In Order To Make Big Changes: Start Small

In Order To Make Big Changes: Start Small

When it comes to changes, most of us want to make big changes and see big results almost instantly. That’s why so many New Years resolutions and even regular goals fail. We only see the big picture and often get lost in all the effort it will take to see those changes.

What we should do however is focus on the little things. If we want to lose 30 pounds we can go on a crash diet that may work for a while only to see those 30 pounds plus some come back when we stop the diet, or we can start small by reaching for a glass of water instead of that soft drink, walking for 10 mins a day or adding more vegetables to our next meal instead of foods high in carbs.

If we want to save money we can get frustrated with the amount  we want to save and how little extra money we feel like we have to put towards that savings, or we can decide to put away an extra $10 here or there, to cancel that subscription to Spotify or to start bringing our lunch to work or cooking at home to save money.

In both scenarios, before you know it, because it didn’t take an extraordinarily amount of effort,  you will be inching towards your goals and likely will have found the motivation to increase your efforts, even more.

Think about the stories we hear of successful basketball players like Kobe Bryant who spend hours in the gym shooting free throws or three pointers just so when they make the “big shot” in the game it’s really just a series of small things that have come together.

Recently I watched a documentary on body builder and 8 time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. For years he competed, but never won the Mr. Olympia title until one night, just before the show, with hesitancy, but with the urgency of another body builder, broke his routine. He was encouraged to relax, to have a drink and even eat some pizza. He was simply encouraged to not be so serious. The next morning he woke up and won the Mr. Olympia for the first time and he said he believes it was because he was so relaxed and allowed himself to have fun. Something so small ended up changing his life.

We all have changes we want to make and many people do not make those changes because they get lost in the totality of it all. Start small, put one foot forward and then the next. Before you know it you will have reached a goal you may have thought impossible or at least have gotten yourself further than you ever thought you could.

