Let focus and persistence guide you toward your goals

It’s incredible how much human beings can achieve when they have a clear plan that they relentlessly follow. When you look at any great achievement there is always sense of awe when you consider the time and effort. It is easy to think that you would never be able to do that. Yet, people whose work you admire are not much unlike you.

We often fool ourselves by saying that we are not good enough. The problem is that we focus too much on the result and not on the process. Nobody is a genius all the time. It is the daily grind over years, millions of seconds spent focusing and doing the work… that results in something that someone at some time may look up to.

And I get it – it is scary to acknowledge the amount of work ahead of you. But you know what is scarier? The possibility that you’ll end up not even trying. That you’ll spend lifetime hiding from everything you should be facing head on. That you’ll be left in a cloud of misery simply because you decided to do what needs to be done – tomorrow.

The best lives belong to those who take challenge head on, the first time it comes. By each action train yourself to perform, the same way someone else trains themselves to procrastinate. Bring habit and momentum on your side by making the right choices.

Embrace your focus and hold it against all doubts. Persistently and relentlessly attack. And stop only once you see that your goal is lying ahead of you, ready for the taking.

Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. -Abraham Joshua Heschel focus

Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. -Abraham Joshua Heschel

Give in and surrender, so you can focus on things that matter

In today’s opinionated world the worst thing one can do is get lost in countless battles that are around us. Who would be the best president? Which sports team deserves most attention and recognition? What is the ideal form of government? Why is group A attacking group B and who is right there?

Those who managed to educate themselves and focus their brain understand that most of the questions most of the people ask themselves most of the day are completely irrelevant. Yet, those questions are the ones people answer every day in their heads over and over. Until they are lost and drained of willpower.

Consciously decide what topics interest you. Do not let advertisements, TV or yet another yelling idiot take you off your path. Do not let someone else decide what you will be thinking about during your day. Reign in your brain and focus it on topics that interest you.

Be especially careful about giving your time and interest to other people. One of the easiest ways to drain your willpower is to get involved in confrontations with others over trivial things. Integrate others into your plans but don’t depend on them. Focus on your production and things you can do, not others.

When you know what is important for you – follow the advice – give in and surrender. Everything that you decided not to be worth of your time, simply fold and surrender. Do what needs to be done, so you can take a loss and move on. Only then will you be able to double down on things that lead you ahead. Only then will you be free to embrace the grind that leads you to toward path of happiness, secluded from pointless arguments. Only when you surrender what you don’t care about can you fight for what you do care about.

Featured comment of the week: Luck is when opportunity meets preparation by brilliantviewpoint

Surrender: Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days -Zig Ziglar

Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days -Zig Ziglar

Set yourself in happy state of mind, simply because you can

Sometimes it seems as if everyone around us is so blessed and happy. How is it that while we are struggling with our life others are enjoying theirs? What is the secret that separates those who are happy from those who are not?

The answer is simple – it’s the state of mind.

In today’s world everything is attainable. Look around and you’ll find people who go from poverty to being millionaires before they turn 30. Kids without parents that become stars in professional sports. People who lose 100s of pounds in a few months after spending most of their life being obese.

Scratch the surface and you’ll see that the most important thing these people did was: setting the right state of mind. They replaced depressive, negative, busy thoughts with ones that are supportive, positive and focused. They chose to hold themselves accountable. They chose performing over criticizing. They chose being happy over being unhappy.

You can do exactly the same thing. Understand that happiness is not a goal, happiness is a state. You can’t obtain happiness the way you obtain 4 year higher education diploma. Feelings inside you can’t be stored and owned like a piece of paper. They can however be retrieved and reignited over and over until certain feelings become identifying part of you. Relearn your brain to power positive thoughts instead of negative ones. Make happiness your identifying trait, a habit, and you will find yourself unable to be unhappy even in the darkest hours.

Ignite the flame of joy in you. Not tomorrow, the next year or the year after. Now! Seize the realization that your happiness belongs and is controlled by you. And that there is not a single reason to delay being in the happy state of mind.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions -Dalai Lama happy

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions -Dalai Lama

Choose to belong and fight for others. Depression targets those with no one around them.

