This week I had a epiphany about “success” while coaching my son at wrestling practice.
My son is a beginner wrestler, only in his second season participating in the sport. In practice, however, he is often grouped with advanced wrestlers who would be considered among the best in the state at their age and weight. As a result of this, my son doesn’t have much success during “go live” with his partners. That is, until a few weeks ago.
A few weeks ago, something started to click. He had a couple great practices back to back. My immediate thought was that he turned the corner, he figured out the sport. He was ready for prime-time!
Not so fast…
The next practice was the total opposite. The success I saw just a few days ago was gone. It seemed that maybe it was only a flash. Then low and behold a few days later it was back again, then gone again the next practice, then back again. And so on and so forth.
It started off as more bad days than good days. Now I’m starting to see more good days than bad days.
That’s when it hit me. An early sign of breakthrough success is inconsistent success.
When you start at something, it’s typical to experience consistent failure. If you stick with it, the next thing you will experience is a back and forth between good days and bad days. You will get a taste of success only to be followed by a mouthful of failure.
Most people look at inconsistency like this as a bad thing. This may be true in the case of an experienced veteran. But if you’re new at something, inconsistency like this is the light at the end of the tunnel. It means you’re on the brink of breaking through to greatness. All you have to do now is stick with and perfect the process that has taken you this far.
Most people think of “progress” as something measurable. Something that is quantifiable using a percentage complete. Something that is visualized with a progress bar or a pie chart. For most of life, this is true.
When you’re making your way from elementary to high school, its easy to see your progress after each grade is completed. When you’re making your way through college, it’s easy to see your progress after each semester is completed. When you’re working on a project at work, it’s easy to see your progress after each task is completed.
These are all examples where there is a clearly defined list of activities to complete, where there is a blueprint. But this isn’t your reality anymore because now you’re doing something that’s as clear as mud and has no blueprint.
Now you have no idea how much must be done to complete your goal. Now you don’t have anyone to guide you step by step. Now you don’t have a trail to follow. So how do you measure progress now?
In this situation, progress is not measured by crossing items off a list. As a matter of fact, progress is not measured at all.
Instead, progress is an expression of discovery.
Discovering what works and what doesn’t. Discovering systems and processes that deliver repeatable results. Discovering the time of day where you’re most productive. Discovering your strengths and weaknesses. Discovering, discovering, discovering…
Every time you discover something, you make a little more progress.
To-do lists are an essential part of a productive day for many people. I tend to prefer a to-relax list over a to-do list as I explain here. However, when your plate is full with menial tasks that just have to get done, to-do lists are still the best way to get focused.
Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of menial tasks on my plate to start the year so I’ve been using to-do lists pretty often. One of the things I noticed is that based on how much time I “think” I have, I will create my to-do list differently.
On the days I allow myself time to sit and really think about my day, I set-up my to-do list like a schedule. I look at the hours I have in the day, the tasks I have to work on, and how long each task will take. Then I create the to-do list with time blocks assigned to each item. As a result, hour by hour throughout my day I know exactly what I should be working on and if I’m falling behind schedule.
On the days I feel I have to rush to get working, I just right down everything I have to do in no particular order as fast as I can. Then throughout the day I pick and choose what to work on like I’m selecting items from a menu.
As you may expect, I always get more done on the days I take the time to implement my to-do list as a schedule. I spend less time procrastinating, less time surfing the web, and less time mindlessly snacking.
I now realize that rushing through the day is costing me the time I thought I was saving.
With that said, my conclusion is simple. Slowing down to plan out your day allows you to get more done than rushing to start.
As I get older, I often think of the old saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It usually comes to mind as I start doing something a certain way because that’s the way I’ve always done it. Then I remind myself that I don’t want to become an old dog.
I say this because becoming an old dog has nothing to do with age, instead it’s all about your mentality.
If you do something the same way every time and never investigate if there is a better way, then you’re an old dog. If someone ask you why you do things a certain way, and you respond by saying that’s the way it has always been done, then you’re an old dog.
The reality is you can not teach an old dog new tricks. So the trick is not to become an old dog.
If a habit is not an addiction, then it’s not a habit. It’s just plain old will power. It’s discipline. It’s self-control.
