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Here’s A Great Strategic Plan for Overcoming Any Challenge

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Human beings are pleasure-seeking, change-avoiding creatures of habit.

Our minds are geared toward taking path of least resistance; i.e., the easy way. There is a lot of logic and good sense in that. However, life is full of challenges and hard stuff you just gotta do. It is unequivocally impossible to avoid challenges, and it would be remiss of us to try.

Challenge is vital for personal growth; because all the magic happens just outside your comfort zone; because the achievement experienced is proportionate to the challenge surmounted.

There is a general awareness and acceptance of the idea that pushing through challenges makes us stronger, smarter, more evolved and skilled individuals. But we really struggle to embrace challenge with open arms and to mentally push ourselves through the hard times. It is an absolute truism that the only real barrier is the one that exists in your mind.

We are all limited by our mental baggage; fear, doubt, all the useless unhelpful beliefs we carry with us into our future that limits our potential. Those, my friends, are our Mind Monkeys.  And its time to get those nasty little blighters off our backs, and out of our heads.

The greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world.” –  Roger Williams

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am a coaching psychologist and corporate trainer, I am passionate about my career and I am good at it. But for many years I had an internal ‘I hate sales’ mantra going on, and this limited my ability to achieve my professional goal of enriching as many lives as I could.

Because lets face it, without an ability to create business relationships and sell yourself and your services, you severely hobble your chance of succeeding professionally.

So I recognised that I needed to beat that monkey and master the consultative sales process. Here is a strategic plan of how I did it, and you can do it too.

 

1. Look your monkey in the eye

As any Psychologist will tell you, insight is an imperative precursor to change. After all, we cannot change what we do not accept. It is therefore a fundamental necessity that we do as Sun Tzu said in the Art of War, and ‘Know thy self, know thy enemy’. Spend some time in reflection on the following points and get to know your monkey well.

  • What is the focus of your challenging situation? Define the mental challenge you’re in. Is it sales, dealing with confrontation, staying committed, saying No? Name that monkey!
  • Why exactly is this situation challenging? This is about identifying the emotions and expectations that are linked with the challenge. Generally it comes down to the specific fears and doubts we hold due to our old thinking patterns. Dig deep and be honest.
  • How does this challenge affect you? Fear and doubt unmanaged result in avoidance, otherwise known as procrastination! So identify how this avoidance and procrastination affects the outcomes you get.

 

challenges-are-really-just-a-test-to-see-how-much-you-deserve-success-challenge-quote
 

2. Create your monkey-beating strategic plan

Once you know your monkey, you can start to develop a plan that moves you forward. This plan helps you to stay focused on why working through the challenge is important to you and exactly what you need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in order to set yourself on a failsafe path of accomplishment. It also identifies the resources and implementation strategies needed, and the accountability measures needed to stay on track.

  • Objectives & timeframe. Keep in mind that the focus of this plan is overcoming a challenge and a psychological barrier; getting the monkey off your back so to speak. So the objectives should reflect that. It should be about personal growth rather than material gain.
  • Action plan. The action plan is a breakdown of exactly what you are going to do on a regular basis in order to achieve the objective. Jeff Olson used the term ‘simple daily disciplines’ in his book The Slight Edge, and explained that the difference between great success and massive failure lies not in one-off monumental events, but in the tiny almost insignificant decisions and behaviours we engage in on a daily basis and which compound over time. You need to identify two elements in  your action plan:
  • Skill development. What are the practical abilities and skills you need to improve that are relevant to your challenge?
    • Thinking & Emotions. What are the thinking and emotional strategies you will employ in order to overcome the fear and doubt associated with your challenge?

 

3. Apply the plan diligently

Of course, even the best laid plan is only as good as the action that follows it. So the final phase is to ensure you get yourself in a steady rhythm of daily action.

  • Mindset. Adopt a mindset of diligence and discipline. ‘I do it til its done’. Stop stuffing around and procrastinating, and fully commit to the goal. Do the work, and you will overcome the challenge. Tell yourself to do it, and don’t move on to the easy stuff until the daily task is done.
  • Routine. Know exactly when and where you will be enacting your plan. Remember we are creatures of habit, so making the tasks a part of your normal routine makes it so much easier to follow through with and dramatically increases your chance of success.
  • Accountability.  The difficulty with working on personal goals is that we are often not accountable to anyone. So overcome this by setting up a tracking method that records the tasks achieved on a daily basis and marks your progress over time.

 

Many years ago I decided to move into a training role specifically because I had quite a fear of public speaking. I recognised speaking as such a useful and versatile skill that I thought it was worth mastering. So I took on a training role (before I really had the confidence to do it!), and had about six months of uncomfortableness and self-doubt while riding a really steep learning curve.

And then I got to the other side. Presenting and training is now a strength, and something I highly enjoy. My boss and mentor had a wonderful phrase – she called it Immersion Therapy. You simply keep doing it until hard becomes easy. So if you want to take control of your life, if you want to be free of your mind monkeys, that’s all you gotta do. Just keep at it until hard becomes easy.

It takes a strong person to put themselves in the way of challenge. But it is in surmounting the challenge that we find the benefits gained vastly outweigh perils undertaken.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all” – Meg Cabot 

So go out there and face your monkeys; you might just find they’re not that scary after all.

 

Dr Vanessa Thiele is a coaching psychologist and corporate trainer at Action Potential Group. Driven by a burning desire to enable people to realize their full potential, she has dedicated herself to studying and training facilitation in the areas of self-development, success and leadership. She is a mum of two, a writer, speaker, and a former personal trainer and martial arts instructor, who would probably like to be a stand-up comedian in her next life. - Check out her site.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Divya

    Mar 26, 2015 at 10:14 am

    A brilliant and motivating article….I am very thankful for the article…reading it made me think of the things where we commit mistakes with these mind monkeys and fears….m gonna try des strategies….

