Oprah Winfrey went from being poverty stricken and abused in southern Mississippi to being one of the most successful and wealthy women to ever live. J.K. Rowling went from living as a single mother in abject poverty to being one of the most successful and wealthiest authors of all time. Hillary Swank grew up in a trailer park with only a single mother to care for her, and today tops the charts of A-list celebrities succeeding wildly at their career.
Were these people flukes? Were they owed a karmic debt of greatness? Or is it possible for any one of us to turn our lives around and succeed wildly?
“YOU WERE ASSIGNED THIS MOUNTAIN TO SHOW OTHERS
THAT IT CAN BE MOVED.”
There is no reason that any one of us can’t live extraordinary lives, full of abundance and love. NO REASON. The way these success stories, and others like them, achieve the level of success they’re living is by LIVING WITH INTENTION. They have forged the lives of their dreams over the course of decades and have succeeded finally in being the extraordinary incarnation of all of their hopes and dreams.
Would you like to live with intention as well?
Let’s get really clear about what “living with intention” means. You can either hitch your fate to the winds of happenstance, and your life unfolds with you as a spectator (and sometimes “victim”). Or you can hitch your fate to your own will and direction. You are the captain of your own ship, determining your own destination and journey.
What does living with intention mean to me? I choose what to eat, what not to eat, and how much. I choose what to do with my body and my time instead of letting my emotions dictate. I choose to pursue a better physical state, a kinder spirit-filled heart, and a strong calm mind. I choose to set the sails of my life in the direction of my choosing, instead of leaving my life to the winds of happenstance and other people’s will. I’m the captain of my life, not its hostage. I choose to live mindfully, not just on autopilot. I choose to live, not just exist. I choose hope over fear.
For a long time I felt it was more “noble” to live a life determined by fate (and faith). I believed that God was paying personal attention to my journey and the future awaiting me would be better than anything I could imagine for myself if I just let the Universe guide and make my decisions in life. Life was satisfying in that way because I believed it was “ordained” to be the best it potentially could be.
Until it wasn’t. Life took an inevitable dip, and I was left emotionally and spiritually vacant.
I spent DECADES content with the flow of my life. I followed the “next interesting adventure that feels like the one I’m supposed to take” from one town to the next, from one relationship to the next, from one job to the next. I moved across oceans and finally home again by listening to my intuition and doing what I felt was intended for me. When the time came that my life got tough, it was a moment of intense introspection. I took a really hard backwards look at my “accomplishments” and what I had accumulated of value that would be useful to my future. There wasn’t much there.
It was a painful juxtaposition, the overlap during my transition from being a contented spectator of life to making my own decisions with intention and purpose. At first I could see goals, or outcomes that I desperately wanted to achieve, and couldn’t. There was a very impotent feeling that accompanied my inability to manifest anything in my life that I actually WANTED. My force of will was barely a whimper, and I felt emotionally bereft and like a failure at life.
After all, the muscles you use for self-efficacy can atrophy just like any other. If you’ve spent years and years not creating your life, you will not be able to achieve doing so again rapidly.
The energy in my life at that low helpless point was frustrating and stagnant. I prayed about it. Prayed and prayed constantly. I prayed and I listened for insight, or direction. Nothing came. When I needed help and input from the Universe, none showed up. It truly was one of the lowest points in my life up to that date.
In hindsight that entire helpless experience was all necessary to set me on the path I’m on now where I can share with others how to unstick their lives. At that time, it was awful. What I learned from that experience is that a life completely dictated by chance is not noble, or righteous. That having a say, crafting and weaving the strands of your life with intention toward goals you set for yourself, is a fulfilling and exciting way to live. It’s completely possible, and it’s not as hard as it sounds if you just know how.
“YOU CAN SET YOUR SAILS IN THE DIRECTION YOU WANT TO HEAD OR YOU CAN SAIL ADRIFT AND LET THE CURRENTS TAKE YOU WHERE THEY WILL AND SEE
WHERE YOU END UP.”
For a long time I did the later, and believed that any life the Universe could provide for me would be better than any life I could set down and plan out for myself. Know where I ended up? Frustrated, and unfulfilled.
Suddenly my life was full of questions with very unsatisfying answers.
Why didn’t we get the house of our dreams we struggled so hard for? It wasn’t meant to be, God must not want us to have it. The next house must be so much better. But why? We loved that house, and that community we were forced to leave behind.
Why don’t I have the career of my dreams, or any career? I must not have a purpose yet that’s in need. The Universe will show me what it is (despite my working my butt off over and over in different jobs leading to nowhere). Why is it taking so long?
Why are we barely able to scrape by financially? The greatness I was destined for is just going to appear someday. Right? Why can other people have great fortune, and my kids are forced to struggle with broken shoes and hand-me-down clothes? WE’RE GOOD PEOPLE!
Thoughts take a downward spiral when you’ve spent decades of your life letting faith and hope drag you from thing to thing and you end up with a life full of struggle.
