Saturday morning: I woke up in lots of pain and had difficulty putting weight on my left foot.
So I hydrated my body and went to Bikram Yoga: 90 minutes of strenuous yoga in a 100 degree room (38 celcius).
Why? Because that’s what I need to do.
I have a chronic disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s not what most people think of when they hear the word Arthritis. RA is an immune disease in which the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the body itself.
My disease is generally well managed, but from time to time I have a flare-up. When that happens, my joints become sore from inflammation. It also makes me very tired. Certain joints have a great deal of pain. The natural human reaction to this is to lie around, do nothing, and don’t move those joints!
In fact, that’s the worst thing you can do. First, you have to realize that there are many different kinds of “pain” in your body, and each kind of pain needs something different. Inflamation can cause pain, but moving your joints won’t cause damage. In fact, moving the joints will help prevent damange. It’s not the same as a pain from over-stressing a muscle.
Heat also helps the joints feel better. And yoga reduces inflamation. There’s more research about this all the time. So even though my workout was painful and exhausting, it’s what I need to do. In the long run, yoga helps me keep my disease in check.
This is the way with all good habits. At the moment, you might not want to do the thing you should. Or you might have great excuses not to (It’s raining; I only have a little time; I’m tired; etc.).
All good habits are like this.
I write when it’s time to write – whether I want to or not. I limit my night time activities so I can get up early, even if I miss some fun stuff. I limit my eating and drinking so my belly doesn’t grow too large. I spend within my limits even if I *really* want something.
In the moment of our greatest weakness, habits help us do the things we really should be doing. And the best part is, there’s nothing heroic about this. Once you have a good habit, the “default” action is to excercise that habit rather than break it. So doing the right thing is just a matter of doing what you do every day/week/month.
When was the last time one of your good habits helped you out on a bad day?
I couldn’t believe the accusations that my neighbor the road worker was stealing from his job.
But then I went to his house and all the signs were there.
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Why did the chicken cross the road halfway?
She wanted to lay it on the line.
– – – – –
Why did the chicken cross the basketball court?
He heard the referee calling fowls.
– – – – –
Why did the chicken cross the playground?
To get to the other slide.
If you’re like me, you can get the same advice over and over for years and it doesn’t sink in – until the time is right. That’s why I read all the “success” literature I can. I read to keep thinking about changes in my life until it’s personal for me.
I took a lot of statistics in graduate school. There was a recurring phenomenon with stats: I never truly, completely understood the math from one course until I had to apply it in the next course. I wasn’t alone in this. Many people found that taking a second semester stats class from a different professor than their first semester helped them understand more. And it didn’t matter which was first or second. It as a different way of explaining the math that made the difference.
It’s also the case that the first course prepared our minds for the next. One started laying down the pathways and the next started building the knowledge in a meaningful way. Your personal success is very much like this. You have to lay down the foundation before you can start building. When it comes to changing yourself and your habits, that means you might hear a message a hundred time – or a thousand times – before you decide that you really need to take action.
Success will never come until you internalize your commitment to your own self-improvement. This is because success is hard at the beginning. You have to change your habits, your knowledge, and your commitments. Then you begin the actual work of changing yourself.
Let’s look at how those three things are inter-connected. Knowledge is the easiest piece of the toolkit. You can listen to audio programs and read books all day and all night. You “know” you need to get up early, spend quiet time planning your day, exercise, eat right, set goals, focus on them, and execute.
You “know” all that but it’s all meaningless external knowledge until you make a commitment to change your life.
Some people spend years educating themselves on success but never take action until something suddenly makes sense and then the commitments start falling into place. Others start doing without commitment. In other words, they start following the formula even though they haven’t internally accepted that it really will change their lives.
Believe it or not, this also works. If you get in the habit of getting up early, it will make the habit of quiet time easier. If you get in the habit of exercising, it will make the habit of eating right easier. One by one you can adopt all the habits of success until one by one they are meaninful to you.
Knowledge doesn’t come overnight. Neither do habits nor commitments. But if you practice these things, you will eventually achieve them.
Remember: Nothing happens by itself. You have to work on your success. If you don’t work on your self-improvement, it won’t happen. Period.
Just like athletic development, you need to work on your self-improvement until it becomes real for you. One way to do that is to read and consume self-help books and blogs. The habits you execute without commitment will gradually help you become the person who is ready for success. One by one you will internalize these habits and see exactly how they contribute to your success.
Eventually things will start to click and you will develop a true commitment to each habit. So keep reading. Keep listening. Start doing the things successful people do. The more you do these things the more you prepare yourself for success.
Nothing happens by itself.
A friend of mine decided to name his toilet the Jim instead of the John.
Apparently, it sounds better when he tells people he goes to the Jim everyday.
