“I’ll do it later” – no, do it now.
“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte
The only difference between you and the person who’s living the life you want is that they’re doing it. They’ve built that life, and they’re living it.
They’re not smarter, more mindful, stronger, or any of that stuff. They don’t have anything you don’t. The only difference is that successful people don’t wait. They’re not waiting for the “right” moment. They don’t wait for inspiration to strike or for some cosmic event to force them to action. They get up and they do, and they try, and they fail even before they may feel “ready.” They’re flying the airplane while they’re building it. If it falls out of the sky, they’ll piece it back together and try again.
Your internal condition means nothing. It’s just another excuse that you give yourself to stay out of the risky zones of life. The problem is, those risky zones ARE life! The rest is just existing.
Love the life you have, not the one you expected to have.
Don’t expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat.
Instead of silently expecting something and feeling slighted when it doesn’t happen, let go of that expectation. If there’s something you want, how about asking for it with no expectation? And when you do something positive or generous, do it because you genuinely want to rather than loading in the added weight of what you expect in return.
We often expect other people to treat us exactly as we treat them. If we do them a favor, we expect to get the same favor back in return. It becomes an unspoken “debt” of sorts. When we give our partner a foot massage, we expect them to reciprocate either directly or indirectly. Those expectations grow both in weight and complexity in an intimate or romantic relationship.
You won’t believe how much your interactions with other people will improve the moment you let go of expecting, the instant you learn to accept things as they happen.
If your relationship is struggling, change your perspective and get the whole picture. What are your expectations?
Many of us expect our partners to be a certain way consistently, or to anticipate our needs and know exactly what we’re feeling, as if by magic. But your partner, like you, is an imperfect human with his or her own set of complicated emotions and thoughts. So it’s appropriate that they may sometimes be distracted or get short with you after a bad day.
“Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.”
When you expect nothing, you’re living in the moment. You’re not worrying about the future or rejecting the past. You’re simply embracing your situation as it comes. When you accept everything, that doesn’t mean you are ok with it or that you agree with it, but simply that you are owning it and in charge of it. Remember you can always change something when you can take ownership and responsibility for it. Sometimes it’s the single most effective way of resolving your “stuff.” Own it!
“No man is free who is not master of himself.”
We value the notion that we freely choose what we do, and when to do it. We want to feel that we control our own fate and shape our own destiny.
But when our minds are ruled by these automatic thought processes, do we really have free will? Many would argue that we don’t. Listen, here’s how much free will you have – stop doing all that shit you know you shouldn’t be doing and start doing all the shit you know you should be doing. All of it.
This free will stuff isn’t so easy now is it!?
Our minds would love to predict and plan for everything that’s going to happen. But it’s simply not possible. And these expectations not only have a negative effect on our emotional state, they actually leave us less powerful than we really could be.
It’s so much more effective to simply take things as they present themselves, to live in the moment (like there’s another moment you could live in), and solve issues and items as they arise, than to constantly expect.
It’s not that I’m anti-planning, (I most certainly am not), but the stone-cold attachment to the plan, (and all the expectation therein), is a little like falling out of a row-boat and continuing to row even though you have no oars and no boat under you anymore. Your plan (and image) of how this should have gone is no longer relevant but yet you still struggle to reconcile the space between your expectations and reality.
Life can be like that at times. On some occasions you have to realize that the game has changed (sometimes dramatically so) and you need to pivot. Deal with your reality.
Wake up, you’re in the water. Stop waving your arms about and paddle to shore dammit!
“No man ever steps in the same river twice...”
Here’s the coaching – CUT IT OUT! Let go of those expectations NOW!
It’s much more powerful to come to terms with life’s unpredictability and to engage with your circumstances for what they actually are than get bogged down by your refusal to let go of unnecessary or unproductive expectations.
The world revolves around change. Birth and death, growth and destruction, rise and fall, summer and winter. It’s never the same from one day to another no matter how much it might seem that it is.
Your powerlessness is directly correlated to the gap between your hidden expectations and your reality. The greater the gap, the worse you’ll actually feel.
I read somewhere that the root cause of upset in marriage is unmet expectation.