Bet On Your Strengths

pushupcs700_0I suck at math. I always have. It got so bad that I almost didn’t graduate from high school because I just couldn’t get through algebra.
In college, I had to take every math class twice before I could pass it. I became so comfortable with it that I knew the first time I took College Algebra or Statistics, I knew it was just for practice.
It was frustrating and it made me even doubt what the hell I was doing in college in the first place.
Eventually I got through all my college math courses. I even got decent enough that I passed Research Methods and Advanced Research Methods on my first try.  By then I had learned I needed to read my math books just like they were any other text book and teach the material to myself. Still, I was never good at advanced math, I just learned how to get through it.
I was unhappy for a lot of my high school and early college years because I struggled and focused so much on my weakness with math. It wasn’t until later when I started focusing on my strengths like art, writing and behavioral sciences that I became happy. Only then did I really start to feel smart and like I belonged on a college campus.
I literally felt free when I didn’t have to take another damn math class and was able to actually focus on what I was good at.
A Deficit Mindset
Many of us spend much of our lives unhappy and unsatisfied because we are constantly focusing on our weaknesses. We focus on the things we aren’t good at and neglect the things we are good at.
People who suffer from depression, low self esteem and anxiety are especially notorious at this.
Many of their personal stories paint them as victims and not victors. They feel weak and only focus on their weaknesses, not the strength it took for them to even survive the sometimes traumatic experiences they went through.
When people have this deficit type of mindset, they tend to not only focus on their faults, but also the faults in others instead of focusing on their positive qualities and seeing other people for who they are.
This type of mindset can affect any of us.  If we focus on or weaknesses and try to become better, of course we can improve, but we will probably never become great at it and we will expend a lot of time and energy for minimal gains.
What if we used that same amount of time and energy to focus on something we are good at?
Sticking with the math analogy, I know someone who has a great business mind, but she isn’t particularity good with numbers so she hired someone who is and that has allowed her to take a lot of her energy off of the finance part and focus more on creating the business of her dreams.
Had she allowed the fact that she wasn’t good with numbers scare her from starting a business or bog her down with late nights balancing books and getting frustrated, her business may not have been as successful as it is. She may have never been free to do the things she was good at doing such as marketing and networking.
FOCUSING ON YOUR STRENGTHS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPIER
By putting all of your energy into your strengths and not so much on your weaknesses, you’ll not only be happier,  but you will start taking your life to a new level and start living more authentically.
I have a client who was recently very depressed and suicidal. On paper she is very successful. She’s smart, married, has one child, makes six figures, has a beautiful home and a luxury car. She has accomplished everything she has ever dreamed of, but she is unhappy because she’s always afraid of losing it all.
She worries about losing her husband, losing her job and losing everything that comes with that. Although she is brilliant, she is constantly telling me about all of her faults. It’s like she doesn’t even see her strengths. She’s focusing so much on her weaknesses and worried that other people will see them, that she is filled with anxiety and depression.
Her “weaknesses” are keeping her unhappy, distracting her from the wonderful life she has right in front of her, and serving absolutely no purpose at all other than driving her crazy.
We don’t have to pretend we don’t have weaknesses. We have to embrace them, except them and then focus on our strengths. Our strengths are our keys to living more authentic lives.
Focusing on your strengths can boost your confidence and overshadow your weaknesses. 
One last example from a couple I counseled.
The wife was so focused on her husband not being a “manly man”. In her eyes, a manly man fixed cars and was a great handy man. That simply was not her husband. He was mechanically challenged. She focuses so much on that area of “weakness” that she was very unhappy in the marriage.
Through strength based counseling she learned to see her husbands strengths. First of all, he was a good man, a good husband and a terrific father. He adored her and the kids, took care of business and yes, maybe when the sink got clogged he was clueless to fix it, but that’s what handymen and plumbers are for. She actually fell in love with him all over again when she learned to focus on his strengths. She had almost stopped seeing him for the things she had falling in love with him for.
Unfortunately, many people never learn that and she could have ruined their marriage simply because of her world view of what made a man a real man and focusing on what she perceived as her husbands faults.
Many people do this to themselves. They are living day to day unhappy because they are constantly focusing on their deficits instead of embracing their strengths. They drive themselves to unhappiness, misery and even suicide.
“You need to bet on your strengths and don’t give a f*ck about what you suck at,” is one of my favorite quotes by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.
I’m not saying not to challenge yourself. I believe we need to challenge ourselves and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations in order to grow. What I am saying is, if you suck at something, don’t let it tear you down. Find something you are good at and become even better at it. That’s what’s going to take you to the next level.

Living Autopsy: Examining Yourself

Living Autopsy: Examining Yourself

One of my favorite people when it comes to motivation and realizing true human potential is David Goggins. The other day he made a short video about doing a living autopsy on yourself. By doing a living autopsy, what Goggins means is examining your life, thoughts, feelings and actions.

Negative thoughts. Fears. Anxiety. So many of us have these unconscious things that get in our way and sabotage us, keeping us from living our lives to the fullest. For the most part, either we aren’t aware of them or we accept them without challenging their source or validity.

Many of us say, “That’s just who I am”, but is it really? Is that really who you are, or who you’ve accepted yourself to be because it’s what’s been told to you by someone or perhaps, it’s what’s easier.

In psychology, we call this introspection.  It’s when you stop being controlled automatically by what you think and feel. Instead, you examine yourself to find out why you think and feel that way and how can you change it, if necessary.

The first time I ever truly experienced introspection was when I found myself attracted to a certain type of woman and I had to ask myself, why am I attracted to this type of woman? Am I really attracted to them or am I only attracted to them because this is what I have been told by society I should be attracted to?

After some deep introspection, I realized I had practically been brainwashed to be attracted to a certain type of woman when in reality, that wasn’t really my type at all. Now that’s fairly simple, but here’s another example.

Take a man who is madly in love with his girlfriend and he wants to marry her. However, he finds himself doing what he’s always done in his relationships when they got too serious… pushing her away.

He loves this woman, wants to spend the rest of his life with her, but deep down inside he knows he’s doing things to sabotage the relationship. He may eventually succeed in sabotaging the relationship and tell himself “I’m not the commitment t type, that’s just who I am”. Because of this, he may never experience that deeper connection he longs for. He can do a “living autopsy”, if you will and dig deep into his subconsciousness and go where he probably has been avoiding.

