If I had to recommend one single thing you could do to dramatically change your life it would be to take a 10 day silent and meditation retreat. Now that I think about it I should have titled this article 1 thing you can do that will dramatically change your life.
Because I already wrote the content of this article before the introduction we now have 5 things. And one of those things is to do less….
Anyhow. Enjoy the read.
Table of Contents
CHANGE YOUR LIFE: BUILD A BODY YOU’RE PROUD OF (A GOOD ENOUGH BODY)
I’m a firm believer that when you’re the healthiest version of yourself all aspects of your life are better. It’s the “trickle-down” effect – and no fellas, it’s not what happens when pee dribbles down your thigh after using a urinal.
I see it all the time with clients of mine. They start working out consistently, making better food choices, getting more sleep, and losing a little weight (or adding some muscle) and like the Adam West version of Batman… KAPOW!
- They’re becoming more confident
- Their relationships are better
- Work doesn’t seem to suck as much and they’re more productive
- Sex is like whaaaaaat
- They’re interested in trying new things. Things they thought they’d never do before.
I could keep this list going but to simplify things lets just hashtag it. #nextlevellifechangingshit
To build a body you’re proud of I like to use the “good enough” strategy. The good-enough strategy is really boring and not super sexy so it won’t sell any books or fitness products but it will help you…. For lack of better words… build a body that you’re proud of. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Identify what a “good enough” body is for YOU
Not the perfect body. Not the body that’s going to get you on the cover of a fitness magazine. Just a body and level of fitness that you’re happy with. What does a body you’re proud of look like, feel like, and what can you do with it?
Step 2: Identify and accept the tradeoffs that you’re going to have to make to get that body
Shit’s getting real now isn’t it?
Most people like the idea of six-pack abs, 8% body fat, an ass you can crack walnuts on. However, most people don’t like what you’ll have to do to achieve those things.
But the good news is most people don’t actually want them (not really anyhow). They just want a body that they’re proud of (see step 1). See what I did there…
Looking at your definition of a body you’re proud of what are some tradeoffs in life that you’re going to have to make to achieve it?
- Maybe passing one some happy hours with your boys
- Getting to sleep a little earlier or waking up earlier
- Saying no to a new project or another responsibility
- Being “that guy” or “that girl” that orders a lean steak and veggies at dinner when everyone else is getting pizza.
Step 3: How can you make creating this body easier on yourself and not harder?
Tim Ferriss likes to say, “rig the game so that you can win.” I couldn’t agree more. When most of us try to make big changes we tell ourselves that we just need to have more willpower, more discipline, and to be more motivated.
And time and time again those things let us down. Instead of trying to control those things – things that are often out of our control, what about spending time and energy on actionable steps that you have complete control over?
- Performing a kitchen makeover
- Learning 2 to 3 recipes and making these the majority of your meals instead of some complicated meal plan
- Working out at home with your own bodyweight, a pair of dumbbells, or a kettlebell instead of trying to commute to a gym after a long exhausting day at work
Building a body you’re proud of really isn’t that difficult or complicated. It just takes persistence, patience, and consistency.
CHANGE YOUR LIFE: 80/20 IT
The 80/20 rule or Pareto’s principle is all about getting the most bang for your buck. It was named after an Economist named Vilfredo Pareto that suggests an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. Specifically, 20% of your input is equal to 80% of your output.
So whether your input is 20% and output is 80%, or 10% and 90%, or 35% and 65% is irrelevant. The important thing to remember is that a few small inputs will produce a majority of your results.
Focus on the 20% of our life that produces the most important 80%. I realize that’s kind of confusing so let me give some examples.
What 20% of your:
- Possessions do you get the most out of?
- Time spent gives you the most happiness?
- People do you like to spend the most time with?
- Clothes do you wear most of the time?
- Food and exercise you do that produces the most results?
- Money provides the most value
- Tasks you do are the most efficient
CHANGE YOUR LIFE: CREATE STRONG BOUNDARIES AND HONOR THEM
I try my best to keep it as real as I can on this blog so I’m not going to bullshit. I’m not the best example of someone who has set strong personal boundaries in their life. It’s a work in progress and I’m improving every day.
This section I had to put a little more research into than the others. Below is what I learned.
Setting strong personal boundaries means taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions.
Setting strong personal boundaries also means not taking responsibility for the actions and emotions of others.