Very often we use the analogy of paths and destinations as if they’re tied together. You know, “You can’t reach your destination if you’re not on the right path.”
Well that’s just not true.
Trying to walk someone else’s path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.
Trying to walk someone else’s path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.
First, the world is a big round ball. So you can go around in any direction and eventually get where you’re going. Second, we get to choose how we travel. Some people never travel by air. They choose trains, boats, and cars instead. Their experience is different but their destination can be the same.
Third, we all have experience with GPS (global position satellites) these days. We can set the device for foot travel, bicycle travel, car travel, or mass transit. In “car” mode we can choose to avoid toll roads or even avoid freeways altogether.
We have the same freedom in choosing the path to our personal success and fulfillment. Often, the advice we hear sounds as if there’s only one path to success: Work your butt off. In fact, recently there’s been a backlash against the advice to lead a balanced life. Some people literally advise you to work yourself at a heart-attack pace until you achieve what you want. Then you can have balance when you get old.
Of course you may never get there (to be successful or old).
I work a lot with technology consultants. I help them develop successful business processes and habits. I’m always amazed at how many ways there are to implement this advice – or ignore it altogether and be successful anyway.
Remember: Success is achieving YOUR goals – not someone else’s goals. Not society’s goals for you. Your goals for you.
A huge piece of that is maximizing what you enjoy. The least interesting goals are money related. Yes, you need money. Yes, you need to save for retirement. But you also need to live for today and find joy and fulfillment in your work and in your play.
So don’t worry about being off the path, or being on the wrong path. Create your own path. Figure out how YOU want to reach your goals. Trying to walk someone else’s path to your goals can never bring success or happiness.
A man was given the job of painting the white lines down the middle of a highway. On his first day he painted six miles; the next day three miles; the following day less than a mile.
When the foreman asked the man why he kept painting less each day, he replied, “I just can’t do any better. Each day I keep getting farther away from the paint can.”
A guy walks into a dentist’s office and asks to see the doctor.
When the receptionist asks what the problem is, he replies, “The problem is: I think I’m a moth.”
“Well,” she says, “that’s a problem for a shrink. Why did you come into a dentist’s office?”
“The light was on.”
We all experience fear. It keeps us from moving ahead. It even keeps us from improving our lives, improving our business, and improving our relationships. Probably 99% of our fears will never come true.
Here’s a plan to kill your fears – with a technique you probably never considered. First, identify your fears. The easiest fears to identify are the ones that keep us from making changes we know we should make. Whenever you find yourself saying “I know I should . . .” – that’s a fear in disguise. Why aren’t you doing the thing you know you should? Fear of rejection, fear of losing money, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of looking stupid. Fear of something else?
Second, pick one one fear (the biggest) and write down all the things that will be possible when this fear is gone. For example, you’ll know how someone really feels. You’ll actually make more money. You’ll be able to move to the next level. You’l stop wasting time and move ahead. And so forth.
Third, embrace your fear – mentally. Here’s what I mean. Set aside 30 minutes to analyze your fear. Where did it come from? Who influenced it? How big is it? How long have you had it? What are its limits? How far does it extend? In other words, examine every detail you can think of – and write these down.
The next day, take 15 minutes to analyze this same fear. If it’s true, What’s the worst that can happen? Have you seen this happen to someone else? What was the outcome? What’s the most likely outcome (compared to the worst)? How bad would that be? And so forth.
Continue this practice for 15 minutes every day. Two things will happen. First, you will suffocate the fear by giving it too much attention. You will analyze every detail until you’re bored with it!. You’ll be comfortable with it. You’ll know its boundaries and its strength. And you’ll eventually stop identifying it as a fear. It will simply be a “possibility” instead of a fear.
The second thing that will happen when you sit down for your daily 15 minute dose of facing your fear is that you will literally put it in its place. Its place is that 15 minute slot. That’s where it gets Attention: Not the rest of your days or nights.
I was involved in a wonderful exercise at a recent professional conference. The publisher of an industry magazine was examining an article they’d published seven years before. The goal was to provide an introspective look at how well they’d done at predicting the future.
As they went through each prediction, the same theme came up over and over: We worried about the wrong things. The big challenges we identified turned out to be minor bumps in the road. And the major events that affected the whole industry were completely unexpected.
This same pattern is true in our personal lives. We worry a lot about stuff that never happens. And we don’t worry at all about the things that end up being the most important in hindsight.
If fears keep you from advancing, I recommend you create a worry journal. For every big fear that holds you back, spend time analyzing it until you’ve analyzed it to death – literally.
Most fear is not based in true observations or experiences. It’s just our busy minds speculating about possibilities. But what we tend to do is to try to NOT think about the fear. So it pops up and we push it aside. We look for something else to do, something else to think about. In other words, we never fully examine the fear and put it in its place.
Try it. Post your results here.