Changing Course

I was recently asked how I feel about changing directions even if it means not reaching one of your goals.

How I feel is simple, take action fast.

Your goals are just that. Your goals. They are things that are personal to you.

If you are in pursuit of a goal and realize that it’s no longer the direction you want to go, then by all means. Turn around and do it quickly. Don’t continue traveling down the wrong road.

In the Coast Guard, our ships have autopilot. We’d set the desired GPS coordinates and the ship would, for the most part, pilot itself in the general direction. Obviously this wasn’t perfect and the crew would have to closely monitor and make corrections along the way, but nonetheless. The ship would keep traveling in that direction.

The destination, in this case, was our goal. Our target location.

However, sometimes the destination would change due to cases we were called to or even weather avoidance.

If that was the case, we wasted no time changing the direction of the ship toward our new destination.

We did not wait and continue traveling toward our new goal only to be stuck in a hurricane just so we could say we made it.

We made the course corrections and headed toward in the new directions without a second thought.

In Practice: 

The same practice is true with any goal. Goals are not commandments carved in stone tablets. They are targets you are aiming for.

Don’t feel bad when and if that target changes.

Make the adjustment, and keep pushing forward. If you don’t make the change, you will be trapped in a hurricane hundreds of miles away from where you should be.

Decision + Action

I used to live by the code that there are no wrong decisions, rather we make a decision, and then we make it wrong or right.

This, in theory sounds good. And a lot times it is probably a good rule to follow.

However, after practicing jiu jitsu for the past several months one thing has become painfully clear. There are bad decisions.

One thing I love about jiu jitsu is that it gives you immediate feedback on whether or not you are doing the right or wrong thing.

There is no wait and see. You make a bad decision you pay, often times immediately.

Jiu jitsu isn’t like school where we have to wait days or weeks for a grade. Or even worse, waiting for our annual employee review at work.

Two rules for clarity in decision making.

  • Complexity is the enemy of execution.

I know it sounds so cliche, but keeps your plans as simple as possible. Always take the position over submission.  What I mean by this is, if you have a good position in anything, hold on until your plans for executing your next move has been solidified. Even then, simplicity, simplicity, simplicity is always king.

  • Make a decision and act.

I remember going through Leadership and Management School while on active duty and this was one of the first lessons we learned in class. In search and rescue, seconds matter. There is virtually no time to dwell on a situation, you must act. Once the situation has become clear, make a decision and act.

In Practice:

Don’t make hasty decision, but don’t go back and forth either. I would rather someone make a confident wrong decision and then stand their ground as to why they made that decision than buckle under the pressure.

Gather the facts, make the decision, and own it.

Small wins everyday

A lot of people think they have to make these giant bold moved everyday or they are not going anywhere.

The truth is, even with small steps you are still going somewhere, maybe just not as fast.

Small steps every day add up a lot faster overtime than taking no steps at all.

They don’t have to be big leaps, just small consistent steps.

Want to be a better student? Study a little bit more everyday.

Want to break a few bad habits? Start with one at a time.

Want to eat a better diet? Start with one meal a day.

Want to wake up ealier? Start with 10 minutes.

Want to write more? Start with 100 words a day.

These small calculated steps are an investment in yourself. Over time these investments will add up and lay the foundation framework for your future best self. Think of this as a form of compound interest on your investment. Every day the percentage grows a little bit more and more.

Wars are not won or lost by just one battle. But rather through a series of smaller battles played out of months and even years. Each one of these battle is over a small strip of valuable land, a town, a port. They are not fighting for the entire country all at once. Just as you shouldn’t be fighting for your main goals without breaking them down into small battles.

In practice: 

Every day set small goals that are inline with a major goal you have. Then set out to attack these small goals every single day. Don’t over estimate yourself, or the time you have. Keep these daily goals small. Small chunks everyday add up fast.

 

Get More Done – Daily

A lot of people ask me, how I stay so motivated and productive. The truth is, it is a daily battle. Most days I do not wake up excited and ready to go, but I use these two tools to stay on track even.

  •  Write a daily to do list

I always make sure I start my day with a freshly organized to do list. Nothing out of this world, I just make a few notes of the things I want/need to get done that day. Most of the list is comprised of one world or one liners. I find that written down a note, no matter how simple is enough to keep me on track for the coming day.

This usually works best for me if I do it the night before, it is usually one of the last things I do in the evening. I find this helpful because it allows me to clear my mind so I am not laying in bed thinking about everything I have to get done the following day. Then I can wake up with the day already laid out for me.

  • Schedule your time

I am not sure how people can survive by simply trying to remember everything they have to do and everywhere they have to be all the time. Free your mind of that junk and add it to your calendar.

