Perhaps you’ve noticed the feeling before…
You’re on Facebook or Instagram, scrolling through your feed consuming post after post of “valuable” content and inspiring information. You start getting pumped up, don’t you? I know I do. It feels great to look at other people doing really well and think to yourself, “That could be me!”
It feels even better to read a motivational quote that really resonates with you and think, “This was the exact advice I needed!” In the back of our minds, we think that with the right inspiration or motivation, everything will be different. “It’ll all change, I just have to get motivated.”
We even trick ourselves into thinking that we’ll finally find our way if we just do enough “research” first. Think back to all those late nights you spent “researching” your newest obsession…or watching YouTube tutorials for hours trying to “figure things out.” It felt GOOD, didn’t it?
It felt like you were making progress because you were pouring energy into something that felt real. But after months of research and wrestling with ideas, you know what happens to most of us? Nothing. Nothing changes.
This is called “Motivation Porn.”
The idea behind Motivation Porn is simple: it feels good to THINK about all the wonderful changes we’re going to make in our life. It feels good to THINK about the person we’re going to become when we finally “get our shit together.”
In fact, it feels so good that we often mistake our fantasies of a better life for actually building a better life. But after we’re done vigorously thinking about all these great things…we often don’t have the energy to actually DO anything about them.
It’s like watching pornography rather than going out and, ya know, doing the real thing.
We spend all our energy in the fantasy world and leave nothing for the real world. But today, I want to challenge you to do something different with your life. First day of the new year or not, every second counts. I want you to stand up, shake your first at the sky and say, “NO MORE!”
Here are a few thoughts to get you started. These don’t rank in any particular order, but they are all insights that have helped me get over the endless cycle of non-action and finally start getting results in my life.
1. Stop watching so much television. Seriously.
Even if you’re only watching 90 minutes a day before/after work, that’s over 500 hours per year. 500 hours of energy spent on something with literally no return. Yes, there are some great shows. I love House of Cards, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. But if we’re being honest, 99% of tv SUCKS. We just watch it because we need to “relax” and we feel like there’s nothing else to do.
This philosophy applies to movies, too. Most of the time, we just watch movies because we feel likes there’s nothing better to do. I know I’ve watched hundreds of movies that, after two hours, simply made me go “meh.” What a waste.
This is empty time when you should be working on your idea. This is the time you have to start plotting your escape. If there’s a particular show that you REALLY love, block out 1-2 hours for that particular show every week and when it’s over, turn the TV off. When you want it, make it count. If it’s not a “hell yes’ then forget it.
It’s really that simple.
PS – if you live with a spouse or significant other and TV is part of your ritual every night, suggest something else. Or maybe just talk. I know, a novel idea…
2. Read more. A LOT more.
If you’re cutting out TV, one of the best things to replace it with is a book. I never understood people who didn’t read voraciously. It was always one of my hobbies.
But more than that, it’s the best way to solve problems. If you have a problem you’d like to solve, there’s a 99% chance that somebody else has already solved it and written the answer down in a book. (Sneaky bastards.)
As you start reading more, you’ll start getting many more ideas and increasing your creativity.
It makes sense if you think about it. In order for the brain to produce great ideas, you have to feed it great ideas. Just like what you eat literally turns into the cells that make up your body, what your brain consumes literally becomes what you think about.
This is a very powerful realization.
For those that say reading is too boring, or it makes you fall asleep…just like anything, learning to read while staying attentive and focused is a SKILL. It takes time. And it’s WORK. But it’s literally the best thing you can do for yourself.
3. Go to bed earlier. There’s nothing interesting happening. Trust me.
I used to have a really bad habit of staying up until past 1am every night. I think in the back of my mind, I was thinking that if I went to bed early, I’d miss out on something important. I wasn’t. I didn’t.
Waking up early is a big key to getting more done. But you don’t wake up earlier by simply changing your alarm from 6am to 5am. Your morning starts the night before. The earlier you go to bed, the better you feel when you wake up.
Seriously, just go to bed. Not watching TV helps with this because you don’t do that thing where you lay on the couch in a half coma, too tired to go to bed…but too alert to fall completely asleep.
I aim for lights out at 10-10:30pm these days and wake up around 6:30 or 7am. And if you do this consistently enough, you’ll find you won’t even need an alarm clock to wake up. Pretty awesome.
4. Create a simple morning routine.
The human brain craves consistency, and whether you realize it or not, you’ve already created dozens of patterns and habits in your life in order to make your life more consistent. You can take control of this process by creating your own positive routines and sticking to them.
Start by deliberately creating a short list of things you’re going to do every morning, without fail. Make those activities simple enough that you won’t constantly find an excuse to avoid them…but powerful enough to actually have an impact on your life.
I spend the first few hours of my day meditating, reading, writing and exercising. This is “me” time when I don’t field requests from other people. I make sure to carve this out before I get to work.
Don’t have a few hours in the morning? Start with 30 minutes. Just center yourself before you have to run off and report somewhere.
And by the way, if think the whole morning routine thing is old news because you’ve already heard about how the world’s most effective people have one…then maybe there’s something to be learned. Try it.
5. Be mindful of the social media vortex.
I’m not going to tell you to give up social media. It’s too integral to the way most of us live our lives now. But how about this…
MONITOR yourself. Don’t allow yourself to scroll and endlessly refresh the feed bouncing from page to page.
Don’t succumb to the tiny hits of dopamine you get every time someone “likes” a post.
Use it as a tool to keep up with people you care about, not as a way to take up valuable time you could be doing meaningful work.
I have a little 2 minute timer that goes off in my head. If I start scrolling and fall into the vortex, after 2 minutes, I just shut down the app and put the phone aside. Seriously. You’re not missing anything.
I hope these lil’ tidbits don’t inspire you. I hope they don’t motivate you at all. Why? Because inspiration and motivation are fleeting. They’ll disappear as soon as you close this email. And they have to be reapplied CONSTANTLY.
Inspiration and motivation aren’t the same thing as change. Change means that you saw something, read something, heard something and felt something. It resonated so deeply that you can’t possibly live your life the same way as you did 30 seconds ago.
Something was one way. Now it’s another. That’s change. Change is the power behind all of humanity’s greatest accomplishments. Change is the power behind all the earth’s natural mysteries. Change is what you feel when you fall in love.
Whatever you’ve been waiting on is actually waiting for you. But you’ll have to change in order to get it.