That’s what I thought when I started my education and the tutors welcomed us.
Those were cool people. Full of energy and passion for what they did. And as you’ve probably noticed, when something is inspiring, there’s always a certain element of passion involved.
But they were regular people. Like you and me. Like the rest of us. In their mid-20’s.
And they just happened to have found their right little spot in life.
… Which I hadn’t, and which I didn’t until much later.
But that’s beside the point here. Which is, if regular people can do something, so can I.
Of course, we all know another, more popular version of this phrase:
“If I can do it, so can you!”
What’s the problem with this one?
It’s that whoever says it is projecting his or her own standards out onto others.
Which can be — and more often than not IS — a sign of confidence in that person’s skills. It’s meant as a “you can do it”-kinda mini-peptalk. A swift, loving kick in the derrière of someone who we’d like to see succeeding.
But when we say something like that to other people, we’re rarely in alignment with what’s going on for them. We rarely have a clear picture of how they perceive their own abilities and standards.
Motivation, therefore, shouldn’t come from someone else. It needs to come from oneself. From within.
Otherwise, it’s not a matter if being inspired to take action, rather than feeling intimidated and overwhelmed.
Something along the lines of, “I could NEVER be like that guy; he’s WAY more energetic and go-getting than I’d feel comfortable being.”
So if there’s one piece of learning, one single sentence, that I’d like you to take away from me, it’s this.
If they can do it, so can I.
Because it’s that exact same little idea that I got when I set out to become an entrepreneur. When I started following thought-leaders. Reading blogs. Subscribing to newsletters.
Because what I noticed was that the people I was following weren’t superhuman in any way.
They had quirks; they had flaws. Some seemed a little socially awkward. Some seemed to have noticeably low self-awareness in certain areas.
Some said and did things which pretty much contradicted certain tenets of that self-development which is so important and prevalent amongst entrepreneurs.
They were regular people. — Who’d just happened to have found their right little spot in life.
… Which, of course, involved having acquired the abilities to set up a successful online business.
But still. Setting up an online business isn’t something magical and esoteric. It’s a learnable skill. And if they can do it, so can I damn well do it.
Because if it’s important enough, there’s nothing that regular people can do that one can’t learn and do oneself.
It’s a question that most of us probably associate with job interviews. And maybe that one time we were at that retreat where we did that exercise where you had to, well, describe your ideal life 5 years from now.
The sad truth is, most people don’t plan ahead that far. In fact, I doubt that most people even have a plan for the next ONE year of their life.
Why is that sad?
Because it’s a waste of potential.
These are some things which you should know by now, whether through your own experience or not:
If you schedule something, there’s a much higher chance of getting it done than if you didn’t schedule it. We have calendars for a reason. It’s because we do a lot of important stuff which unnecessarily takes up more or less critical amounts of our mental energy. — Lest we get it out of our heads and onto paper, or any document of sorts.
Apart from having freed up mental energy, getting our ideas out onto paper has another benefit — of increased accountability towards ourselves. Our thoughts is only one, often highly intangible version of our idea. But the written word brings clarity through its visibility, making our ideas much more tangible and compelling.
So the good thing is, when we PLAN something, it works the same way.
And when we map out our lives for the next 5 years, then, the likelihood of those 5 years playing out like that becomes much higher. Because we’ve effectively just added an extra layer of accountability.
“But I don’t KNOW where I wanna be in 5 years!” Sure you don’t.
But here’s the funny thing…
– You know what you’d like to be doing in your spare time. Maybe it’s more of what you’re already doing; maybe you wanna add something else to the mix.
– You also know what you’d like to be earning, if nothing else then just a LITTLE bit more than you’re earning now. Don’t lie.
– You have a certain idea of how you’d like to live. Maybe it’s your current place that just needs some fixing up. Maybe it’s a whole other apartment or house, and maybe it’s in another city.
– You also have some ideas about what you’d like to be doing for a living. Maybe it’s your current job, or maybe your current job is just a pivot point towards your ideal job.