Einstein did not even memorize the speed of light because he knew where he could find it when he needed it. He did not need to waste space in his head for something so readily available. In a world where we can tell our phones to add appointments to our calendars there is absolutely no point in memorizing your schedule.

Think you are not busy enough to use your calendar? Think again. Not only do I schedule appointments, classes, and meetings but I also schedule things like read, write, even meditate. For me, if I do not schedule these things, they are usually the first things I skip that day.

  • In practice

A word of advice from one of my favorite authors, Stephen Covey of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it, you can find it here

 

 

Why Goals Fall Short

I have set infinitely more goals than I have reached. And I am fine with that. If you are reaching every goal you are setting for yourself, then you are not really setting goals in the first place, you’re playing hockey without a goalie.

I don’t play sports, but I would assume part of the winning feeling is the result of beating your opponent at their best. I will also assume it would be boring as shit to play hockey if every goal you shot scored.

Goals are supposed to be challenging, but that doesn’t mean they have to impossible either.

Most goals we set, fall short because we set them like we are making a wish to a genie in the bottle. The only genie in a bottle I’m wishing to is Christina Aguilera. Instead of wishing upon a goal, we need to set a goal with some emotion behind it.

  • Start by living the goal out in your head. 

Once the goal is written down, and yes we always write them down, start to picture how your life will be once that goal has been reached. How will you feel when that happens? What will it look like once that goal is reached? Picture it in detail. Get emotional about your goals.

  • Worry for the good. 

All too often we worry about what we don’t want to happen. In reality, we need to start worrying about what we do want to happen. After all, worry is, just an emotional response, albeit most worry is in negative form. Focus on changing that worry to positive form.  Use that emotion to get excited about reaching your goals.

  • Review your goals often

Its not enough to have the goals in your head. When I say review your goals often I mean read them from the source in which you have them written on. If you follow me on Instagram (insert shameless plug here), and are one of the 8 people who actually read my stories, then you have more than likely seen me rant about this before. (j/k 9 people read my stories, but I don’t always count myself).

REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY.

One way I make sure this happens is by writing my 5 main goals down on several post-it notes. This way I can have them scattered all over the place, my pockets, my car, my gym bag, my bathroom mirror, etc.

Another way to REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY is to put them in your phone. This works but I don’t really like it because I (1) think writing them in your own handwriting is important, and (2) tend to lose my phone for several hours (sometimes purposely) every day.

  • In Practice

Live the goal out in your head

Worry about the positive side of reaching the goal

REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY

REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY

REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY. REVIEW YOUR GOALS DAILY

Do These 3 Things Daily

It never fails that I get a ton of questions on these subjects as well as my daily routine in general, this post will take a slightly deeper look at three things I do daily.

  • Meditate
  • Affirmations
  • Visualize

Meditate

For some reason there is a stigma around this term. People tend to associate meditation with some form of religious experience, while this can apply, it does not always, and I use the term meditation in a slightly looser form.

To me, to meditate means to practice stillness. Meditation is not something I force, rather it is a time when I try to sit (or stand) quietly and focus on my breath.  During this time I also focus on my goals while using positive affirmations, and visualizations methods.

Affirmations 

If you are like me, most of your self talk is negative. I am harder on myself, than most people are on me. I beat myself up mentally on a daily basis. Using affirmations has the opposite effect. When using affirmations I try to focus on my good qualities rather than my shortcomings. So instead of focusing on what I can’t do, I focus on the things I can do.

Affirmations can be as elaborate as you’d like, but for me, I try to keep it simple by, at minimum reminding myself of my positive qualities. I have found this practice to be extremely helpful during times of stress, or preferably while meditating before a stressful event or situation. Affirmations, such as I am strong, I am balanced, I am smart, etc, have been infinitely helpful while practicing my jiu-jitsu, and training CrossFit.

Instead of limiting the use of affirmations to just fitness, try using them in any areas in which you have goals.

Visualize

I use visualization to help calm my nerves and reinforce positive behavior. This goes back to the affirmations above. If I am affirmation something, I will then visualize that affirmation taking place. Generating as much detail as possible is key when practicing visualization methods.

Use affirmations to generate visualizations of previous successes (small and large). Add in details such as sights, sounds, smells, feels. Always focus on past wins or successes and remember how these moments made you feel.  Add the emotion to the vision.

In practice 

Start with just 5 or 10 minutes.

Sit, and relax.

Focus on your breathing for a few deep cycles, then start to think about your goals.

Visualize your goals having already been reached

Focus on how you have felt when you have achieved previous goals.

Use positive affirmations during this time, such as “I am so happy and grateful now that ____________(fill in blank with a current goal).

When your mind wanders, just come back to your breath and reset.

-Caleb