From Painful Problems to Passion & Purpose

How to find optimism and opportunity in every difficulty. By Madeline Johnson

We must remember that the end of anything is the beginning of something.  The closing of one door, the opening of another. Endings are not final, they give birth to something else.  A bad breakup – the start of a fresh, new relationship (sometimes with ourselves); the loss of a job, the start of a brand new career path; the death of a loved one, the beginning of grief and transformation.

Every ending gives you an opportunity to grow, to reevaluate your relationships, your own performance and the direction in which you want your life to go.

Think about it. If your life were a Netflix or Amazon original series, what type of review would you give it? How many stars? A thumbs up or a thumbs down? It is time to be the hero and heroine of your own life.

Have you troubles? Welcome to the world.  What opportunities do your troubles bring? What could you do to create a plot twist, what could your character learn? What must you change about yourself to grow?

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How do you find optimism and opportunity in every difficulty?

I own a home on the beach. It’s a lovely, beautiful home and it’s for sale. I have owned it for over 15 years. I raised my family in this home and we have all types of memories there. Beautiful memories, horrendous fights, near-death accidents, messy break ups, crazy breakdowns, demonstrations of great bravado, real-life family drama, the revitalization of relationships and memories of amazing, joyous moments.

Now the house is for sale, but unfortunately because the real estate market is slow and in order to pay the mortgage, I had to rent the house out to keep from losing it.

Unfortunately I rented it to a person who hasn’t paid me rent in two months and now going on the third month. She is officially squatting in my home.  Now, if you have never had this experience, well, all I can say, is I hope you never do.

At first I wanted to scream, I wanted to throw her out on the street, I wanted to do something to cause her so much pain. How dare she? What type of person does this? How could I have been so stupid to not check references? I was disgusted with myself. I called the lawyer, signed the eviction papers. I did everything I could think of and it became an obsession. I was the victim, beating myself up for being an ass for renting to her – until one day, I woke up and realized that all of this anger and rage is only making me sick. My heart and breath so tight. My mind racing. I could not allow the stress to take over my mind and body. I knew I had to do something. So, I thought about the situation in a completely different way.

How could I make this horrible situation- where I  am quite obviously getting taken advantage of –  become a power tool for my growth?

At that moment, I decided, I was lucky to still own a home. There’s the gratitude. It has been a big investment, our life savings. What I could do instead of complain and moan about the injustices done to me?

I could work smarter and harder to pay the mortgage and the rent where I am currently living. I would look at this as a temporary opportunity to double down on my career, focus on building my skills and take all the time that I spent obsessing about how much I wanted to strangle this crazy-lady-squatting tenant and do something good for me. 

Yes of course I put all the proper actions into place to get her out, but what I did was asked the question, how can I let this God-forsaken obstacle make me stronger? What opportunities does this challenge bring me? 

Well, first there is the lesson. Next time, I will be be more diligent about background checks and collect three months rent ahead of time.  Next time, I won’t have a lease. And, right now I will do everything to try to sell my home faster.

Now, there is still the challenge of paying the mortgage, another $3,200 a month to pay on top of my current living expenses. How? Where would I get the money? I rolled up my sleeves and dug into Upwork, LinkedIn and other sources for freelancers and began to work around the clock, seven days a week. I spent my time consuming less and creating more. Sooner rather than later, I found that this obstacle has helped me hone my skills, meet new clients and improve my career skills.

In a way, I almost want to thank the crazy-squatting lady for giving me this opportunity to double down on my life. 

I have employed this “opportunity” technique over and over again in my life. I allow the obstacle be the way.  Ryan Holiday wrote a damn good book about it. You can read it at The Obstacle is The way, The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph.

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Featured Artist

Paulina Galka a collage artist based in Wroclaw, Poland.

Reinventing Your Life

The two things you need to know about reaching your goals. Where you are going and that you are going to get there. By Madeline Johnson

Some days you may feel like a ship lost at sea without a rudder. Directionless and powerless. Like a fish out of water, floundering.

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And some days it is perfectly fine to be lost, to wander, to float . . . . until you stumble upon that thing. . . . you have a breakthrough, and an idea,  and you discover that dream you really want to do.

