On December 12th, 2012, as I was finishing last minute preparations for a two-week trip to Kenya and Tanzania with my father, I called home and was shocked to hear he had just died of a heart attack. Though the timing for such an event is never ideal, I felt especially sad that he never got the opportunity to see the animals and great plains of east Africa – something he’d dreamed of since childhood.
Though I miss my father every day, no single event has had a more positive impact on my life than his passing. His death forced me to deal with uncomfortable emotions, and take ownership of my career, finances, and relationships like I never had.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I know you can change for the better, too, and it shouldn’t take the death of a loved one to make it happen.
It starts with a mindset, then the adoption of one or two habits that move you towards where you want to go next.
Don’t like the way your finances look? Start a side hustle (you can worry about scaling it later), and automatically invest a small portion of your paycheck.
Want to lose 10-15 pounds? Put an unflattering picture of yourself on your desktop, so you need to see it everyday. Then throw out all your processed foods and crap carbs.
Don’t want to meditate? Find a simple practice that requires intense focus, and incorporate it into your daily routine. Whether you’re drawing, practicing jiu-jttsu, or playing guitar, it will slowly start paying dividends – even if you can only dedicate 10-15 minutes a day.
Start with easy daily goals, and scale accordingly.
As Tony Robbins says, make the consequences of inaction painful and the rewards of action immediate and pleasurable. Buy yourself a bottle of good wine when you hit a weekly goal, but don’t “Netflix and chill” when don’t.
So what does your day look like when you’re living a life that will take you to where you to want to go?
• Woke up 30 minutes earlier to walk or run your dog; they need it, and love you for it.
• Broke a sweat doing something you love (or can at least tolerate).
• Told at least one person you loved them.
• Did something that made you uncomfortable.
• Provided a valuable service to others.
• Read or listened to something new (e.g., a new book, podcast, etc.).
• Took a risk. Preferably something that will help you grow.
• Prioritized listening over talking.
• Put foods in your body that nourish and fuel you. Perhaps, a bit of dark chocolate and wine if you hit a goal.
• Took one step no matter how small towards making a better future for yourself and family.
• Found something specific to be grateful for (E.g. not just your kids or wife).
• Wrote down 10 ideas.
• Went the entire day without complaining.
• Above all else – were kind to everyone you encountered.
Our culture wants you to think that change is slow, iterative, and hard. That’s bullshit. It happens as quickly as you make it happen.