Hey all. The blog has now moved to a proper domain name!
Come and join!
See you there!
Hey all. The blog has now moved to a proper domain name!
Come and join!
See you there!
As a kid, who did you hero-worship?
We all had childhood heroes.
For good or bad, they acted as role models in our lives. Just like our parents, the older kids at school, and people in our community.
They inspired us to new heights, and some were even immortalised on our walls.
We wanted to be just like them.
In fact, we became them. Kind of.
It’s estimated that 90-95% of human behaviour is learned through mimicking role models. Clearly then, the influence of a positive role-model is huge, especially growing up.
But as we grow older, we tend to grow out of having a role-model. Why?
We’re missing a trick here.
Fact is, role-models can help us achieve our wildest dreams.
It’s human nature. We want to know if our dream is actually possible.
You can’t be what you can’t see.
Marian Wright Edelman
You have a dream. You think it might be possible. Then you find someone who’s already achieved it. Now your dream becomes a goal. You know it is possible. If some mortal can do it, anyone can.
Find a role-model who has already achieved what you want. Take your goal from the realm of dreams and into the land of reality.
Say you want to build a multi-million dollar empire from nothing. Impossible? Read up on self-made millionaires like Lord Alan Sugar. – Definitely possible.
Maybe you want to be a tennis star. Impossible? Watch an Andy Murray documentary. If he can do it, why not you? – Definitely possible.
The power of this is huge.
Prior to 1954, no human being had ever run a mile under 4 minutes.
In fact, a sub-4 minute mile was considered a physical impossibility. It could and would never be achieved. Or so they thought…
6, May, 1954: some bloke in Oxford runs a mile in 3:59.4. Defying everyone, he was the first human to ever run the sub-4 minute mile.
Incredible, no? He must have been a freak of nature. It would take ages until another man could repeat the feat. Right?
Wrong. Roger Bannister’s record lasted only 46 days. 46 days. That’s nothing. And ever since his impressive achievement, the sub-4 minute mile has been ran thousands of times.
So what happened?
– Human nature.
When Roger Bannister ran the 4 minute mile, he proved to runners everywhere that it was possible. And if one man can do it, then any man can.
For mid-distance runners, the 4-minute mile was transformed from a ludicrous dream into an achievable goal.
Use this power for your own ends. For whatever goal you’re trying to achieve, find someone who’s been there and done it.
Make your dream an achievable goal.
Like it or not, the world is how we believe it to be. Our mind-set determines our successes and our failures.
If you believe it’s a world of opportunities, then that’s what it is. If you believe it’s a world full of negativity, despair and hate, then that’s what it is.
What we believe is our reality.
Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both usually right.
So what do our role-models believe? What mind-set made our dreams their reality?
What mind-set allowed them to succeed?
Let’s use a pro swimmer as an example. Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of all time.
How did he achieve his swimming success? He swam every single day, 80,000 metres a week. He added weight-lifting to his dry-land training, he smartened up his diet, he used visualisation, stretching…..
That’s how he did it. But what was his mind-set?
”If I want to be as successful as I want to be, I have to be thinking about it all the time.”
“I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and you put the work and time into it. I think your mind really controls everything.”
“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”
These quotes don’t explain how he became successful. They reveal his mind’s inner-workings. This is the mind-set that propelled him through training and made him the swimming god that he is today.
So, look at your role model.
For now, forget what they did. Instead, ask yourself “What’s their mind-set?” Then change your own.
Adopt the mind-set of a champion, and a champion you will become.
After you’ve adopted the mind-set of your role-model, then it’s time to learn how they did it.
Returning to Michael Phelps, he truly separated himself from the pack by following a diet that fuelled him perfectly for his workouts, mentally rehearsing disaster-scenarios, like goggles coming off mid-race, and putting in brutal workouts with weighted sleds. And of course, loads more.
These are things that you can implement into your training schedule.
Also, learn the sacrifices your role model made to get where they are today. What did they give up? Are you willing to do the same?
Finally, look at their habits. Many great minds woke up at sun-rise, kept a journal, followed a demanding physical schedule and read many books.
Try doing the same. If it worked for them, it’ll probably work for you too.
Failure is one of the greatest teachers we have. Learning from our failures is key to becoming stronger.
