“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan
Every morning in 2011, before I left my room, I read this quote. It became my personal motto.
And today, when I look back on 2011, I can’t help but smile. A smile that’s part satisfaction, part gratitude, part “holy shit I can’t believe that happened“.
A happy mix of swagger, humbleness, and incredulousness.
2011 was my breakthrough year.
It wasn’t all rainbows & butterflies, and it wasn’t perfect.
I made mistakes, I was a jerk at times, and I did some stupid shit.
But overall, I really stepped up my game. I figured out my life’s purpose, and went after it big-time.
I challenged myself to become more, to create more and to achieve more.
It was a hell of a year.
In retrospect, I can pinpoint a few strategies that have helped me tremendously along the way. Today I want to share these with you.
Apply them to your life, and I promise that 52 weeks from now you’ll be looking back on 2012 with a big smile on your face, and you’ll be geared up for a great future.
*Please note that this is my way, and there are certainly other ways. Pick & choose what feels right to you.*
Ready? Here we go!
1) Seek Superhealth
“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ~Buddha
Health is the foundation of everything else.
But merely being healthy isn’t enough. We want more…We need more!
In the Oxford dictionary, “health” is defined as the state of being free from illness or injury.
That’s why you need to seek “Superhealth”, the state of being full of energy & mojo, feeling our best and looking our best. (my definition)
How do you do that?
1) Eat really well (don’t worry, it’s actually fun & tasty)
2) Exercise everyday (if even for 15 minutes)
3) Reduce your alcohol consumption (no need to go sober-cobra, but let’s cut back the crazy hangovers)
The result? You’ll feel better, more inspired, more confident, and you’ll put yourself in a position to make great things happen.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a lot about healthy eating, nutrition, and fitness to help you achieve Superhealth. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to know more about, please let me know.
2) Supercharge Your Morning
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~Marcus Aurelius
At some point this year, I started meditating first thing in the morning. Then I added a bit of yoga. And soon, I realized that by the time I walked into the kitchen, I was feeling so good I didn’t need coffee anymore. That was a breakthrough in itself.
Then I listened to Tony Robbins’ “Get The Edge” program, and he was adamant that first part of our day is the most important. It sets us up for either a day of endless energy, or a day of sluggishness.
I now do what I call my Hour of Power every morning, which consists of 15 minutes of meditation, a 10 minute “gratitude” run, 15 minutes of yoga, a cold shower, the best breakfast in the world, and a cup of matcha green tea. By the time I sit down at my computer, I feel like 3 million bucks.
What’s your morning like? Do you rush through it, or do you use it as a springboard towards an amazing day?
Make the first 15, 30, or 60 minutes of your day a sacred part of the day, and you’ll open up to a whole new world of possibilities.
3) Write Your Ideas Down
“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.” ~Francis Bacon, Sr.
Every year, countless good ideas go wasted. We have a flash of brilliance, but before we know it, it’s gone, and all we’re left with is excuses and “what if’s”. Bleh.
To prevent this tragedy from happening, you need to get in the habit of writing down your ideas.
Whenever something pops into your head, immediately grab your journal and write it down. Put as many details as possible.
And boom, just like that, your idea has landed into the physical world. It’s tangible now, and you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Yay!
4) Take Action!!!
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think of it. Go out and get busy.” ~Dale Carnegie
Writing down ideas is a starting point, but it’s really just that. From there, you need to TAKE ACTION.
This is soooooo critical. I can’t emphasize it enough.
Simply put, there are 2 types of people in this world.
Type 1: Those who have ideas, think about them, and do nothing. (Most people)
Type 2: Those who have ideas, get busy, and make them happen.
This year, I upgraded from Type 1 to Type 2. It has totally transformed my life.
Where do you stand right now? Be honest.
If you want to make 2012 your breakthrough year, you have to become a Type 2 person (if you aren’t already).
This year, once you have an idea, write it down, and *right away* take an action towards making it a reality.
Whether it’s calling or e-mailing someone, writing a draft proposal, etc, get the wheels in motion and before long you’ll be rolling towards a kick-ass year.
5) Take Productivity Seriously
”Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” ~Thomas Edison
If you want to break through in 2012, you will need to FOCUS.
This means, when you’re working on your projects, you’ve got to get in the zone. Treat work time as a sacred moment.
Put your cellphone on airplane mode. Don’t check your email. Don’t check Facebook.
We live in a world that makes it harder and harder to focus, but to make magic happen, it’s imperative to shield yourself against distractions.
Learning some productivity principles is also very helpful.
Make a To-Do list everyday, and eat the ugly frog first. That means, tackle the most daunting, challenging task first.
Do all these things, and you’ll achieve the crown jewel of productivity: creating higher-quality work, and doing more of it in less time.
6) Put in the Work
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” ~Vince Lombardi
I wish I could tell you that there’s a shortcut to success, but there isn’t. And if you’ve found one, please let me know!
I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 studying super-successful people, and I’ve found one great commonality. They work damn hard.
Some of them are very talented, some, not so much, but every single one of them has put in the massive effort to get where they are now.
Personally, this makes me really happy because it shows that talent is overrated. Hard work gives each of us a chance to shine and make a dent in the universe.