Let’s be very clear here. The Universe is a place of abundance. There are billions of trees, billions of fish, billions of stars. The water flows, the wind blows and life is ABUNDANT. The belief that being poor or in a life of scarcity makes me more “worthy” or “spiritual” is OUT of alignment with the truth of the Universe that we see every day.
Thoughts like, “The Universe has forsaken me. God wants me poor. My children were destined to experience the hardships of life early.” all of these conclusions are false.
At that time in my life there was a complete detachment from myself to the feeling of self-efficacy. I had none. Nothing I did, dreamed for my life, or worked toward ever came to fruition. Life became jarring, truncated, and uncertain. Gone were all of the feelings of destiny, predetermination, blessings or faith.
What lesson was I being taught? That my beliefs, and my experience were OUT OF ALIGNMENT with the Universe. Period. But I hadn’t learned enough then to recognize it.
It took a low point in my health, and a complete shift in my eating and physical fitness habits to shake something loose in my mind. That was the starting point where I started to learn that I COULD change my life. That I could STEER my own ship. That everything takes longer than we think it will but if we push ENERGY TOWARD A GOAL EVERY SINGLE DAY that we WILL reach that goal.
WE AREN’T VICTIMS, WE ARE CREATORS
It is so easy to get stuck in victim-mode when you’re not living a life with purpose. When your course is set by someone else’s will, it’s easy to grow resentment, feelings of helplessness and a listless unsatisfied feeling.
It’s easy to tell when you’re playing the victim. When you’re in the mindset of the victim, your problems are almost always someone else’s fault. Your streak of bad luck is the will of the gods. Your being laid off was the fault of a spineless vindictive boss. You poverty is because of the greed of the rich. Your broken car is the result of the Curse of Inconvenience. There’s always a narrative that your loss is someone else’s intent and gain.
None of these things is true, of course. But it’s easier to tell ourselves that our hardships are someone else’s responsibility. If we don’t, we’re left with no recourse but to act. Action can be scary. Making decisions can be scary. If you’re a victim. But If you’re a creator, action is cathartic. If you’re a creator, making a decision is implementing your processes. The best feeling in life is getting to watch your hard work, the processes you’ve developed, pay off.
When you’re playing the victim, you’re always looking for a hero. Who is going to save you? Who’s going to fix the system, you poor luck, your poor health? Suddenly we’re all praying for some mysterious rich uncle to drop a few million dollars in our laps. That’s going to solve every problem we’ve ever had, right? Who’s going to fill your bag of needs?
It’s okay to fantasize that God or someone will swoop down and save you some day. If it makes you happy, cool. In the meantime, while you’re waiting, you should start thinking about saving yourself. In a year, you’ll be glad you started today.
“THE SPACE BETWEEN WHERE YOU ARE, AND WHERE YOU WANT TO BE,
IS FILLED WITH ACTION.”
LIVING WITH INTENTION
The extreme ends of the spectrum of “living with intention” has on one end the Master of Manifestation, the Captain of Industry, who has carved out an exceptional life that includes a dream career, an abundance of wealth, and droves of experience.
The opposite end is the aimless wanderer who floats from place to place, works to support their lifestyle wherever they’ve landed, and then lets the wind take them onto the next place, and dream. It’s hard to imagine they’ve accomplished many goals for themselves, unless never accomplishing anything was their goal all along.
Most people find themselves somewhere in between. What I’m about to share is intended for those people who want to make a shift from the adrift end of the spectrum toward the manifestation side.
LETTING GO OF EGO, LETTING GO OF BEING A VICTIM – IT’S TIME TO GROW
Somewhere along the way you’ve decided you want more say in your life. You want to dictate the outcomes of your efforts. You want to shove off the old bonds of self-image, social-economical origins, old beliefs and habits and you’re ready for THE NEXT BEST POSSIBLE VERSION OF YOURSELF.
Change isn’t easy, it’s uncomfortable. This type of change requires honest internal introspection. The truth is that the majority of people are trapped in the victim mindset. We spoke about this earlier. Such an unfortunate way to live. If you want to grow then there must be a shift in your perspective on the world from the victim narrative to the narrative of the manifestor. If you’re looking for ways to unblock the stuck energy in your life and start soaring into a future of your making then learn some of the following tools and techniques.
MOVING FROM KNOWING TO DOING TO BEING – THE VEHICLE OF CHANGE
How do we actually do it? How do we move from knowing and wanting something in our lives, to doing and ultimately to being? How do we absorb all of the personal development books and seminars we’ve consumed and translate them into improved living?
“INTENTIONS (PURPOSE) DRIVE OUR HABITS. HABITS DRIVE OUR SYSTEMS.
SYSTEMS DRIVE US TO MEET OUR GOALS.”
Once you understand it, the mechanism to make change in your life is really very simple. The trick? It’s not a passive system. You can’t enter a code into the universe and cheat your way to change. You have to make small, consistent, daily choices about your own behavior, beliefs and thought processes in order to see real change.
“YOU DON’T DECIDE YOUR FUTURE, YOUR HABITS DO.”
