The Myth of Ignorant Bliss

Ignorance is Bliss. This old saying implies the less you know, the less you are responsible for, and the less you have to worry about. The problem with that is that it’s only half true! As my wife and I are raising our kids this has been made very clear. It’s also very clear why people stay in ignorance even when the long term consequences are just plain devastating! Let me explain.

As parents of young children it requires HARD WORK to raise them the right way. You need to know how young children respond to input, to think about every word that comes out of your mouth, and you need consistency in what you do vs. what you say, and in how you hold them accountable. Parenting also requires a balance of freedom to learn, and guidelines your children have to abide by. These are just a few things, aside from all the non-intellectual activities such as making food, changing diapers, and cleaning the house! This is the work required when you decide not to be ignorant. You see, the moment you learn something, such as the right way to behave or raise children, you are now responsible to do something with that knowledge. It’s a lot of work! Because the burden of responsibility is so great, it’s worth wondering, would you be better off not knowing, and being less stressed? If you don’t know, you aren’t responsible for the outcome, the way things happen, or for alerting someone who can do something about the problem. What you don’t know won’t hurt you.

Here is the thing, though. Not knowing an alligator is about to eat you doesn’t change the FACT that you will soon be in his stomach. Not exactly blissful. Not working hard to be aware and raise your kids with intentional words and actions is only blissful as long as they are too young to question. It doesn’t change the fact that they will someday be out of control, demanding people, who think very little of themselves and others. Being ignorant becomes much less blissful when your house is in constant chaos because your kids won’t listen and your spouse is angry at you!

Using the ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ mindset in any area of life will end up metaphorically killing the one who speaks it. Money, marriage, knowledge of responsibilities at work, raising kids, knowing how to handle salesmen, or a million other things you could name. This saying is used by people who have not had success in their lives, and instead of taking responsibility to change and do the hard, but effective, things, they laugh and say “ignorance is bliss.” It is only blissful until the results come in: chaos, loss, pain, broken relationships, lost work, lost money, and a thousand other woes that result.

On the other hand, being aware, taking responsibility and working hard, staying up late taking care of your kids, trying to communicate well with your spouse, doing something about a problem you see at work, playing with your kids even at the end of a long day, these are all hard things we do now to produce the fruit of future healthy relationships. Feelings value, children who do responsible things and take responsibility for themselves, having money in the bank to take care of needs that come up, and even to enjoy! This is the fruit that is brought from NOT allowing yourself to be ignorant. From taking responsibility and being an ADULT instead of acting like a kid and then blaming the “other kids” for your problems.

Unhappy marriages, out of control kids, bad health, in most cases, these situations are the result of people choosing to stay ignorant of better ways of handling things in their lives. The moment you are no longer ignorant is the moment in which you become responsible for the outcome of a lot of situations. Based on how you respond, how you act, the words you say, the things you eat, how hard you work at your job. To be aware and do nothing does not allow you to blame others for your problems.

Now I know most of us probably don’t think on a conscious level that the phrase “ignorance is bliss” is really true. But on a subconscious level, many of us live that way. Thinking everything is going well and when things get bad we wonder what happened. I hear phrases from people all the time like “One day my kids just quit listening to me and now they are totally out of control” or “Everything with our money was fine until that car accident and then the whole world seemed to crash in” or “Our relationship was awesome, and then out of nowhere she got angry and said I never listen and left.” Do any of these saying sound familiar to you? Have you said them, or heard them said? Do these kinds of things really happen overnight? These people could have spent more time learning about their situations before it was too late, and it all “went south.” But more Netflix, another doughnut, the newest video game, being the parent that is always in control, may have been more important than actually learning how to do such big, hard, adult things like being married, having a job, paying for your bills and saving for the future, or raising kids. So even though we may not say this out loud, often on a lower level of consciousness we live this out daily, thinking that if we stay in the dark, everything will work out okay. WRONG. We have to work hard at the things that are important to us. If we do not, we will lose those things, possibly forever. And the pain will be much worse than the work it would have taken to avoid the problems.

So don’t be ignorant, create your own bliss, and let the haters clean up their own mess in 5 years when they could have had so much better!

Matthew 25:23 (NIV)

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

 

Do you want to take more charge over your life? Do you want to not be the ignorantly blissful individual headed for a train wreck in life? If you want to create your own version of bliss then subscribe to my free course here!!!

5 Ways to Survive This “Unsurvivable” Life!

When everything goes wrong, how do you not lose your head (figuratively, or literally) and just get things figured out? I have a number of young people that I work with on a regular basis, and it seems that at the ripe old age of late teen and barely 20 something, they have multiple midlife crisis a day! Needless to say, the drama is a little hard to handle at times and goes so far as to begin affecting their status as employees. Does this sound like you or someone you know?

Life happens, and the question is how do you live through things like a wrecked car, a bad roommate, or seemingly more bills than money, and come out on the other end without being broken, mad at the world, or convinced you will never make it out of the ramen noodle and paper plate stage of life? Here are a few tips.

