Focusing on Focus – How to Be Best at Things

I find that in life I become good at things that I focus my time and resources on and that I’m not so good at things that I don’t focus my time and resources on. This is something that sounds obvious, but for some reason I’ve had to relearn this concept several times over throughout live. There are so many things that I want to do and be good at but the fact of the matter is that I don’t have time and resources to focus on them all, let alone, be good at them all. So, how do we know what to focus on and what to not focus on? That’s what I’m going to talk about in this episode.

I really struggle with focus. My struggle mostly comes in two different ways. For one, I focus on the wrong things, which are things that really aren’t that important to me. You know those squirrel moments when you get distracted by something shiny and entertaining. “Oh look, my friend just bought a new toy and I’d sure like to have a new toy like that.” Those squirrel moments seem to get me all the time and take my focus away from the things that matter most to me. Also, when I do get focused on something, I’m really bad about finding balance in life. It seems like when it comes to focus, I’m all or nothing. I either have a lot of focus in a particular area of life or I have no focus. I’m not very good at juggling a lot of different things. When I’m focused on sometime like training for a triathlon, or competing in a diet competition, or when it’s hunting season, I’m really focused on that particular thing but then I don’t focus enough time on other important things like paying attention to relationships, my faith, and my personal finances. I know focus means focus, but it seems like sometimes I over focus and this could hurt me in other areas of life that are important to me.

What you focus on is completely up to you and therefore what you become best at is completely up to you. The great thing about the freedom that we enjoy is that we get to decide what we spend time on. We get to decide what we’re good at and what we do with our time and resources. So, why does it seem like we’re “too busy” all the time to do the things that we want to do? There are many things that I love doing that I would like to do more of. Things like hunting, fishing, cycling, hiking, making stuff, and the list goes on and on, and this is where I get into trouble. For what I will call a season of my life, I’ll be more focused on one area of my life. For example, during the fall, it’s hunting season. I spend several weekends tromping around the woods, looking like Elmer Fud, looking for a volunteer for dinner. I think it’s fun to pursue the things in life that I enjoy doing, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, for me, when I’m hunting so much, I often loose sight of the other things that are going on in my life. Like relationships that are very important to me. Recently, when I was in a competition to lose weight, I was really focused on losing weight. I was working out in the mornings and in the evenings, I was prepping food, and different thoughts about how I was doing weight wise were constantly on my mind. Many of my conversations with other people involved something about how I was working on losing weight. During this time, sure, I was successful at losing weight, but I was failing at other areas of life. I was so focused on losing weight that I lost focus on other things that are also important to me. This was one of the more recent times that I relearned how much focus affect my life.

Just as a quick exercise, let’s break down the daily time spent on various things for a typical person. You only have so much time in the day. If you live on earth, you have 24 hours in a day. And if you’re like most people you likely sleep for 7ish hours of that. Leaving you 17 hours to do with what you please. When you wake up in the morning, if it’s a typical week, you’re likely going to go to a job. It might take someone 30 minutes to get ready for work and then it might take a person 30 minutes to get to work. Then you take a lunch break in the middle of the day, and this could burn up between 30 minutes to an hour. So, when we add this all up work is going to take somewhere between 10 hours of your day between getting ready and getting home if you work a full-time job. So, this leaves you 7 hours which sounds like a lot but then we spend time to eat breakfast, dinner, do the dishes, go water the lawn, and if you have kids the list is endless of the stuff that you have to do. So, how much time do you have left after you whittle down your 7 hours? Hardly any. That means you really don’t have a lot of time to focus on things that you really want to focus on. If you don’t have a lot of time, then it becomes even more important to prioritize the things that you want to do. Often times, I catch myself wasting my time by doing things that I know aren’t really that important to me. Then why do I do them? Because I’m not paying attention to what I’m allowing to sneak into my life. We need to be intentional about what we spend our time doing if we want to best utilize our time and if we want to be good at certain things. There are things that I want to be the best I can be at, and if I want this to actually happen, then I need to be intentional about making time to do those things.

When you stop and count there are so many areas in life that require your attention. Let’s look at some of the big ones. The first area is human relationships. When it comes to relationships you have your spouse, your kids, other family members, like parents, siblings, cousins, etc. There are also friend relationships like weekend friends, church friends, work friends, and hobby friends. There are lots of relationships that you have. If you want these relationships to grow and thrive, that takes your time and your focus. Do you have time to focus on growing all of your relationships to their full potential? No, unless you don’t have anything to do and you only know one person on the face of the planet. This is obviously not you because this is obviously not anyone. We all know several people and we have busy lives.

Let’s look at another area of your life, work and career. If you’re working, then work is a huge part of your life and it’s sucking up a big chunk of your time and energy. Work is important because your work is where you gain the financial means to live the lifestyle that you want to live. Your work will allow you to help your kids get through college. Your work will help you save up for retirement so you can someday be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. We can see that work is important for various reasons so we should continue to do work.

Our faith is also a very important part of life. For those of us who have a faith and believe in something, it’s important for us to spend time learning and growing within our faith. Like any other area of life, this takes focus.

Another area of life is our finances. If you live in any advanced society you need money as a medium of exchange and you need money to pay for these things that all of us seem to accumulate, called bills. The better we are at our finances the more options we will have available to us in different areas of life. What I mean by this is, if we can afford to spend more, then we can go to a nicer restaurant, afford a nicer car, buy a nicer home, or retire earlier to have more free time. Finances are an important part of life just like many other areas of life that require our focus.

The list can go on and on about the different areas of life that require our focus. Just think of what just a few more of those are. Cleaning the house, weeding your yard, taking the kids to school, paying your taxes, and of course, hobbies. There are so many things that can take our focus away!

