The Little Things DO Matter

You hear it all the time: Stay focused on the big picture. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about the little things.

It’s good advice…sometimes.

But what if the little things matter? What if the small stuff matters?

My wife teaches first grade. She told me last week how a child was starting to understand how certain letters make special sounds.

That’s just a little thing. So what?

Well, he was able to use that new understanding to start reading words with those letter groupings. Not such a little thing.

He’s going to build on that throughout this school year. He’ll keep learning “little things.” Those little things will start to grow into big things and one day soon he’ll be reading books and his whole world will explode.

Little things matter (so do super first grade teachers like my wife).

Isn’t that how we continue to grow for our entire lives?

Little thing after little thing adds up to some pretty great big things.

What little thing can you do or learn today that’s going to add up to something awesome in your future?

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

Specific Actions You Can Take Right Now to Maximize Your Happiness

“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Unknown (but commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln)

Oh, come on, Greg, you can’t just make up your mind to be happy. Sometimes, bad things happen and you feel sad. Sometimes your whole life sucks, and you feel sad.

Yes, I agree with that. We all have bad things, bad people, and bad jobs happen to us at times in our lives.

My point isn’t that these circumstances don’t impact our lives, it’s that we get to choose how much, and for how long, they impact us.

My youngest daughter, Summer, is in 10th grade. She has a lot she wants to do. She’s almost finished writing her second book. She plays piano and sings, and she’s working on a set list to play gigs at local restaurants. (I have no idea where Summer gets this ambition and drive from. When I was 15, I spent all my time working on my jump shot and trying to get girls to notice me.)

The other day, Summer said to me, “I’m really frustrated at school. It’s taking all my time. I want to write what I want to write. I want to play what I want to play. Instead I have to do what my teachers want me to do. By the time I get all my schoolwork done, I don’t have time for what I want to do. Some of my classes are really boring. And, little things are getting me down, too. Somebody asked me today if I had straightened my hair. When I said, yes, she told me I missed a spot in the back. Was that nice?”

Ah, high school. Fun, right?

It would be easy to dismiss Summer’s complaints because we think our situations are so much more serious and so much worse, but I think it’s all relative.

I know people who get depressed when their favorite football team loses and I know quadriplegics who are living very happy lives.

What makes the difference? How we choose to respond.

I wanted to help Summer so I started out by giving her advice. I explained to her how we can choose our responses. I told her all about Rational Emotive Therapy and gave her examples. (I know, don’t you wish I were your dad?)

Then, as her eyes started to glaze over, I realized lecture time wasn’t helping. So, I started asking her questions. The same ones we should all ask ourselves.

  • What could you do today to find moments of happiness in your routine?
  • How can you create more time for the things you love to do?
  • How can you use your daily activity to live out your passionate purpose?
  • How can you reframe your circumstances in the best possible light?
  • How can you help someone who is feeling down today?
  • Are you going to give someone else the power to make you feel bad today?

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
– William James

It’s not always easy to choose to be happy.

I took my Mac out into nature today to write this blog post and was bombarded by bugs. They weren’t biting bugs, they were just annoying. I tried several different spots and they persisted. They were really ticking me off. I had a decision to make. I could let the bugs ruin my outing, or I could choose to ignore them, flick them away when they got too bad, and enjoy myself anyway.

I had to remind myself, you are in control of how you choose to respond to what happens to you today.

It took a little effort, but I went with the second option and I’m glad I got out of the house to work on my blog post. It was one of the yays in my day.

What about you? Are you going to let circumstances determine how happy you are, or are you going give someone or something the power to determine your mood and happiness?