A more specific example would be If you’re someone that is constantly saying I don’t have enough time or I’m too busy – you probably don’t have strong boundaries.
Strong personal boundaries are important because they improve self-esteem, confidence, reduce stress, feelings of being overwhelmed, and even improve overall happiness. They do this because they enable you to live a more authentic life. A life that is aligned closer to your priorities and values and not the priorities and values of others. You’ll start to make decisions based on what’s truly important to you.
Strong personal boundaries are all about creating better emotional health for yourself.
Here’s how to tell if you have weak personal boundaries.
- You take on too much responsibility, actions, and emotion of others
- You expect others to take on too much responsibility, action, and emotion of yours.
When we take on too much responsibility or the emotions and behaviors of others what we’re doing is seeking approval, love, affection, and attention by always “being there.”
When we put the responsibility of our actions and emotions onto others what we’re doing is playing the victim. And by playing the victim we’re looking for the sympathy, love, affection, and attention we’ve always felt we’ve needed
Weak personal boundaries are usually rooted in getting social or external approval, instead of fulfilling an intrinsic desire.
CHANGE YOUR LIFE: STOP TRYING TO DO SO MUCH
I’m willing to bet your life today is very different from it was 10 years ago. Shit, I bet it’s very different from it was 5… 3… make that even a year ago.
As time goes on our lives change. We get married, start families, change carriers, move to different states (or even countries). We take on more responsibilities and make more commitments which in turn takes up more of our time.
Imagine you don’t have kids, a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, no school, no work, no real obligations, and the only thing that concerns you each day is working out and eating right. How confident would you be on a scale of 1 to 10 that you could stay consistent and reach your fitness goals… or any goal for that matter? Probably a 10, right?
However, that’s not how it works. You most likely play most, if not all of those roles now. This means that your attention is spread out over many areas which can make focusing on yourself extremely difficult.
When you’re striving for excellence in one area of your life another will most likely suffer because you will not be able to devote as much of YOU towards it.
I get at least one email per day from someone telling me that they’re too busy or don’t have enough time to get into shape, pursue personal interests and hobbies, or work on their side hustle or look for a new career.
First, check on those boundaries. See how this is all coming together now?
Second, stop trying to do so much.
What are your top priorities at this moment? Being a father, wife, student, saving money, traveling? Take some time and write these things down. I’d even go as far as to say rank them in order of importance. But when you do these be aware that it’s ok if your priorities change.
Maybe working on your side business is more of a priority than hitting the gym. Are you ok with the tradeoffs that come with that?
Maybe getting back into shape is more of a priority than personal relationships. Are you ok with the tradeoffs that come with that?
Maybe seeing 50 Shades Darker is more of a priority than going to the game with your boys. Are you ok with the tradeoffs that come with that?
CREATE A MORNING OR SOME KIND OF ROUTINE
Every morning I have the same routine.
- Meditate for 5 minutes
- Write in my journal
- Drink a cup of coffee or tea
- Read for at least 10 minutes
- Move my body for at least 5 minutes
As stupid as it sounds – this simple routine brings me sanity. It’s the one part of my day that I know isn’t going to get fucked up somehow… mostly.
My routine puts me in a good mood. It makes me feel productive. It makes me feel like I already got some really important stuff done… well, important to me at least. I feel like I made myself a priority before making anyone and anything else one.
CHANGE YOUR LIFE: YOUR EGO IS THE ENEMY
Yeah, I get it. Like Veruca Salt in the old Willy Wonka movie, “I want it now.”
We want everything now! To lose 20 pounds. To make 100,000 a year. To…
We’ve got zero patience and are unwilling to play the long game. I’ll even make the argument that somewhere deep down inside… maybe way down there… we have a false sense of entitlement. We feel we deserve all these things RIGHT NOW because of all the hard work we’ve put in. All the pain, anguish, and suffering we’ve had to experience.
I deserve all the things all the time because I’m a special little snowflake… my mom told me so.
Just because you do X does not mean you get or deserve Y. None of us are entitled to anything. We’re currently living in a society that creates a sense of entitlement. We’ve become soft and afraid to take chances. The reality is that sometimes you work really really hard for something and fail.
- Maybe you tried really hard to make a relationship work and it failed
- Or maybe you’re doing everything you need to be doing to lose 20 pounds but the weights just not coming off.
