll come to see of the people you admire is that a lot of what they do is boring. They tend to be routine driven. Success is often a result of committing to the fundamentals over and over. They know what they want to make progress on and what specific things will help them get there. They don't leave things to chance, or chase rainbows with the hopes of a pot of gold awaiting their arrival. They keep the main thing the main thing.

Think of your business like a woodworking project. Even if you're a skilled carpenter, you need an idea of what you're building, what tools you’ll require and how you're going to go about building it.

Plotting out what you're building, what you need to learn and how you're going to do it has the potential to save lives (or at least save your life from overwhelm).

Take for example a simple list put together by Dr. Peter Pronovost to reduce the risk of infections when conducting a relatively common procedure. In the book The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande shared the five simple steps Pronovost wrote on a piece of paper for doctors to follow when putting in a catheter line. Doctors are supposed to (1) wash their hands with soap, (2) clean the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic, (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient, (4) wear a sterile mask, hat, gown, and gloves, and (5) put a sterile dressing over the catheter site once the line is in. Check, check, check, check, check.

These steps are no-brainers for doctors; they have been known and taught for years. It might seem silly to put together a checklist like this for obvious actions, but this is exactly why it so damn important. The obvious is easy to ignore. It loses the bright shiny appeal of trends and hype. We assume that if it's simple, it can't be effective. Just the opposite is true, simplicity is sophistication. If it's not beautiful, it's not simple enough. It's so fucking easy to lose sight of what you're working towards when you get wrapped up in the day-to-day.

Pronovost asked the nurses in his I.C.U. to observe the doctors for a month as they put lines into patients, and record how often they completed each step. In more than a third of patients, they skipped at least one.

Author James Clear pointed out in his book Atomic Habits that, "This five-step checklist was the simple solution that Michigan hospitals used to save 1,500 lives. Think about that for a moment. There were no technical innovations. There were no pharmaceutical discoveries or cutting-edge procedures. The physicians just stopped skipping steps. They implemented the answers they already had on a more consistent basis."

It led to me committing myself to five areas of focus that are burned into my schedule ahead of everything else. Everything else I do is secondary. My work is all about creation and contribution. I write, I have a podcast launching mid May, I send out a weekly newsletter, I take steps to move me through the stages of business development (Creation -> Concentration -> Momentum), and I devote myself to rituals that keep me physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally engaged and spiritually aligned. Daily momentum in each of these five is like putting gas in my car. I'll never run out of gas if filling up is part of my routine. The caveat being, commit to deadlines or shit won't get done. Don't leave the most important things to chance.

Whatever you're doing, consider writing being one of the skills you learn/practice consistently. Creation is the only way you can escape trading time for money. A body of work will serve you well beyond the simple content it creates. It helps you figure out what the hell you're building. There is no shortage of ways to hone your craft.

Don't get lost in thinking you need to focus on the latest and greatest hacks and tricks. Certain actions are tried and tested. I spend next to no time deciding what I need to do next. This frees up a ridiculous amount of energy that is otherwise spent on lost focus. If you focus on yourself and your skills, you will get better. And everyone around you will get better because people take notice. You'll see what you're doing has a ripple effect. What is your stone you're dropping into the lake and how is that going to ripple?

When you take that time to step back and ask what are you working on, there's a chance to tap into a unique and rich perspective that only you can bring. This always leads to a more fruitful life, but keep in mind that the last thing to produce on a fruit tree is the fruit. Working on your five-step checklist is like planting seeds, watering them and caring for them until the fruit comes along.

Here's a simple question to ask yourself in choosing your own five: What do you enjoy refining? Many people get excited to do something once, but ultimately get bored. It's the areas you can't help yourself from rethinking, revising, reorganizing, and optimizing where you have a long-term advantage.

This is also why I build 90-day reflection points into my year so it gives me a chance to pivot if need be. It's like an oil change in your car every 5,000 km. You might not always feel like it, but it's critical if you plan to continue driving your car without it bursting into flames on the highway. It needs to be done if you want to get where you're going.

Focus less on the possibility of failure and more on the possibility of opportunity that comes from learning when things don't go as planned. Steve Blank, a living legend among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, is credited with developing the method that started the lean startup movement. He said, "No business plan survives first contact with the customer." It's an ever-evolving process for growth. Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless. The process of planning is very valuable, for forcing you to think hard about what you are doing.