  2. Absolutely Tara

    Mar 20, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Great advice. I kept laughing whenever you mentioned the Monkey phase we were in. I don’t know why, but referencing the challenge as a monkey made it good. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ernie A

    Mar 18, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    “Challenge is vital for personal growth; because all the magic happens just outside your comfort zone; because the achievement experienced is proportionate to the challenge surmounted.”

    Beautiful! We are all influenced to think challenges are a bad thing.. yet, overcoming them is the essence of growth and ultimately, life.

  4. Monday Motivator

    Mar 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Hey Vanessa –

    Great article. Thanks for the quote from The Slight Edge, I’m going to have to check it out. I wrote recently on a similar theme and the ‘simple daily disciplines’ rings so true!

    Appreciate it,

    Rich

  5. Ruslan Barabolkin

    Mar 15, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Vanessa,

    Excellent post! I found myself dealing with these ‘monkeys’ often.

    Thank you for laying out the plan on how to overcome. Took some great notes as I was reading and am writing out my own plan today to follow diligently.

    Thanks,

    Ruslan

  6. saidesh

    Mar 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    nice helpful..

  7. Dan Western

    Mar 13, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    This is awesome Vanessa!

    Love those subheadings and the bullets you’ve used to break them down.

    All about having the courage and the strength to overcome those challenges!

    Thanks,

    Dan

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Success Advice

2 Ways To End Suffering Forever.

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This year I have learned so much. I’ve learned that we all suffer no matter what. No one can avoid it. That’s not what I want to share with you though. What I want to tell you is that you have the power to end suffering.

I have proven it in my own life. We don’t need to suffer. We can end it all and the silly thing is it’s so simple. I do not want you to avoid this advice any longer. I want you to use it even if you think it’s a load of mumbo-jumbo.

Here are the two ways I’ve found to end suffering forever:

 

1. Find a way to give to other people.

You only suffer when life is all about you and your success. Once you move from being all about you, into a state of mind that is focused on giving, your problems become insignificant.

I had a couple of situations this year that have nearly knocked me flat on my ass. One was my romantic life falling to pieces and the other was my career collapsing. When both these events occurred, I used giving to other people as the way out of the maze that my mind created.

The moment suffering begun, I went straight to finding ways to serve other people. I helped friends with their businesses, I spoke at events to inspire people, I did some volunteering and I doubled down on my blogging so I could inspire as many people as possible.

Shifting the focus away from what was wrong and using my focus to give to others ended the suffering.

“There wasn’t time to suffer because the purpose of my life during those months was far bigger than me and my stupid life challenges. Giving to others gave me a way to find happiness when I probably would have hidden away and suffered in silence”

Seeing the solutions to other people’s problems and sharing them, gave me a way to put my career and relationships into perspective.

Giving is the example you need when times get tough and things get complicated. You suffer the most when you get stuck in your head and repeat the pattern of telling yourself how wrong your circumstances are.

Suffering can make you depressed, feel lonely, become selfish, go into a downward spiral and take away everything that’s good in your life.

Finding ways to give on the other hand, can cure all of those problems. I know it sounds so cliché what I’m saying but it surprises me how many people never use this strategy. Like I always say: the answers we seek are right in front of our nose.

Next time you feel yourself suffering, get out of your head and try this strategy.

 

 

2. Practice gratitude.

Okay, I thought this strategy was so dumb when I discovered it. It’s so obvious and it sounds way too easy. I mean how can writing down a few things you’re grateful for really end your suffering?

I mean you could lie to yourself and pretend that you’re grateful for something when you’re not. Well, that’s exactly what I did at the beginning. When I was suffering this year, I started writing down three things each day that I was grateful for.

In the first week, I lied about things I was grateful for and found the exercise completely ridiculous. This advice is so common that I decided to persist with this ridiculous self-help hack anyway.

What I found as I kept doing it was that your brain makes a shift subconsciously. Instead of being pissed off and suffering, your brain has to work extra hard to find three things every day to be grateful for.

To make this habit work even better I forced my brain to describe in detail each thing I was grateful for and ideally why. Some days sucked so bad that I thought I would never find three things. Once the challenge became a must, I spent my days working my butt off trying to find things I was grateful for.

While doing various activities during the day, I’d find moments when I was grateful for something and stop. I’d stop and see how I felt at that moment and I would have a mini celebration because I knew I had something for my gratitude list.

Then I tried to aim for five things each day instead of three. This shifted my focus even more. I should have been suffering but because I was forcing myself to see good things that were happening to me, I was distracted.

As I said earlier, this new habit seemed so dumb at the beginning. Once you really do it for a while, you see how it has the power to end suffering. You can’t be pissed off and be grateful at the same time. So, choose gratitude and then your suffering will be sidelined, and in my case, forgotten about.

 

***Life doesn’t need to be full of low points***

The suffering that we all experience is a choice. It probably doesn’t seem like that but these two hacks will demonstrate this to you. Your decision-making power is incredible and all you need to do is select one of these hacks to end suffering.

Don’t let the quality of your life be jeopardized by your default human mode to suffer. You’ll find these two hacks will not only end your suffering; these two hacks will give you purpose.

Here’s what I learned: most people are pissed off and suffer because they have no purpose. Once you find a purpose for your life, you’ll become addicted.

Now that’s a huge win don’t you think? You can end suffering and find purpose, all by using these two hacks. That’s the best gift I can give you.

Don’t just read this advice. Try these two hacks yourself.

It’s time to end suffering forever.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

7 Steps to Conquering the Fears That Are Holding You Back From Success

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I remember the day in vivid detail. I was on a weekend trip visiting my girlfriend at the time in Arizona. She had decided that we should join her friends to go “cliff jumping.”  We were early on in our dating and she obviously had no idea that I was not fond of heights. So “cliffs” and jumping off of them… No thanks!

