Successful Resolutions

Have you ever made a successful New Year’s resolution? If you are like the majority, probably not. In fact, about 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Most quit by February.

Resolutions are great in theory. We should all be on a journey towards self-improvement. I have learned however, the greatest distance in the world is between words and action.

Resolutions work wonderfully at the start because that is when we are most highly motivated to change – our willpower is at a peak level. However, as days turn into weeks, and February rolls around, only 20% remain chasing their goals and aspirations they set only four weeks prior. Why? Because it is human nature to quit when we feel discomfort; or we fail to see immediate results. Success requires an ability to not only overcome discomfort, but to actually seek it out; in addition, you must actually enjoy the slow process of change. Begin to focus on the journey, and not the destination. Anything worthwhile in life takes time.

2018 was the first year I was able to accomplish all of my New Year’s Resolutions. How did I do it? Here is what I did:

My Plan To A Successful Resolution

My plan is only three steps. That’s it! I feel like the more complicated a plan gets, the more unlikely that the plan will be useful. Like when I need directions, the easier the directions to the destination, the more likely I will get there. I don’t want a lot of twists and turns. If you can tell me how to get to where I want to go in three steps or less, I know I will be successful. You’ve asked for directions. Here is my map:

1. Small Pieces

This is where most people fail, because they don’t see huge results right away. To be successful, it is necessary to focus on small wins and victories.

In 2018, I made it a goal to write a book by the end the year. I knew I wanted my book to be roughly 35,000 – 38,000 words. I divided this number by 365 days, and realized that to accomplish my goal, I would need to write on average, 116 words per day. That’s it! This may seem excessively small, but 116 words only took me anywhere from 2-8 minutes, depending on my content. When you progress towards small wins every day, they eventually compound into huge victories (a book)!

Instead of my resolution being to write two hours a day (I would have most certainly failed at this), I created a tiny win that I had to chase each day. Certainly I was able to forge 2-8 minutes from my schedule to write!

2. Tell A lot Of People

Tell as many people as you can about your plans. Post it on your social media. Be very specific too. When you tell others about your plans, you become accountable to them. This is called positive pressure. Because you don’t want to let others down, and you want to be a person of your word, you will be more likely to accomplish your resolution when you tell people.

3. Give Yourself a Deadline

People generally work better under pressure. Give yourself a specific deadline in which to accomplish your resolution. You want to quit smoking? Give yourself a deadline. You want to lose 5 pounds? Give yourself a deadline. The more specific you can be about your deadline, the more successful you will be.

Thoughts About The Plan

When I wrote my book, my deadline was December 31/2018. I finished on June 30/2018 instead. Why?

Three reasons:

  1. When I saw myself achieving small wins of 116 words per day, I was inspired to write more than 116 words. I began to love the process.
  2. I told people constantly that I was going to write a book, which held me to a high level of accountability.
  3. I told people about my deadline. The deadline made the finish line real.

In other words, THE PLAN WORKS!

Conclusion

I challenge you to use this simple plan as you map out your resolutions for 2019. The key is not to overwhelm yourself with too many, life-altering changes. Divide your goals into small pieces, tell everyone, and set deadlines. You have the ability to be like the 8%.

I promise, if you follow my plan, you too, will experience a very successful year.

Get better.

#5minuteleadership

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feeling of accomplishment

The Freedom of Not Caring

“Care about other people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner” – Lao Tzu

“Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Aristotle

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Approval, The Prison

When you constantly seek the approval of others, you give away your POWER. As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, you will always be a prisoner. Your master will be those whose approval you seek. When you give your power away, you also give away your freedom. Life becomes a prison.

For many years, I constantly craved the approval of my peers, friends, family members, colleagues, and supervisors. I am going to assume, that you too, can strongly relate, because according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, love and belonging is an instictive attribute of being human . We naturally crave the approval of others.

After much reflection, I can honestly and shamefully conclude that most of my thought life AND RESULTING ACTIONS during my teenage years, and even into my early and mid 20’s, was somehow, in one way or another, connected to desperately wanting the approval of other people. I needed people to accept me, even if it meant sacrificing my personality, ethics, dreams, and goals.

I can clearly remember dressing differently, talking differently, and acting differently, all to impress and “win” the affection and approval of others. Approval is also often why teenagers begin experimenting with sex, drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol; and also why others develop shopping addictions, waste hours and hours of valuable time desperately seeking “likes” and followers on social media, and drive cars and live in houses they can’t afford.