The author Anatole France reminds us "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” This is the beauty of building a business. You don't need a perfect plan. You need one you believe in that moves you forward, instead of stalling and waiting for perfection. None of that planning can replace firsthand experience. Don’t let your doubts slow you down. Your work will get better over time, and so will your understanding of your business. The best business strategy is one that evolves right along with you.

Brit Marling of Netflix's 'The OA' Reveals the Secret to Living a Meaningful Life - YouTube
We can easily get bogged down by the complexity of our day to day lives, and it's hard sometimes to focus on the things that actually matter. Brit Marling learned from her research talking with 'near death' survivors for her Netflix original series 'The OA' what is truly the most important thing.

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“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
— Buddha I've found myself coming back to a simple philosophy over and over. I've debated etching it into my forearm as a reminder – your business only grows as much as you do. If you are in the business of selling ideas (which is all of us) you can often be your biggest obstacle. You can't help but get lost in a spiral of constant busyness because it feels like a race without a finish line. If you're aiming to run a successful business where you're not sleeping on a couch like Elon Musk, because there are not enough hours in the day, you need to get your daily routine on lock.

I'm glad there are people like Elon Musk out there. People who are willing to sacrifice everything to see their mission through. The world is a better place because of his obsession. But it's a slippery slope that often ends in disaster.

We're not all designed or even have a willingness to operate at such breakneck speeds. There's a huge trade-off for what you're doing. Think of good ol' Clark Griswold greasing up his saucer for supersonic speeds, skidding across pavement, sparks igniting him into flames as a bus careens towards his imminent death. You might be able to hold on for dear life while your blood is pumping, but a similar fate awaits most entrepreneurs sucked into the vacuum of the hustle and grind movement.

If you spend any amount of time on social media, you've had the pleasure of playing the comparison game. It does a great job of not leaving anyone out. Everyone is a loser in the end. That's why I pulled the plug earlier this year.

I prefer to make time for a fourth run through of The Office with Lindsey, go to the gym, grab coffee with friends, enjoy breakfast out with my parents, go for walks with my plump little Pug, or read a David Sedaris book.

The hustle and grind mentality pushed by Gary Vaynerchuck and others, may as well be a PSA for burn out. Taking a stance as I have opens you up to the risk of being burned at the stake for having an unwillingness to sacrifice your sanity. It's an ass-backwards approach to creating a business and life.

The sheer number of tasks you jam into a day has no correlation to the quality of what you produce.

One right idea in clarity can do the work of a hundred different actions done in overwhelm.

Having clarity to know which one right action is best is only available to you when things are clear. Cause when you're in overwhelm you can't see clearly.

We so often think we must do something in order to improve ourselves, when very often all that's required is a simple non-doing and letting go of unhelpful habits, behaviours and thoughts. A daily to-do list that resembles a wish list to Santa is about as useful as a clip for half-eaten bags of potato chips in my house.

Maybe you find yourself in a situation where perhaps you're overwhelmed or have experienced something in your mind you don't really like – a thought, an emotion, a pattern of thinking or a behaviour that just won’t stop replaying. The temptation is to think you need to actively do something, to add something in order to change that. But the more closely you look at the dynamic, the more you see that it's actually not about adding something, it's about putting something down. About letting something go.

Think of the movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon. There's a scene where she talks to a fellow hiker and his first words to her are, "Your pack is insane. We need to do a little pruning." He helps her pick out all the things that are useless for where she's going. He gives her the option to leave things behind unless she can give him a good reason as to why she needs to bring it along. Everything you do has to have a purpose. As he joked, "Are you burning what you read? Don't worry you're not going to become a Nazi, but you are going to make your pack a lot lighter."

Do you know where you're going? I sure as hell didn't when I started my business. But answering this question helps you figure out what tools you need to get where you want to go. Now, I know exactly where I'm going and what I need in my pack to get there.

Ever eaten ice cream out of a bowl beside someone in a frenzy to devour their cone in mid-July because they can't keep up with the lick-to-melt ratio? That's what it feels like to have control over your daily life as an entrepreneur. You still get to enjoy the ice cream, but at your own pace. It's not going anywhere. It's contained in a bowl that's manageable. That's what creating a daily routine does for your sanity. You have a big picture of where you're going, but you have the ability to slow down and acknowledge the smaller things that happen every day, so you can find a more stable feeling of appreciation and gratefulness. These are what give you momentum in where you're going and allow you to enjoy the pleasures of life.