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Then you just know.

You know where you are going and that you are going to get there.

 

Read that again: You know the WHERE you want to be and without a doubt that you WILL GET THERE. Just like when you drive to the store at night to get ice cream. You know the flavor you want and you know how delicious it will taste. You even have a plan for your second favorite . . .just in case.

You don’t need to worry about the how. There is no need to know how you are going to get there. That is nonsense. That doesn’t matter as much, because you know there are many roads you can take to where you are going. Some more bumpy and uncomfortable than others. There may even be mountains you need to climb along the way. Some days there will be detours, other days short cuts.

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The secret to success . . .

You know where you are going and that you are going to get there.

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Featured Artist

David Zinn is a street artist specializing in small-scale, improvised and (mostly) light-hearted chalk art.

The Messy Process of Loving Yourself

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. By Madeline Johnson

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. Self-acceptance requires patience and practice and maybe even managing those great expectations you have for yourself while holding onto your standards.

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Expectations can sometimes get in the way of lessons and joy found in unexpected experiences.

-George Leonard, Poet/Philosopher and the granddaddy of the consciousness movement.

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To be unaware of our irrationality and

derangement of our own thoughts

is what keeps us stuck.

Read More: The Three Levels of Self-Awareness by Mark Manson

An argument for loving and accepting yourself . . .

When we refuse to accept ourselves as we are, then we return to the constant need for numbing and distraction. And we will similarly be unable to accept others the way they are, so we will look for ways to manipulate them, change them, or convince them to be a person they are not. Our relationships will become transactional, conditional, and ultimately toxic and fail.

Go deeper into learning about how to better handle adversity in your life. Read his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

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Featured Art

Leif is an artist and Creative Director. His work explores themes of connectedness, the relevance of nature and the psychedelic experience. By utilizing these subjects he attempts to inspire the viewer into a realignment with themselves and their surroundings.

What are we free for?

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. By Madeline Johnson

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. Free to experiment and do more with your day.  Free to build what you can’t find but you know you need. Free to have an original thought and express that thought elegantly.

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Why then do we so often choose to waste this freedom? Why are we so careless with the free time we have? Why do we waste our weekends, our evenings, any free time we have in idol pursuits? Surfing the internet, watching bad Netflix series and trolling through Instagram?

I argue, like Colin Wilson that to be truly happy most human beings need a certain amount of stimulus during their free time or they will grow dull, lethargic and perhaps for some, even depressed. This is not a motivational rant about having a positive attitude or being grateful.  This is about doing more with our minds and our lives. This is about using the free time we have to create something new and original.

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Playing it Safe is The Riskiest Thing You Can Do

Many people will account their lives to be successful if they get through them with only minimal pain.  Few aim to rise above a plodding existence. And this, not-withstanding that they often have within them the ability to do something that which perhaps no other human being has done before.

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Merely to do what others have done is often safe and comfortable; but to do something truly original, and do it well, whether appreciated by others or not – that is what being human is really all about and it is alone that what justifies the self-love that is pride. 

From Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride.

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Occupy your day with interesting tasks, challenges and problems to solve.

Strive to spend the majority of your free time creating, exploring, learning, doing.

Challenge your capacities and improve your talents.

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Creative risk taking requires perseverance, struggle and the short term sacrifice of pleasures and comfort, to explore and cultivate the gifts within us, and thus to enjoy the fruits of genuine pride.

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The goal: to attain personal excellence of the kind that sets you apart from others.

Read Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride

Watch Why Passivity Breeds Mediocrity 

Featured Artist

Afarin Sajedi was born in 1979 in Shiraz. She came to Tehran to study at the Azad University of Tehran where she got her degree in Graphic Design. Sajedi’s creativity, technique and powerful presentation are sure to ensure her an elevated position in the world of Iranian art. She has several motifs she enjoys portraying. However, whether she is depicting her Japanese people, her clowns or her theatrical personages she only portrays women. In all her works her women’s faces are highly made up be it in pain or joy to show how she visualizes women when they leave the security of their homes to enter the world outside. “Women have often told me how much they enjoy using make up because it allows them another face,” Sajedi exclaims in despair. She confesses that she has been highly influenced by Heinrich Boll’s Clown and by Gustav Klimt. She uses Klimt’s depth of color to vivify the pain of the modern woman in any role she decides to thrust herself into. Red plays an important role in the works of this painter. “It’s an aggressive color,” Sajedi says, “and I love aggressive colors.” Sajedi has participated in four group and four solo exhibitions. She is presently living and working in Tehran.

