All Posts in “Life”

Self-Motivation and Commitment

When we decide that we want to make a change in our lives–exercise, a side hustle, improving at work–we assume that we need to get motivated to make it happen.

We take on the idea that we need to motivate ourselves continually to do whatever it is we want to do.

This is why it is so common to hear people say, “I just can’t get motivated to…” They assume that if they wake up in the morning and don’t feel like doing something, that the first thing they need to do is make themselves “motivated.”

When you accept this worldview, you look around at people who work extremely hard and achieve large-scale success, and it appears unattainable.

But that view of the world is a lie. To achieve something, you don’t have to get motivated, you have to get committed.

Most of us grow up trained in a system of external commitment by obligation. You do your school work to avoid negative consequences from parents and the teacher. You do your work to avoid the negative consequence of being fired.

These commitments are usually imposed upon us. We don’t consciously choose them, so they likely won’t lead us to achieve our goals or get better than average results.

To do something big in your life, to achieve something better than normal, you have to consciously choose to take on commitments that force you to be greater than you currently are. You find a destination you want to go and then create your motivation by committing to it.

For someone who wants to start a business, this could mean committing to posting daily about your business efforts on Facebook. This small-scale commitment creates massive social pressure to achieve your goal.

For someone who wants to run events, this could mean creating the marketing and selling tickets as a first step, so you are forced to follow through.

For someone, who wants to be an entrepreneur the first step could be taking a job at a startup that forces you to grow and develop and helps you learn fundamental business skills.

No matter what you do, you are going to wake up some days and not want to do it. To achieve anything you have to find a way to motivate yourself to get up and get to work.

If you find that you are having a hard time getting to work, the solution isn’t to soul search and wait around–Motivation is a side effect of our commitments and vision for the future–it is creating commitments to ourselves and others that help us get to work even when we would rather be sleeping.

 

 

 

Commitment is Key

It’s cliche to say that there is no secret to success. People write and talk about it all the time. Eyes glaze over reading it. But it is cliche for a reason. It is a simple but incredibly powerful insight that most people don’t grasp on some level.

When you do understand it though, the way you see the world changes. You realize that there are no tips, tricks, or hacks that will ultimately take you where you want to go. There is no secret recipe. People who have developed amazing skill and power didn’t use secrets to get there, they made it with commitment.

I’ve written before about Dan Sullivan’s 4 steps to a breakthrough framework:

  1. Commitment
  2. Courage
  3. Capability
  4. Confidence

Sitting and Working

Often the hardest part of a task is just getting started. Once we decide to sit down and work the task or problem goes from large and imposing into simply a step by step challenge to overcome.

So the challenge is not to complete a task, but to sit and start working on it. The challenge is to convince yourself to get started. To remember that the small voice in your head telling you to quickly check social media or to go on YouTube is looking for a momentary hit of pleasure. But in the long run that motivation will bring you nothing but pain.

The way to feel happy and content in the long term is to sit down in the morning and to get to work.

Becoming Who You’re Meant To Be

Growing up means letting go a part of who you are.

To pursue your possibilities, you have to give up options. To become great at one thing means sacrificing –for a time– the other options you could have pursued.

To take the next step towards who you want to become means leaving part of who you are behind on your current step.

You must leave behind immaturity. You must leave behind time wasting. You must leave behind self-destructive behavior. You must leave behind interests that distract you from your ultimate goal.

Rising to a great challenge and growing in the face of it requires embracing self-transformation. Accepting that the challenge will change you, will force you to grow stronger, and more resilient. But it’s not easy to accept the change. Most people choose not to.

But it’s not easy to accept the change. Most people choose not to.

Most people prefer to stay comfortable where they are. They resist change and instead watch TV, drink with their friends, and hide in the day to day normalcy of a life they already know.

They choose a mediocre state they know because it is normal. But they don’t do it consciously. They let their unconscious urge to feel the way they’ve always felt pull them back to where they’ve always been.