I think it goes out further, much further. I say the problem is expectation itself. I contend that the upsets strewn throughout your entire life are a product of thousands of unspoken or unrecognized expectations that cast a giant shadow across your life experience; causing great stress when you’re trying to make life fit with your expectations and great disappointment when life doesn’t match up to them.
When you’re not sure if you’re following the right path, when you’ve been knocked down a few too many times, it’s completely fine to get discouraged, hell; even defeated. What’s not ok is to stop.
Because you can always lean on relentlessness. When you have nothing else, you have relentlessness.
Rather than worrying about whether you should keep going or turn back, press in relentlessly. Relentlessness has one direction, and that’s forward. It only has one option, and that’s to keep the momentum going.
Before Arnold, no Austrian bodybuilder had ever gone onto become an A-list action start in the United States, let alone be elected governor of California. You can be sure he spent a good part of his life and career not really knowing where he was going. There aren’t any road signs when you’re trekking through uncharted territory, it’s all discovery and exploration. You are blazing a trail, not following one.
When you find yourself in that situation, all you can do is focus on and deal with what’s directly in front of you. You just put one foot in front of the other, taking things on as they present themselves.
“We would accomplish more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”
- Vince Lombardi
The impossible only becomes possible in the moment you believe it is.
[...] don’t be fooled by the self-help bullshit that tells you “You deserve it!” Because you don’t. No one does. That conversation will leave you waiting and wanting and eventually a complete victim to your own life. Sometimes you just have to grind it out, stake your claim and hustle for what you want. You will need to quite literally make it happen.
The most successful among us got to where they are today because they transcended obstacles.
But that’s easier said than done. It’s one thing to say “never give up” (I fucking hate bumper sticker-slogans), but quite another to actually put relentlessness into your life’s most worthy causes.
Listen, when it comes down to it, the world doesn’t stop you from succeeding; you’re not that big of a deal. The universe is neither conspiring for nor against you, and the only thing that stops you is when you buy into the notion that you are stopped. Then, my friend, you really are stopped.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
From the nervousness and doubt we feel when we take risks in our careers, to the muscle soreness and shortness of breath we experience pumping out another 5 minutes on the treadmill, our biggest successes are born out of discomfort, uncertainty, and risk.
“Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind”
- Theodore Roosevelt
Think about the greatest people you know of—either personally or by reputation. Do you consider their thoughts? Or do you remember their actions?
Do you think Gandhi or Rosa Parks or Abraham Lincoln were never gripped by thoughts of doubt, fear or uncertainty? How about Nikola Tesla or Steve Jobs? Do you seriously think those people woke up every day in the perfect mood with “everything’s coming up roses”, playing in their heads? HELL NO! They were wracked by the same kind of shit you are, but they acted ANYWAY.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”
- Dale Carnegie
Each time will be better than the last until your mind wakes up and realizes, “Hey, I can do this. I’m learning!”
Our minds often have an unrealistic perception of the world, peppered with interpretation, misunderstanding, automatic behaviors and opinions, and cultural and familial programming all laid on top of our lives like designs on a giant sheet of tracing paper while the more we strive to get our reality to match this design, the more we struggle.
The gap between how life is and how we think life is; is often the black hole in which we fruitlessly labor.
We think things are worse or better, harder or easier than they actually are from this cacophony of background noise and judgement.
“We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions”
You change your life by doing, not by thinking about doing.
No matter how hard you try, you’re going to have the occasional negative thought. Maybe more than occasionally. Maybe every day. Maybe hundreds of times per day.
You’re going to have days where you don’t want to get out of bed, where you don’t want to go to work, where you don’t want to take care of your responsibilities. But you do. Every day you engage in activities that you don’t really want to do. That means you already have a muscle for having thoughts and acting independently of them.
As I consistently say to my clients, you don’t have to feel like today is your day, you just have to act like it is.
You are not your thoughts. You are not defined by what’s inside your head. You are what you do. Your actions.
You’re never going achieve your true potential if you’re hooked by what other people think.
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid”
“All I know,” Socrates once said, “is that I know nothing.” Many wise people understand this. In fact, they owe their wisdom to that very realization – that they don’t actually know a damn thing.
