The Real Reason You Aren’t Succeeding

successWhether you are trying to get ahead in your career, start a new business, lose 15 pounds, cut sugar from your diet or just be a calmer and more peaceful person, chances are you are frustrated with your rate of improvement. You wish you were making more progress. You think you are doing everything right, you just don’t know why you don’t see the results.

Planning vs Action

Those of us on the improvement track all do it.  We create a list, a plan, a budget and we spend hours reading and learning how to take better care of ourselves, our families and our future. It is remarkable. We have access to an amazing amount of information to help us become better versions of ourselves. Wiser financially, stronger emotionally and healthier physically and yet so few of us actually see the results we want. The results we want to see are had with less planning and more daily practice. We need to take action and work the plan. 

We need to practice every day, just the way professional athletes, writers and artists do. We need to go pro.

Getting Ready to Get Ready

This is how it is for many of us who become fixated on the emotional high associated with personal growth.  We might make a little progress and feel pretty good about that.   It’s easy to keep learning and studying new inspiring ideas, creative methods, and  techniques while convincing yourself that you must be making progress simply because you’ve invested a lot of time and effort in learning and growth.

We spend our time getting ready to get ready to improve our situations. We’re reading all the books, watching the videos, listening to the podcasts. One of the big traps is believing that you’re making progress when there’s no actual evidence of it.  This idea of going pro and stepping up your game, is inspired from the quote below and the book Turning Pro

“To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.”

Read more in Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

Execution is the Elixir

Planning without action creates a false sense of security. You may feel more confident if you meet with a life coach, financial advisor or spiritual guide, but scheduling time with them, listening to a TedX video or attending a seminar is not doing the actual improvement work. Journaling, note taking and writing the ultimate goal list is not going to make the difference. Action and practice every day will. 

drawing global concept in book

From Procrastinator to Producer

Perhaps you consider yourself a procrastinator and that is why you don’t move into action. “The Procrastination habit catches people in a vicious cycle: get overwhelmed, feel pressured, fear failure, try harder, work longer, feel resentful, lose motivation and then procrastinate.” Read more in The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

Propel then Practice

American_progressEvery single morning I give myself the ultimate rallying cry, a trumpet call. I call it my $25 million dollar life. I’ve printed it out on a double side of copy paper and I recite it out loud every morning. It’s my manifest destiny and it reminds me of the greatness I want to achieve and the action necessary to get there. If you try this, I would love to hear how it is working for you.

Better, Not Perfect

Execution is the real elixir, the secret, the answer to self-improvement. We just need to get better, not perfect. Sure we can still learn by the book, but we need to go out and test our new found knowledge. 

What you Measure Tends to Improve

Taking action begins with making sure that whatever you are setting out to do you have –

  • broken it down into daily doable habits
  • created projections for success
  • continue to track measurable milestones
  • have a clear vision of what success looks like

For example, if you want a calmer more peaceful day, than begin to practice 10 minutes of morning mindful meditation. Measure your heart rate and breathing before, during and after with Spire, the newest device to help us navigate this chaotic modern life. Now, what does a calmer and more peaceful day look like to you? What are you doing? How are you behaving? Be mindful of the success you want to achieve. You will know you are successful after many hours of practice and the way your life improves.

Put your Emotions in Motion

Anger and frustration are huge motivators for me. If I feel really frustrated I don’t linger around and complain, I get into solution as quickly as possible and then do something about it. I make the call, put on my workout clothes, apologize. . . whatever will help me move away from frustration.

I don’t know anyone who likes ruminating about negative thoughts, so get creative and find a solution to what is nagging you and just do it.

Next time you feel like you just can’t get motivated remind yourself what you don’t want and use those emotions associated with it to propel you out the door.

Ready, Set, Action

A friend of mine told me about the 60 second tip. When you are gearing up to do something good for yourself but you are not in the mood or you are too tired, try it for 60 seconds. See how it feels. Check out this site “Know more in 60 seconds” http://www.knowmoreinsixtyseconds.com  

Re-Commit Every Day

“Turning pro is like kicking a drug habit or stopping drinking. It’s a decision, a decision to which we must re-commit every day.” Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

What are you trying to accomplish? What tips do you have to help take more action?

