Wealthy Minds

The Best Goal Is No Goal

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The idea of having concrete, achievable goals seem to be deeply ingrained in our culture. I know I lived with goals for many years, and in fact a big part of my writings here on my blog are about how to set and achieve goals.

These days, however, I live without goals, for the most part. It’s absolutely liberating, and contrary to what you might have been taught, it absolutely doesn’t mean you stop achieving things.

It means you stop letting yourself be limited by goals.

Consider this common belief: “You’ll never get anywhere unless you know where you’re going.” This seems so common sensical, and yet it’s obviously not true if you stop to think about it. Conduct a simple experiment: go outside and walk in a random direction, and feel free to change directions randomly. After 20 minutes, an hour … you’ll be somewhere! It’s just that you didn’t know you were going to end up there.

And there’s the rub: you have to open your mind to going places you never expected to go. If you live without goals, you’ll explore new territory. You’ll learn some unexpected things. You’ll end up in surprising places. That’s the beauty of this philosophy, but it’s also a difficult transition.

Today, I live mostly without goals. Now and then I start coming up with a goal, but I’m letting them go. Living without goals hasn’t ever been an actual goal of mine … it’s just something I’m learning that I enjoy more, that is incredibly freeing, that works with the lifestyle of following my passion that I’ve developed.

The problem with goals

In the past, I’d set a goal or three for the year, and then sub-goals for each month. Then I’d figure out what action steps to take each week and each day, and try to focus my day on those steps.

Unfortunately, it never, ever works out this neatly. You all know this. You know you need to work on an action step, and you try to keep the end goal in mind to motivate yourself. But this action step might be something you dread, and so you procrastinate. You do other work, or you check email or Facebook, or you goof off.

And so your weekly goals and monthly goals get pushed back or side-tracked, and you get discouraged because you have no discipline. And goals are too hard to achieve. So now what? Well, you review your goals and reset them. You create a new set of sub-goals and action plans. You know where you’re going, because you have goals!

Of course, you don’t actually end up getting there. Sometimes you achieve the goal and then you feel amazing. But most of the time you don’t achieve them and you blame it on yourself.

Here’s the secret: the problem isn’t you, it’s the system! Goals as a system are set up for failure.

Even when you do things exactly right, it’s not ideal. Here’s why: you are extremely limited in your actions. When you don’t feel like doing something, you have to force yourself to do it. Your path is chosen, so you don’t have room to explore new territory. You have to follow the plan, even when you’re passionate about something else.

Some goal systems are more flexible, but nothing is as flexible as having no goals.

How it works

So what does a life without goals look like? In practice, it’s very different than one with goals.

You don’t set a goal for the year, nor for the month, nor for the week or day. You don’t obsess about tracking, or actionable steps. You don’t even need a to-do list, though it doesn’t hurt to write down reminders if you like.

What do you do, then? Lay around on the couch all day, sleeping and watching TV and eating Ho-Hos? No, you simply do. You find something you’re passionate about, and do it. Just because you don’t have goals doesn’t mean you do nothing — you can create, you can produce, you can follow your passion.

And in practice, this is a wonderful thing: you wake up and do what you’re passionate about. For me, that’s usually blogging, but it can be writing a novel or an ebook or my next book or creating a course to help others or connecting with incredible people or spending time with my wife or playing with my kids. There’s no limit, because I’m free.

In the end, I usually end up achieving more than if I had goals, because I’m always doing something I’m excited about. But whether I achieve or not isn’t the point at all: all that matters is that I’m doing what I love, always.

I end up in places that are wonderful, surprising, great. I just didn’t know I would get there when I started.

Quick questions

Question from a reader: Isn’t having no goals a goal?

Quick answer: It can be a goal, or you can learn to do it along the journey, by exploring new methods. I’m always learning new things (like having no goals) without setting out to learn them in the first place.

Another question from a reader: So how do you make a living?

Answer: Passionately! Again, not having goals doesn’t mean you stop doing things. In fact, I do many things, all the time, but I do them because I love doing them.