- Maybe you worked your ass off at work – straight up killing a big project – only to be denied the recognition you feel you deserve.
In his book Ego Is The Enemy, Ryan Halliday says…
“It doesn’t matter how talented you are, how great your connections are, how much money you have. When you want to do something—something big and important and meaningful—you will be subjected to treatment ranging from indifference to outright sabotage. Count on it.
In this scenario, ego is the absolute opposite of what is needed. Who can afford to be jerked around by impulses, or believe that you’re god’s gift to humanity, or too important to put up with anything you don’t like?
Those who have subdued their ego understand that it doesn’t degrade you when others treat you poorly; it degrades them.
Instead, you must do nothing. Take it. Eat it until you’re sick. Endure it. Quietly brush it off and work harder. Play the game. Ignore the noise; for the love of God, do not let it distract you. Restraint is a difficult skill but a critical one. You will often be tempted, you will probably even be overcome. No one is perfect with it, but try we must.
All of this “every person can be extraordinary and achieve greatness” stuff is basically just jerking off your ego. It’s shit sold to you to make you feel good for a few minutes and to get you through the week without hanging yourself in your cubicle. It’s a message that tastes good going down, but in reality, is nothing more than empty calories that make you emotionally fat and bloated, the proverbial Big Mac for your heart and your brain.
The ticket to emotional health, like physical health, comes from eating your veggies — that is, through accepting the bland and mundane truths of life: a light salad of “you’re actually pretty average in the grand scheme of things” and some steamed broccoli of “the vast majority of your life will be mediocre.” This will taste bad at first. Very bad. You will avoid eating it.
But once ingested, your body will wake up feeling more potent and more alive. After all, that constant pressure to always be something amazing, to be the next big thing, will be lifted off your back. The stress and anxiety of feeling inadequate will dissipate. And the knowledge and acceptance of your own mundane existence will actually free you to accomplish what you truly wish to accomplish with no judgments and no lofty expectations.
You will have a growing appreciation for life’s basic experiences. You will learn to measure yourself through a new, healthier means: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about.
It sounds boring, doesn’t it? That’s because these things are average. But maybe they’re average for a reason. Because they are what actually matter.
Our egos are here to stay. They are an inherent effect of our wiring. The question isn’t so much quashing the ego, as much as wrestling with it, taming it, and ultimately managing it.”
I expect to be the perfect boyfriend, the perfect coach, have the perfect body, earn over 100k per year, and so on and so on. When I fail to meet my high expectations it’s easy for me to shut down, avoid my reality, and bury myself in distractions. It’s a right cross right to the face of my ego and I can’t handle it.
I don’t want to lower my expectations and neither should you. That’s not the answer. Instead, we need to fall in love with the process of pursuing those things. Fall in love with the failures, disappointments, and struggles. Learn from the broken hearts, the failed businesses, and the shitty 30-day fitness challenges we screw up.
The end result for all of us is the same. Death. Let’s fall in love with the process. Living. All its messiness. The ups and downs. All of it.
STOP TRYING TO UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING AND EMBRACE UNCERTAINTY
We all hold onto beliefs that we’re afraid to let go of. These beliefs give our lives meaning, sanity, and safety. In his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck, Mark writes
“That woman doesn’t get out there and date because she would be forced to confront her certainty of her own desirability and self-esteem. That man doesn’t ask for the promotion because he would have to confront his certainty about the value of his work and whether he’s actually productive or not.
These certainties are designed to give us moderate comfort now by mortgaging greater happiness later. They’re terrible long-term strategies. These are the certainties that keep us in place and out of touch.
Practice being wrong by testing your assumptions (hypothesis) – Assume that you’re wrong about everything… being wrong means CHANGE!”
Jamie Holmes, the author of Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing suggests that you could avoid a lot of anxiety and jumping to wrong conclusions by accepting that sometimes you may feel two ways at once. Things can be similar without being exactly the same. And there are some things we may just never know… need to know… or even really want to know.
But unfortunately, our human need for closure gets the best of us. We want definite answers over confusion and ambiguity, order after disorder, and comfort over uncomfortable.
To embrace uncertainty social psychologists have been shown that people’s need for closure can be reduced by requiring them to defend their decisions, holding them accountable for them in some way, or familiarizing them with possible consequences.
If you find yourself looking for certainty try asking yourself this. Does simply knowing change my circumstances? Odds are it doesn’t.