If my intention is to live a healthier lifestyle, and my habit is to run one mile every day, by the end of the year I will have run 365 miles. Do you think my body will be healthier?
If my intention is to increase my financial stability, and my habit it to put $1 into my savings account every single day, by the end of the year I will have saved $365. Do you think my financial outlook will be more stable?
If my intention is to read more books, and my habit it to read AT LEAST 2 pages every single day, by the end of the year I will have read 730 pages (at least). Do you think I will have read more books? Absolutely!
The habits I illustrated were all stupid simple, and small by design. We’ll talk about that more shortly.
Right now the important thing to remember is that you can feed into your habits every single day, even little amounts of energy, and see big gains and changes in your life. Think of your habits like machines that are driving you to the goal line you set for yourself. Pushing even 1% of effort into your habits every single day is the key to your success.
A MULTI-PRONGED APPROACH TO AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE
The first step toward living with intention is the realization that success requires you to take a multi-pronged approach to success. Your life isn’t going to be extraordinary if you’re a world record-holder for the bench press but you can’t pay your rent on time and get drunk every night. Your life won’t be extraordinary if you’ve read 200 books in the past year but have zero friends and work in the mail room. Living a life of intention that leads to extraordinary outcomes means pushing the bottom line in multiple areas of your life on a daily basis. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
SETTING THE GOAL POSTS WHERE YOU WANT THEM
The simplest way to decide what goals you want to set to drive your life toward how you envision it is to break your life down into categories that you can understand, can assess, explore, and grow in.
Shortly we’ll cover what the categories look like. These are the same categories Jon Butcher talks about in his “Living an Extraordinary Life: Lifebook” course through Mindvalley. They’re the same categories Vishen Lakhiani wrote about in his book “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind.” These categories are comprehensive and a compelling way to see your life. Why reinvent the wheel?
How will this work? Think about the next year of your life, and look at each category described below, and decide what you value within that category. My “value” I mean, think of things that you want to bring into your life or keep in your life that you are willing to work for. An example might be that in the “Health and Fitness” category I decide that I value tight flat abs. They’re something I want in my life, and I’m willing to work for them over the next year.
After you decide on three things that you value within a category, and would like to bring those things into your life or keep them in your life, think about what some habits you could start working on implementing, that will drive you toward those goals/values. For every item that you “value” for the categories, write down one habit that will carry you toward your goal. For my “value” of flat abs in my “Health and Fitness” category I might decide that doing a ten-minute ab workout every morning is a habit that will get me there.
This is an opportunity for you. Get crystal clear on your values. Get crystal clear on what kind of a life you want to build. These life categories are the best tool for doing this.
Start to think through the details of your life. If you want an extraordinary life, what are the areas of your life that you have to be competent in? What areas do you have to develop mastery in if you want an extraordinary life?
In each category get crystal clear on exactly what you want to create, why you want to create it, and what you need to do in order to manifest that vision in your life. Create a compelling life vision for where you want your life to go. That vision will become your north star. That vision is what you’re building and working toward brick-after-brick every single day.
Why should you do this? By doing this exercise you have a decision-making framework where you can make good choices always aligned with your life values and overall vision. Did you get a bonus at work? You could blow it all on sushi and a weekend get-away to the Caymans. Or you could look at your life vision and decide that money would be better spent in your savings account, paying down student loans, or buying a new elliptical machine. Having a vision for every area of your life, with clear goals to work towards makes it easier for you to make choices that will drive your life forward towards those goals instead of spinning your heals.
No matter how sidetracked you get by life, always came back to center. Always refer back to your goals. Look at your goals and habits often. At least annually you need to set aside a solid chunk of time to re-evaluate your goals, the habits you’ve set in place that will drive you to those goals, and whether or not what you’ve been trying has been working. This your chance to tweak your systems for perfection. Narrow your focus onto the targets you set along your journey so you end up where you set off aiming for.
Take your crystal clear life vision that’s unique, that’s totally customized to you, and if you move toward it for enough years, you’re going to make progress. No question. This process is the number one thing to start doing RIGHT NOW that will set you on a path to create an extraordinary life that you’re excited to be living.
Know what you care about, know what you’re trying to build, and get crystal clear on where you’re going. Of course that evolves. It’s a dynamic process. It evolves over time. But it’s like your north start. It’s like making your own compass for life. Suddenly you know where you’re going. You know that the decisions you make have got to be consistent with and coherent with that life vision.
“Living with Intention” means having values and goals for each category. Living with intention means paying attention to the things that are going on in your life, being conscious of your words, your thoughts, your actions, and your relationships. “Living with Intention” means you’re drawing your own map to success and living it fully in every moment, consciously.
THE 12 CATEGORIES OF LIFE
The first 5 Categories are your personal life categories. These are what separate you from the rest of the world.
#1 HEALTH AND FITNESS. It’s a category that we’re all familiar with. This category is foundational. The thing about the Health and Fitness category is that it has an immense effect on the other 11 categories.
