Why short-term satisfaction will always be in the way of your success, discipline and reaching the things that are valuable in life
An entire generation grew up with the world at their fingertips.
Just 30 years ago life was a lot different. The people didn’t have over 100 tv channels on their TV, allowing you to always find something entertaining.
When they’d trip as a kid, they wouldn’t be rewarded with some candy because their parents felt bad.
When they were working their ass off all day they weren’t rewarded with random notifications of friends texting, sending messages on Facebook, the newest gift you get from the game you’re playing or an instant answer to their problems.
Let’s face it: the generation of 18 to 30-year-olds of today is one of the most spoiled generations to ever grow up (and the generation after it will be even more spoiled). Which is fine (also I’m part of this generation so I’ve also experienced it).
A huge part of being motivated is knowing that short-term dopamine is a terrible way to reach your goals. You only get disciplined to do something when you know it will take hard work, tears, sweat and a bloody face before you reach the goal.
Now, when I say short-term satisfaction I talk about the useless satisfaction such as social media likes, eating terrible food, watching tv all day or using substances in order to feel good. I’m not talking about activities such as hitting the gym, meditating, reading a good book that teaches you new things or any other activity which truly allows you to invest in yourself.
See, while growing up, with most things that I did there would always be short-term satisfaction. People aren’t used to working long and hard to reach their goals: if you want something you need to get it now.
If you want to feel happy, you post a picture on Instagram and get 100 likes. If you want to feel entertained, you open up any app and just look at pictures.
The brain is used to short-term satisfaction. Research has shown that the rush of dopamine that you get from your smartphone is already bigger than the rush you get from using cocaine, sugar or any other food.
And it’s messing you up. It’s setting you up for disaster as it is a terrible way of living your life. Let’s say you want to find a new job. You apply for one and immediately believe this will be the best job in the world. You’re already thinking about all the things you can do with the money.
Even before you go for the initial intake you already feel like you’re going to get it.
But then… you don’t. They reject you. And you feel horrible. All the outcome that you thought of before, all the dreams in your head on how life was going to be so much different if you just got the job, they’re all gone now. They seem out of reach.
The generation of 18 to 30 year olds, also now known as the ‘millennials’, is a great generation. A generation that will, just like the generations before it, change the world. They’re the ones that will be in charge soon, running the big companies, running governments, running whatever is needed to build a better world.
Yet, the short-term satisfaction of people will also be a horrifying part of the generation. Sure, we’re not the first generation to do so. Look at the generation before it.
A great example is the housing crisis of 2008. Millions of people got greedy. They started selling and buying terrible houses. Mortgage after mortgage was signed. People got rich from it and the amount of short-term dopamine they received from it was incredible. They were on cloud nine during this entire period.
Or look at cars, another short-term dopamine rush for the entire world. We never realized how much damage they were doing to nature. Or forests, which we’re cutting down killing all the animals and original inhabitants just to make some quick cash.
Now, I’m not here to tell you I’m a left-wing environmental enthusiast that believes we should all be nice, holding hands while wearing flowers in our hair singing songs to Jesus while dancing around a campfire.
But I do want to explain how all this short-term satisfaction is eventually a great way to beat yourself up. To go after something that doesn’t even matter as much as something that you need to work hard for.
I’m part of this generation and I grew up with the same feeling: when X happens I get Y. That means that when I was crying, I would get some candy. If I made a mistake, it wasn’t bad. If I was last in the annual pie eating contest I would still get a medal.
A lot of things within this generation was set up in order to avoid negativity. Which is a direct result from the fact that crying kids are pretty terrible. It’s awful to see a kid cry so you might as well make it better. But it’s a terrible way to raise an entire generation, a generation that soon needs to run the world.
Because all this short-term satisfaction and these short-term dopamine rushes stand in the way of actually accomplishing something in life.
It’s why when we have a terrible day we just watch that favorite TV show on Netflix for hours straight. Short term dopamine rushes are at the core of people’s personalities.
If you look around while walking in any city, you will see almost 80% of the people staring at their phones. In the subway it’s even more. We need a constant stream of entertainment because imagine if you’re just not doing something for a second. How terrible would it be if you totally didn’t check out that cool picture of that friend of yours that is on a holiday rather than just wait 2 weeks for him to get back and listen to his stories about the trip.
Smartphone addiction is becoming a huge problem. Technology has perfectly played into our internal hormones and releases so much dopamine that it’s hard to stop. And all that dopamine, combined with the fact that you are looking at people that seem to have a happy life (wake up call: research shows people that are acting like they’re happy on social media are usually a lot more unhappy than their peers who don’t do that) is again setting us up for a lot of short-term expectations that will almost never be met.
Which is why it is so important to learn how to get disciplined in life in the long term. A lot of things that stand in the way of becoming disciplined to reach your goals are related to these activities that give you short-term satisfaction.
We expect more from the work we do and we want to see it instantly. And that’s fine, that’s the way we were raised. But it’s better to just let that go if you truly want to be satisfied in life and have the ambition to work on things that will give you that satisfaction later.
Why going to the gym is a great example of this
The first time you enter the gym, whether you’ve never been or you’re just starting out again, you will lift weights, run or do any other activity.
And then you leave the gym.
What’s your expectation before you go? Do you believe you will instantly be fit just because you go once or do you know that it takes weeks, months or even years to reach the goal you have set for yourself?
Do you realize that when you start doing the bench press at 80lbs that you won’t have that bulk body that you have set as a goal or do you believe it will take you months before you reach 200lbs and then might have the chest you are working for right now?
Do you leave the gym unsatisfied because you haven’t gotten the body immediately or do you walk away knowing you did everything you could today and in a few months you will be able to reach your goal?
The problem for most people that have a hard time being disciplined is that they expect that these results are instant. Maybe not in the gym as that is something most people know takes a lot of time but with other goals in life it is a huge factor in holding you back in life.
You want to start that business and you talk to your friends about it. Everybody thinks it’s a great idea that you finally start doing it (which, by the way, is most likely because they like you and not because they are actually going to buy your product – been there, done that, learned a lot from it).
But then you go to the outside world. You’ve prepared as much as you could’ve prepared for it. You believe you did everything you could’ve done in order to get the things in the right order to talk to that first client that is a total stranger.
And they reject you. They say no. Every second you’ve spent on thinking they will buy the product is wasted. All the time you spent thinking how amazing this idea was is being shattered.
And you get disappointed and maybe even angry at yourself. “O my god, this was a terrible idea, how could I even think somebody would buy it?”
Well, that’s not really much of your fault at that point. You just didn’t know any better. But you still give up, the disappointment of one rejection was enough to believe your product is shit and you don’t want to do anything else with it.
You didn’t get the short-term dopamine that you wanted. Rather, you got the exact opposite of dopamine. The lack of dopamine is killing you so much that you look for other ways to get that happiness. Whether it’s spending hours watching Netflix, going out drinking, spend hours on social media or whatever it is, you need to fill that void of dopamine that you are now lacking.
But let’s look at it in another way: maybe it wasn’t you. Maybe it wasn’t your product. Maybe this was just not the right person to sell it to. Maybe they can’t afford it. Maybe they’re just not in the mood today.
No matter what it is, it can be 99 different options aside from the fact that you are shit or your product is terrible.
Instead, you need to push forward. One rejection is nothing. Do you stop talking to women/men entirely because one of them rejects you? Are you going through life without a job just because one company rejects you?
Or do you get up, again and again, after that rejection and keep pushing forward in order to get there?
Maybe the product wasn’t the best fit. Then try someone else to sell it to, try 50 other people. And if still nobody buys, maybe the product is bad. So fix it, adjust it in order to make it better for those people.
Maybe the sales pitch was terrible; people didn’t understand what they could do with the product.
Maybe the way you dressed was terrible and people didn’t have any faith in the product because of it.
Then go out, push yourself to fix these things and keep going. But never do that after just one person tells you that it’s not something they’d buy.
Never stop doing whatever you are doing just because you didn’t get that instant satisfaction. Never give up just because your first interaction was terrible. Keep going, keep pushing, whenever you hit the ground, get up and keep going.
Because you’re not going to sell your product to the first person. You’re not going to be extremely fit by going to the gym once. You’re not going to marry the first girl/guy you ever talk to. You’re not getting the first job you apply to.
And that’s why it’s so important to be disciplined on the long-term rather than the short term. We can all work for a day to do something. We can all work for a week. But the people that get furthest in life are the ones that work day in day out to work towards their goals.
People don’t go to the Olympics because they just randomly went to the gym every month to run a bit. They have set up everything in their lives in order to compete in the Olympics in 3, 4 maybe even 10 years from now. They’re doing everything they can, every single day, in order to be able to compete at such a level.
If you truly want to reach things in life that you believe is out of your reach – or are on the edge of what you believe you can reach – you need to put in the work that is necessary to get there. You need to push yourself.
You need to get up every morning being grateful that you get another day to work on whatever goal you have set for yourself. Every single night, you go to bed knowing that tomorrow is going to be another day for you.
That’s why you don’t lay on your bed till 3 AM watching some random Netflix show that is giving you short-term dopamine – because you know that when you get up at 7 or 8 AM tomorrow, you have a headstart in order to push yourself further in life.
That’s why you don’t go drinking until 5 AM on a Friday night because you know you need to be at the gym at 9 AM being as fit as you can in order to push yourself to lift that weight you’ve never lifted.
Life isn’t easy if you believe it’s going to be easy. Life is only easy if you work hard. If you work hard to reach your goals, if you go out every single day believing that today is going to be a great day, if you just tell yourself every single day that you are going to make it, that nothing is going to stop you, then that is exactly what is going to happen.
Stop going after that short-term dopamine. It’s standing in the way of your own success. It’s one of the biggest reasons why you are having trouble being disciplined. You want it NOW. You want satisfaction NOW. You don’t want to work for it, you don’t feel like it’s worth doing, you’re afraid of failure, you’re afraid people might make fun of you because of it.
Maybe that’s how you were raised, where every failure was met with a reward. That means your reward system is totally damaged. Every time you do something NOW, you want the reward NOW.
We all know the stories of overnight success from companies like Facebook, Airbnb, Uber. It seemed like they just appeared out of nowhere and were an instant hit.
But what they don’t tell you with those stories is that those guys worked their asses off, time after time, creating opportunity after opportunity in order to move forward. They didn’t just sit in their basement and randomly were successful.
The products they sell/offer today aren’t even the exact products they originally were planning to make. They spent years and years readjusting their strategies, talking to other people, talking to their customers, aligning their companies towards a new path.
It took sweat, blood and tears, time after time. Overnight success? The guys from Airbnb were dealing with a $40K debt after their company didn’t become successful for years. The original idea of Airbnb wasn’t even to rent out a room, it was to offer people an airbed in your living room (hence air bed & breakfast)
The original plan for Facebook wasn’t even to build the biggest social network in the world. It was just going to be a platform for students at Harvard to use.
Uber wasn’t originally going to be the biggest riding company in the world. It was just a project for Travis that would allow him and his friends to get a limousine whenever they wanted in the city they lived in back then.
But they found something in their product that spoke to others. And so they readjusted it to reach more people. Then bumped into another obstacle and broke that down. And another, they just didn’t quit.
They knew what they were doing. They weren’t looking for some short-term satisfaction. They grinded their teeth on the pavement, for years and years on end. Getting rejected by investors, getting spat on by their customers, making mistake after mistake. But it didn’t matter to them. They had something they felt they needed to do, no matter how big the goal was at that time.
Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg quit building Facebook because the Winklevoss brothers told him to stop. Then Facebook wouldn’t be the biggest social network in the world today (and we wouldn’t all be scared as hell because our data was used in insane ways).
Imagine the guys from Airbnb quit building their platform because nobody wanted to rent after they had their first three customers (it took them almost a year before they truly started getting more bookings and had a constant growth rate).
Imagine if Uber just quit after the first investor told them no.
Imagine if an Olympic athlete just quits because they didn’t win their local tournament.
Imagine if Steve Jobs just gave up after he was fired from Apple. He would’ve never been able to launch NeXT, which ultimately led him to become the CEO of Apple again and launch the iPhone.
And that brings us full circle to the whole story, as the iPhone and all the other smartphones are the reason we are craving for that short-term dopamine so much.
Realize that all this short-term dopamine is a huge obstacle in your journey towards whatever you want in life. It’s holding you back, it’s constantly telling you that you can do X now because it is more satisfying than just taking some time to invest in yourself to be better in 100 days from now rather than now.
Investing in yourself and becoming disciplined and motivated in life comes from the fact that you are willing to sacrifice your time and energy now to reach greater things that you are able to reach right now.
If your goal in life is to just look at pictures of Instagram all day, that’s fine, don’t take the message. But if you believe there is more in life for you, if there’s more than the position that you are currently in. If you believe you can do fantastic things in life, if you want to push yourself to those goals, to stand on the top of the mountain that you believe is set out there for you, then get the short-term dopamine rush out of your system.
So, how do you fix this whole issue and actually get somewhere?
I’m not going to make you read 3000 words and then not come with a great twist on how to actually fix it.
Because let’s face it: you’re looking for a solution.
You’d rather work on moving forward in life than spend the most productive hours of your day doing something like looking at cat pictures, browsing any website that doesn’t make you smarter or anything related.
If you do, that’s totally fine. You don’t have to fix it. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, keep doing it. But if you truly feel like there’s more out there for your life and your destination then it’s time to put some work in.
Now, I know you’re probably hoping for a quick fix; that’s the short-term dopamine talking. But let’s face it: it’s going to take sweat, tears and blood to reach the big goals you want to reach in life.