I inevitably found myself on the edge of a 40-foot cliff peering down at a vast blue canvas of water. Then I realized if I didn’t jump, I’d have to start the walk of shame back down the cliff. This was a lose-lose situation for me.

Fear had me. I didn’t want to jump, but I also didn’t want to look bad in front of my girlfriend’s friends. So I jumped and in that moment, I had defied my brain and my neurochemistry.

Our brains are wired to protect us, not to push us towards our goals. Our brains are wired to look for anything that could be potentially dangerous or threatening and keep us as far away from it as possible by using fear. The problem is not all situations warrant fear.

There is a saying in neuroscience that says, “the brain wires the way it fires”, meaning the more you do a certain activity, the more the brain lays down wiring to make that action or activity easier.

‘Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.’ – Karl Augustus Menninger

When we let fear keep us stagnant and we continue to do the same things that are comfortable, our brain gets “hardwired” to stay comfortable. We become “stagnant.” This can become debilitating for some of us and prevent us from encountering the very experiences we need to grow and succeed.

When we, in spite of our fear, do the challenging things that are outside our comfort zone, we begin to hardwire into our brain change, adaptability, creativity, growth, perspective, and happiness because we stretch the boundaries of our brain’s capabilities and force it to adapt rather than “playing it safe.”

An elite athlete didn’t make it where they are today by going into their training and never pushing past their comfort zone. They constantly pushed their limits of comfort to force their bodies and minds to grow to that of a top performer. The same principle applies to our brains. If we let fear dictate our actions in any area of our lives, it will stunt your growth in that area.

So what’s the first step? How do we go about conquering our fears whether it’s public speaking, starting a business, or launching the product or service? See below:

1. Journal Your Fears

Write down all the fears you have, big or small. Contrary to opinion “size does not matter.” Your brain still operates the same with all types of fear. The key is to first acknowledge what you are fearful about and bring it to light. Be as specific as possible.

2. Prioritize Your Fears

I then rank my fears from highest to lowest in terms of how often I think about this fear and/or how much it disrupts my life. You may find some fears combine into a broader category and that’s ok — we’ll get to that. So for now identify your biggest fear.

3. Support Your Belief in Yourself

I don’t mean just “believe in yourself.” What I mean is to build in support systems that will support your belief in yourself, so that when you start taking action, your support systems will solidify those new experiences and form deeper, more meaningful, and lasting beliefs in yourself.

It may look like building a list of affirmations that you say every morning or a meditation. Whatever it is, it needs to be uplifting and empowering you towards conquering your goals.

4. Take Action & Start Small

Look at your list and identify what your biggest fear is. That’s the beast we’re going to tackle long term, but for some that may seem like a big stretch at first. So instead, see what your 5th biggest fear is, and that’s where you’ll start.

What we will then do is build our way up and take a ride on the “Momentum Train.” Starting small with taking actions toward your lower priority fears and then building up helps your brain build momentum, which provides your brain with plenty of courage and motivation to tackle the #1 fear on your list.

‘Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.’ – Helen Keller

5. No Time Limit, Just Consistency

Most goals should be limited to a time domain. For the goal of tackling a fear, time can be a challenging factor to set. Some of these fears may have been unknowingly building up for decades without your knowledge. So I don’t recommend setting a time on when you are “going to conquer your fear.”

Instead set appointments to regularly meet and address your fear. If you’re fear is public speaking, then go to a local Toastmasters once a week. The more consistent you can be, the better.

6. Reframe and Reinforce

As you begin to address these fears, make sure you are reinforcing the experiences you have in a positive perspective. For instance, if you want to be less fearful of public speaking and decide to try out a local toastmasters group, your first time speaking to the group might feel like a train wreck, but when you look back on the situation you can acknowledge that that actually pushed past your fear and accomplished your goal.

7. Rinse and Repeat

This isn’t a quick fix. It may take some time. There’s always a new fear or challenge awaiting us. The key is to have systems like this in place to address those challenges properly rather than allowing ourselves to succumb to fear and derail our lives from their fullest potential.

How do you handle your fears? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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30 Straightforward Reminders to Help You Supercharge Your Life in 2018

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This time of year it’s easy to be overwhelmed by well-meaning advice. Everyone seems to have a solution to your procrastination or a remedy for your lack of motivation. Unfortunately, most advice is either too general or irrelevant because it doesn’t address your main concerns.

I’ve spent the last year trying to hone in on some of the best tips and tricks I’ve learned to stay ahead and maintain a positive mindset.

Here are 30 straightforward reminders and tips to help you supercharge your life in 2018:

1. Get the basics right. Take care of your body, your mind and your soul. Make a list of what you know is good for you and what you know is bad for you in each category. Consider ways to reduce the bad and increase the good.

2. Reduce distractions that sap your energy. When you’re planning big changes, it’s easy to get pulled into many different directions. You get excited about a certain idea which pulls you down the rabbit hole into numerous other directions. Focus on one thing at a time.

3. Make a new friend. Start a conversation with a stranger in the elevator. Compliment someone. Provide some positive reinforcement. Do something without expecting anything in return.

4. Smile more. Smiling takes less effort than frowning. It’s also scientifically proven to make you feel better even if you don’t necessarily feel like smiling.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you stimulate your immune system, increase your metabolism and improve your mood.

6. Do one push-up for every year old you are. Or do twice as many sit-ups for every year old you are. Making sure you work the muscles in different parts of your body stimulates hormone production and helps increase fat burning.

7. Find your intrinsic drivers. Intrinsic drivers are what inspire you based on internal motivation, rather than external motivation. Find something you think of as beautiful, peaceful, relaxing. Embrace it. Appreciate it. Try to understand why you like it

8. Speak to an old friend. Reach out in an email, a text, a phone call. Check in and just let them know you’re thinking about them.

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow T. Wilson

9. Invest in your health. Join a gym. Buy some type of sports equipment or clothing that is comfortable and that you enjoy being in. Consider joining a pick up sports team.