Be forewarned, if you adopt the philosophy I'm talking about, you'll be excluded from using the hashtags #hustlelife and #grindneverstops. But you'll gain something much more valuable. You'll discover that despite what you might feel in the moment about your behaviours and routine – feeling like you're stuck with them since they've become habituated, maybe even finding yourself compelled towards those behaviours– you still have a choice that will set you free.

Don't get stuck by thinking you have to add something in order to counteract that feeling of busy = hard work. If you can see your behaviour clearly in the moment and choose to let it go, to take a different path, you actually find what it was you were looking for (clarity). So focus less on adding something and more on the idea of letting go. It's worth repeating what clarity can do for you and your business. One right idea in clarity can do the work of a hundred different actions done in overwhelm.

When you hire someone to do some handy work, you don't hire one person that comes with a hammer and the next day somebody who comes with a saw. They show up with a toolbox based on the project you need help with. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to figure out what your project is (where you're going/who you want to become), what tools you need (skills to learn) and how you're going to put it together (your daily routine). Master these three things and I promise you, you will be unstoppable.

Judd Apatow's Advice to Aspiring Comedians - YouTube

Judd Apatow shares how he tracked down and interviewed his comedian idols for his high school radio show. Judd explains how the wisdom imparted to him at that young age has stuck with him throughout his career.

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“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I've felt like I have no idea what to do next with my business. There's no manual I can refer to or oracle I can seek, dishing out divine business clarity. And thankfully, I don't have a nervous tick. I'd have a big fat bald spot on my head from all the scratching.

A lot of us get into entrepreneurship because we want to be our own bosses. We're sick and tired of being told what to do, when to do it and what's a priority. We want to make the decision of what's important. But that can also drive you a little bit insane.

You don't always feel like you know what you should be doing next. And I've found that as soon as I start thinking like that, I fall into the depths of frustration. How do I keep finding myself in these situations again and again? Will it always be so damn difficult? You start to wonder if there's ever a point you reach where you get to kick up your feet and drink fancy craft beers all day.

I've talked about entrepreneurship being a roller coaster of emotions. That it is, but the analogy makes it feel too predictable. You can't predict the loops and drops like you can riding a coaster. You expect them to come by the nature of the design. Lately, the sensation feels like one of those gigantic slingshots at a theme park. You sit, you wait and feel your heart drop to your feet as you're launched into space. You're completely at the mercy of the carny slamming the button. And that guy is one cruel son of a bitch. You can beg and plead all you want but he won't let you off until he's had his fun.

I wrote a piece on why writing is the best possible thing you can do for your life and business. Here's another example of why this is true. Have you had those stretches where you feel too busy to start your day? I have a couch starting to collapse on one end. I know with my level of handyman skills, this will be an all-day project. This project sits upon the throne of my overwhelm. It gets thrown in with whatever other choices I need to make next without losing momentum.

This is the time to dive deep into what your emotions are signalling and capture them like an escaped monkey from the zoo (the couch can wait). These moments offer up a proverbial gold mine for writing. You feel vulnerable. You can reach out and touch your emotions on a level that isn't possible when you feel happy go lucky and devouring banana split sundaes. Great stories have pain. They lure you with the arc and development of characters. Without pain, there's no triumph over evil aka creative Resistance. Ever watch a sitcom stacked with beautiful people? It's destined for failure because it doesn't mirror reality. It's hard to watch other people succeed when you see yourself slipping into quicksand. You're afraid each movement will suck you further into oblivion.

People will tell you don't feel discouraged, it'll get better, have you tried this? There's a lot of well-intentioned advice out there. But it's only useful if you understand what the emotional signal is alerting you to. And, what the message behind the signal means for you. Does that big red light mean Soviet Russia is invading? Or does it mean you're feeling inadequate because you can't do something you think you should be able to do?

Here's another way of looking at it. In his book The Last Lecture, Professor Randy Pausch had a chapter called Treat The Disease, Not The Symptom where he spoke about an ex-girlfriend who was a few thousand dollars in debt. She walked around like a big ball of stress. Every month, more interest would be tacked on, in addition to her rising feeling of hopelessness. She decided to join a meditation and yoga class to help her reduce the stress and bring a sense of calmness to her life. It was her one free night a week to focus on something other than money. It went on like this, week after week.

One day Randy sat down and asked to go over her finances with her. He did some calculations and saw that if she spent four or five months working a part-time job on Tuesdays, she could pay off all the money she owed. He didn't have anything against yoga or meditation but he saw the value in treating the disease first. Her symptoms were stress and anxiety. Her disease was the money she owed.

She took a waitress job and soon enough paid off her debts. After that, she could go back to yoga and really breathe easier.