#2 INTELLECTUAL LIFE. There are two different sides of your intellectual life: input and output. Input would be educating yourself. That’s information coming into your head. You’ve got to have a good strategy around what do you want to learn, how are you going to get smarter? Output is actually thinking. Now you’re putting intellect out into the world. This category is often overlooked in the personal development world. They tend to spend a lot of time talking about spirituality, talking about character, talking about health and fitness. This category is integral to whole health. Set aside time to think every day.
If you across an issue that you want to ponder say, “Saturday at 2pm I’m going to think about that.” Put it on your calendar, and when the time comes take time alone to think about that issue. That’s how to solve problems in life. Not a lot of people put forethought into what they’re going to learn, and what they’re going to produce from what they’ve learned. It cuts out a lot of the time wasted on things like television and social media. While it may feel self-indulgent, if you take this time set aside just to allow your mind to think, you will see improvements in performance across all of the other categories.
#3 EMOTIONAL LIFE. This is also a foundational category. If you want to have a great life, you’ve got to experience quality emotions on an ongoing basis.
You can exercise a tremendous amount of emotional control in your life if you know how to do it. There’s a trick to it and that trick is that every emotion that you’ll experience in your life has a recipe. So there’s a recipe for happiness, there’s a recipe for jealousy, etc, and if you can figure out what that recipe is and you get in touch with what makes you happy, and you want to be happier, all you have to do is more of the things that make you happy.
You can sit here and list all of the things that make you angry. You can sit here and list all of the things that make you happy.
You’re setting goals and values for emotional states themselves. Directly to the emotional state. It sounds so simple, but how many times have you chosen to actively activate happiness in your day using a recipe?
#4 CHARACTER. Probably THE foundational category. Self-discipline, self-efficacy and self-responsibility live here. This category speaks to the core of WHO YOU ARE AND HOW YOU FUNCTION IN THIS WORLD. Obviously this category is incredibly important to creating an extraordinary life. Set goals and values for character. A goal of self-discipline, goals for finishing what you start, goals for staying true to your word. Literally choose the character traits that you consciously want to build into your life and you do it exactly that way. You set goals for things that you can practice to inject that character trait into your life.
#5 SPIRITUALITY. Very few people have taken the time to sit down and define exactly what they believe about spirituality. Take a deep look at your own beliefs and document them. Beliefs you discover on your own are always stronger than beliefs you’ve been taught. So what have you discovered? What are some more things you want to discover about the Universe? In what places do you see you need spiritual growth?
The next 5 Categories are your interpersonal life categories. These are where you connect with the rest of the world.
#6 LOVE RELATIONSHIP. There isn’t any greater joy than when two people come together and build a beautiful successful life together.
#7 PARENTING. A fun, wild, insane, awesome category. If you’re doing it right, parenting is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever do. Do you want children who are more independent, more physically fit, better behaved? Get down to the nitty gritty and evaluate what you value as a parent and from your children the most.
#8 SOCIAL LIFE. Not only your friendships, but also your relationships with your extended family.
According to a Harvard study results showed that the strength of your social connections correlates more highly with happiness than any other factor in life. Warm interpersonal relationships correlates more with success in life more than any other factor. Think about that for a second.
#9 CAREER. The way to create a fulfilling, rewarding career is to do work you love and to do work you’re good at. If you can do those two things, you can create a rewarding career.
#10 FINANCIAL LIFE. To create financial abundance for yourself is to create value for the people around you as much as you can and do it inside of a financial model that works.
If you want the ultimate career you’ll do work you love, work you’re good at, that creates a tremendous amount of value for others, and you’ll do it in a financial model that works for you.
#11 QUALITY OF LIFE. This is determined to a large extent on the previous ten categories. The things in this category include the things you want to be surrounded by in your life. So, if you want a nice car, if you want a nice boat, it lives here. The environments that you want to be surrounded by. This is where your dream house lives and the experiences that you want to create in your life, the adventure, the travel, the concerts, etc. It’s the payoff at the end of the day. The fun stuff.
Your environment is incredibly important. Design your space to be creative, warm, inspiring and sensual. Strategize to build value into your space. If you want a super sexy bedroom, find the recipe. Figure out what you want in your life and find that recipe.
A recipe is what we’ve been talking about. It’s deciding on a value (a sexy bedroom) + action necessary to succeed (habits that drive us toward that goal) = the desired outcome. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. This is how you build greatness day after day.
#12 LIFE VISION. This category behaves a little differently than the other 11. Take all of the work you’ve done in the 11 categories of your life and you combine it together into one singular compelling life vision. You’ve thought through everything you want, now what does that look like on a daily basis? What’s your ideal day look like all things considered? What is your ideal life? What does your ideal life look like five years from now? And the work that you’ve done in the 11 other categories are what allow you to create a singular compelling vision for your life.
Using this method your life is your original in your own way. The only competition is slowly climbing up the beautiful visions you have for your life and doing better for yourself than you did the day before.