 

 

Why We Don’t Get What We Want

Mental clarity can come in all shapes and forms and it will definitely happen to you when you work to know yourself better. By Madeline Johnson

Oh for the saving grace of chaos and confusion in our lives.  While I believe it can drive us mad, we should embrace feeling overwhelmed and confused. Yes we want this, but we need that. We are pulled in so many directions. Yes it can be daunting and emotionally draining, but if we strive to understand the cause for our confusion we can better understand what motivates us in the first place. Yes, I mean connecting our two minds, our hearts and our thoughts. I believe that even our most anxious emotions can drive us to clarity, if we take a moment to reflect.

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Please understand, the type of mental clarity I am describing here is the overall sensation that you are on the right path, you are not questioning every little thing you do and in some way, shape or form, you are getting what you both need and want.

You are focused on what is important to you throughout your day and you don’t have that existential angst pulling you in a downward spiral of depressing confusion.

You know why you are doing what you are doing and even though you may not have a detailed map on how to get to your desired goal, you have the emotional drive and you persevere.

Mental clarity can come in all shapes and forms and it will definitely happen to you when you work to know yourself better. Mental clarity kicks in when you are aware of what you like, what you don’t like, what you will tolerate from yourself and others and what you won’t. This understanding of what it takes for us to operate at full capacity, helps us find the tools we need for the tasks at hand and eliminate what doesn’t serve us well.

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It helps to spend some time with yourself to better understand what lights you up and what brings you down. What turns you on and what dims your soul.

Needs vs Wants

Necessity is the ultimate motivator for mental clarity.  It’s amazing how focused we can get about what we are required to do, as opposed to what we would like to do. Clarity becomes crystalized when we better understand if something is a need vs a want.

Read: Ray Dalio’s  Principles

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Knowing what we should do with our lives, getting really clear on the next step can also be driven by guilt and obligation.  Mental clarity can come from simply doing the right thing, because we must. Clarity comes from turning to our inner moral compass.

I’ll explain.

I decided I will take time out of my day to care of my aging parents because they brought me into this world and they provided for me for many years. I love them and I am obliged to give back to them and help them.  The intention is clear. No questions asked.

I need to work in order to pay the bills makes it very clear. I must get a job. Find some work. Make money. I don’t want to be a burden on my family. My purpose is put in place because it is essential. There is nothing murky about this.

I am posting one article a day to Undisputed Origin because I have committed myself to learning something new about myself every single day. No questions asked. This writing that I do, this creative activity in turn will help me become stronger, smarter and more of a benefit to the world.

vs. . .

I want to _________ (fill in the blank ie. start a business, create a blog, travel around the world, learn to sing, etc).  Wants, wishes and desires may be more soul-fulfilling, but not a must.  They are not necessary, so sometimes you just don’t start.  These “goals” lay by the wayside.

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Question: Can you turn a want into a must?

I challenge you to think about why you do the things you must do. Like going to work, raising your children, volunteering to help others, etc. You do them because they matter to you in a big way. They are essential to your existence. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. If you don’t bother to connect with others you will be lonely. If you don’t take care of your health, you will eventually get sick.

Your wants (losing weight, finding a mate, starting a business, living a more adventurous life) must be essential to your life. They must be extremely important and vital to your existence.

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What wants are you looking to turn into musts in your life?

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

Featured Art

Kamalky Laureano paints portraits and landscapes that look like photography.

Kamalky Laureano is a hyperrealist painter from the Dominican Republic, born in 1983. Living in Mexico City since 2006, he has made his life and work in that country. His work has been shown in Italy, Argentina, France, Mexico, the United States and the Dominican Republic.