But in addition to learning from our own failures, learn from you role model’s too. “Where did they trip-up?” “What didn’t work out for them?”
Then you’re pre-warned of some of the pot-holes along the road.
Again, 90-95% of our behaviour is learnt through modelling. A lot of this happens we’re growing up. But your brain is still pliable.
When you make someone your role model, you start taking on their strengths, their determination and their character traits.
If you admire successful people, you create a positive force field of attraction that draws you toward becoming more and more like the kinds of people that you want to be like.
For example, if you admire your role model for their work ethic, you’ll find yourself developing a stronger work ethic. The same goes for anything; confidence, positive attitude, charm…
Say your a new worker in a sales team. If you’re boss flaunts how he’s made a killer profit from taking advantage of someone, then your subconscious tells you that it’s OK to treat people like shit and cut corners to get ahead.
On the other hand, if your boss is ethical, and values honesty and trust above all, chances are you’ll come to adopt the same attitude, becoming a more honest and trustworthy person yourself.
Of course, it depends on how strong your existing beliefs are. If you adamantly believe that ethical sales are the way to do things, then perhaps your back-stabbing boss won’t have as much of an effect on your own mind-set.
Here’s an exercise you can use to make the most of role models;
I know that I’m definitely going to dig deeper into the mind-sets of my role models, and use their experiences to switch up my habits and routines.
Here’s one more idea you could use:
Famous author Napoleon Hill used his role-models and mentors as “invisible counsellors”. Every night before he went to bed, he’d imagine sitting round a round table with all the people he admired the most. He’d discuss ideas with them and ask them for advice.
It worked out pretty well for him. Maybe for you too.
Definitely something to try out!
So how do you use your role-models? What have you learnt? Leave a comment below 🙂
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, published by Doubleday Canada.
I’m working in an office.
A quirky, start-up office.
Drum set in the kitchen, big communal table kinda deal.
Everyone wears shorts.
It’s a cool place to work.
But sitting down for 8 hours a day? No thank you, sir.
If I’m spending 40% of my waking-time working, then everything has to be perfect.
Whether you’re studying, working professionally or hustling in your own time; having a go-to place for getting stuff done is important.
Make your work-place work with you. Not against you.
So what’s the options?
Maybe you need people to study with, or maybe home is just off-limits.
But how do you pick where to go?
– Atmosphere. They all have a certain “feel” to them.
And this affects your mood. And mood effects how you work.
And what gives a place the right atmosphere to get you in-the-zone?
Think of a gym. What people do you want surrounding you?
A gym full of gym-goers that work hard, shout encouragement at each other, and spur you to become the best you can?
Or the same gym, but filled with people who don’t say anything and are always standing around looking at their phones.
The first case inspires you to push your limits. The second doesn’t.
Same gym, different people. Different people, different atmosphere.
And the same goes for study spaces.
Say you need to be creative. Then surround yourself by creatives in a quirky, arty coffee shop. Full of hipsters, writers and the likes.
Say you need to get down to some proper “grit and grind” type work, find somewhere with people doing the same.
Like the silent floor of the library. When all you can hear are pens scribbling and the furious typing of keyboards, you´ll get swept up in the collective work-hard mentality.
Compare this with someplace where everyone’s chatting, eating and laughing.
Sure, it’s fun, but it won’t push you to work hard.
Find the right atmosphere, and you’ll be in-the-zone in no time.
At uni, I studied in a tiny computer lab that was open 24 hours. Barely anyone used it, so it was usually deserted apart from 4th years busting their asses with massive essays.
It was immense for studying. A productivity oasis.
People would go on “garage runs” (the only place open for food/caffeine on Sunday). Serious studying….
Atmosphere was totally grit and grind. Awesome.
Building your in-the-zone fortress at home
How do you build a retreat that’ll keep you productive for hours?
The only true essential item.
Important things to consider? Chair/desk height combo. Slouching all day absolutely kills your posture.
Personally, I just can’t sit down all day. I hate it. It irks me.
I feel like I’m becoming a hunch-back, and my hip flexors are withering away.
It’s said that sitting is the new smoking. I agree.
In my opinion, standing desks are the way to go.
