Justin Gasparovic

blog post featured image - how to get unstuck

How To Get Unstuck: 8 Ways To Spark Positive Change

How to get unstuck? If you landed on this article, I’m guessing that you’re wrestling with some stagnation in your life, and you’re looking for a way to alleviate it.

The good news is that feeling stuck is completely normal. We all find ourselves in ruts from time to time and there’s always a way out no matter how bleak things seem.

The following article will show you how to get unstuck by implementing powerful keystone habits that can shift your life onto a more positive course.

 

What Does It Mean To Feel Stuck?

Being stuck has a different meaning for everyone because we’re all wrestling with different demons and obstacles.

Speaking broadly though, being stuck means that you’re not making forward progress on the things that are important to you. 

This lack of forward progress is likely leading to feelings of shame, guilt, and resentment. These emotions tend to perpetuate the toxic habits keeping you where you are.

In other words, being stuck means that you’re not acting in alignment with the type of person you want to be. It means that you’re feeling strong urges to change who you are, but your negative internal dialogue is making it difficult to act on these urges 

 

3 Common Reasons Why We Get Stuck In Life

Before talking about how to get unstuck, it’s important to point out some potential root causes of why you may be struggling to find positive momentum in life.

There’s a number of reasons why we tend to get stuck in life, but here are the most common:

 

#1: We Lose Sight Of Our Goals

Does this sound like a familiar story?

You get motivated and write down a specific goal you want to achieve. For the first few days, maybe even the first week, you’re taking action towards those goals

At some point, you find it difficult to be consistent and start running out of steam. A week or two later, you’ve lost sight of those initial goals completely and have relegated back to your old habits.

If that sounds like where you’re at right now, then of course you’re going to feel a little guilt and shame about your situation.

What makes this even more difficult is that with each failure, you instill the belief that you’re not capable of becoming a new person.

 

man standing in a field

 

#2: We Let The Past Take Up Too Much Of The Present

Our past plays a big role in the decisions that we make in the present. And when we feel stuck, it’s likely because our self-perception is being colored by demons from the past that we can’t shake.

At this very moment, who you are is simply a combination of all of the choices that you’ve previously made. These choices have led to internalized beliefs that govern the way that you see the world, and consequently the types of behaviors you engage in.

Now with time, these past demons can be overcome. You can create new beliefs, adopt new habits, and completely reinvent yourself despite your past experiences.

But right now, your past is the most domineering influence on your choices.

 

#3: We Struggle With Consistency

There are no shortcuts to achieving meaningful changes in life. In order to become a better version of who you are, there’s no getting around the daily grind of consistent, focused action.

Almost everyone can put in the work when they feel motivated. It’s the people who show up regardless of their motivation levels that achieve outstanding personal growth.

So if you’re inconsistent with the effort that you put into your primary aims in life, this is likely a major factor in the lack of meaning you’re experiencing.

 

Is It Always A Bad Thing To Be Stuck In Life?

Many people wondering how to get unstuck make their situation worse by subscribing to the belief that being stuck is a bad thing.

And although I’d agree that it’s not a good thing to feel stuck in life, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a bad thing either. 

Here’s what I would say about being stuck — It’s a natural part of the journey for anyone who’s ever found the key to being happy, fulfilled, and successful..

Sure, in an ideal world you wouldn’t feel stuck, and you’d be making forward progress daily on the goals that are important to you. 

But not one person can say that they’ve lived every day of their life like this. If you closely examine the lives of the people you admire, you’ll often find long-term periods of struggle characterized by the same self-doubt you’re feeling right now.

And yet, people don’t remember them for the dark times in their life. They remember them for the light they were able to create out of the darkness.

It won’t be easy, but you have the opportunity to do the exact same thing. The period of struggle that you find yourself enduring is here for a reason — it’s not meant to break you, it’s meant to make you stronger.

 

chess board

 

How To Get Unstuck & Move Forward In Life: 8 Tips

Hopefully by now you’ve realized that being stuck isn’t the end of the world. It’s in fact an opportunity for you to create a better, stronger, and happier version of yourself.

However, those outcomes happening are predicated on one thingthe level of action you take to alleviate your current situation.

The following section of this article will cover eight tips for how to get unstuck and start moving your life forward. My hope is that reading this section will arm you with actionable advice that you can leverage to turn things around.

 

#1: Accept Where You Are

If you’re wondering how to get unstuck, there’s two key mindset shifts that you need to make before taking action.

The first one is completely embracing where you are right now. Even if you’re unhappy with several aspects of your life, that won’t change the fact that it’s your starting point.

Love it or hate it, you have to start somewhere. But if you continue to be consumed by your past demons and loathe the choices that you’ve made to get here, your journey to getting unstuck will never get off the ground.

Accept that who you are right now isn’t permanent. You’re not going to be stuck in this place forever.

Going forward, the only thing you can control is your commitment to becoming the best version of yourself.

 

#2: Accept That Getting Unstuck Is A Long Term Journey

Another key mindset shift that you need to make in order to change your life is that getting unstuck is a long-term process.

So many people fail to change simply because they underestimate how long it takes. The person you are right now is based on a system of beliefs that you’ve acquired over years, even decades.

You’re fooling yourself by thinking that you can untangle these beliefs with a few steps in the right direction. It will likely require several months of consistent action in order to start to feel like you’re turning into someone new.

That doesn’t mean you won’t see signs of growth along the way, because you certainly will. But achieving the radical, life-altering shifts you’re looking for is simply a matter of patience.

 

man sitting on a bike

 

#3: Stop Hitting Snooze & Wake Up Early

If you’re wondering how to get unstuck, avoiding the snooze button is a great place to start.

If you don’t snooze and regularly get up at your desired time, then you can ignore this section of the article.

However, if you routinely find yourself pressing that snooze button and starting your day behind the eight-ball, then stay tuned for an app recommendation that will help you eliminate this problem entirely.

Now I know you might be thinking to yourself, “It’s just an extra 15 minutes of sleep, what’s the big deal?”

Well for starters, you know all too well that sometimes an extra 15 minutes of sleep turns into an extra 30 minutes of sleep, or an extra hour, or even an extra two hours.

But furthermore, the act of hitting the snooze button goes much deeper than just trying to catch some extra Z’s.

The reason that hitting the snooze button is so damaging is because you’re essentially admitting defeat before the day even starts. What you’re conveying to the world when you hit the snooze button is this:

“I’m not quite ready to take you on yet.”

Your alarm going off signifies the first battle of the day. Are you going to get up even though every part of your body is telling you to stay in bed, or are you going to choose instant gratification?

This first critical decision you make sets the tone for the inevitable tug of war that will ensue each day between your long-term goals and instant gratification.

If you’re struggling with the snooze button, there’s an app called Alarmy that will help you instantly alleviate this problem.

Alarmy acts as an accountability partner by forcing you to get off your ass in order to turn off your alarm. The app is programmed with certain “missions” that need to be completed before your alarm stops ringing.

By the time you’ve completed your chosen mission, you’ll find it easier to transition into your morning routine since you’re already up and out of bed.

Downloading this app marked the death of my habit of hitting the snooze button, so hopefully you’re able to achieve similar results.

 

white alarm clock

 

#4: Start An Exercise Habit

Exercise is one of the best types of habits to build if you’re wondering how to get unstuck. It cannot be understated how powerful regular exercise can be if you’re feeling lost in life.

Does it help you improve your physique? Obviously, but the real benefits are what it does for your emotional state.

Exercise imparts a tremendous sense of well-being among the people who make it a regular practice:

  • They have more energy throughout the day
  • They experience improved sleep
  • They feel more relaxed 
  • They display improved resilience when faced with life’s challenges.

Not only that, but a study published by Harvard Medical School found that regular exercise was an all-natural antidepressant, reducing the chances of major depression by a whopping 26%.

That’s because exercise drastically changes our brain’s wiring. And it’s these neurological changes that make it easier to fight back against life’s challenges.

The biggest obstacle to building an exercise habit is consistency. I already know that some of you are reading this thinking, “I’ve tried this before the habit didn’t stick, what should I do differently?”

I have two suggestions for you:

Tip #1: Start Small

Remember in the first section where we talked about accepting where you are? Well, that mindset is critical for turning any behavior into a habit because it forces you to recognize your limitations. 

So instead of thinking that you can start working out for an hour per day/five days a week, what if you started by simply doing 10 pushups per day?

It’s not the sexy, radical shift you’re looking for, but that’s exactly what makes it such an effective way to foster long-term behavior change.

Every time you win the day by completing a small habit like this, you prove to your brain that you’re the type of person who exercises every day. This subtle identity shift creates a foundation that allows you to aim higher.

 

woman working out in a gym

 

Tip #2: Choose Something You’re More Likely To Stick To

The great thing about exercise is that you don’t have to endure a bunch of pain and suffering in order to reap the benefits that it provides.

You’re more likely to follow through on a habit when you enjoy it. So if you don’t wanna lift heavy weights or spend hours on the treadmill, you don’t have to!

  • Make exercise a social activity by finding a friend/neighbor who wants to go on hikes/walks with you. 
  • Engage in a physically demanding sport that you enjoy such as tennis, biking, basketball, or even ultimate frisbee.
  • Sign up for a yoga class/dance class if you’re interested in either of those things.

By making exercise a little more enjoyable, you’ll be more likely to make it a staple in your life.

 

#5: Begin Tackling Your Fears To Get Unstuck

If you’re feeling stuck right now, fear is likely one of the biggest culprits.

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions that we experience. And it often causes us to retreat to comfort instead of moving closer to our ideal self.

  • We don’t start the business we’ve always dreamed of starting because we’re afraid that it’s going to fail
  • We don’t approach that man/woman we find attractive because we’re afraid of experiencing rejection
  • We don’t ask our boss for the raise that we deserve because we’re afraid of the discomfort associated with that conversation

These are the choices that make or break our happiness in life. And the more that we let fear win in these moments, the farther we move away from the life that we deserve.

Learning how to get unstuck coincides with learning how to not let fear stop you from doing the things that you want to do.

The best way to do this is by creating what psychologists refer to as a fear hierarchy. In order to create a fear hierarchy, you first make a list of situations that bring about feelings of fear.

Next, you rank these situations on a scale from 1-10. The score you give is dependent upon the level of fear you would experience in that particular situation.

And of course, the final step is taking action by voluntarily exposing yourself to these situations.

The idea is that through systematic exposure, you’ll become desensitized to fear and teach yourself to take action in spite of it.

For example, let’s say that you’re a man who lacks confidence and is afraid of approaching women. 

Here’s what a sample fear hierarchy might look like for you:

  • 1 – Watch videos of men approaching women on the street 
  • 2 – Walk down the street and nod your head at women passing by
  • 3 – Walk down the street and make eye contact, then quickly look away. 
  • 4 – Hold eye contact until they look away from you
  • 5 – Walk down the street and say “hello” to each women that passes you
  • 6 – Walk down the street and say, “Hello, how are you?” to each woman that passes you
  • 7 – Ask a woman for directions somewhere
  • 8 – Give out genuine compliments to women who walk by you
  • 9 – Approach a woman, introduce yourself, give them a compliment, and then leave and tell them to have a nice day
  • 10 – Approach a woman and introduce yourself, give them a compliment, and then try your best to carry on a conversation. Finish off the interaction by asking for their number.

The reason why a fear hierarchy works so well is because it slowly builds up our courage muscle. 

You start with things you know you can do, and then gradually move into uncharted territory where you’ll need to overcome some resistance.

However, the confidence that you gain from the previous steps in the hierarchy make it easier to overcome this resistance.

So if you want to learn how to get unstuck, try creating a fear hierarchy for a specific area of your life that you’re struggling with. As long as you take action, you’ll find that these situations aren’t that scary after all.

But most importantly, you’ll gain the courage to act on your true desires even when fear attempts to get in your way.

 

ghost teaching someone how to get unstuck

 

#6: Get Unstuck By Reading Atomic Habits

I’ve read dozens of self-improvement books so far in my life. However, James Clear’s Atomic Habits is by far the most compelling, eye-opening book that I’ve come across.

I stumbled upon this book during a time in my life where I was trapped on the self-improvement hamster wheel — a period where I’d set goals, not follow through on them, and then experience intense shame for my lack of commitment.

This book armed me with a completely different view on successful behavior change. It helped me realize that forming new habits and changing my identity didn’t need to feel like such an uphill battle.

Clear touches on many different concepts in the book, such as how to break bad habits, how to design your external environment for success, how to form new habits and actually stick to them, and much more.

It’s not just your typical book about habits. It’s a how-t0-manual for getting what you want out of life.

So if you want to learn how to get unstuck, this is the most impactful and actionable book that I can recommend to you. Click here to check out the book in further detail and read some of the reviews from other people who’ve read it.

Now if you’ve already read the book, my suggestion is to self-reflect on whether or not you actually applied the principles that it discussed. If not, be sure to re-read it with a commitment to actually put Clear’s words into action.

 

#7: Get Unstuck By Opening Up To Others

When you’re in a place of stagnation, it’s difficult to admit that to other people. It’s the natural human tendency to avoid placing ourselves in situations where we may be judged or feel vulnerable.

We often hide our true thoughts and emotions because we’re worried about whether or not they’ll be accepted by other people. However, a consequence of this is that we shut out other people from knowing who we really are.

So if you’re feeling stuck, start leaning on the people close to you by opening up about your struggles. It’s going to feel a little scary, but the burden you’re carrying around will feel instantly lighter after the fact.

The people you open up to may offer wisdom that will help you see things from a different perspective. Or better yet, in the spirit of openness, they may share their own experience with similar struggles, and talk you through how they worked through it.

There’s really no downside and all upside to opening up to people who have your best interests at heart.

 

two people talking about how to get unstuck

 

#8: Just Choose One Thing To Get A Handle On

Perhaps the most important part of getting unstuck is limiting your focus. If there’s one thing that you take away from this article let it be this — in order to change anything about your life, it needs to become your number one priority while everything else takes a back seat.

I know that may be hard to hear right now because you’re probably thinking, “But it’s not just one thing making me feel stuck! There’s many different things about my life that need to change for me to get unstuck!”

I can genuinely empathize with that feeling, because it’s the same mindset that I carried through life while wondering how to get unstuck.

The thing is though, that mindset got me absolutely nowhere. All it did was cause me to set a bunch of goals, never make progress on any of them, and rinse and repeat that process months later.

And each time this happened, it felt like a little life got sucked out of me. The moment that things began to change for me is when I identified the biggest source of unhappiness in my life and put 100% of my attention into addressing it.

This meant giving up some goals that were really important to me. But it was this act of letting go that gave me the freedom to dedicate all of my resources to the single biggest demon in my life — social anxiety.

So what’s the biggest source of unhappiness in your life?

Your weight? Your personal relationships? Your social skills? Your work habits?

Here’s a better question:

If someone came up to you and granted you the power to change just one aspect of your life, what would you change

The answer you come up with to this question should be the one thing that you dedicate all of your focus to for the next several months.

Because what you’ll notice is that when you address the biggest source of guilt and shame in your life, addressing everything else becomes easier.

 

man writing on a piece of paper

 

Final Thoughts On How To Get Unstuck

Well, that wraps up this article on how to get unstuck and start moving your life in a positive direction.

When you’re feeling stuck, it can be overwhelming to think about the work it will take to make the changes you want to make. 

However, on the other side of that work is a better, stronger, version of yourself. All you have to do is focus on moving forward every day. If you do that, and are willing to remain patient, the results will take care of themselves.

It might take a few months, or several months, or even a year or two before you feel like a completely different person, but the good news is that life is long. 

And once your desired changes have taken shape, you’ve got decades to go after everything else that you deserve.

blog post featured image - be intentional

Be Intentional: 7 Ways To Live Life On Your Terms

Intentional living is a buzzword that’s been thrown around a lot in recent years, but what exactly being intentional look like?

I’m guessing you’re here because you want to stop feeling like you’re just “going through the motions” of life and create one that’s full of purpose and meaning.

If that’s the case, then you’re in the right place. The following article will discuss what it means to live intentionally, and provide actionable advice that will help you create a more intentional life.

Let’s dive in!

 

What Does It Mean To Be Intentional?

The simplest definition of what it means to be intentional with your life is choosing the types of habits that align with what matters most to you, and avoiding the ones that perpetuate guilt and shame.

It’s about investing your time and energy into challenging pursuits that give your life meaning instead of settling for what’s familiar and easy.

As long as you’re prioritizing what matters most to you and backing up those intentions with action, you’re living an intentional life.

Many people are under the impression that living an intentional life means living a perfect life — one where you never procrastinate, break all of your bad habits, and always choose your long-term goals over instant gratification..

This couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter how disciplined or motivated you are, you’re going to inevitably make mistakes and betray your long term vision

  • You’re going to miss workouts when you’re trying to get in shape
  • You’re going to have days where you procrastinate the important items on your to-do list
  • You’re going to have days where you hit snooze even though you vowed to get up early
  • You’re going to spend a little too much time on social media consuming content that doesn’t add value to your life

Minor setbacks like these are nothing to worry about. They don’t sabotage your ability to be intentional, they’re simply tiny slip-ups that can be corrected.

However, if these slip-ups become more frequent, and begin to define your life, that’s when you start veering into the territory of an unintentional life.

As long as you contain your mistakes, and make the right choices more often than not, you’re still on track to creating an intentional life that centers around your deepest aims.

 

feet walking down a path that says "start"

 

7 Ways You Can Be Intentional With Your Day

Now that you have a good understanding of what it means to be intentional, let’s talk about seven different things you can do to live a more intentional life.

The provided tips are predicated around one goal — putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed.

As mentioned earlier, you’re not always going to do what you know you should do in order to achieve your goals and dreams.

However, the more you be intentional by making choices that tilt the odds of fate in your favor, the better chance you’ll have of creating a purpose-filled life.

 

#1: Design Your Environment To Be Intentional

One of the golden rules of living an intentional life is taking control of your external environment instead of letting it control you.

Many of the behaviors we engage in are encouraged by our environment. 

Why do we decide to sit on the couch and watch TV after getting home from work?

Well, most couches face the television. And typically, the remote is only a few feet away from the couch, so the effort required to carry out the behavior is minimal.

Why do people hit the snooze button instead of getting up when their alarm goes off?

Well, most people who hit the snooze button position their phone only a few feet away from them, meaning they can hit snooze without getting out of bed. 

There’s an infinite number of behaviors that can be mentioned here, but the point I’m trying to make is this:

If you want to be intentional about your life, you need to be intentional in the way you design your environment. Many people who appear to display superhuman self-discipline are simply operating in an environment that’s better suited to help them reach success.

I wouldn’t really consider myself a naturally productive person. I’m very ambitious and probably above average in terms of self-discipline. However, my brain is incredibly frantic and I struggle to direct my full attention towards one task for an extended period of time.

Yet, I’ve been able to minimize this weakness through environment design:

  • I always power off my phone and put it in another room before working
  • I wear noise canceling headphones so that I’m allowed to work in total silence
  • I use a website blocker that doesn’t allow me to go on certain websites during work blocks.

Despite having a mind that tries to sabotage me at every corner, I’m routinely able to perform 3-4 hours of focused, uninterrupted work every single day. 

That’s the power of environment design — it can make you good, or at least better, at things that you’re supposed to be bad at. 

As James Clear says, “By changing your surroundings, you can place a hurdle in the way of bad behaviors and remove the barriers to good ones.”

Here are few examples of this principle in action:

  • If you want to get up earlier, place your alarm clock on the other side of the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
  • If you want to cut down on junk food, place the sweets you buy in your garage/basement.
  • If you want to reduce the time you spend playing video games, unplug it and stuff it in your closet after each use.
  • If you want to kickstart a habit of going to the gym, pack your gym bag the night before and lay out your gym clothes right next to your bed.

The specifics of how you apply this principle will change based on your goals, but here’s the basic philosophy — put fewer steps between you and behaviors you’d like to adopt, and more steps between you and behaviors you’d like to cut out.

This principle alone should give you a bunch of ideas for how to be more intentional in the way that you design your environment.

 

woman holding a globe

 

#2: Wake Up Each Day With A Plan

When you roll out of bed in the morning, do you have a defined plan for how you’re going to spend your time? 

What about when you get to work? Do you simply show up and hope that you’ll invest energy into the right tasks, or have you worked out beforehand exactly what your high-priority items are.

A lack of routine and structure can exacerbate feelings of stress and make you more likely to focus on your problems, as opposed to your objectives for the day.

Be intentional by showing up each day ready to win. There’s a famous productivity quote from legendary basketball coach that sums up this idea perfectly:

“Most people have the will to win, few people have the will to prepare to win.”

Making a to-do list and scheduling your work isn’t sexy or exciting. However, the results that spring from this practice are. 

It’s a simple and purposeful action that if repeated over time, will help you live an intentional life where you feel like you’re in control of your daily outcomes.

There’s a million different ways that you can set intentions for the day, here’s a simple suggestion for structuring your day for maximum efficiency.

  • Write down three high-priority items that you need to accomplish today
  • Rank them in order of importance from 1-3
  • Block out 2-4 hours of your day to specifically address these tasks
  • Complete them in order of importance starting with #1
  • Don’t proceed to task #2 until you’ve fully completed task #1

 

to do list

#3: Figure Out Your Deepest Values

You’ll find it difficult to be intentional if you don’t know who you are and what you value.

Your values are the things you believe are important in the way you live and work. Unlike goals, which refer to specific targets you want to hit, your values are more like principles that you need to live by in order to create your own happiness.

They are your personal north star — informing the goals that you set, the actions that you take, and the habits that you adopt.

Living an intentional life means knowing what your values are, and then ensuring that your goals actually align with these values.

This is easier said than done too, because oftentimes the allure of big goals can trick us into sacrificing our values.

For example, let’s say you’re an entrepreneur with a goal to build a million dollar business.

Now in order to achieve this goal, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. Due to the sheer workload you’re going to taking on, one of the first areas of your life that will take a hit is your personal relationships:

  • You might have to pass up on trips/vacations
  • You might have to stay in on the weekends more than you’d like to
  • You likely won’t be calling/texting your friends as much because you’re busy doing a million other things

Here’s the problem what if you’re someone who deeply values social connection?

Well, you’ll probably be pretty unhappy because you’re no longer prioritizing one of the essential values that helps you live a meaningful life. 

I know this because I’ve lived it. I know exactly what it feels like to experience intense loneliness due to the desire to start a business and turn it into something special.

Do you need to make sacrifices to reach your goals? Yes, but ideally you don’t want those sacrifices to conflict with your deepest values.

It’s non-negotiable that you make time for pursuits that align with your values, even if they detract from time you could spend working towards your goals.

Here’s an article that goes into the idea of values in a little more detail and explains how you can build a life around your most important ones:

 

hands

 

#4: Be Intentional On Social Media

Another simple way that you can be more intentional is by taking control of the type of content that you’re consuming on a daily basis.

When it comes to social media, you have the power to decide where your energy goes:

  • You get to decide who you follow and don’t follow on Instagram
  • You get to decide the type of tweets you see and the ones you don’t
  • You get to decide who you listen to on Youtube and who you don’t

It’s important to be intentional about the way you use social media by aligning the content you consume with the goals that you have.

If you work in sales, this could mean subscribing to the top people in your industry on Youtube and watching their content each morning.

If you have a passion for personal development, this could mean following some of the best minds on Twitter and using their wisdom as inspiration for your own work.

Whatever your goals are, the information that you feed your brain on a daily basis will go a long way towards determining whether or not you achieve them.

So instead of being a passive observer, be an intentional consumer. When most of the content you consume inspires you to try out new ideas and work on new projects, you’ll be far more likely to live life with intention.

 

woman scrolling through her phone

 

#5: Be Intentional By Constantly Auditing Yourself

Self-reflection is one of the most powerful tools that you have at your disposal as you work towards the life you want.

Yet, it’s often something that we neglect after setting intentions. Deciding what you want is only the first part of the equation — consistently auditing your actions after the fact is what drastically increases your chances of meeting those aims.

You should always be asking yourself powerful self-reflection questions like:

  • What’s today’s number one action that will move me towards my 12-month goal?
  • What are my values and do my current goals align with them?
  • What’s my biggest demon and what’s one small step I can take today to address it?
  • How do I really feel about my personal relationships?
  • If I died today, what would eat at me the most?

Asking yourself these questions regularly will help you know when to rearrange your goals, switch up who you spend time with, and ensure that you’re spending time on high-priority actions.

 

#6: Learn To Be A Little Selfish

In order to live an intentional life, you need to be a little selfish. 

The word selfish has a negative connotation to it. Many people see selfishness as sabotaging the needs of others at every corner and putting our own needs first.

Obviously, this isn’t a trait that anyone wants to be known for. Which means that oftentimes, we’ll compromise our own desires in order to maintain a positive self-image.

Now in certain situations it’s 100% necessary to compromise. It’s not worth making a scene over the fact that your friends want to get sushi when you’re in the mood for Mexican food.

However, it’s also 100% necessary to not let fear stop you from acting in your own best interest when it comes to the more important things in your life.

  • It’s okay to say no to your friends when they ask you to do something that puts you in a compromised position.
  • It’s okay to ask your boss for a raise and say that you’ll consider a move elsewhere if they don’t show you that they value your contributions
  • It’s okay to tell your spouse clearly and directly that you don’t feel like they’re spending enough time with you.  

Being able to clearly communicate your wants and needs in any given situation is a powerful skill. It instills a sense of self-confidence that allows you to be who you really are without feeling guilt or shame.

It’s not selfish to do what’s best for you. As long as you’re not actively sabotaging the needs/wants of others, don’t let fear stop you from telling people exactly how you feel and exactly what you want.

Because if you suppress your true desires for too long, you’ll start to lose a little self-respect with each time you let fear win.

 

#7: Be Intentional By Waking Up Earlier

The early mornings are a powerful tool for anyone looking to live a more intentional life.

There’s a sense of victory that comes over you when you beat your alarm clock and get up at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m while everyone else is still sleeping. 

That’s because getting up early is extremely difficult. Anyone can set alarms for 5 a.m. or look at a few wake up early quotes, but very few can consistently discipline themselves to be up at sunrise.

It’s the difficulty of this practice that makes it so rewarding. Because once you’re up and moving, you’ve gained 2-3 hours on everyone else trying to reach their goals.

Here are some of the other ways that waking up early helps you be intentional:

  • You’re Less Distracted: In the early hours of the morning, things are quiet and calm. You’re not getting spammed with emails or phone calls, bouncing from meeting to meeting, etc. This leaves more time for you to prioritize your life around your most important tasks.
  • You’re More Motivated To Tackle Challenging Work: The first few hours of the day are precious because it’s when our willpower and motivation levels are at their highest. Waking up early gives you the opportunity to utilize these precious hours to tackle your most challenging work in peak form.
  • You Have More Time For The Things You Want To Do: After a long day of work, it can be hard to maintain hobbies and pursue other interests. The morning can be a great time to be intentional with these habits before additional obligations start snatching valuable time from you.

If you’re struggling to wake up early, there’s an app called Alarmy that can make this practice much easier.

Essentially, you pick a time that you want to get up and Alarmy will sound the alarm at that time just like any normal alarm clock.

When you set your alarm, make sure to select the “no snooze” option. This ensures that your alarm won’t stop going off until you’ve completed some sort of mission.

The mission you pick within the app is up to you. Alarmy offers a variety of options such as taking a photo of something, completing math problems, doing squats, playing a memory game, etc.

The point is that Alarmy forces you to actually do something in order to silence your alarm. And by the time you’ve completed the mission, you’ll find it easier to transition into your morning routine.

** Alarmy Pro Tip **

Choose the “photo” option as your mission and force yourself to take a photo of something that’s near where your first morning action takes place. For example, my first action in the morning is making a glass of cold water.

In order to silence my alarm, I have to take a photo of a lamp that is located in the kitchen. Once the alarm is silenced, I simply walk a few steps and make a glass of cold water.

This virtually ensures that I don’t go back to bed because I’m already in the flow of my morning routine.

 

woman sleeping next to alarm clock

 

Be Intentional Quotes

I hope you gained some value from the tips that were outlined in the previous section. To cap off this article, here are some of the best quotes about the power of living intentionally.

  • “An unintentional life accepts everything and does nothing. An intentional life embraces only the things that will add to the mission of significance.” ~ John C. Maxwell

 

  • “Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.” ~ Richie Norton

 

  • “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Steven Covey

 

  • “You can go slow. Allow your dreams and goals to change, but live an intentional life.” ~ Kumail Nanjiani

 

  • “To live intentionally means it’s not always going to be convenient, but it is what will take you to significance if you do not give up.” ~ Sunday Adejala

 

  • We either live with intention or exist by default.” ~ Kristin Armstrong

 

girl running with balloons

 

  • “Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.” ~ Breanna Yovanoff

 

  • At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are, and you know what you want.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer

 

  • “The great things you intend to do some time must have a beginning if they are ever to be done, so begin something worthwhile today.” ~ Grenville Kleiser

 

  • “You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.” ~ Wayne Dwyer

 

  • “The purpose of life is to find the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.” ~ Jordan Peterson 

 

  • “Set intentions before you take action. Blind actions is sometimes worse than no action at all.” ~ Akiroq Brost

 

  • “The desires you aspire to need strong chains of intent.” ~ Steven Redhead

 

  • “Intention is the mother of all change.” ~ Abhijit Naskar

 

  • “Although our actions speak louder than words, it is our intentions that reveal our soul.” ~ Hal Elrod

 

woman on top of mountain with be intentional quote in the background

 

  • “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” ~ Bryant McGill

 

  • “It is not good enough for things to be planned — they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” ~ Walt Kelly

 

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you’re human.

You’re going to slip-up. You’re going to experience moments of self-sabotage. You’re going to have some days where you look back and feel like you wasted too much time.

None of these events compromise your ability to be intentional. Doing things like designing your environment, having a plan for the day, and controlling the content you consume are all within your control. 

It’s easier to be disciplined and reduce slip-ups when you’re operating in an environment where your desired behaviors are encouraged.

These intentional actions put yourself in a position where it’s harder to fail and easier to succeed. And if you can create this type of environment for yourself, it’ll be much easier to live life on your terms.

photo of a sign that says make today great

9 Simple Things You Can Do To Make Today Great

How can you make today great?

One of the best parts about life is that each day we wake up is an opportunity to form new habits, adopt a better mindset, and make fundamental changes to our routine.

The following article will outline some practical, action-based strategies you can implement immediately in order to make today great.

 

What Can Make Today Great?

When it comes to how to make today great, there are a number of different routes you can go down.

To be quite frank with you, many of the posts that you’ll see on this topic will provide surface level advice.

  • “Make a playlist of your favorite songs!”
  • “Just laugh more!”
  • “Do something for yourself!”
  • “Watch an episode of your favorite show!”

And while this advice comes from the right place, it’s just not all that actionable or even practical. 

A great day is built mainly around one principlemaking meaningful progress on the important things in your life.

These one-time, feel-good actions just aren’t going to cut it. They’re not going to provide you with that level of satisfaction where you look back and say, “Wow, today was really productive. I killed it today.”

To close out this section of the article, I’ll briefly cover the types of habits that can give you that feeling. The next section will get more detailed and outline the specific habits that fall into these categories.

  • Personal Finance: Today is always a good day to take steps towards becoming financially free, even if they’re baby steps.
  • Learning New Things: One of the key habits of successful people is that they’re always learning new things, so any time that you dedicate to consuming new information is time well-spent.
  • Addressing Your Demons: We all carry around insecurities and character flaws that we’re not proud of. One of the ways that you can make today great is tackling them head on and moving closer to becoming the best version of yourself.
  • Intentional Planning: Sometimes, taking a step back is the best way to take a step forward. Organizing your life around new goals or new habits is always productive, assuming you have the discipline to follow through.
  • Prioritize Your Personal Relationships: When it comes to prioritizing your life, personal relationships need to be at the top of this list. Research shows that deep personal relationships keep us happier, improve our resilience, and reduce anxiety/depression.

 

9 Ways That You Can Make Today Great

Enough fluff, let’s get into nine simple actions you can perform that will help you make today great.

By focusing on habits and routines that align with the aforementioned categories, you’ll put yourself in the best possible position to go to bed satisfied with your efforts.

 

#1: Start A New Self-Improvement Book

If you want to start learning how to level up your life today, then picking up a self-improvement book is a great place to start.

Consuming knowledge from people who have spent decades becoming experts in their field is one of the best ways to shortcut your learning curve on any subject.

The key here is to choose a book that addresses your specific needs. So when it comes to improving your life, what do you struggle with?

Is your main struggle productivity? Is it consistently sticking to new habits? Is it being mindful and reducing stress/anxiety?

Whatever it is you want to improve, there’s a book out there to suit your needs. Here are my top book recommendations that are tailored to your specific goals

I’ve also written a post that outlines some of the best self-improvement books ever written if you’d like to check that out for further ideas.

 

girl reading a book by the water

 

#2: Listen To An Industry Related Podcast

Another way to make today great is to spend some time learning more about your field. Podcasts offer a unique and stimulating medium to help you achieve that goal.

The free-form, unfiltered nature of podcasts make it an easy way to consume the wisdom of top industry experts.

And given the fact that podcasts have exploded over the past decade, there’s plenty of options out there for you.