Tips for living without goals

I am not going to give you a how-to manual for living without goals — that would be absurd. I can’t teach you what to do — you need to find your own path.

But I can share some things I’ve learned, in hopes that it will help you:

  • Start small. You don’t need to drastically overhaul your life in order to learn to live without goals. Just go a few hours without predetermined goals or actions. Follow your passion for those hours. Even an hour will do.

  • Grow. As you get better at this, start allowing yourself to be free for longer periods — half a day or a whole day or several days. Eventually you’ll feel confident enough to give up on certain goals and just do what you love.

  • Not just work. Giving up goals works in any area of your life. Take health and fitness: I used to have specific fitness goals, from losing weight or bodyfat to running a marathon to increasing my squat. Not anymore: now I just do it because I love it, and I have no idea where that will take me. It works brilliantly, because I always enjoy myself.

  • Let go of plans. Plans are not really different than goals. They set you on a predetermined path. But it’s incredibly difficult to let go of living with plans, especially if you’re a meticulous planner like I am. So allow yourself to plan, when you feel you need to, but slowly feel free to let go of this habit.

  • Don’t worry about mistakes. If you start setting goals, that’s OK. There are no mistakes on this journey — it’s just a learning experience. If you live without goals and end up failing, ask yourself if it’s really a failure. You only fail if you don’t get to where you wanted to go — but if you don’t have a destination in mind, there’s no failure.

  • It’s all good. No matter what path you find, no matter where you end up, it’s beautiful. There is no bad path, no bad destination. It’s only different, and different is wonderful. Don’t judge, but experience.

And finally

Always remember: the journey is all. The destination is beside the point.

‘A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ ~Lao Tzu

A Healthy Way to Aspire to a Better Life

I have a friend who is unhappy with his life — being in debt, lonely, with a job he doesn’t like, in a town he doesn’t like.

I asked him what ideals he has about life that his current life isn’t meeting. He reflected for awhile, and said he wants to find work that he’s passionate about and have friends who care about him.

I agreed that those are great things to aspire to … but that he might try finding things about himself and his life that he appreciates. He might try accepting the reality and finding the goodness in the present, rather than comparing his present life to his ideal life and finding it wanting.

The comparison, the ideals, are causing him dissatisfaction. The reality isn’t so bad if we let go of the ideals and just see the present moment as it is. It’s been my experience that when I look at any moment, even uncomfortable ones, I find that there is a lot to be curious about, a lot to appreciate, a lot to discover and love.

He agreed, but then asked whether he should give up all his aspirations. Which is a great question! But no, I’m not suggesting you give up your ambitions and aspirations. It’s only difficult when we attach too tightly to them, and then we can become unhappy with the present.

What I’m suggesting is a loosening of attachment to these ideals, a turning to the present to appreciate it and get to know what’s in front of us better. Once you do this, and accept what’s in front of you, you reach a place of peace.

Here’s the key: from this place of peace, you can then take action towards your aspirations … you can find your passionate work, not because you’re so dissatisfied with your current life, but from a place of acceptance with your current life and a desire to do something good for yourself.

Either way, you take action towards your aspiration, but it can be either from a place of dissatisfaction (and wanting to change something crappy) … or a place of acceptance and peace, and wanting to do something good for yourself (or others).

Here’s the method in summary:

  1. Notice your dissatisfaction.

  2. Notice your ideals that you’re holding tightly to.

  3. Loosen your hold on these ideals, and turn to the present moment.

  4. Really see the present moment with curiosity, find something to appreciate.

  5. Accept the present moment completely, with love.

  6. From this place of peace, respond, take action. It might be toward an aspiration, or not, but it’s a response from a good place.

This method takes a lot of practice, and I’m still not very good at it. I enjoy the practice, though.

-AG

Inspiration + Aspiration

I deal every day with questions about how to stay motivated, how to stay on track, how to be excited about what I’m doing, how to stay grounded and balanced. Do you face these same issues?

What I’ve been playing with are inspiration and aspiration. Followed by perspiration.