You can stretch and move about to your heart’s content, while keeping good posture. Nice. No more tight shoulders.
Checking out of a few standing desks on the internet… They cost a small fortune. Like, £300. I don’t want to pay £300 for a desk.
So why not build one? Mental note *build desk*.
How hard can it be?
Soak space in motivational vibes.
Fill your study space with every ounce of inspiring stuff you can find.
2 square feet of wall space dedicated to Michael Jordan? Yes.
Old-school world map poster? Or a globe? Yes.
Motivational quotes on the wall. YES.
Framed motivational quotes on your desk. Yes.
The first thing I’m doing with my room back at Uni is putting a black board in it. Then every time you come across a motivational quote, you write it up. The change it in a few days or so.
You could also fill it with ideas, big-ass mind maps, projects, to-do lists…
Books also give good motivation bang-for-your-buck, serving as a constant reminder of the knowledge you could be filling your noggin’ with.
A couple of bookshelves and your sorted.
Really, the possibilities are endless here….
So, you’ve now got a desk and a motivational kick-ass atmosphere. Now what?
Plants purify the air (how zen), smell kinda nice, and completely transform your room.
There’s something about them… While you’re scribbling away it’s just… growing. Doing it’s thing. It’s strangely relaxing.
And if Hot Fuzz is anything to go by, then a peace lily’s your best bet. Apparently good for knocking people out too.
Peace lily? Yarp!
A Venus fly trap would be neat as well. What isn’t cool about a carnivorous desk plant?
If cold, hard numbers float your boat, then check this – a recent study showed that employees are 15% more productive when plants were added to a “lean” workspace.
15% just for a few plants? Seems pretty decent to me.
Essential take-a-break items.
Not like Kit-kats. I’m thinking kettle bells.
Picture the scene:
You’re fed up. You’ve hit a mental block. Mind and body need a quick recharge.
So you pick up a kettle bell. (Conveniently underneath your standing desk.)
You do a few swings. Get the heart pumping. You do a few more.
And that’s it.
You return to work feeling invigorated. And you’ve grown stronger.
What isn’t to love about this?
A chin-up bar fits the bill as well. Or a squishy mat to do some Tabatan sit-ups or crunches.
Again, so many possibilities..
And the standing desk makes the transition from work to workout to work so much more convenient.
I’m fantasising about getting a punch bag in a future study space.
Say you’ve absolutely HAD it with a project. Frustration is off the charts. You feel like you could just punch something…
Hey wait, you actually can.
You pick up the gloves, do a quick 30 second round, and BOOM.
Insta-good-mood-creator right there.
This is definitely happening.
Mental note *buy punchbag*.
Other cool things?
Going with the nature theme, maybe a desk-top jelly fish tank. Like this.
And on that note, I’m out of ideas. Desk, motivational things, plants.
How would you build the ultimate retreat for getting things done? What would you put in it?
I’ve just finished a book by R.L Adams. Towards the end, he makes a bold statement.
“Time-wasting is the biggest cause of unachieved goals and dead dreams.”
Bold. I like it. And I agree.
Your time is your most precious commodity. You can never get it back.
But we take it for granted. No matter how much you waste, you always get more the next day.
Time wasted: nothing gained, nothing lost. Right?
Still to this day, I’ve got a quote on my bedroom ceiling. Every day, in high school, I’d wake up to an A4 dose of harsh reality:
“Every morning when you wake up, you have only two choices. The choice to work hard or the choice to not work hard. That’s it, no other choices. Either you work hard or you don’t; it’s pretty simple. If you choose not to work hard, you will fail. If you choose to work hard, you still might fail! How is that for a deal? Success is never guaranteed, but it is impossible without hard work.”
Every time I read it, it sends shivers down my spine.
So how can we get into action and work hard? Stop procrastinating. Much easier said than done, but here’s 3 ways that help me get things done.
Doing something small everyday means you’re doing something. Everyone’s got a spare 5 minutes. Make them count.
Take a tiny step towards your goal. No matter how small, do it. Every. Single. Day. Over time, you’ll want to do more. Action inspires action.
Start small and build it up.
For me; chin-ups at the gym. I’d always put off doing them, until I added a few in at the end of each set. A month down the line, 10 chin-ups was no sweat, and they were an automatic part of my routine. No more procrastination.