Action Steps:

  • Make creating happiness a priority and a goal. Focus on it and think about it. What we think about and focus on, we get more of.
  • Take action on three things today to create moments of happiness today.
  • When something good happens, linger on it and enjoy the moment. Maybe it’s a good conversation with a co-worker, or a great dish at lunch. How about a good walk in the evening with your spouse or reading a bedtime story to your child? Don’t let these moments of happiness slip buy. Savor them.
  • Focus on the parts of your work that challenge and fulfill you. This is a kind of happiness that is often overlooked.
  • Plan out how to change at least one recurring situation that hinders your happiness.
  • List three things everyday that you’re grateful for. Try not to name the same things day after day – list different things each day.
  • Act as if you’re happy. Research has shown that it’s hard to be sad when you are expressing happy body language – standing tall, smiling, etc.
  • Ask yourself these 3 questions and answer them today.
  • Choose to frame your day and your life in the best possible way. Take a look at your self-talk – is it negative or positive? Are you taking your circumstances and looking for the worst or best way to frame them? (Read this for more information.)
  • Find someone to serve or help. Helping someone else will almost always increase your happiness.
  • Email a friend, colleague, or customer, a positive message.
  • Do an exercise you enjoy, even if you can only sneak in 10 or 20 minutes.
  • Pray or meditate daily.
  • If you haven’t yet, use my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose, to find a meaningful purpose that fulfills you.

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

Trying to Please Everyone Hurts You AND Them

pleasing

We all want to be popular. We want as many people as possible to like us and to love our work. But what if that desire stops us from getting the most out of our talents and turning our ordinary work into spectacular art? What if it stops us from giving the world our best?

“Planning our work so it pleases the largest number of people possible often has us censor ourselves, and usually stops us from doing something amazing.”Greg Knapp

But, Greg, I need people to buy my work. I need to make money.

Absolutely. And you do need to make sure there’s a market for what you’re producing. By all means do your research to find your niche to create something people want.

But, here’s the irony. When we try to make our work popular with everybody we usually end up earning less than when we follow our passion, and do inspired work.

Sure, we’ll be less popular. But the people who love us, really love us. They keep coming back and buying what we have to offer. They tell all their friends about us – because we connected with them.

Plus, it’s a lot more fun than trying to do what you think people want!

Pablo Picasso was an excellent artist from a young age. But, did you know he was classically trained and painted landscapes early in his career? He could have stuck with that and made a good living. But he was inspired to experiment and helped create the Cubism movement.

Not everyone liked his abstract paintings. You could say they were “less popular.” But he was doing the work he really cared about and the people who did like them really liked them. In fact, at the time of his death, Picasso’s net worth was estimated to be $50 million. (He was an artist who didn’t have to wait until he died to make money!)

Not bad for being less popular, eh?

Questions for soul searching:

Who are you trying to please?
Your spouse?
Your parents?
Your mentor?
Your friends?
Society?

Are you going to climb the ladder of success only to find you put it up on the wrong wall?

More Questions:

Where have you been pulling back on the type of work you really want to do because you’re worried you will lose customers?

Could it be that’s what’s holding you back from bigger success?

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Specific Questions to Ask Yourself to Create Your Best Life

think

Get 100% clear on your why and your what. Then, your how will begin to appear. –Greg Knapp

I am very big on the idea of asking yourself empowering questions. We ask ourselves questions all the time. Our brain will come up with an answer no matter what we ask it.

How could I be so stupid?!

You aren’t stupid, but your brain will come up with an answer.

Why does this always happen to me?!

It doesn’t, but your brain will come up with an answer.

Those types of questions don’t help you get where you want to go. They beat you down and waste your time.

Let’s ask questions that lead to the results you want.

Why do you want to change your life?

Because I’m not happy, Greg. Jeez!

I get that things aren’t where you want them to be. I’m not trying to get down on you, I’m just trying to help you get clear on why you must change. That will keep you going when the journey gets tough.

It all starts with your why – your purpose. Then we can get to what you really want and the obstacles holding you back from starting to get it.

During a recent coaching session I asked my client, “Why do you want to change your life?”

He said he’d have to think about it for a minute. He already knew down deep, but I don’t think he’d ever taken the time to articulate it and bring it to his conscious mind.

After a few moments he said, “Greg, I’m tired of just going through the motions. I’m not sure if I know my purpose. I think if I can figure that out, it will help me make the changes to make my life better.”

That was a start. I then followed up with, “What do you mean by better?”