1. Take a deep breath! Seriously, you need to take a deep breath. Breath in deep through the nose. Breath out slowly through your mouth. If you are so stressed that you can’t even take a breath, then you either need to get some serious immediate help, or you need to figure out how to get rid of some problems, like, yesterday!

2. Ask yourself “What is the worst that could happen?” and it can help put things in perspective, and maybe even help you come up with some creative options for solving the problem. If you have a roommate that is not paying their share of rent, you need to ask yourself “What is the worst possible outcome of this situation?” Well, you could end up on the street having to live in your car. Okay, so now what are you going to do about it? You have several options here. Kick out your roommate and find a better one. Find another place to live before getting evicted. Continue to pay the rent yourself and let them ride on your hard work. Now it becomes very simple. You decide which outcome you want to have happen, and you do it. This approach can be taken to almost any situation; it helps you gain perspective, and understand that usually the worst is not as bad as you think, or if it is really bad, there are almost always choices that you can make to control the outcome. The hardest part about this is that once you have thought this through, you are now responsible for what happens.

3. Don’t take responsibility for anyone but you. Most often when I see young people who are in a bad situation, they are either not taking responsibility for their own actions, OR they are trying to take responsibility for someone else’s stupidity, i.e. a friend is stupid and wrecks their car because of bad driving, or loses their license because of a DUI, or is late for preparing for a test. People put their own job, class test results, or ability to pay rent at risk, to “help” someone who is “down.” These “friends” are not going to learn if you work your butt off trying to remove the consequences of their stupidity by trying to take the punishment for their actions. As a matter of fact, you are helping them stay irresponsible. So go to work yourself and they can get their own ride. Pay your own rent and kick them out, and study for your own test, instead of helping them with theirs that they should have started sooner. At the end of the day they will complain about the world if you help them, or complain about you if you don’t help them. So don’t sacrifice yourself to the god of their stupidity. Let them LEARN from their mistakes, just like you did!

4. Don’t make excuses. So often when someone comes to me and wants to tell me about something that they are going through and how they don’t know what to do, etc., all they are looking for is someone to complain to. Please don’t come and complain to me, unless you are looking for solutions, because I am going to offer them. And then the truth comes out: they enjoy the drama. You know how I know? Because when a solution is provided, or the complainer is asked to think critically about how the problem might be solved or resolved, they make 101 excuses as to why they are the exception to every method of solving their problem. It is almost as though, if they didn’t have problems to complain about they wouldn’t know what to do with their lives. If someone gives you solution, stop trying to make it not work, and start making it work. The number one roadblock to problem solving is the person not really wanting the problem solved.

5. Give yourself a break. You need to realize that where you are right now, is where you are right now. Allow yourself to have made a mistake. You know what? You have learned what not to do next time. Expecting to have all the answers is like expecting a baby to know how to walk and talk when they are born. We don’t expect those things, because we know they have not had the experiences that give them the information they need to know how to walk or talk. How is being an adult any different? If you have never been in a tough relationship before, how can you already know how to handle it? If you have never had to juggle a job and class and hobbies and friend time, don’t you think it would be normal to have some scheduling conflicts that you have to work through and figure out? If you are new to a job, should you have all the answers to every customer question your first day, week, or even month? Give yourself the grace to live life and learn as you go. As long as you ARE learning, then you don’t have to feel bad about what you don’t know.

These are my top 5 tips to survive the unsurvivable, and come out smarter on the other side. If you do these things, you will be so far ahead of everyone around you, it will look like they are going backwards! I believe in what you are capable of, now go believe in who God made you to be and live it!

 

If any of this sounds like you or someone you know, and you want information and methods on how to implement these and other behaviors to lower stress, and see the light at the end of the tunnel, then click here to subscribe to my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams!

Do You Know Why You Get up in the Morning?

Why do you live life? What drives you? Do you live just trying to make it to tomorrow? Do you live only thinking that if you make it to tomorrow maybe life will be better? Do you live in the past thinking that best has already come and gone and now life is misery until it ends?

These are questions that I think we have to ask ourselves if we ever intend to make real change in our lives, or have any real joy. Think about it. When someone becomes a Christian their focus changes to living a life of obedience to Christ and a hope of eternal life. When a great athlete such as Lou Gehrig, or recently Tom Brady, plays, they are playing from passion, either for the game, or for someone they care about. It drives them. When someone starts a new small business they put in a lot of effort and really pour their energy into it. If you were to talk to these people right after change took place, or while they were getting started, or while they were working hard at being the best, I would bet that you would see someone who gets up in the morning learning from the past to shape the future.

I have worked with hundreds of young people over the last few years, and want to share two examples. There is a young man I know of 28 who does not have plans for the future. When he comes to work, his life consists of trying to make enough money to pay bills. He is working for tips. This leads to stress and a great deal of job dissatisfaction that comes out almost daily. He gets upset about how much people underneath him make. He gets upset about how much other positions in his workplace make. He complains about the hours. And yet, he is not actively looking to change his position by leaving his current job and getting a different one that is a better fit, pays more, or just “appreciates him more,” like he claims to want. Why? Because he has trapped himself. He has a four year degree, workplace experience, and a great mind. But he won’t think bigger picture.

