How to Keep a Journal and Absolutely Crush Your Goals

If your mind is cluttered and you find it difficult to define your intentions and what you want out of life, keeping a journal will give you the self-awareness to express yourself more effectively and productively. Before you start, you want to design your new habit of journaling so that you see the most benefit.

Step 1) Eliminate the Burnout Mentality

When you first begin to journal, you may look to change yourself overnight. Instead of buckling, straining, and stretching yourself thin for a quick boost, settle into the journey of self discovery and do not burn out. Forget about being a superhuman and ditch the idea that you’re going to see incredible gains in the short term. I started small with a two to three sentence summary of how my day went and where I needed to improve. The habit was tiny, but it worked. In fact, the ease and simplicity of taking these notes was the key to my journaling success. The cure for over-ambition is long term thinking. You have a life ahead of you, and make the effort to embrace the time you have.

Step 2) Turn Your “Why” into Fuel

Notice the time frame you have in mind. If you fast-forwarded 5 years from now, you should still see yourself journaling. You should also see the powerful benefits that have blossomed as well. The only guarantees are death and taxes, but understand that you have now placed journaling among the ranks those two dire guarantees. You’re no longer thinking with a burnout mentality, and now you have free reign to befriend the real reason why you want this habit. Tap into the 1 year, 5 year, 10 year, or even 30 year vision of where you see yourself and turn the energy you find into the leverage that will get you there.

Step 3) Make The Process Exciting

Who wants more chores anyways? We have enough so find ways create a process that is as simple and enjoyable as possible. These don’t require any genius stroke of creativity; they could as simple as journaling your achievements for the day so that you have something to look forward to putting down. I also recommend keeping a gratitude journal about whom and what your grateful for. The exciting part is that the source of your gratitude will be drawn forth, and the achievements and tasks you’ve completed will have acknowledgement and momentum. Your journal should be something you look at and be proud of. You are under no requirement to enjoy the time you take to journal, but you will surely find yourself sticking to the habit if you do.

Step 4) Review Your Journal Regularly

You put in the effort and consistency to make entries and have logged your life into your journal, but this will do you no good if there is no follow up. Our brains are programmed to forget the majority of what goes on which is why journaling is so valuable. It allows us to capture our exact state of mind, feelings, thoughts, and perspective at that time. Journaling by itself will forge self-reflection and self-awareness into our lives, but the real gold is found when we can go back in time occasionally to rediscover and expand ourselves into a deeper knowledge that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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The Science of Goal Architecture

Fantasizing about your goal should be banned. At least until you have a solid action plan and have taken the first step. The real reward comes not from the dream, but achieving it. The first step in the program can be very dangerous and corrosive if you don’t follow up and build what’s next. Fantasizing about your goal without action is much like dreaming of building a house. But instead of actually building it, you have a party on your empty parcel of land; there’s no house, no foundation, no fencing, no rooms,  just grass. You then decide to tell other people about this party, and you all get drunk and high off that piece of land and never get to enjoy what’s made the dream special in the first place. Afterwards, you look at your piece of land, hungover and discouraged realized that you’ve accomplished nothing. DON’T DO THIS.

Set up your goals properly. 

What makes a good goal?

Some 86% of millionaires say they made their own wealth, according to Fidelity’s 2012 Millionaire Outlook Survey. Of these self-made millionaires, 30% told Fidelity that they struggled financially when they were young. These self-made millionaires didn’t get there by twiddling thumbs or wishing for success. They had clear and written goals. In a study conducted by Ferguson and Sheldon (2010), participants wrote ‘why’ and ‘how’ they will achieve a goal. They concluded that goals need to be:

Meaningful- you should know exactly what you want, and what it means for you, what is your WHY?

Measurable- your goals should have a metric. To be a Success Alchemist means we have to be scientific. How long will it take/how many hours, minutes, days etc? What is the metric used? Is it calories eaten, pages read, words typed, pounds lifted? What’s the frequency?

Challenging- If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. – Frank DeVito  Remember: Success is overcoming a challenge.

 

Sources:

Ferguson, Y., & Sheldon, K.M. (2010). Should goalstrivers
think about ‘why’ or ‘how’ to
strive? It depends on their skill level. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 253265.