– You also have a pretty good picture of what you’d like your relationships with your friends and family to be like. Maybe you wanna see more of some, and maybe less of others. And maybe you’re missing having more friends than you do. Maybe you miss having a special someone, or maybe you’d just like to fix things up with your current one.
I wage that you absolutely DO know what your ideal life 5 years from now would look like.
If you claim otherwise, you simply aren’t aware of it. — Possibly because there’s a part of you that won’t allow you to think in terms of actually getting what you want out of life.
“No, but you don’t get it; I really DON’T KNOW what I wanna be doing!”
Well, then here’s where I’d like to put a gun to your head.
Are you either A) the latest reincarnation of the Buddha, or B) literally getting ready to kick the proverbial chair? No? Well, then there’s something you want which will take years to accomplish.
Maybe it feels like you don’t know. But chances are, you’re simply scared of admitting it to yourself.
And here’s another thing…
For millions of years, our primal ancestors have survived predators, ice ages, and armed conflicts. While keeping their families safe and fed, and evolved to highly intelligent beings. Capable of building entire civilized societies, dreaming up mind-boggling philosophical concepts, creating a multitude of visual and auditory art, and examining ourselves and the world through highly advanced life-enhancing technology…
… And here you are. The pinnacle of human evolution, making it as one out of 250.000.000 sperm cells. And you “don’t know what you wanna do with your life”?!?
Seriously, fuck you.
“But I didn’t have any influence on any of those things!”
No. But you have influence on what you do RIGHT HERE AND NOW. And that’s the only 100% certain influence you’re ever gonna have. So quit squandering it by trying to cop out like that.
For all that’s good and great in the world, don’t let your ideas and wishes remain in your head. It’s only fear keeping you from carrying them out.
And if you allow your life to be guided by fear, things aren’t exactly gonna look up for the rest of your time here on this planet.
We’re here once, and theoretically, it could be the end any minute. The next 5 years are gonna go by whether you want it or not. So we might as well use them to level up instead of settling for less than we’re worth.
And no matter where you’re at in your life, you really, really have powers the likes of which you’ve never dreamt.
If you could have it all your way, what would your ideal life 5 years from now be like? What would you be doing? With who? Where and how would you be living? How much would you be earning?
1) Open a new document, or get some pieces of paper and a pen.
2) Set aside 15-20 minutes to write out your ideal life 5 years from now. Try to think big — go a little nuts with it!
3) Then go back one year, to 4 years from now. How would things need to look in 4 years if you’re gonna live your ideal life in 5 years?
4) Repeat until you’ve gone back to 12 months from now. How would things need to look by then?
5) Now, go back to the 6-month point. How would things need to look by then?
6) Do the same for the 3-month and 1-month points.
7) When you’re down to having set the status for the next month, do it for the next four weeks.
8) With the status for the next week clear in sight, plan out the next week day by day.
9) Lastly, think of just ONE thing that you can do right now to get started.
10) Congratulations; you’ve just put yourself ahead of +90% of the world’s population.
Like I’ve mentioned in one of my other articles, my old group coach used to initiate sessions with this nice little reminder: “Not doing what you said you’re gonna do is a habit — a habit that is unproductive towards your success”.
But it goes further than that. WAY further.
See, whenever we say we’re gonna do something, we effectively make a declaration. Both to ourselves and to the world around us. And, whether we like it or not, our decisions tend to be driven by emotions rather than logic.
This might be hard to swallow for all you brain-centered intellectuals out there. But don’t worry; it’s actually perfectly explainable — even from a logical point of view. 😉
It actually makes perfect sense. See, it’s thinking twice that inhibits our decision-making. If you made decisions based on pure logic, you’d never be able to have deep, meaningful relationships with other people.
Emotions are what makes us human; not mere stimulus/response-driven animals or machines. We decide to do things because we want to or need to. And our wants and needs have very little to do with logic, if anything at all.
Okay. So, with that out of the way, what’s so wrong with not doing what you say you’re gonna do?
