DESIGN YOUR DAYS TO DESIGN YOUR LIFE

Here is a secret.

I don’t know where my life is going.

I have goals, hopes and plans, but there is no way to know whether any of them will work out.

There are a million situations that could arise at any moment and change the entire course of my future.

Even if nothing life changing happens externally, in six months I could be a different person with different goals.
You never know.

You might think this is a negative way to view life, but I find it to be freeing.

When you are looking too far forward into the future the uncertainty can seem daunting.

But every marathon is finished step by step, every wall is built brick by brick and every life is lived day by day.

If you live your life trying to get as much out of each individual day as possible, you can rest assured that you have done all you can to achieve a life that makes you proud.

You have to design your days to design your life.

Here are three things you can do to ensure that you get the most value out of today.

days count

Do something that moves you forward.

This is anything that improves you physically, emotionally, spiritually or intellectually.

It is important to try and improve yourself at least marginally every day.

Read a book, go for a walk, meditate or hit the gym. Whatever you have to do to feel like you are a slightly more balanced and stable person than you were yesterday.

When you get into the habit of doing something that moves you forward every day, you will never be stagnant.

You will feel like a completely brand new person every six months.

Do something you haven’t done before.

Without novelty in our lives the days seem to blend together in a mix of early morning coffee spills and beaten up alarm clocks.

It’s hard to notice when your life has been going on autopilot. You look back in shock as you realize that you haven’t done anything new in months.
Where did the time go?

Novelty is the spice of life. Go to a film festival, check out a farmers market. Do something you’ve never done before, go somewhere you’ve never been before.

Add some colour to your life to prevent it from becoming a symphony of greys and blacks.

Do something selfless.

There is no better way to have a meaningful day than to devote some of your time to something other than yourself.

There are more than seven billion people on this planet but we often only think of life from our own perspective.

Devoting some of your time to others can help you see life in a new light.

Spend some time volunteering, reach out to a friend you haven’t seen in a while or show some love to your pet.

Any time spent on someone else, is time well spent.

You may not know what will happen in the future, but decide what happens today.

If you consciously try to get value out of every day, you will have a valuable life.

A life with meaning is a life well lived, but your whole life doesn’t happen at once.

It’s built brick by brick, step by step, day by day.

As always, I’ll see you next Sunday.

Replace your Should with a Could

They say you should be yourself.

I’m not sure who they are but I’m starting to think that they are on to something.

Every time you act like someone you aren’t or do something you don’t want to just to appease someone, you get a little bit further away from who you are.

Fear

Everyone agrees that you should be yourself. There are thousands of quotes and motivational pictures depicting this. No one would ever tell you “Be more like someone else.”

So why is it people still spend so much of their time doing things they don’t want to, and traveling down a path that isn’t right for them?

It’s because of fear. They are afraid that what they want in their heart won’t work out.

Afraid that if they take the leap there won’t be anything there to catch them.

They let fear push them into a corner.

Should

I hate that word. I encourage you to throw it out of your vocabulary.

Whenever you are using this word it’s because you’re thinking about something that you don’t want to do, but for some reason feel like you have to.

should go to university. I should get a normal job. I should settle down.

This word is a virus that you have because you’ve been surrounded by it your whole life. You parents, teachers, peers and society have all instilled their own “shoulds” into you.

After writing that word so many times it looks alien to me. I hope it looks alien to you as well.

Every time this word appears in your life I want you to think very carefully about how it got there and if you really need it.

Could

I would encourage you instead to replace all of your shoulds with coulds.

Could is a word that I can get behind. It allows you to imagine possibilities.

When you are thinking of a could, you are allowing yourself to believe in something that you want.

could start that business I’ve been thinking about. I could talk to that cute cashier. I could travel around Europe.

It’s a much more useful word.

Rid yourself of the shoulds and start thinking in coulds.

You’ll explore more of who you are and less of who other people want you to be.

dr seuss

Ten Commandments Of Learning

I’ve tried a few things in my lifetime. Some of them I have been good at, and others have caused me to fall flat on my face like Bambi.

I’ve learned how to play the drums, how to do door to door sales, speak/act on a public stage, create YouTube videos, work out, and the list goes on.

I’ve always enjoyed learning new things and throughout the years I started to realize that any venture you plan on undertaking will have certain universal truths that can help you be successful.
And save you a LOT of time.

I could write an article on each of these, but I want to give you something comprehensive.

Without further ado, here are my “Ten Commandments of Learning.”

1) Be Passionate

No matter what you are going to try, you have to have passion.
It has to invigorate you.

If your venture doesn’t excite you then at some point you are going to lose interest and motivation. You don’t want to get into something that you will eventually drop and forget about.

If the thought of sewing doesn’t excite you, pick something else. This should be common sense but you would be surprised how many people do things with a lack of passion.

