The First Step

James Altucher:

I divide my paper into two columns.

On one column is the list of ideas. On the other column is the list of “FIRST STEPS”. Remember, only the first step. Because you have no idea where that first step will take you.

Imagine you are driving 100 miles to your home late at night. You turn on your headlights so you can see in front of you. All you can see is about 30 feet in front of you but you know if you have the lights on the entire time, you’ll make it home safely, 100 miles away.

Activating the idea machine is how you turn the lights on so you can get home.

And:

One of my favorite examples: Richard Branson didn’t like the service on some airline he was flying. So he had an idea: I’m going to start a new airline. How the heck can a magazine publisher start an airline from scratch with no money?

His first step. He called Boeing to see if they had an airplane he could lease.

No idea is so big you can’t take the first step. If the first step seems to hard, make it simpler.

And:

A real life example: In 2006 I had ten ideas for websites I wanted to build. I knew how to program but didn’t want to. So my first step was to find a site like Elance and then put the spec up and find programmers in India who could make the websites for me. One of them I paid $2000 to develop and sold for $10,000,000 9 months later. (this is not bragging – I went dead broke about 2 years after that).

Vibrational Shift

Steve Pavlina:

Some of the best goals will require you to shift your vibe in order to achieve them. It could be said that the vibrational shift is an even greater accomplishment than the external goal. For example, aligning your vibe with abundance can be a greater accomplishment than earning some specific sum of money. Once you’ve integrated the vibe of abundance, your whole life is transformed, not just your finances.

And:

You don’t have to be in perfect 100% alignment to achieve your goal. You just have to make enough shifts such that the overwhelming force is attractive rather than repulsive. But it has to be strong enough to overcome inertia and any repelling forces.

And:

The #1 reason people struggle to achieve their stretch goals is that they don’t have a solid understanding of the matching vibe.

The most important thing you can do to achieve a stretch goal is to deepen and clarify your understanding of the matching vibe. What will your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors be like when you’ve already achieved the goal? What kind of person will you be when you’re already there?

And:

There are many ways to deepen your understanding of the new vibe that pairs with your goal. Here are some suggestions.

First, be humble as you enter this process. Admit that you don’t yet understand the new vibe. If you did understand it, you’d already be coasting effortlessly to your goal. Accept that if you’re struggling, it’s because you don’t understand the new vibe well enough. You might also be clinging to some false assumptions about it.

Try to set aside any preconceived notions about the new vibe. Start with a blank slate. Open your mind to new possibilities. Don’t pretend to know something you haven’t yet experienced. If you aren’t already living it, it’s safe to say that you don’t know it yet.

And:

I recommend spending about 10 minutes per day visualizing how your life will be different once you’ve achieved your goal. How will you really think, feel, and behave on the other side of that goal? Try to make as few adjustments as possible to your current vibe, just enough to realistically see yourself in that situation and having it feel normal to you. This is important. Realize that if you’re going to achieve this goal in reality, then it’s still you on the other side, with all your dorkiness coming along for the ride. It’s not your higher self or your ideal self. It’s just a slightly adjusted version of your normal, everyday self.

Try doing it like this. Imagine a scene that represents your goal. Now put your current self into that scene. This is the person you are right now, your normal self. Imagine yourself going through that scene as if it were completely real and happening right now. You just quantum leaped right into it. Do your best to imagine this not as a dream or fantasy, but as solid reality, like a real event that’s happening today, perhaps a few hours from now.

Read the entire article here.

Break the Chain

Steve Pavlina:

What’s the most important thing you want to do before you die?

Consider beginning sooner than you think is possible. If you delay for another day, you’ll very likely delay for another after that… and another… and another. You’ll reinforce the habit of delaying indefinitely, and your desire will probably never happen.

Break that chain by starting today. Just lean into the new possibility space with one 5-minute action. Then repeat the next day… and the next… and the next. Otherwise if you establish the pattern of delay, it will very likely stack right up to the moment of death.

If what’s most important to you has no actionable presence in your reality today, then it has no presence in your reality, not even in your future. That’s not entirely accurate of course since you always could do something later, but the bigger risk is conditioning the mental habit of telling yourself that you could do something later… right up to the point of death. It’s safer to begin stacking the important patterns into your life today.