So here's my question to you, are you treating the disease or the symptom?

We live in a society that defaults to treating symptoms rather than curing diseases (both figuratively and literally). Look at the opioid epidemic as an example. It takes a conscious mind shift to explore what's behind the disease because it means facing the situation head-on. Rather than a reaction to the symptom of how we feel and making the assumption that we're stuck. Symptoms are good for big pharma. Not so much if you're the one addicted to opioids.

What is the feeling really trying to tell you? It has a message if you're willing to listen. There's no need to collect the backs of cereal boxes so you can mail in for your secret decoder ring. I use a cheat sheet from Tony Robbins that deciphers these Raiders Of The Lost Ark riddles.

Don't pretend like you just didn't let out a sigh of relief. It's a hell of a lot easier to face the present moment or think of the future when you have a plan. It's the difference between hope and expectations. I don't hope shit will get better or hope I feel better in the morning. I expect it to be better because I listened to the signal (feeling). I've identified what the message is and I've taken a step forward, so the signal won't get louder and more obnoxious. It's like an unruly two-year-old that wants your attention. He will not back down until he's seen and heard. Sometimes all we're looking for is a little acknowledgement.

Being your own boss will swing you around like a tether ball of emotion hanging on for dear life. You'll experience a depth of emotion you didn't realize was buried deep inside you. Running your own business is easily 90% mindset and 10% strategy. If you don't develop a healthy mindset to interact and play with the emotions you're faced with, there is not a chance in hell that you'll last. Not a day goes by that I don't experience at least six of those emotions outlined above.

You should expect these emotions to slap you in the face from time to time. Just today, I woke up feeling uncomfortable and a tad fearful. I'm going out of town for a couple of days and I still have a bunch of shit to finish before I leave. Will I get it all done?

This will sound counterproductive, but I took a walk instead of working. That signal was telling me I had to change my state. Emotion comes from motion. Immediately my state changed. It sparked the idea for this blog post. By the time I was home from my 45-minute walk, I had outlined what I wanted to say. It's 2 pm as I'm wrapping up this post so there's still plenty of time for the tide to sweep me off my feet with a new set of emotions and challenges. But the waves will only knock you over if you plant your feet. Thankfully, I've learned how to surf.

Patton Oswalt Reveals What Keeps Creative People From Creating - YouTube

Patton Oswalt witnessed failure personified in his early years of standup, and since has worked to nurture the positive voices in his head rather than feeding the negative.

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“And a powerful thing happened when we started before we felt ready. We discovered new ways of achieving what had once seemed out of reach. We developed our own voices. We developed our own writing style. We developed our own habits for success. And by not focusing on the reasons we should stop, but the reasons we should continue, our blog got better and better.”
— Marc and Angel Does the future of your career leave you feeling a like a game of pong played in super-slow-motion? You'll drift in one direction or another, but a slight breeze has the potential to blow you off course for the day, month or year.

If you're a creative, this is magnified tenfold. You're coming up with ideas as fast as squirrels bury nuts – with a similar problem of not remembering where the hell you buried your ideas and which ones are even worth pursuing. That's what happens when we don't have a destination in mind. We don't know what to kick to the curb and what's worth pursuing.

You're probably wondering, how the hell do I figure out what's worth pursuing? First off, loosen the vice so you have enough room to breathe. Nothing, and this is worth repeating, nothing will be figured out with authoritarian regime pressure.

When I started my business, I forgot how to have fun. Everything became something I had to manage and control so I could get done what I thought I needed to finish. I kept piling on more and more without a much-needed recovery-and-reflection period. My habits slipped into a similar approach we've taken with earth – suck all the resources we can with little regard for the future. If every country consumed resources at the same destructive rate as North America, we would need three and a half earths just to keep up. I could see myself ending with a similar fate if I didn't get clear about my business and how I fit into this world.

I was told that I should write a blog for my business. It'll give you authority in your field and help others see what you're thinking. Except, I felt like I had no idea how to write. I had some serious baggage about writing that left me with lots of limiting beliefs about my ability to put pen to paper. I told myself that I needed to read books, listen to podcasts and delay writing until I could feel confident in what I was writing. I had forgotten how to be creative. It was terrifying to think of putting something into the world that could be rejected.

Marcus Sheridan, a sales and marketing consultant, urges bloggers to stop worrying about getting everything perfect. You could spend countless hours researching how to write blog posts and understand your audience. You could obsess about developing the perfect strategy – without ever putting it into action.