Each of these words have the Latin verb for “to breathe” at their roots. We breathe in inspiration, breathe out our aspirations, and breathe through our hard work that brings us perspiration.

When we’re plagued with self-doubt or a lack of motivation, we can breathe in the inspiration of others. Seek out the passion that other people have for their work, the compassion they bring for other people, the goodness in their hearts that inspires them to do their work. We don’t have to copy what they’re doing, but instead be inspired by their spirit.

When we feel this inspiration, we can then look inward and find what it is that we’re called to do. And why: is it to build a better world, to help others who are struggling? Take this good intention, and infuse it with the newly inspired spirit you have. And then breathe it out into the world as your aspiration for today. What do you aspire to create? How do you aspire to help others?

And then finally, put in the hard work to make this aspiration happen. The best inspiration and aspirations are nothing but hot air without perspiration.

-AG

9 Rules for a Simpler Day

Our days fill up so fast, and are so rushed and filled with distractions, that they seem to be bursting.

It’s a huge source of stress for most people, and stress is perhaps the most important factor determining whether we’re healthy or sick.

So how can we simplify our days? It’s not incredibly hard, but I’ve found it’s best done in steps.

These are the steps I followed, though of course calling them “rules” means we should test them and break them as needed. No rules should be followed blindly. I’ve found these to work really well, though.

See below for my June Challenge to help you implement a simpler day.

9 Rules for a Simpler Day

These are the rules I suggest:

  1. Know What’s Important. The simple version of simplifying is “Identify what’s important, and eliminate the rest.” So take time to identify the most important things in your life (4-5 things), and then see what activities, tasks, projects, meeting and commitments fit in with that list. Also take time each day to identify 1-3 Most Important Tasks (MITs), at the beginning of your day. Or the night before, for the next day.

  2. Visualize Your Perfect Day. This is not so much because this “perfect day” will come true, as it is to understand what a simple day means to you. It’s different for each person — for me, it might mean some meditation and writing and spending time with my wife and kids. For others, it’s yoga and painting and a hot bath. For others, it’s time to focus on the important work, but still get other things done later in the day. Take a minute to visualize what it means to you.

  3. Say No to Extra Commitments. Now that you’ve identified what’s important, along with the “perfect day”, you need to start saying “No” to things that aren’t on your important list, and that are standing in the way of the perfect day. The biggest thing you can say No to is a commitment — membership on a committee, involvement in a project, coaching or participating in a team, going to an event, being a partner in a business, etc. List and evaluate your commitments (professional, civic and personal), and say No to at least one. It just takes a call or email.

  4. Limit Tasks. Each morning, list your 1-3 most important tasks. List other tasks you’d like to do. Say no to some of them. See if you can limit your list to 5-7 tasks per day (not counting little things, which you’ll batch). Limiting your tasks helps you focus, and acknowledges you’re not going to get everything done in one day.

  5. Carve Out Un-distraction Time. When are you going to do your most important work? Schedule it with a block of time (1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, whatever works for you). Make this your most sacred appointment. Become incommunicado. Close the Internet, all notifications, hold all calls. Just do the most important task, then the next one if you have time.

  6. Slow Down. We rush through our days, almost in a single frenetic anxiety-filled non-stop movement. Instead, slow down. Life won’t collapse if you aren’t rushing from task to task, email to email. You can pause, take a moment to reflect, smile, enjoy the current task before moving on.

  7. Mindfully Single-task. Stop multi-tasking. One task at a time, with full focus on that task. Practice mindfulness as you do the task — it’s a form of meditation. Watch your thoughts wander to what you need to do later, but then return to the task at hand. Your day will be much simpler, and much more enjoyable, when you practice being present with your current task.