On the other end of the spectrum is a young man working at the same place, same pay, same workplace responsibilities. But he wants more out of life. He hasn’t even fully formulated what that looks like, but he knows that for anything to be different he has to want it first. To look for it. To seek what his different and better looks like. In the time I have known him he has gained control of his money, begun to resolve some relationship issues with his parents, and gained leadership experience that will help him for the rest of his life.

The difference between these two young men? Perspective. Purpose. Wanting something more. And, interestingly enough, you have to not be so self-centered that you don’t take care of yourself. The first young man is so focused on how he feels he is being wronged at work, that he is letting time and opportunity pass him by. The second young man is more focused on being his best self and helping others in a way that he will have unlimited opportunities open to him.

If you want a different life you need to think beyond the problems of today. You need to put something in front of you that you’re passionate about and meant to live for. When you do that, it’s a whole lot easier to get up early, to work hard, to stay focused, to say ‘no’ to distractions. You can be a lot more fulfilled and happy when you know that each day you get up is a day that matters. A day to help someone, a day to make yourself the best version of you yet, or a day to inch closer to a realized dream. When you’re just living to get through the day, it’s a sign of insecurity, dare I say selfishness, and an unwillingness to let go of your problems long enough to grasp something better. It may sound harsh, but often misery is self inflicted. Living for something that gives you purpose, looking to be better, makes the here and now matter more. It’s easier to be content when you know that life isn’t about surviving another moment. It’s about making your moments count. What are YOU living for?

 

If you want to begin the journey towards discovering your purpose, click here to take my FREE course, 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams.

Stress: Is it a Choice or a Circumstance?

Why do we stress? What is it that makes a person happy, or not? This is something I have been pondering over the last few weeks. Building off of observation from years of working with young people, middle aged people, people in careers, and adding in my own experience and studies, I’ve put together a few thoughts that have helped me with this issue.

I think at times the answer can seem complicated, but usually, it’s a simple, but difficult to admit answer: You are only a victim of circumstances you create. Let me explain. As I think back to something that happened to me a couple of years ago, being able to see things differently would not have changed the circumstance at the moment, but it would have had a great effect on how I viewed the world for the next few days, AND how easy I was to live with. What happened was that on my way to work at 6:00 a.m. I pulled to an empty three-way stop intersection, came to an almost complete stop, and then continued through the intersection. The instant I went through the intersection a police officer that had been hiding pulled me over, wrote me a ticket, and had no response when I asked if pulling me over was a matter of safety, or law. The next few days I was stressed, mad, unhappy and frustrated that I was the “victim” of a force being used to hide and catch people to generate revenue. I came up with all sorts of things in my head that I wished I could say to the officer, and stressed about how big the ticket would be, or how it would affect my insurance. Another area of stress was that I also worked for a company that pulled driving records annually, and had been hired by them only a few short months prior to this. I was not any fun to deal with for awhile.

The reality was that if I had been able to see out three months from that event, I would have been able to see that I still had a job, my insurance had not been affected, and even if it had, it was my responsibility since I made the decision to roll the stop sign, and life continued on. It did not end that early November morning when I got my first ticket.

The first key to being happier and less stressed is to take responsibility for your circumstances. By realizing that the things that happened to me were a result of my own actions, then I could make a choice to change things. I could have chosen not to roll the stop sign to start with. I could have chosen not to drive that road. After I got pulled over, I could have chosen simply to learn from the situation rather than get mad. At first, I tried to say that what happened to me was the policeman’s fault for pulling me over, the city for having those laws, or that I wished I could change things I couldn’t change. I ended up mad, stressed, and had a very negative effect on those around me until I saw what stressing over things I couldn’t change was doing.

This brings me to the second key. Change what you can. Let go of what you can’t. This is preached by hundreds of people; it’s not new news. It is hard to practice, though. If you aren’t willing to let go of the things you cannot control, you are affirming your commitment to being unhappy, and blaming your circumstances for your attitude. You are actually choosing to be stressed and unhappy. You are making the choice to allow others and their opinions, or your surroundings control you. Again, this is your choice. You may not be able to control if someone close to you passes away, or if your house gets flooded, or if someone thinks you will always be a failure.  What you can control is how you respond. You can choose to see yourself differently, the way God sees you! You can choose to look down the road to where you could be and make the choice to head there, and not stay where you are.

That is the third key: You have to see beyond. When you’re caught dealing with the bad day, the terrible boss, the speeding ticket, the broken down car, I would challenge you to look back and see how many tough things you have gone through that you thought in the moment that your life was at its worst, and you couldn’t figure out a solution for the life of you. And yet here you are on the other side of that situation! You have eaten, had a place to live, maybe even have had a friend or two along the way. If you look at things this way, it’s easier to think more clearly, and not be overwhelmed by the moment, day, or even week you are in right now. Life will always happen. What are you going to choose to do with it?