It’s not something that gives you instant satisfaction, it’s something with which you know that every single step you take is leading you closer towards the goal. And whether it takes a month, a year or even ten years doesn’t matter, all that matters is that you do all these things in order to get yourself to that point in life that you truly want to be at.
The first thing you need to figure out is what truly makes you happy in life. I know, it sounds cheesy as hell but that’s really the number one thing you need to figure out in life.
Because that’s the one thing that your goals will match. You’re not going to give up all these short-term dopamine rushes if you’re not working on something that is going to be better than that, that will make you give up those rushes just because you don’t have time to give into it.
And whatever makes you happy doesn’t matter. Some people enjoy cooking, some people enjoy making statues, some enjoy making movies, taking pictures, building furniture. It doesn’t matter what it is, find something that is truly worth it to you.
Don’t listen to what others say on what is supposed to make you happy. You’re you, you’re the one that knows best what makes you happy. Your parents don’t know you better than you, your brothers or sisters don’t know you better than you, neither do your friends.
Listen to yourself, listen to what your own voice is saying. What is the one thing that truly makes you happy?
Figuring this out isn’t something that takes a few seconds or minutes. It sometimes takes people their whole life before they realize what is truly the one thing that makes them happy.
Odds are you will tell yourself: being rich will make me happy. That’s not a good motivation. See, getting rich is just something that comes along with doing whatever you feel is necessary for you to do in this world. Wealth is an outcome of doing that, not the cause.
Doing something you enjoy so much and knowing it is going to take you where you believe it should take you is the best way to boost your self-esteem. Self-esteem comes from knowing that the things you are doing now will lead to the point where you want to be.
And that will flow through in everything. You’re reading a specific book because you believe it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You’re going to the gym 3 times a week because you believe it will bring you three steps closer to your goal. You’re attending a specific class in college because you believe it will bring you one step closer to your goal.
Going after what makes you happy is the most satisfying thing in life. And it’s also the thing that will take a lot of effort, it will never give you short-term satisfaction, it will always take sacrifices, it will require you to fail, to get out of your comfort zone, to do the things you never did before. But you need to do all these things in order to get to where you truly want to be.
And that’s exactly where discipline will come from as well. If you don’t feel disciplined right now, it’s most likely because you are doing other things than the things you believe you should be doing. But if you’re so obsessed with the things you truly believe you should do, discipline is one of the things that you will get from it.
Again, you won’t go out on Friday night because you know you need to get up at 8 AM because you are working on that goal. You don’t sleep two more hours because you know you need those two extra hours to work on that goal.
The whole short-term dopamine rush issue will fix itself when you believe it is not necessary anymore to look at your smartphone, eat that candy bar or anything else because you believe it’s better to spend your time on something else.
One of the things that truly makes me happy in life is helping others. That’s the main goal. And the things I do are in line with that goal. That’s why I am currently spending my time writing this article, sitting in a little bit too hot room with a cup of coffee next to me, about to piss my pants because I have been holding it up for way too long so I can finish this article.
That’s the goal that keeps me going in life. That’s why I wake up early in the morning and go to bed in time at night. That’s why I meditate, so I won’t have those 1000 voices in my head telling me to do other things. That’s why I eat the right food because I know my brain works better that way and I’m a better writer.
And as long as I have just helped one single person with what I wrote down, that makes me happy. That person can be you, that person can be the friend you’re sending this to or it can be me in case I ever need to hear this advice.
That’s why I shut off all the notifications on my phone and put it on airplane mode. It’s the reason I listen to music so I won’t get distracted by the noises around me. It gives me purpose, something to put my time in, something that I can do for hours and enjoy every single second of it.
If you don’t feel like you have something in life that you are truly passionate about, that you can’t find the ambition for, that you feel like is not worth putting everything else on hold, it can take a long time to find it. Again, there’s no quick fix for this. If being disciplined was so easy, everybody in the world would be disciplined.
But it’s not easy and that’s why you stand out from the crowd when you are really the one that can find the discipline to do something. That’s why some are more successful than others. It’s the sole reason why some go much further in life than others.
If you still need to find what you are passionate about in life, look around you. Try new things, try figuring out what is really giving you that feeling of interest.
In the end, it’s worth every second that you spend on finding out what truly gives you the ambition to do something. It’s going to lead to better things in life. Eventually, it will help you figure out what your best role is in this world and how you can truly become the person that you believe you should be.
Most people want to be better.
Buy that new car because it’ll make you look good. Get that new phone because you oh-so need it.
Here’s what most people won’t do though: actually make sure they live a life in which they can achieve that.
Most people are dreamers and talkers, not doers and walkers. And that’s a shame. Because it’s actually really easy to go from a dreamer to a doer.
One of the most basic things you need to do in order to become a doer is to put great habits in your life. Habits that benefit you as a human. Habits that make you be more grateful for the things you do.
Because being grateful will lead to being happy. And being happy will lead to living a better life. And living a better life will lead to you actually working on the things you want to accomplish rather than being mad/sad/angry about the fact you haven’t accomplished them yet.
So, here are 17 habits that only take less than 10 minutes. I advise to not immediately put all these habits into your life. See, building great habits is about picking up 1 good habit and then after 14 days adding another one because you feel good about the first one. And then 10 days later – another. Another 14 days later – another.
Why take up habits that take up less than 10 minutes?
Alright, let’s be real. The reason I have these habits in my life or have had these habits in my life is because they don’t take much time.
See, we all have 10 minutes in our day to make ourselves feel better. And even if you don’t think you have 10 minutes, I bet you 100% you do. So at the end of the list, I have added some activities that you are most likely doing but of which you can spare just 10 minutes in order to improve your life (because when you improve your life, you also improve how you do the other things you do during the day).
Again, I do not advise to take up all these habits (at once). Instead, find one that seems to fit your current lifestyle and just start doing it today – right after you read this article. Just take 10 minutes or less and start working on it right away.
1. Write to someone who is your hero/mentor – takes 5 minutes
Alright, so no matter what field you are in, whether you’re in college or work full time, we all have people we look up to.
The people that have been extremely successful. Those who are our idols. People that we believe are legends.
Here’s a little secret about those people: they’re actually just like you and me. See, most of the successful people that we know and look up to used to live a life that wasn’t as good as it this today. Most of them actually got their drive from the fact that their life was a lot worse in the past.
These people are human, like you and me. No matter how legendary they may look in your eyes.
And it has never been easier to reach these people – it’s extremely easy nowadays.
Think about a person that has really helped you in your life. Whether it’s an NFL player, writer, entrepreneur, athlete, no matter who it is. Think about HOW they have helped you. And think about WHY it benefited you.
Then take those two together, the how and why, and write a short message. Then send them that message, either by email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, comment on their blog, anywhere.
A short message of gratitude. A message that shows them that something they did in the past – something they may have even forgotten about – that has truly benefited you in your life.
This has real benefits for yourself, but also for them. For you, it’s a great way to see how someone that you may have never met – or only met shortly – can have a huge impact on how you live and have lived your life. And it’s a good reminder of a good personality trait or habit that you picked up.
Secondly, people love it when someone is grateful for something they have once done or said. See, it’s only a simple message. You’re not asking them for an autograph, for a friend request, for something in return – except 99% of the people that reaches out to them actually does this). No, you will be that 1% that is actually making them feel good, that can put a smile on their face that day.
After reading Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, I sent him a short email thanking him for writing the book. I told him what chapters resonated with me most and why they resonated with me. That’s it, no questions for him, no ‘please love me’ statement, nothing at all. And he sent me a short email back.
I now made it a habit to do this at least once a week, usually after reading something online, listening to a podcast or after finishing a book. It’s just a small gesture that shows them you respect what they have to say and can help them to find that extra boost today to do something worthwhile for others.
Sometimes I get a reply, sometimes I don’t. But I know with 90% certainty that they read it.
And maybe, one day, when you meet them (again), they will remember you. Great conversation starter.
2. Meditate – takes 10 minutes
Yes, here we go again.
I know, you’ve probably read it on every blog, in tons of books, heard it on the radio.
That old hippy activity that makes you a Buddhist after doing it once: meditation.
But meditation is actually something way different than trying to think yourself towards a Buddhist life. It’s an activity that helps you to just sit down, and think about many things or nothing at all.
Eyes closed, no focus on anything but your thoughts. Meditation is one of the greatest habits in my life and I do it every single day.
When I first started to meditate I would just sit there. Thinking what the hell I was doing. Thoughts flashing back and forth in my mind. My thoughts were going everywhere.
And that’s ok. That’s what always happens when you start something new. You just have no idea what you are doing and how to do it well.
Then I discovered HeadSpace, an app that helps you meditate (and also really focuses on the benefits of meditation). I used it for a week, found out how to do it, and then downloaded an app called Calm to continue meditation in my own way.
At first, I would just sit still and let thoughts pass through my head and observe them. After a while, I found that I got all the benefits from it that I wanted and turned to transcendental meditation. This is a practice in which you repeat a 1 or 2 syllable word during a period of 10 minutes.
By doing this in the morning, I help myself to prepare for the day mentally. And when I don’t meditate on a day, I notice it in the other things that I do. I have better and happier days when I meditate and am planning to do it for a long time.
3. Journal – takes 2x 2.5 minutes
Man, if there’s one habit that I can highly suggest putting into your life then it’s journaling.
The benefits of this habit outperform those of any other habit. Journalling is a fantastic way to start and end the day.
For a long time, I would sit down in the morning and just write down my thoughts. I’d write short stories (more about this in the next habit) to get clear my mind in the morning.
Then, after listening to the Tim Ferris Podcast, I discovered the 5-minute journal. It’s a pretty simple concept.
Every morning, right after you wake up, you answer 3 simple questions:
- What am I grateful for today? 3 Answers
- What would make today great? 3 Answers
- A daily reminder, I am…
I used to write this on a notepad with a pen, every morning. But then I ended up ordering the book called 5 Minute Journal, which is basically a nice looking version of a notepad with the questions and a good quote at the top of the page. I think it’s about $20 online.
Then, at night, you answer another 2 questions:
- What were 3 great things that happened today?
- What could I have done better today?
It’s a great way to reflect on your day and to see what you have done today to benefit yourself or others. By doing this every day, you have a great book filled with information about your day to day life.
Now, there are tons of others ways to journal, and it’s obviously up to you on which one you choose to do daily. Find one that you believe fits your personality and lifestyle best and just keep doing that every single day.
4. Write a short story – takes 7-8 minutes
During a period where I was homebound for a few weeks, I’d wake up every morning and just write some short story to clear my mind in the morning.
I’d write about any topic that came up in my mind the second I started writing. About how grain has been one of the most insane foods in how humans have lived their lives (from 10,000 years ago to now), how having a cold is a terrible experience, how we remember people in the past from the wars they fought but remember people today from the greatness they have achieved.
It didn’t really matter to me what the topic was, I just wanted to write something down and get my head cleared before I started the day. By writing for just 10 minutes, I had the opportunity to just put any thoughts I had on paper and before I jumped in the shower my head would just be calm.
The short time that I focused on writing helped the random and impulsive thoughts in my head to stop and allowed me to just sit still for a few minutes. And I benefited from this throughout the whole day because those random and impulsive thoughts wouldn’t appear in my mind as much as they would before I had that period of writing.
5.Have a good and healthy breakfast – takes 10 extra minutes
You most likely already know this, yet a lot of people either skip breakfast or just put some sugary cereal with high carb yoghurt into a bowl and eat it. Which is a terrible way of starting your day.
See, by just putting a little more thought and effort into your breakfast, it’s a lot easier to start your day off right. Let’s say you now put 5 minutes into preparing and eating breakfast. If you just take 10 more minutes, you allow yourself to make a breakfast that is a lot healthier and contains way more nutritions than your current breakfast.
In 15 minutes, you can easily prepare and eat an omelette with some veggies, meat and other ingredients that have high benefits for your health and contain the necessary amounts of fat for your brain to function well (fat, by the way, is not bad for your health. You need fats, your brain won’t function without it – it’s just important that you know what types of fat you need to eat).
There’s this thing called the Bulletproof diet. Now, I don’t follow that diet (or am in any way an expert to tell you that you should) but I did learn a lot about healthy fats and the foods that contain them. I can highly suggest to look it up on Google and learn more about the foods that you can eat during the day that will benefit your body but especially your brain.
6. Read 4-5 pages of a book – takes 10 minutes
Here’s probably one the best habits you can put into your life: reading.
See, we all like to read more books, especially books that allow us to be better at whatever we are trying to be good at in life. And it doesn’t always take reading an entire book to get a lot of knowledge from it. Most books contain so much information that a quick read of 4-5 pages will already allow you to move forward.
Now, I highly recommend reading more than just 10 minutes a day. It’s one of the most beneficial things you can do in life. But if you don’t have much time to read, it’s better to just get that 10 minutes daily. 30 x 10 minutes a day is 5 hours a month. That’s about 120-150 pages. Depending on the book, you can easily finish half of it without dedicating a lot of time to it.
Here’s a good trick if you want to read more books. I’ve tried this for a while and can truly say I got a lot of it. I just stopped using it because it mainly worked with books that I had no interest in reading entirely but still wanted to get some important elements from. There’s an app called Blinkist that is perfect if you want to read books quickly. I think it’s $17 a month. This allows you to put just 10 minutes in a day to read 1 book. That’s 30 books a month.
Blinkist summarizes thousands of really good books. Books that seem interesting to you but you might not want to own, spend the $20 on or spend 2 months reading. Because the books are summarized, it’s way easier to find the important parts of the book without worrying that you need to read all the extra paragraphs and sentences around that information.
7. Make a plan for the next day – takes 3-5 minutes
If you’re not doing this right now, I can highly recommend that you start doing it. See, by making a good plan the day before you allow yourself to be a lot more aware of the things that are coming up.