10 Super Simple and Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Workout

fitness-061. Build Your Mind Muscle. Meditate your way to a deep sleep every night. In order to have a great workout routine, you must have a nightly relaxation ritual that does not include a couple of drinks to calm you down. Some of the best guided meditations for sleep and relaxation are here.

2. Be your Own Best Coach – but first you must listen to how you feel. Do you hold any guilt, anger, resentment? You can’t carry that extra weight to the gym. It’s not like fat that you can burn off. That baggage is heavy and more exhausting to schlep around than those extra pounds.

 

Really get a sense of how you feel during the day. Log those emotions. Do you tighten up when you see your coworker? Feel anxious when someone stands just a bit too close on the train? Feel like you want to choke the loud cell phone talker on the street in front of you? Those emotions are invaluable. They’re keys to the things that will really improve your life if you dig into them, because those kinds of emotional responses that we quickly temper are signs of an internal disagreement.

More on how to be your own life coach here.

Remember, resolving the internal disagreements that lead to unhealthy emotions and choices  are vital for improving your life.

3.You can’t head to the gym in your paint-stained sweat pants that double as your bathroom/kitchen cleaning outfit. Eventually you will want to go pro and prepare with the right workout gear. This includes clothes, water, podcast or music playlist, headphones, FitBit, etc.

My favorite picks for the gym here and more here –

 1

Nike Team Training Gymsack Black/White Size One Size

2

Nike Women’s Free 5.0+ Running Shoe

3
Aquasana AQ-6006-BLU-TR 18-Ounce Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve, Blue

4
Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Capri Legging

5

Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Sports Bra, Black, Medium

6

adidas Performance Women’s 24 Seven Deep V-Neck Tee, Midnight Grey, Large

4. Play the Leading Role in The Award-winning Film of Your Life – This is what worked for me. Weigh yourself, look in the mirror, see yourself as you are now.You are the star. This your time. Every day.  Then, in your mind, see yourself as you want to be. Visualize yourself. Want to drop 10, 20, 50 pounds or more, fit into a tight tee shirt or just feel more energized?  List the things you must do to become who you want to be. Write them down. Now do one simple thing each day on this list to get yourself closer to where you want to be during your workout. Note: you need to eat less to weigh less, so tracking calories for a 500 deficit each day is imperative to losing weight. Do this in conjunction with your work out if you want to lose weight.

5. Talk to YourselfIncessantly. I repeat the following to myself every time I walk into the gym. 123 Tone. That’s my goal weight of 123 pounds and my tone body. I have linked it to the photo of myself in my mind of what I look and feel like at 123 pounds with slim tone arms, a flat stomach and strong legs. Keep that vision in front of you as you work out. See yourself slipping into those jeans.

6.Set a time limit and and a target list of what you will perform while you are at the gym- don’t leave until you are done. Today my goal was 60 full minutes of cardio and three rounds of 22 push ups, 60 and sit-ups. Although I fought it – yes, I really did want to leave early, I did not walk out the door until I finished. It wasn’t easy.

7. Listen to Someone Motivating. If you have a smart phone, down load a motivating podcast to listen to while you are on the treadmill.  My favorite todayThe Good Life Project. Click here for more.

8.Sweat and track you success daily. I have come to understand that if I am not sweating or getting really heated up during at least a part of my workout, than, I are not working out hard enough. You have to push yourself.  But first you must know your target heart rate. It is a very simple calculation and you can find it at Every Day Health, here. After working out a while, you will be able to physically tell if you are in fat-burning mode by the way your body feels.