So you see, being happy is not about others treating you a certain way, or the job you are currently in. Lowering stress is not about your current circumstances suddenly vanishing and everything seeming to be fixed magically before your eyes. It is about you choosing to see life differently. Making choices that take you from where you don’t want to be, to where you do want to be. And remember, you have to be thankful for the people and things you experience. It is essential. It allows you to learn when it’s hard, to grow when there is a challenge, and to rest when you have achieved a goal. You have to be thankful. Which, interestingly enough, is also a choice you must make.

Be responsible. Change what you can. See beyond right now. It’s easier to see growth looking backwards than forwards. May God bless you as you seek to be more joyful and happy as one of His amazing creatures!

 

Do you want to be in charge of your circumstances? Do you want to stop being controlled by those around you? Do you want to learn how to change your own situation? Then click here to lower stress levels and gain control in simple daily steps!

Do You Really Want to be Disciplined?

Discipline. It’s one of those things we all claim to want, but at the end of the day, we end up reverting to our old habits. We end up falling short of our goals. What is the key to staying on task? Thinking bigger picture!

How do people get up at 5 or 6 every morning? Is it because they are just “morning people?” How does someone say no to sugar when they decide to eat better? Is it because they just no longer like sugar? How does someone stay with a project for months, or even years, continuing to work on it before they see results? Is it because they just have nothing else to do?

It can be easy to see someone succeeding at something and to simply say “Oh, they must have a special power, or something.” The truth is that they don’t have anything more than you do, except practice and a long-term picture.

So, how do you get from where you are today to that person who is disciplined, dedicated, and motivated? I will warn you that there is a fairly simple answer, but not an easy one, or one that is a magic pill where suddenly your brain never wants anything but success. It is a conscious effort that you have to make daily.

Becoming disciplined starts with recognizing that you always do what you want. If you sleep late, then what you really want to do is sleep more than getting up early. If you eat donuts instead of just nuts, then you really want the donut more than you want to be healthy. Unless you are willing to admit that you don’t do anything you don’t want to do, you won’t take responsibility and you will see yourself as a helpless victim. You will sabotage your own success because you will tell yourself “I really want to be healthy, but I just CAN’T resist this donut.” When you admit that you wanted the donut most, you can decide that you have control over what you want, and you can change it if you don’t like it. When you take responsibility, you give yourself power to be in charge. Now you can use that power. This is probably the hardest part of change which leads to success.

Discipline is simply a result of taking charge of your choices, and making the choices that give you what you really want. As I was working at building my morning routine and getting up early every day, I saw that if I didn’t have something specific that I was going to do when I got up, I struggled to get out of bed when I thought I wanted to, and some days I slept in. I had to decide the night before when I went to bed what specifically I was going to do when I got up the next morning. That way when I woke up I would tell myself, “If I get up and do this task, then I can go back to bed,” knowing that if I could get myself out of bed, and open my computer to write, or to read, that I would be winning the hardest part of the battle: getting out of bed. Not getting out of getting up by reasoning with myself why I needed more sleep. Then once I was up, I would rarely go back to bed. It wasn’t that hard to stay up, because I had already committed to an action and didn’t want to lose my progress.

The key to this equation is reminding yourself of what you are gaining by following through on the choice you have already made. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to do, and how that will make you feel versus how you feel when you fail. If you are trying to lose weight and find yourself tempted by ice cream, remind yourself of how you will feel tonight if you give in, even though you want to in that moment. How will you feel tomorrow, or next week, when you haven’t been able to meet your weight loss goal? Is having an ice cream cone now really worth the feeling of failure you’ll have when you look back on today? Think about the difference in cost; it’s just not worth it. It would be like taking $100 bribe from someone to lose a game so you can buy an Xbox, and not caring that it could ruin your career in sports.

Think beyond your current moment. That is what discipline is. It isn’t  some magical power that a chosen few have obtained. Discipline is making it through this moment by reminding yourself of what your actions will add up to if you do them for a week, a month, or a year, and basing your choices on that. If the choices you make today produce the only results you are allowed to experience for the next year, what choices would you make today? Would you work harder at your job? Would you make it a priority to work out today? Would you skip the burger and soda and instead save your money and eat at home? That’s discipline.

You have the power to choose. You are not a victim of your circumstances. What you do today creates your tomorrow. No one can tell you what kind of success your discipline can create. It’s up to you! Now what are you going to do about it?

 

Have you done some self-examination and found your discipline to be sorely lacking? Don’t beat yourself up about it – we all need help sometimes! But you can make tomorrow better than today. My FREE COURSE 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams can help you plan your day to accomplish those things you really want to be doing. Click here to start today!

Busy, or Purpose-Driven?

Is there a difference in being purpose-driven and being busy? How do we stay purpose-driven in all of the busyness of life? How do you manage the urgent so meaningless tasks don’t run your life?

Let me ask you a few questions. At the end of each day when you crash into your pillow, how do you remember your day? Do the words hectic, long, stressful or unfulfilling come to mind? Or do you look back with satisfaction and have feelings of accomplishment, purpose, achievement and (yes, even for you tough guys out there) love and joy as you drift off to sleep?