He replied that he wanted to earn an income to provide for his family so they could live in a better neighborhood with better schools and they would have everything they need.

“Beyond that, Greg, I feel stuck. I don’t know where I’m going next. I don’t feel needed where I work, and my self-confidence is low. I want to find purpose in my life and work so I can love what I do and take care of my family.”

Now, we were getting somewhere

Do you want to be more excited about your career, your spouse, your relationships, your family, and your spiritual development?

Do you want freedom to control your own time, career, vacation, and life? Freedom to travel the world with the people you love?

Do you want to generate abundant amounts of income so you can do everything you’ve ever dreamed of, take care of your family, and give to help others?

Why must you change your life?

Once you’ve figured that out, you can move on to what you want and how to start doing it.

Action steps:

Ask yourself some empowering questions:

What’s your why?

What’s your gift?

What’s your purpose?

What are you doing when you feel great?

What type of work are you doing when you feel like you’re in the zone or in flow?

What things have you done that you’re passionate about and that bring you joy?

What things have you done that you felt brought meaning to your life?

What are you good, or even great at? (Or what could you become great at?)

What would your dream job entail?

What would a terrific relationship with your spouse look like?

Why do you want to have to change?

What would be bad about staying exactly the way you are?

What would be great if you changed?

What would make the changes worth all the time and effort it’s going to take?

Get your journal out today and answer these questions. Get quiet and still and think deeply. Surface living isn’t getting you what you want. You need to go down deep into yourself to pull out your “why.”

Take at least 30 minutes to answer these questions and write them down.

Magic happens when we write our thoughts down. They become real in a different way than when they are only in our heads.

Make this as real and emotional as you can.

It’s your life and it won’t become what you want by accident.

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

How to Lose the Guilt and Feel Great About NOT Compromising

what-do-you-value

 

Conventional wisdom says we all need to compromise. If only the politicians, bosses, clients, customers, spouses would compromise. Then…what?

The implied promise is that everything would be great! Sure, neither side would get everything, but both sides would get something, and at least we would be getting things done.

Yes, that’s necessary sometimes. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the better.

But many times, compromise is overrated – and wrong.

It starts with the premise that we are on different sides. Why do we have to be? It moves to the idea that we can’t get what we want and need. Who says? It suggests that if you don’t give in a little, you’re wrong. We’re even shamed into thinking it’s selfish not to compromise.

But, what if you’re right? What if compromising hurts you and those you are trying to help?

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is surrender. For it is all give and no take.

– Gandhi

You shouldn’t compromise on fundamentals. Would you compromise with a serial killer? “How about instead of killing 28 people, you just kill 14. Can’t you meet me half way here?” That just doesn’t work.

For me, I won’t compromise on who I am, what work I do, who I will take on as a client, how I treat others, and how I allow myself to be treated.

When I compromise on these for money, convenience, or lack of a backbone I lose respect for myself and decrease the value of what I have to offer this world. I hate myself when I do it.

Not good.

I feel great when I reject the idea that life is about compromise. Instead I look to create relationships and work where I’m not competing with another “side.” We’re working together for the same outcomes.

When I’m at my best, I blog about what I value with an honest, vulnerable, but strong voice. I choose my clients carefully. I choose the stories and opinions I talk about on my radio show carefully. I am transparent. I am real.

Of course we can all compromise on the little things that aren’t very important to us. But, if we think everything is a compromise we become ungrounded, disillusioned and fake. That leads to work that isn’t our best and strained relationships with people we don’t even want to be around anymore.

Action steps:

  • Define your fundamentals that you will not compromise on
  • Determine who you will – and won’t – work with
  • Give away the clients who are draining you – You will attract ones who will energize you

Questions for comments: What are your fundamentals you won’t compromise on? How do you feel when you agree to compromise on them anyway? How will you prepare yourself to deal with a situation like that in the future?

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

How To Be Happy

It's just one, or two, or four things

 

If you go deep enough, just about everything we do is in an effort to be happy. Think about it for a second. Why do you want more money? So you can buy things, take care of your family, donate to charities, help people, take trips, go to concerts, and more, right?