9. Switch it up. Do not do the same thing every day. You will get bored and you will not optimize your workout. Try new machines and classes, today I did 20 minutes on the tread mill -a set of sit-ups and push ups and then 20 minutes on the Elliptical followed by another set of sit-ups and push ups and then another 20 minutes on the other machine that looks like the Elliptical but it’s a stair climber thing. Play with the buttons on the treadmill – build an incline, jog for a minute, slow walk, then speed walk, etc.

10.  Move Every Single Day. Do something active every single day. I work out every day but every day is just bit different. One day is a 5-7 mile walk with hills and stairs, another a day at the gym, another is Spinning class, etc. I don’t take a day off from movement and do not believe it would help if I did.

Do you have a workout tip that is simple, easy and effective? I would love to learn from you, so please share in the comments below.

The Smartest Way to Success

 

anais“We don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are.” Anais Nin

For those of you who have  been following me, you already know that I am determined to improve myself daily with the goal of going to bed a little smarter and stronger every day. I have a firm belief that it is my duty to give the best version of me to the world each day. anais-nin-always-weaving-bc-it-once-was-brokenBetter Together

I am on a quest to learn and acquire new habits, rituals, patterns and thoughts to become the best version of me, because I can’t just “think” my way there. It takes action and deliberate practice.  I hope to form a community here on this blog of like-minded motivated people so we can help each other grow mentally, physically and emotionally every day.  We can learn a lot from each other and in turn become our best versions together. So with that stated, I really appreciate your advice and contributions. What has worked for you? What books are you reading? What exercises are you doing? What classes are you taking?

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anais Nin

img_3307Lightening Up, Sparking Joy, Creating Love

So, today, I am sharing a smart, practical approach to organizing and achieving your personal goals for success.

Before that, a quick assessment.

What I have accomplished so far (a year of daily deliberate practice).

    • I lost 25 lbs on The Four Hour Body, a slow carb diet

I highly recommend: The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

  • I wake up with gratitude and journal everything I am thankful for
  • I started a daily workout routine and began Spinning and dancing weekly
  • I began a daily practice of mindful meditation to clear my head
  • A commitment to reading and learning something new daily
  • 30 minutes of writing and reading aloud  my purpose and plan for my life
  • and devoted Sunday mornings to a one hour spiritual ritual with my husband

tidying upThis next year I hope to spark joy in my life by letting go of everything that I no longer need while continue to lighten up and create love out of everything I do – cooking, working, writing, sharing, everything. Inspired by Marie Kondo’s book  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Taming the Wild Within

Just like everyone else, I struggle with certain things and one of my biggest challenges is getting overwhelmed. I have too many goals, too many dreams and I vibrate on the side of hyper mania. This drives my family and my friends nuts, but they love me just the same. So calming myself down daily is a big thing for me. See “mindful meditation” practice above. I meditate for me and everyone that has to deal with me. I believe that mediation + movement (exercise) = my daily dose of medication.

 

Dreams pass into the reality of action, from the action stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” Anais Nin

So my practical advice today is to follow along with me as I show you how I am going to organize my goals in a way that will not overwhelm me, allow me to be successful and continue to become the best version of me. There is one rule: I can only do one goal at a time and make it a habit for the year.

Step 1. Categorizing Life

Here are my categories:

  1. Relationships & Family
  2. Professional & Career
  3. Financial Health
  4. Physical & Health
  5. Emotional & Spiritual
  6. Time Management & Routines
  7. Household & Living Environment
  8. Personal & Intellectual Development

Step 2. Rating My Development So Far

The rating scale: 0% = completely unhappy to 100% this is the best version of me

Here are my categories:

  1. Relationships & Family – 45% 
  2. Professional & Career – 60%
  3. Financial Health – 15%
  4. Physical & Health – 50%
  5. Emotional & Spiritual –80%
  6. Time Management & Routines – 75%
  7. Household & Living Environment –35 %
  8. Personal & Intellectual Development – 75%

Step 3 – Identifying What Needs Improvement

Chagall-la-PromenadeRelationships & Family – 45%  

“You cannot save people, you can only love them.” Anais Nin

  • More forgiveness, patience and quality time scheduled with everyone I love. Friends and family.
  • Make new friends from around the world through this blog.