This means you are less stressed by all the things that come onto your path the next day, simply because you have already established a schedule for yourself in which you have noted when you are going to do the things that are on the to-do list today.
And it’s extremely easy to do this. Just take a few minutes at night, right down the things you need to do the next day and then schedule them throughout the day.
Every day, I now write down when I’m going to get up, when I eat breakfast, when I go to the gym, when work starts, when I write articles, etc. This never clogs up my mind since I can dedicate the time that I work on an activity on that activity rather than stressing myself out that I have so many other things to do that day.
8. Get a night routine – takes 5-10 minutes
You most likely already know this but haven’t put it in your life yet: a good night routine.
See, night routines are essential to having a good night of sleep. You will sleep far better and have fewer worries once you have a night routine in your life. It allows you to settle down for a bit before you actually go to sleep.
This habit shouldn’t take too much time of your day and is extremely beneficial. Just take 3-4 short activities that make you sleep better. For me, it’s drinking some camomile tea, grab my clothes for the next day, brush my teeth and write in my journal. After that, my head is empty and I can easily fall asleep within a short amount of time.
9. Track your progress in life – takes 2-3 minutes
By just putting 2-3 minutes a day into tracking your life you allow yourself to see the progress that you have made.
It’s easy to underestimate the progress you are making if you are just looking at it every day. Because where you stand today, is not where you will stand in two weeks. Yet, most likely, you will still feel the exact same.
These apps allow you to basically track anything. Which means you can just set your own goals, how many times you want to do that habit every week and then note down when you have done it.
Sure, the first few days won’t be that impressive. But, after a while, you will quickly realize you’ve been doing some specific habit for a few weeks now. It also keeps you motivated to do that specific activity daily, as you won’t allow yourself to lose a 30-day streak. Highly motivating and it just takes a few minutes a day.
10. Send a message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while – takes 5 minutes
There’s a high probability that you have friends that you haven’t talked to in a while that kind of just disappeared out of your life. But, unless you decided to not hang out anymore because you got into a fight together, the relationship is still pretty decent.
And that’s exactly why you should put time into contacting them. Not only is it a nice reminder of the good times you shared with each other for yourself, it is also a great reminder for them. And a lot of times, good conversations will follow from sending this message.
Whether it’s a quick “What’s up?” or the fact they just got a new job, got married, got a kid, it doesn’t matter. In your lifetime, you will have many experiences in front of you. But never forget about the ones in your past – the good memories that eventually made you the person that you are today.
11. Look up a question you want an answer to on Quora – takes 5-10 minutes
This is one of my favourites and has since then inspired me to also be a contributor to Quora.
See, the internet is a great place, especially when it comes to the self-improvement websites. Problem with internet is that you mostly will check out the latest posts of today, this week or this month. But sometimes you are just looking for advice on something else.
Quora is a great place to just search for a question that you want to have some solid advice on. The people there have one interest: to make sure the question gets answered in the best way possible. Which means there’s a ton of free content there that you can read in order to get the best advice on any matter (alright, it’s not always the best advice, but usually the questions you have are answered in a great way or at least link to articles that will answer that question).
Either install the Quora app or just go the website and search for questions you need advice on right now. Whether it’s how to tell better stories, how to clean your snowboard, where to find specific items, whatever it is.
It’s a great place to get a lot of knowledge in short blocks of text and has helped me in the past to find a lot of new and interesting information that I wouldn’t have found looking through dozens of blogs that contain way too much extra information.
12. Listen to Motivational Speeches on Spotify – takes 5-10 minutes
We all know it: even though those motivational speeches may sound insane from the outside, that stuff actually works when it comes to getting yourself pumped up to do something.
Whenever I take a cold shower in the morning, I listen to these speeches in the background. It’s a great way to get some motivation in the morning and also helps myself to push myself to actually feel that cold water.
My favourite thing about these speeches is the background music along with it. It’s the vibe the music gives me that really pushes me to do the things I need to do in the morning.
Most of these motivational speeches are targeted at entrepreneurs but I believe the advice is solid for many others as well. It’s a great way to just get that extra motivated feeling every single day, no matter where you are in life.
Here’s one of the playlists: https://open.spotify.com/user/nickfearless/playlist/78Suoigk80gI9mI9z5tYl8
13. Watch commencement speeches by successful people – takes 10 minutes
It’s important to realize something: successful people are usually the people that went through tough times in life – whether they were young or old – and have found a way to cope with it and push themselves to do more through the benefits from the fact they got through that experience.
Which is why watching commencement speeches is such a great way of learning how they did it. It’s someone who – in other people’s eyes, and sometimes not even their own – have reached a point in life that is very inspiring. And, being at that point, they tell a crowd of graduated students on how to go on in life now that they’ve finished what most consider is the hardest thing they have done until that point in life.
I can highly suggest watching these speeches at 1.5x speed on YouTube. You can still hear what they are saying and it’s a great way to speed things up. Speeches by Steve Jobs, Arnold Schwarzenegger and dozens of other people that are at the top of their field gave speeches like this and these are extremely inspiring. Take some notes on the things they say, I still read many of the notes I took when listening to these speeches.
14. Create something of value for the world – takes 10 minutes
If we’d all do this, the world would be such a better place.
But, sure, most people won’t do this because they don’t believe they have the time for it or just feel like they have other priorities – and that’s totally fine. Just know that when you do something of value for the world, you create something of bigger value for yourself.
See, what most people don’t realize is that you will be a lot happier and satisfied in life if the things you do are making other people better. Hence me writing this article; even if it only helps one person, I am fully satisfied with the results.
The world is too big to be selfish and it’s so easy nowadays to create something of value that many people will see. Just working on things that matter to yourself is a good way to start in life but at one point you gotta realize that the things that make you a great person are things that can be extremely inspiring to others.
Take 10 minutes every day and just work on something that creates value. Write something for your Facebook, think of a motivational quote and make an image of it, make some art. It doesn’t have to be finished on that same day, even if it takes 6 days (which gives you an hour) you will at least create something of value.
Those who create value for others will get value in return. Maybe not right away but definitely in the future.
Again, our world is too good for everyone to be selfish. For everyone to just make decisions that only benefit themselves. Find ways of creating value and you will not just help yourself but will also inspire others to do the same.
15. Drink coffee/tea and just sit still for 10 minutes to relax – takes 10 minutes
You will most likely recognize this: you get up, grab some coffee and drink it while doing something else in the meantime. Check your phone, looking at emails, replying to your latest texts.
While doing that, you are not giving your brain even a second to just relax. You’re filling your head with external information that isn’t necessarily important at that moment. What is important is that you often take time for your brain to relax.
Imagine if you were an athlete. And every time you finished a 30-minute run and are resting to take another 30-minute run you just keep running. Have you ever seen a runner do that? Have you ever seen someone lifting weights and in between sets they didn’t take a rest but rather just got different weights and kept lifting?
Your brain is your most important aspect of yourself. You’re nothing without your brain. Luckily, we all have a brain. Yet we never give it the rest it needs. Rather we just constantly fill it with information.
So, next time you grab that cup of coffee or tea, just sit down and relax for 10 minutes. Just think about life. Think about what else you’re going to do today. Just let the thoughts run through your head – it’s not going to kill you. Give your brain some time, take care of it, because you’re going to need it for the rest of your life.
16. Take your vitamins and/or supplements – takes 1 minute
Now, this one isn’t for everyone but I do believe it’s important to take some supplements in the morning.
For example, I live in a country where the sun doesn’t come out much – if we’re lucky we have about 3 weeks of great weather during the summer (although we’re expanding on that thanks to global warming).
This means I have a high lack of Vitamin D in my life, there’s just not enough sunlight during long periods and my body will not produce any Vitamin D because of it. So, every morning, I take some vitamin D to make sure I get enough of it in my body. A lack of Vitamin D is linked to feeling bad, more depressed and just not functioning well.
Along with the Vitamin D, I also take some Omega 3, 6 and 9 supplements. Just 2 pills a day gives my brain those extra fats that I need for it to function at its best. Rather than having to eat a bunch of fish every day, taking those two supplements is a great alternative.
Again, this takes about 1 minute a day and is one of the best ways to make yourself feel better. It’s the third thing I do in the morning and I always highly notice the difference in a day when I take my vitamins.
17. Take 6 deep breaths – takes 1 minute
Alright, so here’s my favourite one and I only recently heard of this while listening to the episode of the Tim Ferris Show with Aubrey Marcus
We all know the saying “Just take a deep breath”. Yet, as you may have noticed, usually that single breath isn’t really helping you to feel any better.
Rather than just taking one, it’s better to take six. Because when you take six breaths, you will actually feel the difference. Just count them while you are breathing in and out -breathe in- 1 -breathe out- 1 -breathe in- 2 -breathe out- 2, all the way up to 6.
Now, this works with pretty much any emotion. It’s just not going to take that anger, anxiety or whatever it is away. But it will take the edges off. And once the edges are gone, you can allow yourself to do the things that build upon the deep breaths that result in feeling calmer.
Yes, you definitely do have 10 minutes to spare every single day
Well, you made it all the way to the end of the article.
And as I promised, I will tell you why you do have 10 minutes to spare in order to at least pick up one of these habits in your life.
See, what most people don’t realize is that they are not doing this because they feel busy.
Here’s a little secret: people that think they’re busy all the time aren’t actually busy, they just tell themselves they are busy. Their brains are filled with things they believe they need to do and are constantly in overdrive which leads them to feel like they can’t just take 10 minutes to do something like meditation.
If you feel like you don’t have time to do any of these, you should definitely do one of these! Because they will make you feel so much calmer in your head that you won’t feel like your brain is on overdrive all the time.
So, here are several things that you can skip in order to spend 10 minutes on any of these, so you can no longer tell yourself that you don’t have time for it:
- You don’t have to watch that next Netflix/tv show episode
- That YouTube video is still going to be there tomorrow
- You don’t need to check Facebook 25 times a day
- You don’t always need to check the latest news
- That email can actually wait for a few hours
- You don’t have to go to every social event
- You don’t have to stay in bed 10 minutes longer
- That 30-minute shower isn’t always helping you
- You don’t need to check the latest funny images online
- Your investments aren’t going to be going insanely up or down in the next 20 minutes
- You don’t have to be around colleagues during the entire lunch break
The only way to improve your life is by trying new things – get out of your comfort zone and find out what truly makes you happy
Alright, so there you are: stuck in that endless loop of life.
Which is insane, right? You’re trying to get out of that slump. Out of that feeling of having every single day repeat itself.
The emotional roller coaster that you’ve been in these past weeks or months seems to be never-ending. You seem to have a lifetime ticket to that emotional roller coaster and can’t seem to figure out how to get out of it.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of. See, we all get stuck in these loops every now and then.
Here’s the key though: instead of being in a constant loop, you need to get into a routine.
Here’s one of my favourite quotes:
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”
― W. H. Auden
It’s one of my favourite quotes because I believe it’s true. Now, I’m not here writing this because I believe I’m so truly intelligent and I’m the smartest kid around. (Because mostly during the day I try to be in a situation where I’m not the smartest person around anyway – it keeps you humble, feeds your curiosity and helps you improve in life).
But there’s something different happening in your life: that loop. That endless loop of feeling great the one day and feeling terrible the next day.
And it’s an obstacle in your life. It’s, on the bad days, the sole reason you are not getting the things done that you should get done.
Again, I’ve been there. The loop just didn’t seem to end. It’s something that sticks for way too long, it’s something that is holding you back from becoming the person that you believe you should be: your best version.
Which leads to the question: how the hell do you get out of it? How do you finally get that roller coaster to stop moving up and down constantly and start moving up for a while?
The number one rule in life: experience new things
Let’s be real: it’s actually pretty nice, right, to just do the same things day in, day out?
It lets you be in your safe little comfort zone and you don’t have to experience anything that would possibly make you feel bad.
Why would you not watch Netflix for hours, instead of going out and talking to a bunch of women/men and potentially get rejected? Or apply for that one job you’d love but instead just sit around at that deadend job you’ve not been enjoying for a lot time, just because you might get rejected?
Rejection sounds awful, painful, something that has a bad vibe to it in any way, shape or form.
But let me tell you: rejection and failing are the only way to ever move forward. To be able to improve yourself in a way that you have never improved yourself before.
Because while you are laying on your bed, watching episode number 9 of that show you enjoy so much while feeling extremely bad about yourself for nothing doing anything worthwhile, here’s the one question you should ask yourself: “Am I truly doing the thing that I believe I should be doing?”
If the answer is yes: keep doing it, that’s your choice. If the answer is no, though, it means your subconscious is telling you something: that there’s more to life than what you are experiencing now.
Most people don’t realize this: the fact that you are unhappy usually comes from the fact that you are not putting yourself into satisfactory situations that allow you to grow. Now, I’m not saying that’s the answer for everyone (chronic depression is one of the exceptions here). But for most people that currently are feeling down, who have that feeling that there’s more for them in this world, for those people I believe there is a very easy solution.
Because experiencing new things is the only way to experience new emotions. Emotions? Yes, emotions. See, most people believe that when they get out of their comfort zone, that they will terrible – Forever!
I’ll tell you a little secret: life truly starts at the end of your comfort zone. Living in your comfort zone for the rest of your life is just a recipe for yourself to never improve and to never build the discipline that is needed to get ahead in life.
Now, maybe you don’t believe me. And why would you? After all, I’m just some random kid on the internet giving you information on habits and tools that will help you improve that worked for him. And the thought “Yeah, man, this all sounds cool and all, but that’ll never work for me” is most likely printed in your head right now.