No one has a perfect day every day, but if we look back over the last few days, weeks, or even years, we see a pattern. When we wake up in the morning, is it another day to survive? Or is it another day to bring us closer to a goal we have and see what we can accomplish today?

Focusing your thoughts in the right direction isn’t always easy. There seems to be so many thought groups out there that they get mixed together like so many berries in a blender. But there are three general schools of thought that tend to drive us each day.

First is the survival mode, and that comes down to “What do I have to do today to cause myself the least amount of pain until the day is over?”

Second is the mindset that life is comprised of achieved goals. “I am not happy until I get there.” Usually this involves the “Once I reach this goal I will be happy” idea which almost anyone could argue will never be true. It’s an age-old concept that getting somewhere only makes you want to go somewhere else.

Third, that life is more about the journey than the destination. The best version of the third school of thought is “I am driven to be more, but am be content with the growth and blessings I have been experiencing.” Be careful, though! This group of thought can have its drawbacks if not properly used. It can become a twisted version of thought group one, except that now there is no drive to survive. Instead, it looks like “I don’t care if I survive today because life’s one big journey that won’t ever have an end.”

When I asked the questions at the beginning I wanted you to take a deep look into your motivations and decide for yourself how they are, or are not, helping you. You need to have a purpose for getting up in the morning, a reason for rolling out of bed when others are still in bed staring at the backs of their eyelids. At the same time though, if your goals consume you, then your driver will always be achieving something you don’t have, and that will lead to a great sense of dissatisfaction and resentment, even when you pursue your goals with the best of intentions. That will rob you of joy in your life. Life has to be a steady pace, a marathon of growth. You should be able to ask yourself every day “How did I make myself or someone else better today” and be content with the answer to that question. Being busy for its own sake, or feeling discontent at the end of each day because you survived without living is a quick way to spend a lifetime you can’t reclaim on things you will regret. Find a purpose. Enjoy the journey. Be someone’s good today.

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:10-13

I don’t think anyone could argue that Paul was not purpose-driven, or even that he did not stay busy. But what you also saw in him was an ability to be content and simultaneously make people better, while shooting for the goal of heaven and bringing people to Christ with the efforts of his life!

We should all seek to be driven by purpose, content to grow.

 

If you’re interested in how to find balance in life and how to live purposeful days, click here to sign up for my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams! Here you will learn how to be honest with yourself, how to manage your time, to set and achieve goals and more!

How Not to be a Stick in the Mud: 5 Ways to Restart Your Motivation

How do you stay motivated when things get tough? How do you get re-motivated when things seem to slow down and stop? Where do you find drive when you lose yours?

 

These are all great questions, and if we had the answers down perfectly no one would have any issues at all with successfully achieving dreams and goals in life. If you are looking for a magic pill, then you should stop reading here and spend your time on something that will fit your fantasy. I can, however, give you some tips that I have found helpful. Let’s face it, the hardest thing to do is to get started on something. Especially if we are afraid we might fail. Or, if we have spent a long time working on a project without reaching our goal, and the end seems so close, yet so far away. How many of us have reached a point in a project where we stagnate? We either run out of energy, resources, inspiration, motivation, or perspective/vision.

 

So what are the keys to keep us going? Well, let’s dive in. I warn you, though, that it will require a good deal of mental work and commitment. Those are the first two keys, but they play themselves out in several ways.

 

Why? This is the top of the list. You have to ask yourself this question a lot. Why does it matter if I complete this project? Why does it matter if I get up early, or complete this paper, or any number of other things? This should be used to help you gain perspective and get a big picture view. If your why for writing a paper and turning it in on time is to get a good grade, it may not be a big enough reason to push you into getting it done. Go bigger. Why are you in school in the first place? Why do you work for this company? If you are here just to exist, then you will have little to no motivation of any kind. If you can’t remember why you are doing something, take some time to rediscover your why, or to find one! Always know your why.

 

How far have you come? This is hard for a lot of people. It’s hard for me. If you look ahead at what you have left to do to achieve your why, your goal, your end result, it can be discouraging. Seeing things you have never done before can be scary or intimidating. On the other hand, if you look back at how far you have come, at all the things you did for the first time and either succeeded at or learned from, you will realize that, in fact, you are AWESOME!! If you are discouraged about where you are, you have already made progress. At the very least, you have recognized the need for change. And this is the first step toward achieving success in whatever version it comes for you!

 

Who are you accountable to? Do you have someone who will help you when you need it, who will encourage you when you’re down, who will kick you in the seat of your pants when you’re lazy? We all have those times when we need someone outside of our situation who can help us regain our perspective. This person is the kind of person who is there because it matters to them what happens to us. They are vested in our success. This person can come in many forms; it can be a spouse, a good friend, a paid coach or mentor. It must, however, be someone who will be able to objectively encourage you, teach you, push you, and celebrate success with you. It is very hard to do everything by yourself. It’s so important to have someone who will be there when you are worn out and all the people around you, or your “friends” are not supporting your growth toward something better. In the coaching and professional world this role is typically referred to as an accountability partner. Call it what you like, but find one. This is probably one of the most important parts of success when trying to complete anything significant.