A habit is the opposite. It’s something you do instinctively. Something you do effortlessly without much control. It may even be something that causes you some degree of pain when you don’t do it. Something that requires will power to stop doing, not to start doing.
For some reason, however, we only apply this thinking to bad habits. It’s common to acknowledge that bad habits sneak up on you without much effort. Think about it, who works hard everyday to create a bad habit?
Yet, when the discussion of habits is on building good habits we lose site of this. The reality is that “good” habits aren’t habits at all. If they were, there wouldn’t be so many people out there still trying to figure out how to create good habits.
It doesn’t matter if you do something for 21, 30, 60 90, or 365 days in a row. Unless you become literally addicted to the activity, you will still need will power, discipline and self-control to do it again the next time.
I’ve been thinking about switching my house to solar power for at least 5 years. I’ve been looking at several companies across the U.S. vying for this emerging market, but there is one company in particular that really excites me named SolarCity.
SolarCity is the nation’s largest provider of rooftop solar systems. In the one year since it went public in December 2012, the stock price has grown to more than 5 times its IPO price. Needless to say there’s a lot of momentum and excitement behind SolarCity.
The way SolarCity works is that it allows homeowners to get rooftop solar systems for little or no upfront cost, then it sells the power to them on a monthly basis promising that their overall utility bill will be noticeably less than it was. This payment model is perfect for homeowners who want to use a renewable energy like solar power, but don’t want to pay the upfront cost.
I really like the idea of being able to switch my house over to solar power without having to shell out tons of cash up front. Today I went to the SolarCity website to check to see if they were operating in my zip code. As it turns out, they’re not in Atlanta, yet. For now, I just scheduled a solar consultation with them to ask a few questions.
You can check if SolarCity is available in your city here.
The difference between doing an activity you’re inspired to do and one that you aren’t is like night and day.
When you’re inspired, you wake up early to get started. When you’re inspired, you stay up late to finish as much as you can. When you’re inspired, working hard is effortless.
On the other hand, when you aren’t inspired and instead feel indifferent about doing an activity, nothing comes easy. You know that feeling when you hit the snooze button over and over again. That feeling when you can’t wait until the day is over…
Inspiration changes everything. It’s both a full proof cure for procrastination and laziness.
Today is the start of the most optimistic time of the year. It’s the day that just about everybody agrees is a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance to go after your dreams.
In itself, there is nothing special about the 1st day of the year. It’s a day when the sun comes up, then goes down just like the other 364 days in the year.
The only thing that’s different is this consensus among the masses that optimism rules the day.
This consensus on optimism is nothing short of amazing. It creates so much momentum for everyone who buys into the cultural phenomenon of New Year’s resolutions. When hundreds of millions of people agree that the time is now for self-improvement, you’d be a fool not to get on the band wagon.
Of course, you have the cynics (i.e. fools) who get joy by trashing the idea of having a New Year’s resolution. I say ignore these people and instead ride the wave of optimism as far as it will take you.
Sure you may start exercising, lose a few pounds and then gain it all back by this time next year. So what.
It’s possible you may spend the month of January getting organized and by June have the same messy office. Who cares.
Everybody has New Year’s resolutions they start and never finish. If it was easy, you wouldn’t have made it a resolution. Drive on.
What matters is that it feels good to get caught up in the optimistic wave that kicks off the year on January 1st. All you can do is your best to stick with your plan to make this year better than last.
Let’s all toast with our glasses half-full to another chance at experiencing our best year ever. Happy New Year!
If you want something different, do something different. That’s the word I received tonight. A call to action that can’t be ignored heading into the new year.
What do you want to be different in 2014? What are you going to do different to get it?
Expectations are not rewarded, they’re punished. I made a good case for this in my article on the topic you can read here.
So this means you can’t use something that’s expected of you as a New Year’s Resolution. New Year’s Resolutions must start with something beyond expectations to be meaningful. Otherwise, why would you wait until the New Year to declare something you must work on every day to survive.
With that said, here are the baseline universal expectations. Make sure none of these show up as one of your resolutions, and instead are part of your daily habits.
2. Eating Right
3. Being Happy