Want to read? Go for 10 minutes a day. Drawing? Draw the simplest things first. Eating healthy? Make one meal time a sumptuous salad. Start small, build it up.
Why don’t we do this? Probably because it’s harder to see short-term changes. But now and again, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Look at where you’ve come. You’ll be amazed.
Tiny steps, done over and over again, lead to big change.
Starting small triggers a lovely snowball effect; accomplishing small goals everyday builds momentum and motivates you further. Before you know it, you’ll be juggernaut-ing your way through all obstacles in your path.
Don’t underestimate momentum. Start small, build it up, fill your life with action.
Have a Plan
I talked about this in the last article. Daily planning. Making an attack-plan the night before helps you wake up already in the zone to kick ass.
Now take it a step further.
Plan your week. Plan your month. Plan your year! Ask yourself, “What’s my goal for this week?” “What do I want to accomplish this month?”
Once you know your goals, break ‘em down into tasty bite size chunks, then plan away.
This tactic works amazingly if you know why you want to achieve your goals. What does you goal actually mean for your life?
For example, this month I’m trying to beast up my writing skills. I’m using a three-pronged approach;
That’s a fair chunk of time out of each day. 3 x 45 minute blocks. But by knowing what these things mean for me, it suddenly becomes an awesome way to spend time. I’m excited to be doing them! Action!
Reading books: expands mind with new ideas. Reading in Spanish will improve my Spanish. Useful.
Note-taking, blog posting: Get better at structuring thoughts. Useful for academic career as well as anything business-related. Selling anything involves presenting your thoughts in a well-structured manner. Useful.
Copy-work: Hopefully absorb style of great authors, making my writing more entertaining. Again, being able to write things is pretty useful in life. Useful.
That’s one goal (improve writing in August), and 4 kick-ass reasons why it’s important for me.
Distractions are real killers. Cutting them out of your life means less time wasted, more things done and an action-infused life.
Facebook users, here’s what I’d invite you to do.
What are you left with? If you’ve been trigger-happy, a pretty empty newsfeed.
You’re left with a cool bunch of people that genuinely cheer you up, motivate you and inspire you to take action. No more mindless surfing through swathes of negativity and bullshit. Win.
(This is an absolute beast of a tactic. Try it out!)
Phone notifications too. Turn them off to stop you getting distracted. WhatsApp can wait. Texting can wait. Hell’s broken loose in Farmville? That can definitely wait.
Recent studies have shown that every 5 minute interruption at work costs 12 minutes of your time, because your brain needs 7 minutes to get back into gear.
So imagine if you’re interrupted 10 times in the day. That’s 10 x 5: 50 minutes of pure distraction. Then 10 x 7: 70 minutes on top just for your brain to get back on it.
10 harmless facebook surfs in a day?
120 minutes wasted. 2 hours! Holy smokes! That’s INSANE! Multiply by 7 for the whole week, and you’ve wasted 14 hours! Imagine what you could be doing with 14 hours?
Lots of things. Work out, learn new things, level up on Candy Crush….
Don’t level up on Candy Crush.
But what if I don’t have time to take action?
Ahhh… the universal excuse. I often find myself in this exact situation.
Usually, it’s a case of cutting out distractions. Like the 14 hours a week in the last example.
For those who genuinely are busting their ass working all the time, it’s a case of prioritising what’s most important.
But if I need more time, I just get up earlier. In 2nd year, I was struggling to balance 2 part-time jobs, triathlon training and studying physics.
The solution? Wake up an hour earlier. Wake at 5am, train, then get to work for 6. By the time I hit lectures at 9, I’d already worked towards my goal, and earnt some cash. Action.
This tactic also forces you to go to bed earlier. You’re just knackered. Half 9? 10pm? Yes, bed time please. 11pm? Are you nuts? Drawn out nights watching Youtube vids? Just, no. Need. Sleep. Now.
So my tips to getting things done?
Start small. No matter how small, just do it every day.
Feel the momentum build, ride the snowball effect, and then move on to fry bigger fish. Step back in a month’s time, look at the big picture, and give yourself a pat on the back.
Congratulations friend. You rock.
