Action over Wishes

What are you doing to get closer to reaching your goals? One of my the clients had this goal to double is monthly income. He is a personal trainer and runs a popular website with a ton of free fitness content. One of his goals is to earn more passive income by selling his plans via his website.

During a coaching call, I asked him what type of action he had taken to get closer to reaching his goal. After what seemed like a few minutes of dead silence he timidly responded. Nothing, really. 

You need to focus on becoming the person you need to be –  in order to become the person you want to be. If my client wants to increase his online training presences, he needs to start thinking, talking, and acting in accordance with his goal.

Setting a goal is just the beginning, where most people fail is setting the goal and leaving it to faith or good luck. This is foolish.

The goal points you in the direction – it is up to you to take the first step. Sometimes that is a painful first step. Sometimes you need to give up who you are in order to become who you want to be.

That can be painful. It takes balls to change your life. Change your habit. Change your friends. And most difficult of all – changing your mindset.

So I ask you – what are you doing now to reach your goals? What action steps are you taking to get you closer to reaching your goals?

Setting goals is not enough. Yes, it is a great start. But setting the goal alone is not nearly enough to get you to achieve that goal. You need to take massive actions steps. It needs to be your number one focus. Obstacles are just speed bumps and pit stops are not permanent.

When you get knocked down, get up, shake it off and keep moving. 

When I was in the Coast Guard we used to methodically plan every trip in fine detail. Not only did we do this digitally to follow the GPS coordinates, we planned out thousands of miles spanning several nautical charts. Doing this by hand left of no excuse if our technology failed us.

We could not simply say, ah, GPS is done. I guess we are heading home. Negative. We’d bust out the paper plans and follow our progress by compass.

Not only did we plan our route, we used what was called compass checks to ensure we were still on the correct course. This was not a once a day process. Compass checks where used several times an hour.

A voyage that might take days was broken down into 15-minute increments to make sure we were on track. We did not wait until the GPS was down or wait until we were lost to take action.

Compass Check Your Life 

  • Set the goal
  • Plan the route
  • And check your progress 100’s of times per day.

If your even the slightest degree off course, make the adjustment and keep steaming toward your goal. Don’t wait until your lost to fix yourself.

 

Being Happy Now

All to often I hear coaching clients tell me, I’ll be happy when _____. This is a terrible way to think about things, and an even more terrible way to live your life. Do not ever wait until this or that to be happy.

Choose to be happy now. Choose to enjoy life and start living in the moment every day. Not once this or that happens. Do not ever think that you will be happy once the kids are out of school, or the kids are in school, or your spouse is on a new shift, or there are new officials in Washington, or the tax system changes.

If those days have not came yet, then chances are they will never come. I hate when people tell me they will be happy once the can muscle up, or lose 10 pounds, or drop clothes sizes. You have to find happiness in your everyday life right now. Stop waiting for the seasons to change to allow you to be happy.

If you can not learn to live in the moment and love your current life you will never be able to learn how to live in the moment and love your current life.

Drop everything – clear your mind and start doing this right now

  • Be grateful for what you already have 

The sooner you start being grateful for the opportunities, and current circumstances of your life – the sooner you will have more to be grateful for.

  • Live in the moment 

It is imporant to have goals for the future. Its also important to reflect back at where you have came from. But for god sakes, don’t live there. Accept the past, look forward to the future, and love every second of right now. These are the good old days.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year”.  This statement could not be any truer. Today is the day.

  • Smile, laugh, and love 

These small moments are the memories of the future. Stop and take note of them. Hug more. Complain less.

  • Show appreciation for people in your life

Show gratitude for the people, and things in your life that mean something to you. Those people who have helped you along the way, write them a thank you note, give them a call, stop by and say hello sometime.

Trust me, I know these things are easier said than done. I first had the realization that I needed to love my current life in order to get a better life during one of the lowest times of my life. I was working a job I hated, my life was completely out of balance, I was so focused on the future I was forgetting everything about the present. I was drinking heavily and relying on drugs to get through the day.