GET TO WORK RIGHT NOW
Take a paper, and pencil, and get to work. Write down a category and get real with yourself. What do you want in the different areas of your life, and what habits can you put into place that will get you there? When you’ve done all 12 categories in this way type those habits onto a piece of paper and tape it to your refrigerator. Your next step is to implement those habits into your life.
RE-EVALUATE YOUR VALUES AND GOALS YEARLY
With all of these techniques and principles having clearly illustrated values and goals to work towards are integral to your success. You wouldn’t buy a roadmap with vague outlines and a bunch of missing information. If you’re looking to build an extraordinary life, it’s important to know exactly what that looks like for you.
I would suggest that you re-evaluate your values and goals yearly. Set aside one weekend every year, maybe right after Christmas, to sit down with your notes and compare your progress to your goals and adjust your sails accordingly.
THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND SUCCESS – POWERFUL HABITS & RITUALS
A Ferrari is a beautiful car. Even more impressive than the stunning shape and body of the Ferrari is what’s under the hood. If it weren’t for its engine, the Ferrari name would mean nothing. The engine drives the beast, and makes it stand out.
Every bit of success that successful people like Jon Butcher, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have in any area of their life comes down to their rituals and habits. Continued good health until old age, and high levels of fitness are the result of consistently pushing good habits. They happen because you started by setting healthy goals, created habits that carry you to those goals, and executed those habits EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Just run your habits year and year after year.
It’s the same thing with love relationships. I read a letter from a man who was remarrying after his wife had passed. He remarked that so many people had told him that his first marriage was perfect, and he’d never find another perfect woman, and he should focus on living without remarrying. His answer? His first wife wasn’t the perfect woman. Their marriage was the result of them making the right choices as husband and wife day after day. Their successful marriage was a result of their love relationship habits that they put in place and ran day after day, for years.
The same principal applies with parenting. Success comes down to your habits.
Most of us read personal development books, go to seminars and take classes online. The lessons you’re learning only work when you integrate them and make them a part of your lifestyle. If what you’re learning doesn’t change something that you do daily, it will not work. It will not take.
“IF A GOAL YOU SET DOESN’T CHANGE SOMETHING THAT YOU DO DAILY,
IT’S NOT WORTH THE PAPER IT’S WRITTEN ON.”
You’ve got to change your behavior and the most powerful way to that is to install a habit. Make it a habit that you actually enjoy or it won’t work. You’ve got to figure out a way to create a habit that you will actually do on a consistent basis that will move your life, in whatever category, in the direction that you want it to move. If you can do that, you will create miracles over time.
Habits are the powerful force, the engine under the hood, that drives our lives toward extraordinary goals and outcome. Habits are key, they’re the solution you’ve been looking for to reach your goals.
Habits are no different than making the same small choices day after day. Eventually you’ll wear a groove in your brains mapping that makes choosing to do the action more automatic and easier for you over time. That’s the gist of habits. Small actions that wear a path in your neural network that makes accomplishing certain tasks automatic.
There is a lot of science and insight into habits. Keep your eyes peeled on our website in the near future for more information on how to form habits, how to make them last, and how they drive your life. In the meantime I have some book recommendations that may help you forge positive habits in your life.
“MINI HABITS” by Stephen Guise
The concept of mini habits pairs perfectly with the 1% Rule (we’ll discuss next), the Lifebook categories we already discussed and the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Our minds are exceptional at putting up blocks that make it very hard for us to start new habits. Change can be dangerous to your survival after all. Mini habits works around that problem by asking us to set our goals stupidly simple.
If your goal is to do 100 pushups every day, you may start with a mini habit of just 1 pushup a day. If your goal is to read a new book every week, you may start with a mini habit of just reading 2 pages a day.
The idea is that if you’re already on the floor doing one pushup to meet your goal, you’re very likely to do more. If you’re already reading 2 pages, you’re more likely to read more.
The principle behind mini habits is that you’re setting the bar so low that your mind isn’t inspired to try to stop you. Once you’re in the action of doing the habit you’re likely to do more than your tiny goal. Even if you don’t, you’ll still have a reason to celebrate every day. You made your little goal! There is much to be said for the feeling of accomplishment when you’re working towards new goals and instilling new habits in your life.
“THE 1% RULE” BY TOMMY BAKER
“The 1% Rule” by Tommy Baker says that you should be setting clear goals for yourself in the various parts of your life. He doesn’t use the same categories as the ones I’ve laid out, but they’re similar.
Once you have set your goals, you should aim to work toward them by at least 1% every day. This is the engine that drives your life. Every day, consistent, sometimes small actions.
Baker’s is a similar concept to mini habits, in that, by accomplishing your 1% success every day you’ll have something to celebrate. Once you’ve accomplished your small daily goal you are more likely to be inspired to keep working toward your goal to surpass the daily 1%.
Even if you don’t do more than 1%, Tommy Baker suggests that instead of adding up to 365% of productivity over the course of the year, that your everyday action adds up to results that are actually exponential. They add up to 3650% productivity over the year instead.
