Saturday, June 15, 2013

Do Or Do Not, There's No Talking About Doing

One of the basic rules I have here at the Black Belt Project, as part of my Dojo Kun, is to do first, then talk about what you did AFTER it's been successfully completed. Often people take the opposite approach. They decide to do something, talk about what they decided they want to do and then more often than not, don't end up doing it. This leads to a feeling of failure not only within yourself but it also paints a picture of failure in the minds of others if you consistently talk about doing but never actually do it.

I've been guilty of this and maybe you have to. And, I'm sure, like me, you can think of specific people you've come across in your life that are all "talk" and after awhile they lose credibility with you because you know it's just not going to happen. Eventually, you just quietly tune out the next grand idea they have.

I am not sure who started it, but I think the most prevalent advice out there is that you should set a goal and then tell everyone what the goal is that you set. This public announcement of your goal is somehow supposed to make yourself accountable to yourself and put more pressure on you to do it and make you think twice about not following through because of peer pressure.

Then there's also the feeling that when set a goal you want to reach that telling others about it somehow makes them your goal police.

I'd say this approach is more common for activities like weight loss. You set a goal like I'm going to lose so many pounds and then you tell your family that you are going to lose so much weight. Then, put the onus on them to make sure your reach your goal. You might say, if you see me eating this or that, get on me about it and don't let me do it!

Making others your goal police puts them in an uncomfortable position that they don't care to be in and can create animosity between the goal "police" and the goal "law breaker".

The important thing to remember about goals is that they are YOUR goals. It's not my goal. It's not your co-worker's goal. Whether you reach your goals is honestly not important to everyone else most of the time and so we don't really care and the last thing we want to do is make sure you do what you said you needed to reach your goal. We are busy trying to reach our own.

Recently, I went against my own rule by setting a very lofty goal and going public with it. I wrote about it in my post called The 1,000 Blog Posts of 1,000 Words in 1,000 Days To $50,000 A Month Challenge. It was very difficult for me to go "public" with that goal because I know it's going to be very challenging to accomplish. Not only because it's going to take a BIG commitment from but also because it's going to take a significant amount of effort as well. It's also going to take some luck.

When I make this kind of goal public, there are some general reactions you can expect. The first is that if the goal is BIG, there is no belief you will reach it anyway. People ignore goals that seem un-achievable. So until there's action behind the goal, it won't garner much attention. The web is pretty crowded.

There's also the likelihood that if you knew me personally and I had a habit of making lofty goals all of the time and this is 100th time I have revealed my big time goal to you and you knew I hadn't reached the other 99, that you won't put much stock into it either.

There's also another problem.

And as much as I hate to say it, while most people want others to be successful, some don't want you do something that makes you more successful than them. Because of that, there's also the possibility that my reaching my goal might make threaten you in some way. It might either threaten your self esteem, the way you make a living or any number of things that I never dreamed might have had that effect on you and instead of having an ally in my journey to reach my goal, now I might actually have a saboteur involved that might try and prevent me from reaching my goal.

With that being said, let's say that now you know my goal that I revealed in the post above and now, it's out there. Many people will eventually find out about it. And let's say that we are a thousand days into the future and I did indeed do as I predicted and successfully reached my goal.

Psychologically, this is going to bring forth confidence of others in me that if I set another lofty goal, because I have done it once before, there will be a belief that there is a good chance I will probably do it again.

It's that confidence, that faith and belief that we can accomplish what we set out to do, that we want to build here in me, in you and in all of those who take the time to study my work.

Those kind of good feelings that we have about ourselves or have shown towards us are always great. It makes us feel good about ourselves and we all deserve that.

It's my opinion though, that the best way to build that belief in myself, or you in yours, is to do FIRST and then talk about what you or I did after we have done it.

I had lunch with some clients the other day and before the lunch one of the gals got her phone out and showed us a picture of her about a 100 pounds heavier. Having never met her before, I never knew she was overweight. And everyone else I was with never expected that either.

I could tell inside that she was very proud of herself and she should be. Those good feelings that came from accomplishing her weight loss and the praise that we gave her, she deserved in every way. Everyone wanted to know how she did it, how long it took and so on.

Sometimes, I think, it's those feelings that we are often really after when we set a goal even though all we have done is say what we want to others. We want them to cheer us on, reinforce their belief in us and help us get there and share the journey with us. We WANT people to treat us like we have already reached our goal. But in reality, that kind of real positive support is asking a lot of others and people don't live up to the expectation.