10. Study something that interests you. Buy a book about someone you admire. Pick a time period that you’re fascinated with. Make a point of becoming an expert on something that matters to you.

11. Teach someone something. Take a topic, any topic, and try to break it down into its component parts so that you can teach someone how to do it. The concentration and the effort it takes to teach someone something is often exactly the kind of effort that is required to truly understand it for yourself.

12. Delegate to someone. Find a task that needs to be done that you could do. Don’t do that task. Instead, look for someone you can ask to help you. Pay them or ask them for a favor. The key is to learn to delegate actions to others.

13. Meditate. Mindfulness and meditation are trending right now, but that’s not the reason you should consider adopting a meditation practice. The real reason is that meditation will help you focus on your key goals while cutting out the noise in the world around you.  

14. Learn to manage your personal finances. One of the biggest causes of stress that we as humans experience is the pressure to make money and control our finances. There are tons of free resources available online to help you learn about finances and help get your money in order.

15. Read more. No, I’m not talking about reading your Facebook News Feed. Read more books. Try to read a book a month, either fiction or nonfiction. At the beginning of the month choose a book and break down the number of pages. See how many you have to read a day to finish… then get started.

16. Cook at home at least 5 days a week. Cooking at home is cheap, easy and fun. You can hone skills in creativity and planning all at once, and it’s a great way to save money.

“My New Year’s resolution is to stick to a good workout plan that will keep me healthy and happy.” – James Lafferty

17. Sell someone. No, not into human bondage. Sell someone on an idea or a product. Learn to market yourself and your skills. Everyone sells as they move through life, but most of us are average salespeople.

18. Hone your principles. What principles define your life? What are your strongly held beliefs? Be honest with yourself and what principles you feel you must uphold.

19. Embrace the power of positive thought. Listen to positive audio tapes, surround yourself with positive people. Look at the positive side of life. Easier said than done, but truth be told one of the best ways to improve your mood is to look for sources of positive mood and inspiration.

20. Practice willpower. Habits are formed over time. Willpower is one of the most important habits you will ever build, so it is integral you continue to practice it through all aspects of your life. Look to the stoic philosophers for a primer on how to tackle this.

21. Write better hooks. A hook is the bit of a song that catches a listener’s attention and repeats your core message in an intriguing way. Similarly, in writing a hook is the quirky or fascinating intro that makes readers want to continue to read. Think about your own hooks and how you can get people interested in what you have to say.

22. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We often become obsessed with daily minutiae and avoid thinking about the big picture. Don’t let yourself worry too much about the small day-to-day struggles. Instead, put your head down and get to work.

23. Don’t overthink the big stuff. Too often we avoid taking leaps of faith because we’re worried about making a mistake on something big. We don’t buy the new house. We avoid marrying the person we love. We put off going to the doctor for that regular scan. Try not to overthink the big decisions (or seemingly small decisions) that may have larger ramifications. If it’s not overly dangerous or illegal, take the plunge and go for it.

24. Learn a new word a day. Increasing your vocabulary helps you see the world in different ways and makes you rethink your core beliefs.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” – Richard Branson

25. Become a moderate. Extremists are divisive and often at odds with a large portion of the population. Look for ways to bring people together through collaboration and consensus rather than through division.

26. Think big(ger). Many self-help books talk about setting big goals or envisioning massive success in your lifetime. If you want to become a true leader and attain greater fulfillment. Look for ways to think beyond creating success in your lifetime. Think about the legacy you’ll leave for future generations.

27. Learn universal processes. Assess how you work best and find ways to carry standardized processes over into other aspects of your life.

28. Develop support structures. What do you do if things aren’t going according to plan? Do you reach out to friends for support, meditate on the problem alone, or use some mixture of different coping mechanisms? Be aware of what works for you, and what doesn’t.

29. Don’t compare yourself to others. We fall into this trap far too often. We use others as a benchmark for our own progress, but we must remember that it is unhealthy to put too much weight on comparisons, as everyone has their own background and their own perspective.

30. Know when to let go. At the end of the day, you must try your best and let the cards fall as they may. All you can do is put your heart and soul into your effort and learn from the results.

Which one of these things are you going to implement into your life immediately? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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5 Things Generation Z Needs to Know in Order to Succeed

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If you were born from 1995 through 2012, you are part of a special demographic—Generation Z. Congratulations! You are a very important person. First, you make up the largest percentage of the US population at 25.9 percent. Second, you’re an iGeneration kid, which means people like you write product reviews, click web ads, and build online businesses. In short, you run the Internet show.

Finally, you contribute $44 billion to the American economy. You have great potential, but your Internet addiction and reckless behavior are your biggest roadblocks to success. How do you limit the time you spend on Snapchat, focus on building a career, and break through the bars that block your way to success?

Try these five hacks for success:

1. Have a bold vision

Your life is your business. If you’re serious about making it profitable, you’ve got to have a bold vision and work tirelessly to achieve it. Start by redefining yourself. Just because you grew up with Snapchat and YouTube, doesn’t mean you have to use them carelessly. Of course, you can watch the dancing cats on YouTube, but you’ll have to find time for that.

Be a doer, not a chatter, watcher, or browser. Great visionaries are doers, not chatters. If you want success, examine your purpose in life, just like a CEO spends time crafting his company’s mission, then start doing.

Create your vision. Once you make sense of your goal in life, you can set a vision so high that it scares you. Finally, keep working—not chatting—to realize your vision.

2. Never dilute your vision

When I was in high school, I always had the highest grades in my class. However, a new student came to my school, and she began to outshine me in class, answering every question and making me look dumb. One night, I told my mom that I had disappointed her.

I told her that I had new competition, and didn’t have the intellectual capability to face the new girl in the arena. My mom’s response? She laughed out loud before saying anything. She then reminded me, “You told me, remember, that you’ll always be the top student. Why let this girl, a stranger that I believe is no match for you, change your mind?”