But let me just give you two metaphors, that will help you understand this concept. I’ll use two examples: one of the biggest companies around: Uber, and one of the most famous people in this entire world: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
How Uber shows you to get out of your comfort zone
So, there he was, right? Travis, the founder of Uber, realized that his app was something that could help people find rides to their destinations, without ever needing to stop a taxi and all that unnecessary stuff we used to do in the old days. He needed to get this thing to go as big as it possibly could, there was so much potential.
Let’s look at your comfort zone for a second, imagine if it was Uber back when it started. It was just a small app designed to help people in San Fransisco to go from one place to another. Now, that’s your comfort zone – the fact that Uber was just an app that was only used in SanFran.
Now, imagine if that’s the end of the story. Imagine if they never went beyond SanFran. Imagine if they didn’t take that first step, to also launch in it New York City. Then Uber wouldn’t be the company it was back in 2011, but it wouldn’t have been the company that it is today either.
Look at your comfort zone like a business: you can do two things with your business. 1) Either stay where you are, running a local business, doing the same thing day in, day out, never expanding beyond the office or city that you are running it in. Or 2) As soon as you’ve established yourself in that comfort zone, look for ways to get out of it and to expand it in different areas.
Now you might be thinking: “yeah, dude, Uber got billions in funding, they’re not like me. I’m not like them”. But let’s be real: Uber wasn’t an overnight success. They launched in July 2010, and it wasn’t until almost 10 months later that they decided to go try it in a new city. Sure, they received $11 million in funding 3 months before they expanded, but it wasn’t like they magically had that happen to them – they worked hard to get there – they worked hard to get out of their comfort zone to talk to investors, to pitch their product, to realize its potential, to see where they could possibly be in 1, 2, 5 or 10 years from now.
Now, almost 8 years later, they are one of the highest valued startups (using that term loosely here) and are active in over 600 cities worldwide. Just because they took a step to get out of SanFran, to just launch it in NYC first, and then to see what else they could do.
They got out of their region (their comfort zone) and experimented in different areas in order to improve their company. And that’s exactly how your comfort zone works as well.
You’re never going to be able to improve yourself if you will always stay in that comfort zone that you are currently in right now.
How Arnold Schwarzenegger will get you out of your comfort zone
Alright, so I am assuming you know who Arnold is. If not: he’s that muscular dude from the Terminator, the guy who was an Olympian many times, The Guvanator, one of the most inspiring people in the world.
I’m not going to tell you the story about how he was just a small kid in an Austrian town, where his parents didn’t want him to become a bodybuilder but did it anyway. Because you can listen to his story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TEc_qyKQ0c (highly recommend watching it though).
No, what I’m going to talk about is the guy’s muscles. Or just any muscle.
Look at your comfort zone like it is a muscle. A single thing that you often use for a short period of time while training. If you work out every now and then – or often – then you know that training your muscles is a great way to get yourself more disciplined and motivated in life.
Now let’s look how working on a muscle works: if you just keep doing the same routine, every single time, with the same weights, you cannot expect your muscle to grow in any way. It will grow a little bit, but it won’t grow much. If Arnold would just get the same weights at the gym, he would never be as big as he is today.
Yeah, he took some supplements (and by some I mean a lot), but growing yourself will require some supplements as well. Maybe not steroids, but even coffee is a supplement, or meditation, or getting enough rest – these are all supplements that allow you to grow as a person.
Look at your comfort zone like it’s a muscle: in order to make it grow, you need to experience new things (weights) and need to improve those things (weights). By getting larger weights, you allow your muscle to grow. By experiencing new things, you allow your comfort zone to grow as well.
Beyond the metaphor: how to get out of your comfort zone
Now that you have a decent view of knowing how your comfort zone works, it is important to realize that it’s actually very easy to get out of your comfort zone. You know what makes a good salesperson? The best people in sales aren’t just born like that, they allowed themselves to grind their teeth on the pavement for months, even years, in order to realize what does work and what doesn’t work.
That’s a little thing called failure: something that most people will never want to experience because it hurts like a bitch to fail, right? And it does, it’s pretty painful to get rejected. Whether it’s your dream job, getting the phone number of that hot chick that you met at the bar or shamefully hearing that no from a client you thought you’d close today.
But in every failure, there’s something incredible: the opportunity to analyze it, learn from what you did wrong and to avoid that mistake the next time. Life isn’t easy, and it won’t get easier when you are never willing to get out of your comfort zone. There’s not much to be grateful for if you never experience new things, if you never create new habits in your life – if you never find a way to improve yourself.
There’s no gratitude in always staying the same, especially not in this world. The people that outperform others, that get to the top in the field that they are in, the ones that are crazy enough to think it might actually work (sup, Steve Jobs), those are the ones that will actually truly change the environment they are in – those are the ones that might just actually change the world.
And that’s – if you take anything from this at all – the one thing that should be on your mind: never be afraid to fail. Yes, failure sucks, it’s fucking horrible – it will keep you up at night, like those embarrassing moments from high school that sometimes come up in your head and make your whole body shiver.
But there’s little to respect yourself for if you do not get out of that comfort zone. There’s nothing to improve yourself on if you never get out of it. There’s nothing else in life when you don’t find a way to push yourself, to find the right ways to get out of your comfort zone and work yourself up to a level that you are content with.
Failure is something you should be experiencing every single day. Because if you aren’t experiencing failure then you aren’t getting yourself into situations where failure is a potential option. It means you are always picking the safe option. The option that will never get you to be embarrassed in any way.
But again, every failure is an opportunity for yourself to improve, to grow into the best version of yourself. The best chess players in the world aren’t the ones that have never lost a game – because those are the ones that won’t make it to the top. The best players are the ones that kept playing even though they just had a terrible defeat, the ones that kept playing after losing game after game. Because every game they lose is a new strategy for them to analyze, a new way for them to learn what they can do better next time in order to avoid getting caught in that strategy.
Fail, fail, fail, and then fail some more
Stop looking at failure like it’s an ugly word – like it’s something that should be avoided in life. Life is full of situations where you can fail, but the trick is to never look at yourself like you are a failure. Those are two entirely different things.
Every failure you encounter in life is something wonderful. Sure, it takes a while to see how you can be grateful for it, but in the end, it is always worth it to fail. Because when you see failure as a potential option that is actually beneficial for you, you will no longer have a problem with failure.
You might just feel terrible for a few hours after failing. That’s natural, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even the most successful people in life, the ones we see as legends, fail every now and then – and even they feel terrible because of it. But the trick is to find a way for yourself to not look at that failure for days, weeks or even months. Instead, look at it, learn from it.
And that’s one of the biggest principles that you should have in your life if you truly want to be disciplined in life. If you truly want to get somewhere in your life, to use your talents for something that is bigger than yourself, it means you need to get out of that comfort zone. It means you need to be content with failing every now and then.
Experiencing new things allows you to fail
That’s why it is so important to experience new things. They allow you to fail. Do you want to pick up the guitar? Odds are the first few days every note you play is going to sound horrible. Because you have no idea what you are doing and how to actually play it.
But after a few days, that popular C, Am, G, F progression is going to be a lot easier. You pick up those chords one by one, making sure your fingers touch the right chords at the right bar. You learn to progress between them. And then, after a few days, you’re playing every single Pop song that was ever recorded, on your guitar.
But you won’t get there if you just keep doing the things you are always doing. If you stay in that comfort zone and always repeat the same things you have been doing all these weeks, months or years.
Failing is something beautiful and you will only experience it if you try out new things. It’s the one thing that will keep you going during a life in which you want to reach whatever it truly is you want to reach.
Push yourself, beyond the boundaries that your mind is making up. Do it, don’t even think about it. You know that feeling, right? There’s this hot girl, standing there at the bar. You think about approaching her, but the longer you hesitate, the more doubts you will make up in your mind and the more reasons you will make up in order to not actually do it. And then, after 5 seconds, you won’t actually do it. But if you just ignored that, if you just do it as soon as you think about it, that’s how you get out of your comfort zone.
Because your brain is telling you that it wants you to get out of that comfort zone. That brain of yours is telling you to talk to that girl, to apply for that job, to go to the gym today. But every single second you take to not do it or to not prepare for it is a second in which you allow yourself to make up stupid reasons on why you shouldn’t do it. “Nah, she won’t like me”, “Nah, they’ll find a better person for that job” or “Nah, I’ll go to the gym tomorrow”. These are all terrible reasons that the voice in your head is telling you, but there was already a voice before that telling you that you should do it – start ignoring that voice, it’s not making you a better person. In fact, it’s the sole thing that is stopping you from being a better person!
Here’s how you go from a loop to a routine
Alright, so now that you at least know how to get yourself out of that endless loop of life, the loop that is doing you no good, it is time to figure out how to get yourself into a routine.
You may think “But I do have my routine”, but if the things you are doing every single day constantly repeat itself and they aren’t making you better, then you’re not in a routine, you’re in a loop with a small chance for a positive ending.
Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results – this quote is by Albert Einstein/Mark Twain/Benjamin Franklin/Abraham Lincoln/Julius Caesar/Elon Musk/Stephen Hawking [reality is, nobody knows who actually said this, so let’s just thank humanity as a whole that this quote exists]
See, you will never be happy with your routine if it doesn’t actually make you happy. How can you expect it to make you happy later in life if it isn’t making you happy right now? Sure, keep doing it every single day, day after day, but soon enough you will realize that it’s not the way you truly want to live your life.
Instead, you need to build a routine for yourself that actually allows you to be happy with yourself. You need to do things in life that will make you a better person. Because by putting those new things into your routine, you will figure out what will make you happy and how it will make you happy. And you will be grateful to yourself for even setting the first steps because they will help you to step up in life, to improve from whatever position you are currently in.
I’ll outline my own routine here, and I’m not saying that it’s the core routine that you should set for your life as well. Odds are, it will be a lot different for you. But these things work for me, at least, and by trying them out yourself you can figure out whether they work for you as well.
Every morning after I wake up I get out of bed and write in the 5 Minute Journal. This is a small journal book that asks me 3 important questions in the morning:
– What am I grateful for? (3 answers)
– What would make today great? (3 answers)
– How do I feel about myself right now? (1 answer)
I write down the answers to these questions and grab my stuff to go take a shower. I first prepare a breakfast, of 4 eggs with some bacon and ham, along with a glass of milk. I cook it, eat it and then go off to the shower to take a quick cold shower (I hate this, but it’s good to push yourself to do things you hate within 20 minutes after waking up).
I then meditate for 10 minutes to calm my mind before I grab my laptop and gym bag and head off to the gym. On my way to the gym, I listen to the Tim Ferris Podcast. As I arrive at the gym I greet one of my friends that I work out with that day and we go do our exercises for 60-120 minutes. We spend 5-15 minutes in the sauna, I take another cold shower and we head out to grab some lunch.
With lunch in my stomach, I grab the subway to go to work while listening to the Tim Ferris Show again. After arriving at the office, I grab a cup of coffee and sit down to work for my clients or instruct others on what to do. I take a break every now and then and usually work for about 3-4 hours a day.
After finishing my 3-4 hours of work and instructing people what to do, I spend time on writing content for my blog or answering questions on Quora. I spend time assembling a newsletter I send out every week and just find the right ways to enjoy myself as much as I can.
By 5, I’ve finished all my work and worked on writing and it’s time to head out. I either have dinner with friends or my dad and head home after that to prepare for the next day, read 30 minutes or call some friends I haven’t seen in a while.
I finish my day by eating a late night snack like yoghurt, drink some camomile tea, take a sleep supplement and fall asleep before 11 PM.
This is my Monday through Friday schedule, and obviously, I have left some things out. But the main focus is on the things that truly help me to feel good about myself: the morning journal, the cold shower, meditation, going to the gym, working on personal things, seeing friends, reading, listening to the Tim Ferris podcast.
This routine works incredibly well for me. It allows me to be extremely focused while I am working on the things that need to be done. Because I do so much around the hours that I do work, I can get my work done way faster during the hours that I do work. In the past, I would work 70 hour weeks, today I work a lot less but get so much more done because I pack all the important things in a short amount of hours.
Again, I am not saying this is the routine that will work for you as well. Your boss might require you to work 8 hours a day (or at least be present 8 hours a day). You might not enjoy going to the gym. You might not enjoy writing. But that’s not the point. The point is that you can create a routine for yourself that allows you to be that way.
During the day, I also add things that allow me to fail. For example, at the office, I will make sales calls that might go extremely horribly. I might not actually sign them. But that’s alright because after failing a lot in that field, I know what it takes to not care and keep going to try and sign the next person I call.
The content I write doesn’t always score incredibly well online. Not every article I write is a life-changing article for people. Some people might leave some negative feedback on it. That sucks the first time but after that, you will realize it’s not actually that bad and just keep on going.
Own your routine, own your life
Alright, so I slightly stole this from Aubrey Marcus who wrote a book on “Own the day, own your life” outlining the fact that if you do the right things today that make you happy and grateful then you will live a happy and grateful life.
By following a satisfying routine for your life, you will find that it is easy to have a satisfying life. A life that’s full of discipline to get to the next stage, to reach the top, to get the things you want in life.
And in the end, that’s all that matters in life: that you can live a life that makes you happy, that allows you to be grateful to be alive every single day, in which your actions align with your inner values and that you truly become the person that you want yourself to be.
That feeling that tennis players get when they play that final match
That feeling a race driver gets when driving a race
That feeling you get when you work on something and time just passes.
It’s flow: the feeling of time just going by without you realizing it, while you focus on the things that truly matter to you.
Flow is a great state, a state in which everything you have set for yourself can be reached.
It’s not a state of just a second, of a minute, or an hour. Or, at least, at first it is.
But once you realize what gets that flow going inside you, once you find a way to let flow flow through you, that’s when it all comes together.
