Archive for the 'Success' Category

How to Build a Strong Work Ethic

March 17th, 2014 by LivingorSurviving.com

There is no fatigue so wearisome as that which comes from lack of work. – Charles Spurgeon

If you’ve been stuck in a lazy rut lately, here are some suggestions to get yourself working productively.

 

1. Accept that many results require hard work.

Remind yourself of the simple causality chain from decision to action to results. That middle phase is where most of the work is.

If you have no willingness to ever work your ass off, if you have such resistance to the very notion of pushing yourself, if you have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement that all the goodness of life should flow to you with effortless ease, that’s great. You can read this article purely for entertainment purposes.

But if you’re a more pragmatic realist, if you can recognize that many goals are too big and challenging just to attract and manifest out of thin air, if you can see that the whole point of tackling bigger goals is to develop yourself into a person of bold action, if you can accept that avoiding action altogether is a recipe for stagnation, and especially if you’re tired of not getting the results you actually want and having to settle for less, then perhaps you can make this important leap and accept that some of your goals will require you to achieve them with hard work and lots of disciplined, focused action.

 

2. Notice how self-discipline vs. laziness feels to you.

Notice that during those times when you actually do discipline yourself to take action, it often feels fantastic once you get past the first 15 minutes or so. Sure it’s nice to enjoy the end result. But also remember what it feels like to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and get into the flow of action.

How did it feel to put in that extra hour? To go to work when you could have justified taking an extra day off? To put in the time to complete that optional creative project?

Sure it involved some sacrifice. But what did you give up? Extra TV time, a little web surfing, and some time lying flat on your back perhaps. What did you gain for your efforts? It wasn’t just the end result. You grew stronger.

Inaction can be unforgiving. It kills your results. It drains your energy. It drains you of hope. Self-discipline pays you back with all of these results and more, including significantly greater happiness, fulfillment, and self-esteem.

 

3. Embrace responsibility.

Recognize that no one is coming to rescue you. No one will force you into the flow of action. You must do this for yourself.

The lazy avoidance of responsibility isn’t for you. You don’t want stagnation. You want growth, and this requires action, movement, and change. This requires you to make some decisions and get going.

Don’t confuse laziness with ease. In the long run, laziness yields only pointless difficulties and painful regret — and rightly so since you’ll always know you could have avoided those difficulties if you’d really stepped up.

Don’t put this burden of action on anyone else. It rests squarely on your shoulders, if for no other reason than because you’re the one who ultimately has to shoulder the results.

 

4. Start your day strongly.

A strong work ethic begins with a disciplined morning routine. Don’t be caught lying on your back half-conscious, dragging yourself out of bed in a lazy half-start to your day.

When you wake up, get up. Get moving and get going. This will soon become a habit. If you aren’t doing this naturally already, then respect the utility of a quality alarm clock. When your alarm sounds, pop out of bed and stand up first; then switch it off with your feet firmly on the ground.

If you can’t wake up strongly in the morning, then fix your disgusting diet that’s draining you of energy and motivation instead of fueling you powerfully.

Start each day with a strong morning, and the rest of the day will tend to follow. Move with power and purpose during that first hour. Own your mornings. Then maintain this attitude of mastery over your time as far into each day as possible.

 

5. Exercise.

If the President of the USA can find time in his exceedingly busy schedule to exercise for 45 minutes each morning, you surely have time.

Exercising strongly will energize you. Your body is meant to move. Your brain especially suffers from a lack of exercise, leading to imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters. Physical exercise is one of the brain’s best rejuvenators. Don’t allow your mind to be dragged down by a sluggish body.

If you have difficulty focusing your mind, start by focusing on your body.

When you exercise, make it challenging. Don’t just do the same thing over and over. Mix it up. Push yourself. Make it intense. Give yourself not only a physical challenge but also a mental one. Embrace the terrific feeling of accomplishing something difficult each day, ideally in the morning. Kick off your day with a physical victory.

Exercise isn’t just training for your body. It’s training for your mind — and especially for your self-discipline.