By successfully pushing toward your goals in one part of your life, you’ll see improved productivity in all areas of your life. By leveling up your energy in one segment of your life, you’ll see a leveling up across the board in all areas.
REPETITION MAKES EXPERTISE AND GETS ENERGY MOVING IN YOUR LIFE
Whether you’re an athlete, a drummer or a mathematician, repetition of your particular skills is going to make you an expert. If your intention is to become a prolific writer, and you set the small goal of writing 50 words a day, by the end of the year you’ll have written 18,250 words. That’s huge!
If you decide you want to be an Olympic swimmer, if you swim every single day, you’re only going to get closer and closer to your goal. That’s exactly how you move the stagnant energy out of your life. That’s exactly how you achieve your desired outcomes. That’s how you achieve goals, no matter how big. Dream big, because taken in small steps with consistency – every single day pushing toward your goals – you cannot fail.
The Parthenon is a miraculous feat of engineering, when taken as a whole picture. It’s also tens of thousands of single pieces of marble that craftsmen pain-stakingly worked over to get them just right and then put them in their place.
“WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE WE EXPECT QUICK OUTCOMES, WITH MINIMAL OUTPUT, THAT RESEMBLE EXACTLY OUR DREAMS. IT’S A BEAUTIFUL IDEA, BUT IN NO WAY RESEMBLES REALITY.”
Reality, empires, architectural feats of engineering are built one brick at a time, one day at a time. Small choices made day after day that drive us toward our goals.
A DEEP COMMITMENT TO PERSONAL GROWTH
The number one priority everyone should have is a deep commitment to personal growth. Learning and using techniques like the ones we just covered is just the beginning. If you want to live with intention, then you need to commit to a continual process of learning and growing.
The categories we covered earlier are a fantastic place to start. Consider the categories as placeholders for all of the great stuff you learn while studying personal development. Make notes about what you learn and stick them into a binder under the applicable category. Have a way to organize them so you can revisit them later and really apply them. If you took a course on your career topic, put your notes into a binder with place holders for each category, and stick them in the “career” section.
Those notes add up to a spectacular resource for building an extraordinary life. Focus on one of the categories for every month. January may be health and fitness, February could be intellect, etc. Every month pick your category and review your values and goals, and revisit the notes you stuck in that section that you made about changes you want to make.
Go through this monthly cycle where you deep dive into a category for a month and over a few years of doing those cycles you will literally start mastering those categories.
This is one of the most important strategies you can use.
Repeat: spend one month every year focusing deeply on one category. Deep diving.
CUT OUT THE DISTRACTIONS
The biggest time-wasters in everyone’s lives are television and social media. Reflect back on how many hours, days, weeks and months you’ve sat on your butt in front of a television or computer wasting your time.
If you could package all of that lost time together and live it again, using that time more wisely toward a goal or purpose, you could have written a novel or solved world hunger by now.
We all need outlets to relax, to vent, and to just veg out. But there is nothing more valuable in the world than your time and your attention. Think wisely about where you spend them. It makes all of the difference.
“WE ALL HAVE THE SAME 24 HOURS IN A DAY. YOU DON’T NEED MORE TIME TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOALS, YOU JUST NEED TO USE YOUR TIME MORE WISELY.”
KEEP ORGANIZED TO KEEP FOCUSED
I make a master “To Do” list every week. It incorporates both personal and professional elements because I’ve created a vehicle and career for myself that intricately ties both hemispheres of my life together. When I make progress in one arena, I’m actually pushing the bar for both my professional and personal lives.
My “To Do” list is my road map illustrating the progress along my multi-pronged approach. Checking in with my list, and my goals, keeps my sights on the goal posts every day. That is how I manage to successfully live with intention.
You can make your own “To Do” list, you can use sticky notes on a calendar, and you can draw on your bathroom mirror with dry erase markers. Whatever it looks like for you, put together a system for success.
Put reminders to call or email friends on it. Put daily fitness goals you can check off on it. Put steps to completing your next article, or work project on it. Make it your own, make it finite and detailed, and all inclusive.
Then LOOK AT IT EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Make notes, cross things off, add new things, brainstorm in the margins, whatever you feel like doing. Just keep your goals ever-present and organized somewhere outside of your mind that you can visit every single day.
VISION BOARD – GOOD IDEA OR WASTE OF TIME?
We’ve all seen them. A large piece of paper with magazine pictures and words cut out and taped to it. They’re supposed to create a picture (really an emotion) that we’re trying to summon into our lives by seeing the pictures every day to inspire us.
If all a vision board does is make you remember how far you have left to go to get to your goals, then lose it. Throw it in the trash. The truth about the usefulness of vision boards comes to us from ancient Hawaiian spiritual tradition.
Ohana, the deeper meaning of the word, tells you to bless what you want every single day. See a great car you want? Bless the car, and the guy driving it. See a great house you’d love to have? Bless the house, and the people that live in it. Shine your light on the things you want to bring into your life so the Universe and your spirit can make them happen for you.