  8. Batch Smaller Tasks, Then Let go. Email, paperwork, little things at the bottom of your task list (create a “small tasks” section at the bottom), minor phone calls, etc. … these shouldn’t get in the way of your important tasks. But they still need to be done sometime (unless you can let them go, which is best whenever possible). If you need to do them, batch them and do them in one go. It’s best to do these later in the day, when your energy is lower and you’ve done the important tasks for the day. Don’t let the small tasks get in the way of the big ones. When you’ve done a batch of small tasks (including processing email), let them go, and get out. You don’t want to do this all day, or even half a day.

  9. Create Space Between. We cram our tasks and meetings together, and leave no spaces between them. The space between things is just as important as the things themselves. Leave a little space between meetings, even tasks. Take a break to stretch, walk around, get a glass of water, perhaps do some simple breathing meditation for a minute or two. Enjoy the space.

-AG

A Guide to Escaping Materialism and Finding Happiness

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. ~George Burns

Money can’t buy you love. It can’t buy you happiness either.

Today’s materialistic world often urges us to buy the coolest gadgets, the trendiest clothes, bigger and better things, but research shows that possessions and purchases don’t buy us happiness. According to an article on CNN:

By and large, money buys happiness only for those who lack the basic needs. Once you pass an income of $50,000, more money doesn’t buy much more happiness, [according to a happiness studies].

So while we are being pushed towards materialism, it’s for monetary gain by corporations, not for our own happiness. Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape the trap of materialism, and find happiness in other ways than buying stuff online or finding joy in the mall.

But it’s possible. Here’s a guide to finding a materialism-free life and discovering true happiness.

Escaping Materialism
All around us, there are messages telling us to buy stuff. On the Internet (blogs included), we see continuous advertising trying to get us to purchase a product or service. It’s the main reason for television, and movies are continually made with products placed throughout, so that we aren’t always sure what is advertising and what was put in there by the director.

Flip on the radio or open up a newspaper or magazine, and you’re bombarded my more advertising. Go to a shopping center/mall, and the urge to buy comes from every direction.

This message to continually buy, buy, buy … and that it will somehow make us happier … is drilled into our heads from the days of Happy Meals and cartoons until the day we die. It’s inescapable.

Well, almost. You could go and live in a cabin in the woods (and that actually sounds nice), or you could still live in our modern society, but find ways to escape materialism.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Limit television. Do you really enjoy watching TV for hours? Think about which shows you really, really love, and only watch during that time. When the commercials come on, go do something else. Or use Tivo to watch TV. You can even give up cable TV entirely, if you’re brave — I have, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

  • Limit Internet reading. I’m not saying you should cancel your cable Internet subscription or anything. I love reading blogs. But find just those that you truly love reading, that give you the most value, and limit your reading to those. And just do it once a day, for 30 minutes or so. If you can do that, you’ve gone a long way towards tearing yourself away from advertising.

  • Monitor your urges. When you’re online, or watching TV, or at a store, keep track of the number of times you want to buy something. Keep a little notebook or index card, and just put tally marks. Once you become more aware of your urges to buy things, you can start to control them. If you could control them, limiting your consumption of media (see above tips) isn’t really necessary — although I would argue that it still gives you a better quality of life.

  • Declutter. I find it pretty amazing to see all the crap I buy over a period of years, when I go through my closets and other possessions and start getting rid of stuff I don’t use or want anymore. It’s a gratifying process, and at the same time, it makes me realize how useless all our consumer shopping is. I don’t need any of the stuff! When you do this, you may be less likely to buy more stuff. Especially if you enjoy the decluttered look of your house as much as I do.

  • Find other forms of entertainment. There are other things to do besides watch TV or movies or read magazines or newspapers or the Internet. Try playing sports or exercising, or playing board games or creating art or writing or reading a book. Try doing fun things with your kids or visiting relatives and other loved ones. Try volunteering with a charity. I’m sure you could come up with 100 free or cheap things to do.

A True Path to Happiness
So, if you’re able to escape materialism, how can you find true happiness? There are many ways, and each of us is different, but here are some things I suggest trying:

  • Grateful list. Make a list of things about which you’re grateful in your life. Give thanks for them daily.

  • Think positive. Try eliminating negative thinking from your life, and thinking positive instead.