 

6. Tackle a real challenge before lunch.

Nobody can think straight who does not work. Idleness warps the mind. - Henry Ford

Kick off each workday with a mental challenge. Don’t start with something light and cushy. Dive right into a challenging task that some part of you would rather avoid. Train yourself to embrace what’s difficult instead of pushing it away.

When you avoid difficult tasks by pushing them later into your day, soon you’ll justify bumping them into the next day… and then the next one… and then into next week… and then you’ll realize this little postponement has somehow ballooned into months of procrastination.

To avoid a difficult task this moment is to condition the habit of postponing difficulties indefinitely. This is no way to claim the benefits that come from doing difficult work.

Don’t resist difficult tasks. Embrace them as your daily resistance training.

 

7. Get to it.

Determine never to be idle… It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing. - Thomas Jefferson

Stop waffling. Stop talking about it. Go do it.

Taking action produces faster results than thinking about taking action. Many of the problems people discuss endlessly could be resolved with less than 10 minutes of direct action.

Repeatedly driving yourself to get into action creates flow and feels good. Thinking about doing (while not doing) will produce pile-ups of unnecessary obstacles.

 

8. Act with good purpose.

When you work, work towards an end result that you desire. Don’t spin in circles doing pointless busywork that won’t lead you to your desired results.

Set your purpose straight. Then act in alignment with that purpose.

Plan each day in advance, ideally at the end of the previous workday. During this time, check back in with your mission. If you don’t have a mission or if you don’t have clear goals, then go read the article on clarity and fix that.

Plan your days in alignment with your long-term priorities. As you consider possible actions to take, ask yourself which ones will matter in a year. Load the bulk of your time with actions that you expect will produce long-term improvement.

 

9. Condition disciplined habits.

Disciplined habits are those that make a difference in the long run. If a habit will do you little or no good to maintain it for the next five years, then why are you keeping it in your life?

Use the 30-day trial method to test and condition new habits.

Don’t try to break bad habits. You can’t replace a habit with a void. Instead, select better substitutes that you can condition in place of the old ones.

 

10. Work first, then play.

The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest, for he has not earned it. - John Lubbock

Play is sweetest when it’s earned. So is sleep. Earn your sleep each night by working hard on your goals during the day. Go to bed with the sweet smile of accomplishment still on your lips.

Take your rewards. Enjoy your life. But earn your rewards first.

Playing before you’ve earned your play time robs the play of much of its pleasure. If you love to play, then you’d better love to work.

When you rest or play, leave your work at work. Don’t destroy the restorative value of non-work activities by bleeding half-work into them.

 

11. Choose your peers with care.

A lazy person, whatever the talents with which he set out, will have condemned himself to second-hand thoughts and to second-rate friends. - Cyril Connolly

Maintain high standards for your social circle. Keep yourself at arm’s length from the lazy, the unproductive, and the negative minded. A weak social circle is a psychological prison.

Befriend and associate with the hard-working, ambitious, successful people of this world, and you’ll soon count yourself among them.

 

12. Don’t use the Law of Attraction as an excuse for laziness.

Most of the LoA fans I know are great at manifesting — pennies.

Wishing for more from life is wonderful. Keep doing that. But recognize that your own hard, disciplined work efforts are often integral to the manifesting process.

The LoA works best when every fiber of your being is congruent with your desires. How congruent are you when you’re sitting on your couch watching TV while intending more abundance to come into your life?

I’d say you look a lot more congruent when you work your ass off during the day taking actions that you believe will help you achieve your goal faster. But if you fritter away most of your days by sleeping in late, if you spend hours doing low value tasks that don’t need to be done (and calling it research), and if you end most of your days with that sinking feeling that you could have done a lot better, that isn’t manifesting. That’s just being lazy.

If you want to become better at manifesting your desires, then step into the difficulties of making tough decisions. Accept the challenge of staying focused in a world of increasing distraction. See how far you can push your self-discipline. Explore fresh ways to create and share value with the world.