Maybe they want to impress other people or they think it’s something they should learn.

Don’t do something for any other reason than fulfilling a passion. Otherwise the results will be lack luster and you will waste your time.

2) Learn From The Professionals

We are lucky to live in the internet age. There are thousands of qualified people giving out free information at every turn.

Instead of just jumping in head first without knowing anything, take a little bit of time to research some people that have already succeeded in your venture and allow them to be digital mentors.

If you have a credible professional closer to you then great, learn in person. Unfortunately most people won’t have that luxury.

You can find hundreds of YouTube videos, blogs, magazines and podcasts on any topic.

This will save you a lot of time spent learning things the hard way. These people have already learned things the hard way, use them as a resource.

Get a digital mentor, or ten, and get cracking.

3) Start Small (*ere ere* Break it down now)
My impression of DJ scratching.

I can not stress how important this one is. Learn the absolute basics first, master them, and then move on to the next stages.

When I was teaching people how to do door to door sales I would focus on one thing at a time. Usually I would start with body language or voice projection.

I wouldn’t even worry about the pitch, closing a sale, or any fine details for a while.

Before any of that, they had to learn the basics.

When you learn an instrument you don’t start off playing Mozart. You don’t even learn a song right away.

First, you start by learning how to hold it, how to play scales and how to take care of it.

Learn what the basics are and then master them.

4) Fall Into A Phase

If you want to learn something effectively you have to immerse yourself in it. Willingly accept that this is something you love and for a time it will take up a lot of your attention.

People might become annoyed when they notice that you talk about this venture a lot and you relate everything back to it, but this will help integrate it into your very being.

I learn everything by going into phases. Right now I am in a positive thinking and willpower phase. I watch YouTube videos about it, listen to audio books, meditate, do positive affirmations and a whole list of other things.

When you go into a phase you may partially neglect other parts of your life and that’s fine because right now you are focusing on something important to you.

You also have to realize that this venture won’t be your main focus for your whole life, but after it is over the lessons you learned will be integrated into you and will help you in any other endeavors.

Allow yourself to fall into a phase and you will learn ten times faster.

5) Dedicate An Allotted Daily Time to Practice

So you have allowed yourself to fall down the rabbit hole and you are deep in a phase.

You spend time learning about your venture, and immersing yourself in your venture, but you must ensure you practice it.

All the theory in the world isn’t worth anything if you never practice and you need to set aside a daily time slot to do so.
It has to be everyday, non-negotiable.

It can be an hour, or ten minutes. If you think you don’t have enough time to practice, then make the time.

Wake up a half hour earlier and do it then, before the birds are chirping and the world is breathing down your neck.

This goes hand in hand with being in a phase because you might not be able to do this for your whole life.

But right now, you need to do it. Get it done everyday, no excuses.

6) Connect With Others On The Same Path

I am a firm believer that you can’t do everything on your own.

You will run into other people while you are venturing down your path. Use their help.

Ask them for advice, get them to practice with you, have discussions with them, and allow them to be a part of your immersion process.

You can find these people on forums, in YouTube comments, or in everyday life.

If you surround yourself with people that have the same interest you will always have a second perspective and a motivator.

7) Allow Yourself To Fail

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Anything you have ever done, you have failed at. From speaking, to walking, to brushing your teeth, and everything in between.

The first thirty times you tried walking you literally fell flat on your ass.

So why do we associate failure with embarrassment when we are older?

I guarantee that if you fail at anything one hundred times, you will be better at it than ninety percent of people.

You will learn a bit about yourself, and your craft, every time you fail.

The difference between the master and the beginner is that the master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried.

8) Teach Another Person

This is the part of the puzzle that most people never fit in. In order to truly internalize a skill you need to teach it.

This will force you to look at the learning experience from every angle and examine your craft down to the smallest details so that you can answer any question.

When you teach someone else something that you have learned, they will experience obstacles that you may not have experienced. You will learn from their failures just as you learned from yours.

Not to mention that you will be helping someone and making the world better.
Each one teach one.

9) Keep It In Your Thoughts

Before you go to bed and night and when you wake up in the morning make sure your venture is on your mind.

Imagine yourself at the end of your journey, a master of new skills, a more resilient version of yourself.

Remind yourself why you started, and why you will persevere through any obstacles.

I like to do this by having daily affirmations. Before I lay in bed at night and before I get up in the morning I repeat a chosen phrase to myself. I close my eyes and visualize my goal as if I am already there.

The mind is a powerful thing and whatever you focus on the most is what will come to fruition in your life.
Make sure it is your goal.

10) Be Humble

Never assume that you know more than anyone else. Take criticism gracefully.

Take the positive out of everything that you can and leave the negative behind.

You must always view yourself as a student, learning as much as you can from all sources.

It is essential that you remain humble and open, otherwise you will not be in the state required for optimal learning. If you are closed minded and arrogant you won’t grow.