Those few words changed my mindset completely. I ended up taking the first position for that year. The moral of the story? Never dilute your vision. It’s scary to face competitors or naysayers who laugh at your idea, but bear in mind that all masters were laughed at before they were revered.

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.” – James Broughton

3. Win big with small tasks

How do you keep winning and moving closer to realizing your vision? You win the small tasks. I get it, you truly want to create your own app making you the next success story in your industry. In addition, you want to start blogging and profit in the gig economy.  

However, accomplishing these things, all of them, is not possible. They are bigger projects that you can’t accomplish all at once. What is possible is to pick only one thing and work fiercely on it. Deconstruct the dream job.

If you have decided to become a successful blogger, break down that blogging job into smaller tasks. Determine your niche, buy a domain name, design your WordPress site, and start writing and publishing your posts. Successful people move from zero to hero by accomplishing the smaller tasks first. So, get each task done, one step at a time.

4. Stay laser focused on one task

Focus is the secret key that will unlock the code for your success. Unfortunately, for post-millennials living in the world of instant notifications, staying focused is hard. How can you stay focused, for one whole hour, on the single most important task of your day?

Well, here are some simple tips that worked for me:

  • Dedicate certain days to your work. These are your creative days. Whether it’s weekdays or weekends, whatever you choose, just make sure that you do nothing but work on those days.
  • Go tech-free on your creative days. Turn off your Wi-Fi. Power off your Smartphone (or leave it in another room on silent). Divorce the Internet before you sit down to work because too much online activity is dangerous for your physical health, mental faculty, and productivity.
  • Pick one task, only one task, and work on it for an hour.

Of course, you can’t get it done flawlessly when you first start. You’ll feel the urge to look at your phone and possibly check your social media feed or play a game. However, you must keep focusing on the task at hand over and over until it becomes a habit. Consider limiting your Internet time on your non-work days, too.

“The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.” – Alexa Hirschfeld

5. Stay consistent

One of the most crucial success hacks is consistency. The rule is to show up every day and do the work required if you truly want to succeed.

Learn from the former American tennis champion Andrea Agassi. Before he made a name for himself, Agassi’s father instructed him to hit 5000 balls every day. Just lace some sneakers, show up at the court, hit 5000 balls, and go home to relax.

Show up and do the same tomorrow. This consistent routine was what elevated Agassi to becoming “the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” If you want to achieve that level of success, set down your smartphone and get to work. “The doing,” as Arthur Ashe beautifully puts it, “is more important than the outcome.”

Which one of these tasks is more challenging for you? How will you improve on it this year? Let us know so we can help!

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10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls. (more…)

Vladimir Yakimenko is a CEO, Investor and Founder of Kanbanchi, a popular project management add-on for G Suite. Kanbanchi is one of the fastest growing add-ons for G Suite and has over 80,000 active users. Our work has been featured on Today.com, Lifehacker, Lifehack and more.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Divya

    Mar 26, 2015 at 10:14 am

    A brilliant and motivating article….I am very thankful for the article…reading it made me think of the things where we commit mistakes with these mind monkeys and fears….m gonna try des strategies….

  2. Absolutely Tara

    Mar 20, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Great advice. I kept laughing whenever you mentioned the Monkey phase we were in. I don’t know why, but referencing the challenge as a monkey made it good. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ernie A

    Mar 18, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    “Challenge is vital for personal growth; because all the magic happens just outside your comfort zone; because the achievement experienced is proportionate to the challenge surmounted.”

    Beautiful! We are all influenced to think challenges are a bad thing.. yet, overcoming them is the essence of growth and ultimately, life.

  4. Monday Motivator

    Mar 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Hey Vanessa –

    Great article. Thanks for the quote from The Slight Edge, I’m going to have to check it out. I wrote recently on a similar theme and the ‘simple daily disciplines’ rings so true!

    Appreciate it,

    Rich

  5. Ruslan Barabolkin

    Mar 15, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Vanessa,

    Excellent post! I found myself dealing with these ‘monkeys’ often.

    Thank you for laying out the plan on how to overcome. Took some great notes as I was reading and am writing out my own plan today to follow diligently.

    Thanks,

    Ruslan

  6. saidesh

    Mar 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    nice helpful..

  7. Dan Western

    Mar 13, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    This is awesome Vanessa!

    Love those subheadings and the bullets you’ve used to break them down.

    All about having the courage and the strength to overcome those challenges!

    Thanks,

    Dan

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Success Advice

2 Ways To End Suffering Forever.

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This year I have learned so much. I’ve learned that we all suffer no matter what. No one can avoid it. That’s not what I want to share with you though. What I want to tell you is that you have the power to end suffering.

I have proven it in my own life. We don’t need to suffer. We can end it all and the silly thing is it’s so simple. I do not want you to avoid this advice any longer. I want you to use it even if you think it’s a load of mumbo-jumbo.

Here are the two ways I’ve found to end suffering forever:

 

1. Find a way to give to other people.

You only suffer when life is all about you and your success. Once you move from being all about you, into a state of mind that is focused on giving, your problems become insignificant.

I had a couple of situations this year that have nearly knocked me flat on my ass. One was my romantic life falling to pieces and the other was my career collapsing. When both these events occurred, I used giving to other people as the way out of the maze that my mind created.

The moment suffering begun, I went straight to finding ways to serve other people. I helped friends with their businesses, I spoke at events to inspire people, I did some volunteering and I doubled down on my blogging so I could inspire as many people as possible.

Shifting the focus away from what was wrong and using my focus to give to others ended the suffering.

“There wasn’t time to suffer because the purpose of my life during those months was far bigger than me and my stupid life challenges. Giving to others gave me a way to find happiness when I probably would have hidden away and suffered in silence”

Seeing the solutions to other people’s problems and sharing them, gave me a way to put my career and relationships into perspective.