If you think you’re good at manifesting, then manifest some focus, drive, and self-discipline, and you’ll find that your ability to experience what you desire increases significantly. No more sitting on the sidelines hoping for changes that never arrive.

Manifest strength. Then use it. That’s what you really desire. Don’t waste your time on unworthy short-cut intentions that would only weaken you if you actually received them.

* * *

Wielding a strong work ethic is ultimately a matter of becoming an action-oriented person. Steer your self-development path in this direction. Decide that you’ll grow into a person with a strong, powerful work ethic. The doing part will flow more easily if you can embrace the being part.

Can you allow yourself to become a hard worker? When someone asks if you have a strong work ethic, can you see yourself saying YES without hesitation?

Now go do something truly challenging for the next few hours.

 

by Steve Pavlina
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Yes, You Can Be Happy While Pushing Yourself to Success

January 24th, 2014 by LivingorSurviving.com

Most of us, at some point or another, think that we will be happy once we achieve a particular goal.

I’ll be happy after I…

  • graduate from college
  • make a million dollars
  • get married
  • lose 40 pounds
  • get a job

 

…and so on.

To be clear, I have been guilty of this as well. There have been plenty of times that I have assumed that satisfaction and success would come after I won a championship or after I built a successful business or after XYZ goal.

Society tells us that this is a good thing. We hear about athletes that are never satisfied until they have reached the top. We hear about entrepreneurs who worked like crazy to build a business that changed the world. The basic idea is that to be driven, you also have to be dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with second place. Dissatisfied with average.

Then you have the other side of the equation: people who are happy with life as it is. They say that you need to develop the skill of “not wanting more.” That you can be happy where you are right now. That you are already perfect.

The Problem

Here’s the problem: I want both. Maybe you do too.

I like being happy. It’s fun. I don’t want to delay happiness until I reach some milestone. But I also like getting better. I don’t want to settle for less than I can do in life. I’d like to be happy along the way and achieve my goals.

For a long time, it bothered me that being happy (being satisfied) and being driven (being dissatisfied) seemed to be at odds with one another.

I still don’t have a lot of this figured out, but the more I study people who have had a great deal of success, the more I think that it’s possible to be happy and driven.

Here’s how…

 

Driven and Happy

Let’s start with being driven. If you want to maximize your potential, then you will need to continue to work to become better both before and after you achieve a given goal.

Why would someone do that?

For example, if your goal was to make a million dollars and you made it, why would you keep working hard after that?

The answer is a little more complicated than you might think.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

In economics, there is a fundamental principle known as the Law of Diminishing Returns.

Here’s the short definition: as you get more of something, it becomes less valuable. This isn’t just economic theory, a similar trend happens in real life.

If you have zero money and you make $10,000, then it’s going to be a big deal. But if you have already earned $1 million, then making another $10,000 doesn’t seem as significant. Making each dollar means a lot in the beginning, but less over time.

If you have never won a championship, then that first one is going to be incredible. But if you already have five championship rings, then adding a sixth isn’t going to be as sweet as getting the first. Standing at the top means a lot in the beginning, but less over time.

If you are starting a company, then getting your first customer is an incredible rush. But if you already have 100 paying clients, then adding one more doesn’t provide the same thrill. Landing each client means a lot in the beginning, but less over time.

In other words, the goals and results that seem so valuable to you in the beginning actually become less valuable as you achieve more of them.

 

How to Stay Driven

So, if the results mean less as you achieve more of them, how do you stay driven?

By loving the practice of what you do. It’s only the people who embrace their work as a craft and fall in love with the boredom of doing it day in and day out that stay driven over the long-term.

Here are some examples…

Richard Branson is already a billionaire. He has already built hundreds of companies. He’s not still doing it because of the money. The money stopped meaning a lot to him a long time ago. He’s doing it because he loves the practice of doing it.

Nick Saban has already won four national championships (1 with LSU and 3 with Alabama). He makes over $5 million dollars per year. He’s not coaching football for the money anymore. He’s not coaching to “make it to the top.” He’s coaching because he loves the process (and he talks about process all the time).