Well, since emotions are what motivates us, our feelings are attached to our intentions. Whenever we experience a want or need, we necessarily put a certain amount of emotion into it. And when we declare to carry out that want or need in the real world, we invest that emotion — we put it at stake.
So, whenever we give up on carrying out one of our wants and needs, we’re essentially hurting our own feelings.
But it goes even deeper than that, on even more levels. Because the discrepancy between anyone saying one thing and doing another causes a certain dissonance, which we inevitably experience as uncomfortable. Like when a politician’s blatantly lying and/or disgracefully trying to cover up a hidden agenda.
The emotions we feel on their behalf are shame, unworthiness, and low self-esteem. And furthermore, towards them, we feel anger, frustration, and even repulsion.
And so, by creating the same kind of dissonance between what we say and what we do, we’re awakening all the same range of negative emotions towards ourselves.
Furthermore, on an entirely other level, when we don’t honor our declared intentions, we’re effectively teaching ourselves that this kind of behavior is legitimate.
In a nutshell:
It’s like with everything else: The more we do it, all the deceptively easier it becomes. And trust me: You DON’T wanna get too used to not doing what you said you’re gonna do.
This week, go over your old to-do list(s).
Pick ONE item. Maybe the one that’s been on there for the longest. Maybe one that’s become more relevant to you with time.
Set aside a coupla hours and do it. Get it outta the way, and enjoy that feeling of liberation as you’re finally doing what you said you’re gonna do.
To increase your self-belief is, by definition, to increase your confidence.
Confidence is about believing in yourself. In fact, that’s pretty much the definition right there.
And I submit that we need confidence to be successful in whatever we’re doing. Because otherwise, you’re not gonna be able to accomplish very much worthy of mention in this one life of yours.
If you think that you’ve heard that before, it’s probably because people have found this to be true time and time again. So, how can you increase your self-belief, then?
Well, whatever you’re doing, there’s three things you should ask yourself…:
1. How does this align with your values?
Because, if it doesn’t really, then that probably has something to do with it. Because our confidence is always in a dialectic relationship with our commitment to whatever it is we’re doing.
Therefore, your level of commitment at any given time is largely a product of how whatever it is you’re doing is aligned with your values. If it’s not, you’re not gonna be engaged with it.
And if you’re not engaged with it, it’s not really gonna matter to you. And if it doesn’t really matter to you, how do you think your level of confidence is gonna be like?
Not exactly very high, yeah?
And I’m not talking about everyday routines that you can do perfectly well without necessarily being passionate about it, like doing the dishes or checking your email. I’m talking about bigger, ongoing endeavors here.
So whatever your current job or project is, make sure to ask yourself how it align with your values. If it doesn’t align with your values, you might wanna reconsider your engagement with it.
But if it does, move on to question number two…:
2. What do you need to believe in this even more?
Is it knowledge?
If yes, exactly what kind of knowledge?
Is it skills?
If yes, which skills do you need to improve?
Is it habits?
If yes, what specific habits would be good to cultivate?
Or is there something you need to cut out of your life?
Question number 3 will probably come as no surprise:
3. With the above in mind, what specific actions can you take right now to increase your self-belief?
– If there’s a book you need to read, what’s stopping you from finding it on Amazon right now?
– If there’s some specific info you need, what’s stopping you from looking it up on Wikipedia right now?
– And if there’s a certain skill you need to develop, what’s stopping you from googling any courses or meetups near you right now?
You have all the information in the world at your fingertips. I mean, chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re online, yeah?
There’s ALWAYS, NECESSARILY something you can do to increase your self-belief. And everything else you might be telling yourself is exactly just that:
Something you’re telling yourself.
It’s only true if you keep on insisting upon being right about it. And where does that leave you?
Yeah, I’ll just answer that one: It leaves you in a place where you don’t have to take action because you’re allowing yourself to feel confused and overwhelmed instead of focused and empowered.
And believe me: That’s not exactly an attitude that’s gonna have you believing in yourself anytime soon.
You’ve probably heard about the ‘law of attraction’, and how we can use visualization as an aid to attain our goals and dreams in life, right?