What he may find is that yes, he is afraid of commitment, but why? With introspection, he may think about the pain he felt when his parents split up and how hurt his father was that the family fell apart and how his father longed after his mother so much that he never remarried and only went through a string of meaningless relationships that always ended before he ever really got close to them, so much so that whenever his dad would bring a new girlfriend around he stopped attempting to remember their names.

During this introspection, he may realize that he is sabotaging his current relationship because he’s afraid he’ll end up heart broken like his father and that he was taught unknowingly that having short term, rather meaningless relationships was the best way to keep from getting hurt.

However, as an adult, he longs for a deeper connection, but keeps getting in his own way.

Being armed with this new knowledge that he is sabotaging a relationship with someone he loves based on what he experienced as a child may give him the insight to challenge those thoughts and fears and create a life for himself that’s more authentic and based on love and not fear.

This can go for almost any character flaw an individual may have. Let’s say that you have someone who is meek and soft spoken and this is keeping them from moving up the cooperate ladder because in their company they need to be able to stand up for and speak for themselves.

This person can hold their head down and say, “I’m shy, that’s just who I am”, or they can do a living autopsy and maybe realize that the reason they are shy is because it’s a defense mechanism that may have served them well in the past, now is standing in their way.

Maybe they grew up in a family where there was a lot of violence so they had to be small and unheard if they didn’t want to draw attention, and perhaps abuse to themselves. Now was an adult, this defense mechanism no longer works for them, but it has become so much of their character that they think it’s who they are and it will keep them from achieving and reaching their full potential if they don’t learn to challenge and overcome them, especially in situations where it’s stopping them from growing.

Why don’t people do living autopsies/introspection more often? Because it can be painful. You can lie and fool everyone else, but when you stop lying to yourself you may be afraid of what you have to face in order to stop living un-authentically.

We have to stop automatically believing the negative thoughts and emotions that fill our head and challenge what we believe about ourselves because in many cases it’s all just a lie. We have all been brainwash in someway to some extent, but the great part is that we hold the key to freeing ourselves!

This verse is from a song called, “What’s Inside Is Just A Lie” from a play called Passing Strange and it’s one of my favorite music verses of all time.”

“See I know this is going to sound a little bit crazy, but according to the Bauhaus Manifesto and I quote, What’s inside each and everyone one of us here in this room, what we mistakenly call our thoughts, our feelings, and our dreams, have actually been put there by a system. Therefore, What’s inside is just a lie! Our minds have been invaded, conquered, and occupied, hence, What’s inside is just a lie! And like a catch or a phrase, it gets locked in your head. What’s inside is just a lie! Somebody else’s desires get lodged in your brain! What’s inside is just a lie! So the only way to become your true self Whats inside (Starting to feel real) Is to create your true self. You turn your life into a work of art.”

 

Use This Metacognitive Technique To Change Your Life

ws_Woman_Sunny_Flowers_Happiness_1920x1200Every day there are things we have to do that we don’t feel like doing. For some of us it’s going to work or going to school. We do those things because we know we have to if we want to get paid or graduate. However, when it comes to some other things such as going to the gym or making a tough decision, we will often put those off until we feel like doing it.

The problem is that most of us give too much power and control to our emotions; to how we feel at any given point in time. This is a huge mistake because often our emotions are often irrational and can lead to us doing (or not doing) and saying (or not saying) things we will regret later.

Research says that 95% of our decisions are based on how we feel and not on logic and rational thinking.

Mel Robbins, a successful entrepreneur, television commentator and speaker sums it up very well when she talks about her five second rule.

Robbins at one point was struggling financially and emotionally. Life had dealt her, like it has dealt many of us, a hard hand. She was finding it hard to do even the little things such as getting out of bed in the morning simply because she didn’t feel like it. She had no motivation.

She did what many of us do. She was waiting until she felt like doing something and the truth is, most of the time we will never feel like doing what we know needs to be done such as ending a bad relationship or looking for a new job.

She realized that she needed a strategy to propel herself towards change because motivation wasn’t enough.  She knew sitting around waiting to feel motivated was a big mistake. It wasn’t going to happen.

What she did instead was come up with a five second rule that came to her after watching a commercial of a rocket launching.