Giving is the example you need when times get tough and things get complicated. You suffer the most when you get stuck in your head and repeat the pattern of telling yourself how wrong your circumstances are.

Suffering can make you depressed, feel lonely, become selfish, go into a downward spiral and take away everything that’s good in your life.

Finding ways to give on the other hand, can cure all of those problems. I know it sounds so cliché what I’m saying but it surprises me how many people never use this strategy. Like I always say: the answers we seek are right in front of our nose.

Next time you feel yourself suffering, get out of your head and try this strategy.

 

 

2. Practice gratitude.

Okay, I thought this strategy was so dumb when I discovered it. It’s so obvious and it sounds way too easy. I mean how can writing down a few things you’re grateful for really end your suffering?

I mean you could lie to yourself and pretend that you’re grateful for something when you’re not. Well, that’s exactly what I did at the beginning. When I was suffering this year, I started writing down three things each day that I was grateful for.

In the first week, I lied about things I was grateful for and found the exercise completely ridiculous. This advice is so common that I decided to persist with this ridiculous self-help hack anyway.

What I found as I kept doing it was that your brain makes a shift subconsciously. Instead of being pissed off and suffering, your brain has to work extra hard to find three things every day to be grateful for.

To make this habit work even better I forced my brain to describe in detail each thing I was grateful for and ideally why. Some days sucked so bad that I thought I would never find three things. Once the challenge became a must, I spent my days working my butt off trying to find things I was grateful for.

While doing various activities during the day, I’d find moments when I was grateful for something and stop. I’d stop and see how I felt at that moment and I would have a mini celebration because I knew I had something for my gratitude list.

Then I tried to aim for five things each day instead of three. This shifted my focus even more. I should have been suffering but because I was forcing myself to see good things that were happening to me, I was distracted.

As I said earlier, this new habit seemed so dumb at the beginning. Once you really do it for a while, you see how it has the power to end suffering. You can’t be pissed off and be grateful at the same time. So, choose gratitude and then your suffering will be sidelined, and in my case, forgotten about.

 

***Life doesn’t need to be full of low points***

The suffering that we all experience is a choice. It probably doesn’t seem like that but these two hacks will demonstrate this to you. Your decision-making power is incredible and all you need to do is select one of these hacks to end suffering.

Don’t let the quality of your life be jeopardized by your default human mode to suffer. You’ll find these two hacks will not only end your suffering; these two hacks will give you purpose.

Here’s what I learned: most people are pissed off and suffer because they have no purpose. Once you find a purpose for your life, you’ll become addicted.

Now that’s a huge win don’t you think? You can end suffering and find purpose, all by using these two hacks. That’s the best gift I can give you.

Don’t just read this advice. Try these two hacks yourself.

It’s time to end suffering forever.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

7 Steps to Conquering the Fears That Are Holding You Back From Success

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how to conquer your fears

I remember the day in vivid detail. I was on a weekend trip visiting my girlfriend at the time in Arizona. She had decided that we should join her friends to go “cliff jumping.”  We were early on in our dating and she obviously had no idea that I was not fond of heights. So “cliffs” and jumping off of them… No thanks!

I inevitably found myself on the edge of a 40-foot cliff peering down at a vast blue canvas of water. Then I realized if I didn’t jump, I’d have to start the walk of shame back down the cliff. This was a lose-lose situation for me.

Fear had me. I didn’t want to jump, but I also didn’t want to look bad in front of my girlfriend’s friends. So I jumped and in that moment, I had defied my brain and my neurochemistry.

Our brains are wired to protect us, not to push us towards our goals. Our brains are wired to look for anything that could be potentially dangerous or threatening and keep us as far away from it as possible by using fear. The problem is not all situations warrant fear.

There is a saying in neuroscience that says, “the brain wires the way it fires”, meaning the more you do a certain activity, the more the brain lays down wiring to make that action or activity easier.

‘Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.’ – Karl Augustus Menninger

When we let fear keep us stagnant and we continue to do the same things that are comfortable, our brain gets “hardwired” to stay comfortable. We become “stagnant.” This can become debilitating for some of us and prevent us from encountering the very experiences we need to grow and succeed.

When we, in spite of our fear, do the challenging things that are outside our comfort zone, we begin to hardwire into our brain change, adaptability, creativity, growth, perspective, and happiness because we stretch the boundaries of our brain’s capabilities and force it to adapt rather than “playing it safe.”

An elite athlete didn’t make it where they are today by going into their training and never pushing past their comfort zone. They constantly pushed their limits of comfort to force their bodies and minds to grow to that of a top performer. The same principle applies to our brains. If we let fear dictate our actions in any area of our lives, it will stunt your growth in that area.

So what’s the first step? How do we go about conquering our fears whether it’s public speaking, starting a business, or launching the product or service? See below:

1. Journal Your Fears

Write down all the fears you have, big or small. Contrary to opinion “size does not matter.” Your brain still operates the same with all types of fear. The key is to first acknowledge what you are fearful about and bring it to light. Be as specific as possible.

2. Prioritize Your Fears

I then rank my fears from highest to lowest in terms of how often I think about this fear and/or how much it disrupts my life. You may find some fears combine into a broader category and that’s ok — we’ll get to that. So for now identify your biggest fear.

3. Support Your Belief in Yourself

I don’t mean just “believe in yourself.” What I mean is to build in support systems that will support your belief in yourself, so that when you start taking action, your support systems will solidify those new experiences and form deeper, more meaningful, and lasting beliefs in yourself.

It may look like building a list of affirmations that you say every morning or a meditation. Whatever it is, it needs to be uplifting and empowering you towards conquering your goals.

4. Take Action & Start Small

Look at your list and identify what your biggest fear is. That’s the beast we’re going to tackle long term, but for some that may seem like a big stretch at first. So instead, see what your 5th biggest fear is, and that’s where you’ll start.