  • Small pleasures. Make a list of small things that give you great pleasure. Sprinkle them throughout your day. Notice other small pleasures as you go through your day.

  • Kindness. Practice random acts of kindness and compassion. Do it anonymously. Help those in need. Volunteer. Make someone smile.

  • Love. Make an intimate connection with your loved ones. Develop your friendships. Spend time with them, converse, understand them, make them happy.

  • Health. Exercise and eat healthy — it sounds trite, but it can bring great happiness to your life.

  • Meaning. It’s often useful to find meaning, either through a church or spiritual way, or through those we love in life or through the things we’re passionate about. Give yourself a purpose.

  • Flow. Eliminate distractions, and really pour yourself into whatever you’re doing. If it’s writing an article, like this one, really put yourself into it, until you forget the outside world.

  • Know yourself. Become attuned to what brings you happiness. Study yourself. Learn about what you love, and about your ability to love. Increase your capacity for compassion.

-AG

How to Find Happiness Within

‘Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.’ ~Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Where Happiness Comes From

It’s worth taking a moment to consider where happiness comes from. Is it from things like having someone love you, or eating a fantastic meal, or having a great body, or relaxing on the beach, or drinking a good cup of coffee?

No, actually. Those things all are phenomena that happen outside of us … and they don’t cause the happiness. They might be correlated with happiness — they happen, and then we are happy at the same time — but it’s not a cause-and-effect relationship. There’s another event that’s happening at the same time.

That event is what happens in our brain between the external event (a good cup of coffee) and our state of happiness.

What is this event? It’s a process. Let’s take a close look:

  1. We drink a cup of good coffee (or read a good book, eat some delicious berries, have good sex, etc.).

  2. We notice the coffee, pay attention to it. If we don’t pay attention, and are reading on the Internet as we drink the coffee, we don’t get the happiness from the coffee.

  3. We appreciate the goodness in the coffee that we noticed. It’s not just the noticing and paying attention — we have to accept it for what it is, and appreciate the good things about it.

  4. This goodness we’ve noticed causes us to be happy about life. We are now happy about the experience of living, about life itself, because this experience is filled with goodness — even if it’s just the goodness of a cup of coffee.

So that’s it: noticing and appreciating the goodness in a cup of coffee causes us to be happy about living. And the more we notice and appreciate about our lives (and ourselves), the happier we are.

‘We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.’ ~Frederick Keonig

Finding It Within

So does this mean that happiness is really about external things, like the cup of coffee or the sex or the love from someone else? No … it’s about the process that happens within. And this process can happen no matter what’s going on outside of us. It can happen even if there are no external stimuli — because there are things inside of us that we can appreciate as well.

Let me emphasize that: all the raw material we need for happiness is inside of us. The good things we can appreciate to be happy — they are always with us, already there. And the tools for turning these raw materials into happiness … they are within us as well. We just need to develop them.

What are the things within us that we can appreciate, that can make us happy? Some examples:

  • Are you generous?

  • Do you love? Can you give love?

  • Do you feel compassion?

  • Are you good at something?

  • Are you a good listener?

  • Do you empathize with the pain of others?

  • Do you appreciate beauty in nature, in others?

  • Do you have good ideas?

  • Are you determined?

  • Are you good at sports?

  • Are you creative?

And so on. These (and more) are all internal qualities you might have that you can appreciate, that can make you happy about yourself.

So the happiness process — noticing, appreciating, being happy about living — can be applied to things within us, no matter what’s going on outside. We can learn to notice and appreciate the good things (and the less-than-perfect things as well!) in ourselves, and start to love ourselves.

Appreciating All That’s Around Us

That’s just the start, though. What’s within us is amazing, but so is what’s in everyone else, and life all around us. These might be external things, but the appreciation for them (and the happiness that results) comes from within.

So the key skill is to learn to notice, accept and appreciate everything around us, and everyone we see and interact with.

Look closely at the food you eat, and the coffee, water, tea, or wine you drink … what can you notice? Is there good to be noticed that you can appreciate, that can make you happy to be alive?