So, how do we know what areas of life we want to focus on in order to be best at? That’s a great question. I think the only reasonable answer is that, it’s totally up to you. You get to decide if you’re going to spend time with your kids and be a great parent or if you’re going to spend time at your job and have a great career. Are you going to focus time on your finances and create a rock-solid financial foundation for you and your family or are going to spend no time on your finances and find yourself living paycheck to paycheck and on the brink of financial disaster?

Is there such thing as a balanced life? I’d like to say that you should strive for balance in life. But, what does this even mean? Does it mean that we give a little attention to a lot of different things? If this is the case then we’re not really going to be best at anything, we’re just going to be ok. I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to be just ok when it comes to being a good husband to my wife. I want to be better than ok. This means that I need to spend more time being a better husband if it’s something that I want to be better at. I think aspects of having a balanced life could be a good thing, but I don’t think this is really realistic. I’m sure if I ask people to prioritize different areas of their live then they would say something like faith comes first, family comes in a close second, and work comes in a distant third, and so on. But the truth of the matter is that we spend a whole bunch more time working for money during the week than we do working on our faith. Many of us only get into church a couple times a month and yet say that faith is one of the most important parts of our lives. When we look at how much time we spend on things each week, is this really the case? Are we spending time on the things that we actually want to be best at?

So how do I stay focused on the things that I want to stay focused on? I think the best way to do this is to decide on paper on purpose what it is that I want to be focused on. This means setting goals and creating a plan to achieve those goals in different parts of my life. By writing it down and having it in a place that I can constantly review, this will help me to redirect my attention back towards the plan when I veer off the plan. This will help me to not focus too much time on squirrels and will also help me not to too deep into focus on something while missing other important areas of life. That way I can have the amount of balance that I want to have. I can prioritize different areas of life and make sure that I’m spending adequate time in those areas.

Our focus can be a difficult thing to mast sometimes. If we want to reach our goals, we must be intentional about where we focus your time and resources. If we want to be successful in many different areas in life, we must be careful not to put too much focus in one area of life and not enough in another area of life. If you’re like me and need help staying focused create a plan on paper for reaching your goals and reviewing it regularly. This will help you keep important areas of your life prioritized.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Thanks for reading it!

How to Make Your Own Luck

I love to be lucky and I consider myself a lucky person. There are countless times in my life where something has really good has happened to me that made me think, “I am so lucky”. But, what is luck? Is it something that we can make more of? Well, I believe that we can make more luck in our lives and that is what this episode is going to be about.

What if you were so lucky that you just happened to land the job of your dreams? What if you were so lucky that you acquired an impressive amount of wealth? What if you were so lucky that you married the person that was way out of your league? What if I told you that you could create your own luck? That would sound great, right?

Who doesn’t like to be lucky? No one! We all like to be lucky. I’ll take any amount of luck that I can get! I think there’s a way to bring even more luck in our lives, or, at least, build a life that makes it seem like we have more luck. What if luck was simply a word that some people use to describe other people who are intentional about reaching their goals? What if you realized that you didn’t need luck to get what you wanted but instead you simply needed a plan and to take action on that plan? Would your world be different if you knew that you could have just about anything that you want to have, not because you were lucky, but because you were intentional about getting it?

A very successful CFO once told me that if you want to be successful you have to work hard so that whenever an opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready to seize it. If you’re sitting on a couch at home doing nothing important, how are you going to achieve anything? If you’re out there busting your tail, getting things done, meeting people, and developing new skills, of course you’re going to be presented with opportunities. So, with this idea that we can make our own success, in a way we also make our own luck. If becoming successful is equal to being lucky and we know by making plans and taking action, that we can become successful, then by that same principal, we can become lucky.

There is a quote that’s been attributed to different people over the years and has different variations. The gist of the quote goes like this, “I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I have.” Isn’t this true! Haven’t you found this to be true in your own life? When you’ve worked hard, were you not rewarded for your hard work?

Let’s look at a scenario that demonstrates how we can confuse success for luck.

A guy named Sam is working very hard at his job. He has been with his employer for seven years now. He’s always on time, he helps his co-workers, he has a great attitude, and he’s very knowledgeable when it comes to his job.

One day, Sam’s boss announces that he’s going to retire. Upper management needs to find a replacement for Sam’s boss and upper management decides that Sam is man for the job. Sam is great with people, he knows how to do most of the jobs in the department because he’s been there for a good amount of time and he’s always been open to learning new things. Some of Sam’s coworkers are a little miffed at Sam because they’ve been with the company longer than Sam. However, these other workers never took the time to learn other jobs within the department, they were the types that did the bare minimum to get their jobs done. They never really helped anyone else in the department, because they figured they weren’t getting paid to do someone else’s job. Sam is really happy about his promotion. This promotion came with a nice raise that Sam and his family will really enjoy. When others congratulate Sam for his big promotion, Sam just says, “Oh, I just got lucky.” But, did luck really have anything to do with it? Do you think that the upper management who chose Sam to take over his boss’s job based their decision on luck? Do you think they just flipped a coin to see who would take over the boss’s job? No, they chose Sam simply because they thought he was the best person for the job and no other reason.

So, a person might argue “Well, Sam was lucky to have gotten the job with the company in the first place.” My response to that would be, “So, did Sam’s employer just opened a phone book and randomly picked a name to hire someone for Sam’s job?” No, that’s not what happened at all. Sam went and interviewed with the company and the company hired Sam based off his prior work experience, his former education, and the responses from the references that Sam had listed on his resume. Sam put forth effort in order to get hired by that company.