And, why do you want the ability to buy things and do stuff? Because, in one form of another, that makes you happy.

It’s the same with your desire for success, loving relationships, better health, deeper faith, or whatever else you want. When you keep asking why do you want it, it’s about being happy.

Even the voluntary sacrifices you make for others help make you happy. That is the outcome you’re looking for – and that doesn’t take away from the good you’re doing.

So, how do you be happy?

I think it depends on your definition of happiness. Are you talking about momentary happiness? Daily happiness? Overall happiness? A life of purpose, significance, and meaning? Are you talking about a combination of all those things?

That’s what I want. But for today, the question is how to be happy…generally.

According to who you talk to, that comes down to one, two, or four things.

One Thing:

Curly, in the movie, City Slickers, said it’s all about one thing. What is the one thing? Well, that’s for you to figure out.

Gee, thanks, Curly, I was hoping for a little more there (but I think we all know what he means).

Two Things:

The latest results from a Harvard study that’s been running since 1938 just came out. Every two years they ask the subjects questions about their happiness and well-being.

The study found two things that correlate the most to happiness.

1) Let go of the junk in your life.

People who are able to determine what’s important and what isn’t are happier. If you can ignore the small stuff, let go of past failures, and focus on what makes you happy and what counts the most to you, you will radically increase your happiness.

2) Good, social relationships.

We were created to be in relationships. Isolation hurts us. Close, loving relationships with spouses, friends, and extended family boost our overall happiness and help us through tough times. It also helps if you are able to avoid the toxic people in your life.

Ok, that makes sense to me. But what I’ve found is that happiness comes down to…

Four Things.

1) A purpose.

If you read my blog and book, this should not surprise you. I think it’s impossible to have a truly happy life if you think your life is pointless. A purpose changes everything. I have multiple purposes in my life – from meaningful work, to raising my children, to helping people and more. Purpose is linked to all kinds of physical, mental and emotional changes that lead to more happiness.

2) Loving Relationships.

I agree big time with the Harvard study on this one. Some alone time in your life is a good thing, but being isolated and lonely is not. A good marriage, good family, and good friends will take you a long way to the happy place. For me, a loving relationship that is essential is the one I’m always working on with Jesus.

3) Good health.

I used to think it was silly when people said, well, at least I still have my health. Then, I tweaked my back. I could barely walk. Every time I moved it hurt. I couldn’t do anything. I was miserable. It’s hard to be happy when you feel like that. Feeling healthy and well rested really helps pump up the happy.

4) Happy moments.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the big, purposeful, meaningful stuff, we forget the small stuff. Yes, this type of small stuff matters! I’m happy when I go to the beach, or eat an ice cream cone with my daughter, or go out to dinner with my wife, or watch my Gators win a football game in the final second, or fall asleep reading a good book. Those moments count.

We need to balance those with the harder, purposeful work we do to build our happiness.

Questions for comments: What do you do to increase your happiness? What do you think is necessary to lead the happiest life you can?

Let’s GO!

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

To Win Big, You Need A Heavy Dose of Vitamin N

vitamin n

Have you ever been working really hard on an important goal and then noticed that other things in your life are starting to slide? Then you start to feel guilty that you can’t do it all?

Then you start shoulding on yourself.

  • I should be able to reach all my goals without giving up anything.
  • I should be better at this.
  • I shouldn’t have to sleep more than 5 hours a night.
  • I should be able to work a full time job, start a side business, lose weight, take care of the yard, clean the house, volunteer at church, and be the perfect mom/dad/wife/husband.
  • I should be able to play in the NBA, speak Spanish and Mandarin fluently, travel the world, and play the guitar like Eric Clapton (Ok, that last should is really just a wish list for me…Sorry.)

It sounds silly when you read those “shoulds” out loud, but we do this stuff to ourselves all the time? Why?

I think it’s because we have more than one goal and we want to accomplish them all – right now! And, we think if we let anything slip while we’re working on a goal, that we’re a failure.

You would never tell a friend that, but it’s what we tell ourselves.