The great thing about podcasts is that you can learn passively. Reading is an active process that requires your full attention, but podcasts can be listened to almost anywhere. 

You can throw something on during your morning/evening commute, while you’re at the gym, or even while you’re tidying up around the house.

My recommendation is to pick three industry experts that you look up to. Once you’ve done that, type their names into the search bar of any podcasting app. 

You’ll likely find a plethora of content to choose from, and you can sift through this content until you find titles that appear to answer the specific questions you have about your industry.

 

#3: Figure Out Your Keystone Habit

When it comes to choosing which habits to adopt into your life, it’s important to be mindful of keystone habits.

Keystone habits are behaviors that have the power to influence several aspects of your life at once. Once solidified into your life, they tend to create a domino effect of positive change that gets you unstuck..

Exercise is a perfect example of a keystone habit. The most obvious benefit of building an exercise habit is that you get in shape, but people who start exercising report a host of other benefits as well.

They tend to have more energy on a daily basis, meaning they’re able to perform better at work and work for longer periods of time.

They also report a boost in their overall well-being, which is due to the chemical changes that occur in your brain as a byproduct of regular exercise. 

I could go on and on here, but the point is this keystone habits offer the greatest return on the energy you invest into changing your life.

So take some time today to identify your own keystone habit and formulate a plan for integrating it into your daily routine.

The simple way to find your keystone habit is by asking yourself one question:

Out of all of the habits that I could start building, which one will have the greatest impact on my overall success, happiness, and fulfillment?

I’d recommend writing down 5-10 habits to start off with and then scoring each habit on a scale from 1-10, using the question above as a guide.

Then, simply pick one with the highest score and make building that habit the top priority in your life going forward.

For further guidance on identifying keystone habits and integrating them into your life, feel free to check out the article below.

 

falling dominoes

 

#4: Break Your Big Goals Down Into Smaller Chunks

Big goals get a lot of hype in today’s world. Watch any motivational video on the internet and you’ll likely hear something like, “Don’t play small! Set your goals high and don’t stop until you get there!”

However, big goals can be flat-out overwhelming. It’s pretty de-motivating when you look at your big picture goals and realize how far you are from your desired future.

In my experience, big goals don’t promote action, they hamper it. Breaking these big goals into several smaller chunks is a more effective route to sustained motivation and consistent progress.

So one of the best ways to make today great is to take one of your big goals and come up with a better path to achievement. 

How are you supposed to do this?

Well, simply break your big picture goal into 5-10 milestone goals. Each milestone goal should be in a motivational sweet-spot where you’ll feel challenged, but not overwhelmed.

For example, one of my big goals at the start of my blogging journey was to reach 100 published posts. The simple path to achievement that I outlined at the start of my journey was as follows:

  • Milestone Goal #1: Complete search analysis process and generate 100+ ideas for blog posts to write
  • Milestone Goal #2: Reach 10 published posts
  • Milestone Goal #3: Reach 20 published posts
  • Milestone Goal #4: Reach 40 published posts
  • Milestone Goal#5: Reach 60 published posts
  • Milestone Goal #6: Reach 80 published posts
  • Milestone Goal #7: Reach 100 published posts

At the time of writing this blog post, I’m currently sitting at 97 published posts. By next week, I’ll have hit my goal of 100 posts. (two months earlier than I originally planned to)

Without breaking that 100 post goal down into these 7 smaller, more achievable goals, it’s very likely that I’d have ended up losing motivation and flaming out.

But the attainability of each milestone goal kept me hungry to reach the next target, even if the big goal was still a ways away.

Don’t be afraid to try this out when it comes to your own goals! Shelf your big goal and put all of your focus into the next milestone. 

I think you’ll find that these smaller, less-overwhelming targets will be a far more effective type of motivation.

 

long staircase

 

#5: Make A Budget For Next Month

Are you sticking to a spending plan that aligns with your financial goals? If not, then make today great by coming up with one.

Poor money management can be the source of a lot of unnecessary stress. And the easiest way to mitigate this potential stress wreaking havoc on your mental state is to have a plan. 

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s a principle that rings true in almost any area of your life, but even more so when it comes to your money.

I’m not a budgeting whiz, so I’ve linked an article below from NerdWallet that outlines a simple guide to budgeting based on your needs.

 

#6: Do A Check-In Call With Someone You’re Close To

In the chaos of our daily lives, it can be difficult to invest sufficient energy into our personal relationships. 

With a never-ending to-do list, countless personal and professional obligations, and unexpected flurries of stress, it’s easy for our relationships to take a back seat.

And yet, strong personal relationships often provide a protective shield that makes it easier to deal with all of these things. That’s why no matter how overwhelmed you feel, you must invest time into the people you care about.

Now this doesn’t mean you need to make massive sacrifices to other areas of your life. Quite often, it’s the little things you do consistently that really move the needle.

One way you can make today great and show someone that you value their friendship is with a quick check-in call.

Take 10-15 minutes to call someone from your social circle and get an update on their life. Be genuinely interested about what’s going on in their life and ask questions about their work, children, relationships, etc.

And don’t just do this today, make it a part of your daily routine. You’ll find that a simple act like this pays huge long-term dividends for maintaining quality friendships. 

 

woman calling her friend and making today great

 

#7: Make Today Great By Doing Something You’re Afraid To Do

How many times per day do you get the urge to do something, but then decide against it because you’re afraid?

As someone who’s engaged in a life-long battle with social anxiety, this happens to me several times throughout the day.

But I’m not special, all of you reading this get these urges! We all have moments in our lives where we feel the instinct to act followed by the fear that causes us to hesitate:

  • You want to ask your boss for the raise that you deserve, but don’t do it because you’re afraid of blowback
  • You want to approach that attractive man/woman and start a conversation, but you feel afraid that the interaction will go terribly wrong.
  • You may want to make the sales calls you need to make, but you’re afraid of hearing the word no.

Make today great by choosing action in one of these moments. There’s no shortage of them throughout the day, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to act in spite of fear.

If you want to make yourself even more likely to take action, write down a common situation you face each day where fear stops you from taking action.

And then no matter what, make the commitment that you’re going to do the complete opposite of what you usually do, regardless of your emotions.

The life you want becomes far easier to attain when you make a habit of taking action in spite of fear. So make today great by starting a chain of days where you systematically bust your fears wide open.

 

the comfort zone

 

#8: Knock Out One Thing You’ve Been Procrastinating

If you’re like most people, there’s usually one thing on your to-do list that’s been there for far too long. And for whatever reason, you just can’t find the self-discipline to knock it out.

Make today great by taking on this challenge instead of avoiding it. If it were that easy, it probably would have been off of your to-do list a long time ago, so here’s advice that’s a little more practical:

  • Identify one task that you’ve been putting off for several days/weeks
  • Commit to working on the task for just five minutes
  • Tell yourself that after five minutes, you have the freedom to stop.
  • Most of the time, you’ll find that the initial progress motivates you to keep plugging away

It’s that easy to trick your brain into taking massive action. And if this sounds too good to be true, try it out for yourself and see how much work you end up doing.

I think you’ll find that once your brain gets the dopamine hit of forward progress, it’ll become easier to keep going than to stop working.

 

#9: Make Today Great By Ending It Early

One final way that you can make today great is by committing to getting a good night’s sleep. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is one of the best things that you can do for your productivity, energy levels, and mental health.

So if your sleep schedule is a little out of whack, get back on track by committing to going to bed by a certain time tonight. 

Set yourself up for success by turning off all electronics and putting them out of reach 30 minutes prior to your desired bed time. This will ensure that you’re not tempted to sabotage a good night’s sleep with a couple extra hours of screen time.

End the day early and put yourself in the best possible position to succeed tomorrow.

 

cat sleeping on the floor

 

Final Thoughts On Making Today Great

When it comes to making today great, there’s a bunch of different action steps included in this article that you can choose from.

Each day, we’re given endless opportunities to improve our lives. Today, we all have the chance to expand our comfort zones, address our demons, refine our goals, improve our personal relationships, etc.

What’s important isn’t finding the perfect action for you to make today great, simply that you pick one and make it non-negotiable.

With each day that you choose progress instead of stagnation, you’re one step closer to creating a better future.

blog post featured image - why is life so unfair

Why Is Life So Unfair? (And What You Can Do About It)

Why is life so unfair?

During periods of struggle, I’m guessing that you’ve asked yourself this question. It’s only natural when life seems to be punishing you for no other reason than to be cruel.

The truth though, is that you’re stronger than your circumstances. No matter the injustice that life throws your way, you can overcome these struggles..

And even more than that, you can use the unfairness of your life to your benefit by making something of yourself despite the suffering.

This article will delve deeper into the question of why is life so unfair, and then talk about several different strategies you can implement to combat the unfairness of life.

 

3 Reasons Why Life Is So Unfair

It’s true that every job applicant should be judged strictly on merit, regardless of family background or connections.

It’s true that in an ideal world, we’d all endure the same level of suffering, trauma, and loss.

It’s true that if life was completely fair, we’d all be born into families with the same level of opportunity and wealth.

But we don’t live in a fair world, and we never will. You’re never going to be playing the game of life on a level playing field.

Before going into what you can do about this, here’s 3 simple reasons why you’ll never stop asking the question, “why is life so unfair?”

 

#1: Everyone Wants What You Want

If you’re reading this article, it likely means that you want more out of life. Well, the reality is that so does everyone else. 

Many times in life, we get into trouble when we think we’re special. 

This belief manifests itself in conditions like social anxiety, which plagued my life for years. For those of you who aren’t familiar with social anxiety, it’s an anxiety disorder that’s characterized by an intense fear of being judged negatively by other people in social situations.

It’s an irrational and debilitating fear. And even though the belief comes more from a place of fear than arrogance, it’s actually quite a self-centered approach to the world — it assumes that you’re special, and that people are watching your every move waiting for you to slip up.

The reality is far differentpeople are so consumed with their own thoughts that our actions aren’t nearly as important as we think they are.

The belief that we’re special also causes problems when it comes to assessing our own level of ambition. I’m a huge offender of this, because for a long time I believed I was special for having so much ambition. 

I wasn’t special at all! Everyone wants to achieve their goals and dreams. Everyone wants to be happier, richer, and more fulfilled. 

The world isn’t fair because everyone is in a race to get the best of everything in life, and some people are given a significant head start. 

  • Some people will possess more talent than you. 
  • Some people will be born with more natural intelligence than you. 
  • Some people will have more opportunities due to their family’s socioeconomic status
  • Some people will encounter improbable strokes of luck that greatly accelerate their progress

You might not have any of these advantages while going after the life you want. 

Is that fair? Nope. 

Is that just how life is and how it always will be? Yes.

 

kids playing soccer in a field

 

#2: Self Interest Reigns Supreme

Sometimes other people are the biggest culprits of us asking the question, “why is life so unfair?”

Maybe at one point you developed feelings for someone and they didn’t feel the same way. 

Maybe you’ve been let go from a job because management decided that they needed to cut back on staff to improve margins.

Maybe you’ve been on the wrong end of gossip about your personal life that’s had a negative impact on your personal relationships.

In all of these events, self-interest is driving behavior. At the end of the day, when faced with a decision, most people will place their needs above the needs of others.

It’s a survival instinct that’s been hard-wired into us over thousands of years of evolution — we all do what we feel we need to do to survive and thrive in this world.

It’s not evil, it’s just human nature. At some point, you’ve likely made a decision to benefit your own self-interests that’s negatively affected the lives of other people, even if you didn’t know it at the time.

Does that make you a bad person? Of course not, it just means that you did what you thought was best for you, which is what we’re all trying to do in this world.

 

#3: Pain Doesn’t Affect Everyone Equally

Right before we both started high school, one of my best friends lost his mother to cancer.

She was a wonderful woman, and I couldn’t believe she had been taken from the world such an early age (she was in her late 40’s when she died)

I also couldn’t comprehend why this was happening to my friend, who now had to go through the rest of his life with a gaping hole in his heart. Incredible pain had been inflicted upon him, and there was nothing he could do about it.

This taught me a very important lesson about the nature of the world pain doesn’t distribute itself equally among the population.

It’s true that life is suffering, yet some people feel the weight of this suffering significantly more than others do. As you’re reading this right now, there are some truly horrible things happening in the world.

  • Sons/daughters are losing their mothers and fathers unexpectedly
  • Mothers giving birth are losing their babies in the womb
  • Innocent people are becoming the victims of evil crimes

Events like these are inevitable, and when they happen to you or someone you’re close to, it’s understandable to wonder why is life so unfair.

And yet, there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t change the fact that bad things are going to happen to good people, all you can do is hope that they don’t directly affect you or the people you care about.

We’re all going to experience pain in our lives. For some of you, the level of pain you experience will be healthy and manageable.

Unfortunately, there are some of you reading this who have endured, or will have to endure a tremendous level of physical and emotional pain. You’ll constantly be questioning “why is life so unfair?” and wonder why the world is such a cruel, nasty place.

Where you end up on the sliding scale of pain largely comes down to luck — the only thing you can do is focus on managing whatever comes your way.

 

man standing alone looking at the sunrise

 

What Should You Do When Life Is Unfair? (4 Tips)

We can’t change the fact that life is unfair, so what can we do to combat the inevitable suffering that life will throw at us?

Here’s four different things you can do to push back against the unfairness of life:

  • Focus Only On What You Can Control
  • Seize Your Opportunities
  • Let Your Work Ethic Define You
  • Prepare For The Worst By Controlling Your Environment

The rest of this article will cover each of these strategies in more detail and give you a roadmap for tilting the odds of fate in your favor.

 

#1: Focus Only On What You Control

When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to lash out at the world being cruel. Unfortunately, no amount of complaining about the external world will change it’s unfair nature.

At some point, instead of constantly asking yourself, “why is life so unfair?”, you have to shift your internal dialogue.

Here’s a more productive question Despite the bullshit that life is throwing my way, what can I do to fight back?

The game of life is won by people who master what’s within their control, and let go of the things that they can’t control..

Get laid off from your job? Sure, it’s not going to feel good in the present moment, and it’s okay to sit with that pain for a few days.

But when the resentment fades, you’re given two choices:

  • Option #1: Continue to sit and wallow in your anger, using the pain as an excuse to stagnate and not look for any other opportunities. 
  • Option #2: Focus on what’s within your control and execute the action steps necessary to make the best out of a shitty situation.

You can choose to start rebuilding your resume and tailor it to the job that you want to find next.

You can look in the mirror and honestly assess your own performance, and craft a plan for fixing the weaknesses that played a role in you being let go.

You can choose to send in 5-10 job applications per day so that you give yourself the best chance of landing back on your feet.

These are all positive actions that would improve this situation, and you have total control over whether or not you execute them.

So whatever the source of unnecessary pain in your life, write down 5-10 action steps that you can complete that will address this source of pain.

You can’t take on all 5-10 at once, so focus on one at a time and make incremental progress every single day. And if you have the self-discipline to do that, you may find that the world is a much more opportunistic place when you show some grit.

 

man holding a camera lens to the world instead of asking why is life so unfair

 

#2: Seize Your Opportunities 

Given that the world is an unfair place, you must take advantage of opportunities that the world throws your way.

Successful people are masters of seizing opportunity. Average people tend to let opportunities pass them by and then curse the world for their bad fortune.

The world doesn’t distribute it’s opportunities to everyone equally. Some people get the benefit of being in the right place at the right time more often than others, but we’re all in that position at one point or another.

The only question is whether or not you’re going to act at that moment.

I guarantee that if you look back on the positive events that have happened in your life, most of them were preceded by you seizing an opportunity.

The dilemma with opportunities is that capitalizing on them requires getting outside of your comfort zone. The single biggest culprit of a failure to seize opportunity tracks back to fear — fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear being negatively judged by others, etc.

If you want to make your own luck in this world, you have to get comfortable with fear. You must learn to take action in spite of it when opportunities arise.

One of the best ways to do this is through comfort zone challenges, which essentially force you to practice facing your fears.

The inherent nature of comfort zone challenges is that there’s potential for embarrassment or rejection. And although it feels scary to embrace these emotions in the moment, what lies on the other side is a greater sense of freedom.

Each time you face fear despite your brain’s urges to retreat, you build up evidence in your brain that you can handle discomfort and take risks in spite of your emotions.

And when you become that kind of person, seizing opportunities becomes far easier.

I’ve included an article below that outlines some of the best comfort zone challenges you can attempt that will help you practice your ability to handle fear.

 

two brown shoes standing on cement

 

#3: Let Your Work Ethic Define You

There are a bunch of things in life that you have no control over.

You don’t have control over whether or not you were born into money. You don’t have control over your genetic code. You don’t have control over the actions of others, and the negative consequences of those actions on your own life.