When they don't, it's a downer and makes it harder to achieve what we really want.

Compare this already successfully feeling of the woman I met who already reached her goal and lost over a 100 pounds to being overweight, setting a goal to lose a certain amount of weight and then failing to lose it. Now, compound that with others knowing her goal and realizing she might not achieve it. Then compound that with a lack of good feelings that go with being successful and that no one is telling you how great you are like they would be if you had been like her.

There's no comparison. The first feeling leads to more success while the second feeling contributes to a feeling of failure that can easily lead to more and more failure.

This is why I believe it's better to keep goals private and only share successes.

So from here on out, I want you to set goals privately and share completion of goals publicly. The size of the goal is unimportant. It might be that all you did was get out of bed today. Whatever it is, every goal is small enough to keep to yourself until you reach it. And every success is big enough to share with everyone - no matter how small - ALWAYS.

Commit then.

Don't talk about what you are going to do. Do it FIRST, then talk about what you did AFTER you succeeded. It will lead to much more confidence and much more success.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Mental Strength Bar

In this lesson, I wanted to talk about the mental strength bar. If you have read any of my past work, you'll be somewhat familiar with the term but might not be sure exactly what I am talking about. In my work, I don't do physically demanding work. I work with paper and computers. Most of it is not hard work, it's just a decision of whether or not I will do it. So when I look at what I have to do, it's a test of mental strength. Will I do it - not can I. When you break it down, it's really easy work and it's a mental decision.

As an example, right now, I need to send an email to someone that includes a letter I've drafted for them to print out on their letterhead and sign. It's not really a physically demanding task but I have to open another computer to do it securely and I just haven't done it yet. Often people look at this delay as procrastination. But really what it is is that the task I am trying to do is tougher than my will power to do it. I call this mental strength.

You'll recognize people who have a lot of mental strength if you work with them. You ask for something you need done, you get it back. Just like you'll recognize people who have a low amount of mental strength. Have you done that yet, oops, I haven't sorry.

Chances are you recognize yourself in both the people above. I know I do. Mental strength comes and goes just like physical strength. If you don't train physically, you get weaker and if you don't condition yourself to get things done, you also get weaker just mentally.

Physical strength is easy to measure. You go to the gym, pick up some weight and see if you can lift it. Mental strength isn't quite as easy to measure. But mental strength is as important in life as physical strength.

I measure mental strength in the number of tasks that you can complete in a day. To gain mental strength, you have to add more tasks to make yourself stronger. Unlike the gym, where it's easy to measure our physical strength, it's a lot tougher to measure our mental strength because we have no idea how many tasks we are doing (and often they are the wrong tasks).

So to deal with this problem, you and I will use two tools. The first is the checklist where we break down exactly the tasks we know we want and need to do ahead of time. The second is by putting the mental strength bar on the list where we encounter a problem getting past the task on that list.

I've started doing this to show you exactly how it is done. Visit My Black Belt Project Checklist to see how I am breaking down my day and you will also see on the list somewhere my mental strength bar which might look like this:

  • Pick up iPhone

  • Clear alerts

  • Update apps

  • Empty text messages

  • Empty inbox


  • Process email action folder

So step one was that I had to first pre-think out what the tasks were that I wanted to do. I talk about how to do that more in how to visualize the perfect day.

This gives me a list of things that if I did everything perfectly and if I did them all from start to finish would comprise the perfect day.

But the problem as you and I know is that we only get so far down the list before we get side tracked and you just somehow don't manage to get that perfect day complete like you set out to do. Where you get sidetracked is how mentally strong you are.

In my example above, you'll see that I could get all the way through emptying my inbox but I couldn't get my email action folder processed. That's why I put the bar between the two. My goal is to get mentally strong enough to push my mental strength bar all the way down the list.

I call this process getting to Black Belt because it's the truest sign of mastery. Once you have refined your checklist and got it in the best order, the fewest steps and can complete it quickly, then you pre-planned everything you wanted to do AND DID IT then you made it Black Belt.

Again then, just to restate, my mental strength would be all of the tasks I did that were above the bar. To compare it to physical strength, those tasks might be 50 pounds. But if you added one more pound (or one more task) I might not be able to lift it (or do it in terms of mental strength).

When assessing mental strength, I think it's important to start with the bar at the top of your list to make success easy to achieve. I wouldn't put it way down the list, then figure out that you can't do it. So what I want you to do is think like this.

If you went to the gym to work out, you might be able to lift 100 pounds. You might only be able to lift 50 pounds. Whatever that number is might be the max you could lift. But if you haven't worked out in a while, you are going to risk getting hurt or exhaust yourself so that you just wouldn't go to the gym any more.