I think the whole phenomenon of ‘law of attraction’ has gotten a bad rep since “The Secret” became household.
It seems like basically a lot of bored, middle-aged housewives saw it and then just started imagining themselves having stacks of money without doing any actual work towards earning any.
Only, of course, to eventually lose their patience and blame it on the movie and the whole idea of visualization. Like any clueless outsider when initially presented with something which they don’t yet know how to use.
“WEH WEH IT’S STUPID AND IT DON’T WORK WEH WEH WEH!!”
Well… Here’s where it gets interesting.
I’ve been wanting to move to Málaga for about a year. So last spring, I got this neat little picture as a background on my laptop and iPad:
It is, of course, a view of the beautiful city that is Málaga.
Now, compare with this picture which I’ve snapped myself recently…:
Having visions for yourself is a funny ol’ thing, isn’t it?
When a commercialized product like “The Secret” hits the stores along with its big, salesy promise, it will, necessarily get picked up by a majority of people who will CONSUME it but not USE it.
Because the sad fact is, that’s what the majority of people do. They read a book, go to a seminar, buy an online course, consume it, and then do nothing.
Even the good people behind those books, seminars and courses recognize this. (But of course, it’s not exactly something that sounds good in their sales pitches.)
And another problem is, of course, that some people kinda “try it” for a few weeks or months and then get discouraged and bitter when nothing happens. So they blame the people who try to teach HOW the law of attraction works.
This is why having a clear vision and taking consistent, relevant action is the key to achieving anything. (Which, in turn, is why coaching is so powerful.)
Now, I’m not saying that I — or anyone else for that matter — can logically explain how having a background picture of Málaga has somehow helped me get here.
It probably has to do with keeping focus. Eyes on the prize and all. And it probably has to do with something in my subconsciousness. (Hell, what doesn’t?)
But really, I don’t care. Because the important thing is that this whole law of attraction thing actually works. Whether we like it or not.
It’s in effect whether you let it, or whether you don’t.
Whatever you want, get specific on it. The clearer you can picture it, the better.
Anyone who’ve worked with personal growth and confidence will recognize how we, in principle, let chaos itself into our lives by doing so.
For us humans, the world is, essentially, unpredictable.
There’s always the risk of getting run over, getting mugged, getting struck by disease, cardiac arrest, lightning, natural disasters, and whatnot.
(Yaaaay! This is FUN already!)
Now, this doesn’t mean we should be scared of stuff happening to us all the time, — let alone scared of anything at all. People who are governed by fear don’t really go places in life, true or true?
But we need to be aware of one rule that all too few people seem to be keeping in mind…:
The more you work on your personal growth and confidence, the more chaotic and unpredictable your life will be.
Think about it.
Growth, as they say, happens outside our comfort zone. Hypothetically, if we only do the things we’re used to, if we metrically follow one routine with no variations, we don’t learn and grow. We stagnate.
But it’s when we push ourselves along that proverbial extra mile that we put that strain on ourselves which is crucial in growing and learning.
If you wanna be able to lift more weight, you gotta start by taking just one more rep when you’ve got the routine down, and gradually increase the load.
If you wanna earn more money, you gotta spend time — and possibly money — to educate yourself so you’ll qualify for bigger positions or higher-profile clients.
If you wanna learn a new language, you gotta put in the hours, possibly buy lessons or courses, and put yourself in situations where you get to use the language.
And it’s when we go those new places that things become chaotic and unpredictable. It’s when you transcend your routines that you’re essentially going into as of yet unknown territory.
Not because chaos is a necessary condition in pumping another two pounds of iron. That in itself is pretty predictable.
But because personal growth and confidence tends to open new doors for us. In fact, that’s kinda the whole point, isn’t it??
I mean, why would anyone build confidence or learn any new skills if it wouldn’t increase certain opportunities for them, right?
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting the results you’ve always gotten. But when you try something new, you’ll start getting new results.
Now, of course there’s a certain inertia in personal growth and confidence building. Every beginning is hard, as they say. And this is exactly because of the friction that arises when moving into said unknown territory.