With that being said, there’s one thing that you always have control over no matter how dire your situation is, and that’s your work ethic.

Working hard doesn’t guarantee success, it just tilts the odds in your favor. And the level to which the odds shift in your favor is directly related to your level of commitment to your craft.

Early on this blogging journey of mine, I realized that I didn’t have much control over when it was going to start to take off:

  • I couldn’t control whether or not my guest posts to other blogs were accepted or not
  • I couldn’t control whether or not other influencers in the self-improvement world would mention my content or not
  • I couldn’t control the speed at which my content would start to rank in Google.

However, I did have control over the amount of posts I published each week. 

In the blogging world, more posts means more opportunities to rank in Google. More opportunities to rank means more traffic. More traffic means more money, and more money means having the resources to make this my full-time career.

Published posts is the one key metric that makes all of the things listed above possible. Furthermore, it’s something that I have 100% control over, which means it deserves every ounce of my limited focus and attention.

Now for you, this key metric may be different. In any endeavor, there’s a number of different actions that can improve your chances of success. 

However, there’s typically one thing you have control over that has the greatest influence on your overall happiness, fulfillment, and success.

So instead of asking yourself “why is life so unfair?” ask yourself this:

What’s my one key metric? What’s the one daily action that will significantly move the needle in my personal and professional life?

If you work in sales, that one key metric might be the number of calls you make every single day or the number of emails you send out.

If you’re a writer, that one key metric might be the number of words you write every single day.

If you have aspirations to become a world-class chef, that one key metric might be the number of classes you take to improve your craft.

Focusing on this metric won’t guarantee success, but it will give you a chance to smartly outwork everyone who wants what you want. And you’ll be less affected by the slings and arrows of fate when you adopt 100% responsibility for a metric that has a tremendous impact on your outcomes.

 

man pushing a boulder

 

#4: Prepare For The Worst By Controlling Your Environment

“Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human  behavior.” ~ James Clear

Oftentimes, we underestimate the impact of our environment. This is a fatal mistake because human beings are a product of the environments that they’re in. 

Given that the world can be an unfair place, we need to do as many things as possible to tilt the odds in our favor.

If you were to suddenly lose a family member due to illness, would you have a strong social support system to rely on? Or, would your lack of social connection accentuate the despair that comes along with losing a loved one?

The world taking away someone that you love is a horrible tragedy that you can’t prevent. However, the strength of your personal relationships is an environmental factor that influences how you come out of this tragedy.

It also happens to be 100% controllable. There are several other examples that we could dive into, but the bottom line is this:

Bad things are going to happen to you in life. Most of the time you don’t know when, where, why or how they will happen, but be rest assured that your day is coming. The only thing you can do to prepare for adversity is to design your environment in a way that facilitates your ability to handle the consequences of fate.

The type of people that you associate with. The ease of access to distractions that impede your personal and professional growth. The places that you choose to spend time in.

These are all environmental factors that you can determine, life doesn’t have to determine these for you. And when adversity hits, these factors often play a huge role in the way you handle it.

 

Why Is Life So Unfair Quotes

I think a nice way to wrap up this article is to mention some inspirational quotes about the unfairness of life and the power we have to overcome it.

So without further ado, here’s a list of hard hitting quotes that highlight the harsh nature of life, and what we can do about it.

 

  • “Life is unfair but remember sometimes it is unfair in your favor.” ~ Peter Ustinov

 

  • “So I came to the realization. Nothing in life is unfair. It’s just life.” ~ Rob Lowe

 

  • “Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.” ~ Muhammad Ali

 

  • “The problem isn’t that life is unfair — it’s our broken idea of fairness. Meaning, our idea of fairness is self-centered.” ~ Tony Warrick

 

  • “The only thing that makes life unfair is the delusion that it should be fair.” ~ Dr. Steve Maraboli

 

quote from steve marboli about why is life so unfair

 

  • One of the most fascinating lessons I’ve absorbed about life is that struggle is good.” ~ Joe Rogan

 

  • “The happiest people don’t bother about whether life is unfair. They just concentrate on what they have.” ~ Andrew Matthews

 

  • “Life happened. In all its banality, cruelty, and unfairness. But also in its beauty, pleasures, and delights. Life happened.” ~ Thirty Umrigar

 

  • “Life isn’t fair. It never will be. Quit trying to make it fair. You don’t need it to be fair. Go make life unfair to your advantages.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki

 

  • “Life isn’t fair. No matter what life throws your way, no matter how unfair it may seem, refuse to play the victim. Refuse to be ruled by fear, pessimism, and negativity. Refuse to quit. Be a warrior and work through whatever life throws your way with courage, love, and positivity.” ~ Zero Dean

 

  • “Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities.” ~ Jordan Peterson

 

  • “When life puts you in touchy situations, don’t say “Why Me?” Just say “Try me.” ~ Dwayne Johnson

 

  • “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” ~ Unknown

 

  • “Sometimes it takes a good fall to know where you really stand.” ~ Hayley Williams

 

man looking out at the ocean with a quote in the background

 

  • “Sometimes, life is unfair and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse.” ~ Robert Kraft

 

Final Thoughts: Why Is Life So Unfair

The world isn’t always going to act in your favor, so you must learn to act on the world and make the best of your situation.

Usually, this means focusing on what you can control. The world can be a horrifying unfair place, but it also rewards those with the courage to become the master of their fate.

If you accept the fact that life is unfair instead of cursing the fact that it is, you’ll be more likely to work towards your goals and dreams with persistence and perseverance, knowing that you and you alone are responsible for creating your own happiness.

Hopefully the tips outlined in this article put you on the path to doing just that.

you are important - blog post featured image

You Are Important: 6 Powerful Reasons Why You Matter

In case you needed a reminder, you are important! Yes, you’re on this planet because you can bring value to the world and those in it.

Do you actually feel like this is true right now though?

Because the fact of that matter is that the turbulence of life can make us feel small.

It’s easy to think that you’re not important when the promotion you’ve been working for is given to someone else.

It’s easy to think you’re not important when you feel isolated from the world around you and lack social connection.

It’s easy to think you’re not important when you’re dealing with financial difficulties that are pouring additional stress into your life.

But the truth is no matter what you’re facing, you are important. Nothing life throws at you can erase the undeniable truth that who you are and what you do matters.

 

Why Is It Important To Be Who You Are?

You weren’t put on this earth to be the smallest possible version of yourself. You were put here to feel alive to have a positive impact on the world.

The only way you can achieve that is by being the real you. Being the unfiltered, authentic version of yourself is difficult to do, but it’s ultimately what will bring the greatest level of satisfaction to your life.

The reason why it’s so difficult to be who you really are is because it takes courage.

Being the real you requires that you take risks and face your fears so that you learn the true extent of your capabilities. 

Being the real you means speaking up and expressing your true feelings, even if there’s a chance you’ll feel vulnerable or upset with other people.

Being the real you means pushing through the rationalizations and excuses that stop you from taking action towards your goals.

That’s the version of you that the world needs. And by acting out your true beliefs and intentions on a daily basis, the people in your circle will feel inspired to follow in your footsteps.

 

chalkboard image with the words "you are important"

 

6 Reasons Why You Are Important

Life likes to measure the size of someone by throwing challenges their way, and it becomes easier to tackle these challenges when you fundamentally believe that you are important.

If you don’t feel like you are important, how are you supposed to overcome them? What’s the point of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone if you don’t believe your actions matter to the world around you?

Here’s a few powerful reminders that you are amazing even if the struggles of life have been trying to convince you otherwise.

 

#1: It’s A Miracle That You Were Born

400 trillion to one.

Nope, those aren’t the odds of you winning the lottery or dating your celebrity crush, those are the odds of you becoming a human being.

The sheer absurdity of your life is why it matters so much. You’ve been given a precious gift and it’s on you to make something out of it.

You could’ve come into this world as anything — a dog, a tree, a lizard, a lion, etc. But instead, you came into this world as a human being with unlimited potential. 

The quicker you begin to appreciate how lucky you are to be here, the easier it will be to start believing that your life has tremendous value.

 

baby playing on the ground

 

#2: People Are Counting On You

Everyone reading this has people who are counting on them.

For some of you, your children are looking to you as a role model. They’re watching your every move in order to learn how to orient themselves properly in the world. 

For those of you without children, your friends are looking up to you because they have dreams and goals of their own, and you chasing yours will inspire them to chase theirs.

The bottom line is that you are important because you have people who rely on you. You have the power to create your own happiness and inspire others to do the same.

By becoming the best version of yourself, you can expand other’s people’s perspective of what’s possible for them, and that’s a really cool thing to think about. 

 

#3: You Have A Unique Destiny To Fulfill

Every one of you reading this has a destiny to chase.

You may not know what it is at the moment, but it’s out there waiting for you to chase it. The people who change the world know deep down that they’re here for a specific purpose, and they design their lives around that purpose.

The only way you can realize that destiny is by adopting the belief that you are important, and then taking positive action towards your goals.

Because if you go through life underestimating your value, you’ll struggle to take action. And if you struggle to take action, you’ll never be able to make your unique contribution to the world.

 

open road

 

#4: Your Actions Can Inspire The World

Think about the people that inspire you for a second. 

If you’re a basketball player, maybe you idolize players like Lebron James or Michael Jordan.

If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe you look up to people like Gary Vaynerchuk or Elon Musk.

If you have a passion for finance, maybe it’s people like Warren Buffett or Ray Dalio.

We all have people we look up to that influence our interests, pursuits, and choices. Now here’s the really cool part — these people are no different than you.

It’s really easy to lose sight of the fact that the people you idolize are just like you. 

They have insecurities just like you do. They struggle to break bad habits just like you do. They’ve been through their own struggles in life. 

Yet, they’ve found a way to make up for these natural human flaws by adding value to the world through their craft — whether it’s business, fashion, music, etc.

Your shortcomings are not meant to make you feel like you’re not important, they are there to prove that despite your flaws, you can tread your own path to greatness.

And if there’s one thing that you have in common with the legends you look up to, it’s that you both have 24 hours each day to make that happen.

 

#5: You’re One Of A Kind

The current population of the world currently sits at 7.9 billion people, and not a single one of them possesses the same DNA sequence that you do.

Sure, there’s people who share similar features and similar personality traits, but it’s not a cliche to highlight that you are truly one of a kind. 

You are important and unique because you won’t find anyone in the world who is the exact same person as you are. 

 

#6: You Get One Shot To Be The Best You

The only thing that you’re guaranteed in this life is that you’re not going to make it out alive. At some point you’re going to die, and the only thing people will remember is what you leave behind.

Now you may believe that you get another shot at life. If that’s what you believe, I’m not one to tell you any different.

However, doesn’t it make sense to live your life like you only get one chance at it?

Because let’s suppose that you do return to this world after you die, it’s almost a certainty that you come back as a completely different person.

Born of different parents. Containing different genetic material. Possessing different character traits and different passions.

For now, the only thing you know for sure is who you are right now and who you could become in the future.

The world doesn’t need the second coming of you. It may need that in the future, but right now it needs you to recognize your potential and act on it. 

 

picture of an hourglass

 

Quotes To Remind You That You Are Important

We’ve already outlined some pretty compelling reasons why you are important, but if you need some further inspiration, here’s a list of inspirational quotes that highlight the power that lies within you.

 

  • “If you’re struggling today, remember that life is worth living and believe that the best is yet to come. Remember that you are loved, you matter, and never forget that there is always hope.” ~ Germany Kent

 

  • “Though you are as a drop in the ocean, without you, the universe would be empty.” ~ Matshona Dhliwayo

 

  • “It is you who is the most important in your life.” ~ Debasish Mridha

 

  • “Your comeback story can inspire the world. You are needed on this planet.” ~ Hiral Nagda

 

 

  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

 

  • “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha

 

quote from buddha that says you are important

 

  • “You cannot change what you are, only what you do.” ~ Philip Pullman

 

  • “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs

 

  • “You are so much stronger than you realize. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re not. Not even you.” ~ J.W. Lynne

 

  • “Remain true to your deepest values. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” ~ Frank Sonneberg

 

  • “You always pass failure on your way to success.” ~ Mickey Rooney

 

  • “You matter as much as the things that matter to you do.” ~ John Green

 

  • “You are important. Never forget that for as long as you live.” ~ Unknown

 

  • “You matter. That smile you shared could be the sun on someone’s darkest day.” ~ Amy Leigh Mercree

 

picture of two horses with a quote in the background

 

  • “No matter what your age, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.” ~ Barbara De Angelis

 

  • “You matter. How you feel matters. What you say, do, and think matters. It all matters.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich

 

  • “You are worth finding, worth knowing, and worth loving. You and all your one million layers. Always hold that close.” ~ Danielle Doby

 

  • “Your personal growth is the only thing that matters. You own and write your story; no one else does. Believe in your unique steps up the mountain.” ~ Brittany Burgunder

 

Final Thoughts

Regardless of what you’re going through right now, you must subscribe to the belief that you are important. If you don’t, you’ll leave this world full of regrets, never finding out the impact you could have had on it.

Because the truth is that you are here to make an impact. 

And if you have the courage to take action, face your fears, and expand your comfort zone, then you’ll find yourself in the rarified air of people who die knowing that they didn’t leave anything to chance.

The life you want is out there it’s just waiting for your courage to catch up to it.

blog post featured image - overextending yourself

5 Signs You’re Overextending Yourself (And How To Stop)

Overextending yourself is one of the easiest ways to lose motivation, produce low-quality work, and fall into a self-defined rut.

But it’s not always clear where the line is with overextension. After all, feeling overextended is pretty much the same thing as feeling tired right?

Well, that’s not quite the case. Feeling tired is unavoidable, but feeling overextended is a different type of lethargy that signals a deeper issue with how we’re spending our time.

It’s much different than the typical mid-day crash you experience after lunch.

This article will look at some common signs that you’re overextending yourself as well as strategies for managing your time and energy better.

 

What Does Overextending Yourself Mean?

We all live very busy lives — work obligations, personal errands, relationships, children, etc.

Generally, it’s good to be busy in life. The most successful people in the world aren’t lounging around binge-watching Netflix, they’re constantly engaged in a forward march towards their biggest goals.

Sometimes though, we end up overextending ourselves. Business turns to chaos and we feel overwhelmed by the daily grind that we’re engaged in.

If you go to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, you’ll find a dictionary definition of the word overextend: to extend or expand beyond a safe and reasonable point.

Overextending yourself simply means that you’ve gone too far. It means that you’ve pushed past the breaking point and your daily obligations are beginning to take a significant toll on your emotional state.

Feeling overextended is your body and brain’s way of telling you: “Please switch something up. I don’t know if we can handle this kind of workload that much longer.”

 

little boy staring out of a window

 

5 Signs That You’re Overextending Yourself

At this point you’re probably wondering, “How do I know if I’m just tired, or if I’m overextending myself?”

There needs to be a clear distinction made between tiredness and overextension because it’s not always easy to know which one you’re battling. 

As we go through the following signs of overextension, do an internal check-in to see if any of them resonate with you.

 

#1: You’re Struggling With Simple Tasks

Do you feel like things you used to be able to do in your sleep are harder than usual at the moment? 

That could be a sign that you’re overextending yourself. For me, writing blog posts like these takes a lot of work, but it’s not particularly challenging once words start flowing out on paper. 

During a normal two hour writing block, I can easily get down at least 1,500 words on any given topic that I’m writing about. 

However, there have been several stretches in my life where I’ve struggled to produce — barely getting 500 words down on a daily basis.

During these stretches, finding the right words feels harder. Distractions are much more enticing. And what’s usually a fun, engaging activity turns into a monumental challenge.

Now obviously, being tired produces the same effect on my work. But when I’m overextended, these performance drops last longer, typically several weeks.

One day of lackluster effort is nothing to be concerned about, but weeks of inhibited performance is a glaring signal that you’re overextending yourself.

 

#2: You’re Overextending Yourself If You’re Losing Enjoyment In Your Work

Another indicator that you may be overextending yourself is when work that previously excited you begins to lose its spark.

Now let’s be clear hereI’m not talking about the excitement of a new job/project suddenly wearing off.

We’re all excited when we start a new job. We’re all excited when we start a new workout routine. It’s completely natural for this excitement to fizzle out and return to baseline levels after a few weeks.

Here’s when you need to be concerned:

If you’ve been engaging in certain work for a long time, and you typically enjoy it, that’s when you should be worried when something loses its spark.

I’ve been writing content and publishing blog posts for over a year. It’s hard work, but I really do enjoy it. 

I’d never feel worried if one day I woke up and just felt zero motivation to write, because that happens quite frequently. However, I would get worried about overextension if this feeling was constant for a period of several weeks.

So if work you enjoy ever begins to consistently feel like a chore instead of something that you’re motivated to do, that’s a feeling you need to stay on top of.