As my homeboy Henry David Thoreau once said, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
Here’s the secret though: hard work creates a positive feedback loop. You start working hard, and soon great things start happening in your life. You get better grades, your blog gets more hits, you get more sales, whatever. And that feels real good.
So you want more, and you work even harder, and soon you’re on a roll.
7) Rest Up!
“Human beings are designed to pulse rhythmically between spending and renewing energy. That’s how we operate at our best.” ~Tony Schwartz
The other side of the “work hard” coin is that you have to rest hard. No one is superhuman (yet!). Our body & our brain just wasn’t designed to go for long periods of time working without rest.
In this video, Energy Management expert Tony Schwartz advises to work like a sprinter. Work as hard as you can for a short period (30-90 minutes) then rest up for a few minutes. And rest hard. Go for a walk, meditate, do some stretching, do some deep breathing, whatever. Totally tune off.
Then come back, focus, and focus again. Then rest. And on & on. You’ll get a lot more done over the course of a day, and it will be higher-quality work too.
Never let yourself get run down. So often, I see students go for epic 12-hours-straight study sessions. They look exhausted, their eyes are all bloodshot, and I bet they don’t learn too much either.
Equally important is to SLEEP. According to Schwartz, 95% of people need 7-8 hours per night. Less than that, and it has a profound negative effect on our cognitive performance and our mood.
Whenever I hear young entrepreneurs brag that they’re working 18 hours a day, I can’t help but laugh. That’s just silly. It might work for a week or so, but it’s not sustainable. Sleep is key to long-term performance.
I’ve become an avid napper this year, and if it’s possible for you, I really recommend you try and make it a habit. It’s a great way to reenergize and get a second fresh start to the day.
Whatever you do, remember that rest is essential to producing our best work. And it’s fun too, so why miss out on that part of the success formula?
8) Learn, Learn, Learn and Apply!
“The growth of the human mind is still high adventure, in many ways the highest adventure on earth.” -Norma Cousins
At some point this year, I realized something that really lit a fire under my ass.
*Knowledge + Action = Power*
The moment you figure out what you want to excel at, start devouring books, audiotapes and videos (whatever medium works best for you) about it.
We’re so lucky, we have all the knowledge in the world at our fingertips, why not take advantage of it?
But learning is not enough. You’ve got to TRY NEW THINGS.
When you read something cool, whether on this blog, or elsewhere, don’t just sit and think “wow, that’s cool.” Try it out. Make an experiment out of it. Spice up your life.
As Tony Robbins says, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
There are a lot of knowledgeable people out there who don’t accomplish anything. Be a person who knows a ton, and who applies it to make big things happen.
9) Take 30-Day Challenges
One of the greatest discoveries I made this year is the power of 30-day challenges. They’re great for 2 reasons:
1) They’re the best way to form a new habit.
2) They spice up our life and make a month memorable.
I took 3 30-day challenges last year: the Cold-Shower Challenge, the Muscle-Gain Challenge, and the Speed Reading Challenge.
But this year, I’m stepping it up, and will be taking a different 30-day challenge every month. That’s right, 12 30-day Challenges. It’s going to be a big year.
As I’m writing this, I’m 4 days into my 30-day “Free-writing” Challenge (letting my mind flow and writing down my thoughts for at least 1 page every day). So far so good.
If you want inspiration to get you started, check out this list of 30 Challenges for 30 Days.
Seriously, if you’ve never tried a 30-day Challenge, do it. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and you’ll have a great story to tell.
10) Tame the Beast of Fear
“I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” ~Tim Ferriss
Aaahh good ol’ fear. The emotion that separates the best from the rest.
The way I see it, fear is like a wild horse. If we don’t control it, it throws us off and we falter. But if we can tame it, harness it, it becomes one of our greatest allies.
Whenever you’ll try something new, something that can be a step up into the life you dream of, you’ll feel fear. It’s normal. Everyone does.
It’s what you do next that will shape your future.
Don’t let fear control you this year. Tame that beast, make it your friend, and watch your life soar.
11) Do What You Truly Love
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” ~Steve Jobs
What more can I say?
12) Dream Big & Shoot for the Stars
“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” ~Marianne Williamson
I really believe that greatness is in all of us. But to make big things happen, we first need to envision it, and we need to *believe* it’s possible.
As some guy named Henry Ford once said, “Whatever you can conceive, you can achieve.”
It doesn’t cost any more to dream big than it does to dream little, so why not have fun and let our imagination go wild?
If you put in the work, persist, constantly improve, learn from your mistakes, take risks, and believe in yourself, you can accomplish extraordinary things. You really can.
*Bonus* The Top 5 Resources That Helped my Breakthrough
1) Tony Robbins’ Personal Power II Program
2) Brian Johnson’s Optimal Living 101 Course
3) Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes
4) Chris Guillebeau’s book The Art of Non-Conformity
5) Tim Ferriss’ book The 4 Hour Workweek
2012 is going to be a massive year. Some people are going to rise to the top, and some are going to be left in the dust.
Make this YOUR year my friend! Step up your game, and make your mark in the world. Life’s too short not to shine.
Here’s to making 2012 a year we’ll forever remember!
PS What’s the one thing you KNOW you need to do this year to make it your breakthrough year?
Please share this post, because that’s how more people can have a kick-ass year!