We can see that Sam’s promotion was not luck, it was earned. We can also see that Sam getting hired on by the company was not luck, it was earned. So, a person might then argue “Well, the United States is a great country, it’s the land of opportunity, and Sam was just lucky to be born here.” But, we have to ask ourselves, “Is that really luck?” I don’t think it is. Sam’s great grandfather sold everything he had in Ireland in order pay for the trip over to the United States. When his great grandfather got to the US, he had less than a dollar to his name. From there he worked and worked and worked so that he could provide for a family. That family had a family, which had a family, which had a family, which Sam was a part of. Sam didn’t get to the US by luck, but by the huge price that was paid by his family members.

As we’ve dived deeper into Sam’s situation, we can see that there really was no luck involved with any aspect of how he got to where he is. Really, it was a series of smart decisions that required a lot of hard work. Why is it then that so many of us are convinced that becoming successful in life is all about being lucky, when luck has absolutely nothing to do with it? Often times, when we see someone who has been very successful, we like to say, “Oh, they just got lucky.” But really this isn’t the case. Again, it’s all about making the right decisions and working hard. In every case that I can think of where someone might be considered lucky, I can break down the scenario, and can pinpoint an action or several actions that was/were taken for that person to get to where they are. Think of my prior example of winning the lottery. Winning the lottery would require luck, right? Wrong. Actually, it doesn’t require luck, it requires buying a lottery ticket. Without buying a lottery ticket, then you’re not even going to have a chance to win the lottery. The same idea is true with the guy on the couch. If a guy never gets off the couch to go out and look for job then he’s probably not going to find a job, let alone his dream job. But, what if that same guy gets off the couch, get’s the education he needs for his dream job, applies at 10 different companies, gets hired, starts doing a job that he doesn’t want to do but knows that eventually that job can get him to the job that he does want. Then after 2 years, he gets promoted to the job that he’s really been wanting. It took him time, dedication, and a lot of hard work, but guess what? He eventually got his dream job! Did luck have anything to do with it? Absolutely not! When good things happen to us, it’s not that we were lucky. When bad things happen to us, it’s not about being unlucky. Most of the time, it’s about decisions we make, actions we take, and the outcomes that are produced due to those actions. Do good things and good results will come. Do bad things and bad results will come. It’s that simple.

My friends, you can make your own luck! You do this by taking action towards your goals, by creating a plan and working on that plan. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you give it what it needs to grow well. I really do find that the harder I work, the more luck I get. It’s the same for you in your life. If you have a vision for what you want your life to look like, it’s not luck that is going to get you there. It’s you.

Turning Your Thoughts Into Reality

Have you realized yet that the things that you think about eventually come to pass? Your thoughts are an incredible force that shapes your life. I know this sounds almost whimsical, but it’s true. There have been several times in my life where I thought of certain things and eventually those things became real in my life. Consider this idea just on a small scale. Maybe during the day you think about what sounds good for dinner, “Hmm… getting some teriyaki chicken for dinner sounds good.” So, then while you’re out running errands you pick up some teriyaki chicken that you later eat for dinner. First, you thought about it. Then, you created an opportunity to do it. Then, you followed through on the opportunity. Then finally, you ate teriyaki chicken for dinner. Your initial thought of what to have for dinner became a reality. This is just a small, simple example, but this same concept happens in all areas of your life – where you work, who you marry, what your hobbies will be. Your thoughts dictate your life and the circumstances that you find yourself in. Your thoughts determine your health, wealth, and happiness.

This is how I believe that this whole thought to reality process works. We have a thought in our mind. It’s something that we desire to do or something that we want to have. If we want whatever it is that we’re thinking about bad enough, we’ll work to get it. That means the next step after thinking about something is taking action towards getting it. If that thing we’re thinking about is something small, like getting a glass of water, then we’ll simply do that action of getting a glass of water. If the thing that we’re thinking about is difficult to get, we’ll think of a plan to get to that thing, and then we’ll take action on that plan.

A really great book that talks about this thought to reality concept is the book As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. This book is a classic and was written back in 1902. Its principals have stood the test of time because they are true. One of the first statements that the book make’s is “As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.” What the author is saying here is that acts originate from your thoughts and this points to the importance of thinking about the future and the things that you want to do and the person that you want to become.

Back in my college days I had a dream of someday getting a specific motorcycle. I even put a picture of this of motorcycle that I wanted up on my wall in my dorm room. At the time, buying this motorcycle was way out of reality for me. I was a broke college kid with hardly any savings to speak of so there was no way of buying this motorcycle at the time. About 8 years later I found the picture of the motorcycle that I had hung on my dorm room wall and realized that the almost exact motorcycle was sitting in my garage. It took time but eventually I was able to get that motorcycle. Buying that motorcycle was a thought that I had carried around in the back of my mind for years and years and eventually I made that thought become a reality.

Here’s another example of how my thoughts created my reality. Many years ago, when I worked in construction industry, I was thinking a lot about what it would be like to work in the finance industry. I found that I really enjoyed finance, I enjoyed budgeting, and learning about how investments worked. There came a time in my life where I needed to look for better opportunities in employment and in stead of looking in the construction industry, where most of my experience was, guess where I looked? In the finance industry. My desire of working in the finance industry caused me to think about different opportunities within that line of work and eventually I found myself working in the financial industry doing something that I love doing. My thoughts eventually defined where I worked. I become someone who was working in the finance industry, which was what I was thinking about.