I have more than one thing I want to do in life. I have more than one goal. I’m sure you do, too.

But we have to remember one of my favorite quotes from David Allen.

This is where the heavy dose of Vitamin N comes in. It’s the vitamin your parents gave you while you were growing up, the one that stopped you from being a spoiled brat.

Vitamin N is NO.

When I was finishing my book, I was spending two to three hours a day on it, while I was still spending about eight hours on my day job. Something had to give in the rest of my life.

I blogged less. I didn’t create any new videos. I wasn’t playing my guitar. I watched virtually no TV. I said no to invitations.

I focused and used heavy doses of Vitamin N.

I know it’s hard to say no. We all want to be the team player. We don’t want to be called selfish, lazy, or rude. We want to say yes to our boss when she asks us to take on another project. We want to say yes to our colleagues who ask us for help.

We want to say yes to our kids, spouse, church, charity, and friends.

This isn’t to suggest that you always say no, or that you never help out a co-worker or a friend. This isn’t carte blanche permission to say no to everyone. You will still say yes to your spouse, kids, boss, church, etc., but you won’t say yes all the time.

The point is that you are strategic as to when you say yes and you make sure that no is not a dirty word. It will end up helping you, and everyone you care about, more than saying yes to all comers.

Success comes by doing ONE thing … and then doing another ONE thing, and then another.

Regardless of what Oprah tells us, we can’t do more than one thing at a time. So focus, do the ONE Thing, and then do the next thing.

I’m reading Jon Acuff’s new book, Finish, and he makes a great point about this. He says you need to pick what to bomb in your life.

At this particular time, with your priorities, what are you going to let slide?

  • Do you need to pay someone to take care of your lawn, or clean the house?
  • Is it time to take a break from one of the committees you serve on?
  • Do your kids need to understand that they need to pitch in more around the house so you have a couple more free hours a week?
  • Do you need to let someone else lead the new project at work this time?

 

Every time we say yes to what someone else wants from us, we are also saying no to time focused on our goals and what we want. If we’re spread too thin trying to help everyone with their work we will end up with poor results for them and for the work we are called to do.

We need to administer a healthy dose of vitamin N. We need to be comfortable saying, No. We can be nice in how we say it, but we don’t need to act like we’re doing something horrible by saying no, either.

Here are some ways to say no:

  • Thanks for asking me, but I’m in the middle of a project right now that I need to finish by my deadline.
  • I’m not the best person to help on this one. That’s really Jim’s specialty.
  • I’ve already committed to X right now. I know you will do a great job.
  • I’m not able to set aside the time needed to do that well.
  • I’m honored you thought of me, but I’m not able to help on this 
one.
  • No, I’m not able to do that.

It will take some practice getting good at saying no, but it will change your life. Try it out. See how it feels.

Say no to someone today. Say no to two people tomorrow. Or, as Jon Acuff says, pick what you’re going to bomb.

It is liberating.

Let’s GO!

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

How To Use That Voice In Your Head To HELP You

We all talk to ourselves all day long. (Let’s use our inside voices, please.) If it’s a constant stream of negative can’ts, shoulds, and nevers It’s hurting your mood, performance, and success. If you can make those voices in your head work for you, that would be pretty sweet wouldn’t it?

Greg, this isn’t going to be one of those deals where you tell me to meditate to spa music, think positive thoughts and then I’ll ride a unicorn over a rainbow and end up at a pot of gold is it? Because I tried that once and ended up living in my mother-in-law’s basement eating Cheetos and playing Xbox all day. (Actually, I was fine with it, but my wife and kids weren’t thrilled.)

Good question. I like where your head’s at (except for that living in the basement part). This is not one of those deals. This isn’t “think positive and success will manifest.” This is one of those “use your self-talk to keep you motivated to do the behaviors you need to do to achieve the success you want” deals…

Your self-talk matters. Hey, there’s a reason cheerleaders don’t chant how much their team stinks. There’s a reason the home team with supportive fans often beats a superior club. Why not use that in our real lives?

Be Nice to Yourself

Do you ever say things to yourself you would never let anyone else say to you?