 

 

Blazing A Trail

Clarity + patience + humility = victory by Madeline Johnson

“Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going”

~ Stephen Covey

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Single-minded focus + patience + humility =

victory

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Clarity gives you energy, a direction, a plan and courage. Before you begin get very, very, very clear on what you need and what you want first. Then hit the peddle.

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Being humble does not, in any way, equate to being a pushover or a doormat. One can be kind and still be immensely effective and powerful.  To be humble is to lay your ego to rest and to become comfortable in your humanness.

“To live fully is to always be in “no-man’s land”, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” Read Pema Chodron’s When Thing’s Fall Apart

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Having patience means being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or adversity—i.e., nearly everywhere—we have the opportunity to practice it. Read MoreThe Benefits of Being a Patient Person

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Featured Artwork

Nicole Watt is an internationally exhibited self-taught mixed media sculpture artist living and creating in the wilderness of Southern Tasmania, Australia.  Her exquisitely simplistic and emotionally driven characters blossom from a world long forgotten; a world hidden in the shadows of imagination where the wind blows wild, the trees groan with ancient secrets born from the whispers of the ancestors.

Overcoming The Fear of Not Being Good Enough

It usually happens when I declare I am going to learn something new.  Like right now, I am learning how to film
and edit with Adobe Premiere Pro. Hours can go by and I don’t even know what happened. I am so involved in the process. Struggling through learning something new on After Effects, I look up and it’s 11 pm. My Fitbit app telling me it’s time to get some rest.  I like this kind of work. The work I can get lost in.
I use to worry about whether something new that I am trying (like video)  is “good enough”?  I wondered if I seemed really amateur (of course I am, I just started).  I realize that while I may suck now I won’t always stay at this level. Especially if I commit myself to practicing every day.
Yesterday’s challenge was filming one of my favorite places at the very start of my favorite season, summer.
I came up with some strategies to get over my fear of not being good enough because. . .
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 I can’t think of anything more frightening than a boring life.
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Stop rushing. Give yourself more time. Lot’s of it. Getting good takes time. Be more thoughtful with everything. Take out a notebook or your phone notes and list everything you have to do in order to produce good work. What do you need to learn? practice? – including what you must read and watch before you can begin. Create a strategy to be good enough.
Never compare what you do, create, write, film, edit to ANYONE ELSE’S WORK
Good enough compared to what? Doesn’t matter. You are just starting out. If you are going to compare your work, compare it to the newcomers, the just starting, the first timers.
Get inspired by learning from the BEST work. Watch the greats, read the bestsellers, listen to award-winning talks. Ignite your enthusiasm and raise your standards by looking for great mentors and creators. Don’t compare, but learn. Decipher their best techniques and use them in your work.
Start. Do a very little thing. Pick up the camera, dust off the sewing machine, buy a good pen and notebook and just do one small project, something you can do.
The grass is greener where it’s watered. Nurture your work. Train and practice something daily. Learn something daily. Don’t know what to learn? Don’t know what you need? Ask a question and Google it. Read more than one answer. Watch more than one tutorial.
Look at children’s artwork. Remember that we all start out sucky. Cute but really sucky. Be prepared to suck at first. That’s okay.
Only show people your work when you are absolutely ready. Don’t show off your first draft or your second. Go back and revise it until you are super confident that that is your best version so far.
Don’t try to do the hard stuff first. Do the easy stuff first. Make it easy to start. Don’t climb the mountain, take a short hike. Do it every day. Write one paragraph, paint one stroke, sketch one prototype.
Review your past accomplishments, some things you are really proud of because that work will remind you of what you can do when you put your mind to it.  What was your process there? Did you put in a lot of time? effort? energy?
Remove all negative energy – including people from your life. The cranky, the crazy, the ignorant, the complainers, the whiners and the naysayers. Drop em like their hot. Don’t let them violate your psychic space.
Do not seek approval, even your own. Just do the work. Struggle through it. Get a headache, drink more coffee, open up ten tabs, watch the video tutorial again. Save the link. It’s okay. Then take a break.
When you start procrastinating, call yourself out. Don’t let the laundry, your kids, the beautiful sunshiney day outside tempt you to stop. You are in training. Stay focused and disciplined. That’s how your work gets better. A little bit every day.
Don’t forget feedback. Especially good feedback, from the pros and those also giving it their all. Feedback will have you feeling like your actually working on your new project. You are all in.
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I am curious, what are you working on? How have you dealt with the “Am I good enough?” concern.  Comment below.

