Every week I have a call with a pal of mine. The guy has built a couple successful businesses, and is continuing to build more. We have our weekly call to set out our goals for the week and then we go over last week’s goals. A part of the accountability is a weekly wager. Whomever doesn’t accomplish everything on their to do list owes the other fella some money. It’s a great added incentive. (Read this: 11 Tips to Budget Your Money like a Winner)
We’ve also added this to a monthly budget. We have to stick within a dollar amount when it comes to entertainment expenses. That includes unnecessary dining out (business excluded), booze, movies, music purchases, and whatever else we’d deem non-essential and non-business. The guy who fails to stay within his budget owes the other guy that budget in dollars.
We’ve gone back and forth with the goals, I miss, he misses, we both miss, and we’ve essentially had a wash with the budget thing. Although we’re improving in our businesses, things are growing, we’re improving mentally and spiritually, we both came to the conclusion that our improvements are far from where they could be and our expectations of ourselves are pitiful. We’re easy on ourselves because we’re comparing what we want and who we want to be to the wrong person.
Never compare yourself to another human, it’s a fruitless endeavor, one that will rip you of the ability to be happy or satisfied or to see the good in your life. However, comparing yourself to your past or your future can be a wonderful, healthy thing.
To be honest I just realized this flaw in my thinking the other day. It had been two weeks since I got back from a 3 month trip to Argentina. ‘Twas a journey filled with adventure and new things, but one that lacked the routine that I thrive in where my work is concerned, so upon my return I vowed to get up before 5:30am on day one, and every day thereafter, something that I’ve now done for two weeks, a seemingly tall task in a time period that Christmas and New Years Eve falls under, but it has been done nonetheless.
I found myself feeling proud of getting up and at my work over this time period, which is a good thing, but as soon as that pride turned into satisfaction and the mind rationalizing a day off, an alarm-free morning, I knew there was something wrong with my line of thinking, a weakness, a sense of accomplishment that was the result of a comparison of my current results in relation to past results when the comparison should always be in relation to my potential.
The satisfaction of a job well done is a great thing, but to be satisfied should inspire us to chase the man we’re aiming to become 5 years down the line, it should give us evidence that we can become him, and that our goals aren’t just dreams or wishes but realities in the future that are waiting for us to grab a hold of them.
This isn’t the outcome that most experience. Most live a disciplined life for a while and then feel as though they’ve deserved time off or an alarm-free morning, and it’s never just a day off or a morning, those rewards compound and they compound without merit, and I’m about done with this comparison to my past, this false sense of accomplishment simply because it’s in comparison to something and someone that hadn’t yet accomplished it.
Bring on where I can be and leave where I was.
Therein lies the focus of this year, not just for me, but for you as well. Where many of us trip up is with these false rewards, low expectations of who we are and what we can accomplish because of who we’ve been up to this point.
Who you’ve been up to this point isn’t who you can potentially be, so why concern yourself with such mediocrity? Why compare yourself to average? Why not see the capacity for greatness, discipline, and effort that you have within you, and seek to live your life in that direction? (Try this: 10,000 Hours to Greatness)
Why not identify the man you want to be in 5 or 10 years if failure or boundaries or “realistic goals” weren’t inhibiting the dreams you lay out for yourself, and then do what you must to create that man and the awesome life he leads? Why not create the most audacious version of yourself that you can possibly create, then determine the daily actions necessary to be that man in the present?
Why wouldn’t you expect more from yourself instead of being satisfied with mediocrity, because that’s where most of us are, smack dab within the confines of mediocre effort, discipline, and toughness. We lack the grit and the constitution to do what’s necessary to be the man we want to be because we’re stuck comparing ourselves and our mini victories to the lazy ass we once were.
Define Your Potential
The thing that most of us fail to realize is that we have the ability to do the same things that every great man has done to accomplish the great things in his life, we’re just too lazy or weak to have done them yet. The ability to create greatness or to create the life you want for yourself is centered around discipline, and discipline is something every one of us has control over, yet very few of us truly enact that control to its truest potential.
Forget, for a second, the road and the path required, and focus on the final destination, this man you want to be and the life you want to lead 10 years down the line.
Grab a pen and a pad or open a document and start writing.
Be specific or not, it’s up to you, but get into the soul of this man, his fearlessness, his ability to do what he sets out to do and his reluctance to quit. Write down where he is and what he does. Write down what he’s worth and who he’s with, where he lives and who his clients are. Write down your most audacious version of yourself, the man you’d be if you couldn’t fail.
It’s discipline that allows us to create a reality out of our dreams. If you can simply do what you must to make the life you want to make, if you can do the work and take the risks and face the fears, you can be that man you just described. The key is being him in both mind and action, intent and work completed, and to be him everyday, no days off, no rewards without merit or vacations unearned.
Identify the disciplines you need in your life to be that man and have everything he has within the next ten years.
Without discipline of mind, thought, and action, you won’t be able to do what you must to be who you want. This doesn’t mean that you have to live a rigid, confined life, it simply means that you enact the control over your thoughts, emotions, and actions that success requires of you.