To prevent that, I want you to think in terms of progressive resistance. What this means is that you start small and as you are strong enough, you add more weight. We start with every light weight and then we increase it when we know we can do so without risking injury or frustration.

In terms of our list, I want you to imagine that each task (if you have broken it down to it's smallest step) on your list is one pound. And if you have to, just start with one pound and put your mental strength bar right there so it's so easy to do that one task that it almost seems stupid to put it there. Once you know you can do that one task without fail, then you raise the bar to two tasks (two pounds).

And you just repeat the process once you know how many tasks you can do, add a little more over time. You always have permission to do more tasks but the day is always successful if you complete all of the tasks up to your mental strength bar.

Before you know it, you'll be completing your whole list.

And that's the concept of the mental strength bar.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How To Get Out Of Bed When You Don't Feel Like It

You have to get out of bed to master your life. I outline how you can to condition yourself to get out of bed and get things done.[/caption]

When you are digging out of a motivational slump, the first task you often have to tackle is how to get out of bed when you don’t really want to. If you are feeling all down and depressed, it’s pretty common to use sleep to avoid life in general. I know this is a habit of mine. When I lack motivation and I’m trying to figure out how to get motivated, I tend to become a sleep-aholic. I tend to stay up way to late and then don’t want to get out of bed at a decent time because of it. Once that happens, and it becomes a habit, it’s a tough one to break. Next thing you know, I’m taking naps during the day to catch up and I’m like a cat laying around the house all day taking naps where ever I can.

Getting into a habit like this is very unproductive. It’s very tough to master your life when you don’t start living it until the afternoon. And, while I don’t have any stats to back it up, my guess is that it’s very unhealthy for the body.

So let’s talk about how to get out of bed and eliminate this bad habit and condition a better one which is to get out of bed because you actually WANT to not because you HAVE to.

STEP #1: Create the day you think you would want to wake up to

The first step is learn how to visualize the perfect day. You can see the visualization of my perfect day here in My Black Belt Project Checklist. Now depending on when you read this, my checklist is going to be dynamic. It's going to change as I work with it. As I write this, it is far from complete.

But the idea is that you need to know exactly what it is you are going to do when you get out of bed. What you don't want to have happen is that you get up and think, well where do I start. You want to KNOW what the first thing is, the second and so on.

You can see here, I've pre-thought out what I am going to do so there's no thinking in the moment about what it is that I want to do when I wake up - I already know.

STEP #2: Use music that pumps you up as your alarm instead of the default alarm tone

I use my iPhone 5 as my alarm. One of the options is that I can use music instead of some sort of tone to wake me up. What I have done is select a song that makes me feel like I can be successful.

Now, there are a LOT of options here. But the song I use is a song called Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky). I've used this song forever to pump me up. I guess it works for me because it gives me a sense that I can accomplish whatever I set out to do.

Certainly, there's a song that works for you. Whatever that song is, load it up and use it to wake you up.

STEP #3: Put your alarm away from the bed so that in order to turn it off, you have to get up to do it

The next thing I do is put my phone out of reach from the bed. Usually I am charging the phone overnight, so I typically have it plugged it on the floor next to the bed. I have to get up to turn it off. The physical act of getting out of bed is the hardest part. Getting the body moving is half the battle.

If you can't just hammer the snooze button easily, then you stand a better chance of maintaining momentum if you are already out of bed.

STEP #4: Have your checklist next to your alarm and do the items on your checklist to at least the point where you have put your mental strength bar

If you look at the checklist above, you'll see there's what I call a mental strength bar. It looks like this.


I place this bar at the point of how many tasks I can do easily in a day. You can see in the image above, that right now, it's at the end of my waking up routine. What that bar represents is just how mentally strong I am at the moment. When I wrote this, I have committed and can do at least those tasks without any problem on a daily basis. Beyond that, while I could do additional tasks if I wanted, I didn't have to or maybe I couldn't find the mental strength to do them. When I wrote this, I was mentally strong enough just to do that part of my checklist.

Because I am strong enough to do all of the tasks above my mental strength bar, I've also made a deal with myself that no matter what happens during the rest of the day, I can consider the day a success if I at least do those things. If I do, I pat myself on the back for a job well done. If I do more that day, great, if I don't I don't worry about it.

I do this because I know that later I will be moving the bar using a concept of progressive resistance or making my day just a little bit harder (similar to adding weights to a workout bar).