Professional & Career – 60%

“One’s life shrinks or expands according to your courage.” Anais Nin

  • Continue to inspire each day by sharing what I am learning each morning.
  • Writing my book “Lightening Up, Sparking Joy, Creating Love” Giving Your Best to the World
  • Helping new clients grow with my marketing and public relations skills
  • Continue to improve my Social Media, Photoshop and WordPress skills

Financial Health – 15%

  • Learn how to invest in successful companies for the long term while allowing compound interest work for me.
  • Pay down left over credit card debt, reduce my living expenses and understand if the insurance I have is the best for my family
  • Save 10% of what I earn monthly, no matter what.

Physical & Health – 50%

  • Lose 5 more lbs, Tone my body with an increase in pushups, situps, planks and weights.
  • Carry less tension in my body and practice a full body scan meditation to release that tension
  • Visit my doctor for a full check up and blood work
  • Become a more mindful eater with a mindful kitchen to prepare healthy meals

Emotional & Spiritual80%

  • Continue to remove negative thoughts of anger and doubt
  • Practice radical acceptance with compassion and loving kindness
  • Develop a schedule of meditation practices to do throughout the day

Time Management & Routines – 75%

  • Develop a mindful relaxation ritual at night that does not include more than one glass of chardonnay
  • Continue to write my 90 seconds of daily victories each evening
  • No phones, laptops or tablets in the bed
  • Relaxation stretches and meditation before bed

Household & Living Environment35 %

“Anything that I cannot transform into marvelous, I let go.”  Anais Nin

  • Purge everything that doesn’t spark joy for me in my entire house and care for everything I decide to keep. – clean it, paint it, fold it, organize it, make it shine.
  • Refrain from buying anything new unless absolutely necessary for the entire year.

Personal & Intellectual Development – 75%

  • Find my work and home “uniform” – clothes that suit the occasion that I feel great in and that I don’t have to think about too much.
  • Read and learn how to continue to become a better writer. I just found this amazing list of 150 free writing tools here
  • Complete books I am reading including The Tools and my winter reading list.

inspirational-quote-Anais-Nin-hustle

Dodging Raindrops, Brilliant Podcasts and Rising Above A Toxic Workplace

sitting-posture

Two words, good posture.

Stop. Did you just do what I think you did? Did you just sit up a little straighter?

Next time you walk into the elevator or a big meeting, think about what your posture says about you as you pass through those doors. Then try these exercises for better posture.

It’s early morning, pouring rain, headed to the office in Soho (70 minutes, stuck in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, followed by a soaking 30 minute walk). Rain coming in sideways. I feel like –

sunshine

Rain-jacket-Cover-620x400

Wellness in the Workplace

Now, while big corporate decides whether there’s enough ROI (return on investment) around creating a “corporate wellness” program at your office (read: you healthier in their work camp), organizations are adding things like energy-absorbing flooring and enhanced air and water filtration. That’s all well and good but you must take matters of health into your own hands and back to your cozy cubby.

offices1

Movement + Meditation = My Medication

When there is no time to work out in the morning I walk the five miles to and from work.

Walking at various speeds with intervals of stairs help me stay energized throughout the day and less guilty about not getting to the gym. Except when it rains really hard. Then I’m just like, what was I thinking?

That’s why I have invested in some serious commuter gear – I have provisions -umbrellas, rain coats, knapsacks, rain boots, you name it.

Love these rain boots and my  jacket below from Uniqlo

sperrySperry Top-Sider Women’s Pelican III Rainboot

UnknownTotes Signature SuperDome Auto Open/Close Umbrella, Black, One Size

goods_69_157491

Learning on the Go

Podcasts I listen to at the gym and on my warrior walk to work.

  1. The Unmistakable Creative – brilliant interviews with super creative people.
  2. The Tim Ferriss Show – the #1 business podcast on iTunes right now
  3. School of Greatness with Lewis Howes – because he just wants to get better and better and so do I.

