“Being Realistic is the Most Commonly Traveled Road to Mediocrity” — Will Smith
You can’t break the fundamental laws of physics, but the good news is you don’t need to.
If you have a vision someone told you was impossible, choose to make your dream happen. Wake yourself up. Slap yourself in the face. Act now.
Blame no one
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” — Maya Angelou
When I was six, I moved from a run-down trailer park in Kentucky to an urban ghetto in Charlotte, North Carolina.
All around me, people blamed everything miserable in their lives on someone else. They couldn’t elevate themselves because they clung to what other people did.
They blamed their absent fathers, drug-addicted mothers, bad teachers, crummy friends, and everyone else. What they didn’t do was forgive.
In spite of my hardships, I’ve been fortunate to discover you become what you choose to believe. When I’ve forgotten that understanding, I’ve experienced bankruptcy, divorce, and failure. But when I’ve remembered, I accomplished “impossible” feats.
Don’t let others keep you from living your ideal life. The only way to let go is to forgive. It doesn’t matter how evil or vile someone’s actions. You’re not forgetting. You’re not forgiving them for them. You’re doing it for yourself, so you can move on.
Do you want to cede control of your future to someone negative in your past?
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” — Jim Rohn
If you thought forgiving was hard, taking responsibility is harder. For the same reasons you don’t want to forgive, you also don’t want to take responsibility.
It’s easier to believe your life is not your own. If life is a result of things outside your control, you don’t have to feel responsible for how you respond.
But the only thing that matters is your response. It creates your life. It influences others’ actions. Those actions come back to you. Call it karma. Call it reciprocity. Call it you reap what you sow.
Your life is a direct consequence of the choices you make. The challenge in life is becoming aware of those choices and deciding to respond in a constructive way.
Think about your thinking
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Henry S. Haskins
The first step in taking responsibility is to think about your thinking.
Some people argue about whether the past matters. In truth, it does and it doesn’t. It matters because your past ripples back to you. The pain you experience today often results from yesterday’s response. It doesn’t matter because you create tomorrow’s ripples now.
You can’t change the past. You can change tomorrow by what you do today, so focus on today instead.
Respond in a constructive way. What are the likely consequences of your actions? You can’t control every outcome, but you can nudge them.
Happiness is the way
“There is no way to happiness — happiness is the way.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
How you feel controls your focus. Your focus drives action.
If you want to be successful, be happy first. Positive outcomes created by your responses deepen your fulfillment, but happiness itself is a choice. First, choose happiness.
Once you do, it’s easier to switch your focus from the obstacles themselves to conquering the obstacles. Choosing happiness shifts your outlook from negative to positive, from pessimistic to optimistic.
You are what you think about it, but you choose your focus. If your focus is positive, your outcomes will be more positive. If your focus is negative, how do you think that will influence your results?
Find your purpose
What’s the reason you’re doing what you’re doing? If you can’t answer this question, your quest will be monumental.
Base your why on something relevant to you, not someone else. It must be an end, not a means.
Once you find your why, your focus switches from if to how and when.
Model your behavior
Search for solutions. Find examples of those who’ve succeeded in your task, and follow their path. Research similar tasks if your goal is novel.
What smaller pieces have others accomplished? How did they do it? Don’t be afraid to ask. Customize your approach to fit your vision.
Your fastest growth will come when you find a mentor. They can foresee obstacles and provide overlooked strategies and solutions.
Before you reach out to an expert, familiarize yourself with their work. If you do, you’ll gain insights into your own challenges. Your effort will also show you’re serious and increase the likelihood they’ll want to help.
Strengthen your mind
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn
Your thoughts become your reality.
Spend more time with constructive people and less time with destructive people. Listen to uplifting audiobooks, podcasts, and music. Watch your screen time. Read material that catapults you to where you want to go.
Consider your self-talk. Engage in language that supports a growth Mindset. Do you think you’ll be more or less likely to succeed if you tell yourself you can’t? Rephrase your words, and leverage your subconscious mind.
Strengthen your body
Your brain weighs two percent of your body but uses twenty percent of its energy.
It’s critical you increase your energy level. Deliberate practice and deep work required to achieve your “impossible” goal demand it.
The devil’s in the details, but here are a few key tips to maximize results.
- Get plenty of rest. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is ideal.
- Eat a balanced diet. Too much of anything can be dangerous. Fad diets are all the range: High carb, low carb, organic, raw, unprocessed. Unless you have a medical issue, the best advice you can take is eat a balanced diet. Focus on how much you eat, not what or when you eat. Evidence shows most of these diets aren’t based on scientific fact. They can even be dangerous.
- Be consistent. Systemize your habits and routine. Once you do, small actions will build over time making willpower irrelevant.
- Don’t confuse your body. When it comes to your muscles, boring is better. Evidence shows you plateau faster with a muscle confusion workout than one that builds over time. Some activity is an improvement over inactivity. But progressive overload is a far superior way to increase strength and endurance. Why do you think professional athletes don’t use muscle confusion routines?
- Track key indicators. Keep track of calories, weight, reps, or whatever metric is most effective for you. Tracking keeps you aware and changes your behavior. Feel free to “gamify” your progress, but compare yourself today to yourself yesterday, not other people. Your progress is the only one that matters.
- Something is better than nothing. When you slip up, keep going. If you’ve broken all your rules, don’t keep that from stopping you from doing one small positive thing. Reflect on your progress. Little things add up over time. No one’s perfect.
Create your plan
It can be tempting to jump in blind, and in certain instances that’s okay. But usually, a difficult challenge requires tremendous preparation.
Divide your “impossible” goal into smaller milestones. Each milestone should be specific, measurable, and timed. Focus on the daily actions required to do each milestone. Schedule those actions in your calendar so you commit to your primary actions.
It’s easy to get discouraged if you focus on the size of your “impossible” task. Instead, keep your eye on the current milestone in your journey. How you run a marathon is one step at a time.
Reflect weekly with an accountability partner. Make adjustments in your daily actions as needed.
Find the staircase
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Create your plan, but don’t worry if you can’t see the solution immediately. Don’t expect to foresee all the problems.
Plans never go the way you expect. You may be able to see the outline, but the details get filled in after you act. Don’t fret. No plan goes unchanged.
Change is constant and requires constant adjustment.
Leverage your time
Prioritizing your time is only a first step.
Don’t just reorder your daily actions. Use the Pareto Principle to focus on the twenty percent of your activities that achieve eighty percent of your progress.
Select the daily action from those refined activities that are most important for today. Schedule that action as early as possible.
Engage in activities that address many areas of your action plan. Spend the extra time needed to plan now to save time tomorrow. Outsource and delegate tasks others can complete that don’t make the best use of your time.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
Once you’ve begun, spend the required time to go deep. The Deep Work sessions will be the most impactful.
Shut off your notifications. Small interruptions crush your productivity, and major breakthroughs usually need focused time.
Don’t expect to find a solution in thirty seconds or even thirty minutes. Spend 45 to 55-minute blocks of focused time on each action.
Persist and reflect. Don’t expect your solution to happen overnight. If your goal is humungous, expect to spend years honing the habits and skills required to get you where you want to go. If you’re not willing to put in the time, what are the chances you’ll succeed?
Look past the finish line
Once you achieve your goal, you are not finished. You will never be finished. There is no finish line.
Persist in your daily habits. The “secret sauce” is in the small daily consistent actions required to get you there. If you do that, you can conquer the world.
The only question now is: Are you willing to do what it takes?
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