STEP #5: Once you complete the tasks to your mental strength bar, play the same music that you used to wake up to condition yourself that when you hear the music, you feel you can complete things

Once I get up and do the tasks that lead up to my current mental strength, I play the same music that I used to wake up to - in my case, the Rocky Theme.

I do this to condition myself that when I hear the music that wakes me up that it matches up to the feeling I get when I reach my current mental strength.

STEP #6: Give yourself permission to go back to bed once you do all of the items up to your mental strength bar if you want

Once you do all of the tasks to your current mental strength, that day is a success and you can feel free to go back to bed if you want. Eventually, you'll get to the point you will just stay up and work on other stuff because you will be mentally strong enough to do it.

So that's the strategy I use to get out of bed. Start using it and condition yourself to match the feeling of waking up to the feeling of completing things in your day.

Friday, June 7, 2013

How To Visualize The Perfect Day

In my post about how to get motivated, I explained the seven steps that you can use to kick start your motivation level. Step one is to start thinking about what a perfect day in your life might look like if it went exactly the way you wanted it to go from the moment you woke up until the moment you went to bed.

If you have never thought about doing this before, you might not know exactly how to visualize the perfect day. What I am going to do is walk you through exactly how I do it so you can use what I do to help you visualize what you want your day to look like. This same process will be one of the core processes used here at the Black Belt Project as you and I work our way through the belts to help you visualize not just what you want your day to look like - but your life as well.

Before I do that, I want to take a step back and talk about what visualization is, why it's important and more specifically the secret ingredient you need to make what you visualize something that you realize.

What Is Visualization?

Visualization is creating a mental picture in your head of a something you'd like to see happen in real life. One of the best examples of visualization that I have seen is the pre-flight briefing of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. You can watch the video of this pre-flight briefing to your right.

Those of you who have seen the Blue Angels at an air show will know that they are an elite squadron of pilots who represent some of the best pilots in the Navy. They set the standard of excellence for pilots for their precision flying. Behind the scenes of this team is a lot of preparation and one of the steps they take is visualizing the show in their heads on the ground before they actually fly.

If you watch the video, you'll notice the flight commander meticulously goes through the routine they have planned for the air show including exactly what each pilot says as if they were actually in the air at that moment. Some of the pilots close their eyes and move their hands as if they are actually controlling the plane during the briefing. This mental exercise is visualization at it's highest level. They are creating an extremely clear and accurate picture of exactly what they are going to do so that when they set out to do it, they have conditioned themselves to be better prepared and carry it out successfully.

Of course, when you visualize the perfect day it won't be as dramatic as the Blue Angels of course, but this is exactly the kind of thing you need to do when you visualize what you want.

Why Is Visualization Important To My Success?

Now that you know what visualization is, why should you do it? Why is this a crucial step not only for motivational purposes but also for life mastery? The reason is that when you create a mental picture of what you want, you gain a better understanding of what you want in the first place. This mental picture that you create works much like a road map. It provides a destination - an end result. And then it's just up to you find the best way to get there.

Life is not unlike a trip. It's a journey. And just like any trip, the first thing you decide when planning a trip is where you want to go. While you could just hop in the car and take off, and that kind of spontaneity has an adventurous quality to it, it's just not as likely you'll enjoy that kind of trip as much as one that you set out to do with a specific destination in mind along with all of the things you might want to do when you get there.

Look at the visualization of your day - and your life - much like a post card taken from your favorite travel destination. The clearer you make it, the more likely you are to wind up there.

The Secret Ingredient That Makes What You Visualize A Reality - Taking Action

Once you start imagining what you want, just picturing it - even if you picture it with great clarity - isn't enough. So what is it exactly that makes what you visualize become a reality?

This is by far the most important part of the visualization process.

In order for your mental images to become a reality, there are actually three steps.

Step one: Clearly picture what it is that you want.

Developing a clear picture of what you want makes realizing it that much easier. Don't worry though if what you want is fuzzy and out of focus at first. Once you think about it more and more, it will sharpen up. But realize you want a clear picture to develop over time. The clearer it is, the better.

Step two: Ask yourself what do I need to do to make it happen?

Once you start creating an image in your mind of something that you want, the second step you should always take is to ask yourself what do I have to do to get it? This powerful question is an important part of why visualization works. That's because once you ask yourself what do I need to do, the brain kicks in and starts thinking of answers. They may not be the right answers at first and that's ok, but possible solutions start being offered.