I realized recently that sometimes the things that others have done before us can affect our life in the present and future. As an example, think about if while you were growing up your parents were terrible with money. You grew up watching your parents make terrible money choices. They bought nice new cars that they really couldn’t afford. They went on expensive trips that were put on credit cards. They never contributed to a retirement because they were always trying to pay off bills from all of the stuff that they were always buying. OK, so you have this example of how money is done through watching your parents. You might think that your parents’ example with money is how things are supposed to be. Let’s say you’ve been living by the example that your parents set. The reason you’re living that way is because it’s what you know. It’s what you’ve seen demonstrated. The experience of watching how your parents’ handled money has shaped the way you think about money. Your thought process, when it comes to money, revolves around the idea that you just need enough money to pay your bills at the end of the month and the rest you get to blow. So, what happens? Well, that’s how you live life, being terrible with money because that’s all you know and all you’re thinking about when it comes to money. But guess what? You hear a guy on the radio one night talking about a different way to do money. He says have an emergency fund, pay off debt, save for retirement, and all of a sudden, this whole new world of how to do money enters your thoughts. You start to think of how you can save up for an emergency plan, how you can pay off your credit cards, how you can start saving for retirement. All these things start to happen in your life just because your way of thinking changed. You learned something new and the new thing changed your world by changing how you think about one single aspect of life.

Your thoughts are powerful things and I believe that they are even more powerful than we realize. In the book As A Man Thinketh, author James Allen goes on to say, “As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.” This is saying that we can make ourselves in the person that we want to be. So, ask yourself, who do you want to be? Do you want to be someone who is generous? Do you want to be someone who is kind? Do you want to be someone who is hard working? You can have any kind of characteristic that you want, but first you have to think it and your thoughts will become your reality. If my thoughts dictate the circumstances in my life and they dictate the kind of person that I’ll be, then wouldn’t I want to think about the things that I want to do them most and the person that I want to be the most? The answer to that questions is an obvious yes! This is the reason that I think it’s so important to write down your goals in a place where you will see them often. This way, you can be intentional about thinking about your goals and the type of person that you want to be. I believe that thinking about these things regularly will help you to work towards them regularly and if you’re working towards them, then eventually, you’ll make your goals a reality.

Why You’ll Never Meet a Successful Pessimist

I realized recently that I have never met someone who was both successful and a pessimist. All of the successful people I have met are largely an optimist and I have come to the conclusion on why this is so. At first, this finding wasn’t that intriguing to me. It almost seemed obvious and irrelevant when my brain came this discovery. However, once I did some self-reflecting I realized that this is incredibly important to me and it should be to you too. I want to be someone who achieves success in many different areas of my life and I’m sure that you are too. So, I think it’s important that we live free of unnecessary pessimism and this is why:

  1. Pessimists see problems but not opportunities. I often hear pessimists complain about problems and very seldom do they discuss solutions. When we encounter a problem we should view it as an opportunity. Actually, problems present several opportunities. By taking on a problem you are opening yourself up for learning. After you figure out the problem you might have learned something that will help you in a future endeavor. This knowledge could eventually help get you a promotion at work, help you land that next client, and could benefit you in an unexpected way. Solving problems could help you to gain very valuable skills. Being a problem solver is someone who is an optimist and someone who can see the opportunities within problems. Opportunists are the types of people that we want on our team.
  2. Pessimists have a negative attitude. Let me start this off with: a negative attitude gets you nowhere! If you know me then you know how important I think it is to have a great attitude. I grew up with a dad that instilled in me how important this is. He is one of the hardest working people I know and he has always had that positive “can-do” attitude. Being around someone who has a negative attitude is terrible for you and your team. A negative attitude communicates a lack of confidence, a lack of enthusiasm, and a lack of willpower and you don’t want any part of these characteristics for you or your team. If you have someone with a negative attitude on your team, you need to do something about it, RIGHT NOW! I’ve seen companies seriously damaged by a single person with a negative attitude. The worst part about a negative attitude is that it’s infectious and if it isn’t dealt with immediately it will destroy morale, confidence, and your desire to win. If you’re the one with the negative attitude you need to make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to change!
  3. Pessimists make poor leaders. I’ve seen leaders whose pessimism came in the form of complaining. It seemed like they complained about everything. The complaining brought down the whole team and severely dampened the team’s overall performance. If you’re a leader that complains I can assure you it’s keeping your team from reaching their top performance. And if your team is performing poorly, I highly doubt that you’re going to be up for any promotions anytime soon. Leaders need to have a positive outlook and I’m not saying the outlook needs to be unrealistic or fake. A leader can be “real” and be positive even in the presence of challenging situations. When times get tough leaders look for the silver lining and focus their team’s attention on that.

I urge you my friends, be intentional about being an optimist and your goals will be ever closer. Stay away from pessimists because their pessimism can sneak into your life like a sickness. By being a pessimist, you’ll be blind to opportunity, have a negative attitude, and will bring down those around you. Be someone who lifts others up and give others hope by being an optimist. If you do this, you’ll see more production from your team, you’ll see more success in your life, and you’ll be the leader that people want to work with.

It’s time to do some self reflection: Ask yourself these questions:

Are you seeing just problems or are you seeing opportunities for solutions?

Are you being intentional about having a good attitude when challenges come up?

Are you sharing optimism with those around you so that they can benefit from an optimistic attitude?

Are you complaining too much in front of others you work with or your family?

Using Small Actions Every Day to Win Big In Life with Jose Gonzalez

In this episode I had the pleasure of talking with my friend Jose Gonzalez about the book The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. In our conversation we discuss what the slight edge is and how you can use it to reach your goals. This is one of the most motivating books I’ve ever read. I’m so thankful that Jose shared this book with me. If you get a chance, I highly recommend reading this book. I know that it will inspire you just like it did for me.