Or sometimes I simply walk and meditate. Huh? How do you do that? Well, you breathe and walk and just be aware of the fact that you are breathing and walking. Unless you are like me and want to Instagram every little stupid thing. Then you might want the guidance of a walking meditation app.

Movement meditation can be a very accessible way to restore the equilibrium of the mind.

desk

Workouts During the Work Day

Not as powerful as sweating it out for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, moving throughout the day gently keeps my body and head in check. Evidently, according to this Forbes contributor, there is something to this fidgeting.

Here’s what I am trying to do every day at work.

  • 10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk on Forbes.com here
  • A full glass of water (8oz) every two hours.
  • A healthy lunch – salad with protein.
  • Two 100 calorie snacks. Almonds or apples. (buy in bulk at Costco).
  • Always take the stairs and go outside every few hours.
  • 1 minute of breathing meditation at my desk on the hour.
  • A moment or two to laugh. Best of Jimmy (Fallon) here
  • Network – spend a little time connecting with others.

waterbottlemarkedwithtimeAre you shy? Want to make friends but feel a bit socially awkward?

Listen to this brilliant Tim Ferriss episode How to Build a World Class Network in Record Time.

final

 

True Grit, The Act of Envisioning and Living to 100

World___Italy_Jetty_on_the_island_of_Sardinia__Italy_065063_

I am adding yet another new daily habit of 30 minutes of focus and deep concentration by journaling precisely what I want to create in life with the honest intention of being in service to everyone I meet.  I imagine and behold a (super) better version of myself, eliminating any negative thoughts including envy, hatred, judgement, selfishness or cynicism. No matter what, I will carve out this time to make sure this becomes a ritual in my life.

“. . . in applying one’s whole soul to doing right and speaking the truth. There remains only the enjoyment of living a liked succession of good deeds, with not the slightest gap between them.”  – Marcus Aurelius

Study: Meditations (Hardcover Classics)

marcus-aurelius-quote-fridge-magnet-2_largeSystem Restore -A Metaphorical Moment

The other evening I was pulling my hair out while trying to free up some space on my computer with Daisy Disk (not worth the $9.99, a total waste). After backing up my laptop I had to restore my operating system. Not something I wanted to be doing at 11 pm at night. I have no patience for this, but it’s like laundry and cleaning the kitchen, it just needs to get done. But I had a moment of true realization while I waited for my Mac to restart with a new blank desktop –  I am also in the process of refreshing and restoring my operating system.  Some call it reinventing ourselves.

The Act of Envisioning the Future

The way I see it, we can worry about the future or we can focus on creating a better story for tomorrow. Recognizing that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually transform themselves into physical reality, I have committed to concentrating my thoughts on precisely who I want to become and I am creating a crystal clear picture of that person each day, by writing a new future. This also helps with incessant useless monkey-mind worry because I am putting my thoughts to better use. I highly recommend you try it for yourself.

True Grit

Just like building a start up or pursuing any dream, this life project of mine requires deliberate practice and focus and as many have come to understand a great dose of grit. Grit defined as perseverance and persistence coupled with an unwillingness to wilt, complain, or cry about my current state. It’s the ability to accept my reality and make the best of it, never wishing I was somewhere else, or in someone else’s shoes.

I have come to understand that people who value grit have a number of things in common. They appreciate everything in their lives and what they have right now.

small-daily-improvementsThe “gritty” among us also –

  • Remain cautiously optimistic.
  • Exercise their muscle of self-control.
  • Have a higher level of social intelligence.
  • Maintain the ability to preserver through even the toughest times.
  • Stay enthusiastic about the process.
  • Embrace the art of curiosity about everything. Even their problems.

Grit: harnessing the courage, the resiliency, and the power within.

Climbing Hills and Recreating Blue Zones

Barring heavy rain or deep wet snow, every day I take a 25 minute steep hill hike around my town. What I am trying to do is recreate the effect that blue zones have on the body.  Blue Zones are places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy.