What you do with those answers is probably more important. You could easily dismiss them all and this tells your brain that while it was indeed asked to picture what you wanted, it's not a serious request. Once your brain realizes that it's not important to you to really figure it out, it decides to move on to other subjects and that clear mental image of what you wanted disappears as quickly as it was formed.

Step three: Take an action step towards realizing it even if it's a small step

So that leads me to the third and most important step of visualization which is the the secret ingredient to making visualization really work in your life. It turns passive visualization into active visualization. That secret ingredient is taking a small action step towards what you are trying to get. Once you create an a clear image of what you want, ask your brain to give you possible action steps and then actually do one, the brain cements that picture in your mind by saying:

BRAIN: "OK. This is a serious request and we need to keep working on it."

And so once you take that action, it's as simple as repeating the question how do I get it? The more you repeat this process, the better answers you get and a clearer image of the end result is formed in your head.

I call this process active visualization because it combines a picture of what you want with action. Those two things combined are a powerful force and once you adopt them, you'll discover just how powerful they are. So I want you to remember the following formula as the key to successful visualization.


This formula pays huge dividends when applied to your life. So the next step is for us to start applying it by developing a clear picture of what we want our perfect day to look like.

Where To Start When You Don't Know What You Want Your Perfect Day To Look Like

Getting what you want out of life would be a lot easier if we knew what we wanted. Obviously, if we had more money or more time, we could get a lot more out of life but those things while visualizations in and of themselves aren't specific enough and they are too far out in the future to get us moving now.

What I recommend then is to just start with one day of your life and ask yourself what do I want out of this one day. But even then, it's a potential road block you might not be able to get over. A day is 24 hours. What do I really want when I don't know what I am really working towards?

So while I want you to think in terms of the "perfect" day as the outcome, it's not important that you have a clear picture of what the whole day looks like completely the first time you sit down and think about it.

But what is important is that you ask yourself the following question:

"If I did have the perfect day, what would it look like?"

Your brain will then get to work and start providing answers.

Here are some things that I thought of for myself:

  • I'd get up early and get started.

  • I would work out.

  • I would eat right.

  • I would make more sales calls.

  • I would spend more time with my family.

  • I would take better care of myself.

The key here is to take note of each idea and write it down in a list. This clears your head and makes it possible for your brain to think of more ideas.

Once you've done this for a few minutes, you need to pick a place to start and for me, it makes the most since to start at the beginning of your day and write down the exact first thing you want to do and then second and so on. If you don't know the second thing or the third thing write down what you do know and then start planning on doing it.

So I look at my list and I say where does it make the most sense to get started. I see the one about getting up early and so I decide to start there.

  • Get up

I then ask myself what would be the second thing I would want to do if I was wanted to have the perfect day and so to me the next logical step is to go to the bathroom. After that I might get a glass of water.

This gives me a list that says:

  • Get up

  • Go to the bathroom

  • Get a glass of water

Now granted these aren't the most productive things I could have put on my list. They don't make me any more money or create more time but that's not what is important at first.

What is important is creating momentum and these easy mundane tasks help you do that when you start doing them on a daily basis and realization of a visualization through action creates a clearer picture of what your ideal day will look like. PLUS, it creates momentum to help you keep moving forward.

Once I wake up, go to the bathroom and then get glass of water. I've got to ask myself, if this was the perfect day, what is the very next thing I would do and then put it on my list and start doing it.

Over time, what's going to happen as I keep going through this process is I'm going to get better answers. I'm going to ask more questions like is that the best order to do those things I have on my list? What else can I add? Did I leave anything out?

But none of those things happen if you don't take action and get them out of your head and onto your checklist for the perfect day.

Putting them down on paper makes them even more clear, gets rid of mental overhead and clears your brain to focus and once the mundane tasks you have to do are on there, the more important things will start showing up.

As they do, you will start adding them and continue to ask the question, what would my perfect day look like. Eventually, the answer will be right in front of you on a neat and tidy checklist that covers the entire day and that will also break down the perfect day that you set out to visualize completely and clearly.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How To Get Motivated - A Case Study

This is my year long case study about learning how to get motivated. Over the years, I've studied a lot of motivational material. The problem is that most of the stuff, while it's inspirational, doesn't really tell you what specific steps you need to do on a daily basis to continually motivate yourself. Once the inspiration fades, so does the motivation. If you want long lasting motivation that will truly help, this post is dedicated to giving you an inside look into specifically how you can achieve it.