Wouldn’t it make sense then not to care? If approval seeking is negative, not caring must be positive. Right? Not so fast…

 

Are You Saying Not To Care At All?

No.

However, as I have matured, I have realized more than ever, the opinions of others really don’t matter to my overall sense of happiness, worth, and purpose. Actually, let me correct that… the opinions of most people don’t matter.

In order to have close, connected relationships and friendships in your life, it will be necessary to care what SOME people think – those in your inner circle. When you completely disregard the opinions of all people, however, you will become disconnected, without any real meaningful relationships. After all, you are human, and belonging is essential to your happiness.

In her book, Dare to Lead, author Brene Brown suggests that you should be able to write all of the names of people whose thoughts and opinions TRULY MATTER to you on a 1 x 1 inch piece of paper. Why 1 x 1 inch? Because, most likely, it will require you to do some editing and eliminating, maybe in some cases, some adding. You are to fill the tiny paper.

I challenge you to do this exercise NOW!

Grab Your Freedom! It’s Waiting…

My 1 x 1 paper has only the names of people who I know will love me unconditionally. That is, I don’t need their approval anyway, because they will accept me for who I am. I don’t need fancy clothes, a nice car, a big house, or a certain personality. I can rest and live happily and CONFIDENTLY knowing that I am accepted and loved for being me. After many years, I have escaped my prison of approval – and just like any prisoner, I have no desire to return to jail. It is only when I have total freedom, can I truly experience what it is like to live.

Conclusion

Are you seeking the approval of too many people? Do you feel trapped? Then I challenge you to only focus on the names that you have written on your 1 x 1 inch square – even if the square only has one name on it. Life is not about quantity, LIFE IS ABOUT QUALITY…even if instagram has taught you different.

When people not on your square put you down, ridicule you, and/or senselessly judge you, go back to your square and remember those who truly matter. Most of the people that I tried to impress fifteen and twenty years ago are no longer a part of my life anyway. They were only minor characters in the story of my life. You will learn that most cannot and will not join you on your journey. Get rid of the dead weight now. They never mattered anyway.

Get better.

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Problems Are Really Opportunities In Disguise

My Problem…or Opportunity??

The next problem you face, shift your mindset, and view it as an opportunity. Go ahead…I dare ya!

Let me explain…My personality can be a little extreme at times. I don’t like fears getting the best of me. In general, I don’t like being defeated by anything. Obviously I am not indestructible, so circumstances often do challenge and defeat me. For example, all of my life I have been afraid of heights and for some reason, being attacked by a wild animal. Wild animals range from geese to bears. Basically, I am afraid of wildlife. Wow…I feel a lot better having revealed my secret shame!

My plan this summer was to defeat both in one shot…by climbing a mountain in Alberta, Canada; which was probably filled with bears, wolves, and who knows what other kind of monsters (at least that’s what I told myself!). We had our trip booked long in advance, but during the months preceding the trip, beginning in April, my left knee started to become painful. However, being the “tough” guy that I am, I ignored the pain, only to have the pain worsen with each passing day. Finally, after seeing a doctor, I was informed that I most likely had a torn meniscus, and would be wise to rest until I could have an MRI in late October.

Well that wasn’t going to happen! I had a mountain to climb! I am a very stubborn person, and when I make my mind up to do something, I most always see it through. This was going to be no different.

When we arrived in Banff, Alberta on August 7th, I was in excruciating pain. In fact, it was the most painful day I had experienced since the knee problem began months prior! No kidding! I needed assistance just to slowly walk around town on a flat sidewalk. I even needed to find respite a few times in the cold Banff River to alleviate the tremendous pain in my knee. Basically put, I was a mess. I should have been lying on a coach somewhere with a giant icepack resting on my knee – certainly not in the Rocky Mountains contemplating climbing my first-ever mountain!

However, in a somewhat cruel twist, Sulphur Mountain, the mountain I intended to climb, is directly beside the Banff River. As I soaked my knees in the river, I stared up at the mountain. I had come all this way to climb the mountain, but my knees begged for mercy. This was a problem. Or… was it an opportunity in disguise?

There are two options if you wish to summit Sulphur Mountain – you can pay $64 to ride the gondola and chill, or you can hike the trail for free. As I stood at the base of the mountain, I stared at a 7,486 foot problem. Mountains are often used as metaphors for problems, and at that very moment, I could definitely see why!