By running from uncertainty in search of certainty, we’re actually rejecting the one thing in life that is guaranteed in favor of something that’s nothing more than a fantasy.
No matter how hard we may try, we can never predict exactly what life will bring. Our plans will falter at some point eventually.
The funny thing is, no matter how much you chase certainty, you’ll never really be able to hold it or retain it. That’s because it doesn’t exist. The universe will always send us little reminders of its chaos and power, and no one is exempt from the prompting.
Nothing is certain. You could go to sleep tonight and never wake up. You could get in your car and never make it to work. Certainty is a complete illusion. Voodoo.
In my career I’ve coached many “successful” people who came to me because their lives had gone flat, and they had become uninspired and tepid. What happened? For many of them, they got comfortable. For years, they had pushed their comfort zones to get where they wanted to be. But as soon as they chose certainty over uncertainty, they stopped achieving. They hit the wall.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”
- Theodore Roosevelt
Success is never certain. It never comes without risk. Even if you’re the smartest or the hardest working, there’s no guarantee of anything.
Face your problems as they come, one by one, give them the attention they need and move on. Bundling them all together into a morass of confusion and letting them overwhelm you just won’t help. It takes precision, patience and discipline of thought. Work through each item pragmatically and with a solution in mind. Remember, everything is solve-able, and if you can’t see a solution, it only means you haven’t worked it out yet.
Once you’ve faced your problems head on, how will your sense of self change? When you’re the fit and healthy person you want to be, how will your beliefs about yourself be different? What will that life look like? I would warn against the idea that you’ll suddenly be awesome. Your future is not the answer to your present.
The Stoic philosopher Seneca once said,
“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable”.
Right now, your mind is unconquerable when it comes to proving that you’re not worthy of love, that you’re lazy, or that you’ll always be out of shape or never have any money.
But if we change our thinking a little, we can use our mind’s unconquerable nature to act on all the positive goals and dreams we hold for ourselves. We are wired to win – we just have to point ourselves in the right direction so we can win at something we consciously choose.
I like to say that we win in domains or worlds. Let’s say you make $30,000 per year. That’s a domain. All of the planning, strategy and thinking you do to make that money constitute that domain.
Believe it or not, it’s not necessarily any harder to make $60k than it is $30k. You may think it is, but that’s not an absolute. Whether you work for $25/hour or $50/hour, 40 hours of work is still 40 hours of actual work. While it’s important to identify what you’re at work on and whether you are being productive instead of just busy, sometimes it really is a question of getting yourself into another domain.
Can’t seem to increase your income? Can’t seem to lose weight? Have you considered the subconscious, concealed beliefs about your income and your weight that may be driving your action (or lack of it)? You automatically relate to yourself as belonging to a certain economic class, with a certain level of fitness, and your actions serve to keep you in place, right where you’re most familiar to yourself.
You’ll realize that when you’re willing to do what it takes, nothing else matters. You won’t put off the things you’re truly willing to do. You won’t neglect the responsibilities you took on because you will feel the strong sense of willingness to do them.
When you are free to be open and available, with nothing held back, no lies, no withholds or half-truths, you really are your most expressive, most alive self.
If you really want those things, then go get them! Begin today, lay out your strategy, deal with your reality and, most importantly, take the actions required and take them often!
But if you’re not willing to work an extra 10 or 20 hours a week just to drive to work in a BMW instead of a Honda, give up the complete waste of precious headspace to yearn for it. Stop pretending to yourself. Deal with your unwillingness to take on the kind of actions accomplishing those things would require and accept that you have been bullshitting yourself. You’ll have a lot more capacity for loving the life you actually do have and create some room to begin striving for the things you actually want in life.
[...] so many of us have actually forgotten why we are pursuing what we are pursuing in the first place.
