You know what doesn’t take a lot of talent, skill, or know-how to do?
Talking. Talking is easy. Specifically, talking about things we are going to do. And unfortunately, many of us have been doing more talking, thinking, planning, and getting ready to do, than actually doing the things. This is not hard to understand, because there is a fear that comes along with doing.
There is a fear of failing and being laughed at, a fear of succeeding and being forced to change how you are living, and a fear of being disliked because of what you are doing. But here’s the truth: if we keep putting off the hard thing of doing (taking action), we are depriving the world of our gift. You have a responsibility to do what you are called to do. To not do so is irresponsible.
We have to take action. The motivation comes after we start.
And we absolutely cannot wait around to “get inspired” either. Most of the time, we have to take action first and the motivation follows after we start. Sometimes you get inspired, and then you take action, but how it usually works is the other way around. "I'm not feeling inspired" is no longer a legal excuse to not do the hard things. Permanently delete that phrase from your vocabulary.
Following our feelings is often dangerous and a sign of a lack of discipline and maturity. Respect your feelings and listen to them, but don’t let them make your decisions for you.
Here are 6 simple steps to drastically improve your life today (if you take action on them)
1. Be with the people you want to be like
You've heard this quote many times before: you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. And if you think you are an exception to this rule, you likely are not.
Many of us have allowed - whether intentionally or not - toxic people into our lives and into our inner circle. These people are killing our potential and keeping us from reaching the places we are called to reach. Toxic people have many different faces.
Toxic people steal your potential and drain your energy.
You have the always-negative ones who never seem to think anything good is happening in the world. Then there are the overly-dramatic (and often overly-emotional) characters who carry around unnecessary drama wherever they go. You also have the gossipers who make it their business to know everybody else's business, spreading dissension around and undermining their integrity.
Replace these people with people who carry your drive for life. People who can catch your vision and help you run with it. People who will always be there for you. You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. Pick those people wisely.
2. Do the hard thing first and destroy avoidance
How much of our days do we spend putting off the hard thing on our to-do list? How many hours of our lives have we wasted in trying to avoid the most important things? A whole heck of a lot of hours, that I know!
A "secret" to getting more done is to do the important things first, and the important things are almost always the hardest things. Mark Twain said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Avoidance will kill your dreams. Stop putting off the hard things.
This is that same principle. If you do the hard thing first, everything else will seem so much easier, plus you won't have to stress about not getting anything important done anymore.
Punch procrastination in the face. Stop putting off the important things. If we make a habit of putting off the things we don't like to do, we will suffer for it sooner or later. But if we make discipline a daily habit, doing the hard thing will come more naturally, the more we practice it.
3. Wake up 30 minutes earlier
I keep hearing stories of friends who have a "normal" bedtime of 2 or 3 AM, and it drives me absolutely insane! When people brag about only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night, it's hard to not feel like slapping them. This is a result of a total absence of common sense and discipline.
If you want to create the life that you envision in your head, the life you've wanted since you were 7 years old, these sloppy habits won't get you there. The research confirms it over and over: the happiest and wealthiest people in the world go to bed early and wake up early. If you are serious about creating an awesome life, do the following:
- Go to bed thirty minutes earlier tonight.
- No phone in bed. Turn it off.
- Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier the next morning.
- Use that extra 30 minutes in the morning to do something important that will set you up for the day ahead. Read the Bible, read some literature, mentally prepare for the day. Use this time wisely.
Here is an excellent article by Michael Hyatt on how to become a morning person (even if you think it's impossible).
4. Read one book a month
This ties in with point #1 in that we are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Books are one incredible (and easy!) way to ensure those five people are awesome people. According to some studies, the average American reads about 4 books a year, and 1 in 4 Americans didn’t read a single book in the past year (according to this 2016 study). So if you want to get ahead of most Americans, start by reading one book a month.
Pick something that interests you, but don't read all fiction or all business books. Change it up. Read some in both categories. If you want some book recommendations, visit previous resources I've created for you here and here.
Books are the simplest way to grow your mind and expand your perspective. They are beautiful sources of wisdom, instruction, and knowledge. Cherish them. Learn from them. Invest in them.
5. Clean your room
You're probably asking yourself, "Wait, what does cleaning my room have to do with success?" The answer to that question is that it has everything to do with success. How clean and organized your room or your car is indicates what's going on inside you. The crazy thing is, you can actually change how you feel about your life and your level of success by how your exterior circumstances (your car, room, phone, etc.) appear.
You must first feel successful before you can be successful.
But if your room is littered with dirty clothes all over the floor and a messy bed, it's easy to feel like "I'm a failure." Even if you are feeling like a mess on the inside, clean up anyways. Good habits and inner processes always precede outward success. Can you imagine a millionaire having a mountain of fast food trash in his car? No, so treat yourself like they would.
6. Dress like you love yourself
This is the exact same point as #5. How you treat yourself, including how you dress, is directly related to what's going on in your heart. So dress nice. Buy clothes that fit your body and your personality.
Wear things that make you feel good about your life. Wear things that make you feel confident. Use cologne/perfume that makes you smell like a million bucks. Love yourself well.
Life is too short to not look and feel awesome.
Practical Next Steps
We all know WHAT we need to do to change our lives, but the problem lies in the WHY we should change. We all know the steps to take in order to be more successful, but actually taking action steps towards that success? Much, much harder. I’m challenging you today to stop thinking so much about what you’ll do, and just do SOMETHING. Today.
Not tomorrow, or next week, or next month. Right now. Walk away from this article and go do something small. Small will change your life.
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