How to Overcome Loneliness and Depression and Achieve Success

Most of people who know me have experienced my abnormally good attitude first hand. Today was little different on this Christmas Eve eve (insert sad face). However, I was driving a saw a building with the lights on and a bunch of cars. Curious, I went inside and immediately a gentleman offered me his seat. Turns out it was an AA meeting, and I entered right at its conclusion where we all joined hands, said the Lord’s Prayer, and socialized afterward. I will tell you this: always default to
1) Awareness and 2) Vulnerability when you fall short of your best self. When everything else seems stripped from you, know exactly where you are. You ever wondered why air flight attendants stress the location of the air masks or why movie theatre staff point to the exits of the building? You KNOW damn well people aren’t going to be logical and remember those things in case of, say, a shooting or a fire. With an awareness of exits and emergency procedures, however, they’ll at least panic “correctly” so to speak. Much like a disturbed crowd, when you’re upset, frustrated, or depressed, have awareness of where you are first. Opening up and being vulnerable will then allow you to see and move towards your exit. Listening to people who have problems bigger than my own really put things in perspective, and I really wanted to share this. Happy Holidays Everyone! 🙂

Control Your Life by Controlling Your Time Part 2

Suppose you just got off your lunch break from work and I call you all the way from New York. I say “Listen, if you meet me here at the John F. Kennedy airport by 3pm sharp, I’ll give you $750,000.” You look at the time and it’s a quarter past noon. You’re first reaction is no way. Impossible. That’s a little under 3 hours. The flight is two, and traffic alone to the airport would be an hour. But wait with three quarters of a million on the line you get creative.

We talk ourselves into believing we cannot control events that we can really control. The better you feel about yourself, the most productive you will be. What types of things do you do that make you feel best? You feel best when you do things that matter most to you. What are the highest priorities in your life? Of these, which do you value the most?

Why do we have so much trouble accomplishing the things that mean the most to us in the long term? We think we are going to have more time at some unspecified future date than we do now. “Well, I’ll do that next week, or next month, or next year, or when I retire, or when I make better money,  when the economy is better etc”. We think we can somehow save time. As if you don’t have it already. That’s like trying to jog a mile faster by saving your energy. You have all the energy you need. Instead of walking half the damn time, we should focus on actually running.

You would be very upset if someone gained access to your bank account and stole all of your money. Why then don’t most people blink an eye when all sorts of distractions creep into our lives and steal our time?Procrastination. The dirty word. Why do we procrastinate? Important tasks are likely unpleasant. What’s sexy about balancing a checkbook, counting calories, or taking out the garbage? Be productive and successful requires us to leave our comfort zones.

Set a deadline. Do the most unpleasant part first. Make a game out of it. Build in a reward.

Control your life by controlling your time: Part 1

What is time? What a silly philosophical question, right? Most of us would rather ask for the time than ponder it’s existence and meaning. Think of time like this: The train does not arrive at the station at 7:00PM, the train arrives at the station at the same moment the little hand reaches seven. The basic element of time is an event. Controlling your life means controlling your time aka the set of events in your life.

What’s the best example of someone who is out of control? A drug addict. They are no longer in control of their lives and are only reacting to their addiction, and the events surrounding their poor lifestyle. The best example of someone who is in complete control of their professional environments? A symphony conductor. Which a flick of a baton, an entire group of people respond and perform. Events fall into a control continuum of things we have control over and things we don’t.

control-continuum

What are some events in which you have no control? The sunrise, tornadoes, the World Series, your height, your boss. How do you feel when you face events that you can’t control? Stressful, angry, fearful, and frustrated most likely..

Perhaps you’ve tried a dance class. For me, dancing is an out-of-control experience. When I joined my first class, I could not control my dance moves at first. Whenever I tried to imitate the other performers in the group, my body would do flail, twist, flop, or do something completely different, or sometimes nothing at all because of complete bewilderment! I must have control over how we can move our body, right?  But without practice I didn’t at first.

There is a surprising amount that we can control.control-of-events

Rate these events from 1-5 with 5 being the MOST in control. How would you describe the feeling when take control of the events that you have control over? Happy, exhilarated, powerful, confident, maybe even surprised most likely. Focusing on event control makes all the difference.

