Most of us know the feeling very well. We read a book, or go to a talk or even pay quite an extensive amount of money to do a course, and walk out of the course fired up, filled with many intentions of how we’re going to re-invent and transform our lives. Two weeks later, or as soon as the first difficult hurdle crosses our path, all that excitement and all our intentions start fading away and soon become a distant memory…
My measure of a good course, is one where you are given tools to use going forward in your day to day life when you leave the room or finish reading the book. My measure of a really good course is one where they work with you to devise a plan to implement these tools into your daily life. My measure of an exceptional course is one where they imprint and impress on you how critical it is to continue using these tools every day and the consequence if you don’t.
We are actually a strange species. If you think of everything in our lives, if we want to achieve any form of success in any endeavor we take on, we have some regular and/or daily activities we need to do to achieve them. To make money, you need to do some form of work regularly. To become good at any kind of sport you need to train regularly. To lose weight you need to watch what you eat and do some form of exercise regularly. To be in a solid loving relationship, you need to put some kind of effort in regularly – I use the word effort loosely, but you can’t do nothing. To be quite honest, just to live on a daily basis, even if we are happy to stay overweight, have no job and have no relationship – we have to eat, drink water and sleep regularly. The human life is not one where we can achieve anything without implementing some form of routine and habits. Life in general is about routine and habits – whether you are human, animal, plant, the earth…
It should therefore come as no surprise that if we want to follow a journey where our life becomes better and we become more successful, be it financially, physically, spiritually, emotionally, our relationships – we have to do some form of work to achieve this success. John Kehoe teaches a set of disciplines that we have to perform every single day of our lives to achieve success. I will dive into these principles in later blogs, there is only one thing I want to impress upon you in today’s blog – you have to do the work!
I have a list of 5 rules when it comes to applying whatever the tools are you have learnt in any course or book:
- 1. Consistency is more important than anything else
We repeat certain things in our lives every single day, the same things over and over. Brush our teeth, eat and drink, go to the toilet, clean ourselves. The practice of the tools you learn must become another one of those routines that you do every day. It is much better to meditate or journal your thoughts for only 2 minutes a day than to do it for 2 hours once a week or month. Think of exercise – you can go to gym for 4 hours once a week, and granted, you’ll probably be so stiff for the rest of the week that you wouldn’t be able to train, but you would make very little progress, if any. There is another reason why this approach doesn’t work – we are motivated by seeing results, and the smaller the benefits we reap from our efforts, the greater the chance that we’ll quit and give up. Inconsistency = very little to no results. Consistency = results. And the more we practice the better we become at it and the faster we start seeing results. Life work has a snowball effect if you are willing to commit to it.
- 2. Keep it interesting and fun
Mixing things up keeps us interested. Making it fun keeps us even more interested. It also gives us the opportunity to try different tools in different ways and in different scenarios, and we learn which works best for us in which situation. I have always struggled with visualisation. As a sport person I know pro athletes use it as a tool very effectively. When I close my eyes to visualise, I don’t see pictures, I see darkness. I used to try imagine the scene in my head, but I get hung up on the logistics – who will be in the race, how will the race tactics play out on the day, will I break away and win on my own or will I have to sprint in a group for the line. By practicing different tools for different things I have learnt that visualisation for me means that I close my eyes and feel how I would feel in a specific situation. When it comes to racing, I have learned that I have a lot of underlying work to do in terms of my belief in my ability, and also getting my mind to move out of the way. So for cycling most of my work lies in affirmations and replacing the voices that says I can’t with voices that tells me to only do my best and forget about the outcome. Maybe one day when I have mastered this self-talk I will be able to use visualisation to manifest a win, or maybe as a spin off from all the work I’m doing now I will be pleasantly surprised when I least expect it. So even though it is important to have a routine, mix it up a little. Some days I say my affirmations, some days I sing them, some days I write them and think about them to see what insights I get, some days I say them as a prayer. Our mind also gets bored easily, so changing it up a bit keeps our mind interested and wanting to do it again tomorrow. The idea is not only to practice these tools daily, but also to start learning how to personalise them based on how it works for you. Experiment and play with it and be curious about what results you get from each tool.
- 3. Find a routine that is easy to achieve and maintain
I think the biggest reason we stop doing the work is because we find it hard to dedicate a specific amount of time to the work. Even when it comes to exercise, we need some amount of flexibility for when things don’t go according to plan or when we get sick, or our plan even changes if we need to recover for a big event coming up. Doing life work doesn’t need more than 30 minutes a day. I set aside time every night to do work, but what I have done is make little slots of time during the day where I also do my work. I find that this is actually more effective because it reminds me to be alert and aware during the day. I’ll give some practical examples. I do most of my affirmations in the shower, while I’m getting dressed and on the way to work. When I wash my hands I use that time to still my mind, take a couple of deep breaths and become present – like a mini meditation. I use my cycling time to learn how to listen to my body, become aware of my mind’s chatter and practice replacing the chatter with positive talk. When I eat I say a little prayer to bless my food and those who have worked hard to provide the food and prepare my meal. This means that if for some reason I don’t get to my work at night I would have done at least 60% of my work already.
- 4. The work has to become a lifestyle
How often have we heard that diets don’t work because when you go back to your old eating habits you will gain all the weight again? The tools we use are the same – they have to become what we eat, drink and sleep. There is no point in me saying an affirmation for 5 minutes every day that I make lots of money and then the rest of the day all I hear and say is how expensive everything is and how I cannot afford anything and how little money I have. This is another reason I like to implement small practices of the tools during the day. It keeps me on my toes, it keeps me aware and focused. There’s a very positive spin off as well – when I see those little successes it makes me extremely happy and excited, and because I’m aware all the time I see the little successes all the time. I also use them as a confirmation that my work is working.
- 5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
I have yet to meet someone who, when they didn’t stick to their plan or didn’t achieve something they wanted, is able to look at themself with the same empathy and compassion as they would a friend who fails. There are going to be days when you miss things, don’t get to all your practices or do them in a way you don’t believe is effective. It is ok. Here’s what you say to yourself: “That’s interesting.” And then let it go and try again. Our body, mind and psyche is very much like our friends, family and colleges. If they do something wrong and our response to them is a scowling, the probability that they will open up to us and/or tell us about it next time is small to slim to none. They will probably be too scared to open up and discuss it with us and ask for assistance. We are the same towards ourselves. When we scold ourself for not sticking to the plan, our body and mind starts hiding things from us out of fear. When we look at it from an approach of curiosity, we give our body and mind the opportunity to find solutions and insights we are not aware of. Maybe today you just needed to go to bed earlier to rest, or maybe there are slight changes in your routine that will make it easier to stick to it, or maybe for today you just didn’t get to it and that is ok.
I can write as many blogs as I like and you can read as many of them as you like. You may think each blog is insightful and valuable and something every person should read and/or learn from. But if you don’t take the lessons you learn from me, the next self help book you read, the next course you attend, all of what you think and feel is in vain and will be something you will forget in the next 48 hours, probably even sooner.
YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK!!