Here are a few topics that we discuss:
1. What the slight edge is.
2. How it can reshape your life.
3. Why it’s important to make the slight edge a habit.
4. How attitude plays into the slight edge and to your overall success in life.
5. 3 steps to reach your dreams.

7 Positive, Productive Habits from Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge

What are some habits that you can adopt right now that will help you to achieve your goals in your life? This is what I’m going to be answering in this episode. I was recently reading the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and came across 7 habits that Jeff says will “bear you up under any circumstance and support you on the path to your dreams.” I really liked these habits and I want to be intentional about incorporating these habits into my life. I think these habits are incredibly important to anyone who wants is striving to achieve their goals.

1. Show Up
The first habit is to show up. What this means is that you show up and take that first step. Nothing is going to get done if you never start it. This concept reminds of Wayne Gretzky’s quote “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” In Jeff’s book he states that “By simply showing up you can rise above half of the population in any circumstance.” What he means by this is most people don’t even try. Most people just watch life pass them by on the sidelines. If you want to be someone of action, you need to get off the bench and into the game. And in order to do that you need to show up, be present, and take that first step towards the direction you want to head.

2. Be Consistent
The second habit is to be consistent. It doesn’t just end with showing up. You have to show up every day. You can’t show up just one time and expect that all of your goals are going to be accomplished with just one try. You have to keep showing up, keep pushing on, keep taking that step forward, even when it’s hard, even when the odds are against you, and even when it’s easy not to. In The Slight Edge, Jeff says “As essential as it is to show up, it is consistency that greatly multiplies its power. Showing up consistently is where the magic happens.” Of the few people in life that are actually willing to show up and start something, there are even fewer people that are willing to consistently pursue their goals until they accomplish them. Sometimes in life you get curve balls thrown at you and things change. That doesn’t mean that you have to change your goals, it just means that you have to change your plan for reaching your goals. Jeff goes on to say “If you will commit to showing up consistently, every day, no matter what, then you have already won well more than half the battle. The rest is up to skill, knowledge, drive, and execution.” So, show up and be consistent.

3. Have a Positive Outlook
The third habit is to have a positive outlook. If you want to reach your goals it’s incredibly important to have a positive outlook. Jeff says “approaching the events of everyday life with a consistently positive outlook moves you towards your goals.” Think about this for a second, imagine if you always had a negative outlook. Maybe you would say to yourself, “That’s not going to work, it never works out.” Do you really think anyone with this kind of attitude ever gets anywhere? I highly doubt it. Why? Because who wants to try something if they think they are just going to fail? Seeing yourself as failing all the time is a negative outlook. If you want to win, you have to have a winning outlook, a positive outlook. Sure, there’s going to be many times in life where things are difficult. We all face hard situations in life. If you’re not facing hard situation then you’re not really pushing yourself. When you’re encountering something difficult, try to look at the bright side. Train yourself to find the good in every situation, even if it’s a bad situation. What this will do is help you see the opportunities that will help drive you to success, even when the situation looks bad from the outside.

4. Be Committed For The Long Haul
The fourth habit is to be committed for the long haul. Jeff starts out talking about this habit by saying. “Showing up is essential. Showing up consistently is powerful. Showing up consistently with a positive outlook is even more powerful. But doing all that for a week, is just doing it for a week.” What he means by this is, if you want to get good at something, it takes time. That’s the bottom line. If you want to be good at your job, then it’s going to take you time in order to get good. If you want to get your body into shape, then it’s going to take time. If you want to train yourself to run a marathon, it’s going to take time. This reminds me of the old adage, “Good things happen to those who wait.” While you’re waiting you need to be working for it. So, let’s change the ol’ saying to “Good things happen to those who are committed for the long haul.” And it’s true. People eventually achieve what they set out to achieve if they work at it long enough.

5. Cultivate a Burning Desire Backed by Faith
The fifth habit is to cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. When pursuing goals you have to have something motivating you. That something creates a desire in to you pursue whatever it is that you want. Sometimes desires come and go but a burning desire is something much more intense. Jeff says that “That’s the kind of desire that gets you up early and keeps you up late. It’s what keeps you motivated to press forward when adversity hits. A desire like that can move mountains and alter the course of rivers.” If you’re serious about accomplishing something you need to have not just a desire, but a burning desire. When I’ve experience a burning desire to do something, there wasn’t much that would be able to slow me down. I was ready to stand up against anything that got in my way. The key to harnessing the burning desire is having a clear vision of what you want. Now, if you really want to succeed have a burning desire backed by faith. Jeff explains the faith aspect as “A burning desire backed by faith simply means deeply, passionately wanting to get somewhere and knowing -not hoping, not wishing, but knowing that you’re going to get there. In other words, there has to be congruence between your desire and your faith.” So, figure out what you want, set a goal to get there, create a plan to achieve it, believe in your heart that you’re going to achieve it, and light that desire up!

6. Be Willing to Pay The Price
The sixth habit is being willing to pay the price. We all know in the back of our minds that nothing is free and there is a cost of achieving your goals. There is always a cost, a cost for anything. When you make a decision, no matter what that decision is, there is a cost. Sometimes the cost is simply not doing the other thing that you could have done. There is also a cost for not doing something. For example, there is a cost for not eating healthy. The price you pay is feeling like garbage. Your body pays the price of poor eating habits by not functioning as good as it could with good eating habits. Sometimes in order to do big things you have to make big sacrifices. You might have to give up some of the most valuable things to you like time with friends or family. You might have to decide to get up early and work on your project in stead of staying up the night before watching movies. If you know that whatever you do is going to cost you something don’t you want to get the most out of what you pay? If you’re going to be spending 40 hours a week at a job, why not make it worth your while and do the best that you can? Why not spend that 40 hours accomplishing the most that you can and help you to be as successful as possible? In The Slight Edge Jeff make a good point, “Remember, there aren’t many millionaires who bowl over 100. Why not? Because they left the bowling league behind to build their fortunes.” What do you need to give up in your life right now to help you reach your goals? The junk food? The time sitting in front of the TV? The negative people in your life? The bigger the sacrifices you’re willing to make, the higher you can climb.

