Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life is full of obstacles, don't create your own.

There are a ton of quotes about setting goals in the stars, and hitting the moon, etc...and while they might provide some momentary inspiration, I think it's a poor strategy for actually reaching a goal.


Well, my friend Jason Surfrapp just wrote an article about a fitness program that he tried out, that illustrates the danger of pushing people into programs of radical change. In short, when it's hard to get a feeling of success, it takes much more will power than most people can muster to stay in the game.

The psychology of this is pretty simple. If something is only providing pain, and no pleasure, it's just a matter of time before you will abandon it. Who wants to work hard to be presented repeatedly with a message of "You failed"?

Sure, failure is part of any path of growth. But it shouldn't be built in to what you're doing. Whatever your long-term goal is, be sure the path to get there is built on a highway of simple successes. Failure may occur, but it shouldn't be designed into your program.

To be clear, I think there is a major distinction between your overall goal, and your plan (mini-goals) to get there. Difficult goal? Awesome. Daunting path? Questionable.

Maybe your goal is to run a marathon. But at present you can only walk down the block. Make your first mini-goals to walk two, then three, etc. If you're going to try to go from walking a block to running a marathon, which is an aggressive goal, it's just silly to make your program aggressive too.

When you try to do too much too soon, you're too likely to end up frustrated and back to your old ways. Conversely, success begets success.

In recent article by James Altucher, about what he learned from interviewing Tony Robbins, this point is made crystal clear. The idea of bring the target closer. It refers to Tony training the US Army on how to improve it's marksmanship.

By starting with the target at close range, the soldiers got confidence in hitting it. Slowly it was moved further and further away, until they were exhibiting outstanding shooting from a distance. But that success was built on the simple victories of shooting from close up.

Design your own goals in the same way. Feel free to make your overall goal audacious, so long as your path to getting there is reasonable. There will be enough obstacles to side track you, don't let your own plan be one of them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maybe you don't have a problem, just the wrong perspective.

As you may or may not know, I spend about half the year living in Europe. Yesterday was Independence Day in Poland. It was quiet outside. Except for a handful of shops, everything was closed. It's a scene normally seen in the US only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When I first moved here, it bugged me. I didn't like planning around these holidays when nearly all stores are closed. Why can't they just stay open? I lamented.

I was wrong. Frankly, it's awesome. Having a forced break in the action is a good thing. Having a dozen days a year when the excuses for chilling out are simply erased. How cool is that? Very cool I say.

In our hyper connected world the temptation is to run from one activity to the next. Day off? Better buy those things you could not get during the work week. It's a holiday, more time to get things done. Ugh. Stop it!

Activity is not advancement. Even if it were, what's the point of advancing if you've discarded everything in life worth caring about?

It  may not be a holiday today in the US, but the next time you have a day off, try just pulling the plug. Or do something completely unrelated to work or your normal routine. In short, take a break.

It's easy to be led into believing that a little more effort will solve a problem. Very often with a little distance from our routine, we may find we don't actually have a problem, just the wrong perspective.