Why This Case Study About How To Get Motivated Will Help You More Than Nearly All The Other Motivational Material Out There

Because this is a case study, I'll be sharing my own personal journey with you through my emails, my blog posts, my podcasts and my iTunes series. For most people, most motivation happens in the form of speeches they hear. These speeches might last anywhere between 15 to 90 minutes.

Mostly, they are a collection of stories to get you to decide to take action. The person giving the speech - I'll call them the motivator - are often successful only at inspiring. The success they've achieved is through speaking and not through giving people specific instructions to follow every day.

In fact, if you want an example of one of the leaders in motivation that illustrates what I am talking about, here's a TED Talk that talks about how to get motivated, but not really. It's called the "Puzzle of Motivation" but when he gets done, it's still a puzzle. If you watch the speech, at the end of it, ask yourself one question. How do I get motivated? You won't have a clue at the end of it. It's basically a story with no actionable content. The only thing I really learned was the answer to the candle problem which doesn't affect my motivation at all. It's more about problem solving. So anyway, I posted the video here so you can see it.

If you choose to follow along and take advantage of all the tools I provide, you will find an actionable system that you can duplicate for yourself. That system will bridge the gap between inspiration and achievement for you personally.

But only if, you take action.

Make The Decision To Take Action

At the heart of getting better individually is the desire to do it. If you don't care to improve, you won't. A desire to get better and also taking action to do so is motivation at work. And motivation, or the lack thereof, is probably the single most important factor in determining how successful you are. If you can tap into your inner self and get motivated to take action, you are more likely to have the life you want. If you can't, you are probably wondering what it takes to get motivated and how to get yourself to do the things you know you need to do to get the things you want out of life.

That's why I put this as the foundation of the Black Belt Project and place every student of their life here first at the white belt level to tackle motivation. Because many people lack motivation and don't know how to generate it, they remain stuck and unable to get things in motion. Personally, I find myself in that boat on occasions, including now as I write this.

It's an ideal time then for me to walk you through exactly the steps you need to take to create motivation that sticks and that you can use whenever you find yourself where you can't seem to muster action towards what you want.

Lack of motivation has many causes and I could spend all day reviewing the roots of mine or your lack of it as well. But that's not really a productive exercise and the solution is the same - a step by step plan to move you out of it.

If You Want To Get Motivated, You Must Build Mental Strength

I look at how to get motivated just like working out. And when you aren't motivated it just means you are out of shape. It's time to go to the gym but a different kind of gym to begin an exercise program. But instead of building physical strength, you and I will be working on our mental strength.

However, just like you wouldn't go to the gym and try and lift three hundred pounds the first day, you won't try and take massive action right away either. The reason is because either you won't have the strength to do it or the endurance to keep it going.

So when we start building mental strength, we are going to start small with light weights and those weights are going to be tasks that you do on a daily basis. We are going to start small by doing a few tasks and as we gain strength, we will add slightly more tasks to slowly increase our strength. The stronger we get the more tasks we will be able to do and we will always want to be adding tasks to get progressively stronger.

The Seven Steps To Building Mental Strength

To get started I'm going to break down the process of how build mental strength and then explain how it works. These are the steps to getting motivated through improving mental strength:

  1. Start thinking about what you would like an ideal day to look like in your life

  2. Put the steps required to do that day in the form of a checklist

  3. Start by committing to do the first item on that list each day

  4. Set your mental strength bar at that level

  5. Raise the bar by adding additional tasks as you gain strength

  6. Break down tasks into the smallest possible steps so they are easier to complete

  7. Keep raising the bar

Step 1. Start Visualizing What You Would Like The Perfect Day To Look Like In Your Life

The first step in this process is to sit down and start thinking about if you were motivated, what an ideal day might look like. It's easy to visualize what action would look like. Picture yourself being productive and get a good snapshot of what that day might look like. Don't worry if at first you can't create a complete image. If it's only getting out of bed so be it. But the point is that you have to start with an end in mind EVEN IF you don't know what that end clearly looks like yet. Clarity will come once your mind starts getting conditioned through action.

It's important to start at the beginning of the day from the moment you get up. While you can certainly start with any part of your day, I've found the most success starting with the beginning because the beginning is always the best starting point.

The first thing I would put on the list? Getting up! Here's how to start learning how to visualize the perfect day.

Step 2. Put The Steps Required To Do That Day In The Form Of A Checklist

Break down the day you pictured into a series of steps. Put it into a checklist. The checklist is the key tool necessary to generate motivation PLUS it's going to be the cornerstone of mastering our lives. We are going to use it for a few purposes.