What she decided to do the very next day was launch herself out of bed like a rocket. She would count backwards, “five, four, three, two, one” and with all her effort she would force herself out of bed.

It worked! So she did it the next day and the next day and soon she was using this five second rule to launch her into doing all the things she didn’t feel like doing, but knew she needed to do. It changed her life, personally and professionally.

“Life, and business in particular, is about pushing yourself to do the things that are uncomfortable so that you can achieve the results that you want,” Robbins said. “The secret is all about not waiting until you feel like it.”

Most of us make about 35,000 decisions a day and the vast majority of those decisions are made unconsciously. Many are based on how we feel at the moment or how we feel about the action.

What’s even worse is that many of the thoughts that flow through our heads are negative thoughts that bring on emotions like fear, anger and anxiety. Many of our decisions are based on those negative emotions.

There is actual science to back up this five second rule that Robbins discovered.

Research suggests that there’s basically a five second window between when you have a thought and when your brain will either support it or kill.

For us guys, think about when you see an attractive lady and think about asking her for her number. In general, if you don’t move on it within five seconds we tend to not move on it at all. After those five seconds all kinds of thoughts and feelings come into our heads such as self-doubt and fear of rejection.

Your brain is meant to protect you from anything harmful and sometimes that includes simple things like embarrassment. The trick is to force yourself to act within those five seconds before your brain decides to sabotage you. You’re not going to die from rejection or embarrassment.

“It turns out that inside that five-second window, your entire life and business, everything changes if you wake up and take control of that moment right before you’re about to make a decision,” Robbins said.

By counting backwards from five, you force your brain to stop and actually focus instead of just going through the usual unconscious and often self-defeating defense mechanisms it normally would. In a sense you are taking control of your brain before it is sabotaged by your emotions.

It’s a metacognitive technique that stimulates the higher functioning part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex and takes control away from the more primitive parts of our brain that stimulate fear, anger and anxiety.

It’s a technique that can be used to launch yourself into doing anything you don’t want to do, but know you need to do or to prevent you from doing something irrational and illogical based on how you feel at the moment.

I’ve used it to force myself to the gym many times. In the past I would skip a workout because I didn’t feel like going or didn’t have the motivation. Now I know that I may never feel motivated to go to the gym, especially after working a 12 hour day, so I just count backwards from five and go! Once I get to the gym, I usually find the motivation and have a great workout.

I’ve used the same technique to get myself into a writing ritual and to have hard, uncomfortable, but necessary discussions with people.

I’ve also used it to keep myself from saying something I may regret later out of anger or fear. It’s simple and it works!

You can use this for practically anything and I am excited for you to try it and to hear how it works for you.

Embracing These 5 Harsh Realties About Life Will Make You Stronger

Embracing These 5 Harsh Realties About Life Will Make You Stronger

Life is beautiful. There is no doubt about that, but life can also be hard. Sometimes we make it even harder by refusing to accept its harsh realities. We can even create our own little fantasy worlds to try to protect ourselves, but embracing these five harsh realities about life can make us stronger and help us live more authentically.

1. Everyone Is Going To Die

I know this isn’t a pleasant subject, but it’s a fact. Everyone, including you and everyone you love are going to die. When my uncle passed away at age 65, I thought for sure my dad would at least live to be 65. That gave me many more years to improve our relationship and get closer. A couple of weeks later he got hit by a truck and was left in a coma for 1 month before he died. People are here today and gone today. Instead of this being something to get depressed about, it should motivate us to live our lives, find purpose and cherish the people we have in our lives while we still can.

 2.  Motivation Is Bullshit

Many of us are not living the lives we’re supposed to live because we’re waiting until we feel motivated to do something. We’re waiting until we feel like doing it or until it’s the right time. It may never be the right time and we probably never will feel like doing the things we need to do so JUST DO IT! If you want to write a book, don’t wait until you feel like doing it or the book may never get written. If you have an ideal for a business, don’t wait until you have everything figured out to start working on it because you may never have everything figured out.  Most of us don’t feel like going to work in the morning, but we do because we have to. Treat your goals and dreams the same way.