Then one day it hit me. If I cannot learn to love the circumstances around my life today, right now, I will never learn to love my life.

Focus on the positive aspects of your life, not the negatives. We all have negatives. Acknowledge them, and move on. They are a part of you but they don’t have to define you.

Homework:

Make of list of 20 things you LOVE about your life.

  1. The sunrise
  2. The hot coffee in the morning
  3. Your family

So on…

You might hate your job (like I used to) but I can just about guarantee you like something about it. Hint: think- getting paid, your co-workers, your benefits, etc.

Your goals suck

So many people take the set and forget approach to goal setting. They hastily think of something they want either in material possession or accomplishment. “Oh yeah, that’d be cool.” *Hastily set goal without a second thought.*

Rarely do people set goals that are actually going to get them someplace. I won’t bore you with a statistical analysis of how many new years resolutions have already failed. I’ll let you determine that one your own. How are your resolutions looking on this last week of February? Exactly.

Why do these fail? Because we fail in planning and preparation for a goal. We live in a want it, need it, have it now society. And to be honest – it’s pathetic. If our ancestors didn’t hunt, kill and gather their next meals – they weren’t eating.  If they didn’t gather firewood – they weren’t going to be warm or have the ability to cook their food. If they didn’t make the trek to the streams – they didn’t have water.

There was no uber, no 2-day free shipping, no 30 minutes or less or its free. There is and has never been such thing as a free lunch.

Instead, these people had to earn their next meal. They had to make a plan and stick with it. In essence, they had to set a goal. Today, we think we can write what we want on a piece of paper, or even worse remember the goal in our head, and poof we get it.

Doesn’t work out? Not my fault. Taxes are too high, blame Washington. I work too much, blame my boss. I’m out of shape, blame the drive-thru. Coffees to hot, blame Starbucks.  Trust me, it sucks but these things will never be just right. The stars will never align perfectly for you, or me, or anyone.

And that’s okay. There is no easy life. We have to work for what we want, and that’s fine.

There is no value in free.

Remember the last thing you got for free? I don’t. Why? Because we didn’t place any value on it. We could have easily paid $5, $10, or $100 for the same thing and we would have placed more value on it.

The same theory applies to goal setting. We don’t value, the things we don’t work for.  It is like doing a puzzle or playing a video game. Sure we can use a cheat code and slide through it but it doesn’t feel the same when we win that way. It is boring. There is no value in it.

Satisfaction comes from hard work. Satisfaction comes from hunting and gathering your next meal.

  • Try this for a mental exercise.
    • Plan your meals and snacks ahead.
    • Starting Sunday night, plan your meals for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
    • During these three days, don’t eat anything that wasn’t pre-planned. No last second trips to the drive-thru after practice, no take out for lunch, no bars or shakes leaving the gym.
    • Forget to plan Wednesdays lunch? Guess what? Don’t eat.

Bottom line, plan your life ahead. Stop being controlled by circumstances and start controlling them.

The same applies to your goals. Plan them accordingly. Before, during, and after setting them.

Just because you set a goal doesn’t mean it is going to happen. There is no 30-day warranty or money back guarantee in life.

 

 

Pack Animals

I don’t really know where or how to start this article. But I wish someone told me a long time ago that you are the average of those you spend most of your time with.

Maybe someone did tell me, who knows. Chances are I would not have listened to them anyways. So let me regress, I wish I understood back then – you are a product of your environment. Luckily I fully embrace that philosophy today.

Better late than never.

Up until a certain point in my life, I never really understood that you literally become what you hang around.

If you hang around with losers, sooner or later, you become a loser.

Even if you don’t become a loser, society will quickly associate and label you a loser because of those you spend most of your time with.

I’m not saying all my friends up until this point were losers. In fact, that’s far from the truth. I have a lot of friends from various stages of my life that were, and still are, great people.

What I am saying is, be mindful of who you let come into your surroundings. Be mindful of your inner circle, or your closest friends.

If you are not learning and growing, from and with, the people you spend the majority of your time with, run. And don’t look back.