 

What is holding you back? Figure this out. What is getting you down? Are you making a big deal out of something in your head because it’s a new experience? Are you not sure what your next steps are? Are you afraid of what people will think if you complete your project or don’t meet someone else’s expectations of your life? I can say from experience that most roadblocks are mental. I am not in any way saying that they are not real to you. I have had many mental roadblocks. I refer to them as “mental monsters.” My mental monsters usually involve something I am not sure how to do, so I put it off, and then it grows. It goes from something that I don’t know how to do to something I now feel guilty about how I’m letting it hold me back. It literally becomes bigger in my mind than it actually is. It becomes a mental MONSTER! The obvious thing for me to say here is that the best ammo against these monsters is to do just do the thing that is stopping you. If that were easy, though, we wouldn’t have this paragraph in this article. So what do you do with those monsters? You eradicate them from your life by just doing it. But let me help you cheat a little. It doesn’t mean you failed if you have to get help. I get help to complete things all the time! Between my coach and my wife, who works as my right hand, I get a lot of help for things that are difficult, or that are not in my skillset. Henry Ford didn’t become the success he was by building every car himself. The Wright brothers used a lot of ideas and research from others while trying to solve the problem of flight. Presidents of companies have boards of advisors. That should tell you something about success. It is okay to get help and to use the resources around you. Give yourself a break, and kill your monsters. Last but not least, ignore what others think. If you have already determined that what you are doing is your path, and that it aligns with your values and what you want to achieve, you can’t help what others will think. There will always be people who will tell you you’re wrong. Always. If you are a failure, people will tell you. If you’re a success, people will be jealous. So ignore the naysayers and be successful. The only time you should listen is if they have something truly helpful,  caring, or constructive to say.

 

Where is all this getting you? This is kind of tied into your why. Why are you doing what you’re doing? But in addition you need to ask yourself what you are gaining. If you are looking to have “made it,” you may never arrive. Success is a very subjective term and only in rare cases is it a destination. Usually it’s a journey. Think about it; how many wealthy people stop working the moment that are financially set? How many actors stop acting once they have been in one big movie? How many authors stop writing as soon as they get a bestseller? Most of us would consider people like this successful. But did they arrive, or have they created a lifestyle? Stop and consider if what you are doing right now is going to get you something better in the future. Are the hours you are putting into school, work, a relationship going to benefit you or anyone else eventually? Or is the stress, overtime, hard classes, tough issues in a relationship, indefinite, in the hopes that if you do it long enough you will somehow arrive at the city of “Made It.” You shouldn’t be afraid to make huge investments in things that mean something, but only if there is an end in mind. If you spend all your time not loving your life, then there is no point. Ask yourself what will change for you in the future. This is really just a smaller picture of your why. That good grade on your paper may help you get a scholarship to help pay for school. Your why is the reason you’re going to school, but things that you do may gain you benefit or advantage as you go.

 

These concepts can be a lot to put into practice, but remember this. If you are having trouble getting up in the morning, seeing the point in giving life everything you have, or finding the motivation to finish what you have started, you are not the only, nor the first person. The fact that it matters to you whether or not you are stuck or moving forward puts you way ahead of the crowd, and if you ask yourself these questions, chances are that you will find some answers to help you. What is critical is that you don’t stay stuck. You are capable of much more than you realize. Own your progress! Do something! Be better!

 

Are you ready to reignite your passion? Find your motivation, again? Click here to take my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams!

Contentment or Complacency?

Is it possible to be content and want more? Does it make you greedy to be driven and desire to gain more out of life? Too often we think that contentment excludes drive, or we mistake complacency for contentment, and being driven for being greedy. We think that somehow if we want to be more than we are, or have more than we do, that we are selfish, greedy, materialistic, or arrogant. Often we use the excuse of not wanting to think too much of ourselves to get out of growing and to remain complacent, stagnant, and just generally lazy and drifting.

It is easier to criticize someone who has accomplished something and label them than it is to actually challenge ourselves to achieve something better.

Here is something to consider. It is generally thought that if you are driven you are greedy. And if you are greedy, you can’t be humble and are therefore a snob labeled as only out for themselves. Greed is greed. Drive is drive. Someone who is driven but not greedy can actually show great humility. Here is how: If they are always striving to be more, they have recognized that they have more to offer people, more to give, more to be, and they are dedicated to the pursuit of being that better person. They realize that they have been given a greatness that they are responsible for developing. Some people look at this idea of having greatness as being stuck up, but I feel that if someone can understand that they are made for more than they are right now, and that life is not about them keeping everything for themselves, but rather to be more so they can be more for others, that sounds like a very not stuck up person to me.