I wasn’t going to pay $64, so I really only had one option – I was going to summit the mountain by climbing the thing! Honestly though, the deciding factor in why I chose to climb wasn’t really about the money, but instead, I needed to create a powerful real-life story that I could share with others about overcoming problems and obstacles, and the incredible feeling of victory that awaits on the other side of the battle.

Climbing Sulphur Mountain would eventually reveal itself to be the most difficult and painful physical challenge I had ever experienced in my life. On tripadvisor, the trail is only described as a “moderate” hike, but climbing uphill for two hours with a torn knee elevated my mental toughness and determination to a level that I didn’t know I had. Each step was painful. Really painful. The only reason I succeeded is because I relentlessly imagined crossing the finish line. Over and over. The finish line. Because the problem was so big – 7,486 feet – the feeling of victory was unforgettable, and worth every step of agony.

I will never forget the feeling of taking my final step, looking out over the Rocky Mountains, reaching my arms out, and taking in the incredible feeling of accomplishment. Had I quit and told myself the problem was too big for me to handle, or made an easy excuse telling myself my knees couldn’t handle the pressure, I would have never have known the incredible feeling of victory. I would never have known what I am capable of. Instead, quitting or not trying would have only confirmed to me that I am not able to defeat major problems or setbacks alone. Each problem you encounter really is that pivotal…the problem can either STRENGTHEN YOU, OR WEAKEN YOU.

Defeating the problem of Sulphur Mountain instilled within me a confidence that I am able to fight AND WIN any battle in my life. It gave me a feeling of victory that I will never forget. The battle wasn’t easy. With each step of the climb, I had to fight with everything within me not to turn around and give up. But, I am stronger because of the fight. The problem of the mountain was an opportunity for my confidence, inner strength, and physical and mental toughness to increase. Thank you problem, thank you Sulphur Mountain, I am stronger now because of you!

Conclusion

On the OTHER SIDE of every problem is a stronger you. However, the only path to the other side IS TO FIGHT, no matter how much pain you are in, or how big the problem is. As I found out, the bigger the problem, the sweeter the victory.

However, on the SAME SIDE of every problem is a WEAKER you. If you don’t challenge the problem, but instead quit or don’t even try to defeat it, you will only confirm to yourself that you are weak and incapable.

Use your next problem as an opportunity. The problem you face is only wearing a mask…shift your mindset, be EXCITED about your next problem, because on the other side of the problem is GREATNESS.

 

 

Be sure to follow me on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER. Each day I will post an inspiring message…a thought for the day…to help push you towards success.

 

 

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Mental Toughness Training

As a teacher, one of the biggest tragedies I see students consistently make is that they give up too easily. In fact, many students give up after failing just once! I am confident that if you are able to triumph and persevere through setbacks and difficulties, you can easily separate yourself from your peers. Why? Because when your friends and peers are quitting, you will be breaking new barriers. The tool you need to develop is mental toughness..

I purposefully train my mental toughness often. It isn’t fun, but when I am able to complete tasks that others won’t, I will be able to accomplish what others can’t. There lies the separation of excellence and mediocrity…

When your peers are daydreaming in class, your mental toughness will be locked-in to absorb all of the information being taught. Yes, we teachers try to make all lessons fun and engaging, but sometimes we miss the mark – I admit, the lesson could be boring! It is incredibly important to LIVE-OUT your words. It’s been said that you shouldn’t judge a person by their words, but instead, you should judge them by what they do. So when I suggest to you that you should train your mental toughness by engaging in tasks that aren’t fun, I will do the same to prove my point.

Right now, I am blogging from my gym in Winnipeg. It’s 11:30 PM. I arrived at 8:45. I am currently on a mission to complete 1000 pull-ups in 10 hours. Oh yeah…I am completing this mission THROUGHOUT the entire night. I am not leaving here until 7 AM. Why did I choose to do this at night? Simple…it takes more mental toughness to complete the task.

 

Here is  my journey…

I have found some time in my workout to blog my progress. I have scheduled myself to complete 100 pull-ups every hour for 10 hours. I have currently completed 250 pull-ups in the first 90 minutes, so I have an hour.

How am I feeling? It’s human nature to focus on the negative…I am worried that my hands are starting to blister and are becoming extremely painful. I am worried I won’t be able to finish. I am reminded of a past world-record holder, David Goggins, who completed 4030 pull-ups in 17 hours – he had 3rd degree burns on his hands and had to stop in one of his first attempts. I don’t want that. I am fighting negativity right now.