What about the room around you? What about the book you’re reading, or the blog post? What about the nature outside? Are there things there that you can notice and appreciate?

Often if we fail to see good in things or people around us (or ourselves), it’s a failure to pay close attention. If the person near you seems rude or uninteresting, you’re not paying close enough attention to the details: are they also funny, or talented, or shy but with hidden secrets? Are they in pain, and in need of compassion? Look closer, and see what you can find.

Once you begin to pay attention, and to look, you’ll find some amazing things. All around us are examples of beauty, creativity, inspiration, triumph, pain, joy, life.

And once you get good at this, you can start to appreciate the “not-so-perfect” things as well. We judge other people’s flaws, and our own flaws, as “bad” … but what if they’re just a part of being human? Then aren’t the “flaws” a celebration of who we are as humans? Aren’t anger and rudeness and mistakes a part of our beauty as human beings?

And this is true, of course, of ourselves. We all have flaws, and we should celebrate them. Notice them, yes, but appreciate them, and use them as reasons to be happy to be alive.

Once we can do this, we can see the wonder in every little thing around us, and inside us. And then we realize that life is a true joy, in every moment, if we simply pay attention and appreciate it.

-AG

KEEP MOVING FORWARD

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy and happiness... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices - today I choose to feel alive, not to deny my humanity but embrace it. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

Focus on you for a change. Stop worrying about other people understanding you. Get in touch with yourself instead. Focus on what makes you feel at peace. 

Life becomes so much more fulfilling when you are just simply yourself. The world keeps spinning whether people understand you or not, so why not make this next trip around the sun about you?

-AG

Autopilot Achievement: How to Turn Your Goals Into Habits

“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” – Charles C. Noble

It’s such a simple concept, yet it’s something we don’t always do. It’s not exceedingly difficult to do, and yet I think it’s something that would make a world of difference in anyone’s life.

Break your goals into habits, and focus on putting those habits into autopilot.Turning a goal into a habit means really focusing on it, intensely, for at least a month, to the exclusion of all else. The more you can focus on it, the more it’ll be on autopilot.

But once you put it on autopilot, once a habit is firmly established, you don’t really have to focus on it much. You’ll still do it, but because it’s a habit, you only have to use minimal focus to maintain that habit. The goal becomes on autopilot, and you can focus on your next goal or project or habit.

But in order to achieve that goal, I broke it down into two habits:

  1. I had to make running a daily habit (while following a training plan I found online).

  2. I had to report to people in order to have accountability — I did this through family, friends and coworkers, through a blog, and through a column in my local newspaper every two weeks. With this accountability, there’s no way I would stop running.

I focused on this exclusively for about a month, and didn’t have any other goals, projects or habits that were my main focuses. I did other work projects, but they kinda took a backburner to running.

The accountability habit took a couple months, mainly because I didn’t focus on it too much while I was building the writing habit. Once those two habits were firmly entrenched, my writing goal was pretty much on autopilot.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun

Other Applications

This works for many other types of goals, of course. For example:

  • Debt reduction: I turned this goal into a few different habits, including creating a monthly spending plan, learning to stick to the spending plan, and making automatic debt and savings payments. Once these habits were on autopilot, debt elimination was a sure bet.

  • Writing a blog: This was simply setting a time to write, and making myself write during that time, no matter what. Once you have that habit, the blog will come.

  • Getting organized: This is three main habits — designating a spot for everything I own, putting things in their designated spots immediately, and doing a daily processing of your inbox(es).

As you can see, just about any goal can be turned into habits if you think it through. Let’s look more into how to do that.

How to Turn A Goal Into Habits

It’s a pretty simple process, but let’s go over it step-by-step:

  1. You goal should be written out very clearly. The better you can visualize your goal, the easier this will be.

  2. Think about the steps needed to get to your goal. There may be many.

  3. Can the goal be accomplished with a series (2-4) of daily or weekly actions? For example, to save money, you will need to make a savings deposit every payday, before you pay your bills. Through that regular action, the goal will eventually be accomplished. Figure this out, and that’s your habit or series of habits.