I try every day to be content. That is, to know and be comfortable with who I am. It is being comfortable with who I am that allows me to be more. You see, if I am not comfortable in my own skin, I will spend my life trying to make others happy. The problem with this? I will never be good at being them and achieving the things they think are the most important. And vice versa. I shouldn’t try to achieve all their goals. They shouldn’t try to achieve my goals. So I should be content being me, and that will allow me to be comfortable making myself a better version of who I am. So you see, being content isn’t mutually exclusive to wanting more, and wanting more does not make you a self-centered arrogant person with no regard for others. Quite the opposite may be true.

We should all want to be more, and when we see others who have achieved greatness, instead of ridiculing them out of jealousy, why not be inspired by them? Usually when we find fault with someone who is successful, it can be traced to wanting what they have, but not wanting to work for it. It’s easy to shrug off what you want and don’t have and label the person who has it as too ambitious or greedy. Wouldn’t it be better if we spent time trying to find our own greatness? You can have things that other people have, but you have to be willing to work for it. This starts with knowing that you don’t have to try to be them, or to be someone else that you’re not. Next, you need to be okay with saying “I have awesome in me, and I want to bring it out.” That statement is neither selfish nor arrogant. Then, you have to recognize that who you are is good (contentment), and being okay with that, you can work at making your talent a skill, a habit, or a tool (drive).

There is a vicious cycle that happens that tends to kill the whole ‘being better’ thing. It starts with our fictional character Marvin. Marvin grows up in a house being told he can have or be anything he puts his mind to. As Marvin gets older he works hard and sometimes gets the things he wants, and sometimes doesn’t. When he sees his friend down the street get a new car from his parents, he decides that he wants one too, but knowing his parents can’t afford it, he gets a summer job saving every penny he earns. For awhile. Then it begins to get hard. There are other smaller items to buy that he has money for. His motivation begins to fade, and not many people are around to help motivate him. His friend is already driving the dream car. Marvin’s parents tell him it is good for him to value what he gets so he should keep working. But no one helps him set up a timeline, game plan, or any other milestone for that matter. Then the point is reached where he is either inspired by something to finish, or he gives up. If he doesn’t reach his goal, he is left if not properly encouraged or coached to reach one of two conclusions: 1) he failed and is a failure, which doesn’t help his self worth at all, or 2) he reasons in his head that somehow he was cheated, and that it isn’t fair that the other kid got the car with apparently no effort. Rarely would someone at this point say to themselves “Cheerio, better luck next time.” On the other hand, in the scenario where he gets the car, he becomes the target of criticism from people jealous or insecure. Often in the first circumstance the idea of resentment begins to form, and out of seemingly nowhere, the idea begins that those with things that we have not been able to achieve either cheated, rode on the backs of others, or brown-nosed their way to the top. The reality is that most of the time this isn’t even close to being true. It takes hard work to achieve success, and even if you inherit success in the form of a family business, or fortune of some sort, it still takes work to maintain it. In the second circumstance, the path of success can become hard and lonely and may make young people who have succeeded in an area belittle their own achievements in an attempt to regain the approval of less successful peers.

To have more you have to expand your thinking to include more. You have to be open to contentment going hand in hand with improvement and drive. You have to know the difference between greed and motivation. And you have to understand that sharing success is not arrogance. It is inspiration. To be humble is not to resign yourself to mediocrity, but rather to recognize your potential for more, and be prepared to grow where needed.

With all of this out there, do yourself a favor. Be okay with being you. Be okay with becoming awesome. Share your success. Encourage and be inspired! Don’t be jealous, or hold grudges against success. Find someone who has become what you want to become, and do what they did. You can’t control what people think of you. It’s up to them if they choose to be inspired by your achievements, or choose to be jealous of what you have accomplished. Continue to share so that those needing a beacon of hope can see that light, and swim out of the ocean of mediocrity. Own it! Do it! Be Better!

Do you want to be more comfortable in your own skin? Do you want to have tools to be more? Do you want to learn more about yourself to better prepare for your future? Then subscribe here to take my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams.

Investing in Yourself: Why You Owe it to Others to be a Little Selfish

Investing in yourself is essential to success. Taking time to do the things that you need and want to do is often viewed as selfishness, but it can become the deciding difference between mediocrity and prosperity.

If I am not careful, I will start sounding like a cheesy self-help author looking for another sale, hyping you up about yourself, only for you to drop off the artificial high with no long-lasting life change. That model doesn’t work. It’s based more on emotion than improvement and measurable success. On making you feel better rather than driving you to BE better.

Instead, I’m here to talk about real self investment. The kind that you make when you pay for a membership at a gym, or when you pay for budgeting help, or pay for personal coaching. It’s the investment that says “I want something different than I have, and I am willing to put in my time, money, AND energy to achieve it.” There are two things that drive people to make these kinds of investments: guilt and a sense of self-worth. The ones who feel guilty are the ones who invest in themselves because they think that if they achieve a certain goal, then they will have value. The ones who invest because they already believe themselves to have self-worth are the ones who say “I am worth this time, money, and energy.” Who do you think gets better results? And who do you think is going to get burnt out sooner?