  • To gauge mental strength. We'll know exactly how many tasks we can do in a certain day comfortably and figure out just how mentally strong we are.

  • To get the steps required out of our head to get rid of that mental overhead.

  • To figure out how to better structure our steps to get them completed in the fastest way possible.

  • To know what done looks like.

You'll be amazed at the power of this checklist once it starts taking shape and later will see why it will be the primary tool you'll use to improve your life.

Step 3. Commit To Doing The First Item On The List Each Day - And Then Do It Every Day

Once you have started your checklist, it's time to commit to doing the first item on that list each day. This first task on the list is the first weight you'll lift each and every day to build mental strength.

What I want you to think of is that this task is like a 5 pound weight. Start by lifting five pounds each and every day. If you can lift more - do more tasks - that's fine, but you have to do at least the first task each and every day without fail. If you do that and only that, then the day was a success.

Step 4. Set Your Mental Strength Bar At That Level

The idea here is that once you have completed your tasks that you are mentally strong enough to do each day, then you can see exactly how strong you are. Let me give you a  visual to illustrate what I mean. Here's a simple list of a few items that might start out my day.

  • Get up

  • Go to the bathroom

  • Drink a glass of water

  • ---- Mental strength bar -----

  • Go for a walk

So here's a sample of the beginning of my day. I've envisioned what I want it to look like or at least to start out like, put it in a checklist and committed to doing the first three items on the list AND am able to complete them. But when it comes to going for a walk, let's say that I haven't built the mental strength to do that each day. I can tell at a glance exactly how mentally strong I am and also see what it's going to take to get stronger to get my day where I want it. I've got to go for a walk.

Step 5. Raise Your Mental Strength Bar By Adding Additional Tasks As You Gain Strength

Once you know where the mental strength is, your mission is clear - you must raise the bar and be strong enough to complete the tasks above it. As you gain strength, you'll find it easier to raise the bar. But you don't want to go to fast. You don't want to add to many tasks - or too many "weights" - and exhaust your strength. Remember, place your mental strength bar where you know without a doubt your strength is for certain. You can always do more tasks but regardless the day is a success as long as you do those items under the bar without fail. Doing more is fine. Just make sure you do at least the tasks above your mental strength bar and if you do, congratulate yourself.

I suggest that each week, you raise the bar at least one task always remembering that you can do more than the minimum but must always get to the mental strength bar you set.

Step 6. Break Down Tasks Into The Smallest Possible Steps To Make Them Easier To Complete

You will run into situations where the next task on your list seems to heavy and mentally you won't be able to find the strength to them right away. A good example above is the task just below my mental strength bar - go for a walk. I might envision that I want to walk for 45 minutes but given a choice between moving my body to the gym and laying back down, I might choose laying back down. It makes sense then to break "go for a walk" into the next smallest steps similar to this:

  • Put on work out clothes

  • Put on shoes

  • ---- Mental Strength Bar ----

  • Get keys to the car

  • Drive to the gym

  • Get on treadmill

  • Start treadmill

While at first, it might seem daunting to walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes, it seems a lot easier to put on my shorts, t-shirt and shoes. And if all that I can do is get that far, even if don't walk, as long as I complete it up to that point, the day is a success.

Once I get to drive to the gym, I'm probably going to look at the door and do the obvious walk in of course. You can guess then I might not have the strength to walk for 45 minutes. The answer, walk for 5.

Key concept: Whenever possible, break down every task into as small as step as you can. They are easier to complete and when you look at your checklist, the next task won't seem so hard you can't do it.

Step 7. Keep Raising The Bar

At this point, once you have the structure, you just have to keep adding tasks to your checklist moving the bar further down your list to build mental strength. The key is what's called progressive resistance. Small additions make you progressively stronger as you move the bar down the list.

As you continue this process, a strange thing will happen. Your mind will start to think about what else you need to add to your list and not only that, you'll start to think of ways to improve your list and reorder it into a more optimal sequence.

Before you know it, motivation kicks in and you are doing more than you thought you could do.

The key?

Just keep raising the bar.

What Next?

This is an active case study so this page will evolve and change during the case study. Your first step is to start raising the bar and put your email in the box below and click the red button to get started. I'll begin showing you how I build mental strength and with it, how I get motivated to achieve what I want.