The good thing is, for the most part by far, this friction is all in our minds. No matter what you set out to do, in all likelihood you’re gonna be more than fine.
– Think of one area of your life in which you need go an extra step to get to the next level in the nearest future. This might be your career; your personal life; your social life; your relationship, etc..
– When you’ve found that one area, write down at least three specific actions you need to take.
– This week, set aside one hour to do the most important of these actions.
So, right before this New Year’s, I talked about why your New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Remember?
Well, how are they working out for you so far?
The reason I’m asking is not to make you feel guilty or anything, but because by now we’ve exceeded the ‘cut-off date’, as it were.
I’ve seen articles refer to Jan. 23rd as the day where most people will have decided that their New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Tony Robbins refers to Jan. 15th as the cut-off date. And in Britain, apparently, people already give up by Jan. 10th.
If I were to judge from how many people were suddenly at the local gym on the last day of 2017, and how that number has kinda settled down to not much more than the usual by now, then yes, this cut-off date is totally a thing.
Why do people do this?
Well, like we talked about last time, it might be because they’re taking on too much; because it’s not really that important to them; and/or because they lack clarity, accountability, and a certain ‘deadline’ for completion.
Now, I know this might scare away a lot of people. But it’s exactly when those things are in place that we reach our goals. And this is exactly why most people don’t reach their goals.
Think about it. How many people do you know that go about setting goals like this?
Exactly: It’s probably about the same percentage of people you know as the percentage of the entire population who are actually doing so.
This is the thing about us humans: Whether we like it or not, we tend to conform. We’re social animals; it’s in our genes to avoid social stigma. Sure, some of us like to stand out in certain respects, but like I always say, the average is average by necessity.
(Hell, it’s the law of averages that says so in the first place.)
So, we’ve all grown accustomed to the people around us making New Year’s resolutions only to give up on them sometime during January.
If a lot of people around you are making New Year’s resolutions, there’s probably something to it, yeah? So then, why wouldn’t we do the same thing?
And if they fail at keeping theirs, you wouldn’t look too bad if you failed at keeping yours, right?
Making New Year’s resolutions for the sake of making them probably isn’t a good way to make permanent changes to your life.
Me, I’ve long stopped making ‘em. Hell, even MY New Year’s resolutions don’t work.
And probably for the above reason:
Don’t make New Year’s resolutions because everyone else are doing it.
Make goals in life. Goals that are more important to you than anything else.
Because if you treat something like that for long enough, it WILL grow and prosper. By the same necessity that dictates why the majority fails at having THEIR goals grow and prosper.
This fine little quote was coined by English philosopher and consultant Peter Lang. And the way I see it, it neatly sums up a huge part of what not only coaching, but also confidence is all about.
This way of looking at things, Lang calls “positive reframing”. And it simply means to focus on, well, the bright side of life.
Now, I’m betting someone out there will try to think of exceptions to this theory. For example, you might call a broken foot a “problem”. And then what would be the frustrated dream accompanying it?
Well, like I’ve said before, behind everything we do, there’s a certain intention of feeling good. By attaining pleasure, and/or avoiding pain. And in the case of a broken foot, our intention is simply to be able to walk normally, and painlessly.
And of course, in this example, calling the intention a frustrated dream might be a stretch. But that’s not the point. The point is that we’re able to switch our focus from a perceived negative outcome or circumstance to its underlying constructive, positive wish or intention.
Now, on a scale from ‘confident’ to ‘non-fident’, can you guess where a mindset like this might be??
That’s right: The confident thing to do is focus on one’s desired outcome, or goals.
Whatever we focus on tends to grown within our awareness, yeah? Pretty much the definition of focus, right there. So, if we focus on the roadblocks instead of the positive outcome ahead, our lives will become more roadblocks and less positive outcome. Pretty simple, right?
Well, however simple it is, we humans have a sorry tendency to focus on the downside of things. And it’s simply the way our brains are wired. But we have the power to circumvent that way of thinking to our advantage.