  4. Figure out the amount of the habit will need to be done to get you to your goal by your timeline. By “amount”, I mean that you have to figure out quantity times frequency to get your desired result. For example, I can run every single day but not be prepared to run a marathon if I don’t do enough miles or long runs. So if I’m going to run every day, I have to also know how far (and any other things such as different workouts on different days). If I’m going to have a savings deposit every week, I need to know how much is necessary for each deposit in order to reach my goal. Figure out this “amount” for your habit and make a schedule.

  5. Focus on the first habit for at least one month, to the exclusion of all else. Don’t worry about the other two habits (for example) while you’re trying to form the first habit.

  6. If more than one habit is necessary, start on the second habit after a month or so, then on the third, and so on, focusing on one habit at a time until each is firmly ingrained.

  7. After all the necessary habits are ingrained, your goal is on autopilot. You will still need to focus on them somewhat, but to a lesser extent. If any of the habit gets derailed, you’ll have to focus on that habit again for one month.

  8. After you’re on autopilot, you can focus on a new goal and set of habits.

“Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.” – Spanish proverb

-AG

A NOTE TO MYSELF/YOURSELF

LOCATION: Wisdom Tree - Los Angeles, CA

Dear Me,

Don’t you ever give up on yourself. This life is going to challenge you and knock you down, but you can never give up. When you feel like you’ve given it your all, and there’s nothing left, remember your power. You are the creator of your own reality, emotions, and destiny. Your current situation is not your final destination.

I ask these questions to myself and ask these to yourself:

  • “What if today’s my last day?”

  • “What if today’s my last week?”

  • “What am I going to contribute to this planet today? Evil things? Good things?”

Just by asking these questions to yourself it will change your whole perspective of your whole day.

Remember who you are. Keep dreaming BIG, keep fighting, keep growing, keep learning, and never give up! 

-AG

Deep Focus: Training to Open in the Middle of Shakiness

When we set out to work on a meaningful, important task, something interesting happens.

We feel quite a bit shaky.

It’s the feeling you get when you step into uncertain ground, where you don’t know exactly what you’re doing or whether you can do it, where you feel a bit lost or don’t have solid ground under your feet. This is the shakiness of groundlessness.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling shaky and groundless, but our minds don’t really like it. In fact, we’ve trained our minds to run from this uncertainty and shakiness, to go to distraction, procrastination, busywork, trying to get control, or going to a host of other habitual patterns.

We feel the shakiness and immediately do whatever we can to avoid feeling it.

What if we could just feel the shakiness and not need to run? What if we could practice mindfulness in the middle of it, and stay in the groundlessness? We might even learn to be completely happy in the shakiness, to see it as the place we want to be if we want to do anything meaningful, if we want to have an impact on the world and make a difference in the lives of others.

We can do this by training ourselves in Deep Focus.

The Shift into Deep Focus

Deep Focus is simply staying focused on one task for longer than we normally might, staying in the middle of the task despite urges to switch to something else, despite our habitual patterns. It’s immersing yourself into the task, creating undistracted space where you can stay in the shakiness and give it your entire being.

How often do we actually give ourselves entirely to a task? What would it be like to shift into this mode more often?

To do it, you have to clear everything away and set an intention to dive deep into the task. You have to pick an important task that is meaningful to you, that is worth this kind of diving in.

You’ll also want to create some kind of structure to hold you in this focus when things get shaky and you want to run. The structure might be some kind of accountability, some kind of structured session that is timed, has no other options, and no wifi … you can find the structure that works for you over time if you experiment.

The result is a very different way of relating to a task. Instead of it being something you need to rush through to get to the next task, it becomes worthy of your full attention, a destination worthy of staying in, an activity worthy of your full devotion.

Instead of it being a place of shakiness you need to run from, it becomes a place of breathtaking groundlessness, where you can savor the quality of uncertainty while also appreciating this place where you can be of service to others.
-AG