Jack LaLanne was setting fitness records for 40+ years. He wasn’t working out to lose a few pounds. He exercised every day because he loved it.

Summary: the only way to stay driven before and after achieving goals is to love the practice of what you do.

 

How to Be Happy

Guess what? This answer is now easy. If you love the practice of what you do, if you love the daily work, then you can be happy before and after you achieve your goals.

When you learn to love the process of what you are doing and not focus so much on the goal, you automatically find happiness while staying driven.

If you learn to love the practice of working out, then you’ll be happy right now and you’ll see results later. If you learn to love the practice of marketing your business, then you’ll be happy right now and you’ll see results later. If you learn to love the practice of supporting your friends and family, then you’ll be happy now and see the results later.

Happy and driven. Just one more reason why the system is better than the goal.
by James Clear

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Make 2014 the Year You Reach for Your Goals

January 10th, 2014 by LivingorSurviving.com

New Year’s resolutions are cliche, but they aren’t without value, because taking the time to think about what is holding us back from our dreams has enormous benefits. Unfortunately, most of us don’t reassess what we’re doing and why nearly often enough. What are your priorities this year? What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to spend your time? And frankly — what’s stopping you?

We all hold fixed beliefs about ourselves. Maybe you secretly think you’re not a hard worker or you won’t find love. These assumptions, which we may not even realize we believe in, prevent us from getting what we want. Make 2014 the year you force yourself to become aware of them.

Get off the couch and fully embrace the realization that this is your year to do things you’ve wanted to for so long.

First, stop observing, and start doing. This is one of my priorities for the new year. Stop refreshing your Facebook page. Stop changing your profile picture. Stop pointless updates. (The truth is, no one cares what you had for dinner.)

Between cable TV, Netflix, Apple TV and smart TV … there’s so much to watch. But it’s not doing anything for you. Don’t spend your precious time on things that don’t give you a return. The same goes for YouTube.

Second, realize that you’re perfect. It’s true: You don’t even know it. Be unafraid of appearing as you really are. Our childlike, na?ve sense of wonder and curiosity are some of our greatest assets as entrepreneurs — and as people, I’d argue. If you’re not making mistakes this year, you’re doing it wrong. Because making mistakes shows that you’re willing to take risks, to put yourself out there, and to dare to be and do a little more.

Third, ask insanely dumb questions — because there are no dumb questions! Don’t stop at reading a book or an article. The very best way to learn is from other people, because you can keep asking them the questions you need and want answered. You may find this advice amusing, coming from a dude who just wrote two books. But my decades of professional experience have taught me that there’s only so much you can learn in print. You may feel good after reading one how-to book, but you’ll probably search for a second and then a third. Over-saturating yourself with information can lead to inaction. There are no hard and fast rules. For better or worse, everyone learns by doing. There’s only so much you can prepare yourself for. Try to not be scared of that.

The reason resolutions fail is because they’re not system-oriented. They’re not bite-size. We live our lives daily. Think about what you want to accomplish each day and the person you want to be. Start there. A goal is something to reach for, but having a system — a set of actions — will actually get you there. I was really inspired by James Clear’s December post on the difference between goals and systems. I encourage you to check it out.

There’s no reason you can’t start today.

by Stephen Key

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5 Steps to Becoming a More Empowered You in the New Year

January 6th, 2014 by LivingorSurviving.com

Each year, people start off the New Year with a resolution that’s probably similar to one made in previous years. And every January, there’s a new commitment to making it really work this year.

Here’s the problem: People who make these “renewed” resolutions aren’t really committed to changing who they are on the inside. So these resolutions — whether it’s getting in shape or growing a network or improving productivity — become simply a test of willpower.

What needs to happen instead is a true change of perspective: Who you are, why you are here and what life really means to you.

The truth is, once you decide to look at yourself in the mirror every day and commit to holding yourself accountable to be the “best you” you can be, then all of your goals and resolutions become more easily attainable. That’s because the real change is happening from within. The self-sabotaging habits begin to diminish and confidence, self-esteem and self-worth increases.