If you have a vision board, the point of making it isn’t to remind you that you haven’t gotten to where you’re going yet. It’s an opportunity to look at the things you found value in, and BLESS them. Send them good energy. Send them a prayer. Thank the universe for them. Put positive energy out there and see what happens.
As long as we’re putting positive energy out into the universe we may as well discuss affirmations. Affirmations use the Law of Attraction to bring things into your life that you value. Don’t worry about how it works, that’s the least important part of using affirmations.
An affirmation is simple. It’s a repetitive exercise that improves your predicament. How do you use them?
Write something down. Write it down once every day for 20 days. Write it down 20 times in a day. Write it on your mirror in lipstick and say it every day. The details don’t matter as much as the consistency.
You might write down 20 times that “I have made money in the stock market.” One day you could wake up with inspiration in your head (like the name of a company to buy stock for). Then you buy the stock and make yourself some money. You can write down anything you want to.
Just don’t overthink it. Write it down, say it to yourself, and then forget it ever happened. The more you think about the things you’re trying to draw into your life in this way, the more you inject them with fear and doubt and kill the efficacy of the project.
You think the odds of this succeeding using affirmations are infinitesimal? The odds don’t apply to you because you have “mystical abilities”, affirmations, to make change in your life.
Your mind works similarly to your muscles. If you’re not flexing it, using it and pushing it on a regular basis your mental sharpness and clarity are going to atrophy.
The most successful, highest performing people aren’t businessmen first. They’re students first. People like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have both said that their number one priority on a daily basis is continued learning.
Try reading every day, learning something new every day, constantly recalibrating your goals and strategies based on what you’ve learned.
Look for free courses online, or seminars being held in your town. Keep continuous learning integral to your life so that you can reach the highest echelons of success.
THE WOOP METHOD
Over 20 years ago psychologists discovered a technique that speaks to the automatic processes in your brain. They found a way to tap into those processes, to insert their own programming, and by doing so were able to accomplish incredible life-changing feats. The results and changes in people’s lives after using this method, they found, were phenomenal. It’s a great tool to use when you’re starting a new habit to garner your mind’s assistance in continuing your success. People use this method to improve their lives in myriads of way.
If you’re looking to live a life of intention, learn this method to tap into the underlying currents of your mind so that your multi-pronged approach to leading an extraordinary life includes your own mental underpinnings. This is a quick and straight forward way to get and keep clarity on your goals, and life.
THE WOOP METHOD is a tool, like a bicycle or a hammer that you can use to get better clarity and insight into choices you’re facing in life. It is relatively simple, and more or less everyone can use it. It’s been around, and its efficacy is supported by countless psychological studies.
Using this method you’re able to make yourself do things you don’ t like to do, or stop doing things you don’t want to do, to gain insight into your habits, to develop passion, to understand that something isn’t a wish you want, and more. Use it like a cleaning up tool, so you can clean up your life. Use it to get rid of things that don’t belong to you that you’re not passionate about, or that you aren’t able to do.
How is it done?
You need 5 minutes of uninterrupted time and calm. Take yourself out of your busy life and designate these few minutes to just you.
STEP ONE – Ask yourself “What is my most important wish right now?” You’re searching for the right wish, the ONE thing right now that you really want to do.
STEP TWO: Isolate one important wish that is really dear to your heart, formulate it into three or four words and put it in front of your mind.
STEP THREE: Ask yourself, “What would be the best outcome if I fulfill for myself that wish?” It might be an emotion, a good result, the BEST thing. Take 3 or 4 words, put it in front of your mind.
STEP FOUR: Imagine that best outcome, let your mind go, really experience it. Spend 30 seconds to a minute on this. Really feel it out.
STEP FIVE: Switch gears and get practical. What stops me from actually fulfilling my wish? What’s in me that stands in the way? What is my main inner obstacle? Search inside, no excuses. What is it really? Emotion, irrational belief, bad habit, something somebody said. Dig deeper. Once you identify that obstacle, that main inner obstacle. Phrase it into 3 or 4 words and put it in front of your mind.
STEP SIX: Image that obstacle in action, let your mind go, really experience it. Spend 30 seconds to a minute imagining what that obstacle looks and feels like in action. Really feel it out.
STEP SEVEN: The plan. To establish a plan, ask yourself what you can do to overcome that obstacle. What effective action or thought could you do to surmount and defeat that obstacle? Formulate it into 3 or 4 words and put it in front of your mind.
STEP EIGHT: Make a very simple IF-THEN plan. If (the obstacle} happens, then I will do (x,y and z – an effective action that overcomes the obstacle). Come up with your plan, and put it in front of your mind.
And that’s all, that’s THE WOOP METHOD. Wish, outcome, obstacle and plan.
You actually have to take time to really experience, and imagine the wish, the obstacle and the outcome. It takes real mental effort. Don’t just think abstractly about it. It takes real effort to do the exercise. The mental mechanisms that will make this work for you are automatic and do the process for you without any further input. But the procedure itself to trigger the mechanisms takes the work.