Death can be one of life’s greatest teachers if you take it seriously. It’s one of reality’s best mechanisms for reminding us not to delay what matters to us.

Steve Jobs:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

(…)

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Your Best Self

Steve Pavlina:

I often like to do a simple meditation where I visualize a room with two chairs facing each other. I imagine myself sitting in one chair, and I invite my highest and best self to sit in the other chair. Sometimes I invite my future self, the version of me that’s 5 years older. This works well either way, but lately I’ve been getting the best results by tuning into an alternate-reality version of my present self. His reality is the one in which I’m the happiest and most fulfilled. The most important element of this meditation is that I’m consulting with another version of myself that I feel is wiser in some way.

Then I imagine having a chat with my other self.

The main value in this exercise isn’t about getting specific answers to questions. The value lies in connecting with my true self and getting a better sense of who he really is. What kind of a man is he? What does he value most?

When I understand who my best self is, then I have a clearer sense of the man I wish to become. This understanding makes it easier to set good goals and intentions. When I set goals with this level of understanding, I’m more likely to follow through on them because they’re well aligned with the kind of man I most desire to be. They may be very difficult goals, but I’m less likely to experience self-doubt about my desire for them. I just know they’re right for me.

And:

My lower self likes to ask What should I do? But each time I ask that question, I get different answers, depending on which external influences happen to be the loudest or most infectious at that time.

I find that a better question to ask is: What would he do? where “he” refers to my best self.

When considering different possible paths, I can ask myself, Does this help me align more closely with my best self? If the answer is no or probably not, then I know it’s a path I should reject. If I pursue such a path, I won’t feel good about it, I’ll doubt myself often, and I’ll encounter a lot of resistance along the way. But if it’s a path that does align well with my higher self, then I tend to experience wonderful flow and fulfillment.

The key idea here is to set goals and intentions very carefully. You can waste a lot of time and suffer unnecessary frustration if you try to pursue a path that doesn’t align with the person you most desire to be.

What Story Are You Living?

Jen Sincero, from You Are a Badass:

We pretty much don’t ever do anything that we don’t benefit from in some way, be it in a healthy way or an unhealthy way. If you’re perpetuating something dismal in your life because of some dopey story, there’s definitely something about it that you’re getting off on.

Let’s say, for example, that your story is that you’re depressed. Chances are pretty good that even though it feels awful, when you feel awful you don’t have to work hard or do the laundry or go to the gym. It also feels very familiar and cozy and comfortable. It gets you attention. People come in and check on you and sometimes bring food. It gives you something to talk about. It allows you to not try too hard or move forward and face possible failure. It lets you drink beer for breakfast.

Let’s say your story is that you can’t make money. By staying broke, you get to be right. You get to be a victim, which makes you dependent on other people and gets you attention. Other people will offer to pay. You don’t have to take responsibility. You get to give up before you start and avoid possible failure. If things in your life fall far below the mediocre scale, you get to blame other people and circumstances instead of taking risks to change it because you can’t afford to take risks.

Let’s say your story is that you stink at relationships. You get your freedom. You don’t have to commit and can keep looking for the greener grass on the other side. You don’t have to risk getting hurt by being vulnerable. You get to complain about always being single and get sympathy. You get the whole bed to yourself, never have to compromise, and don’t have to shave unless it’s summer.

We don’t realize it, but we’re making the perks we get from perpetuating our stories more important than getting the things we really want because it’s familiar territory, it’s what we’re comfy with and we’re scared to let it go. If we’ve been depressed or victimized or whatever since childhood, we trick ourselves into believing that it’s really who we are as adults in order to continue reaping “the rewards.” It’s how we survived as kids, but it doesn’t serve us anymore so we need to get rid of it or we’ll just keep creating more of it.

Success & Service

Derek Sivers, on the James Altucher podcast:

When I look back at my life, and what was successful and what wasn’t, it seems that whenever I was focused on me, me, me, me… All my years making music. It’s me up on stage, singing my thoughts into a microphone. Spotlight’s on me. I’m out there promoting me. It’s all about me. I did that for 15 years, and it was hard. It just felt like always an uphill battle. I had some success, but for the most part, it was hard.