 

man staring at his computer screen

 

#3: You Feel Tired In The Morning

After the usual morning grogginess wears off, how do you feel after waking up each morning? 

Do you feel energized and ready to take on the day, or do you feel a bit lazy and unmotivated?

If you resonated with the second statement, it’s quite possible that you’re overextending yourself and not giving your body and brain enough time to heal.

Obviously, if you’re not getting enough sleep, then that morning slump can’t really be blamed on overextension.

However, if you possess good sleep habits, but still feel sluggish in the morning, then it’s quite possible that you’re just overextending yourself throughout the day. The way you work may be having a carry over effect on your energy levels the following day.

We’ll cover a great strategy for overcoming this carry over effect later in the article.

 

#4: You’re Feeling Increased Anxiety

When you’re feeling overextended, it’s much more difficult to regulate your emotional state.

If you’ve been feeling unusually high levels of stress and anxiety, one of the first things you should take a look at is your work schedule.

Obviously, there are usually many factors at play with anxiety. It’d be narrow minded to say that overextending yourself is the sole reason why you’re feeling increased stress and anxiety.

However, there is research to back up the fact that people who work longer hours are more prone to higher levels of anxiety and depression.

One study found that people who work 11 hours per day were more likely to struggle with depression as opposed to those who logged 7 to 8 hours each day.

Working hard to achieve meaningful goals is important. And there are many people out there who put in 12-14 hour days and still live happy, healthy lives.

But of course, everyone is different. If you’ve really been hustling and notice that it’s having a negative impact on your mental health, it may be time to ask yourself some self-reflection questions and evaluate whether or not this is the best way for you to live your life.

 

#5: You Don’t Feel Socially Connected

When we overextend ourselves, one of the first things to take a hit is our personal relationships. 

This is really tough, because many studies have shown that deep personal connections are one of the biggest keys to happiness in life

People who have a fulfilling social life live longer, are less likely to suffer from anxiety/depression, and show greater resilience when faced with personal challenges.

Conversely, those who feel socially isolated typically report much lower levels of life-satisfaction, and find themselves at a much higher risk of developing anxiety/ depression.

Do you feel like you’re not making enough time for your friends? Do you feel like work is turning you into someone who is socially isolated?

If so, then maybe it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities.

 

woman feeling isolated and overextended

 

How To Stop Overextending Yourself

If you resonated with some of those key signals of overextension, then you’re now probably wondering what you’re supposed to do about it.

Here are three incredibly effective strategies you can implement when you feel like you’re overextending yourself.

 

Tip #1: Create A Shutdown Ritual

This concept comes from Cal Newport, one of the world’s leading productivity experts and author of Deep Work: Rules For Success In A Distracted World.

In this book, he prescribes something called a shut-down ritual in order to restore your attention after a long day’s work.

“This ritual should ensure that every incomplete goal, task, or project has been reviewed and that for each you have confirmed that either 1) you have a plan you trust for its completion, or 2) it’s captured in a place where it will be revisited when the time is right.”

Newport advises that this ritual should take place at the same time every day. The idea is that once this ritual is complete, you clock out for the day and focus on other important aspects of your life.

The reason that this strategy works so well is that it helps our brain re-charge.

Concentrating on work requires directed attention. When we’re crafting important emails or writing large reports, we’re using directed attention to complete these tasks to the best of our ability.

Directed attention is a finite resource if you exhaust it, you’ll struggle to concentrate. 

When we constantly interrupt our evenings to keep working, even for small periods of time, we’re robbing our directed attention centers of the rest they need so we can operate at peak levels the next day.

Having a shutdown ritual ensures that you don’t overextend yourself and create clear boundaries between work and play.

 

picture of a to do list to keep you from overextending yourself

 

Tip #2: Focus On Quality Over Quantity

One of the many reasons we tend to get burnt out with work is that we fail to prioritize quality over quantity. 

In a typical work session, how long do you actually spend working? When you take away the social media check-ins, the quick scan of your email inbox, and the pointless web browsing, how much time do you spend in a state of deep focus?

My guess is that most of you reading this would say that your work sessions are characterized by frequent interruption.

There’s two key reasons why this is so detrimental to your lifestyle:

  • First off, you don’t produce your best work. The work that you produce during work sessions where you’re constantly jumping around with split-focus is less likely to be high-quality work.
  • Second, overextending yourself becomes a necessity. When things take longer than they should, you’re constantly having to make up for lost time.

When you lack the ability to focus, you’re forced to play catch up. You put yourself in a position where you need to work longer hours because your lack of efficiency is bottlenecking your productivity.

This leaves less time for you to engage in activities that get your mind off work — watching your favorite shows, hanging out with friends, enjoying your favorite hobbies, etc.

The solution to feeling overextended isn’t necessarily about working less, it’s about using the time you do have in a more productive way. And the easiest way to do that is to master the ability to focus intensely on a singular task.

If this is something that you struggle with, here’s a framework you can adopt that will help you develop this skill:

  • Commit to a certain task on your to-do list.
  • Create a distraction free environment by turning off your phone or putting it in another room.
  • Perform uninterrupted work on this task for 15 minutes.
  • No checking email. No checking text messages. No social media-check ins or web browsing.
  • Use every neuron in your brain to focus on the task at hand.

As you get better at getting into a state of deep concentration, you can begin to scale this 15 minute work session up to 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, and then shoot for 1-2 hours.

Focus more on quality and less on quantity, and you’ll be surprised at how much time you really have when you stop wasting it.

 

Tip #3: Make Exercise A Bigger Priority

If you’re feeling overextended, it might seem daunting to adopt a fitness regimen. 

I already feel exhausted on a daily basis! You want me to start doing something that will make me feel even more tired?

I understand the logic behind that point of view, but the truth is that exercise doesn’t deplete our energy levels, it raises them.

I won’t get too deep into the science here, so here’s the cliff notes version of why exercise will help you reduce burnout and overextension.

The following information is summarized from an article published on The Harvard Medical School blog.

  • Increased Mitochondria Production: Physical exertion causes your body to produce more mitochondria, which are the powerhouse of the cells in your body. They’re responsible for turning the food you eat and the air you breathe into energy. Simply put, having more of them means more energy.
  • Exercise Boosts Oxygen Circulation: Exercise boosts the circulation of oxygen in your body, which supports the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy. The increased circulation also allows your body to function better and use its energy reserves more efficiently. 
  • Increased Hormone Levels: Exercise causes your hormone levels to spike, which helps you feel more energized.
  • Better Sleep: Sleep is the primary way that our body and mind recharge. Regular exercise has been proven to actually promote better nighttime sleep, which leads to higher energy levels the following day.

Each of these benefits help you combat feeling overextended by supplying you with more energy that you can use to perform at your best.

If you’re struggling with building an exercise habit, you can check out this article on my site which discusses a simple 5 step framework for sticking to new habits.

 

woman running in a forest

 

Final Thoughts

At some point in your life, you’re going to feel like you’re overextending yourself. It’s a completely natural part of figuring out how to find balance in your life.

Some people can find happiness in the learning how to develop the self-discipline required to work 14 hour days, while sacrificing almost every other area of their life, especially if the work they’re doing is fulfilling.

Others learn the hard way that hustle culture might not be for them, and that they’d prefer a balanced life as opposed to one that’s dominated by work.

There’s no right answer, there’s only right for you. If you tap into intuition and have a gut feeling that you’re taking on too much, then try adopting one of three strategies mentioned in this article.

Don’t just click off this blog post and let things stay the same. If you do that, it’s likely you’ll continue to feel overextended and come back to articles like these month after month.

My sincere hope for those of you feeling overextended is that you apply the strategies mentioned in this article so that you never need to read a post like this again.

blog post featured image - when nothing goes right in life

7 Ways To Get Back On Track When Nothing Goes Right

When nothing goes right in life, it can be difficult to stay optimistic and continually strive towards your goals and dreams.

Having bad days is one thing. We’re all going to live through days where we’re simply at the mercy of the unpredictability of life.

However, sometimes we fall into more challenging stretches where nothing goes right for weeks, months, or even years. These are the kinds of struggles that put our life at a standstill and are incredibly damaging for our mental health.

If you find yourself trapped in one of these periods right now, the question you’re probably asking yourself repeatedly is, “What the hell can I do about this? Is this feeling ever going to go away?”

Hopefully, this article can help you answer that question. My goal is to provide you with action-based advice outlining how to get back on track when nothing seems to be going right in your life.

If you’re looking for a quick-fix, you’re in the wrong place. Overcoming true hardships isn’t about trying 30 day challenges, it’s about adopting a different strategy towards behavior change that promotes long-term growth instead of promising instant results.

Because with consistent action and enough time, you can change, achieve, master, or create anything that you want during the time you’re here.

 

When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left

Here’s one fundamental truth you need to accept before you start to change your lifeyour current system of behaviors is perfectly designed to bring you the results you’re getting.

If you’re unhappy, anxious, or just flat-out struggling in life, these feelings always trace back to the decisions that you’re making each and every day.

If you’re overweight, that’s because you’ve developed a system of habits that keep you from getting in shape.

If you’re dissatisfied with your career trajectory, that’s because you’ve developed a system of habits that keep you from becoming a top-performer in your field.

Your current results are simply a product of your past actions. I know that this sounds pretty intuitive, but it’s something that many people refuse to accept. 

It’s easy to blame personal struggles on external factors. It’s much harder to look in the mirror and recognize that you’re responsible for whatever situation you find yourself in.

The good news is that you created the system, which means you can destroy it — when nothing goes right, go left. 

You have the power to systemically untangle self-sabotaging beliefs by making different decisions. Better choices leads to a better system of habits, which leads to better results, which leads to a better life.

Making a left turn, or even a full u-turn is difficult when you’ve walked down one path for so long, but hopefully the following section of this article makes turning the corner easier.

 

7 Ways To Get Back On Track When Nothing Goes Right

When nothing goes right in life, it can be difficult to figure out what the next step in your growth is. 

Even if you do know what that next step is, it’s hard to pinpoint a strategy that will actually work for you long-term.

That’s what the rest of this article will focus on — actionable strategies for reversing the stagnation you may be experiencing.

Here’s a list of seven things you can do to turn your life around when nothing seems to be going right.

 

#1: Take A Step Back When Nothing Goes Right

In the productivity world, people are often taught to step away when they’re dealing with a particularly challenging obstacle in their work.

And in many cases, given that time is used properly, people come back to their work with fresh insights about how to solve whatever challenge they’re facing.

These new insights usually lead to a new path forward that they never saw before. It was always there, but they couldn’t see it until they re-evaluated their strategy and let their creative mind work its magic.

If you really want to change the trajectory of your life, taking a step back is an essential part of making this happen.

It allows you to bring everything into perspective and really play out the dominoes of continuing down the path that you’re walking along.

So before you adopt any of the philosophies provided in the rest of the article, commit to putting your goals on hold for a couple of days until you’ve adopted a new strategy going forward.

 

man looking at the wall and analyzing his plans

 

#2: Shrink Your Timeframe

When nothing goes right in life, one of the best things you can do for your mental state is to shrink your timeframe.

Do you have big goals that are going to take awhile to achieve?

I’m guessing that most of you reading this would answer “yes” to that question. 

How do you feel when you look at those goals? Do you feel motivated at the possibility of achieving them, or dread due to the sheer long-term effort required to achieve them?

My guess is that you probably feel a mix of both emotions. But ultimately, the real question is which feeling is the dominant force in your day to day actions?

In most cases, it’s the feeling of dread that drives us. With big goals, you’re in a constant state of failure until you succeed. And when nothing seems to be going right in life, the negative effects of this permanent failure state are magnified.

Therein lies the problem with big goals as the newness begins to wear off, motivation and excitement is replaced by doubt and uncertainty.

So how do we combat this state of constant failure that de-motivates us to stretch towards our most ambitious goals?

Well, one strategy you can adopt is to shrink your timeframe. Things may be so difficult for you right now that it’s just too stressful to think about next year, next month, or even next week.

If you do find yourself in this position, I’d suggest shifting your focus away from the big goals you have. Don’t get rid of them completely, simply use them as a tool to assess what you can realistically achieve in the short-term.

  • If thinking about your twelve month goals feels too overwhelming, set a goal that you can accomplish in the next month.
  • If thinking about the next month is too overwhelming, set a goal that you can accomplish in the next week.
  • If thinking about the next week is too overwhelming, set a goal that you can accomplish today.

Breaking these big goals into smaller chunks of time can reduce the level of anxiety you feel around them, and in turn make you more likely to achieve them.

Additionally, it just feels better to post a few wins on the board instead of living in a constant failure state where success is 6, 12, or 18 months away.

 

clock sitting on a desk

 

#3: Reach Out To Your Tribe

Social support is one of the most valuable assets we have when nothing seems to be going right in life.

Your closest friends want what’s best for you. That’s why they’ll likely empathize with your struggles, while also serving up the brutal truth that you might not want to face.

They’ll be able to identify when you’re making excuses and shifting the blame away from yourself. But they’ll also realize when you’re being too hard on yourself and engaging in unproductive self-loathing.

Because they’re a third party observer, they’ll offer a more rational perspective on your struggles that you can use to your benefit.

So if nothing is going right in life and you need to start getting back on track, begin reaching out to your closest friends and opening up about your struggles. 

Don’t sugarcoat anything and just tell them what you’re feeling. You may come away from those conversations with a new perspective on your struggles that can be leveraged for good.

 

woman sitting with her dog

 

#4: Focus On Small Habits

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Most of us know this inherently, yet that’s the path we choose to take when it comes to behavior change. 

We get fed up with a certain aspect of our life, promise to change, set huge goals in pursuit of this change, make little to no progress towards these goals, and then try the same approach again six months later.

That’s what it’s like to be on the self-improvement hamster wheel, and it’s where most of us find ourselves trapped while pursuing our biggest goals.

If you want better results, you need a better strategy. The reason why most people struggle with behavior change is not due to a lack of motivation or willpower, most of the time it simply comes down to strategic error.

So if you really want to make the changes that you’ve been saying you’re going to make for months, years, or even decades, small habits need to become your new best friend.

Why is it that small habits are so powerful?

Well, for one thing they attack your ego. If you make a new habit small enough, your brain will struggle to come up with reasons for why you can’t do it. You almost have no choice but to get the reps in regardless of your emotional state.

Another benefit is that they instill new beliefs about who you are.

If you meditate for 60 seconds every day for a month, your brain begins to say “Oh, I guess I’m the type of person who meditates.”

If you do ten pushups every day for two weeks, your brain begins to say, “Oh, I guess I’m the type of person who works out every day.”

Ten pushups or 60 seconds of meditation seems insignificant. But if these actions compound over time, two things will happen:

  • You’ll start to blow past these targets on a daily basis as taking action becomes easier. 
  • You’ll start to change the story that you tell yourself about who you are.

So think about some of the changes that you want to make in life and humble yourself by committing to 1-2 small daily habits that align with your goals.

If you’re wondering how small you need to go, just think about a daily target you could meet every day regardless of how you feel.

If you’re trying to build a writing habit, that might mean starting with just getting down 50 words per day.

If you’re trying to improve your personal relationships, that might mean simply texting someone you care about to check-in every day.

Make these new habits so easy that you can’t say no. If you learn how to be consistent and solidify new habits into your routine with ease, things will gradually get better. 

 

progress written on a chalkboard

 

#5: Address Your Biggest Demon 

I have a hunch that if you’re feeling like nothing is going right at the moment, this feeling usually tracks back to a 600 pound weight on your shoulder.

It’s different for everyone, but we all have that biggest demonthe thing that dominates our internal dialogue on a daily basis.

To be more specific, we all have that one thing we’re avoiding — the character flaw that we’re too afraid to fix because of the type of work it would entail. 

Maybe it’s the fact that you deeply desire deeper relationships and social freedom, but you’ve been struggling to overcome your social anxiety.

Maybe it’s the fact that you hate the body you see in the mirror, but have never been able to stick to a workout program for longer than 1-2 weeks.

Maybe it’s the fact that you want to excel in your career, but have never been able to kick the habit of procrastinating important work.

I don’t know what your biggest demon is, but I do know that if left unchecked, it will continue to hold you back in several areas of your life.

Now this brings good and bad news. The bad news is that addressing this demon means coming face to face with your deepest fears, which is quite a scary prospect.

The good news is that removing this 600 pound weight off your shoulders will make every other burden you’re carrying feel lighter.

With the proverbial gorilla off your back, making other changes will seem easier due to the sense of self-mastery that slaying your biggest demon provides.

In terms of how to address your biggest demon, you can adopt the philosophy described above — start small, show up consistently, and be patient.

As this singular area of your life begins to take on a more positive trajectory, the rest of your life will follow suit.