Things like:

That was a really stupid thing to do.

You will never be good enough to get that job.

You’re not smart enough to start your own company.

Nobody would ever pay YOU to do that.

You’re such a failure.

Let’s work on making your self-talk work for you.

Rational Emotive Therapy

Psychologist Albert Ellis was the founder of something called Rational Emotive Therapy. He did a lot of work on how our thoughts determine our moods and behaviors. His contention was that it’s not what happens to us that determines how we feel and act. It’s how we think about what happens to us that determines how we feel and act. He saw it happening in an A-B-C pattern.

A – An Activating event in your life that triggers negative or positive thoughts. It could be something small like stepping in a mud puddle in your brand-new shoes or something big like the death of a parent.

B – The Beliefs or thoughts you think about the event.

C – The Consequences, feelings, and behaviors that come from your beliefs and thoughts.

It is not the activating event that determines your feelings and behaviors, it is your beliefs and thoughts about the activating event. Two people can experience very similar events but respond with totally different feelings and behaviors. The difference wasn’t the event, it was the way each of them chose to think about the event.

My wife, Anne, was getting dinner for my girls the other night at Chick-Fil-A. She was in a hurry and couldn’t believe the crowd. The line wrapped around the inside of the building. She was in a hurry, frustrated and almost left.

Then someone told her that it was a fundraiser night for a little boy with cancer. Anne saw the boy’s parents taking pictures of the crowd. She saw the boy’s friends and family so happy and appreciative of everyone who came out to give them support.

Suddenly, she wasn’t frustrated anymore. She didn’t mind the wait. She said a prayer for the boy and a prayer of thanks for the health of everyone in our family.

Nothing about the situation changed except how my wife thought about it.

Ellis pointed out that we often have thoughts that lead us to negative feelings and beliefs. If a boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with us we might think, “I’m unlovable. No one will ever want to marry me.” If we get fired we might think, “This is the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I’m going to lose my job and end up on welfare.” The thoughts may be irrational, but the more you tell yourself these things the truer they become for you.

However, if you can catch yourself thinking these irrational thoughts, stop them and change them to more positive thoughts, then those new thoughts become true for you. Replace the thinking in the above scenarios with new thinking.

“It’s good we broke up now. We weren’t a good match. Now I’m free to find my future husband.”

“I wasn’t planning on getting fired. There will be some things I have to work out. But I knew this wasn’t really the job for me. I’m going to focus on getting a job I’m passionate about and can excel at. This could actually be a good thing for me. Maybe I’ll even use this time to start my own business. I have savings that can keep me going until I find my new source of income. I’m going to be fine.”

Let’s go a bit deeper on this: Most of us think irrational thoughts and ask ourselves irrational questions every day. When something goes wrong in your life do you ask negative questions like, “Why does this always happen to me?” or, “Why do I always fail?” or my personal favorite, “How could I be so stupid?”

These questions won’t help you. They’re irrational and based on false premises. Honestly, does “this” always happen to you? Do you always fail? Are you truly stupid, or did you just do something you wish you wouldn’t have? Do only bad things happen to you everyday? Of course not.

Action Steps:

1) When you notice you’re asking those types of negative, false questions, stop it. Yell, “Stop!” out loud. (Or in your head if you don’t want to take a forced van ride to a place where they make you take pills and play ping pong all day.) Scratch those records you keep playing in your head so you can’t hear them anymore.

2) Start asking positive questions like, How can I use this challenge for my good? or What can I learn from this experience and act on right now? How can I improve my outcome next time?

3) Practice changing how you view activating events in your life. Reframe them in the best way possible. Think positively about the best way to handle every situation that comes your way.

4) Put the Cheetos away! (Ok, I think that’s just my problem.)

Try this out in your life and see what happens. This doesn’t mean you will never feel sad, angry, or upset. It just means you will not overreact and put yourself into such a negative place that you can’t make rational decisions to move forward with your goals.

Question: Have you ever experienced a situation where your self-talk hurt you or helped you? 