I was never arrested, but a lot of the people I used to associate myself were. So by default, society, or people, in general, begin to point the finger at you and label you as such. Not because you are a bad guy, but because your group of friends is trash.

Now, I don’t really care about labels. Or how other people view me in general, but the problem is, after awhile you start believing what others are saying about. You start to see yourself in the same light they are shedding on you.

You might not be a bad guy. But if you are spending your time with people that are up to no good, sooner or later, you’ll be one of them.

Humans are pack animals. Whether we admit it or not, we usually start to assimilate in with our current. So ask yourself, what pack am I blending into? Is this pack helping or hurting who I want to become?

I turned out just fine. But I often ask myself, where would I be if I chose my crowd a little better, a litter earlier in life.

When I was a young dumb, juvenile male, I spent to much time hanging out with gangbangers and losers. And although I never really joined their ranks as a professional criminal  I was associated with them enough that my name started getting brought up in police investigations.

I wasn’t happy about that (neither was my mom) (sorry mom). So I started making a conscious effort to pick a better crowd to associate myself with.

You see, one bad apple doesn’t always ruin the bunch, but a bunch of bad apples will definitely ruin one good one.

  • Choose friends with common goals
  • Choose friends that build you up and help you grow
  • Choose friends that share your core values
  • Choose friends that are there for you and celebrate your wins just as their own

 

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness seems to be a buzz word lately. One that is teetering on the brink of the next fitness fad. However, mental toughness is something we all need to develop to a certain extent.

Developing mental toughness, or SISU as its called in the north does not have to be a complicated process. You don’t need to buy a fancy product or read every book on the subject (but reading will surely help).

All you need to do in order to develop mental toughness is; do the crappy stuff you don’t always want to do.

One way I practice mental toughness is by sticking to my to-do list. Every night I make a note of several things I want to accomplish in the following day. Every Sunday night, I also make a habit to write out several things I want to accomplish for the upcoming week. My daily to-do list is a micro-reflection of my weekly to-do list.

For example, if I want to ride a total of 70 miles this week, I know I need to ride an average of 10 miles per day. If I want to write 5000 words this week then I better be doing it throughout the week, otherwise, I will be trying to cram 4500 words in on Sunday. No fun. Sundays are typically my off day in which I spend uninterpreted time with my family. The last thing I want to do, or will do is spend my Sunday spinning away miles or blazing the keyboard.

So if I don’t stick to my daily plan and finish my to-do list by Saturday, then I probably haven’t reached my goal. Do I always reach all my goals on daily and weekly my to-do list?  No, but I usually get pretty close. There is always room for improvement.

What does this have to do with mental toughness? Glad you asked.

Following through with what I tell myself I am going to do is a great way to build habits. Habits and discipline are what gets results. Good habits and discipline need mental toughness.

If I tell myself I am going to Jiu-Jitsu twice next week and the only classes I can make are Tue and Thursday then I pretty make damn sure I make those classes. Otherwise, I let me myself down by failing to uphold a promise I made to myself.

Do I always want to do the things on my list? Not at all. So many days go back where I just plan do not want to get out of bed and drag myself to the gym. There are days the last thing I feel like doing is staring at my wall while I churn away miles on my bike trainer, or saddle up and ride the snow trails in negative windchill weather.

You know what though? I do it anyways. You don’t have to be great every day, but you have to give it or all to be great. We are all part of a statistical grouping, make a conscious effort to chose your grouping. Don’t simply fall in with the mediocre.

 

Eyes in the Boat

Having your eyes in the boat is a concept that was ingrained in me early on in my Coast Guard career. The idea was used to prevent recruits from looking around at there surroundings during basic training (or boot camp). I guess by looking straight it ahead it avoided unnecessary distractions and useless small talk in places like the mess hall, admin offices, and gym facilities.

Thus eyes in the boat was born. At the time, I did not really give it much thought. I just went along with it to appease the drill instructors, frankly, I was too tired to waste energy gawking around and chatting anyways, so I found it rather easy to maintain the eyes in the boat structure for what seemed like days on end.  Despite eating 3+ meals in that mess hall per day for over 8 weeks, I honestly could not tell you what the interior even looked like, I didn’t care. Still don’t. I did not join the Coast Guard to look around at the interiors of dated and underfunded Coast Guard dining facilities anyways.