If you’re struggling to figure out what your biggest demon is, here’s a simple question that cuts through the fluff and gets right to your deepest values:

If someone gave you the power to completely change one aspect of your character overnight, what would you change?

 

man sitting in a room battling his biggest demons

 

#6: Be Careful With Setting Band-Aid Goals

When nothing goes right in life, it’s important to look inwards and ensure that you’re pursuing the right goals.

For almost my entire life, I struggled with crippling social anxiety. 

I was deeply afraid of rejection, had zero confidence around women, and struggled with even basic social interactions — it was my own biggest demon.

  • I’d avoid saying hello to people unless I knew them really well. 
  • I’d avoid talking to women at all costs because I was afraid they’d think I was boring and uninteresting. 
  • I struggled to put my own interests first and ask for what I really wanted. 
  • I felt confused, anxious, and hyper self-conscious when around people that I didn’t know because I was trying to impress them instead of being my authentic self

In college, sometimes the physical and emotional distress was so intense that I’d leave bars or parties unannounced and text my friends some lame excuse to explain my disappearing act.

In other words, social anxiety dominated my life abd stopped from doing the things that I truly wanted to do.

So what was my solution to all of this? 

Well, I decided to set band-aid goals — goals that didn’t address my social anxiety head-on. The hope was that the ripple effect of achieving these goals would naturally make me feel better in social situations.

Oddly enough, growing this blog was one of those goals. From the moment that I registered the domain name, I began relentlessly publishing articles in order to gain more traffic to this site.

The problem was that pursuing this goal only increased my social anxiety. The countless hours of writing further shielded me from the things I was really afraid of.

And while I was able to find some solace in progressing towards an important goal, deep down I always had the suspicion that I was running from the real battle.

As you look at your life now, are there any goals that you’d define as band-aid goals?

If so, it’s probably best to put them on the back-burner. I’m not saying that you can’t work towards them, but maybe they don’t deserve to be #1 on your priority list.

It’s hard to offer up advice for identifying band-aid goals because we’re all fighting different demons, but I will say this:

If you feel like the goals you’re pursuing don’t address the biggest source of unhappiness in your daily life, that’s a feeling you want to explore.

 

avoid setting band aid goals when nothing goes right

 

#7: Find A Mentor

Oftentimes, one of the reasons we start feeling lost in life is due to a lack of clarity around the next steps we need to take to achieve our goals.

The simplest way to overcome this feeling is to find a mentor. There’s someone out there who has faced the same demons you have and found a way to overcome them.

Learning from them is an amazing way to fast-track your growth.

Mentors also serve as great accountability partners. The idea that our failure to take action will disappoint someone else can be a powerful motivator to make things happen.

A while back, I hired a dating coach with the goal of getting more comfortable around women, a social inadequacy that had plagued me since high school.

The first couple of weeks of the mentorships sucked. Not because of his program or his teaching style, but because of my own lack of commitment.

I struggled to take action on the social challenges he gave me, many of which revolved around experiencing public rejection and starting conversations with complete strangers.

The first two calls we had were unproductive because I wasn’t giving him anything to work with. My mentor didn’t bash me for my inaction, but on the second call we had he said something that really resonated with me:

“Justin, I get that you’re scared and I really empathize with that because I’ve been there. But did you really invest all of this money into your growth to show up each week and report nothing to me? I might as well just refund you the money now.” 

That’s when things began to click for me. All of the sudden, I had to be accountable to another person who cared about my growth. And this little kick in the ass turned out to be just what I needed to push past limiting beliefs.

Taking action became significantly easier because I didn’t want to face my mentor on Sunday night and say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t do what we set out to do the week before.”

This is yet another example that when nothing goes right in life, other people who care about your growth can be an incredible asset.

 

two men discussing ideas

 

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this article talking about several different strategies you can adopt when nothing goes right in life.

The unfortunate reality is that we will all face these periods in life. The path to a meaningful life is not a straight line — the highs are very high, but the lows can be very low.

The good news is that at any given moment, you can make a decision to do things differently. 

You can tone down your ambition and commit to small habits. You can find a mentor who will accelerate your personal growth. You can choose to avoid band-aid goals and attack the biggest demon that’s stopping you from getting the life you want.

These are all choices that you can make today. Right now. At this very moment. 

The only question is whether or not you will.

blog post featured image - quality over quantity

Quality Over Quantity: The Simple Philosophy For A Better Life

The quality over quantity philosophy is one that’s hard to live by. 

As human beings, we’re wired to want more in all areas of life. We often set down the path of reinventing ourselves  at least in some part due to the desire for nicer clothes, more money, a lavish home, better meals, etc.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a successful person who isn’t engaged in the constant pursuit of more success. 

However, this mindset doesn’t always serve us. And oftentimes it can actually prevent us from finding joy in what we do have, which is usually much more than what we think.

In this article, we’re going to be discussing the quality over quantity mindset — what it means, the implications of the philosophy, and most importantly, how to apply it to everyday life.

 

The Meaning Of Quality Over Quantity

Quality over quantity is a common philosophy that’s likely been relayed to you ad nauseam by teachers, mentors, parents, etc.

Although you’re probably quite  familiar with the basic idea behind this philosophy, let’s just start with a surface level definition and then go deeper.

The surface level definition of quality over quantity is that we should have a preference to better things, as opposed to more things.

When you choose quality over quantity, you’re choosing to sacrifice the good and keep the great. And that’s a philosophy that can be applied to anything — work, relationships, hobbies, goals, etc.

If we get too focused on quantity, we sacrifice quality. If we get too focused on quality, we sacrifice quality. 

For most people, sacrificing quality is easier to live with. The problem is that in almost all cases, choosing quality over quantity is the better decision. 

Choosing quality adds meaning to our lives by subtracting things of low-value. However, our brains aren’t wired to give things up even if it makes sense logically.

 

Why Is It So Hard To Choose Quality Over Quantity?

If choosing quality over quantity is the route towards a better, more meaningful life, then why is it such a difficult philosophy to put into practice?

There are a bunch of psychological explanations that answer this question, but for the sake of time we’re going to focus on two — the mere exposure effect and the status quo bias.

Let’s explore the mere exposure effect first. I’ll let someone much smarter than me take the reins here in describing what the mere exposure effect is and how it impacts our decisions.

Mira Estrada, a Harvard educated social psychology professor describes the mere exposure effect in this article published on Psychology Today:

“Research on the mere exposure effect shows that the more we are exposed to something, the more it will become favorable to us. This is true of the things that we see, read, name, create, and meet.”

From a cognitive standpoint, repeated exposure to something means we’re less likely to give it up, even if it’s in our best interest to do so.

Another factor that makes choosing quality over quantity difficult is the status quo bias — one of many cognitive biases we possess that affects our decision making.

The status quo bias suggests that our brain perceives any deviation from the status quo as a loss, even when there are real advantages to change.

That’s why people find it so difficult to break bad habits, sell clothes they don’t wear anymore, and spend less time with people they don’t really enjoy hanging out with.

Unfortunately, we’re hard-wired to fight change even when it’s in our best interest.

 

trail in the forest with two different pathways

 

The Importance Of Choosing Quality Over Quantity

The simple fact that our brain stops us from adopting this philosophy suggests that it’s a good one to live by.

Our brains stop us from doing many things that help us grow. So the fact that we’re predisposed to fight this philosophy is just one reason why it’s important to mold our behaviors around it.

Additionally, pursuing quantity as opposed to quality subtracts meaning from almost everything in our lives. 

  • If you pursue quantity over quality in your personal relationships, you’ll struggle to spend adequate time with the people who are truly there to support you.
  • If all of your clothes are important to you, how do you distinguish between what you like wearing and the clothes that are simply taking up space?
  • If everything on your to-do list seems urgent, then how will you make time for the high-priority actions that really move the needle in your life?

Seeing everything as important is the same as seeing nothing as important. Because when you see everything as important, you have no reason to prioritize your life.

Focusing on quality in all endeavors frees up space for the things that really matter. It allows you to minimize your life so that it’s filled with high-quality friends, hobbies, things, and tasks.

When your focus is on quantity, you tend to pursue the instant gratification that comes along with having more of something. When you favor quality, you’ll naturally begin to assign more value to the things that you have.

 

Examples Of Quality Over Quantity

We touched on this a little bit in the last section, but here are a few other examples of why it’s important to choose quality over quantity in your daily life.

  • Hobbies: If you have a bunch of hobbies that you like to engage in, it’s hard to spread your time around to the ones you enjoy the most. You’ll start to view certain hobbies as distractions and get less enjoyment out of them, sabotaging your ability to engage in guilt-free downtime.
  • Vacations: Vacations are great for unwinding from your obligations. However, if you take vacations too frequently you may start to rely on them as a crutch to escape reality. On the other hand, if you take a few vacations per year, you’ll be more appreciative of the time you spend away from responsibilities instead of feeling guilty about it.
  • Behavior Change: We all have things we want to change, but oftentimes there are certain keystone changes that add significantly more value than other potential changes we could make. If you get too caught up in changing several things about your life, in other words going for quantity instead of quality, it’s likely you’ll struggle to make meaningful progress on any of them.

Those are just a few examples that highlight the danger of focusing on quantity as opposed to quality.

 

whiteboard with the word choice written on it

 

7 Benefits Of Choosing Quality Over Quantity 

By now, we’ve established the fact that quality is superior to quantity in almost every area of life. 

But how do you actually apply this philosophy? And what tangible benefits can you realize by adopting this philosophy into specific domains of your life?

Those are the questions that will be covered in the following section. Here’s a list of seven benefits of choosing quality over quantity, supplemented by action-focused advice for adopting the philosophy into your life.

 

#1: Emphasizing Quality Helps You Achieve Your Goals

It’s human nature to get really excited when we set goals. Goal setting is an emotional process that taps into our deepest values and desires, which really gets our motivational system fired up.

However, when our emotions get involved in this process, it’s easy for us to overestimate our capabilities. The heightened emotional state we find ourselves in means we’re not thinking rationally, so we might say things like:

“I’m going to get in shape, become more productive, and erase my social anxiety once and for all!”

However, those of you reading this know that never works. Eventually, the sheer effort required to make progress on all of these goals depletes our willpower, and we end up right back where we started.

Adopting a quality over quantity approach to goal-setting solves this problem. 

If you have the humility to tone down your ambition and build your ideal life brick by brick, as opposed to all at once, you’ll begin to actually change your life for the better.

Applying This Philosophy To Your Goals:

Make a list of ten outcomes that you want to achieve in the next 12 months.

Once you have them down on paper, assign each outcome a number from 1-10 based on importance. The goal here is to distinguish between the goals that would be nice to accomplish and the ones that you need to accomplish.

For the next 12 months, focus all of your attention on the top two goals with the highest scores on your list.

To make the weeding out process easier, score each goal with decimal points so you don’t find yourself deciding between two goals that both scored an 8.  

 

notebook with goals written down on it

 

#2: Quality Over Quantity Makes Sticking To New Habits Easier

Adopting a quality over quantity approach to new habits increases the likelihood that you’ll actually follow through on your intentions.

If you wake up and see that you’ve committed to a one hour workout session, a two hour deep writing session, and twenty minutes of meditation, you’ll probably feel a little bit of dread given the enormity of these commitments.

The same principle that applies to goals applies to habits — focusing on everything is the same thing as focusing on nothing.

The everyday grind of consistent repetition that it takes to form new habits can be overwhelming when trying to stick to just one positive habit, let alone 3-4 at one time.

Applying This Philosophy To Your Habits:

The goals that you want to achieve require consistent, focused action. In other words, they require that you think about good habits to start building and then craft a plan for making them a part of your daily routine.

There are a number of different habits you can adopt in order to achieve your goals (quantity), but a very few of these habits can be characterized as non-negotiables that must be a part of your life. (quality)

Take one goal you want to achieve and write down a list of possible habits that will help you make progress towards that goal. 

Then, follow the same scoring process outlined above to determine the 1-2 habits that are most important. Make these habits your sole focus for the next 90-120 days and don’t add additional changes onto your plate until they’re firmly ingrained into your daily routine.

 

man lifting weights in the gym

 

#3: Quality Improves Your Personal Relationships

Personal relationships are arguably the most logical place for the quality over quantity philosophy to drive your decisions.

You’ve gotta protect your energy in life because not everyone deserves it. Building an expansive social circle is a meaningful pursuit so long as you ensure that the connections you form actually add value to your life.

Life’s too short to spend time attempting to make deep connections with people who don’t share the same goal.

The more you focus on being in the presence of those who really care, value, and encourage you, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Applying This Philosophy Into Your Relationships:

Write down the top five people you spend the most time with and get brutally honest about whether or these relationships are fulfilling:

You may ask questions like:

  • Do I really enjoy hanging out with this person or am I spending time with them for the sole purpose that I don’t want to lose them?
  • Is this person bringing positive or negative energy into my life?
  • Are they putting in the same level of effort into our friendship as I am?

After doing this, you may realize that changes need to be made. You don’t have to cut certain people out of your life completely, but you may need to simply reduce the amount of time you spend with them for the sake of your well-being.

When these connections go back years, or even decades, it’s not fun to actually act on these intentions, but the short-term pain is necessary for your long-term growth.

 

friends standing with arms around each other highlighting the importance of quality over quantity

 

#4: Focusing On Quality Improves Your Productivity

When you sit down to work on something for two hours, how much of that time do you actually spend concentrating on what you set out to accomplish? 

One hour? 30 minutes? 15 minutes?

My guess is that when you take into account pointless web browsing, the quick pulse check on social media, or responding to emails & texts, that number is significantly less than two hours.

When it comes to productivity, quality is everything. If you can master the skill of putting all of your focus into a given task without falling prey to distraction, you can accomplish in two hours what most people accomplish in an entire day of work.

Thanks to Cal Newport, one of the leading productivity experts in the world, this skill has a name — deep work.

In his book titled, Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World, Newport lays out a simple definition of deep work:

Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

The ability to focus on deep work is the great equalizer in today’s world. If you’re able to master this skill and adopt a quality over quantity approach to your work, you’ll be able to get more done in less time. 

And when you get more done in less time, you’re in a prime position to take every aspect of your life to the next level.

Applying This Philosophy To Your Productivity:

While reading Newport’s book, there was one strategy he talked about that really resonated with me, and I think it will resonate with you too.

Because let’s be frank, we can’t just snap our fingers and become a productivity machine who can work for hours on end without a lapse in concentration.

That being said, we can become that kind of person with enough practice. Here is Newport’s recommendation for getting in the habit of adopting a quality over quantity approach to your work:

  • Identify a deep work task that’s high on your priority list
  • Complete one Roosevelt Dash — a short period of intense, focused work where every ounce of your concentration is dedicated to making progress on that task.
  • No checking text messages. No checking email. No browsing the web. Roosevelt dashes are periods of full concentration with zero interruptions
  • I’d recommend starting out with 15 minutes and working your way up from there.
  • The goal is to build up your focus muscle with these short bursts of intense productivity until you feel comfortable working for hours at a time in this same fashion.

 

picture of money with the word productivity on it

 

#5: You’ll Feel Better About Your Wardrobe

Most of our wardrobes are characterized by excess. They’re filled with dozens of outfits that we either never wear, or haven’t worn in years. Yet for some reason, we continue to let these clothes take up space for the sole purpose of having more stuff. 

Adopting a quality over quantity approach to your wardrobe is one of the easiest ways to begin simplifying your life. Having done this process myself, I can tell you that you’ll feel a lot more pride in your closet when each item of clothing has a purpose.

Applying This Philosophy To Your Wardrobe:

I’ve written an extensive blog post walking through the process of creating a minimalist closet, which you can check out below if you’re interested:

 

picture of a typical closet

 

#6: Quality Over Quantity Helps You Save Money

When you shift your focus to quality over quantity, your bank account is definitely one of the biggest beneficiaries.

Financial freedom is just as much about saving money as it is about making money. There are countless stories of people who work normal 9-5 jobs, save and spend responsibly, and are able to retire at 55 or 60 with millions in the bank. 

However, the story that’s far more common is the person who works that same 9-5 job, spends money on a bunch of shit they don’t need for 20 to 30 years, and ends up working until they’re 70 or 75.

The only difference between these two people is their spending habits. I’m not saying that you should never reward yourself, simply that you should be more aware of your intentions when making purchasing decisions.

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself before parting with your hard-earned cash:

  • Do I already have a similar item that serves essentially the same purpose?
  • Is this a status buy? Am I buying to keep up with my friends/neighbors/colleagues?
  • Can I see myself using this product 6-12 months from now, or is the more likely outcome that it’s going to end up collecting dust?

If you’ve been wanting to go to Europe for years, and have the financial resources to make it work, then go for it! You shouldn’t feel guilty about treating yourself to a trip that will potentially be the experience of a lifetime.