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

How to Use Pleasure and Pain to Your Advantage

Taser Photoshoot

The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.

–Anthony Robbins

I received some emails last week about my post, I Tried To Change And It Didn’t Work. They said, Greg, I understand that we don’t change because we think we’re getting more pleasure and less pain out of staying the same than we would get out of changing, but how do I use that knowledge to convince myself I need to change?

Great question.

Let’s use pain to our advantage. Let’s amplify the pain of our current situation and what that pain will become if we don’t change.

We need to do this, because we often find ways to avoid the pain we’re living in. We have all kinds of ways to distract ourselves. Here’s a partial list:

  • TV
  • Food
  • Alcohol
  • Movies
  • Social Media
  • The Internet
  • Sports
  • Clubs
  • Hobbies

Not all of these are bad for us, but they can be if we use them to escape and dull the pain of the rest of our life.

We’re going to use the Christmas Carol technique. (If you’ve ever seen Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you should be trying to do.) I learned this one from Anthony Robbins years ago. I still use it to maintain my motivation anytime I start to think things are getting too hard.

To do this right, you should spend a good fifteen minutes going deep into your thoughts and feelings to make it seem as real as possible.

Close your eyes and imagine what your life will be like if you do not change to follow what you were created to do. If you’re lucky, you will bounce from job to job chasing the paycheck to take care of your family. You will go to work every day with a feeling deep inside you that you aren’t doing what you were put on this earth to do. You will spend 40-60 hours a week doing a job you don’t like, or maybe even hate.

Think about doing this job you hate and all the things in your life that bother you. Imagine this is as good as it will ever get. Imagine all the dreams you have dying unfulfilled. You never get that dream job, never pursue that Passionate Purpose burning inside you, never make more money, never get closer to your loved ones, never travel to new places, never improve your relationship with God, never help the people you care about, never move into your dream home.

You never grow. You never change. You’re stuck like this until the day you die.

Imagine that you don’t do anything you’ve been dreaming about. You do nothing different so nothing changes a year from now. What would that feel like? What would it look like? What would it sound, smell, and taste like? Does that create emotional pain for you?

Now imagine nothing has changed and it’s five years from now. You keep doing the same things every day. You’re no closer to your dreams and goals than you were five years ago, but you’re five years older. You’re going through the motions 40 to 60 hours a week.

You live for the weekends and two measly weeks a year of vacation—if you’re lucky.

But it pays the bills and you’re doing “OK.” Years go by and you feel like the life is being sucked out of you. You aren’t the fun-loving, optimistic person you used to be. Your kids and spouse aren’t getting the best of you anymore. You realize sometimes you are taking out your frustrations on them. You feel depressed with where your life is. You keep putting off the things you know you should do and you get angry with yourself for not following through. Your self-esteem keeps sinking lower. How does that feel? Is it painful yet?

Now do it again and project your life out ten years, twenty years. Think about your life with no growth and no changes thirty years from now. Make it as real as you can and feel it right now. Spend five to ten minutes really feeling this. I’ll wait. …

(Man this kettle corn microwave popcorn is really good! Oh, you’re back. Hey!)

OK, how scary are those feelings?

And what if becoming stagnant where you are is the best-case scenario. What happens if your company lays you off? What happens if the job you do becomes obsolete? What happens if you don’t work on your marital relationship and that leads to divorce?

You’re either growing or dying. Which one sounds better to you?

That fear we just created needs to be greater than the fear you might fail at following your Passionate Purpose. If you approach this as if you can’t afford to fail, as if your future depends on it, you will succeed.

Now let’s get a deep emotional feeling of how much pleasure the life of our dreams could be.

Do the Christmas Carol exercise again. But this time think about what your life will be like when you start pursuing your Passionate Purpose every day.

What will you have accomplished and what kind of a person will you be one year from now? Write down every good thing you can about what that would be like.

What will you be earning an income doing?

What will your family life be like?

What will your physical and spiritual fitness be?

How eager will you be to jump out of bed each morning?

How much more freedom to pursue your desires will you have?

How great will it feel to be highly valued for what you are contributing to others?