Eyes in the boat was a concept that stuck with me all these years though because, if anything, it taught me one lesson. Keeps your eyes in front of you. Keep looking at where you are going. When you ignore the useless nonsense in your surroundings, your mission and task at hand become much clearer to see and easier to understand. I did not give a crap what color the walls in the mess hall were. Or what type of fish were in the fish tank in medical.

Today, having my eyes in the boat is a little less rigided and I try to at least pay attention to my surroundings, but I still try my best to maintain my focus on the task at hand. Sometimes when I take my eyes out of the boat and start looking around at my surroundings, (figuratively, not literally), I get super sidetracked. This side tracked-ness leaves me feeling panicked and stressed out.  .

To me, having my eyes in the boat is staying focused on my goal. The direction I am headed, long-term, not right now, not today, not tomorrow, but long term. 1, 3, 5 or 10 years down the road. If I start looking at the right now – and begin wanting to get these 3, 5, and 10-year results now, I begin to feel stressed out. Forgot about all that and keep your eyes in the boat. If your goal is to graduate in 3 years, stay focused on that.  If your goal is to win your next match, tournament, or competition – then stay focused on that. Keep your eyes in your boat, keep looking forward at the target. Don’t worry if things are not going your way right now, or this week. They will come around. They will come around even faster the better disciplined you become at keeping your eyes in the boat.

In boot camp, anytime our eyes fell out of the boat, we were quickly alerted to this by an overzealous and highly caffeinated drill instructor. In civilian life you have to be your own authority figure, you have to control your own discipline. You have to remind yourself to keep your damn eyes in the boat.

Stay focused. Stay Hungry. Stay Humble

Work.

The Best Investment

I love investing. I think having your money work for you is one of the best things you can do to ensure financial freedom down the road. Sure, I’ve paid the “stupid” tax a time or two and made poor investment decisions. But that is all part of the learning curve. One common misconception about investing is that you have to be wealthy to invest. Not true. You can start investing with as little as a couple hundred dollars.

There is another form of investing you can do with a little to no money up front at all. This is the type of investing I am most fond of.

That investing is, investing in yourself. So many people fail to invest anything measurable in themselves. And to be totally honest, it a pitiful shame and a waste to not invest in yourself.

Making an investment in yourself is something that will pay you back many times over. Best of all, these can often be free!!

At this point, you might be asking; How can I invest in myself?

Start with investing in your education, growth, and learning. Attending university or college is a great way to invest in your education, however, this approach also takes a huge financial investment as well. This might be something you either cannot afford or are not willing to fork over at this moment in time. Don’t worry. I’ve been there too. It’s hard to spend so much money on an education, especially if it is something you are not sure you even have the desire to pursue!

That was part of my early academic problem at least. I loved the learning and growth from college classes, these also came with there negative sideeffects. First off, I did not even know what degree I wanted to pursue. I bounced around changing my degree field several times before temporarly dropping out. (I went back years later and finished my degree, once I knew what I wanted to study.) Secondly, college is really dang expensively. Especially if you are trying to foot the bill yourself (like I did).

If this sounds like you, I don’t blame you for not wanting to “invest in yourself”. The good news, however, you don’t need to attend college to get an education. Start simple, and start small. The interest is FULL of free resources to help you learn about any topic you can imagine.

Another area, you can invest in is your health. I highly recommend joining a legitimate gym and learning the fundamentals from knowledgeable trainers, and coaches, but like college – this can often be expensive too. So, more good news! You can learn a lot of this, at home, for free. You can even start training and exercising in the comfort of your own living room with little, to zero equipment.

Invest in both your learning and your health. Start small and simple. Master a few basic concepts and start building from there. Most of these resources are free. Then when the time is right, enroll in some classes or join the local gym. But don’t want to start learning until you are a college student. And don’t wait to get fit before you start exercising. Start now, with whatever you have and build from there.