One of the most impactful things in life is the group of people you share your time with. We humans climbed to the top of the food chain by organizing into tribes and standing united against stronger, faster and meaner enemies. What we couldn’t even imagine as individuals, we achieved as a part of a group. Tens of thousands of years we spent roaming and evolving together left the imprint of social animal all over us.

However, in this era of distractions and shallow entertainment many of us seem to have forgotten how important real relationships are. There is no surer way to box yourself into depression then to cut ties with everyone around you. At first it may seem like a great idea, but as time passes you’ll start to realize that you need someone, anyone to share your thoughts with.

So, choose to belong for sake of your own sanity. Understand that everything becomes easier when you truly invest yourself and share time with people you care about. Find those who share your values and goals. Stay away from those who don’t. But be prepared to give – the best relationships are those where you can help others with their need and have them satisfy yours.

Now, will you be burned more often than not by giving and not receiving? Of course. In the rapidly changing world of today, everyone needs so much, and tomorrow they will need even more. Know your limits but do not let those limits hold you. If you are able to give – give freely. Rejoice that you were able to provide and contribute to the social network we all depend on.

The more you give, the more you will develop yourself. We all end up getting pulled toward our own group. Leeches always end up with leeches. Givers always end up with givers. Don’t let adversity and disappointment knock you off your path and drive you toward group you don’t belong. Choose to give and be foundation for people around you and help them develop. Make your group a giver’s group and start carrying each other on the path of happiness.

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. -William Gibson

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes -William Gibson

How I would handle it: faking your feelings for sake of others

I truly enjoy being part of community. So, for me, the most lacking aspect of blogging is it’s solitary nature. Finding good blogging group is hard. Luckily, I’ve stumbled upon Community Pool – and connected with various individuals over last few weeks. Reading other people’s blogs is inspiring – it gets me thinking about stuff they are going through.

Last week I had extended conversation with Yoly as she commented on my Reduce dependencies and tune out distractions post. You can see our whole exchange on Community Pool. I would say this paragraph best represents our discussion:

I have to swallow my “wants” so everyone can be happy. But there are times that I can’t anymore so I’m the angry with everyone. I have good days and bad days. I’m the problem here, I can’t be honest with my myself because I need to sacrifice my needs to make others happy.

That got me thinking – how would I handle that? Feeling that I am in position I don’t want to be, yet I need to pretend that I am happy so I don’t disturb others. Sure enough, I’ve been there often. We all have. Parents and married people are especially vulnerable to this. Situations where they need to project “everything is great” image are everyday occurrence.

Here's to Friday... oh, that's right, we're parents. Friday means nothing anymore.

Here’s to Friday… oh, that’s right, we’re parents. Friday means nothing anymore.

Being able to satisfy others is a sign of strength

For me, the most important part is perception of “fake your feelings” strategy. Lots of people believe that one needs to be authentic 100% of the time. Yet, as one of my favorite quotes says “Every general statement is false”. Nothing is black and white.

So, as soon as you understand that it’s OK to fake here and there – everything becomes easier. Like: accept it’s OK to pretend that you are fine in front of your child. I mean, do you really want to saddle little kids with your issues? If children are able to help – sure, give them a chance… tell them what they can do so you can feel better. But in 99% situations you children can’t help you. Thus, swallowing your wants and pretending is way better alternative.

Now, faking is only half of the problem. No matter how strong of a person you are – you can’t fake your feelings long term. So, you absolutely need to define plan that allows you to get into setting where you can meet all your desires. But, you need to be realistic. We all would love to have billions of dollars, admiration of others, bunch of houses and yachts. True happiness in life comes with ability to define a “sweet spot”. A situation which you are able to maintain long term, yet that makes you happy.

Most of the people that are stuck in life have disconnect between ability and reality they desire. And there are only two ways to bridge this gap:

  1. Either you increase your ability
  2. Or downsize your desires

When talking about this subject almost everyone lauds option number 1. Yet, in practice, 90% of people choose second option. Depression is a poster child for option #2: one completely accepts that he will never improve. And willingly gives into expecting nothing.

Conclusion

So, in a nutshell this all comes down to two things: accepting imperfection and having discipline for continual improvement. Be OK with things not going your way most of the time. Isolate yourself and take a break when you need it. But take control of your life and accept responsibility. Work every day to keep going toward situation that you desire.