Visualize what your life will be like. Feel the feelings that come with that life.

Now do the same exercise for imagining your extraordinary life five years from now. What have you achieved already and what are you pursuing now? How big an income are you generating? What kind of home are you living in? How have you improved your most important relationships even more? How has every area of your life improved? What are you most thankful for now? Go deep into your imagination. Feel the emotions well up inside you.

Use the same prompts about your life we have been using and look out ten years. Now 15 years. Now 20 years. How extraordinary is your life now? Visualize achieving every goal you have for the next 20 years of your life. Everything you’ve ever wanted to do, be, learn, earn, and give has come to pass.

Your relationships are better than you thought possible. You walk with your Creator. You are giving abundantly to the people and causes you believe in. You are living in your dream home and taking vacations around the world with your loved ones and making priceless memories. See it, feel it, and experience it as if it has already happened. Get deep into it. Convince yourself it’s real.

How do you feel right now?

You’re welcome.

Let’s GO!

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

I Tried To Change And It Didn’t Work

failure2

Are you ready for some tough love? If you have tried to change before and it hasn’t worked, there is really only one reason. It’s not because you don’t have talent. Talent is overrated. You see unsuccessful people with talent all the time. It’s not because you aren’t smart enough, don’t know the right people, or don’t have enough money to get started. It’s not because you don’t have enough time. We all have the same 24 hours in each day.

The real reason you haven’t followed through on what you say you want is this: You get more out of not changing than you think you would get out of changing.

I know that’s hard to hear. But it’s true, and all of us struggle with it. I have to tell myself this every time I start to back slide.

Tony Robbins puts it this way: You believe you get more pleasure and avoid more pain by staying the way you are than by doing the work necessary to change.

I know this sounds crazy but think about it. Why don’t we all eat healthy and never overeat? Isn’t it because we like the pleasure we get from the taste of the foods we know aren’t good for us? Isn’t it because of the pleasurable feeling we create in ourselves when we eat too much?

Sure it makes us gain weight and maybe even feel sluggish, but doesn’t the short- term pleasure overwhelm the long-term pain? I know it does for me more times than I’d like to admit. Our actions speak louder than all the diets we’ve ever planned to live by.

Why do you think alcoholics and drug addicts continue to use even though it’s destroying their lives? Obviously addiction is a factor, but it’s also because they believe the short-term pleasure they get is greater than the long-term pain. They use substances to temporarily change the way they feel, to avoid pain in their lives, to distract themselves from their problems, and to self-medicate.

Even when they are losing their jobs, their spouses, their children, their friends, their homes, and their health, they keep using for the short-term pleasure and the short-term escape from their pain.

Yet, many do kick their habit. How? They do it when they hit rock bottom. When they convince themselves the pain of their addiction is worse than the short-term pleasure of using and they decide they must change. That’s when they start the difficult recovery process.

How Do Some People Do It?

Let me ask you a question. How do we have people making average salaries starting new businesses every day in this country? How do legal immigrants come here with nothing and open a business the first year they’re here? I’m talking about people who do it without a loan or investors. How do they do it?

They convinced themselves they had to. They decided that to not put out the effort and money necessary to pursue their goal would be more painful than doing it. They stayed focused on the long-term pleasure they would get and how they would avoid the long-term pain of never pursuing their dreams. They found a way.

Some saved money for years that they could have used on other things. Others found a way to start it in their home and slowly build it. Others found a way to do it all online for almost nothing. The bottom line is they found a way. You can, too.

Could You Do It If?

Imagine your child has a fatal illness. The doctors say she only has six months to live. But if you get her the right medicine, she will be completely cured. One problem: The medicine costs $10,000 and you’re broke. No one can loan you the money. Do you think you could earn an extra ten grand in six months to save your child?

Of course you could, and you would, because you would have to. With that kind of effort and commitment nothing could stop you.

That’s the kind of commitment you will need because deciding you must change is just part of it. You also must decide you are willing to do the work required to make the change.

I can give you ideas and techniques to change your life, but I can’t change you. All true change will come from you.

Let’s GO!