Plan ahead. Make a next-day plan. Make a weekly plan. Make a monthly plan.
Know your goals, know why they’re important, break ‘em down into bite-size chunks, then plan, plan, plan.
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Kill distractions. Change your newsfeed preferences on Facebook. Turn off the notifications on your phone. Keep your brain in the zone.
And if you don’t have time? Read above. Get up earlier. Prioritize.
Be a do-er.
At this point, you should probably stop procrastinating, and go do something.
How do you get things done? What’s your secret techniques? Share in the comments 🙂
If you really want to fill your noggin, here’s an awesome little book about living on 24 hours a day. It’s a 30-45 minute read. You’ll never think in the same way again…
Both links are to the same book. I like reading the AoM text. Comfy.
And just like that, it’s August. July’s 30 day drawing challenge– finished. Here’s what happened.
On the left: my first drawing, 3/07. On the right: my last drawing 31/7. Both are drawing the same photo.
The drawing skills have definitely improved. I was expecting it, but I’m still amazed at the difference. The final drawing actually resembles an animal!
Although the end product’s no Picasso, it shows what can be done in a month’s time.
Most important takeaway: Building habits is much, much easier using daily planning. Creating an attack plan the night before was a game-changer.
First half of the challenge? Pretty chaotic. Trying to fit in an hour of drawing into a commitment-laden life was a struggle. Making it an “after-work thing” – bad idea.
Leaving habits, or “big rocks”, till the last minute just doesn’t work. It saps your energy and turns your goal into a chore. Chances are, if you don’t plan it, you won’t do it. Especially if it’s something you don’t HAVE to do.
We’ve all been in the last-minute essay boat. Due the very next day, you HAVE to do it. Or there’s a teacher on your back the next day. The consequence – punishment – motivates you to do the essay.
With habits, i.e your own problems, there is no immediate consequence. It’s dangerously easy to skip a day, then two, then a week slides into a month, and before you know it, New Year’s rolled around and you’re in exactly the same place as the last. Making the same resolutions, but achieving the same result.
So yeah, daily planning folks. Really useful. I reckon it’s the key to this.
When should you do it? The night before. Half an hour or 15 minutes before bed.
Why? Your subconscious mind is more sensitive to information. It’s more… spongy, for lack of a better word. Spend 10 minutes outlining tomorrow’s day, and pencil in your biggest rock. Then fill in the rest of your schedule with whatever floats your boat.
The result? When you wake up in the morning, your attack plan will be at the forefront of your mind. You don’t need to waste precious will-power choosing to do your big rocks. Your brain’s already primed and ready. You just do it. Like Nike.
How to Daily Plan
Tools for the job: tiny notebook, standard issue pencil. Exploding-laser-pencil optional. Your call.
Method: Before you go to bed, take out notebook. Take your biggest rock, and pencil it in for a certain time period. For example, drawing, 9:00 – 10:00. Put in some other stuff, and you’re laughing.
Then sleep, wake-up, kick ass, repeat.
I find it easier to get the most important tasks done and dusted in the morning. There are no distractions. It’s just you, and you. Zen….
Benefits of the challenge
It’s said that you need discipline to form new habits. Bull, I say. Discipline is forged by the process of building new habits. Not the other way around.
The mind is a muscle. Discipline could be muscular endurance. You don’t start with muscular endurance. You have to develop muscular endurance by exercising. And what’s exercise for the mind? Making new habits.
Once you start on this journey, you get caught up in this awesome cycle:
Take action towards goals -> Achieve goal -> Inspires further action -> Take further action.
It just feeds on itself. Pretty neat. Basically, you feel like a boss.
Tomorrow is a momentous day. The first day of the month. So how about giving a 30 day challenge a bash?
This is what worked for me. I hope it works for you too.
So that’s it. What’s your goals for August? What’s your technique to building new habits?
Hey all! Long time no see. It’s been awhile since the last update. 14 days, or 2 of your earth weeks to be precise. So, straight to the point – “How’s it been going?”
Very well, very well indeed. Drawing abilities are coming along nicely, giving me the confidence to tackle trickier arts-related stuff. And since I’ve always sucked at art, that’s a damn cool feeling. I’ve been swithering whether to draw landscapes, or limit the 30-day challenge to only animals. But as animals are awesome, inspiring and relatively quick to draw, it’s animals – 1, landscape – 0. That’s the good news.