7. Practice Slight Edge Integrity
The final habit is to practice slight edge integrity. What does this mean? I’ll tell you! Jeff explains slight edge integrity being, “What you do when no one is watching”. In other words, are you working on your goals when no one else knows that you’re working on your goals? Are you going for that run like you had planned on doing? Are you being intentional about reading a good personal development book on a regular bases? Are you eating the types of foods that you planned on eating? More than likely no one else really knows if you’re sticking to your plan to reach your goals except you. Are you holding yourself accountable to working your plan? That’s what the slight edge integrity is. It’s about being intentional about doing those small things that are easy to do but also easy not to do every day that will help you take one more step towards vision.

The bottom line is we’re all capable of accomplishing great things. Creating good habits in your life will help you accomplish your goals! Jeff summarizes the habits this way, he says, “Show up. Show up consistently. Show up consistently with a positive outlook. Be prepared for and committed to the long haul. Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. Be willing to pay the price. And do the things you’ve committed to doing – even when no one else is watching”

10 Ways to Reduce Stress

Hey guys! I’m here with more ways to reduce stress! A while back I did a podcast/blog post on relieving stress but I think it’s such an important topic that I’m back to give you more info. Stress is one of those things that we need to be intentional about managing. If we’re going to do our best work, we need to make sure that we are appropriately handling stress. Stress can build up in our lives and we need to be able to let go of it. The interesting thing about stress is that it can sneak up on us and, due to this sneakiness, I think it’s good to occasionally go through some of these stress relievers for good measure. Look, a little bit of stress can help motivate us to get work done and be productive. I know that sometimes I work best under pressure. The only thing is, I don’t want to be under pressure all the time. Too much stress is not good for our physical state, mental state, or our spiritual state. So, here we go, here are 10 ways to get rid of stress…

1. Take a break! It’s easy to get into go go go mode where you’re just always going. You kind of get into this “zone” where it’s all about getting the next thing on the checklist done. Slow down, and give yourself a break.

2. Make time to finish up those projects that you’ve started that keep weighing on you. I recently took a week off of my normal day job to simply get projects done around the house. If felt so good to get these things done!

3. Organize your space. No one likes working in a mess. Clean up the space around you and I can tell you that you will feel a lot better working in a clean and organized space.

4. Talk to someone about issues that are going on in your life. Some employers offer free counseling which might be what you need. Maybe you have a friend that is willing to listen. Maybe your spouse can help you. Maybe look to a person at your church for a good conversation. Maybe become part of a self help group that meets on a regular basis.

5. Exercise. There’s something about hitting the gym that just makes me feel so much better after a stressful day. I’m sure there’s science behind it, like the release of endorphins into the body, but for me, it really just helps me to let go of the stress that I’ve been holding onto all day.

6. Get a good night’s rest. This shouldn’t just be a once-in-a-while thing. This should be happening on a regular basis. For me, the thing that helps me get a good night’s rest is when I’m consistently waking up at the same time and going to sleep at the same time. Find a rhythm that works for you.

7. Take up healthy eating habits. You might ask yourself, what does eating have to do with stress? From personal experience, when I make poor eating choices I feel sluggish and tired because I have fed myself junk. This causes low levels of energy which in turn creates a feeling of unproductiveness which only adds to the stress.

8. Play disk golf! Woooohooooo! Ok, you don’t necessarily need to play disk golf but get out side and do something outdoors that you enjoy. Listen to the birds, feel the breeze, feel the warm sun on your face… There’s something about doing outside stuff that is relaxing for me and it helps me to relieve stress.

9. Coloring. I recently received a coloring book from a person that I work with. Yes, a coloring book. At first it made me chuckle to myself thinking that full grown adults would be coloring in a coloring book, but then I remembered how relaxing it was for me in my younger years when I would draw. Coloring and drawing are similar in many ways, they both allow a person to express themself and there’s something special that happens when people get to do art. I realize that coloring might not be classified as “art” but I think creating art and coloring have enough of the same components to be similar. Both of these things can create a sense of relaxation and can relive stress.

10. Do some meditation. Get into a quiet space. Maybe put some quiet, relaxing music on. Take some deep breaths and focus on relaxing.

I hope these tips are helpful! Keep being awesome and go kick some butt!

Achieving Maximum Performance with Dary Reed

Dary Reed is a Personal Effectiveness Coach and the founder of Assets LLC. His goal is “to help individuals operate in a culture of high performance by teaching intrinsic behavioral skills that direct ones path to elevated levels of success.” Dary shared a tremendous amount of success wisdom with me and I felt very fortunate to have him on the show. If you’re someone who wants to achieve your maximum performance in whatever you’re doing, this podcast episode is for you!

Here are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom that Dary shares:

  • “Once you can say that ‘failure is my leverage for effectiveness’ and truly believe that in your heart, then failure doesn’t frighten you anymore.”
  • “When I learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, when I embrace the suck, however you want to phrase it, you know, that’s really where I learn and where I grow.”
  • “Everything of high level quality is practiced, drilled, and rehearsed, which is discipline”
  • “Discipline establishes patterns and patterns establish effectiveness. You can’t have random effectiveness.”
  • “You don’t learn on the mountain tops, you learn down in the valleys.”