Part of the reason some of us fail to take control rests upon the conditioning we’ve been raised to accept. Take a circus elephant. These massive 5 ton animals are able to be bound and constrained by a silly rope attached to a stake. When the elephants are young, they believed they couldn’t move freely. The tethers in their minds were stronger than any chain or rope.

There are events we can’t control, but believe we can, and there are events we can control, but believe we can’t.

A Man’s Purpose pt 1

What does it mean to be a man?  Go through the list and consider what options our culture has given us. A driver’s license, high school commencement, voting rights, employment, drinking rights, or possible marriage barely provide any meaningful elevation from boyhood. Modern American males possess few ceremonial means of formally marking their passage into their purpose as a man. The bar has been set too low and today you can find plenty of man children who can shave that have yet to make the transition.

Regardless of your belief, whether you are a secular atheist or a Buddhist, the economic and sociological benefits of Biblical values are infallibly sound. When men fulfill the purpose and design of men as the Bible has outlined it, humanity thrives, and when men reject the space that men are designed to fill, the world burns. Why do I say this? Take a dive into the the very first book, Genesis, chapter 2 and verse 15, “The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Here, we can see even early on, even in paradise before sin, God gave man the duty to harvest and to work. This is why lazy men are so damaging to humanity. We are designed to work. The perfect man is the working man.

Our secular society today could learn a great deal from other ancient traditions as well. To understand where to start, we must look towards rites of passage. Even as little tads, children of the ancient days were expected to prepare themselves for their initiation. An African proverb sums it up best, “it takes a village to raise a child”: this is an entire social force focused on every individual; the essence of a community.

The basic formula of a rite of passage is explained by an anthropologist named Arnold van Gennep. This formula breaks the passage up into three stages: an end (severance from childhood), and middle (threshold), and a beginning (incorporation into manhood). Unlike anything else, notice how a rite of passage begins with an ending and ends with a beginning. An excellent example most people are familiar with is the process of becoming a member of the armed forces. The recruit gets cut off from society and their previous civilian life, they’re trained and challenged in boot camp, and then they graduate as a lean, mean, freedom-defending machine.

 

 

Whirling in a torrent of Inspiration (SURPRISE QUESTION AT THE END)

I could go on and on and on and on, but I will save you the lengthy preface, body, and eulogy and get right to the meat. One tangent I stumbled upon today dealt with the stock market. My blog does deal with success and finance after all. However, a post was made on Reddit about how you could take 9 randomly generated stock charts and a real one, throw them in a pile, and you would not be able to tell the difference or find the true stock chart. This then lead me to hunt in Wikipedia and soon after I found the Turing Test, and then I found ELIZA, and then I found the script for ELIZA. The Turing Test is a set of philosophical questions to determine whether or not machines or artificially intelligent programs can think like human beings. ELIZA was a program developed in the 1960s by a psychologist named George Bernard Shaw, and the gist of the program was: a psychiatric patient was to communicate via text to this program, and based on keywords that the person gave, the program would generate a response. Almost all of the patients who were diagnosed by ELIZA believed there was a real human on the backend of the responses.  When they were told it was a program, they simply refused to believe the conductors of the experiment. The philosophical implications can be discussed here for many, many posts, but I will save you the headache and present you with this question. Many of us work professions and jobs and can all relate to the term, “unconsciously proficient”. Much like how you can drive a car with ease, there are some areas of your life where you know how to do things with a level of unthinking mastery. What is the difference between someone who is unconsciously proficient and a machine that could automate what you do? 

I seriously want you to ponder this.

My response: I believe there is barely any difference, if any between the two. Although humans are more than just machines, we have programming inside of us that gets tweaked, reworked, and perfected. Now let’s use the driving example because it is an example we can all relate to. I believe few things in this universe are truly and wholly perfect. Let’s say you can program a machine to engage the accelerator pedal at the “perfect” time or press the breaks with the “perfect” amount of force, it would still be an imperfect mechanism. However, in order to drive, you do not need to drive exactly at 65 mph on the highway, or break at an exact time before every red light. You just need to get to your destination. The programming that you use when you drive is not a perfect system. I don’t believe there is one; even for our theoretical self-driving machine. The process we use is not perfect, but modular, and I would argue that we reach a level of “perfection” that suites our purpose. Once this level is reached, I do not believe there is any difference, if any between an unconsciously proficient process and an automated machine.