But maybe proceed with caution when you’re thinking about buying a lavish dining room table that’s only marginally better than the one you have now.

 

one dollar bills planted in the ground

 

#7: Quality Makes You More Grateful

“Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.”

The quote above is from Helen Keller, and it serves as a perfect reminder that the quality over quantity approach doesn’t mean you need to eliminate your desire for more.

The desire for more drives all of us. We all want to make more friends. We all want financial freedom. We all want to live in a nicer home.

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing a better life, so long as you don’t believe that happiness lies in the stuff that you don’t yet have. 

If you go through life this way, you’ll continually move the goalposts and nothing will ever be enough to provide the sense of satisfaction that you’re looking for.

One of the biggest benefits of living with a preference towards quality instead of quantity is that you’re more equipped to appreciate the things that you do have. It’s far easier to maintain a positive outlook on life when you’re not constantly reminding yourself of what you lack.

 

Final Thoughts

That wraps up our discussion on the quality over quantity philosophy. 

I hope that the tips provided in this article gave you some ideas as to how you can adopt this philosophy into your own life.

Whether it’s cleaning out your wardrobe, trying out Roosevelt dashes, or cutting out certain goals you’ve been pursuing, it all serves the same purpose — making more room for the highly important stuff.

If you can design your life around what really matters, you’ll begin to develop more appreciation for what you have and free up mental energy to go after your most exciting goals.

blog post featured image - comeback stories of successful people

8 Individual Comeback Stories That Will Inspire You

“The world is full of suffering, but it is also full of overcoming it.” 

The quote above is from Helen Keller, a woman who suddenly fell blind and deaf at the age of two, yet still went on to become a world-famous author and educator who inspired millions of people across the globe.

Keller’s life was the definition of grit and perseverance — two common themes that reverberate through in many of the comeback stories behind ultra-successful people.

It’s true that we admire people who accomplish great things, but we have an even deeper level of appreciation for a good bounce back story.

We may applaud people who start revolutionary companies and push barriers, but we give standing ovations and shed tears for people with motivational stories that remind us that anything is possible.

If you’ve been going through some struggles in life, hopefully the following inspirational comeback stories will serve as motivation to push past whatever adversity you’re experiencing.

 

What Is A Comeback Story?

Typically, comeback stories are divided into two types:

  • The people who achieve great things and then have a major setback that almost destroys everything they’ve worked for.
  • The people who start from nothing, experience major setbacks, and still find a way to make an impact on the world.

We tend to have less sympathy for the first type of story — the ones about the type of people who get to the top of the mountain and fall back down.

“They had everything going for them, how could they just throw it all away?”

Although these comeback stories are a little less relatable, they teach us an important lesson about success — it’s hard to achieve, but it’s even harder to maintain.

We tend to underestimate just how much work it takes to become successful, but we severely underestimate the work it takes to stay successful.  That’s why it’s harder for us to empathize with people who sabotage their own success and are forced to bounce back.

A good underdog story on the other hand? That’s something that most of us can usually get behind.

Neither of these types of comeback stories are better than the other. Even if the underdog story is a little more relatable, both types highlight the unbelievable power of individuals who simply refuse to give in to life’s challenges.

The following comeback stories highlight examples of extraordinary people from both camps.

 

8 Incredibly Motivating Comeback Stories 

Without further ado, let’s talk about some of the most inspirational comeback stories that hopefully will motivate you to fight back against your own personal struggles.

 

#1: Niki Lauda

 

niki lauda

 

I wouldn’t consider myself a racing fan, but this is still one of the most compelling comeback stories that I’ve come across in any area of life.

In 1976, Niki Lauda was a Formula One Driver for Ferrari. The year had been a good one for Lauda too, as he was poised to win his second straight world championship.

He arrived at the German Grand Prix in peak form, but the racing conditions on August 1, 1976 were far from ideal. Heavy rain and an outdated race track meant extremely dangerous conditions for the drivers racing that day.

Along with many other drivers, Lauda was worried about the implications of the race going ahead. He decided to voice his concerns by calling a drivers-only meeting where he proposed that the race be cancelled.

Unfortunately, he ended up losing by a single vote.  Just a few hours later, Lauda spun out of a corner and lost control of his car. As he struck the wall, his fuel tank exploded and his car became engulfed in flames.

Unable to get out of the car, Lauda was trapped in an inferno. Recognizing what was happening, the other drivers exited their cars to assist Lauda, but the blaze prevented them from being able to help.

He was trapped inside the fiery blaze for 50 seconds. And by the time he had been pulled out of his car, he had suffered horrific third degree burns and inhaled a heavy dosage of toxic fumes.

At one point Lauda’s situation seemed so dire that while he was in a coma, a priest actually stood over him and read him his last rites.  

Now usually, you’d think that someone who’d spent 50 seconds in a burning blaze of 800 degrees would be out of racing for several months at the very least, but Niki wasn’t like most people.

Against all medical advice, he decided to suit up 43 days later. His face was far from completely healed, his vision was still blurred, and you can only imagine the kind of pain he was feeling.

He came in fourth that day at Monza  — a truly remarkable achievement for someone who had been fighting for his life just 43 days earlier.

Lauda lost the world championship by one single point that year in a heated battle that’s widely considered to be the most exhilarating Formula One championships of all time.

Lauda’s 1976 season remains one of most remarkable comeback stories in sports history.

 

#2: Dwayne Johnson

 

photo of dwayne johnson

 

We all know Dwayne Johnson as the WWE superstar turned actor who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the story of how he got there is less widely known.

In 1995, Dwayne Johnson had dreams of playing in the NFL. He was a defensive lineman for the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders, but struggled to get enough playing time to display his talents.

Unsurprisingly, the Stampeders released Dwayne Johnson after a brief stint and in the process, crushed Johnson’s dreams of playing in the NFL.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson returned home to live with his parents in Tampa — he had $7 to his name. It wasn’t long after moving back home that Johnson developed severe depression because of the uncertainty surrounding his next chapter.

Ultimately though, he came to a decision to pursue pro wrestling as his next career. And through sheer perseverance, he molded himself into one of the most successful wrestlers in the WWE. 

And the rest, as they say, is history. The days of only having $7 to his name are way behind Johnson, who has now accumulated a net worth of over $320 million. And furthermore, he continues to serve as an inspiration to many by consistently preaching the power of work ethic and discipline.

 

#3: Darren Waller

 

darren waller

 

Continuing on with this list of comeback stories we have Darren Waller, who’s currently known for being one of the best tight-ends in the NFL.

A few years ago however, people saw Waller in a much different light. During his first year in the NFL, Waller gained a reputation for two things: his upside as a receiving talent on the field and his off the field involvement with drugs and alcohol.

Waller describes his behavior back then by saying, “Percocet, marijuana, adderall, cocaine, if it offered a high, I tried it. And if you were trying to help me, I wasn’t trying to hear it.”

Eventually, his off the field antics caught the attention of the NFL, who suspended him for the entire 2017 season after violating their substance abuse policy.

However, the worst was yet to come. Just two months later, Waller found himself sitting in his Jeep Grand Cherokee with a handful of opioids in his hand. Immediately after ingesting them, he knew something wasn’t right.

His head began to spin, and he was on the verge of fainting. He battled the urge to throw up and eventually fell asleep in the car. Waller slept in that car for four hours, and woke up drenched in sweat.

It was only later that he would realize that he ingested opioid pills that were laced with fentanyl, which is one of the leading causes of overdoses in the United States.

The experience shook Waller, who for the first time in his life, feared his drug habit could potentially kill him. This turned out to be the final straw for Waller — 30 days later, he checked himself into an addiction treatment center in Camden, Maine.

While in rehab, he took up several positive habits like self-improvement journaling, meditating, and often spent hours writing song lyrics, most of which revolved around sobriety. 

After returning from rehab, Waller got a job stocking produce at a grocery store, earning a modest $11 an hour. He continued to maintain his sobriety, and on the off chance he got another shot at the NFL, he re-committed himself to fitness. 

Eleven months after getting out of rehab, the NFL gave him that shot. However, he was assigned to the practice squad immediately upon returning to the league, which was a pretty big blow to his ego.

However, he didn’t let this affect his work ethic. Determined to regain his role as a starter, he arrived early to every practice and stayed late for additional fitness sessions. 

Eventually, Waller was signed off of the Baltimore Ravens practice squad and offered a chance to prove himself on the Oakland Raiders.

And prove himself he did. 2019 turned out to be the best year of Waller’s career and he further cemented his status in the NFL with an even more impressive campaign in 2020. 

Waller draws a lot of attention for his on field talents, and deservedly so, but it’s his transformation that’s perhaps even more impressive than the type of player he’s become.

 

#4: Tiger Woods

 

tiger woods talking about his comeback stories

 

Unless you were living under a rock in 2008, you probably heard about Tiger Woods and the shocking marriage scandal that dominated news cycles for months.

Up until 2008, Woods had a completely spotless reputation. On the course he was viewed as a killer who did whatever it took to win. Off the course, he was viewed as a shining knight who never made a false step in his personal life.

However, these sentiments vanished overnight when it surfaced that he had cheated with a total of 120 women during his five year marriage to Erin Nordegren. The world turned their backs on him, and deservedly so — he had fucked up, and not in a minor way. 

After the public humiliation, Woods checked himself into a sex rehabilitation center and wrestled with the demons that led to his marriage ending in such devastating fashion.

However, more pain lay ahead for Woods. For the next decade of his life, Woods would spend his time returning to golf and then disappearing again, mostly due to recurring injuries to his back.

He would return to golf after a back surgery, start to look like his old dominant self, and then withdraw due to chronic pain. This happened in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017 — the man who could show up and dominate tournaments was a ghost.

This wasn’t just ordinary back pain either. He described the pain as so crippling that there were some days where he’d have to spend the whole day in bed. 

Yet still, there was more room for Woods to fall. On May 29, 2017, police officers found him asleep in his Mercedes, which was still running.

Apparently, Woods had gotten behind the wheel on a heavy dosage of painkillers and simply fell asleep in his car. He ended up pleading guilty to reckless driving and it was a clear signal to everyone that this was rock-bottom for Woods.

In a survey conducted after the incident, 70% of PGA tour players said that Woods would never win another major tournament even the players who had grown up idolizing him had lost faith.

Characteristically though, Woods proved them wrong. After a fifth spinal fusion surgery on his back, Woods finally was able to return to golf in 2018 after an 18 month hiatus from the game.

Two years later, Woods won the 2019 Masters Tournament, his first major tournament win since 2008. After an eleven year period characterized by public humiliation, personal demons, and crippling pain, Woods was right back where he belonged — hoisting the big trophy and inspiring millions in the process.

 

#5: Ramona Pierson

 

ramona pierson speaking

 

In 1984, Ramona Pierson was training for the marine corps. One night while she was on a run, a drunk driver ran a red light and ended up striking Pierson — the impact was so devastating that her body basically exploded.

Over the next 18 months, Pierson was in a drug induced coma. Over 100 operations were performed before she regained consciousness. And when she finally did come back to the world, she was a shell of her former self.

What makes this one of the most compelling comeback stories I’ve ever come across is the sheer number of basic life skills that Pierson had to re-learn during her long, tenuous recovery. 

After coming out of the coma, she was blind and deaf. She had lost nearly half her body weight, and couldn’t articulate her thoughts. Her basic motor functions were significantly impaired, meaning she had to re-learn how to walk without assistance.

Despite the severity of her injuries, Pierson’s courage didn’t waver. After undergoing speech therapy, she regained her ability to speak competently.  

She then learned to read braille, which allowed her to dive into academic textbooks. She completed her undergraduate degree in psychology in just two years, even though she couldn’t see. (yes you read that right)

Eleven years after the accident, she finally regained her sight. And five years after this milestone came another — attaining her doctorate degree in neuro-clinical psychology.

This laid the foundation for Pierson starting and selling her own company seven years later for $10 million. Then, she did it again with Delcara, a social and collaboration platform that was acquired in 2019.

In 1984, Ramona’s life stopped in its tracks. It would’ve been the easiest thing in the world to simply give up on finding success and happiness, and who would have blamed her?

But the comeback stories on this list are about extraordinary people, and Ramona is certainly one of them.

 

#6: Mel Robbins

 

mel robbins speaking on stage

 

At the age of 41, Mel Robbins found herself stuck. She was constantly at war with husband, admitting that they were on the brink of divorce.

This tension was exacerbated by the fact they had invested their entire savings into a business venture that left them 800,000 in the hole.

Combine that with a nasty habit of hitting the bottle hard at night and the snooze button several times each morning and you have a full-blown recipe for disaster — Robbins was in a death spiral.

One day, she was lying in bed and watching a NASA rocket launch. She observed the countdown, “5-4-3-2-1…Launch!”

Watching the launch process inspired Mel to commit to something — the next morning, she vowed to launch herself out of bed in the same fashion. 

The moment her alarm sounded the next morning, she was met with the same self-loathing thoughts that would usually keep her in bed — the state of her marriage, the crippling debt, and of course that overwhelming sense of shame.

However, this time she fought past her habitual patterns —  after counting backwards from 5, she jumped out of bed. And for the first time in months, she had beaten her habit of hitting the snooze button.

What started out as a simple little gimmick became a religion for Mel. She realized that every day, there were moments where her brain would talk her out of things if she didn’t take action in 5 seconds or less.

Mel began to win these decisive moments during the day by counting backwards from five and then simply acting on whatever task she was avoiding or feeling anxiety about. 

By tapping into intuition and taking action in spite of her feelings, Mel gradually changed her life and overcame her demons.

She worked tirelessly with her husband to improve their finances. She began to improve her relationship with her husband as well, which was helped along by her quitting her drinking habit using the exact same rule.

Eventually, she wrote a best-selling book about the rule titled, “The 5 Second Rule: How To Transform Your Life, Work, And Confidence With Everyday Courage.”

Nowadays, Robbins is a successful entrepreneur and one of the highest paid female speakers in the world. The 5 Second Rule has been used by millions of people to overcome self-doubt and start taking control of their lives.

For more about Mel Robbins and the 5 second rule, feel free to check out this TED Talk below which has racked up close to 30 million views.

 

#7: Robert Downey Jr.

 

robert downey jr

 

Robert Downey’s transformation from unhireable drug addict to big screen star is one of the most legendary comeback stories in Hollywood.

Downey began to make a name for himself as an actor in the late 80’s. After appearing on the cast of Saturday Night Live for one season, he began to secure big roles and earn recognition for his talent.

In 1992, he was nominated for an academy award for his performance in “Chaplin,” and it appeared he was headed for a wildly successful career.

In 1996 however, things took a turn for the worst. Downey was arrested for possession of heroin and cocaine, and spent the next seven years of his life battling addiction and cycling in and out of jail.

In 2001, he was found walking barefoot in the middle of Culver City, California. Suspecting that he was under the influence, police officers placed him under arrest and a court judge mandated that he go to rehab.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Downey quit drugs for good. Despite his commitment to sobriety, no one in the film industry wanted to touch him. Most filmmakers still believed he had talent, but they didn’t want to pay the absurd insurance payments required to have him on set.

Luckily, another actor named Mel Gibson gave Downey a shot at redemption. He agreed to personally underwrite Downey’s insurance so that they could both star in a 2003 film called The Singing Detective.

Downey excelled in this role, and more opportunities followed.  The most rewarding opportunity of all would come when he was cast as Tony Stark in the Ironman trilogy.

The movie was a smashing success. Downey capitalized on this success by appearing in several other Marvel Movies as well, most notably The Avengers series.

Once viewed as an untouchable actor who had to fight for auditions, Downey is now looked upon as one of the most respected actors in Hollywood.

Downey’s bounce back story illustrates that once you’re at the top of the mountain, it’s way easier than you think to fall off. But it also illustrates that once you do fall back down to rock-bottom, there’s no excuse to stay there.

 

#8: Harland David Sanders

 

harland david sanders

 

Last but not least on this list of awesome comeback stories we have Harland David Sanders. 

Sanders had plenty of practice with failure throughout his life. After being forced to cut his law career short, Sanders worked as an insurance salesman, but ended up being fired for insubordination. 

In 1920, he founded a ferry boat company. As the business began to expand, Sanders tried to capitalize on his winning streak by pouring money into a lamp manufacturing business — the failure of this business left him broke.

Four years later, Sanders opened a restaurant and bought a hotel, both of which burned to the ground. Sanders rebuilt the motel and ran it successfully until World War 2 forced him to shut it down.

After the war was over, Sanders tried to franchise restaurants. It was reported that his “secret recipe” was rejected 1,009 times before anyone accepted it. 

His recipe became a hit and business started to boom at Sanders’ restaurant. However, yet again he was hit with misfortune when an interstate opened next to him, effectively crippling his business.