The box is below.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Success Starts When No One Is Watching

If you follow me, you will not doubt notice that I will go through stretches of time where it seems like nothing is happening. And on your end, that might seem to be the case. Behind the scenes though, it's a different story. I'm plotting my next move and working towards goals that I have set for myself. What I have noticed throughout the years is that people seem to be more likely to do the things they need to do to make their life more successful if they know that someone is watching and witnessing them make progress. This is productive for a lot of people who need group interaction and the "pat on the back" that you accomplished something is really rewarding.

But true success is garnered by those who do the things that need to be done when no one is watching. It took me a long time to develop the ability to motivate myself to take action even though there is no one to tell me to do it.

In fact, for the first several years of working on my own, I spent a lot of time wasting time and telling myself I will definitely get started tomorrow. I'll eat better, tomorrow. I'll start working out, tomorrow. I'll make that first phone call to drum up business, tomorrow. Invariably, I would find myself on the next day saying the same thing and tomorrow keeps getting pushed back day after day.

Unfortunately, this is a bad habit and it's also one that is very difficult to break.

It's tough to break because non action is always easier than taking action.

Your ability to take action might be impaired for a variety of reasons but in the end there are two things that you need to remember. One is that those things are just excuses. And the second is that, it just means your mental strength needs work.

Building this mental strength is tough if we believe what our mind tells us. And it's a lonely job too. No one is going to build our mental strength for us. We have to own it. And make that task our priority number one.

Because building that mental strength to accomplish will lead you to great things and a better life.

I'm often inspired by stories of people who spend most of their time practicing their craft. Looking for that edge that will help them when they need it most. For the most part, these stories come from athletes who spend countless hours practicing for a two hour game.

One of the ones that always comes to mind is Larry Bird who played in the NBA. He came from a small town in Indiana. From what I've heard, he practiced more than anyone else he played against. He spent countless hours in the gym by himself shooting all the shots he might take in the game from all parts of the floor. So, when it came time for the game, he knew he would hit the shot when it mattered. Why? Because he had taken it hundreds if not thousands of times prior to that moment by himself. This devotion to practice by himself earned him huge pats on the back by the fans who watched him. But during his practice times there was no one there doing that for him. He dug deep within himself and his own mental strength to summon the energy required to take action when no one was watching.

It's this attention to detail that separates those who succeed versus those who don't. Who takes the time to study the things they do on a daily basis and makes a checklist and then follows it?

Who takes the time to hone that checklist into a finely tuned machine to get it done in the most effective manner?

Who does the things that nobody wants to do when no one is there to tell you you did a great job doing that?

I can tell you that it's small minority of the people you know. That's why success is so elusive.

But that should also bring you encouragement. And that's because there is no one stopping you from doing those things but yourself.

Start doing the little steps that lead to success and you'll start seeing the success. You'll become part of that minority of successful people.

YOU can do that. It just takes getting started and taking action. Start today.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why You Need To Start Your Own Business To Become FinanciallyIndependent

In my last post I talked about how to become financially independent. I talked a little about how to break it down into steps from your smallest bill to your largest. Determine how much money you need to save that would generate enough income to pay those bills. The missing ingredient here is how to get a large enough pool of money to live off so that you don't have to work. Exactly how do you do that?

The first thing that you need to do is to create a mindset that you are going to create a fund to live off of. Once you have done that you will need to set up that account and put money into it. At first I wouldn't worry about what kind of account it is. A regular savings account will do. You have to get in the habit of putting money into it first.

The second thing is to have a goal - a preliminary target to that huge number you need to save up to be able to not work and live off the money you have saved up. In my previous article, I set my first smaller target at $7200. If I can find a way to set aside that much money and earn 5 percent interest somewhere, then I will have become financially independent up to my water bill of $30 per month.

The third thing is to have a way to fund that account up to that target amount. There are a few ways to get your account funded. The first and most obvious is to earn that much money, put it in an account and to not spend it. The second way is to sell some things you own to raise that amount of money. There are more ways but those are the basic two that jump out at me right away.

I'm going to talk about another way to raise the money to fill my account and that's to start my own business.

You see, there are two basic types of people in the world. Those who make stuff and those who buy stuff. The people who make the vast majority of stuff we have is the side you want to be on. You want to be a producer of some sort. You want to make things that you can sell. Most of us are consumers of some sort. We spend all that we make and then some.

This sort of thinking is what traps us into a life of never getting ahead. To get where we want to go, we need a vehicle. That vehicle is your own business.

Your own business can do two things for you. The first is that it can make you money. The second is that it is an asset that you can sell later for a much larger amount than it cost you to buy it. If you can create an income stream that makes you money, you have something you can sell.

The hard part is figuring out exactly what that business should be. I will talk more about that in my next post.