And flow isn’t just something that magically comes into your life. Something that hits you when you sit on the couch, watching some random show on Netflix.
Because the universe and life don’t work that way. Nobody ever just sat somewhere, waiting for something to happen, for it to magically happen.
Nobody just wins the lottery. Even with the lottery, you have to go buy a ticket in order to win. You can’t win in life if you don’t buy yourself tickets.
Instead, something like flow comes from work. It comes from working on finding habits and patterns in life that allow you to be in that flow.
For a tennis player, it’s training all year long all the way to that final. To then have that flow, because at that moment the flow is needed.
Flow doesn’t just come. You need to work for it. This may take months, even years to master. But all the way up to mastering it, you will learn how it works, what works for you.
And only that allows you to become the greatest version of yourself.
What are the things that give you flow?
One important thing to realize is that you can control flow. Again, by finding out what works for you, you will find your optimal flow.
Now, let’s start with the part that most people get wrong: you will never find flow in the things you do not enjoy. If you don’t enjoy studying in school because the topics don’t interest you, you will never find flow in that state.
If you are scared of something, you will never find flow in that either.
As the book by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is famously called “Flow”, mentions, the only way to experience flow is to have an exceptional and significantly satisfying task to focus on.
This task has to be something you are passionate about. It has to be something that will get your mind so focused on it that nothing else matters. There’s no way to experience flow in any other way.
Writing this piece puts me into a flow. I’m sitting in a library, researching and writing about this optimal feeling. And there are about 15 people around me. All talking, eating, reading, listening to music. But nothing is stopping me to put these words onto this paper. To read articles on how flow works.
Because there’s a single reason it can’t distract me: I want to know how this works. I want to experience that optimal feeling in my life. And only by fining this extremely satisfying, I will be experiencing flow.
See, life is fucking beautiful. Really, just look at the possibilities that we all have in life. Compare it to 20 years ago, 100 years ago, even 1000 years ago. Look at all the things we have that people back then didn’t have. It’s a lot, it’s more than even they could ever wish for.
But living like this also brings tons of distractions. I bet 90% of the people nowadays check their phone as soon as they wake up. Fill their brains with some random information that is external, instead of listening to their own thoughts in the morning or making sure they fill it with useful things that really lead to living a better life.
On the subway on the way here, 90% of the people are on their phone. In the street, 40% of the people walk while being on their phone. But it’s not just phones, it’s more than that. It’s things, material belongings, anything that is just giving external validation instead of the validation that truly matters: that you matter to yourself and that you matter to the people around you.
Who is happier: the one having people around him because of the things he has, where people are fakely nice to you because you own X, Y or Z car and have a big house, or the one having people around him because of how he is, where people are genuinely nice to you because they recognize themselves in your attitude? I’m going to say it’s the latter.
And that’s the whole point of flow. Would you rather run after the money, being tired all the time, thinking you found some strange way of flow but really are just lying to yourself about it, or would you rather live a happy life, a fulfilled life, in which you can do whatever you want? I’d rather work 40 hours a week, making $900,000 a year, having many hours a week to work on myself, than to double my hours to 80 a week and making $1,800,000 a year. (and seriously, the hourly rate is still the same, so why would you work more anyway)
Because those 40 hours of work, along with those 40 hours of good experiences alongside it, will be easier to control when you know how flow works. Wearing yourself out, going to the max all the time, just focusing on one thing, is never going to get you in a state of flow. Rather, it will get you in a state of self-harm, of tiredness and of being so fucked up all the time that you can’t even figure out what truly matters to you.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful if you don’t work 80 hours, or can’t be rich. It just means that it’s better to make a little less money and having more time on the side in order to get your private life together than to work constantly and just hating life in general because of it.
Look at it: only a few of the most successful people in the world really do work 24/7. They do work related things 24/7, sure, but they don’t actually work 24/7. Elon Musk, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of this moment, doesn’t work 16 hours a day. He does spend 16 hours a day on building his business because he is spending 16 hours a day on building his personality.
Doing great things doesn’t come from focusing just on that one thing. It comes from the fact that you need to realize that great things come from you as a person. And only if you function as a person properly, you will do great things: in business, in life, in this world.
Another example is Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors of our time and age. Many consider him the best. He doesn’t invest 16 hours a day. He doesn’t talk to people 16 hours a day to do better investments. No, the way he keeps his flow is by taking 2 hours a day to work on himself.
The same goes for you: work on yourself for 16 hours a day. Whether that’s having a job that pays the bills, then going to the gym to work on your body, going home to read books to work on your mind, writing to work on your mind, meditating to work on your mind. Anything you do in life should be helping you becoming a better version of yourself.
Alright, so that’s enough about why flow is not just doing one thing and doing it 16 hours a day. Instead, do as many things as possible that allow you to be a better version of you.
How do I find flow in my life?
The best thing to realize is this: flow comes from doing the things you truly enjoy doing or at least enjoy the benefits that it is creating.
A good example of the first is writing: I truly enjoy writing, I enjoy sitting down, writing down the thoughts that run through my head and to write down information that I truly care about myself.
A good example of the second is cold showers: I genuinely hate the experience of taking a cold shower. I hate the feeling it gives me when the cold water touches my skin, the feeling of my muscles being in shock, the potential pain of cramps that I get in my body.
What I don’t hate though, are the benefits that cold showers give me. It starts with the first step: getting under the shower. Your brain thinks of every excuse it can possibly think of to not get underneath the shower. But you’re stronger than that, so you do it anyway. I enjoy the feeling after I take the cold shower, the smile on my face that I get because I just did something that I truly hate doing but really benefits me. Again, I truly hate the experience of taking a cold shower, but I enjoy what it does to me more than anything.
I believe that the first example is how to achieve direct flow. How to achieve flow at that moment, to experience it as much as you can.
And I believe that the second example is how to achieve indirect flow. How to achieve flow in your life overall, to experience flow in other aspects of your life.
And that brings us to two types of flow:
- Present flow
- Overall flow
Because in life, you can have flow in general as well. You will have periods in your life where nothing is stopping you from reaching whatever that one thing is. And you will do anything in your life, optimizing every single bit of your day and your daily activities, to make sure that you actually reach that specific type of flow.
Let’s say you want to become a better entrepreneur. You can’t just go out on the street, selling things to people, thinking that’s all it takes to make you a better entrepreneur. Because what if your mom calls, and your dad is in the hospital? You get stressed out, for days, and aren’t the same entrepreneur on the street that you were the days before that.
See, being a great entrepreneur doesn’t just come from the fact that you know how to sell something. It’s about being a leader. It’s about knowing how to create something. How to market something, how to think like an entrepreneur.
So you read books to be a better entrepreneur, and that’s a great first step. But you’re never going to be a great entrepreneur if you’re not a great human being. If you’re not a human being that is doing everything it can to become the best human being it can possibly be. Because if you’re not focusing on other aspects outside of entrepreneurship, there’s never a way to actually be a great entrepreneur.
A good entrepreneur isn’t something who works 80 hours a week to get something done, that is pushing himself all the way from 8 AM to 2 AM to work on a single thing: the actual work. No, a good entrepreneur is someone that develops himself, is constantly optimizing his life and his business, in order to become that entrepreneur that he really wants to be.
And so you gotta work on flow in general. You gotta make sure that you are living life in such a way that you continually have days that you set yourself up to have that overall flow. To set yourself up to do the things that make you that better human being. To make yourself be the best person you can possibly be.
What is present flow?
The world of present flow really starts with doing something you are passionate about. Something that is giving you that edge to continually do it.
Again, to me, that’s writing. I am not 2000 words in and haven’t looked up once. It has just been a continual flow of visiting websites on flow and writing notes, then putting those notes into new thoughts and writing those thoughts down.
Writing about things I am passionate about, like being the best version of yourself, is my flow. It is what gives me that boost to continue writing, and I have no reason to stop doing so whatever while writing this. Not until I have truly figured out what I need to put down on paper in order to complete the whole message that I am trying to bring over to you in this post.
So, doing that daily will keep me motivated. It will give me lots of present flows, helping me to constantly keep doing whatever I am doing while doing it. There’s no looking back, no looking forward. Everything I write down is just about now, about making sure I put the right words down.
But for you, it will be a lot different. See, for you, flow is something that may not be writing, it may not be reading. It can be anything, really. That’s the beauty of life: it’s different for everyone. I can never have flow in a tennis match, simply because I have no idea what the hell I am doing anyway.
The point in life, when it comes to present flow, is to figure out what makes you forget time. What is the one thing that will, when you do it, forget about that clock and just helps you stay in a flow?
Is it reading? Is it working out? Is playing soccer, watching a documentary?
This is important though: for me, when I watch some random movie, I can be in a state of flow when it’s a good movie. The movie can be over before I even know it. But what you have got to realize, is that you need flow in positive ways. Sure, watching a good movie can be very beneficial for you, but watching 10 episodes of Family Guy probably isn’t.
Think back to when you were younger, think back to the last few years. What can you remember doing that made time stop completely? That made you just look at the clock when you started, and by the time you looked at it again, you totally surprised yourself with how much – or even how little – time had passed?
Because when you figure out the sole thing that is helping you be that way, you will figure out that it actually might be the way to experience that present flow. To experience the feeling of enjoying that specific task so much that nothing else at that moment matters.
I wish I could help you figure out exactly what that flow is for you. But it’s hard to do that for someone else. Because there’s a ton of things you really need to figure out, you need a ton of experiences. To me, writing and helping others is just a great combination of two things that I highly enjoy, so I believe that’s where my flow comes from.
But to you, it will be different. And you will have to dig into yourself to figure out exactly what that is.
How can you use present flow?
With present flow, it’s important to realize that you use it at the times that you are doing the exact task that gives you that flow. If you want to be motivated to do X, and X gives you flow, it’s simply about actually doing X in the way that you enjoy it most.
That present flow will help you realize that life is great when you are experiencing the task that you highly enjoy. It is an unbelievable feeling that nothing else gives you. It’s something that really keeps you motivated to just keep doing, no matter what it is.
Present flow can help you really develop yourself into something you truly believe you should be. If I believe I need to find more information on how to be motivated, I will research it in order to actually be more knowledgeable in that process. To make sure I write down the right things in order to not just help myself, but also help others with that information.
Because that’s another great part of flow: developing yourself. Present flow will help you develop yourself in such a way that nothing is holding you back from becoming the exact version of yourself in that field that you truly believe you need to be.
It is the sole thing that will motivate you to optimize whatever process you have created for yourself. Again, life isn’t about working 16 hours a day. Life is about working 8 hours a day on something you believe is worthwhile of paying the bills, along with another 8 hours to help yourself to optimize that process. No matter what that process is, it’s just important that you realize you need time every day to work on it.
Why don’t I have present flow in everything?
Ever realized that the most successful people are actually successful at one or two things?
Let’s be real: there’s almost nobody in this world – alright, aside from Leonardo da Vinci – that is so genius that they are the absolute best at many things. You’re either a world champion tennis player or a billionaire entrepreneur. Either a great movie actor or a fantastic professor.
And that’s alright because that’s the beauty of life. You can focus on one or two things to truly optimize your lifestyle. To truly experience what it is like to be the best at that. And that’s really the only thing that matters.
It’s good to have basic knowledge of many things, but it’s simply impossible to be the best in everything you do. And you don’t need to, and you shouldn’t want to. The only thing you should want is to be the best in one or two things that you truly care about.
And let that go through your head: it’s ok that you’re not the best at everything because you don’t need to be. Don’t waste your time wishing you were the best soccer player, the best engineer, the best entrepreneur and the best investor. Because there’s no way you’re ever going to find enough time to do so.
Plus, you won’t even have the passion to do all that, you’re better off just realizing that you’ll be the best at one or two things and put your time and dedication in that. It’s not just better for you, it’s also better for the people around you.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever be the best at multiple things. It just means you shouldn’t want to be the best at multiple things right now. This is why many soccer players end up being pretty good entrepreneurs or investors after they quit playing soccer. They then have time to develop themselves – and use the knowledge they got from playing soccer – to become a whole new person and to fulfill another role in the best way possible.
Stop trying to get present flow in everything that you are doing. There’s simply no reason to do so. Do you want to have present flow at a job you hate? That doesn’t make any sense, why would you even want that? It’s better to work that dead-end job 40 hours a week until you can focus more on something that does give you present flow. And working those 40 hours still gives you enough time to do things that give present flow along with it, like writing 10 or 20 hours a week.
Appreciate the process of the present flow, there’s simply nothing else like it. Present flow is so great, you will hold taking a shit until you have finally finished what you believe you should be doing. That’s how powerful present flow is, and that’s exactly why it is such a fantastic feeling: you’re defying the natural impulses inside (literally) you to work on something that is greater than you are.
And finding the true way to present flow will also help you to find the true way to overall flow.
What is overall flow?
Overall flow is when you have gotten yourself such a mindset doing the regular things and habits in your life that everything you do is set to become the best version of yourself.
Like I said earlier, with the example of taking the cold shower, it’s important to realize that overall flow usually doesn’t come immediately. Rather, these are activities and habits that give you flow throughout the day while doing other things.
This is why overall flow is really important. It actually creates the opportunity to get more present flow while you’re doing the task you are doing.
Overall flow-activities and habits are necessary in order to improve and optimize the main present flow activity.
Let’s say I would want to write this post, but the night before I partied until 4 AM and I got up at 8 AM this morning. So I had 4 hours of sleep. There’s no way I’m going to write in the same way as I would if I had the 8 hours of sleep that I really had.
I would probably even have to push myself to write this post, to keep going and to just find the focus to complete it.