Theory is pretty easy. Application of what I am laying out here is the hard part… especially in Yoly’s situation. I am now regular visitor of her blog – as she is quite prolific and intriguing author. Here are some her posts in which she casts more light on her situation:

Considering post is already pretty long, I’ll stop here. See if there is any feedback on what I wrote.

If there is self-improvement subject you would like to discuss in detail – feel free reach out. Leave a comment or use Contact page; either will work!

Practice what you know and you’ll be happy

It said that truths are often forgotten only to be rediscovered in somewhat similar shape and form. Just look at happiness – one of the most studied topics in the history of human kind. We know more about happiness then about almost any other subject. Countless books have been written on the subject of happiness; and funny enough, some authors even tried giving a list of steps you need to do in order to be happy. Yet so many of us are unhappy.

The problem is that knowing and practicing are not the same thing. We all know that when hitter steps in batters box he should hit baseball out of ballpark. But give us a bat and we would look ridiculous while trying to do something we know so much about when we see it on TV. We allow our brains to simplify until the point where everything looks so easy, yet it becomes so hard when we actually need to do it.

If there was no distinction between knowing and practicing – being well-spoken would be inherent trait since we all talk. But, only few of us actually pay attention when speaking. Others are too busy thinking about problems of the past, expectations from the future and that video on YouTube they need to revisit and watch.

In this moment, if you allowed yourself to think and dream – you would find that you absolutely know in which direction you should head out in order to be happy. True enough, you also know doubts, uncertainties and obstacles that are keeping you from starting toward your goals and happiness.

It all comes down to asking yourself – will you stand up and bask in the light of doing or stay crouched in the dirt of knowing? Will you actually practice what you already understand? Will you commit yourself to refocusing your mind from distractions onto things that you truly care about? Will you allow yourself to be happy?

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are - Theodore Roosevelt

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are – Theodore Roosevelt

Reduce dependencies and tune out distractions

By now you have probably experienced depressing impact circumstances and people can have on your plans. You were doing great and going toward the goal when suddenly external influence changed everything. Losing control you got upset and eventually your focus is completely broken, crushing you for a day and leaving you crippled for a week as you try to regroup and reorganize you plans.

This may bring up lots of questions like: Do you need to involve yourself in extended planning discussions? Should you be aggressive until others start realizing their negative impact? What about prevention of unexpected circumstances? Do you need a roadmap on dealing with possible negative scenarios? Should you argue with others about your plans?

To all previous (and similar) questions answer is easy: no. What you simply need to do is make plans with less dependencies and conditions. Do not make plans which assume that everybody will act in their best interests. When you actually take time to think about it, you can easily realize that people seldom act in their best interest. As soon emotions kick in, majority of us will completely lose it.

Don’t allow yourself to do that. Fight against impulsiveness that takes you away from your goals. Take the charge and own your plan to the point where you are ready and committed to do everything by yourself. Do not run away from obligations and lure yourself with false promises of somebody else doing your work. Nobody will.

Only you can do your work. Only when your plan has as little dependencies as possible are you ready to begin. With clarity it’ll be obvious why top performers are also the ones that do not shy away from obligations but rather strive to carry everything on their shoulders. Only when you start refusing to count on scraps from others and commit yourself to your personal excellence will you be able to bask in the joy of pushing toward your goals oblivious of obstacles and distractions.

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame. - Erica Jong distractions

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame. – Erica Jong

Embrace the grind – let your actions define you

The one thing that you should do every day is to remind yourself where you are going. Remember the plans that you’ve made for yourself. Recite them every morning. Own that easiest and indispensable building block of living happy and fulfilled life – be present and know where you are actually going. Understand true motivation and purpose behind your actions.

Once you are truly on the path toward your goal, the only thing left is to start enjoying the journey. That’s where most people start to struggle. They stay so focused on the goal that they allow frustrations of not yet arriving to build up to the point of bursting. Why? Getting upset that you haven’t already arrived will not make you reach your goal faster. Even worse, in most situations, it’ll actually put you further away from your goal.