On the other hand, as soon as I turned my attention 100% to others, I said, “Okay. Forget me. How can I help you?” That was like the big idea behind CD Baby. When it was just completely putting myself into the service of others and just completely forgetting myself, I ceased to exist, “I am here solely for your service” — then boom! That’s where all the successes seems to happen repeatedly in my life.

How to Get Out of a Funk

How do you get out of a funk?

What do you do when you feel stuck, apathetic, or depressed? You may even know what you should be doing to improve your life, but you have no energy or motivation to do it.

Being in a funk is a bit of a catch 22, because the very things that might help you get out of it — daily cardio, a morning routine, social support — are the very things you don’t have any desire to engage in when you’re feeling depressed.

For example, if I stop exercising, I soon end up in a funk. And then, I can’t get myself to exercise, because… I’m in a funk!

How do we get out of this treacherous loop?

The Solution

Here’s what worked for me: daily audio conditioning.

I started listening to hours upon hours of motivational, inspirational audio every day. Podcasts, audiobooks — anything that was related to personal growth & self-improvement.

Within a few days, almost unconsciously, I started taking new actions. My mood started lifting. I started feeling more motivated and productive. I had the urge to start exercising. I began to install new habits and started following through on my decisions, even though days before I had no motivation whatsoever!

Daily conditioning works.

The key is to do it daily, so as to condition your mind with the attitudes and the vibes of the audio you’re listening to, over and over. In truth, you do this every day. Your brain is already receiving and processing input from everything you read, hear, and think about.

Instead of deliberately conditioning yourself with positive audio, you might be listening to media, news, Facebook, negative people, and your own mental loops. The conditioning is still working, but it’s not serving you.

By listening to positive audio every day, you steal airtime from your own thought patterns and feed your brain new mental patterns to chew on.

The Process

You can start with 1 hour of audio a day, but if you really want to shift your mental & emotional state, try listening to 2-3 hours of audio every day for the next 7 days.

Rewire your brain by feeding it an overabundance of new thought patterns.

These could be podcasts on success, self-improvement audiobooks, or motivational audio from YouTube. Anything personal growth-related will work, as long as you’re feeding your brain new ideas & new thought patterns.

You don’t have to take notes or take any action steps from the audio. Not yet. Just put on the headphones, listen, and absorb. Give your brain new input for one hour each day. Then see what that does to your funk.

Listen to the James Altucher podcast. Listen to the Good Life Project podcast. Listen to the Tim Ferriss podcast. Go on a binge and listen to all three.

Listen EVERY DAY for at least one hour.

You don’t even have to be in a low-energy state to benefit from this process.

Try listening to these recordings in a row, and see what that does to you:

(I’m singling out Tony Robbins in particular, because I was suprised at how much energy he has in his recordings, and how amped up he made me feel. Give him a listen.)

The Results

Within a few days, you’ll begin feeling different. You’ll suddenly feel more motivated, and start taking little steps here and there.

Before you even know what’s happening, your mood will begin to lift, fresh ideas will start flowing to you, and you’ll be inspired to all kinds of new actions.

This process works. It worked for me, and it’ll work for you.

Best of all, it requires zero action. You can do the whole thing lying on your bed.

Try it for the next seven days, and let me know how you feel.

One Fun Step

Derek Sivers:

If we hate doing something, we imagine it as hard. We think of it as broken into many pain-in-the-ass steps.

If we love something, it seems easy. We imagine it as one fun step.

If you ask someone who hates running how to do it, they’ll say, “Ugh… First you have to stretch. Then you put on running clothes. Then you get the right shoes. Then you have to tie your laces. Then you have to go outside. Then you get all sweaty. Then you have to cool down. Then you have to shower. Then you have to change. Who has the time?”

If you ask someone who loves running how to do it, they’ll say, “It’s easy! You just put on your shoes and go!”

Obsession Is Your Only Option

Elon Musk hunting aliens on Mars

James Altucher:

The obsessed person will beat out the non-obsessed person 100% of the time.

How come?

Because when you are obsessed you see every nuance. You learn from hundreds of mentors, real and virtual, you read every book, watch every video, you remember everything, you compare notes with everyone.