Even if we want to accept the challenge, we still have the unconscious urge to normalcy. The pull to watch our favorite TV shows, to stay in bed when we should be getting up, to stay out late with friends instead of going home to rest. Part of us wants to feel the way we’ve always felt.

To embrace self-transformation we have to courageously sit with new feelings. We have to be okay with fear, loss, sadness, disappointment. We have to act despite the emotional urge to run. We have to do what is right in the long-term not what is easy or feels good in the moment.

We have to become courageous hero’s in our own lives and recognize that the parts of us that hold us back from this change are not parts that would make us happy in the long term. They are not our allies, but enemies in disguise as friends. They hold us where we are, and though it feels good in the moment, listening to those parts will leave us weak and resentful in the long term.

Becoming who you are meant to be in the future means becoming who you are meant to be today. Leaving behind immaturity and distraction and courageously embracing change.

So Far This Year Update | Travel, Podcasts, Writing, Reading

We’re almost three months into 2017 and I haven’t posted an update yet, so this is to catch you up on my life over the past few months.

Where We’ve Been

Myanmar

Amanda and I started the year in Myanmar. We spent 16 days exploring the center of the country.
We recently put out two episodes on The World Wanderers documenting our time there. Check those out for some deeper detail.

Episode One: Yangon and Golden Rock
Episode Two: Inle Lake, Mandalay, and Bagan

Overall my experience of Myanmar was mixed. I got value out of the experience but it was challenging. The history of Myanmar is a depressing totalitarian storyline. The government of the country has opened up economically and to tourism. It is fascinating to travel the country and see it in the early stages of mixing with the world after decades of being forcibly isolated.

We spent 16 days in Myanmar, and both ended up with food poisoning at the end. So we were excited to be moving on back to Bangkok where it is a lot easier to find healthy and safe food.

Freelancing and Immigration

Last month I hired two people for small projects on Upwork.com. One was from India, the other Ukraine.

They did quality work and were a pleasure to work with. It sounds like a boring and trivial event, but it is a small piece of a great revolution.

Every day millions of people in the developing world log onto their laptops to do work for companies in the US and other countries in the developed world.

Twenty years ago the only way to work for a business in another country was to fight through the swamp of immigration laws.

Today, with a laptop, wifi, and an Upwork profile, you can be working for a company abroad in an hour.

Immigration still matters. But the story of immigration is no longer just about airports and border guards. It is now also about laptops and freelancing sites.

It is easy to get down about the current events, but it is important to remember the massive change happening around the world. The movement of our time is not about a world becoming more divided; it is about a world becoming more connected. It is a story of the increasing irrelevance of lawmaking bufoons and the growing interconnectedness of the digital world.

Men of Opinion vs. Men of Action

I’m currently re-reading Atlas Shrugged along with a group of other people in the Praxis community. We just completed chapter 8, the beginning of the resolution to the first act of the book. Near the start of chapter eight, there is a short conversation between Henry Reardon (a major character) and Paul Larkin (a minor character) that demonstrates an important divide between people.

In the story, the government has recently passed a law that makes it illegal for one person to own more than one business. Reardon, who was a titan in the steel, coal, and iron ore industries is forced to sell his iron ore business to Paul Larkin.

Larkin feels guilty about the law and desperately offers his reassurances to Reardon. He promises to always sell the ore to Reardon, to act like Reardon is the rightful owner.

Career Lessons From Connor McGregor

“My name is Connor McGregor, and I live in Lucan. I’m a professional MMA fighter with a record of four and one. I’m an up and coming fighter, and without a doubt, you will see me in UFC in the near future.”
– Connor McGregor in 2010

Six years ago, Connor Mcgregor was fighting in a small promotion in Ireland. He went to battle in front of small town audiences that didn’t know who he was and didn’t care who he would become. No one expected him to become the greatest fighter of his generation. No one except him.

Six years later he is the first two-division champion in UFC history and according to many the greatest ever.

Connor is an extremely skilled fighter, but it his marketing skill that makes him a great inspiration for your career. Connor separates himself from other fighters and from great athletes in other sports with his ability to tell his own story and to create a compelling narrative about himself. He exercises a power that all of us could have, but only a few choose to use. He turns his life into a compelling narrative and makes us believers.