3. The Perfect Partner Doesn’t Exist

Most of us have an image in our head of what the perfect partner will be like. I have been guilty of creating this fantasy partner in my head where we have this perfect relationship and that isn’t realistic. Holding on to that image too much will make anyone we are in a relationship with pale in comparison and perhaps make us appreciate them less by expecting too much. That isn’t fair. There is no perfect partner. That doesn’t mean we settle for just anything, but it means that we should expect to have to put in some work and if we are with a partner who is also willing to work with us then the relationship will become something beautiful and fulfilling even if it isn’t perfect.

4. Life Hurts

Living your life, going after your dreams and goals is amazing and exciting, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Life is going to knock you down, but you have to get back up. Don’t give up on something you want just because it doesn’t work out the first, second or fifth time! You grow from your experiences. You learn from the pain. Instead of going through something, learn to grow through it. If you’re hurting, use that pain to motivate you to get through it and come out stronger.  Living your best life isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. The alternative is not living up to your full potential and dying with so many goals, dreams and talents wasted all because you were afraid to grow through the pains of life.

5. Nothing Lasts Forever

This is one of those hurts of life; nothing lasts forever. We fall in love, out of love, or lose the ones we love. We’re young and then we’re old. We’re all going to die. This is life. Whenever you’re growing through something, rather it’s a break up or grieving the death of a loved one, remember that this is part of the human experience. You’re not alone. Again, use this to motivate you to live life, cherish it and appreciate it while you can. If we all lived forever, if everything lasted forever, when would we appreciate or do anything? Many people who have a terminal illness spend the last few months of their lives trying to finally live. The good thing is, we don’t have to wait until we’re dying to start living fully.

“Embrace reality, even if it burns you.” -Pierre Berge

8 Bad Habits To Break Right Now

8 Bad Habits To Break Right Now

We all have habits that at one time may have served a purpose, but now are likely getting in our way and stopping us from experiencing the life we deserve to live. Here is a list of my top 8 habits to break right now.

Procrastinating

Most of us have things we want to do or know that we should do, but we continuously put them off. In order to be more successful, we have to do what successful people do and that is to actually get on with it. Successful people get an ideal and they go into action. They don’t wait. It could be anything from looking for a new job to traveling or starting a business.

Start by putting action towards your goals. Start by doing at least one thing a day that will move you closer to your goals. Don’t feel like you have to wait until you have all the answers or you could wait forever.

Living In The Past

We all have regrets. Things we wish we wouldn’t have done or said. Things we wish we hadn’t been through. The thing is, the past doesn’t define us. It’s behind us and there is nothing we can do to change it. Some of the toughest things you’ve ever been through have made you uniquely prepared to face life’s challenges. Use them for your good. Focus on what you can change which is the present. Focus on your present to build the future you desire.

Being Afraid To Ask For Help

Many of us pride ourselves on being independent, not needing anyone for anything. However, there is nothing wrong with asking and receiving help. Asking others for help can help you achieve more while also learning from and building a network of like-minded people. You can learn from both their successes and mistakes. It doesn’t make you any less independent or weaker.It can be in fact what you need to take you to the next level.

Being Around Toxic People

Unfortunately there are some people in our lives who don’t want the best for us. They may consciously or subconsciously sabotage us by being negative, sucking up our energy or secretly hoping for and cheering on our failures and short comings. For the most part, people can be divided into drains and faucets. Drains take up your time and energy without adding to your happiness, growth and success. Removing or at least minimizing the amount of time you spend with toxic people will revitalize you and help you stay on track with your personal goals and needs.

Maintaining Clutter

I confess that often my work and living areas are cluttered and that clutter has a tendency to make me feel overwhelmed. I’ve been working on (at least at work) de-cluttering and keeping everything as minimalist as possible. I try to only touch a piece of paper one time and file it, sign it, get rid of it or whatever needs to be done to get it out of my face. I also try to keep a good agenda and an organized place to keep important papers. By not maintaining a constant clutter, I tend not to get as anxious, to be more productive and to feel overall more positive regarding the workday.

Not Making Time For Yourself

Most of us feel like there’s not enough time in the day to do what we need to do. However, if you really think about it, we can find the time. How often do we say we don’t have time to exercise, but we’ll spend 2 hours watching a television show or an hour on social media sites?