These are my ten commandments for learning.

I live by them every day. They will give you the foundation to build your dreams on.

Learning something new is always scary, but if you remember that the commandments are always the same you will feel as though you are walking a familiar path.
It’s a beautiful stroll, isn’t it?

still learning

Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

I have been writing in a journal before bed at night. I don’t write any deep or emotional thoughts, I just write what I did that day. Plain and simple.

I went back and looked at a couple of my first entries into this journal and I noticed something.

In the first pages of my journal I talk about having difficulty with new habits I am trying to create. How I find it hard waking up early and sometimes I miss the gym.

I had completely forgotten about my progress through this period.

Before I revisited these journal entries I was going through a phase where I felt like I wasn’t making any headway in life. I felt like I was on a treadmill going nowhere.

I was constantly comparing myself to everyone around me, thinking that I wasn’t doing enough.

we_could_all_use_some_sage_advice_today_45_photos23_1404401776

By taking a journey through my thoughts from months ago, I realized that I had improved in nearly every area of my life.

Comparing myself today against myself a short time ago was like night and day.
It gave me confidence.

Don’t compare yourself to other people.

When you look at someone else your instinct is to pick out every one of their good qualities that you lack, and weigh them against yourself.

The problem is that the things that make you amazing, probably aren’t the same for that person. You might be jealous of their girlfriend, but do they have friends and family as amazing as yours?

The things that make you unique can’t always be measured and compared against another person properly.

Outlines vs. Details.

Another major problem with comparing yourself to other people is that you only see an outline of that person.

When you look at yourself, you know every single painstaking detail backwards and forwards. You know every blemish on your body, every negative personality trait.

Looking at people as they walk past, you might assume that their life is great but you don’t know what they go home to. You don’t know what goes on inside their head.

You are building the image of the people around you up so much higher than yourself, when in reality they have struggles and hardships just the same as you.

Like it or not, you are who you are.

The only thing you can do is be better than the person you were yesterday. If you can do that then you should be proud of yourself.

Comparing yourself to other people will distract you from your own journey.

Horses wear blinders during races so that they can stay focused on the carrot without being distracted by the other horses.

Put up your blinders and go after your own carrot with all your might.

One easy and practical technique for happiness

Most people reach for things in order to be happy.

A good job, a significant other, accomplishments, as well as travel, new experiences and countless other bench marks.

All of these things are good, but I don’t really like the idea of accomplishing something and then being happy. I prefer to believe that if you focus on happiness first, other things will fall into place with a lot less effort.

But before you can be happy, you have to know what makes you happy.

I used to believe that I didn’t have to think about what made me happy because I already naturally knew.

I think I have realized that this isn’t necessarily the case, and even if it is, isn’t it worth it to step back and ask yourself?
You might be surprised with what you find.

My simple technique for knowing what makes me happy.

I love lists. My brain isn’t so good at constantly keeping track of everything so it’s good to have things written down.

Take a piece of paper and make a T chart.

One column will say “Invigorating” and the other will say “Debilitating”.

Keep this list in your pocket and throughout the day categorize everything you do into one of the columns.

Either something gives you energy and you enjoy it, or it takes energy away from you.
I’ll give you a piece of my chart as an example.

Invigorating                         Debilitating
Breakfast                              Arguing/Debating
Writing                                  Meaningless small talk
Social gatherings               Cooking
Cleaning                                Being behind at work
Starcraft                                Cardio
Reading
Gym

You can do this list for different sections of your life, such as work and personal.

Now it is clear what you like and dislike.

I want you to draw a second chart, this one will be a 2×2 chart.

2x2 matrix chart

I know, I have amazing paint skills.

Categorize each item from your list into one of these boxes. If an item invigorates you and makes you happy do it regardless of whether you have to or not.

This is common sense so people do this just fine already, at least for the most part.

It’s when we get to the debilitating section of the chart that things get sticky. Pay close attention to the items on the bottom half.

If you don’t have to do something that is debilitating but you are anyway, stop it.
Stop it right now!

Ask yourself, do I really have to do everything I put in the “have to” section?

Sometimes you might find that you think you have to do something but in reality you are doing it because someone else believes you should.

Make sure that you keep a close eye on this box and allow as few things as possible to enter it.

If something absolutely has to make it’s way into this box, ask yourself: Is there any way I can minimize or phase this task out of my life completely over time?

Using these two charts, I’ve changed my life.

Today I wanted to write something as practical as possible. The things I write about in this blog have changed my life time and time again.

They are usually very simple, but in a beautiful way. They have helped me to step back and make sure I am moving in a direction that will lead me to a happier self.

I hope if you are reading this post, you will attempt what I have suggested.

Write your first list over as long of a period as you like, and then categorize them using the second chart.

Increase the good, decrease the bad.
It’s as easy, and as hard, as that.