What we will then do is build our way up and take a ride on the “Momentum Train.” Starting small with taking actions toward your lower priority fears and then building up helps your brain build momentum, which provides your brain with plenty of courage and motivation to tackle the #1 fear on your list.

‘Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.’ – Helen Keller

5. No Time Limit, Just Consistency

Most goals should be limited to a time domain. For the goal of tackling a fear, time can be a challenging factor to set. Some of these fears may have been unknowingly building up for decades without your knowledge. So I don’t recommend setting a time on when you are “going to conquer your fear.”

Instead set appointments to regularly meet and address your fear. If you’re fear is public speaking, then go to a local Toastmasters once a week. The more consistent you can be, the better.

6. Reframe and Reinforce

As you begin to address these fears, make sure you are reinforcing the experiences you have in a positive perspective. For instance, if you want to be less fearful of public speaking and decide to try out a local toastmasters group, your first time speaking to the group might feel like a train wreck, but when you look back on the situation you can acknowledge that that actually pushed past your fear and accomplished your goal.

7. Rinse and Repeat

This isn’t a quick fix. It may take some time. There’s always a new fear or challenge awaiting us. The key is to have systems like this in place to address those challenges properly rather than allowing ourselves to succumb to fear and derail our lives from their fullest potential.

How do you handle your fears? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

30 Straightforward Reminders to Help You Supercharge Your Life in 2018

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how to supercharge your life

This time of year it’s easy to be overwhelmed by well-meaning advice. Everyone seems to have a solution to your procrastination or a remedy for your lack of motivation. Unfortunately, most advice is either too general or irrelevant because it doesn’t address your main concerns.

I’ve spent the last year trying to hone in on some of the best tips and tricks I’ve learned to stay ahead and maintain a positive mindset.

Here are 30 straightforward reminders and tips to help you supercharge your life in 2018:

1. Get the basics right. Take care of your body, your mind and your soul. Make a list of what you know is good for you and what you know is bad for you in each category. Consider ways to reduce the bad and increase the good.

2. Reduce distractions that sap your energy. When you’re planning big changes, it’s easy to get pulled into many different directions. You get excited about a certain idea which pulls you down the rabbit hole into numerous other directions. Focus on one thing at a time.

3. Make a new friend. Start a conversation with a stranger in the elevator. Compliment someone. Provide some positive reinforcement. Do something without expecting anything in return.

4. Smile more. Smiling takes less effort than frowning. It’s also scientifically proven to make you feel better even if you don’t necessarily feel like smiling.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you stimulate your immune system, increase your metabolism and improve your mood.

6. Do one push-up for every year old you are. Or do twice as many sit-ups for every year old you are. Making sure you work the muscles in different parts of your body stimulates hormone production and helps increase fat burning.

7. Find your intrinsic drivers. Intrinsic drivers are what inspire you based on internal motivation, rather than external motivation. Find something you think of as beautiful, peaceful, relaxing. Embrace it. Appreciate it. Try to understand why you like it

8. Speak to an old friend. Reach out in an email, a text, a phone call. Check in and just let them know you’re thinking about them.

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow T. Wilson

9. Invest in your health. Join a gym. Buy some type of sports equipment or clothing that is comfortable and that you enjoy being in. Consider joining a pick up sports team.

10. Study something that interests you. Buy a book about someone you admire. Pick a time period that you’re fascinated with. Make a point of becoming an expert on something that matters to you.

11. Teach someone something. Take a topic, any topic, and try to break it down into its component parts so that you can teach someone how to do it. The concentration and the effort it takes to teach someone something is often exactly the kind of effort that is required to truly understand it for yourself.

12. Delegate to someone. Find a task that needs to be done that you could do. Don’t do that task. Instead, look for someone you can ask to help you. Pay them or ask them for a favor. The key is to learn to delegate actions to others.

13. Meditate. Mindfulness and meditation are trending right now, but that’s not the reason you should consider adopting a meditation practice. The real reason is that meditation will help you focus on your key goals while cutting out the noise in the world around you.  

14. Learn to manage your personal finances. One of the biggest causes of stress that we as humans experience is the pressure to make money and control our finances. There are tons of free resources available online to help you learn about finances and help get your money in order.

15. Read more. No, I’m not talking about reading your Facebook News Feed. Read more books. Try to read a book a month, either fiction or nonfiction. At the beginning of the month choose a book and break down the number of pages. See how many you have to read a day to finish… then get started.

16. Cook at home at least 5 days a week. Cooking at home is cheap, easy and fun. You can hone skills in creativity and planning all at once, and it’s a great way to save money.

“My New Year’s resolution is to stick to a good workout plan that will keep me healthy and happy.” – James Lafferty

17. Sell someone. No, not into human bondage. Sell someone on an idea or a product. Learn to market yourself and your skills. Everyone sells as they move through life, but most of us are average salespeople.

18. Hone your principles. What principles define your life? What are your strongly held beliefs? Be honest with yourself and what principles you feel you must uphold.

19. Embrace the power of positive thought. Listen to positive audio tapes, surround yourself with positive people. Look at the positive side of life. Easier said than done, but truth be told one of the best ways to improve your mood is to look for sources of positive mood and inspiration.

20. Practice willpower. Habits are formed over time. Willpower is one of the most important habits you will ever build, so it is integral you continue to practice it through all aspects of your life. Look to the stoic philosophers for a primer on how to tackle this.

21. Write better hooks. A hook is the bit of a song that catches a listener’s attention and repeats your core message in an intriguing way. Similarly, in writing a hook is the quirky or fascinating intro that makes readers want to continue to read. Think about your own hooks and how you can get people interested in what you have to say.

22. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We often become obsessed with daily minutiae and avoid thinking about the big picture. Don’t let yourself worry too much about the small day-to-day struggles. Instead, put your head down and get to work.