You can apply the tactics Connor uses in whatever domain you’re in. Because your career has a lot more in common with a UFC fighter than you think.

Day # 90

Today is the last day of my blogging challenge. For the last ninety days, I’ve published a post every single day. Since today is the end of the challenge, it makes a ton of sense to do a review post.

Something like nine things I learned blogging for 90 days.

But, like so many of posts I’ve written, I don’t have time to dedicate to a big topic based looking backward.

It’s actually kind of fitting because a TON of the blog posts I’ve written were last minute, simple, one thought posts. 11:00 pm, dying to go to sleep but “shit, I’ve got to publish something” blog posts.

So, what was the one big thing that comes from writing a blog every day for 90 days?

For me it’s evidence. Ninety days of blogging gives me a lot of evidence about the way I work and live.

As far as writing goes, I can see that my attention is not very focused. My ability to plan and act on prior plans is not as good as I want it to be. I started a number of blog series that I haven’t finished. I had a number of ideas that I could only follow through with in a small way. After seeing this in my writing, I am more motivated to change it.

Ninety days of blogging also gives me evidence about myself. It has shown me that I feel a lot better when I’m creating daily. Getting creative release. In another post, I related the feeling of creative constipation that comes when I’m not exploring ideas and writing them out. I am so much happier when I create every day.

The last thing is a question that comes up after finishing ninety days of blogging. I know that I work better with all or nothing rules. Writing every day feels a lot easier for me to follow than writing three articles a week. But, I feel a lot better when I produce a longer, more deeply thought out articles. So it is a question of how I want to continue as I move forward.

The answer I want to explore is setting a daily time for writing. Instead of hitting publish every day I’m going to write for one hour every day. The goal being to create three posts a week, but have longer, deeper posts because I am taking more time to put them together.

Long-term vs. Short-term

My dream life three years ago was traveling and working remotely. Now it’s only a few days away.

I’ve followed my interests and been lucky enough to find cool opportunities to do very cool work that can be done anywhere with a wifi connection. But as it approaches, I still experience conflict in my mind about the decision to pursue this life I’d been dreaming about.

Traveling is the thing that makes me feel the most alive. So traveling is something that I want to do more of, but there is still a voice in my head, let’s call it the career voice, that is telling me it would be better to find an apartment in a city, network, and grow my career.

Experiencing this makes me think back to deciding to quit my job three years ago.

In the fall of 2013, I decided to quit my job and go travel. I didn’t have any grand plan. I simply wanted out of a bunch of stuff I wasn’t enjoying in my day to day life.

In the lead up to quitting and leaving, I experienced quite a bit of career anxiety. The thought kept running through my head that this would make it hard to find a good job, that taking such a long career break would mean making less money in the future, or that I could be investing the time in some certification that would help my career in the future.

Six months later, after traveling, I was glad I didn’t listen to that anxiety. My outlook on my career and my life had changed completely. Taking time to travel helped me see the things that I was missing in my day to day life.

As I think about the anxiety I’m experiencing today, I remember those moments three years ago and don’t give the career voice much respect.

I know that in the long-term it theoretically may be better to move to a city, to go to networking events, to learn a practical skill and to try and make a bunch of money. But, if there is anything that I have learned about decision making over the past five years it is that choosing excitement in the short-term is usually good for me in the long term. Choosing the thing that makes me feel most excited and alive in the short/medium term is the best guide mark for the long-term. 

This doesn’t mean avoiding hard work and only doing what is easiest at any given moment. Don’t sacrifice the long-term completely. But remember that your whole life you’ve been taught to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term.

My whole life up to age twenty-three was about making common sense and solid long-term choices. I chose the safe route and took hardly any risks. It left be numb, bored, and apathetic.

Choosing the things that make me feel the most alive in the short term make me more likely to invest in myself in for the long-term. Trying to think only about the long-term leaves me bored, disengaged, and less likely to invest in myself.