Despite yet another failure, Sanders did have one priceless asset left — his famous recipe for “Kentucky Fried Chicken”

Sanders decided to pursue his dream of opening franchises across the country, and this time, he was successful. KFC began to expand internationally and he ended up selling the company for what equates to $15 million today.

The story of Harlan David Sanders shows that it’s really, really hard to beat a person who just never gives up. 

 

Why Do We Enjoy Comeback Stories?

Much like inspirational quotes about life and struggles, comeback stories expand our perception of what’s possible.

One of the beliefs that our brain latches onto in order to protect us is the idea that our struggles are unique. If we believe that our struggles are unique, and that no one else is experiencing the same kind of feelings, then we feel less bad for not taking action to change our situation.

“No one else is going through what I’m going through, they wouldn’t understand. It’s just harder for me.”

In most cases, our personal struggles are far from unique. 

You’re not the only one who’s gone through a messy divorce. You’re not the only one who’s grown up without a father/mother at home. You’re not the only one who grew up in a neighborhood filled with negative influences. 

All around the world, there are people who’ve been in your position and still found a way to turn their pain into power and reinvent themselves.

In fact, if you look in the mirror right now, you’ll find that the person staring back at you is the only one that can stop you from getting everything you’ve ever wanted.

 

Final Thoughts: Overcoming Your Own Demons

As you’re reading through these comeback stories, it’s easy to get inspired. But recognize that the inspiration you’re feeling right now is fleeting.

You’re gonna leave this blog post and it’s going to pass. 

The one habit that each of these successful people have in common is that they take relentless action. 

Relentless action allowed Ramona Pierson to recover from a horrific accident that made her a vegetable and become a highly successful entrepreneur. 

Relentless action allowed Mel Robbins to go from a depressed, broke, self-described alcoholic to one of the most compelling motivational speakers in the world.

Let these comeback stories serve as proof that no matter how heavily the deck is stacked against you, relentless action can beat the odds. You can’t control what life is going to throw at you, but you can always control how you respond to it. 

So go respond! Apply to ten more jobs even though you’ve been rejected twenty times. Work through your financial troubles even if it seems hopeless. Take control of your social anxiety even if it’s been ruining your life for years.

Become the type of person who takes relentless action, and someday people will be writing articles like this about you.

blog post featured image - things to do on your phone

13 Productive Things To Do On Your Phone (Tips + Tricks)

There’s an infinite number of things to do on your phone, but unfortunately many of them fall into the category of being unproductive and mindless.

The apps and platforms on our phones have one goal — keep our attention hooked for as long as possible.

The longer we stay, the more money they make. The problem is that their goal is often in direct conflict with our desire to make progress towards our long-term goals.

My goal in this article isn’t to convince you to throw away your smartphone, but instead suggest some productive things to do on your phone so that you can leverage it as a tool for your personal growth.

 

What Can You Do On Your Smartphone To Be Productive?

Your smartphone is a tool — one of the many in your arsenal that you can leverage to improve your life. 

Yet, the accompanying platforms that reside on your smartphone are driven by algorithms far too advanced for our brain to outsmart. There’s literally entire departments inside companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest that are dedicated to one key objective — to make the platform as addicting as possible.  

Our brains haven’t quite caught onto the idea that not every status update or text message deserves our attention. 

That’s because brains love novelty. New experiences stimulate our brains and trigger the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter response for feelings of well-being. 

Smartphones offer endless novelty even though we’re generally doing the same thing: 

  • Each time you open Instagram, there’s new photos to look at.
  • Each time you open Facebook, there’s new status updates to check.
  • Each time you open Twitter, people are talking about new things.
  • Each time you open your email, there’s fresh correspondence waiting for you.

Each time we pull out our phone, there’s a chance that we’ll have a new, unique experience that was different from the last one.

Our brain’s desire for novelty and the convenience of our smartphone is why we sometimes feel like drug addicts who need their fix. 

The drug addict comparison may seem a little brash, but if you’ve gone a full day without your phone before then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Despite everything we’ve just talked about, there are several positive things to do on your phone that do move the needle in your life.

We’ll discuss specific actions in the next section of this article, but generally here are a few ways that your smartphone can be leveraged for good:

  • Improved Personal Relationships: There’s no denying the fact that when used properly and in moderation, our smartphones can be powerful tools for maintaining social bonds and forming new ones. 
  • Productivity: Your smartphone is only the kryptonite of your productivity if you see it that way. Several apps and features on your phone can help you manage your day and use your time more efficiently.
  • Learning New Information: It’s never been easier to become educated about a certain topic that you’re interested in. Audiobooks, podcasts, and Youtube videos all offer the opportunity to expand the scope of your knowledge in any given field.
  • Accountability: One of the most useful things to do on your phone is to turn it into your own personal accountability partner. With subtle nudges each day about the type of person you’re committed to becoming, you’ll be more likely to take action.

 

woman on her iphone

 

13 Productive Things To Do On Your Phone

The rest of this article is going to outline a simple list of productive, purposeful ways that you can use your smartphone.

Some of these behaviors will be one-time actions, and others will be daily practices that require maintenance and consistency. 

Here’s a list of thirteen productive things to do on your phone that you can substitute in place of mindless behaviors that don’t improve your life.

 

#1: Purge Your Email Inbox

One of the most unnecessary and overwhelming sources of clutter in our lives is our email inbox.

If you open your email inbox right now, you’ll probably notice a bunch of junk that simply does not deserve your attention.

Whether it’s the newsletter you signed up for months ago but haven’t cancelled, or the list of stores letting you know about their latest sale, most of our email inboxes are defined by distraction.

Next time you find yourself with some time to kill, try purging some of these useless emails so you can make space for the important stuff. Simply unsubscribe from the email lists and newsletters that don’t add any value to your life, and keep the ones that do.

The less junk you have in your inbox, the more time you’ll have to focus on high-priority action items.

 

man pointing at his email

 

#2: Remove Filler Apps

While you’re purging your email inbox, you might as well apply the same philosophy to your home screen. If you’re like me, you’ve probably downloaded a bunch of apps that you never even use.

Removing these apps is one of the easiest things to do on your phone to reduce unnecessary clutter and minimize your life.. Go through the apps on your phone and ask yourself, “Is this app adding any kind of value to my life or is it just taking up space?”

Once you’ve purged the unimportant, you can take things a step further by making your most important apps the easiest to access.

Move these to the very first page of your home screen so that they’re always right in front of you after entering your passcode.

 

#3: Record Big Ideas

One of the most productive things to do on your phone is to take advantage of key insights that enter your conscious mind throughout the day.

Each day, we’re pampered with thousands of thoughts. Most of them simply serve to add noise and chaos to our lives, but every once in a while you’ll strike gold. 

I vividly remember the day that the idea popped into my head to start a motivational Twitter account. I was walking back to my apartment after a lecture, and out of nowhere my brain served up an idea:

“You’re already super interested in self-improvement, why not start a social media account that motivates people and see how big you can grow it?”

I immediately pulled out my phone, scrolled over to my “Big Ideas” notepad, and wrote down “Consider starting a motivational Twitter account.”

A few days later, I found myself reviewing some of the big ideas that I had recorded over the past several weeks, and it was that night that I decided to act on one of them. 

A little over three years later, that motivational account I started while laying in bed now has over 157,000 followers.

 

picture of a twitter account

 

Would things have unfolded this way even if I didn’t record the moment that thought entered my mind? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. but what I do know is that I didn’t create the account until I reviewed my list of “Big Ideas.”

If you’re reading this right now, you likely have ambitious goals. Along with that, you have a variety of different paths you can take to achieve those goals. 

All day long, your subconscious mind is operating in service of these goals — providing useful information about how to proceed.

All you have to do is listen and separate the noise from the important stuff. 

Big ideas are fleeting. It’s easy for moments of brilliance get lost in the chaos of our day to day lives, so you want to be prepared whenever your inner genius speaks.

 

#4: Listen To An Audiobook

The never-ending pursuit of information is one of the key habits of successful people. The more you learn, the more you earn.

That last bolded sentence is a quote from one of the most successful investors of all time, who also happens to be a voracious reader, Warren Buffett.

It was once reported in Inc Magazine that Warren Buffet reads for six hours every single day, consuming about 500 pages of new information every 24 hours.

Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by Fast Company asked hundreds of CEO’s about their reading habits. The results showed that the average CEO reads about 60 books per year, which comes out to about five per month.

The bottom line is that successful people read a lot. And when they do read, it’s with a purpose — usually to stay on the cutting edge of their industry and learn from other smart people.

Although a regular reading habit does play a role in becoming successful, it’s often hard to find time to read throughout the day, and that’s why audiobooks are such an awesome tool.

Audiobooks allow you to read some of the best self-improvement books of all time while you’re sitting in traffic, getting a workout in, folding laundry, etc.

If you’re struggling to find the time to sit down and read, then audiobooks offer hassle-free knowledge that you can use to up your game in any area of your life. 

If you’re interested in developing certain skills related to self-improvement, the following articles will suggest some of the best options for each category.

 

book with headphones on top of it

 

#5: Try Blinkist

For all of the benefits that a daily reading habit offers, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a time consuming process.

A service like Blinkist is a perfect way to consume knowledge quickly — without spending the 6-8 hours required to finish a compelling book.

On the homepage of their website, Blinkist proclaims that their service is, “Perfect for curious people who love to learn, busy people who don’t have time to read, and even people who aren’t into reading.”

They deliver on this message by offering concise summaries of popular non-fiction books so you don’t have to go through 300 pages to get the main principles.

These summaries can be consumed in just 15 minutes, and they have an extensive library of books that contains over 5,000 titles.

Using Blinkist is one of the most productive things to do on your phone if you consider yourself to be an ambitious learner who can’t seem to find time to read.

 

#6: Listen To A Podcast

Podcasts are another rich source of information in today’s world. The great thing about podcasts is that like audiobooks, they can be consumed passively. 

Before heading into the gym. I always make sure to queue up a podcast involving some of my favorite industry experts.

My advice is to pick 2-3 people in your field that you want to learn from and focus on listening to those people. Given that my interests revolve around personal development, my three go-to experts are James Clear, Tim Ferriss, and Nir Eyal.

Once you’ve got your three go-to-people, go to the search bar of your podcast platform of choice and type in these three names. Typically, you’ll see a list of podcasts that these people have appeared on in the past. 

Whenever you find yourself doing something that doesn’t require total concentration, listening to these podcasts in the background can help you accomplish two things at once.

 

#7: Send Check-In Texts To Your Friends

Friendship isn’t about grand gestures, it’s about small kindnesses that compound over time to create meaningful bonds. The small stuff like keeping in touch, responding promptly, and providing words of encouragement go a long way towards building a network of people who care about you.

So the next time you have a few minutes, pick someone from your contacts and shoot them a quick check-in text. Simply check in with them about their life or better yet, try to make future plans to get together with them.

If you want to be a bigger part of other people’s lives, then you need to make people a bigger part of your life. The 60 seconds it takes to craft a simple hello to a friend pays huge dividends for the quality and depth of your personal relationships.

 

man texting his friends

 

#8: Set Reminders & Deadlines

One of my biggest flaws is that I get scatterbrained. When I sit down to write, I can work for hours on end with very little lapse in concentration. 

But if you knew how often I forget to transfer washed clothes to the dryer, or call people/companies back at a specific time/date, you’d think I was the least focused person in the world.

It’s embarrassing the amount of money that’s vanished from my bank account because I didn’t cancel a free trial before the billing date kicked in.

Nowadays, these kinds of slip-ups are less frequent because of the “Reminders” app on my phone. I’m still not perfect, but since becoming a religious adopter of this tool, I’m significantly better at remembering to follow through on prior commitments.

Every day, we’re bombarded with to do’s, meetings, and notifications — these are the kinds of interruptions that lead to forgetfulness as we’re constantly switching from task to task.

So whenever you become aware of something important that requires your attention, don’t just hope that you’ll remember to do it. Use the reminders app as a way to reduce the margin of error in your day to day life.

 

#9: Cut Dead Weight From Your Twitter Feed

One of the most potentially distracting things to do on your phone is opening up your Twitter feed. What starts out as a quick pulse-check on the world’s events can easily turn into 30 minutes of mindless scrolling.

The type of content you consume often influences your future thoughts. So if you’re gonna spend time scrolling, it’s probably a good idea to ensure that the tweets you scroll past add some sort of value to your life.

I find Twitter to be a great source of inspiration for my work, but that’s because I’ve carefully selected the type of content that shows up in my feed.

The people I follow tend to be experts in topics like habits, productivity, and positive psychology. In other words, almost all of the content that shows up on my feed is adding value to my personal and professional life.

If you want to curate your Twitter feed so that it has a net positive impact on your life, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What subjects do I want to learn more about that will advance my personal and professional development?
  • Who are the best people to follow in this field?
  • Is there any dead-weight content that has no utility in advancing my personal and professional development? Who tweets this content?

If you want to become a better salesperson, curate your feed accordingly by following some of the best salespeople in the world.

If you want to get in better shape, try following some of the top fitness accounts on Twitter. (and maybe unfollow that account posting savory dessert recipes every single day).

This is one of the most productive things to do on your phone because of the long-term compound effect of consuming positive content that aligns with your goals.

 

#10: Turn Your Lock Screen Into Motivation

“Yesterday you said tomorrow.”

That’s what I see on my lock screen every single time I turn on my phone. This means that throughout the day, I get a gentle nudge that reminds me to avoid procrastination and prioritize my long-term goals.

When it comes to success, small 1% changes make all the difference. Each aspect of your environment is a lever that you can pull to tilt the odds in your favor.

Changing your lockscreen to something motivating is one of those levers. Does it guarantee that you’ll always take action and discipline yourself to do  the right things? Of course not, but it does help reinforce the type of person you’re trying to be.

After all, you’re gonna see a lot of your lockscreen on any given day, why not make it something inspiring?

 

#11: Use Apps To Track Your Habits

Continuing on with this list of productive things to do on your phone, we have the time-tested strategy of keeping your daily commitments visible.

Building good daily habits is an essential component of success. However, many of us are vague with our intentions when it comes to habits. We say things like…

  • I’m going to workout 4 times per week
  • I’m going to meditate for 10 minutes every day.
  • I’m going to call someone from my social circle every day.
  • I’m going to write for an hour per day

It’s great to make these declarations, but usually we forget one of the most crucial principles of consistent actionholding ourselves accountable to these intentions.  

Enter habit tracking apps. Habit tracking apps are so useful because they give you a visual representation of your progress. 

Building up streaks in these apps can be quite addicting as well. You’re much more likely to stick with a particular behavior if you look at your calendar and see a 10 day chain of success going for you.  

A simple glance at your progress might offer that extra dose of motivation you need to force yourself to the gym, or hit your word count for the day.     

There’s a bunch of habit tracking apps out there, but the two that I recommend are Habitify and Strides. I currently use Habitify to track my habits simply because I like the interface better but this is just personal preference — either of these apps will get the job done.

 

habit tracking notebook

 

#12: Craft A Productivity Playlist

This is one of those productivity tips  that won’t be practical for everyone — skip right past this section if you prefer to work in complete silence.

However, if you enjoy a little background music while you work, spend some time crafting a soothing playlist that will help you relax and be productive at the same time.

Take the guesswork out of finding the right songs for your work blocks and create that you can just hit shuffle on.

 

#13: Keep Your Brain Sharp

Another one of the most productive things to do on your phone is to leverage it to keep your brain sharp. 

There are a variety of mobile games that you can play that are designed to promote improved concentration and better problem-solving skills.

  • Digital Crossword Puzzles: Crossword puzzles keep your brain active and enhance your cognitive and analytical abilities. 
  • Digital Sudoku: Sudoku is a game of numbers mostly emphasizing pattern recognition and active observation. It requires you to make connections and plan ahead, improving short term memory and concentration. 
  • Luminosity: Luminosity is a brain training website that now has over 70 million users. The games and exercises are based around cognitive neuroscience, meaning they’re designed to improve your mental flexibility and problem-solving skills.

 

soduku puzzles

 

Final Thoughts: Productive Things To Do On Your Phone

I hope that you enjoyed this article highlighting thirteen productive things to do on your phone.

The next time you have time to kill, use this as an opportunity to replace mindless activity with something positive that moves your life forward.

Get rid of the junk from your inbox. Send a simple check-in text to one of your friends. Keep your mind sharp by playing some Sudoku. Listen to a compelling, insightful podcast or non-fiction book.

Each one of these actions accomplishes the same goal — making your phone a productivity tool instead of a productivity obstacle.

Your smartphone is an amazing piece of innovation that can help you live a more productive, less cluttered life, but it can also sabotage this goal as well. 

It all comes down to how you use it, and the choice is completely yours.

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