However, my mental toughness, which I have consistently trained for years, is beginning to defeat my negativity. I am getting energized because I know that when most are getting ready for bed, I am still grinding. Overcoming challenges, huge challenges, will increase positivity and renew your mindset! I guarantee it!

Update…it’s 12:42 AM. Progress is being made: I have completed 400 pull-ups. My hands are still sore, but the pain isn’t progressing. Why? Instead of focusing on the negative, I searched for a solution: I googled a CrossFit technique for how to grip the bar properly to avoid blisters and rips. Bring on the remaining 600!

Update 2… it’s 3:19 AM. I have stopped at 676 pull-ups – kind of a weird number I know, but my body and mind needs a break. I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle to get through the 500’s and 600’s. I wanted to go home. The thought of doing another 500 pull-ups AND staying here for another five hours is beginning to torment my mind.

However, I have two choices: to remain mentally tough, keep going, and become more confident having defeated a huge challenge, or go home, get comfortable, and sleep only to wake up feeling frustrated and weak because I didn’t stick through with the challenge. The thought of the finish line is keeping me going. I don’t want to waste 676! 324 more and I am home baby!

Update 3…it’s now 4:48 AM, and I am beginning to slow down. I was doing sets of five pull-ups, now I am doing sets of 2 or 3. I am at 850 pull-ups now! The frustration I was feeling earlier is completely gone. All I see now is the finish line. It’s amazing the power that grinding through mental and physical exhaustion can have on your mindset. The feeling of accomplishment is going to be awesome!

Update 4…its exactly 6:00 AM. One hour to go to meet my deadline, and I have completed 950 pull-ups. I have a huge problem though…my right elbow is beginning to seize when I flex it. I can’t physically do anymore pull-ups right now. My plan is to rest another 20 to 30 minutes and see if somehow I can pull off the last 50. I am determined to be mentally tough, but not at the price of sacrificing the physical health of my body. I need to be smart here.

Update 5…it is 3:44 PM!! I finished all 1000 pull-ups by the time the clock struck 7 AM. What an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment. I went straight home, and fell asleep for 6 hours. My body is sore and aching. My hands are blistered up, and it’s very painful and difficult to bend my right elbow. Not a problem though, as these aches are temporary…the feeling of achievement is going to last a lifetime. The trade is well worth it.

As I reflect on those crazy ten hours of both mental and physical exhaustion, I cannot help but think of the intense struggle that I experienced. Between about 2 AM and 4AM, the urge to quit was incredibly real and powerful. I honestly felt I was going to stop. Probably more so than physically, the struggle was incredibly intense mentally. My mind was pleading with my body to stop and drive home to the comfort of my bed.

How did I get through the struggle? Two things: I focused on the joy and celebration of meeting the end-goal of 1000 push-ups, AND I spoke positively to myself all night..”You can do this!” “Go to the bar and do 5 more!” “You are more powerful than your feelings.” I refused to let negativity enter my mind…but that is a lesson for another time.

The next time I encounter a problem or a boring task that I’d rather not do, I can simply pull from my experience of 1000 pull-ups to guide me through to success and completion. For example, I really dislike marking assignments and preparing report cards. Both can become very tedious and boring. Next time I need to mark assignments or prepare report cards though, I am going to remember standing underneath a pull-up bar for 10 hours – if I can complete 10 overnight hours of physical and mental exhaustion of pulling my body over a bar 1000 times, certainly I can grade assignments for two hours! The confidence that I have earned through incredibly hard work will lead me to achieve greater success in other areas of my life later on. Now that I know I am capable of great things, minor challenges or annoyances will be easy to defeat.

You want to have an extremely successful school year? You want to achieve higher grades than you have ever achieved before? Then you need to train your mental toughness! Don’t worry though, it isn’t necessary to do so in such an extreme way as staying up all night at a gym and completing 1000 pull-ups; but you can study for an hour every night, can’t you? You can tell your friends you won’t be going to the party this time. You can review notes during your lunch-break and spares. You can workout when your friends are playing video games.

When you diligently practice mental toughness you will be ready for the boring lesson. You will be ready to study for hours in preparation for a major exam. You will be ready to complete your shift at work with diligence because you have been strengthening and conditioning your mind to stay mentally tough. Your peers? They will be quitting. They will be going to parties. They will stop when their mind tells them it isn’t fun anymore.

You tell me who is going to have the more successful school year: the student who quits when times get difficult, or the student who perseveres through challenges. I think it’s pretty obvious.

As you can see, the joy of triumph was worth the pain and agony…

                        

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