Think about the people you know. What ones are more attractive to you? More than likely, the ones who are comfortable in their own skin, who aren’t comparing themselves to others standards of measurement, but seem driven for more. These people have little room for jealousy, but instead choose to be inspired by the success of others. Now think about someone you know who spends time on themselves to create a sense of self-worth. Are they afraid of what people think of them? Are they secure or insecure? Do they stick with activities if they don’t see a change in how people view them? Do they get negative if they don’t feel better about themselves?

Then there’s a third group of people. The ones who don’t invest in themselves. There are a lot of those out there, and, at risk of being too general, this high percentage of the population rarely accomplishes anything notable. Talent isn’t worth anything unless it is practiced and used. Someone like that may have huge amounts of talent and achieve small amounts of success, but they have no work ethic; they will not amount to anything.

One last concept before I tie everything together. If you are going to bring water to, say, your dog, you can’t pour water into his bowl from an empty pitcher, right? You have to fill the pitcher at the sink, and then fill up the water dish. People are the same way. You can’t give anyone what you don’t have. Do you want to be known as someone who is outgoing, has energy, is generous with your time efforts, or even your money? Then you first have to have those things. Have you ever felt tired and drained at the end of a day? You are just that. Drained. You gave all day and didn’t get filled back up. In order to give like you want, you have to first put those things into yourself.

You have to believe that you cannot give what you don’t have. And you can’t achieve results where you haven’t put in effort. Successful athletes, business owners, entrepreneurs, all have one thing in common. They have spent time, money, and effort getting coaches, marketers, or business analysts to “pour” into their efforts, and have brought out the success that we see on the news, at sporting events, or while buying their products and wishing we had their success. If you want it, you have to invest in it. Which means investing in yourself first. Think about it. We invest in better clubs to play better golf, we invest in better funds to have a better retirement, in a better car to get more use or enjoyment out of it. We invest in our kids, or our spouse, or our work, or our career. Don’t you think it would be okay if you spent some time investing in yourself? Don’t you think you kids and spouse would gain from you being a better version of yourself? Or your job from you being more relaxed and confident? You will thank yourself if you take the time to put back into you the things you want to give to others. You owe it to yourself and everyone around you to become the best possible version of you! And just watch, you will achieve far beyond any limits you think are holding you back!!

 

 

If you are interested the ideas presented here and want to get started making a better you, take advantage of my  Free 14 day course to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams by following this link: http://stephenandrewcoaching.com/free-course/

 

Knowing What You Have to Offer: Why Companies Will Hire You if You Tell Them What You’re Bad At.

Do you want to know a secret? Well, here is a secret about people interviewing you: we want to know how much you know about yourself.

I have interviewed hundreds of people for lots of different jobs. One thing that is important is for you to know what you are doing with your life, and what you are going to add to the team. But believe it or not, I would also love it if you told me what you were not good at! Really! Most people know how to brag about themselves, or how to tell an interviewer all about the best things that they have to offer. But additionally, an employer would be thrilled to know what they can help you with, or what kinds of things you are not good at for a few reasons. One is that if you do not tell them about something that is a problem and they find out later, it doesn’t do a lot for the work relationship. It’s hard to recover from a loss of trust. Two is that someone who knows their weaknesses is someone who is self-aware. They know their limits, and this usually means they will either find ways to work around them, or they will communicate better when they are having difficulty. Third, someone who can admit that they have a weakness is most likely someone who will be easy to manage.

Honesty and integrity are things that have been put on the back burner in people’s desire to promote themselves. I am not advocating telling a potential employer why you think that you’re a bad idea to hire. What I am advocating is transparency. If you have trouble getting up in the morning, I would rather you tell me that in an interview or very early on, than have to write you up for being late. Being honest will ultimately result in win/win situations. The employer knows what they are getting, and you are more likely to get the support you need.

You will find that the most successful people know their limitations. Success isn’t based on being able to do everything perfectly, it is based on being able to use the resources within your reach to achieve things. In order for people to be willing to help you, they have to trust you. Something that you can do to be more aware of yourself is to find several people that you really trust and ask them to give you a list of what your strengths are. And then to also give you a list of your weaknesses. Knowing is half the battle, as they say. If you want to increase your strengths, then you can look at your list of weaknesses and begin to work on these areas of opportunity. A word of warning though, you will rarely turn a weakness into a forte. Your time is almost always best spent finding solutions to your areas of opportunity, than spending all your time trying to reverse your natural tendencies. You have talents. Be awesome at those, and be aware of your opportunities!

If you do this, you will dramatically increase the success of the interviews you have! It will make you a more attractive candidate to a potential employer, and it will help you win in the long run. If you can identify your weaknesses, then you actually are in a stronger position. Someone who doesn’t know what to watch out for is much more likely to fall into the pit of their own shortcomings. Be aware, be honest, and you will increase your chances of getting a job you enjoy!! Good luck!!

 

If you are interested in being better at knowing your strengths and areas of opportunity, or just want to get to your goals more quickly take my FREE course 14 days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams at the following link: http://stephenandrewcoaching.com/free-course/ Here you will learn how to be honest with yourself, how to manage your time, to set and achieve goals and more!