Dary’s words of wisdom in this podcast will help you:

  • Learn how fear destroys our success and how to overcome it.
  • Learn the importance of discipline while achieving success in your life.
  • Embrace the tough parts of your life as a way to learn, grow, and become better than you were yesterday.
  • Become a better leader both in business and in life.
  • Learn how to achieve on a whole new level.

Dary’s Contact Information: 

Decluttering Your Life

  1. There are several benefits of decluttering such as reducing clutter stress, being more productive, having more time to do what we want, and keeping more of your money.
  2. Prioritize the things you need to declutter. Start with the most important areas of your life.
  3. Get rid the things you don’t use or won’t use often. Organize the things that you want to keep.
  4. Make thoughtful purchases in the future. Don’t allow yourself to re-clutter your life!

Hey guys! What are the benefits of decluttering your life? What does decluttering look like and how do we do it? These are the questions that I am going to answer in this blog post.

We live a very blessed life. We have access to so many things and sometimes we fill our lives with too many of these things. Every once in a while we need to stop and assess the stuff that we’ve allowed in our lives and see what we can take out in order to make more room for things that matter. This means that sometimes in life, less is more. The less we fill our lives with junk the more time, money, and better health we’ll have. When we have more time, money, and better health we can focus more on doing the things that we really want to do and the things that will help us to reach our goals. Decluttering can be thought of as a type of investing. The time we invest into decluttering is going to be rewarded by the many benefits that decluttering offers. Also, by being intentional about avoiding clutter we can avoid the negative side effects that clutter has on our lives.

I can think of at least 3 main areas of life that we can declutter: things, time, and finances. Let’s take a look at how decluttering can be beneficial in these different areas.

Benefits of decluttering:

  1. Decluttering gives you more space and less stress. When I have a cluttered space the clutter makes the space feel cramped. I’m not someone who is claustrophobic but I would definitely say that I much rather be in a room that is clean and organized than a room that is jam packed full of stuff. A room full of stuff (like the current condition of my messy basement) makes me feel uncomfortable and adds more stress to my life. Decluttering can make you feel less stressed. Recently I walked into my garage that I’m moving into and I have tools that need to be cleaned, boxes of stuff that needs to be organized, shelves stacked with things that need to be organized, and I tell you what, I didn’t even know where to start. I asked myself, “Should I start cleaning tools, organizing shelves, or do one of the other millions things with all of this stuff?” I felt a little overwhelmed by all the stuff and it was easy to see that all this stuff was adding to my stress.
  2. Another benefit is that decluttering can help you to be more productive which ultimately can save you time. Think of a workstation area, maybe at work, maybe in your garage, maybe in a craft room, or maybe in your home office. If your work space is clean and organized than it’s going to be easier to find things and to get things done. This is going to make you much more productive.
  3. Having less stuff saves you money. When you spend less money buying stuff that you don’t need you have more money to put towards your goals like saving for retirement, your child’s education, or your down payment on your next home. Also, by not having as much stuff you’re not going to spend as much money maintaining things. The fact is that owning stuff costs money. Is that something that you thought of when you purchased the last big tick item? If you’re like me, probably not. I was just focused on how bad I wanted it. So, keep that in mind the next time you’re on the fence about buying something. Is it something that you’re willing to pay to maintain and store?

The benefits from decluttering go on and on. We can clearly see through these examples that decluttering has obvious benefits. The next question I want to answer is “How do we be intentional about decluttering and make sure that we’re not cluttering our lives even more in the future?”

Prioritize: The first step to decluttering is to prioritize. It’s impossible to declutter every aspect of your life all at the same time so you need to prioritize the areas that are going to make the most impact and benefit you the most. In the area of things, what things in your life need the most attention? Has your cluttered garage been weighing on you? Do you really need to clean your home office so you can be more productive which will allow you to spend more time with the family? What priorities do you have in the area of finances? Do you have a credit card that you don’t use but is still open? What things can you declutter that will give you more time to do the things you want?

Organize: The second step to decluttering is organizing. Organizing is the nemesis of clutter. The more organized you are the less effect clutter is going to have on you.

The first step of organizing in any aspect of your life is to get rid of the stuff that you’re not using. If you have a bunch of stuff that you don’t even use anymore then it’s time to get rid of it. In regards to your finances, do you have a reoccurring charge for a membership that you’re not using anymore? Then it’s time to get rid of it. Are you spending time doing something that doesn’t bring you or your family happiness that you can stop doing? It’s time to get rid of it. Eliminate anything and everything you can. Sell it, give it away, recycle it, or throw it in the garbage. It’s time to clean up and declutter your life. Let’s look at what organizing looks like in different aspects of your life.

Organizing your stuff: After you’ve rid yourself of the stuff that you don’t use anymore its time to organize what’s left. Make the things you use most often the easiest to access. Store the things that you don’t use often somewhere out of the way. The idea is to keep your space clean but at the same time you want your stuff easy to find when you need it. Get the family involved when you can so that everyone knows where stuff is and so that everyone has time spent keeping the house clean and organized. That way they’ll appreciate it more.

Organizing your time: Decluttering your time can be difficult. If you’re like me you sometimes probably feel like you say yes to way too many things and before you know it, you feel too busy to do anything. That seems silly to say but that’s the way it feels at times. I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t do more than 3 big things at a time outside of your family time. This means, for example, that if you work full time that would be one, if you also volunteer throughout the week that would be two, if you have a big project a home that you’re working on that would be three. Life will be filled full of the little things but when it comes to the big stuff don’t overextend yourself.