But no, instead, I chose to sleep those full 8 hours in order to truly put out the best quality post that I can write. And sleeping is just one of the many things that help you to get that overall flow.
Again, this is overall flow: fulfilling the habits and activities that are needed for you to make sure you are well prepared for the activity that requires present flow. Because when you do a lot of things that make you healthier, more fit and help you think more clearly, you are better at making sure you get the best quality work during the present flow activity.
So what are overall flow activities?
When it comes to overall flow activities, you are basically looking at activities that are directly – but also sometimes indirectly – related to the activity that you are working on.
For me, there are a ton of things that I can do in order to make sure I get that overall flow. Most of them take very little time, which is wonderful as they are the sole reason that I perform better during the times that I need that present flow.
Plus, it’s actually not that hard to do these activities. They require very little items to do. Which is wonderful, as they also help to actually do them wherever you want.
Now, I am not saying that the things I do will help you as well. Because, like I said, it’s important that you find the things that give overall flow and are related to the exact goal you have that requires that present flow.
So let’s dive into what really helps me.
Meditating for 10 minutes a day
Alright, so this is something that truly matters when it comes to overall flow. See, meditation is a beautiful way to temporarily stop the thoughts in your head. Life is stressful, especially today. Tons of impulse thoughts go through your head and allow you to think about the most useless things.
But meditation will stop those thoughts. They will help you silence those thoughts. Not just for those 10 minutes, but also during the day. Because meditation is a true learning game: you’re wiring your brain to stop thinking about specific things.
Right now, your brain is wired like this: if I think about X, I will continue to think about X. That’s because you haven’t done anything in order to stop that process in your head.
Meditation is the exact opposite, it teaches your brain a new way of thinking: if I think about X, I will stop thinking about X.
The more you meditate, the better that mental process will be. It takes time to improve in such a way, but it is an incredible way to make sure you do not get stressed out about thing big and little things in life.
If I look great, I feel great. And it’s not about looking great to others, it’s about looking great for me. Working out, especially when you do something like High-Intensity Interval Training, is something that will help you get that overall flow.
Because working out will give you the mental strength to push your limits. To make sure you are doing the right things to push yourself in the right direction. Picking up a heavier weight will need more mental motivation; just as doing that extra mile or extra 5 minutes of running.
Working out helps you to get a good feeling of overall flow. It gives you something to be proud of: that you are able to push yourself into new fields. And simply by that, you are continually helping yourself to be the better version that you are looking forward to being.
This is 30-90 minutes of work, but you will get benefits of it for at least 2 days. Especially when you lift weights. You will feel stronger, both physically and mentally, and will quickly realize that you are getting better every single day.
Taking a cold shower
Again, the most horrible feeling you will experience all day. But that’s alright because cold showers give you such a good benefit.
First of all: it wakes you up right away in the morning. That warm bed you just got out of was nice right? Well, that warm shower you’re about to take will just give you the same feeling as your bed, same temperature so same coziness that you experience in bed.
Warm showers don’t wake you up as much as cold showers do. And I know it sounds terrifying and horrible. It took me a long time to push myself to continually do this. But it is so worth it doing it.
The first time that cold water touches your skin will make you jump out. It does for me. So you do jump out. But you have to shower, and so you have to get under it again. And so you do, maybe for 10 seconds, and after that, you jump out again.
The whole process is a fantastic boost for your brain. You’re pushing yourself to do something that your entire body screams you shouldn’t be doing. But your brain is much stronger than your body, you will quickly realize that once you take cold showers.
The point of a cold shower isn’t to turn on the shower and stand underneath it for 10 minutes like you do with a regular warm shower. Instead, you get in and out of the shower constantly, about 3-4 times. The fact that you keep pushing through with that is a great stimulant for your brain and will help you find that overall flow.
Reading books to improve your present flow
Another important part of improving your present flow is to read books on it. What can you do today in order to improve the way you do the activity that you get present flow from?
This, again, is not something that gives you immediate satisfaction. Books contain tons of information. What I have realized is that most of the information from books really just clicks years after reading it. You find yourself in a situation that allows you to connect it to something that you once read.
It’s important to continually improve the way you get that present flow.
Find mentors and advisors
Along with reading books, it’s important to have people around you that you can ask questions on how to improve the activity of your present flow.
This will, again, help you to do a better job at whatever activity you are doing during your present flow. Mentors and advisors will give you a lot of information, information that is currently a lot more valuable than what books can give you – but also information on future situations.
The benefit of mentors/advisors, something that books can’t bring, is that they can answer questions that are currently unanswered in your head. Questions that books don’t always answer. You get a better, quicker response than when reading a book.
Flow: it’s the one thing that keeps you going
If you truly want to better yourself, to become that best version of yourself, you will need to figure out what will give you that flow.
Without flow, there’s no way you can ever reach the point you need to reach to become that version. Inside you, there’s a ton of ambition, waiting to be released. Maybe you know what you want, maybe you’re still wondering.
But the important part is knowing that the flow is in you, but you have to work to get it out. If you don’t work for it, do activities that give present flow and overall flow, if you neglect that, you will never find that true flow.
But if you do that work, find your true present flow and overall flow, you will quickly realize that all that energy inside of you, all that work you put into it, it is all worth it. Because then, you allow yourself to finally become you.
Last week I shared 22 things help me stay motivated,
and many of you said you either recognize yourself in it or simply do not recognize yourself in it and would like to be that way.
The last post was mainly focused on all the physical things I do to motivate myself: food, working out, sleep, etc.
But it’s no surprise, that not only the physical part of it all is important. The mental part is just as important.
We can all recognize the following situations:
- That voice in your head is telling you to not do X
- That voice is telling you that you are shit
- That voice is stopping you from becoming who you want to be
- That voice is telling you to go for short-term dopamine
- That voice is making you lazy
- That voice is making you feel like a loser when you look in the mirror
- That voice is telling you are never going to make it anyway
I know that voice, I know it all too well. It’s your ego, telling you to just not change. Cause change is hard, it takes time and energy, and your ego doesn’t want that for you. It wants you to stay the way you are.
And I’ve realized something important: motivation comes from learning how to deal with that voice.
No matter how you look at it: you need a supportive and constructive way of thinking to get to where you want to go.
In this post, I will share several ways I have found useful to slowly silence that voice. The voice will always be there, but the volume button is in your own control.
#1 Sit still and relax every single day
Relaxing, and just being with yourself every day, is an important aspect to stay motivated. By sitting still, and just thinking to yourself for a few minutes or even up to an hour, will help you to clear your mind and think about the things that you believe are important.
We all have periods where a single thought, or multiple thoughts, seem to constantly be in our heads. It’s not easy to give these thoughts up, to not focus on them for a bit. And that’s fine, that’s just human.
The goal here is to not try to get yourself to focus on them. Let the thoughts flow through your head. By ignoring them, and ignoring the feeling they give you, you are only giving in to these thoughts. Right then, you only allow them to get the better of you.
Instead, think. Yes, really, just think. Let the thought run through your head. What emotions do you feel while you think about? Usually, the most obsessive thoughts make us feel extreme emotions: extreme happiness, extreme sadness, extreme anxiety or maybe even extreme regret.
Staying motivated is knowing that you can be that way. Knowing that you can obsess about these thoughts. And just piling them up in your own head, never giving into them, is useless. You’re making yourself a sleeping volcano, waiting for a moment when all these emotions get released all at once.
The next part also goes along with that.
#2 Share your emotions with others
I know, it sounds stupid and unnecessarily not man-like to do this.
But let’s be real: you’re not going to make it in this world just by being alone all the time. You need people around you that you can talk to.
When you have had a shit day, and everything inside you just screams ‘FUCK’ then that’s ok. We all have that. Nobody’s going through life without those days.
And it’s easy to just keep that emotion to yourself. To just let it be inside yourself while ignoring it and continuing with life.
But again, this shit will build up over time. And it will be pretty shitty when you have to go through life like that. One day all that shit will catch up to you and get dumped on you like a massive amount of shit.
So, when you have a shit day, just be honest about it to others. Whether you stubbed your toe and can’t squat for 2 weeks so you can’t live up to your own workout schedule, or that client didn’t sign the $10,000 contract after all.
Find people around you that you can be honest with. That don’t care that you have had a shit day. That will find a way to turn that shit upside down and get you out of it in the best way possible. Trust upon others around you to do so, as they are the perfect people to help you with that.
Part of staying motivated is to not let yourself get blocked by these negative thoughts. We all have these thoughts, we all have shit in our lives, and it’s better to let go of it as soon as possible instead of just constantly keeping it in your own head.
#3 Envision what your actions today will bring
Every day that you work on yourself is a good day. No matter what happens, no matter what may have stopped you that day. Every step you take is worth it.
Look ahead, with every step you take. No matter what that step may have been. Want to get that six-pack? That workout routine you do today will bring you a step closer. Want to start your own business? That motivational video by Arnold Schwarzenegger will bring you one step closer. Want to quit smoking? Skipping those two cigarettes today will get you one step closer.
The actions you take today are the sole base of the things you can do in the future. Every single step of it. And it’s worth taking that step today. Sure, one workout routine won’t give you that six-pack when you look at yourself in the mirror. But at least you took another step getting closer to those abs being visible.
Right now, I am in the process of starting to write a book about what the best people in their world are doing to get there. Olympic Gold medalists, artist, actors, entrepreneurs, investors, models, anyone who has become the best in their field. This is very much influenced by the Tim Ferriss Show and Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans.
That’s not a one day process, it’s a two or three-year process. But I know that the actions I take every day will mean that in two or three years from now, I will publish that book. I’m expanding my network, talking to new people who can connect me, doing research on flow and motivation, reading interviews, reading books, all of that to make sure I get there.
Appreciate the process, experience every second of it. It’s never easy to get to where you want to go. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Get out of your comfort zone, ignore it, find ways to experience new things. That’s the only way you will ever get to where you want to be.
#4 End your days with reflecting on today
On top of that, make sure you end your days knowing you took the right steps to move forward. Reflecting on the good things you did today is a great way of realizing that.
For me, it’s writing in the Five Minute Journal every day. At the start of the day, and especially at the end, I take a moment to reflect on my life and to think about the things I am doing and that I have done today.
Which three steps that you took today are helping you become a better person? And how? Was it because you skipped the usual Maccy D’s today to grab a healthy meal? Did you read that article on Elon Musk instead of watching an hour of ‘funny’ videos?
The actions you take are important. By reflecting on it, you find a way in your brain to make it noticeable that those actions are truly making sure you are taking the right steps.
A good way to do this is to write those actions down. Use either a notepad or diary or a journal. Anything that will last a long time and will allow you to write down these things for at least 100 days. This allows you to look back every now and then.
Looking back is a great way to motivate yourself. You did 30 deadlifts today with 100kg? Well done, 50 days ago you could only do 15 at 80kg.
Help yourself to become better and write down your progress. Your future self will love you for it.
#5 Do the shit you don’t feel like doing
That laundry that has been laying there for 3 days that you’ve been postponing doing? Yeah, fuck that. Just do it. It takes you 5 minutes to put it in the washing machine. And another 15 to hang it up to dry and fold it.
Your brain thinks of a ton of barriers on why you shouldn’t do specific things. The more you give into those barriers, the more you will set up yourself to become blocked in the brain.
Every time you don’t do the thing you should actually be doing, you are training your brain to do the same thing in the future. Sure, now it’s the laundry, but in 3 weeks from now, it’s postponing buying new toothpaste. Or some other random thing that you should actually be doing.
Stop yourself from building up these barriers, you are only setting yourself up to discontinue to grow. That’s the last thing you want. Motivation comes from doing everything you have to do.
So keep yourself motivated, do those little tasks. You’re not going to be a functioning human being with a good business, reaching your own goals constantly if your room is a mess. It’s a reflection of the type of person that you are. Save yourself from it, save yourself the stupid humility that it brings along.
By doing the shit you don’t feel like doing, you will do the shit you should be doing in a better way. You won’t think of limits anymore. You will pick up that phone and call someone to mentor you. You will call that friend to go out on Friday night.
#6 Give your brain the rest it needs
Yeah, it’s cool to constantly distract your brain. To watch videos on the subway. To watch videos all the way till you can fall asleep. To again watch that Netflix series you love so much until you are tired enough to fall asleep.
But by doing this, you are just overloading your brain. Your brain needs time to relax, just like your body does after a workout. There’s no way to constantly keep working out and moving all day long, it tires you out.
And it’s the same with the brain. Just give it a break sometimes.
Sit still somewhere, letting the thoughts run through your head. Just let everything happen.
Many people believe meditation is great for this. You are just silencing the brain for a bit. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, maybe even an hour. It really just depends on how much time you have to do it.
If you waste 20 minutes staring at your phone after you wake up, stop doing that! Instead, get out of bed, put on some clothes, grab your phone and start meditating. Let your mind relax after you wake up.
Or, if you’re not much of a morning person, find the time at night, just before you go to bed. Silence the brain, let it rest. There’s no reason to constantly have your brain work hard. It tires the brain. It tires your thoughts. You’re not going to be thinking clearly the next day if your brain constantly gets distracted today.
#7 Stop worrying so goddamn much
Sure, this is easier said than done. There are tons of things you can worry about. But let’s be real: we would all like to stop worrying.
I’ll tell you a little secret: it’s not that hard to stop worrying. Why? Because when you fix the shit you are worrying about, you actually stop worrying.
That tax report that is late 30 days, stressing you the hell out? Send it out, and the magic ways of the brain will actually stop worrying. Don’t have money to pay the rent in 15 days from now? Stop worrying about it, fix it. Call your landlord and say it’ll be a bit later, or find a way to earn that money in 15 days. Are you not making the deadline for that project in 3 days? Work your ass off to make it or tell your boss it’ll be 1 day later. That might be hard, but it’s so much better than to just sit and worry about it. Work on your problems, because it’s ruining your brain.