Some goals simply aren’t connected to our reality. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for reaching for the stars and striving for things that seem impossible. For instance, we’d probably all like to be filthy rich. But are you willing to do what it takes to make that much money? Are you willing to work 60, 70 or 80 hours of your week or skip vacations to do the work that needs to get done? Are you willing to take on more responsibility and, importantly, risk it all? Have you, in reality, confronted and dealt with what becoming filthy rich might really demand of you? The seemingly endless drain on your life and mind space? Our society has produced such a headlong rush to be the wealthiest, the smartest, the prettiest, the best dressed, the funniest or the strongest, and somewhere in there we have lost the ability to just be ourselves, free to breathe life and choose our own path rather than carry the burden of social or familial expectation. What does all that produce? Well, a lot of disappointed and unfulfilled human beings that’s for sure.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has”
At the end of it all, you might have to face the cold reality that you have been all too willing to remain the same. You have been unwilling to fundamentally change your life and lose that weight for good, that somewhere in there you are ok with living this way. I mean, come on, you must be or you would have changed it by now!
Maybe you are in fact, unwilling. In many cases, that may actually be the best answer you can give.
Sometimes declaring your unwillingness can be just as powerful as declaring willingness.
Are you willing to live with a body that’s unhealthy? No. Are you willing to continue living paycheck to paycheck? No. Are you willing to put up with unworkable, unsustainable relationships? No.
The famous philosopher and political scientist Niccolo Machiavelli once said,
“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great”.
Either you control your destiny, or your destiny will control you. Life won’t stop for your pauses and procrastinations. It won’t stop for your confusion or fear. It will continue right along without you.
Believe me, I hear you, “I am willing but...”. Every time you add the “but” to the end of that statement, you turn yourself into the victim.
[...] willingness is a state in which we can engage with life and see a situation from a new perspective. It starts with you and ends with you. No one can make you willing, and you cannot move forward until you really are willing to make the next move.
You cannot, I repeat CANNOT dwell in any blame game in your life. Even blaming yourself is completely useless. Of course you’ll face situations that you seemingly can’t control. You may even face tragic circumstances, like disability, disease, or the death of a loved one.
But there is always something you can do to impact those circumstances even if you’ve had them for years and still can’t see a way. But first, you must be willing. To fully embrace my approach, you must first accept that while there are things have happened in your life that you had no say in, you are 100% responsible for what you do with your life in the aftermath of those events. Always, every time, no excuses.
Stop blaming luck.
Stop blaming other people.
Stop pointing to outside influences or circumstances.
Stop blaming your childhood or neighborhood.
“Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.”
Assertive self-talk is when you stake a claim for this moment of time, right here and now. When you start to talk in terms of “I am…” or “I embrace…” or “I accept…” or “I assert…”, all of which are powerful and commanding uses of language rather than the narrative of “I will…” or “I’m going to…”
The physiological and psychological impact of using in-the-moment, assertive language is not only powerful, it has a very real in-the-moment effect. There’s a massive difference between, “I am relentless” and, “I will be relentless”.
One of the first mistakes we make is when we talk about what we are going to do or who we will be. Don’t even get me started on “should, or “try”! Sub-consciously we are already determining when that will be happening and it’s certainly not in this moment of time.
[...] people spend their lives waiting for the cavalry, all the while never realizing they are the cavalry. Your life is waiting on you to finally show up.
It’s entirely within our power to determine how we think about and talk about our problems. They can be a nuisance or a stepping stone. They can hold us down or lift us up.
In fact, stoic philosophers like Aurelius believed that outside events hold no power over us at all. We create our own reality with our minds.
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
In real everyday terms, the way we talk to ourselves and others instantly shapes how we perceive life, and that same perception directly impacts our behavior right there in the moment.
The good news is, studies have continually found that positive self-talk can dramatically improve mood, boost confidence, increase productivity, and more. Much more. In fact, as evidenced by Professor Hart and his studies, it can be one of the key components to a happy, successful life.
The bad news is, the reverse is also true: Negative self-talk can not only put us in a bad mood, it can leave us feeling helpless. It can make small problems seem bigger – and even create problems where none existed before.
Studies show that we have over fifty thousand thoughts per day. Think of all the things you say to yourself that you’d rather not or that you try to overcome or defeat. While we have little or no say in those automatic and reactionary thoughts, we have a massive say in which of those same thoughts we attach significance to.