If you can bring yourself to do this practice for 5 minutes every day you can achieve real empirical success toward your goals.
How does it work? Say that you’re working toward a goal, and your obstacle pops up. Your mind, without you consciously willing it to, will bring your IF-THEN action plan to the forefront of your mind and makes it easier for you to execute it. You’ve already done the ground work earlier by imagining the worst possible scenario. You’ve cleared the way for your simple positive action toward your goals.
You’ve created automatic attachments between ideas in your mind. So, for example, when you see the obstacle happening a part of your brain says “Aha, this is the obstacle we’ve prepared for!” and the response, the ‘then’ part of your plan, is just automatically there in your path. You do a mental process for five minutes, it triggers automatic mechanisms that do the work for you, and that’s it. It’s not a hard, sweat-inducing, constant input process. You discover a lot of interesting things about your life. It makes you get involved in life.
When you use THE WOOP METHOD you get so much clarity in life. You need to practice it, and experience it, and experience what it does to your life to get a sort of addictive quality.
You can do THE WOOP METHOD in 2 ways. You can choose a goal that is feasible and attainable to you and requires a little bit of exercise. You will likely discover an obstacle that’s surmountable and you can really go for it.
You can also use THE WOOP METHOD to find out whether something is feasible for you or not. If you have a scenario you aren’t sure about, like a change of professions, then you can use THE WOOP METHOD to imagine/visualize/review it and decide if it’s something that fits in your life and you want to do, or if it’s something you want to let go of because it doesn’t fit in your life at that moment.
So THE WOOP METHOD helps you achieve goals that are feasible, and helps let go of goals that really aren’t feasible.
The main objective of THE WOOP METHOD is to get you involved. So maybe using the method helps you realize that a yoga practice seven times a week isn’t feasible for you. But maybe four times a week, or going jogging instead is feasible. THE WOOP METHOD gets you into the process and involved and tuned into the problem solving.
Establish a daily ritual. Do it in the morning, or in the evening before bed. Take these five minutes and just go through it. Do it at the same place and at the same time. You don’t need to be perfect. THE WOOP METHOD changes with life. Don’t go back to old wishes, just let them go.
Every new day ask yourself “What is my wish for today? For next week?” Our wishes come from our needs. Positive fantasies come from our needs. You can trust that. Since life changes all of the time, so your wishes will come from the needs life brings.
The wishes come, use THE WOOP METHOD to assess them, and don’t think you have to go solve your wish now. You don’t need to fulfill that wish now. That’s not the issue. It’s a very passive process. You go through the steps, and then you forget it ever happened.
You can use THE WOOP METHOD on all of the wishes you have. Look at it like an old friend who you can always ask, “What do I really want out of this situation? Why am I really here?” Use it as a daily help.
You can do it under stressful situations. It will help you collect yourself, get more aware, and understand what you really want.
IMPORTANT REMINDER – Don’t switch the O’s, outcome and obstacle. Once you switch the O’s it doesn’t work anymore. You only can discover the obstacle in the framework of the outcome. Don’t first think about the obstacle. First the outcome, then the obstacle. If you think about the obstacle before the outcome your reframe the wish into something else entirely. Don’t do that. Outcome first, obstacle second.
If you’d like more information and a broader look at this technique you can find more information on their website: Woopmylife.org.
MOVING FORWARD WHERE TO START
I know we covered a lot of information. Here is a quick recap so you can get right to work.
THE CATEGORIES – Living with intention is taking the reins of your life, and getting crystal clarity on what it is you value, what you’re willing to work for, and deciding what habits you can run that will take you to reaching those goals and achieving what you value.
HABITS, THE DRIVING ENGINE TO LIVING AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE – Understanding how habits work, how to forge new habits and how to kill old habits is integral to a successful life. Understand that the engine, the road and everything in between where you are now and where you want to be is lined with habits.
COMMIT TO CONTINUAL GROWTH AND LEARNING – We can stagnate in life easily, and doing so allows the things we’re least happy with in our lives to fester and rot. It’s an insidious process that can leave you in a depressive state, believing in outdated and inaccurate “truths” and operating at a slower pace than everyone around you. Commit, daily, to continued growth and expansion in your life.
THE WOOPS METHOD – Like an old friend you can talk to for advice day after day, the WOOP Method uses automatic processes in your brain along with simple IF-THEN Plans to help you accomplish goals every single day. Practice the method, and use it at a regular time daily to set the tone for your day.
Today I hope you found a roadmap to success that will help you drive your life to its best outcome. I hope you’re able to unstick the parts of your life that need to move and grow. I hope you forge ahead an extraordinary life that’s pointing toward your own personal true north.
I know that your time and your attention are your most valuable assets in this life. As always, thank you for spending yours here with us. If you have any questions about what you’ve just read please feel free to ask for clarity.
Keep your eyes peeled in the near future for more information on habit forming, and the profound impact habits can have on improving your life.