The five blue zones are as follows:

  • The Italian island of Sardinia
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

Ikaria_1428628iThe people in blue zones don’t need to artificially incorporate exercise into their lives with machines.  The exercise comes for free, already built into their daily lives naturally.  Common across all of the blue zones is that the people climb mountains, walk through the hills, work the land, and generally use their bodies in a constant grind as they perform their daily activities.  And it doesn’t have to be high intensity “run as fast as you can” exercise either.

To live long and healthy requires a constant, daily lifestyle of positive enrichment for the body and mind.  For many this may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Read more about what it takes to live to 100 here.

blue

Read: The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People

1% Better Each Day

sitting-down-all-day-at-work-is-killing-us-why-you-should-use-a-sit-to-stand-desk-tableRight now you are probably sitting down reading this blog post. How long have you been sitting there? If it has been over 30 minutes since you last moved around, then get ready to get up and begin a healthier new habit.

Today’s guest post includes three easy ways to counteract the frightening and unhealthy side effects that stem from sitting at your desk all day.  Sitting down and slumped over a screen has become an important lifestyle risk factor linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes and it is estimated that around 9% of premature deaths have been linked to sitting all day.  That’s about five million people a year. Want to learn more about why you need to get up and move? Watch this TedEx original here.

sitting

I asked Alex Guillien, the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach/Instructor at Dakota State University for his best exercises to help us get up and move throughout the day.  Alex aims to inspire and empower others to become the best versions of themselves, beginning with physical training.

Sitting has been dubbed the new smoking,” explains Alex. “I am grateful for the work I do as a Strength & Conditioning Coach because one of the uncommonly thought of benefits is I am on my feet most of the day. Some may see this as a negative but it allows me to have limited time sitting down; which you fill learn has dire consequences.”

Below are a few passages from the Science Daily article titled, Sitting for long periods increases risk of disease and early death, regardless of exercise.

“The amount of time a person sits during the day is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death, regardless of regular exercise, according to a review study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.” 

More than one half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television, or working at a computer”

“Our study finds that despite the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk for disease.” (science daily)

So are we all going to die!? Yes, we are. But it doesn’t have to be because of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Or at LEAST, we can reduce our risk of these things by limiting our sitting times.

Your New 2 Minute Healthy Habit

Get up every 30 minutes for 2-3 minutes. This will get the blood flowing to the vital organs and reduce those times when you may sit for 2-3 hours at at time. It will also improve creativity as motion will bring blood to the brain. You should be getting up to pee anyway. If not, you’re not drinking enough water.

dudley117Stretching out your Legs & Back

Undo that hunch. Do the Super Couch. stretch.  Click here for a quick 16 second how to video.

2. Wake up the Booty

Sitting too long will cause glute amnesia, aka your butt turns off (going numb). Sounds bad. It is. Nearly 80% of people will have low back pain in their life. It sucks. So get your glutes aka da booty functioning by squeezing them for a set of 30 seconds every time you get up out of your chair. You may look like the weirdo in the office but your butt and back will thank you.

3. Improve Your Posture

Bonus: Grab a EliteFTS Pro Resistance Band  so you can improve your posture by doing pull-aparts. Watch the video here for a band pull apart super series.  Work up to 100 total each day for improved posture, a stronger upper back, and enhanced shoulder health.

I (MJ) also like to add chair squats to the mix –

chair_squat-1

“The sedentary life…is the real sin against the holy spirit.” 
 Friedrich Nietzsche

officeFor additional ways to improve your health and work out routine, visit Alex’s website at  gorillastrength.net.  My favorite videos include his variations on the push up.

Have you adopted any healthy work habits? If you have any tips/advice or additional ways to move through the work day, please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

Too Small to Fail

“Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.”

Today’s thoughts inspired by a seriously smart book:  Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

Mini HabitsI travel to Manhattan for work each day (some people call it commuting). I intentionally take my travel to New York City each day and I view it as a big adventure. The big apple, right here in my own back yard, a playground that I get to rediscover over and over again. The dreaded 90-minute “commute” has become a part of a mindful and magical journey. Well, sometimes not that “magical”, but you get what you put into it, okay?