You are a cosmic sponge, soaking up all the information that others don’t see.

Steve Pavlina:

In a given week, where is your attention going? If you aren’t habitually obsessing over your goals, then what are you obsessing over instead?

Grant Cardone:

Your obsession is the most valuable tool you have to build the life you deserve and dream of.

Unfortunately, most people never figure out what they are really obsessed with, because they’ve been taught to deny their obsessions. Don’t let that be you. Find something, anything, that you are obsessed with. It doesn’t matter what it is right now, because you are just going to take the urges, momentum, and fixation on that thing and redirect them.

(…)

What matters at first is realizing you have the capacity to be obsessed.

And:

To have what you want in life, you must give yourself permission to throw yourself all in on your dreams. Make it clear to others that you are obsessed and that, though you would like their support, any expectations they may have of your staying where you are, settling for less than you dream, or being average will have to take a backseat.

Ask yourself, How far up can I go? How much more can I do? And most important, What do I want to become completely obsessed with that will lead to success?

Photo credit: ‘Mad Musk’ illustration by American AF

January 2019 Review

Hey! Wake up! It’s February!

Before the hustle and bustle of daily life whisks you away, take a moment to think about your wins from January, and set some milestones you want to hit in February.

What did you do well this month? What did you learn? What experiments did you try?

What do you want to achieve in February? What milestones do you want to cross?

What new habit or 30-day trial would you like to commit to for a month?


January Wins

Here are some of my wins of the month:

  • completed 30 days of no caffeine, no alcohol, no drugs
  • currently on day 20 of the Alexander Bloom detox
  • currently on day 12 of eating only raw foods
  • currently on day 12 of no fap and no porn
  • started doing daily cardio again
  • started waking up at a set time each day
  • started making my bed each day (no small thing)
  • started listening to personal growth audio to condition my mind
  • got back into my blogging groove

Overall, it was a very growth-filled month.

Interestingly, the habit that had the biggest ripple effect was listening to inspirational / motivational audio daily. Podcasts, audiobooks, anything on personal growth.

The first couple of days I absorbed 4-5 hours of audio. I wanted to rewire my brain and condition my mind with new ideas & new patterns of thought. The content of the audio wasn’t as important as the vibe of it. It had to inspire me or make me feel amped up.

James Altucher’s podcast is terrific for daily listening. Tim Ferriss’ podcast, too. Lately I’ve been listening to Tony Robbins. Try listening to Hour of Power each morning and see what that does to you.

This one habit — listening to daily inspirational audio — led to the ripple effect of all the other changes. I started waking up earlier. I started a raw food trial. I started a no fap & no porn reboot. Basically, a domino effect.

Without the initial momentum of conditioning my mind with daily audio, I don’t think I would have had the discipline or the motivation to undertake the other habits.

I’ve since scaled back my audio time to 30 min – 1 hour a day. I’ll keep experimenting with audio conditioning in February, and report back on any interesting results.

Conditioning takes time, so consistency and patience is key.


February Goals

For February, I want to:

  • keep maintaining zero-caffeine, or at least zero-coffee
  • complete my 30-day detox and see how I feel
  • continue eating raw and see how I feel
  • continue no fap + no porn
  • do at least 30 minutes daily cardio every day
  • progressively train myself to wake up earlier
  • continue with daily audio conditioning, at least 30 minutes each day
  • have a gratitude/appreciation ritual that I do every day
  • read every day for at least 30 minutes

The important bit is to continue leveling up in my habits, while allowing room for error. For example, if for some reason I decide to go back to coffee, but I maintain all my other habits and add more fitness into my life, that would be an overall win.

Far more important to focus on the overall goal of improving yourself 1% every day, rather than giving up one habit, feeling guilty about it, and having all your other habits fall apart.

Always start small. Start with making your bed. Start with 15 minutes a day of audio conditioning. Start with 5 minutes of meditating. Do whatever it takes to create the first success, and build upon it.


Your turn

What are your wins for January? Write down some of your wins, big or small.

What would you like to achieve in February? Set some intentions, general or specific, right now.

Feel free to share your intentions in the comment section, or email me.