#8 Help the people around you
Another great way to have a better functioning brain is to help the people around you.
Now, don’t just dedicate all your time volunteering at that local Salvation Army to make yourself feel better. That’s not going to fix it.
But, just as mentioned earlier in this post, when you have people around you that are having a shitty day, just listen to their problems and help them find a solution.
This is unbelievably valuable for your own brain. It helps you perform better. It helps you create hormones in the brain that will make you happy. There’s no reason to not be helpful anyway. If you help people figure out their problems and help them fix it, you’ll see that one day they will do the same. Just don’t expect it, that will only make you feel like shit when people don’t give into it. Not everybody is ready to be the same to you.
I have people around me with relationship issues, financial issues, lots of different personal problems. I take the time to listen to them. To find a way to help them whenever I can help. If I can’t help them right away, I will at least connect them to someone who will be able to. I have been doing this for a long time.
And just when I get into a shitty position, where life seems to be against me for a little bit, these people are there to support me as well. These people will think with me, trying to figure out a solution to the problems that were created. And let me tell you, that’s one of the most fantastic feelings that you will ever have.
#9 Surround yourself with people you want to be like
Let me start of this part with a short story I wrote earlier today:
You are the average of the 5 people you associate with most
I have read this quote dozens, maybe hundreds of times. You are the average of the 5 people you associate with most.
Come to think about it, who are the 5 people I associate with most? And what is the conclusion on the fact that I associate with them the most?
I believe asking yourself this question is the best way to realize who the right people and the toxic people in your life are.
To me, in the past, I would associate a lot with toxic people. They would make me a toxic person as well.
But I have also associated a lot with great people.
What differs a person from being toxic or being great?
I believe that’s something that is different for everybody. It is purely based on the things you want to accomplish in life.
To me, I want to make sure that today I am one step ahead of where I was yesterday. I need to constantly improve to go forward in life.
The toxic people in my life are the ones that aren’t doing that. They accept who they are and never allow themselves to bring any change in that.
The great people in my life are the ones that are also looking to improve. They accept who they are, look where they want to be, and take the necessary steps to get there.
That is what filters the toxic from the great in my life.
The question is: am I really doing that? Am I really making sure that I associate most with people that want to improve constantly?
Or am I still surrounding myself with people that have no ambition to change? Who stand still from where they are? That accept themselves as a person, know who they are and do not put the necessary time in to change?
Asking yourself that question every day: am I surrounding myself with the people I’d want to see myself be like when I look in the mirror. It is an important question to ask yourself.
Because at the end of the day, it is up to you to choose either of two: am I going to be toxic or am I going to be great?
You don’t always control the people around you. Whether you’re working a shit dead end job and have to be with your manager all day or your roommates are a pain in the ass.
But it is up to you how you let that affect you. If you have a lot of toxic people around you during the day, you need more great people around you at the times when you are not around them.
You need to protect yourself, your vision, your motivation, to stay there whenever you are not feeling like it. You need to find ways to constantly be improving.
Don’t let others get in the way of that. Don’t let them crumble down the bricks of the mental castle you have built in order to bring yourself to the next level. Don’t let them stop you.
Find ways to improve, no matter what you want to improve on. And don’t let other people stop you from doing so. It’s always up to you what happens to you, nobody else can ruin the fact that you are motivated as long as you don’t let them.
Most people believe that motivation comes from just getting yourself to do something.
Let’s be real: if you already are able to get yourself to do something then you’d be doing it by now.
Pushing yourself to do something is more than just going out, doing it and then assuming you’re going to keep doing it.
You need to push yourself to keep doing it and create an environment around you that allows you to continually improve the things you are doing.
Let’s look at what happens; we’ve all:
- Watched Netflix for hours a day
- Slept in while we should get out of bed
- Browsed r/funny or any subreddit to fill our heads with useless distractions
- Skipped a workout because we didn’t feel like it
- Postponed a meeting at work to sleep in
- Skipped a healthy meal to eat fast food
- Told ourselves we needed to do better but didn’t
- Continued doing what we know we should quit
- Dropped a workout routine
- Not started a project because we just simply never got ourselves to take the first step
- Done tons of other things that have blocked you from becoming the person you’d like to be
Maybe you haven’t even done all of these, but I have – off and on for years. Which made me realize that there’s another way to do it.
I’d like to help you reach your goals. Just like I am right now. Sure, some of the ways written below might not be for you. But at least they show you what the possibilities are.
Motivation isn’t a one-day thing, a one-hour thing. It’s something that you work on. The more you get motivated, the longer you will be motivated. And that’s kind of the whole point: you have to motivate yourself to be motivated.
You might say “Well, yeah, that’s cool and all, but really actually getting motivated is the whole problem”.
Congratulations: you’re at step 1. You figured out the problem. Now let’s start going to actually fix this.
#1: Start accepting that I wasn’t motivated
As humans, we are fantastic at thinking of solutions. You know what every single solution needs? A problem.
See, the fact that you are already aware that getting motivated is your pain shows that you are aware of the problem.
So start accepting that you are simply not motivated. Because accepting the problem will make you realize that – as stated above – there is a solution to the problem.
Often we get into these thought processes of being against ourselves because we aren’t motivated. Let’s be real, that’s a horrible way of spending your time. Nobody ever got better by looking at the past and hating themselves for not being X or Y.
Honestly, if in the past you could’ve done better then you would’ve done so. But apparently, you couldn’t do better. Don’t blame yourself for that, just accept that it happened. Nobody can fix the past, anybody can shape the future.
#2: Learn that motivation comes after starting
Most Olympic athletes don’t sit on the couch at home and suddenly think: “I want to be an Olympic athlete”.
Instead, they’ve already done the exact type of sport they want to go to the Olympics for. Their motivation comes from the fact they’ve already been involved in that sport for years.
It’s the same for you, as it is for me. For months I’ve been going to the gym, but I also wanted to start swimming again alongside it. I didn’t. Until this past Monday. Got out of bed at 7 am, took the subway to the pool and just swam for an hour.
Don’t expect motivation to miraculously appear in your life. That’s simply not how it works. Real motivation comes after you’ve started something. Simply accepting that fact and then doing X because you want to do X more often is the only way to start.
#3: Gather the right people around you
People don’t become better chess players by playing themselves. They become better by playing other people because they are motivated to be a better chess player.
It’s important to find people around you, they will help you to get motivated because most of the times you just want to beat them. Whether it’s chess, hitting that 300-pound deadlift or just work.
Gathering the right people around you is extremely important. They will keep you sharp. You can use them as a backup when you are not motivated.
I have a hard time going to the gym by myself, no matter how much I want to work out. So I have gathered two people around me to work out with. Either I go with one or both, but I hardly ever go alone.
The day before I text them: “Gym tomorrow 8 AM?”. Sometimes both will go with me, sometimes only one will go with me.
But this also happens: sometimes neither will go with me. And even that is extremely motivating. Because when I then have to go by myself, I know I am ahead of both of them. So even if I have to go alone now, I will actually go.
#4 Use Reddit to your advantage
We all know it: Reddit, what a wonderful place it can be.
But it can also be a sinkhole. Checking out r/all for just a second, right? But before you know it you’re at page 16, looking at those wonderful colorized World War 2 pictures, wasting your time. Yes, really, wasting it.
Yet, Reddit can be a wonderful place as well. Look at r/getmotivated, the perfect place to actually get motivated.
And there are tons of other Subreddits that can teach you a lot!
First things first: block r/all on your web browser. There’s nothing worth spending your time on. Unsubscribe from all the useless Subreddits with images you’ve seen a million times before.
Start subscribing to Subreddits that actually interest you. There’s pretty much a Subreddit for anything. Want to go to the gym? Subscribe to r/fitness. Start your own business? r/entrepreneurs, r/startups, and r/Shopify are your places to go.
Use Google (damn that Reddit search) and find Subreddits related to what you really want to do.
And start reading. Read everything you possibly can. Think Wikipedia is cool for information? Subreddits are filled with information by people who are doing it, who’ve experienced it, who know a lot about it.
Look at the top posts of all time, then go down to the top posts of this year, read the recommended posts in the sidebar. Read anything that seems interesting to you.
#5: Use post-its to remind yourself of good days
This one has worked perfectly for me: my wall currently has 31 post-its, each containing numbers 1 through 31.
Every good day that I have, I add another post-it with the next number.
There’s solid reasoning behind it: I realized that if I have 100 good days, my life is so much different.
Not just that: I wake up and the first thing I see are those post-its. It’s not hard to have a good day when there are already 5, 10, 20 or 30 post-its hanging there reminding me of the good days I’ve had.
Some days I add a little icon to it, reminding me of why that was a good day. Then I can look back at the wall, see what I have done in the last few weeks and realize it’s actually not that hard to have a good day as long as I keep doing the right things.
#6: Eat healthy food, most of the time
You’ve heard it so many times: eat healthy food, it’s the solid base to a healthy life.
Just because Trump can eat McDonald’s every now and then doesn’t mean it’s the right way to live. Politics aside, a good diet is extremely important to become the best version of you.
That’s great and all, but sometimes I just really want that chocolate chip cookie with my coffee.
I’ve been there: eating unhealthy food. Every. Single. Day. Don’t believe me? You’re reading a post written by someone that used to weigh 220 pounds (not very muscular either) that now weighs 176 pounds (and is so much more muscular).
Find a way to eat healthy foods often. r/paleo is great if you want to lose weight, as it is based on what humans used to eat (no surprise: it’s mainly unprocessed foods). That Subreddit made me lose 45 pounds of fat – thanks, guys!
Sure, that Frappuccino with extra cream, some chocolate syrup on top and the brownie along with it taste great. And you have all the freedom to eat it. But if you want to be motivated in life, it’s better to just lay it off.
Food is the base of your body. Your organs aren’t going to perform well when you stuff yourself with sugar all the time. Far from it, you will just ruin your body while not even getting better at life either.
Eat healthy foods. My breakfast: yogurt with honey. My lunch: salad with tuna, avocado, tomato, greens, etc. My dinner: pasta with salmon or spiced rice with marinated chicken.
Find what works for you. Nowadays you don’t have to be in the kitchen all day long to actually eat healthy meals. There are tons of meals that require 5 minutes of preparation and contain so much nutrition.
#7: Read books that actually interest you
Let me get real with you for a second: I was horrible at school. Elementary school, best of the class. High school? Worst. College? I dropped out after year 2.
Where am I today? Well, most people expect you to be either homeless or Bill Gates. I’m in between, but a lot closer to Bill Gates than being homeless. I run two agencies and spend my time between both of them.
Why is this important? Because high school and college made me hate reading. I would rather spend my days playing video games than reading a book.
But it wasn’t until I started reading books that I found interesting that I found my way back into reading and studying.
See, school teaches you to read books for information that you will then get tested on and potentially forget all of it by the end of the semester.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of degrees that you need a ton of knowledge for, but not every degree is like that – and what if you end up not wanting to pursue your degree after college or potentially aren’t able to because there are no jobs available right now?
Reading is a fantastic way to develop yourself and to train your brain. Obtain knowledge about things that really interest you. Dive deep into the wonderful world of your interests, form your personality based on it.
Sure, maybe nobody around you cares that you know who killed Napoleon’s first general. But as long as you care because you are interested in Napoleon and his rise (and fall) then it’s something interesting to know.
I have very specific interests yet they are in different fields. How the different parts of the brain work, how stocks work, reading about successful entrepreneurs and companies, what food does to your body, how to live a more Stoic life.
That’s just a few of them and there are more. And there’s so much information to read on these topics. Visit your local bookstore or library (I started out sitting at the library for 10 hours a day a few years ago to work and read) and find the books worth reading.
#8: Set up a night routine
Meditate for six hours, drink five liters of camomile tea, take a bunch of Xanax and fall asleep right away. You don’t have to go that far, but at least find a routine to commit to before you fall asleep.
For me it’s watching a bit of British comedy, drinking a cup of camomile tea and call one or two friends before I go to bed. It eases my mind, gets rid of the stress I potentially might experience while trying to fall asleep and it’s just a satisfying feeling overall.
For some it’s to meditate, others might go out for a walk, just do things that take your mind of whatever you have done today or doing tomorrow.
Before I start the night routine, I go over the next day: what are the most important things I want to accomplish tomorrow? What are the things I should not forget?
I start planning the hours of the day and write down what I will be doing the next day (more about this below – #11).
#9 Get enough sleep
This can’t be new to you: sleep is extremely important to function well. 8 Hours of sleep is what I try to get every single night. I don’t make it every day because I get home later than anticipated or a phone call might be so enjoyable I continue far beyond the time I scheduled to go to bed.
That’s fine, it happens. Just try to get 8 hours every single night. Sometimes that might be 7 hours, sometimes it might be 9. You won’t feel awful the next day if you don’t get the full 8 hours, but just balance it the next day by going to bed an hour earlier.
Here’s the trick when you always sleep late: stop telling yourself it’s ok to watch another Netflix episode, play another round of that video game or any other distraction. It’s simply not worth it.
Do you really think you’re going to feel great tomorrow – and will get out of bed on time – when you spend another hour that you should be sleeping on something that is giving you short-term dopamine?
Ask yourself this, once you are nearing your preferred bedtime and are on the verge to decide whether to watch the next episode or play the next round: would I rather feel horrible and unproductive all day tomorrow and do this right now, or feel fantastic tomorrow and spend some of my hours of feeling great to watch that episode or play that extra round?
#10 Take a nap during the day
Let’s go back to being our inner baby: daytime naps are the best thing ever.