23. Don’t overthink the big stuff. Too often we avoid taking leaps of faith because we’re worried about making a mistake on something big. We don’t buy the new house. We avoid marrying the person we love. We put off going to the doctor for that regular scan. Try not to overthink the big decisions (or seemingly small decisions) that may have larger ramifications. If it’s not overly dangerous or illegal, take the plunge and go for it.

24. Learn a new word a day. Increasing your vocabulary helps you see the world in different ways and makes you rethink your core beliefs.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” – Richard Branson

25. Become a moderate. Extremists are divisive and often at odds with a large portion of the population. Look for ways to bring people together through collaboration and consensus rather than through division.

26. Think big(ger). Many self-help books talk about setting big goals or envisioning massive success in your lifetime. If you want to become a true leader and attain greater fulfillment. Look for ways to think beyond creating success in your lifetime. Think about the legacy you’ll leave for future generations.

27. Learn universal processes. Assess how you work best and find ways to carry standardized processes over into other aspects of your life.

28. Develop support structures. What do you do if things aren’t going according to plan? Do you reach out to friends for support, meditate on the problem alone, or use some mixture of different coping mechanisms? Be aware of what works for you, and what doesn’t.

29. Don’t compare yourself to others. We fall into this trap far too often. We use others as a benchmark for our own progress, but we must remember that it is unhealthy to put too much weight on comparisons, as everyone has their own background and their own perspective.

30. Know when to let go. At the end of the day, you must try your best and let the cards fall as they may. All you can do is put your heart and soul into your effort and learn from the results.

Which one of these things are you going to implement into your life immediately? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

5 Things Generation Z Needs to Know in Order to Succeed

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generation z success tips

If you were born from 1995 through 2012, you are part of a special demographic—Generation Z. Congratulations! You are a very important person. First, you make up the largest percentage of the US population at 25.9 percent. Second, you’re an iGeneration kid, which means people like you write product reviews, click web ads, and build online businesses. In short, you run the Internet show.

Finally, you contribute $44 billion to the American economy. You have great potential, but your Internet addiction and reckless behavior are your biggest roadblocks to success. How do you limit the time you spend on Snapchat, focus on building a career, and break through the bars that block your way to success?

Try these five hacks for success:

1. Have a bold vision

Your life is your business. If you’re serious about making it profitable, you’ve got to have a bold vision and work tirelessly to achieve it. Start by redefining yourself. Just because you grew up with Snapchat and YouTube, doesn’t mean you have to use them carelessly. Of course, you can watch the dancing cats on YouTube, but you’ll have to find time for that.

Be a doer, not a chatter, watcher, or browser. Great visionaries are doers, not chatters. If you want success, examine your purpose in life, just like a CEO spends time crafting his company’s mission, then start doing.

Create your vision. Once you make sense of your goal in life, you can set a vision so high that it scares you. Finally, keep working—not chatting—to realize your vision.

2. Never dilute your vision

When I was in high school, I always had the highest grades in my class. However, a new student came to my school, and she began to outshine me in class, answering every question and making me look dumb. One night, I told my mom that I had disappointed her.

I told her that I had new competition, and didn’t have the intellectual capability to face the new girl in the arena. My mom’s response? She laughed out loud before saying anything. She then reminded me, “You told me, remember, that you’ll always be the top student. Why let this girl, a stranger that I believe is no match for you, change your mind?”

Those few words changed my mindset completely. I ended up taking the first position for that year. The moral of the story? Never dilute your vision. It’s scary to face competitors or naysayers who laugh at your idea, but bear in mind that all masters were laughed at before they were revered.

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.” – James Broughton

3. Win big with small tasks

How do you keep winning and moving closer to realizing your vision? You win the small tasks. I get it, you truly want to create your own app making you the next success story in your industry. In addition, you want to start blogging and profit in the gig economy.  

However, accomplishing these things, all of them, is not possible. They are bigger projects that you can’t accomplish all at once. What is possible is to pick only one thing and work fiercely on it. Deconstruct the dream job.

If you have decided to become a successful blogger, break down that blogging job into smaller tasks. Determine your niche, buy a domain name, design your WordPress site, and start writing and publishing your posts. Successful people move from zero to hero by accomplishing the smaller tasks first. So, get each task done, one step at a time.

4. Stay laser focused on one task

Focus is the secret key that will unlock the code for your success. Unfortunately, for post-millennials living in the world of instant notifications, staying focused is hard. How can you stay focused, for one whole hour, on the single most important task of your day?

Well, here are some simple tips that worked for me:

  • Dedicate certain days to your work. These are your creative days. Whether it’s weekdays or weekends, whatever you choose, just make sure that you do nothing but work on those days.
  • Go tech-free on your creative days. Turn off your Wi-Fi. Power off your Smartphone (or leave it in another room on silent). Divorce the Internet before you sit down to work because too much online activity is dangerous for your physical health, mental faculty, and productivity.
  • Pick one task, only one task, and work on it for an hour.

Of course, you can’t get it done flawlessly when you first start. You’ll feel the urge to look at your phone and possibly check your social media feed or play a game. However, you must keep focusing on the task at hand over and over until it becomes a habit. Consider limiting your Internet time on your non-work days, too.

“The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.” – Alexa Hirschfeld

5. Stay consistent

One of the most crucial success hacks is consistency. The rule is to show up every day and do the work required if you truly want to succeed.

Learn from the former American tennis champion Andrea Agassi. Before he made a name for himself, Agassi’s father instructed him to hit 5000 balls every day. Just lace some sneakers, show up at the court, hit 5000 balls, and go home to relax.

Show up and do the same tomorrow. This consistent routine was what elevated Agassi to becoming “the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” If you want to achieve that level of success, set down your smartphone and get to work. “The doing,” as Arthur Ashe beautifully puts it, “is more important than the outcome.”

Which one of these tasks is more challenging for you? How will you improve on it this year? Let us know so we can help!

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