There are 10,080 minutes in a week. If you take away 8 hours a night for sleep, that’s 3,360 minutes. That leaves 6720 minutes. Even if you work a 50 hour work week you still have 3,720 minutes left. Now you have to divide that up as it fits into your life, such as time for commuting, but you can see that we can find the time to do the things we really want to do.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Many of us take sleep for granted. Some of us actually pride ourselves on how little sleep we can get and still function. I for one am a night owl so getting a decent nights rest has always been a challenge for me.

Not getting enough sleep can create health problems and actually make us less productive and less sharp. When I don’t get enough sleep I am less emotionally resilient to deal with everything I need to deal with at work and at home. I tend to get more anxious during high stress situations and just am not myself. Making sure we get enough sleep is an easy way to make sure we are more prepared for whatever the next day has in store for us.

Not Challenging Negative Thoughts

We have millions of thoughts a day and unfortunately some of them will be negative. Left unchecked and unchallenged, we can begin to believe those negative thoughts. Those thoughts tell us we’re not good enough or we can’t do something. They can tell us lots of things to make us feel small and unsure of ourselves.

The good thing is they are just thoughts and we can control our thoughts. We need to stop focusing on the negative and focus on the positive. Focus on our strengths and realize that we’re more than our mind. We have a heart, we have a soul. Change your thoughts instead into solution focused, empowering, motivating thoughts that help you crush whatever obstacles are in your way and help you achieve your dreams.

We all have our own personal bad habits and maybe some of these fit you and some don’t. However, the key to personal growth is to be able to self-assess and change whatever needs to be changed in order to keep moving in the direction we desire. So personalize this, make it yours and if you would like to share some bad habits you plan on stopping please leave a comment, I would love to read them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing Your Inner Power

istock dollar inner childSometimes you just have one of those days where it seems like the sun isn’t shining on you. In that darkness it’s easy to beat yourself up over the past and become anxious and negative about the future.

I’ve been there. It used to happen to me a lot actually and sometimes it still does. In the past, I dealt with those days the only ways I knew how which were becoming cling, needy, depressed and anxious. All maladaptive coping mechanisms I had picked up sometime during my life.

In return, I found myself trying to control other people and situations. Wanting people to do what I wanted them to do, think what I wanted them to think and feel the way I wanted them to feel. This rarely worked out in my favor. Usually the people I was trying to control either pulled away or responded negatively which in the end only made me feel worse.

Even when I did get what I thought I wanted, I usually still felt empty and overtime I realize the reason I still felt empty was because the real issue was within me and I couldn’t fix that with people or things.

I realized overtime and from doing therapy clients who suffering from anxiety, depression, and anger issues, that people and things do not stop our pain or move us to a better place. Only we can do that for ourselves.

We are the only ones who have the inner-power to end our suffering and angst. Sure sometimes we need the help of our support systems and/or our spiritual beliefs, but all change truly begins within us. That is when we truly heal and move beyond that pain and darkness.

Once we dig into and heal ourselves, peace, love and trust will return to use easier and quicker than we thought. Trust me. I’ve been there time and time again and it never fails. Our past neurotic attempt to bring back balance and peace to our universe happens much more naturally when it comes from within.

We have to deal with our feelings and accept them as ours. We have to stop our need to control. Peace, love and happiness will return. Remember, a bad day is just a bad day and we don’t have to make it last any longer than absolutely necessary.

I’m not saying it’s easy to stop the pain and anxiety when it comes rushing in. Sometimes even for myself today it takes a moment for me to recognize it, stop from going to my default maladaptive coping mechanisms, and reach inside my own inner-power, but I am better at it today than I was yesterday and will be better at it tomorrow than I am today. That’s all I ask of myself and all I ask of you.

We are much more powerful than we believe we are! We can control not only our thoughts and feeling, but our destinies! We have to learn to harness and embrace our inner power.

It doesn’t matter if you have anger issues, depression, low-self-esteem, whatever it is. The faster you realize you have all the control and no need to try to control other people or situations, the faster you will have the strength to overcome any obstacle that’s in your way, even if that obstacle is yourself.