On Being Your Own Life Coach

If we are truly living, then we are immersed in a life of learning and growing as human beings.

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As we are growing, we are in a  continual cycle of aspiring, succeeding or failing. With wisdom we realize these positions are transitory. Quote from The Ego is the Enemy.

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Personally, depending on which “part” of my life that I observe, I am currently in all three cycles all at once.

Aspiring, Succeeding, Failing

I am aspiring to launch and build my business, I am succeeding at helping my parents navigate their battle with cancer and I am failing at sustaining a relationship with my brother.

I am aspiring to find the best way to help my parents without enabling them, I am succeeding at keeping up with my own health and fitness routine and I am failing at prioritizing my time at work each day. I over estimate what time I really have and over promise to those clients I want to please.

What helps me during cycles of failure, is to be my own best coach. Just like a coach who faces a loosing team, I champion myself through difficult moments of exasperation by reminding myself of who I am and what I am capable of. I promise to face each moment with my highest standards.

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On Being My Own Best Coach and maximizing my own potential.

I remember and I realize . . .

  • the impact of my attitude on my life.
  •  to believe in myself.
  • I am never given more than I can handle.
  • I don’t have all the answers right now.
  • to remain solution focused.
  • to ask questions and ask for help. I investigate and research those that have been here before me. I look for guidance.
  • I should listen for answers and  rely on others who can help.
  • I need to make corrections. Corrections in my work, my attitude and my behavior.
  • that God is working with me every day. Guiding me to do my best. I am not in this alone.
  • I have done more difficult things before and I have made it through, successfully.
  • I remember that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

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Surefire Success: How to Get What You Want

I love listening in between the lines. Especially to smart people. People like performance coach, Tony Robbins. Evan Carmichael edited an all day Tony coach session that you can watch here.  I am watching about ten minutes a day every morning and taking copious notes.

Inspired by Tony’s tenacious approach, I created this surefire success equation to get anything you want. Anything. A raise at work, a new startup business off the ground, shed the last ten pounds, you name it. Anything you want.

  1. Know what you want and believe you can have it.
  2. Know what it takes to get what you want. If you don’t know, find out. Ask the people who have what you want what it took to get it. What did they have to do to achieve the results. How long did it take? How much work did they do each day? 
  3. Ask yourself the question, what is absolutely certain, 100% necessary, in order for me to get what I want. What must I do in order to get the results I want.
  4. Make the list of what you absolutely must do and get to work.
  5. Do the work. Do it daily. Check off the list. And then review your results. Be sure you are getting closer to getting what you want. If you are not getting results, get REAL with yourself. What are you not doing? What are you doing wrong? Where do you need help? New skills? 
  6. Ask yourself, can I do any of these tasks, the actual work, better. Not faster, not quicker, but better. Are there any tools to help me perform the work better? Any professionals out there who can coach you? If there are, then find the tools, find the people. Use the tools. Hire the people.
  7. When you do get what you want, appreciate it. Be grateful for the work it took to get there.

What type of mindset does it take to win? To outperform and produce stellar results.

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It’s not just practice that produces results. It’s perfect mindful practice. Practice combined with absolute certainty that you will achieve whatever you set out to do. You burn the boats.

Tip Sheet for #6

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Absolute certainty that makes you tap into your full potential that has you take massive action which in turn produces remarkable results that reinforces your belief in your absolute certainty.

This is what it takes to get what you want.

And using failure as a tool.

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Mindset Tip

Don’t choke at the free throw line. Be absolutely certain in your mind that you know without a doubt that you will achieve the results you want.

 

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. 

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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?