467a65572f527359c3eb3172dbb9b0b7Lately I’m very sad about the growing number of homeless men and women I see while I am walking downtown to my office from midtown to Soho. Counting 5, 6, 7 people per block, I thank God I haven’t become numb to this sorrowful situation.

A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

I became angrier and angrier at DiBlasio, at the system, at the crumbling world economy. I thought about creating a video and filming what others may not see. Heroin addicts, veterans, the mentally disabled lying down on the sidewalk with cardboard as their mattress and torn blankets as their cover. But other than devoting time to volunteering at a homeless shelter, what can I do?

Well a dear friend had a wonderful idea that helped me the other day. Bring them lunch. Pack extra lunches to hand out to those who are hungry as I walk to work.

Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

And so I did. I started with one sandwich yesterday. I am thankful to say that it was well received and I made a real connection with someone.  A older woman who thanked me. A soulful moment of compassion in a very crazy city.

Starting Small

This act of giving is not a new idea, but for months I was so concerned about the huge homeless problem I didn’t know where to begin. I got caught up in the amount of time, effort and energy it would take to do something, anything. Whenever we are trying to solve a problem that is bothering us this greatly we sometimes tend to get caught up in the enormity of it.

Perhaps you want to lose weight, hit the gym, save money, develop a new skill, invest in the market. My recommendation to you, is to start small, with mini-habits, that when practiced daily and consistently really do work.

Think about it, your goals may be too lofty and setting you up for failure. Yes it’s okay to dream big, but if you are having trouble failing, take this tip and advice from the author of Mini-Habits.

Some ideas . . .

Big Goal: Travel the world by the time your 30.

Small Habit: Begin by saving $10.00 a day by making lunch. Research the economical benefits of a round the world ticket. Read:  Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

51da8C8qg-L“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.” Quote from Vagabonding.

Big Goal: Lose 25 lbs by your 25th birthday.

Small Habit: Start with 1 less teaspoon of sugar in your coffee each day. Start with a 10 minute walk around the block.

Big Goal: Learn how to code your own website.

Small Habit: Start with a 5 minute session of a  class each day on Lynda.com, or Udemy.com

Big Goal: 100 pushups a day by halloween.

Small Habit: Do one push up right now. Maybe two tomorrow. Grow slow. Grow slow and steady.

Big Goal: Write the book.

Small Habit: Write one true sentence a day. (a wonderful piece of advice from Ernest Hemingway.)

Break it down. Do it daily. Be consistent.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the author’s Mini-Habit Ideas Mini Habits

 

 

 

 

Are You Destined for Greatness?

violin-newHave you ever wondered what make some people wildly successful, others just middle of the road mediocre and  some just, well really bad at what they do?

Are the super successful achievers bestowed  some special divine gift? Some inborn or innate ability? Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? Have you ever wondered what category you fit in?  Are you destined for greatness?  I could be wrong, but I imagine that any of us putting ourselves out there want to achieve some level of success, giving our greatest performances.

The Reality and Great “Secret” of Success

I was so lit up yesterday by an interview that I heard on the Unmistakable Creative podcast with Geoff Colvin who wrote a few books on the topic. His questions began with  . . . What makes Tiger Woods great? What made  Chairman Warren Buffett the world’s premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was “wired at birth to allocate capital.” It’s a one-in-a-million thing. You’ve got it – or you don’t.

Well, it’s not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.

Read the entire Fortune article here and it turns out that Colvin was inspired by a study about daily demanding deliberate violinist practice  that pushed them just a bit each day. Just a bit. You can read the original study on deliberate practice here.

The take away for me (and I would love your opinion). You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful. Great performances are available to all of us with daily deliberate practice.

Two books on my list to read this month –

Geoff Colvin  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else and Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will

gc_book_HUMANS_bettertalent