Building up understanding and appreciation of the journey toward goals is indispensable skill that we all need to develop. Love your struggles. Appreciate the grind that brings you closer to your goals. Rejoice that your destination is long and hard, allowing you to celebrate not once, but multiple times for each and every milestone you pass on your journey. Reject doubts that are trying to get a hold of you and arise above petty excuses and empty dreams of everything changing once you arrive at certain destination.

Stop focusing on the goal when that goal is just a mean to another end. You are not reaching an end point, but yet another marker on the longer path your drew for yourself. Focus on the happy fact that you are performing in the moment and that you are staying true to the decisions you’ve made. And stop shielding yourself from excitement. Allow your inner self to release cry of joy for every single victory no matter how small or trivial it may seem. You deserve to celebrate and be celebrated for every positive impact you make.

Only when you put journey ahead of destination will you be ready to conquer anything you set yourself toward. The happiness belongs to those who love each and every moment of what they are doing. And if you are on the path toward your goals, nothing is preventing you from joining them. Embrace the grind.

The chief cause of unhappiness and failure is trading what you want most for what you want right now - Zig Ziglar. Grind for the long term.

The chief cause of unhappiness and failure is trading what you want most for what you want right now – Zig Ziglar

Time for BeastMode – Creating yourself

It is paradoxical that in this era of abundance we are so easy to slack off. Here we are, in the moment of reading this, able to watch and consume almost anything on the great world wide web. And yet, in this sea of choice, so many of us choose celebrity gossip and news. Are humans truly that shallow? Or is it that we are shaped by our choices? That so many of us when confronted with buttons that say Easy and Hard, will always press Easy.

With each action you take, you train yourself. The same way someone trains themselves to get upset and mindlessly yell, other people train themselves to calm down and approach the problem with clarity. Ultimately, you are the one deciding your fate. Others can plead, force, push you around – but it is you who signs off on what will happen.

So, think before your act. Know that each repetitive action you take brings you closer to automation in your brain. Remember the person you want to be and act like it. Never will be easier to make the right choice than it is right now. Picking what you know is the wrong choice is not only bad for the present, it also will set you back in the future. Your brain remembers, so the next time you are confronted with the same choice it’ll lean you toward the same wrong action even harder.

Bring out the fire in yourself and fight to choose right the first time. Do not shy away or pacify yourself with busy thoughts. Understand that you can’t live in the past or the future. The only time you truly impact is the ever fleeting present. So, make it count. Fill your actions with desire and caring so that you can remember them fondly when present becomes past. Battle the best you can so that upcoming challenges become laughable once they materialize from the future as part of the present facing you.

The time to make breakthrough is now.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. -George Bernard Shaw Focus

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. -George Bernard Shaw

Stop making excuses

Doesn’t it feel great when there are others you can blame for something that went wrong? When your effort and time ended in a loss and now you can say – it was because of certain someone or something? Do you feel positive vibe when trading your responsibilities for excuses and pinning the blame somewhere else?

You don’t? Well, you are right. After things go wrong, in the grand scheme of things, blame actually doesn’t matter that much. The only thing that matters is how you feel about your actions. Whether or not you have succumbed to the pressure and circumstances or you raised above them.

When you are part of a group effort don’t be surprised to witness that some people will actually start working against themselves. If they came to conclusion that your team will lose, they will actually start working toward that outcome, just to prove themselves right. It is truly paradoxical how some of us will let emotions rule; all the way to the ruin.

And when blame is not readily available in the present, even invoking distant past is an option. Some of those lucky enough to have supportive parents can even manage to say: yeah, my parents never told me how terrible world actually is. How everything is so much different from what I was taught and told. Somehow, parents not telling little Johnny that Santa Clause doesn’t actually exist and that he may run into difficulties in life is what keeps him from performing in the present.

Obviously, don’t join the choir of ridiculousness. Be the voice of reason. Stand behind your actions, not only when it easy, but when it’s hard. Especially then – be the foundation on which others can lean and focus on following your path regardless of noise around you. Do not take excuses even when they hand them to you on a silver platter. Stay directed toward the destiny you designed for yourself. You do not need excuses, because in the end – they won’t make you happy and, more importantly, won’t even matter.

The search for a scapegoat to take blame and find excuses is the easiest of all hunting expeditions. -Dwight D. Eisenhower

The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions. -Dwight D. Eisenhower