The keen-eyed among you may notice that for 14 days suspense-filled days, there’s only 10 sketches. What’s up with that? Well, it’s 4 days of glorious, fall-off-the-wagon failure. BUT. It’s been the best thing about this challenge so far. Because it forces you to ask yourself, “well, WHY didn’t you draw?” “Why have you failed?” And for me, the answer’s simple. Priorities.
At this point, I’d love to share a gem of an idea I’ve encountered from the Art of Manliness blog. (Brett Mckay – kudos!) The video (see link below) makes the analogy of your day being a container. Like a bucket. Or a SunnyD carton if that floats your boat. And to fill your day, you’ve got:
Water – all the mindless drivel. Farmville, candy crush, celeb gossip. It doesn’t add anything meaningful to your life.
Sand – a tad more meaningful, but still amounts to not much. Like washing the dishes, shopping, putting the kettle on….
Small gravel – here we go. Upping the ante a bit. This could be answering work emails, tidying your room or taking your dog for a walk. You need to do it, but it’s not directly linked to your goals.
Big Rocks – The most important tasks. Your priorities. Like exercising, writing articles, reading a novel, furthering your business, or in my case, drawing. Of course, big rocks are totally up to you. Maybe tidying your room is a big rock.
The idea: If you fill your day with all the small, meaningless stuff first, like Farmville and shopping, then you won’t physically be able to fit the big rocks into the bucket. Read: you won’t be able to achieve your most important goals. It’s not an efficient way to plan your day.
On the other hand, if you START with the big rocks, then you can fit all the little stuff around them. More stuff. Same bucket. Awesome!
Takeaway: Plan your big rocks first. Treat them like doctor’s appointments. You’ve got to get them done. Then shuffle the rest of the day around them.
For drawing, I realised I hadn’t made this a big rock. My approach was “Meh, I’ll do it sometime after work”. Ahhh, how naive. Now? Every night, 9:30 – 10:30, drawing. Sorted. This tactic has been insanely effective short-term, and I’m definitely going to take daily, weekly, and monthly planning to the next level. (Currently experimenting with Evernote https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce2_gWZHBIs ) But that’s for another blog post, and another 30-day habit.
For now, ask yourself, “what are the big rocks in my life?”
Without further ado, here’s the goods.
I’m nearing the halfway mark of the month, and now have several butchered sketches of my favourite animals.
I have to confess, I actually started on the 3rd of July. No sweat.
Thoughts on the challenge so far?
Dare I say it, but… drawing might actually be…. fun! Find something inspiring to draw, plug yourself into the finest meditative beats from Youtube (shout-out avicii) and let the relaxing calm just wash right over you. I’ve ALWAYS – repeat ALWAYS – hated any sort of art. And now, with the mindset that anything is possible, I’m lovin’ a bit of pencil-on-paper action.
I could probably say something more profound here. Maybe drawing makes you appreciate the raw magic and beauty that Mother Nature has blessed us with. But then again, it’s only 10 days into this self-experiment, so it’s early days to be saying anything too deep. Bottom line: I’m enjoying something I thought I would hate, just by a change in mindset. Plus, Nature is pretty darn cool.
“The man who says he can, and the man who says he can not.. Are both correct.”
It’s the first of the month, which can mean only one thing… It’s time to start a brand new habit. The logic goes that is takes roughly 30 days to form a habit. So, if you pick a new skill or “thing” to work on for every month, then at the end of the year you’ve not only got 12 kick-ass shiny new habits, but you’ve developed your character along the way. You upgrade the size of your will power reserves, and become a more disciplined person. What’s not to love? For me, I try new things to push my mind out of it’s comfort zone. This month, it’s not going to be a habit per se (although it could turn into one). The thing I’m worst at.. is definitely art. Damn. I hate drawing, painting, scuplting. I’m rubbish at it. Which is why, for the next 30 days, until the 1st of August rolls around, I’m going to draw a picture everyday. Maybe it will strike some creative well within me. Who knows? So, pick something to work on until 1st of August. And do it EVERYDAY.
“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Charles Reade