It made sense why I was struggling. I was sucking all the fun out of writing by approaching it with a strategic mindset. Taking a tactical approach is not exactly fuel for creativity. Fear for so many of us keeps us from pursuing anything creative. We pass it off as we don't have the time or there's no redeeming value. But really, we're afraid to admit why we're not doing it.

Here's the problem. Writing is the most important thing you can do with your time. It switches you from being a consumer to a creator. I had no idea at the time, but writing blossomed into a ritual that is the best thing I've ever decided to pursue.

Author Robert McKee let me ease into writing like slipping on a pair of worn-in Levi's with his rally cry to those of us sitting on the fence. "Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, the courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”

I got what McKee was saying, but I still had troubles with the creative process. My writing felt cringe-worthy. Maybe I wasn't born with the chops to dazzle the world. There are those limiting beliefs slipping in again. Nobody is born a writer, an artist, a musician, or an athlete. We like to tell ourselves that story because it makes it easier to swallow the hard truth. We're going to spend a lot of time embracing the suck before we get good.

Take it from Ira Glass, a master storyteller and host of This American Life and an editor behind the Serial podcast. His shows reach over 8.5 million listeners a month. Glass knows a thing or two about the creative process. He had an interview with a TV station that has become well-known among creative types. It ignites the limiting story we tell ourselves like the spark to a raging gasoline-doused brush fire.

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

What the hell else is there is to do after reading this but go all in? I gave up trying to be perfect and started writing. I give myself a deadline of one piece a week. It's led to me writing 60,000 words over the last year and a half. The length of a typical mystery novel. Had you asked me if I had it in me to write a book when I started, the fear of taking on a project of that size would have paralyzed me. But it's those words from McKee that urge us to eat the elephant one bite at a time. "Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour." Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. It's the baby steps that happen week after week that compound for personal and professional growth.

I let McKee's words be my philosophy and solace when it felt like I took on more than I could chew. "Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, the courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly." These words let you remove the lump lodged in your throat and wash down the fear so you can get back to doing work that matters.

What started as an idea to help my business grow, turned into one of the greatest gifts I've ever received. A relationship with myself that I didn't know could have existed. It was the first time I was creating something and putting it into the world. One of the best damn storytellers the world has ever known, author Neil Gaiman asks us to look in the mirror to perhaps see someone we forgot existed: “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

My writing gives my mind a voice. It lets me go beyond the confines of my tiny little head to plant seeds in a world where they can grow and connect with others. Each week is a step towards my vision with a little more clarity than the week before. I don't write because it's good for business, I write because I've made a promise with you to show up. Author James Clear reminds us that it's not just about putting something out for the sake of saying you did, there's a deeper mission for creatives. "The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you’re writing to one person or one million. The responsibility of a writer is always the same: if you’re going to interrupt someone with your words, you better be damn sure you have something good to say to them. For my part, I promise I’ll do my best to write things worth reading."

This desire to write something worth reading has led to me being a part of a bigger conversation of where the future of work is headed. One where I realized I had started to fall behind. I had become lazy with my thinking. I wasn't developing the skills that meant I would still have a job in the future.

The world is moving at a blistering pace that has flipped the conventional on its head. Back in 2013, the head of Google HR said that it has found no correlation between GPAs and test scores and employees who thrive. They’ve stopped looking at those academic qualifications altogether. "Academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they're conditioned to succeed in that environment. While in school, people are trained to give specific answers, it's much more interesting to solve problems where there isn't an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer."

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, hints at the fact that each of us is capable of becoming this person. "Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses power of various sorts which he habitually fails to use."

Writing let me uncover all the bullshit that clouded my ability to see myself for who I am and who I'm capable of becoming. It's given me an appreciation for learning a craft and a skill that takes a lifetime to develop. The ability to communicate, take a stance and share your ideas is currency within today's society.

A future will exist where no one gives a shit you have a degree. Show me a body of work. Show me how you think. Show me how you communicate your ideas. Show me how you contribute to a bigger conversation. Show me your ability to be creative, innovative and think in ways that a computer can't (yet).

There's nothing else that can do what writing can do for you, your career and your future. Write for yourself. Begin by finding your voice, taking a stance and digging in. And keep this in mind, it's far easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting. Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being wise. Do the best you can until you know better. Once you know better, do better.

Matt Berninger of The National Shares How He Writes a Song - YouTube

The National frontman, Matt Berninger, discusses risk in songwriting, and how discomfort can be a creative catalyst.

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