Organizing your wealth: This is where it actually pays to be organized. Have a garage sale to turn that stuff into cash. A garage sale or selling your stuff on Craigslist can be a great way to both declutter and put more money in your bank account. Garage sales can be a painful but a good learning experience which is that stuff usually goes down in value. Like, way down. Buying a bunch of stuff is going to get you nowhere but broke. Another way to organize your wealth is to use autopay if you can. For example, using autopay to pay your electric bill, or your internet bill, or your mortgage can save you time each month.  Also, I recommend setting up auto-contributions to your investment accounts. The less time I have to spend keeping up on my finances the better in my mind and using some autopay and auto-contribute features is one way I can make sure I’m reaching my wealth building goals. Another money saving anti-clutter technique is to rent instead of buy. For example, if you need a specific tool for a home project consider renting it or borrowing it from a friend in lieu of buying it. This could save you a lot of money. For more peace of mind and to reduce the risk of financial fraud you should considering closing bank and credit accounts that you don’t use anymore. If you have several checking accounts or savings accounts I recommend consolidating them. I have only one checking account and one savings account. These two accounts are the only bank accounts that I have open for myself. I have seen people that have checking accounts at 3 different banks. This is absurd to me and I have no idea how they keep all of their accounts straight.

Minimize: The final step to decluttering is to minimize the stuff that you put in your life by being very selective about what you allow in your life. To help you avoid re-cluttering your life be intentional about not allowing more unnecessary stuff in your life. When you’re surfing Amazon next time, before you hit the “Add to Cart” button, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” You probably don’t. Remember, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. The more you save now from not buying junk allows you to keep more of your money and reach your financial goals faster.

Winning by Creating a Success Schedule

The Success Schedule helps you win by design. It will help you to: 

  1. Keep on track to reach your goals.
  2. Break down your big goals to small actionable weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.
  3. Be intentional about making choices that will help you reach success.

You’re probably asking yourself right now, “What the heck is a success schedule?” In short, it’s a tool that helps you achieve your short-term and long-term goals. You’ve heard me time and time again say that you need to create goals if you want to reach your dreams, right? A success schedule is part of the goal creating and achieving process. It’s a one page document that lists your goals and action items out on a yearly, monthly, and weekly basis. But before we jump into more about success schedules let’s do a little review on goals. When creating goals the first thing you need to do is figure out what exactly you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to start putting away money for retirement or start a small remodel project at home. The thing that you want to accomplish can be anything. It can be something big like saving up for a down payment for a house or it could be something small like cleaning out the garage. So, what is your goal? Obviously in life you have a lot of goals. You have them for your work life, you have them for your home life, and you might even have goals that are not really a tangible thing, like maybe it’s finding more happiness by being a better person. The goal is the answer to “How do I get what I want?” It’s what you want to accomplish so you reach your dreams. Ok, we get, the goal is like a race with a finish line. But how do know where to go in order to get to the finish line? We get there by creating a road map, a game plan. In other words, we accomplish our goal by creating a step by step process. This process is where the success schedule comes in.

Once you’ve identified your goal and you’ve identified the steps that it’s going to take to get there, then it’s time to create your success schedule. This schedule is going to list the things that you need to do on a weekly, a monthly, and a yearly basis so that you know what you need to do in order to reach your goal. For me a weekly schedule works great because I tend to plan for my week on the weekends and it helps me to stay on track throughout the week. I’ve created a success schedule template that you can download for free on my website buildwithkeegan.com under the “Success Tools” page. You can use this success schedule as it is by simply filling in your goal information, you can use it as a model in order to create your own success schedule, or you can modify this success schedule to be customized to your goals. One thing to take into consideration is that you can create several success schedules for different goals or you can use one success schedule that lists several of your goals. So, let’s look at an example of what you might put on your success schedule. (As a side note, to help you follow along with this example, you might take a look at the success schedule template that I’ve put on my website.) In the yearly section of the success schedule I’m going to put an item for retirement because I want to be intentional about putting away money for retirement. For this yearly retirement goal I’m going to put a dollar figure amount so that my goal is a SMART goal. A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. So, I’m going to type in the yearly section of my success schedule “Retirement goal: contribute $5,500 to Roth IRA”. For me, I contribute to my retirement once a month, so in the “Monthly” section I’m going to also write in “Retirement goal: contribute $460 to Roth IRA”. In this example I wouldn’t have a weekly goal since I contribute to my retirement monthly but if you contribute to your retirement weekly you could add a line in your weekly schedule that says something like “Retirement goal: contribute $115 to Roth IRA”. You see, the schedule breaks down my big goal of saving for retirement into yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. The nice thing about the calendar is that it tells you what you need to do, how much you need to do it, and it keeps your eye on your goals so that they are in the forefront of your mind. Reminding yourself of your goals can be a big deal because it’s easy to get really busy in life and loose sight of why we’re working so hard.

So, I would like to encourage you to create a success schedule of your own filled full of all your weekly, monthly, and yearly actions to reach your goals. Like I mentioned you can download a success schedule for free on my website, buildwithkeegan.com in the “Success Tools” page. Make your success schedule fun! Use different font colors and put pictures of things that represent your goals around the border. It doesn’t have to be structured exactly like mine but it should allow you to see what you need to do this week, this month, and this year in order to accomplish your goals. I put my success schedule on the wall just above my computer so that way every time I sit down at my desk I’m reminded of what my goals are and what I need to do in order to accomplish them.