What are some things that will help you improve exponentially over the next 365 and do what this man 10 years from now is supposed to accomplish? A few that may help…
1. Wake up at the same time every damn day, and make it early.
Part of being at your best is being rested. What few realize, or care to realize, is that a sleep routine, and a strict one, is the best way to guarantee that you get a healthy, high quality sleep. Early mornings are also seen as something for the week days when the weekend is our time to rest and recover.
All that this sleeping in does on the weekend in mess our sleep routine up. One of the best ways to discipline yourself and to keep this laser-like focus that you need to be at your best is to wake up at the same time every morning, and make it early.
Look at the most successful people in history and you’ll find that many of them rose before the sun. They did so and do so not simply to get a head start on the work day, but to set up their work day.
Rather than rising and grinding, rise and read, exercise, and prime your mind and your body, get it ready for a great day.
Go over your goals, the tasks you need to accomplish to make this day a successful one. Don’t just make this a weekly endeavor, though, have this morning primer set you up for a great day, everyday.
Forget about who you were, focus on who you can be.
2. Cut out social media.
Social media, for the most part, is a waste of time. It’s a distraction that we fall into to waste time, to feel as though we’re at our desks working when we’re really looking at the lovely lives others are living.
Spend less than 30 minutes on social media daily. Spend less time looking at the lives others are living and live your own. Stop comparing your life to theirs, compare who you are to who you can be.
If the Facebook and the Twitter and the Youtube took less of our time, or if we gave them less of our time, we’d have no other option but to focus on what is essential to our success.
The key is to, again, do this everyday and not simply be happy in doing it for one day.
3. The Sunday evening focus time.
Every Sunday night – every Sunday night – get in the habit of planning your week. Find a quiet place, pop on some Johnny Cash or Kid Rock or Bruce Springsteen (yes, those are the only options) and set your plan for the week.
Set your goals, the things you need to accomplish to chip away at the bigger goals you’ve set for yourself. Identify your tasks. Maybe most importantly, structure your work blocks so as to not deviate from them or allow for distraction.
Here’s an example:
- 5-6am – morning primer
- 6-730am – writing (one focus)
- 8-915am – training
- 10am-12 – writing session #2 (second focus)
- 1230 – 1530 – writing session #3
- 1600 – 1700 – writing session #4
- 1700 – 1900 – set up tomorrow, finish up tasks, answer emails
Have a focus for each work session. Leave your emails and social media stuff to the end of the day. Have a single, essential focus for each session. Use your Sundays to plan out your week, no matter what your career or goals, set everything up on Sunday so you hit Monday like a bat outta hell.
4. Don’t take your work home with you.
You have enough time in your day to finish all of your work if you’re focused on your work during the day. Remove distraction and there’s not only no need to bring your work home with you, it’s detrimental. When you’re focused on what you’re doing you get a lot more done in less time and at a higher quality.
And this is also true for your family.
Get in the habit of getting up early, getting shit done, avoiding distractions, and you’ll not only accomplish more, but you’ll be able to give your family the time they need and deserve and the time you want to give them.
To be able to do this you simply have to remove those things in your day that are not essential. The meetings, phone calls, internet surfing, the needless nonsense that takes away from your mission rather than giving to it.
Don’t take your work home, ever. New expectation, don’t break it.
There are aspects of our lives where we can be more regimented and strict, but they aren’t relegated to waking up earlier or training at the same time daily. We hold control over our schedule, but also over our mind, and to improve we need to enact this control daily.
1. Never compare yourself to another person.
This is a habit that keeps most of us unhappy. We compare our success to that of someone else, never gaining the true full picture of their lives or realizing precisely what we have and what we have to be thankful for. It rips the ability and the control over our own happiness and lays it into the hands of someone else.
As soon as you begin to think, I wish I had that guy’s… or, man, that guy has it so good. Stop yourself from wandering down that road where the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
Stop comparing, stop complaining, take control of your mind and your life or someone else will.
2. Don’t ever wish things were different.
Robert E. Lee wouldn’t let his kids read fiction because he didn’t want them wishing things were as they aren’t. He wanted them to be able to accept their reality and then take the steps necessary to make it the best reality they can possibly make it.
Never wish things were different, make them better, but realize how they are. As soon as you find yourself slipping into this dangerous mode of thinking, stop, bring yourself back to reality, and get on with creating the best life you can possibly create.
3. Find the opportunities where most wouldn’t.
Know your reality, but always have a positive light shining over it, because no matter where you are, how bad life is, there is an opportunity, and opportunity can never be a bad thing.
Wherever you are there’s an opportunity to become tougher, more disciplined, and to rise above your current circumstances. The key is to find the opportunity where most see the curse.
If in every hardship you’re able to find the opportunity there can’t be a single thing that is able to hold you back from where you want to be and who you want to be. Make the habit of finding the opportunity in everything you do and wherever you are.
4. Wake up everyday with a goal.
This can tie into the Sunday evening primer, but make sure that you identify your goal the night before. Waking up without a goal is akin to waking up without a purpose, and what’s the point if there’s no purpose? What’s the point of you if you serve no purpose?
Realize this: You create your purpose, you define it, and you realize it.
Your happiness is yours, as is your sadness, as is your fear and worry and envy. You control each of them and which one you focus on.
Wake up every single damn day with a goal and this year will surpass all others.
Make this an unbreakable habit, that you have a goal set for each day. This single, simple habit can dramatically change your life, and it’s all on you to set it up.