Yes: We obviously have to take care of our problems. If you’d kept walking on that aforementioned broken foot, boldly and defiantly ignoring the pain, things’d probably get pretty messy for you anytime soon.
But the point here is to make the outcomes our major focus, not what’s stopping us from attaining it. If we focus on the positive outcome instead of the roadblocks, our lives will become more positive outcome and less roadblocks.
So ask yourself…
What’s my frustrated dream??
Why is it frustrated? What might it take to unravel some of the frustration? And what is it that I really want?
There are 5 reasons your New Year’s resolutions don’t work, and…
Oh yeah, here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions: They don’t work.
And really, it should come as no surprise.
Because… You’ve been there. Haven’t you?
Walked around in those last few days of the year and kinda made a mental status of your life?
Thought about some things that might be nice to do — or that you even felt that you should do?
Stood there on a new Jan. 2nd (after your latest hangover had faded, of course), and found yourself with this new promise to yourself that you kinda had to deal with?
… Only to find that, after a certain period of time, this new thing that you had going on didn’t really work out. For whatever reason.
Yeah, I’ve been there, too. No judgment on my part.
In fact, as it’s been repeated several times, one 2014 study found that while 45% of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% of those resolutions get successfully carried out.
I’ve seen the same statistic represented through other studies, with minor variations. Some say 50% make resolutions; some say 10% of them are successful. But you get the gist of it.
The good news is that those resolutions fail for the same reasons that any other unsuccessful goal fails. I’ve found the 5 reasons your New Year’s resolutions don’t work, and I’ll walk you through them, here:
1. It’s not specific enough
How many times have you heard someone say that they wanna “live healthier” or “lose some weight” — or even said it yourself? Well excuse me, but what the tits does that even mean anyway?
Yes, I know what weight loss literally means. But try fasting or dehydrating yourself for a day and measure your weight before and after (actually, maybe don’t). Boom: You’ve lost some weight; goal accomplished.
No. Exactly WHAT concrete actions are you going to take WHEN in order to lose WHAT amount of excess body fat (not muscle!) by WHICH date? Oh yeah, about that…
2. It doesn’t have a clear deadline
“But it’s a New Year’s resolution so I’ll have it done sometime this year LOL!”
Right. And if we’re at Jan. 1st, this might mean later today. Or, it might mean in just short of 52 weeks. Please tell me you see the difference, because I’m not elaborating on this one.
3. You’re over-burdening yourself
If you set yourself a big New Year’s resolution, like running a marathon, without properly thinking it through, right there’s your problem. Huge goals necessarily require huge amounts of action.
And let’s face it, most of us only have so much spare time in the course of a day after work, shopping, domestic chores, and perhaps dealing with our progeny.
But anybody could find 5 or 10 minutes in a day. That is, if it’s important enough. Which brings me to…
4. It’s not really important to you
This one, I think, is hugely overlooked. See, whatever we do, harmful or beneficial, we do it because there are certain benefits to it.
For example, think of this Classic New Year’s resolution: Quitting smoking. Every single human being knows about the serious harms and risks of smoking. Yet, there are certain benefits to it.
The ritual. The perceived coolness. Certain possibilities of making social connections. The personal sanctuary of a smoking break. The immense instant gratification of a nicotine rush.
Whatever we want, we better make damn sure the benefits of getting it by far outweigh those of not getting it. And this has a lot to do with changing our mental game around it.
5. You have no accountability
Now, this one’s a bit tricky. See, in general, a certain amount of accountability is motivating for by far most of us. But it only takes so much accountability before it starts to feel like unwanted, outside pressure. Which is when our motivation reaches its breaking point.
For some, declaring their resolutions to their friends, families, colleagues etc. might help instil a sense of motivational accountability.
Others (like me) prefer the less-talking-more-action approach. — And then, of course, hold themselves accountable to the relevant people, like their coach, mentor, personal trainer, mastermind group… Whoever.
Find out what works for you.
Those are the 5 reasons your New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Now it’s up to you to make sure they do.
I recommend the following approach:
Don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Set goals that are realistic, important, specific and time-bound, and keep taking consistent action on them.