But really, they are. See, when you take a nap during the day, between 13 to 20 minutes, you don’t need as much sleep during the night.
We’ve all heard stories about people taking power naps. Now, if you thought that was just for people who are extremely busy, you are wrong. Because even for less busy people, it is the greatest thing you can do during the day.
When you take a power nap you are basically just laying there, while your body takes a short break by resting and your mind is just wandering. I sometimes get my best ideas simply from resting for about 15 minutes during the day.
A power nap is not like meditation, where the purpose is to basically free your mind of any thoughts and understanding that if you have a thought, where it is coming from. The purpose is to just lay there, not moving your body and taking a small break.
I always listen to this Spotify playlist while taking a power nap: https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWZd79rJ6a7lp
#11: Schedule your time efficiently
24 Hours a day, that’s all you have. Use it well.
By scheduling your time you allow yourself to take breaks between activities and to ease your mind on what tasks you should do next.
This is recognizable to anyone: you have tons of things to do, at work and in your private life. Finish that paper, vacuum the living room, doing groceries, and tons of other activities.
When you look at all these activities in a bunch, it seems like a wall that cannot be taken done.
But when you schedule your activities according to the time you have, you allow yourself to break up that mental wall into smaller pieces. This allows you to get the things done when it’s time to do them.
Sometimes you stumble upon tasks of which you are not certain how much time they might take. That’s why you schedule extra time for these. If you think it takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours, schedule 2 hours. If it ends up taking 30 minutes, you use the extra 90 minutes for a break and to put some time into tasks that aren’t as important.
Writing this post is like a wall: it’s a huge list of different things. I could either look at it thinking “Wow, this is going to take me so much time”.
Instead, I can look at it like this: “If I separate it into parts of 5, I can easily schedule an hour every day. By scheduling one hour a day, I can finish it in 4-5 days”.
If I end up writing 7 ways in 1 hour, I am a little bit ahead. If I end up writing only 4, I can balance it out with the next day.
#12: Get rid of useless distractions
You might think: “but I like my useless distractions. I really need that hour of Netflix at night to calm myself”. Well, I’m here to tell you that you are just messing with your own mind.
See, calming yourself is pretty easy and doesn’t have to take an hour. It can take 10 minutes before you go to sleep. “But how am I going to know whether Ted ends up marrying Robin?”. Who cares, really? It’s more important who you’re going to marry, or what your life is going to look like in 2, 5, 10 or 20 years.
Let Ted live his life, drop the useless Netflix episodes. There’s a time and place for everything, but useless distractions are – as the word already states – useless.
Do you really need that 15 minutes of Imgur in the morning before getting out of bed or could you take that 15 minutes to clean your room?
Cleaning your room will give you a lot more happiness than those 15 minutes of short-term dopamine than Imgur gives you.
#13: Drink coffee or anything similar
No, again: not that Frappuccino with three shots of espresso, some whipped cream on top and that caramel syrup that tastes so well.
Coffee is great for motivation. Every time I sit down to work on this list, I drink a cup of coffee before I start writing. But I don’t need those three extra shots of espresso. Really, it’s not worth the pumping heart rate and the huge crash you will get in about two hours.
Instead, use caffeine to help you during the day. Coffee contains the right substances to be really productive and motivated to get your tasks done. But you don’t always need it, you just need it when you need that extra boost to complete your tasks.
Not an avid coffee drinker? Green tea is a great supplement for coffee, plus it gets rid of the huge crash that you get after two hours of not drinking coffee.
If you think green tea tastes bitter, you are not preparing it correctly. Boil the water and let it cool down for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the tea bag to the water. Green tea tastes best when you add it at about 80 degrees Celsius (176 Fahrenheit).
Want to get more out of your coffee or tea? Add a scoop of coconut oil to it! Coconut oil contains several fats that help your brain to perform better. And a better brain means you are more motivated to complete your tasks.
#14: Work out in the morning
This one is extremely logical: if you start your day being active, you will be active during the day.
Working out at the start of the day has been an important influence on my mood. If I work out after I wake up, I feel much more energized during the day.
There’s a ton of different workouts that you can do: going to the gym, swimming, running, even walking.
My favorite workout is the 7-minute workout. Researchers have figured out that the 12 different exercises within these 7 minutes boost your heart rate in the best way, activate almost every muscle in your body and allows the right blood flow.
Don’t believe me? Read this New York Times article on it. Trust me, it will change your life. If you want to look great, you have to train every muscle in your body.
Now, if you think 7 minutes is too short (like I do), then nothing is stopping you from doing it more than once. I do the 7-minute workout 3 times in a row (over a timespan of 30-40 minutes) and use the resting breaks to think. This allows you to combine meditation and working out, as I feel a huge calm over me during the breaks due to the clear mind you get from the exercises.
Best part: you can just do this in your bedroom, living room, backyard, pretty much anywhere. This means nothing is stopping you to have completed this workout in 10-15 minutes from now.
#15: Clean your house
Most people hate it (I am one of them). Walking around picking up things, getting rid of dust, it just seems like the most boring and unnecessary activity to fill your time with.
But it’s important. Look at it like taking care of your body. If your room is trashed, you will feel trashed as soon as you come home.
Take 30 minutes of your week to clean your room and about 5 minutes a day to keep it clean. You might think that you cannot fix the huge mess in your room or house within 30 minutes. That’s probably because you haven’t been cleaning it for a while.
In that case, start with 30 minutes today. Do another 30 minutes tomorrow. Another 30 minutes the day after that. If you have already put 30 minutes in it today, that’s already a huge motivation to do it again (you’re already almost there anyway, so you might as well do it).
#16: Be the best version of yourself
Let’s be real: the real reason you wish to be more motivated is that you believe there is more to life than what you are experiencing right now.
There’s a better version of you out there, somewhere, and you believe that putting in a certain amount of time and work will allow you to become that person.
And on top of that, you might feel bad right now because you just cannot figure out a way to change because you lack that motivation.
If you want to change, if you really want to be the best version of yourself, you have to start being exactly that. “How?”, you may ask. By doing exactly the things you hate yourself for not doing.
Recognize this thought? “I wish I’d go to the gym more because I am just not in shape at all and I would be more satisfied with myself if I did go”. Then go. really, just go.
You owe it to yourself to become that better version of yourself. Somewhere out there, in the future, there’s a better version of you. And you’ll meet him or her someday. At least, that’s what you might think right now.
But that version of you, the person that you’d like to be, that person is already inside your head. When looking in the mirror, you are already looking at that person. Because the second you take the responsibility to take action based on what you believe you should be, you are being the best version of yourself.
This whole motivation process isn’t just going to end once you hit your goals. You want that six pack because you believe you’d look better? Well, once you reach it, it’s not like you can just drop all the things you’ve done to get there. You have to keep going and have to proceed with the activities that got you there.
#17: Listen to the right music
Music is a huge factor in motivation. While writing this post, I am listening to live version of concerts from some of my favorite bands. It puts me into this flow of productivity, to just keep writing.
I’m not sure whether it’s the huge crowd cheering and singing along that is motivating me to keep going. Or the fact the live versions sound better than the album. But it’s helping me to stay focused and motivated to finish this post.
Finding the right music is beneficial for your state. I have a very broad taste in music and figured out that certain types of music fit with certain types of activities. Reading a book? That heavy metal song isn’t going to help you stay focused. But that classical song by Mozart will.
Trying to sleep? That dance music isn’t going to help you, it will just keep your brain active. Listen to sleep music. This is why Spotify is such a great help: you can find playlists based on any type of activity: sleeping, walking, traveling, working out, being productive, anything. Don’t have Spotify? YouTube is also filled with playlists like this!
#18: Spend less time with demotivating people
Recognize this? “Hey, let’s go to that bar/club tonight, grab some drinks and have some fun!” First thing in your head might be: “Yes! Let’s do that!”. But, if you want to get that good night of sleep, you can’t actually do that.
I’m not saying you should become a Monk, living on a mountain, separating yourself from all the external factors that might negatively impact you and take you away from what you want to be. Parties are great, but again there’s a time and place for that, and the night before you have to get up at 8 AM isn’t really the right time.
Do you really need to go out that Thursday night, party till 2 AM and then expect yourself to be motivated to go to the gym tomorrow? Let’s be real, there’s about an 85% chance you won’t go to the gym. And even if you will, there’s a small chance you will perform at a level you’d like to.
Distractions are everywhere. And especially people that are demotivated are bringing them along as much as they can. Start being selfish, start looking at your life like you own it.
You’re not becoming the better version of yourself, the version you’d like to be, by giving in to those distractions. Of course, if your goal is to sleep in until 10 AM, skip that gym again and again and put that fake satisfaction on your face, then you have every right to give in to it. But if your goals do not align with those external factors, skip the distracting activities more often.
Don’t completely get rid of them, just spend less time with people that get you into that negative flow. It’s not that hard, it’s simply starting to value the purpose of self-development over the specific activity your brain tells you is so much more satisfying. More about that in the part below.
#19: Get your mindset straight
You know which people really live towards becoming the best versions of themselves?
The ones that are crazy enough to believe they might actually make it a reality.
Your mindset is key to becoming the best version of you. It’s easy to give in to short-term dopamine, to, again and again, choose the short road to ‘happiness’.
But, if you’d really like to get somewhere, the short-term satisfaction isn’t going to bring you anything. Short-term satisfaction is what brings people to do things that alter their mind just so they don’t have to think about the fact that there’s a better life out there.
Develop the type of mindset that allows you to look at the long-term. The mindset that aligns with the person that you’d like to be. How do you think you’ll ever be the person to go to the gym three times a week when your current mindset isn’t even allowing you to go once?
How are you going to start being more productive when you don’t even know how productivity works right now? How are you going to get rid of eating fast food if you are still eating it?
Again: mindset is key when it comes to finding the chance that is needed to become that best version of you.
Realize that, although short-term satisfaction feels better RIGHT NOW, the long-term satisfaction will feel better LATER. And that long-term satisfaction isn’t going away the next day, unlike that short-term satisfaction that the brain is constantly seeking.
#20: Tell yourself why you are doing it
Alright, alright, you’re at number 20 which means there’s probably a really good reason why you are still reading this. Something in your brain is telling you that you want to change so badly that you are still reading what is written down in this post.
That’s good, appreciate that feeling. See, there is a reason why you are still reading it. You’re most likely just fed up with how you’re living right now. Accept that. Look at it like it’s rock bottom: you have finally reached the lowest point in your life.
There’s nothing wrong with accepting that, it’s extremely important to do so. You’re at step 0, the worst step of your life. It’s satisfying to realize that. Maybe you had step 0 a few weeks ago and you are already on the right track.
Internally, you want to change, you want to become X while you’ve been Y the last few hours, days, months or maybe even years. That’s fine.
Now realize that exactly that is the reason why you are doing it. You’re done with the current situation. Well, cool. That’s it, now that you know you’re fed up you can just relax, sit on the couch, watch that Netflix show again and keep on living life.
Nope, wrong. Instead, know that realizing it is just step 0. See, it’s the ‘Start’ position in Monopoly. You’re not anywhere yet. You need to start rolling the dice in your life to move forward. But instead of depending on luck, you decide what the sides of that dice will say and which steps you are going to take.
#21: Pick a time and place to do something
Want to finally start going to the gym, eating healthy lunches or start reading/writing that book?
It is important to tell yourself when and where you are going to do it. For me, starting swimming again was something I wanted to do for months but I never spent the 5 minutes that were necessary to actually plan it.
Last weekend, I looked up nearby swimming pools and found one that opened at 7 AM. I then told myself I would go there on Monday at 730AM.
The day before, because I already planned this, I made sure I went to bed early enough to actually wake up at 7 AM. I packed my swimsuit and a towel.
And, low and behold, I actually woke up at 7 AM, got out of bed right away, grabbed my bag and headed off to the subway on my way to the swimming pool. I got there at 730AM, changed into my swimsuit and headed right into the water.
After months of not doing it, it was extremely satisfying to finally get there. To finally find a way to actually push myself to do it.
It’s not rare to think motivation just comes, that it – again – is a magic spark that will start the internal system to do something. But that’s far from how it really works.
You have to prepare yourself to do something, especially when you don’t have to do it right now but really want to do it in a few days.
Picking a time and place is essential, and it works best if you do it 1-2 days before you are going to do it. You can then mentally prepare and make sure you create the right environment that allows you to actually do it. And once that is set, you will actually do it.
#22: Stop getting phone time in bed
As humans, we crave it (really, you’re not the only one): that lovely dopamine you get from looking at your phone in the morning seeing all the social triggers that were sent to you during the night.
Text messages, PMs on Instagram/Facebook/Reddit, anything that gives you that short-term rush to feel satisfied and to shortly forget the fact THAT YOU SHOULD BE GETTING OUT OF BED RIGHT NOW.
Those 20 minutes in the morning add up pretty quickly. You know how much 7 times 20 is? That’s 140 minutes. Every single week.
In a month? 4 Times 140 is 560 minutes. You are wasting over 9 (NINE!) hours every month to get a short rush of dopamine.
You know what else you can do in 9 hours?
- 9 Hours is about 60 10-minute meditation sessions
- 9 Hours are 40 7-minute workouts with 7-minute breaks
- 9 Hours is about 270 pages of reading a book
- 9 Hours is about 30 pages of writing a book
- 9 Hours is equal to 35 power naps
Every time you wake up, stopping your alarm and grabbing your phone for that short-term dopamine, remind yourself: “Would I rather spend 20 minutes not creating my future or spend 20 minutes becoming a better version of me?”
You’ll quickly realize that indeed, spending that 20 minutes becoming a better you is worth so much more than the useless distractions on your phone.