In life we have control of one thing only — our perspective. No matter what happens, you can train yourself to see the good or lesson in everything that is happening around you. This can make your feel empowered instead of powerless in many circumstances.

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve adopted these mantras in order to create a more positive perspective, both professionally and personally. By following them, you can take control of your life and get empowered to live the life you truly desire.

1. “Someday is Today.” Stop procrastinating and creating excuses for why you can’t have what you want. Take control. Announce to yourself “someday is today” every day, to seize the day and eradicate an excuse mentality.

2.”Have More Fear of Regret Than Failure.” Remind yourself that the feeling of regret is so much worse than trying something (even if it doesn’t work out) and living with no regrets. Realize fear is an illusion that holds you back. By doing so, you will set yourself free to live to your fullest potential.

3. “I Only Have Good Days.” Remember, the only thing in the world we have control over is our perspective. You can choose to adopt a consistently positive perspective and find the good in everything. Or you can be negative, and attract more negative things into your life. The mantra “I only have good days” reminds you to see the positive for a better outcome.

4. “Opportunities Lie Within Every Obstacle.” It can be tough to dig deep and find the positive, especially when confronted by challenges. But if you choose the positive, you will find the opportunity and nuggets of wisdom in every obstacle that presents itself in your life.

5. “Live With Passion and Purpose.” Stop asking “what should I be doing” and start understanding “who you want to be.” What do you want your legacy to be? As you reflect, you will begin to understand your purpose. That will make it easier to live with more passion and stay further away from needless and draining distractions or drama. Identifying your purpose and living with passion is the most authentic way to be empowered all day, every day.

Keep these mantra’s handy. Perhaps post them on a mirror or wall so that you will be reminded how to “mentally reset” when you fall into old patterns and perspectives that can sabotage your best efforts. Empower yourself to have a happier, more fulfilling, successful life. Then this year really can be THE year to achieve your goals and live the life you desire.
by Jen Groover

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Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

January 1st, 2014 by LivingorSurviving.com

We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives — getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a best-selling book, winning a championship, and so on.

And for most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. At least, this is how I approached my life until recently. I would set goals for classes I took, for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym, and for clients I wanted in my business.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things.

It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.

Let me explain.

The Difference Between Goals and Systems

What’s the difference between goals and systems?

  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

Now for the really interesting question:

If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?

For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?

I think you would.

As an example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I’ve written this year. (You can see them all here.) In the last 12 months, I’ve written over 115,000 words. The typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have basically written two books this year.

All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said, “I want to write two books this year.”

What I did focus on was writing one article every Monday and Thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.

Let’s talk about three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.

1. Goals reduce your current happiness.

When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”

The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”

SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.

Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.

But we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.

When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.

2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.

You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.

Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?

This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.

SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.

I was training at the gym last week and I was doing my second-to-last set of clean and jerks. When I hit that rep, I felt a small twinge in my leg. It wasn’t painful or an injury, just a sign of fatigue near the end of my workout. For a minute or two, I thought about doing my final set. Then, I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to call it a day.

In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout and reach your goal. After all, if you set a goal and you don’t reach it, then you feel like a failure.

But with a systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number, it’s about sticking to the process and not missing workouts.

Of course, I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will lift bigger weights in the long-run. And that’s why systems are more valuable than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.

3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.

You can’t predict the future. (I know, shocking.)

But every time we set a goal, we try to do it. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.

SOLUTION: Build feedback loops.

Each Friday, I spend 15 minutes filling out a small spreadsheet with the most critical metrics for my business. For example, in one column I calculate the conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that join my free email newsletter each week). I rarely think about this number, but checking that column each week provides a feedback loop that tells me if I’m doing things right. When that number drops, I know that I need to send high quality traffic to my site.

Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.

Fall In Love With Systems

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

In fact, I think I’m going to officially declare 2014 the “Year of the Sloth” so that everyone will be forced to slow down and make consistent, methodical progress rather than chasing sexy goals for a few weeks and then flaming out.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.
by James Clear

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