In the last six years I learned a lot. But I will only share most significant lessons from my personal transformation; the ones that made a huge difference because I actually applied them.
I found a lot more of groundbreaking discoveries, but I’m far from using them to the fullest. For example, I learned about the Big Potential, but I didn’t really tap into it and don’t ooze it like the other lessons.
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1. Everything matters.
That was the first lesson I absorbed and used it for a good measure; The Slight Edge lesson:
You’re either going up or down, there is no middle ground in life. Whether you do, or don’t do something equally matters. There is so much wasted human potential on this globe because people don’t get this lesson. We waste our precious time on trivia. Watching TV. Playing computer games. Reading for entertainment only. Watching YouTube. Browsing social media.
Trillions of man-hours are wasted every year.
There is no such thing as passivity or indecision. Lack of action causes consequences exactly like taking action does. No decision is also a decision, usually a vote for the status quo, but there is no such a thing as status quo.
Everything matters. Life is a dynamic process. You either go up or down.
That’s why it indeed makes a difference whether you practice simple daily actions or not. A single action carry a little weight. Writing 400 words very rarely is groundbreaking in any meaning. But write 400 words a day and in a year you will have 146,000 words written. It may be a full novel or a year’s worth of a blog content.
And if you do not write those 400 words, but watch funny videos on YouTube, it matters as well. You will not move upward. So, you will slip backward.
It’s true in business and your career, but it is as true in every single area of life. Health. Relationships. Happiness. Spirituality. Education. Personal development. Finance.
At the beginning no one supported me. My wife scolded me. My mom was sorry for me; she “knew” I would disappoint myself once again. She saw me fired up about this or that more than once.
I had no clue. I had no resources. I had no network. I had no experience.
This lesson, once it clicked, was my anchor. My journey was unbelievably hard in my own eyes.
I felt like quitting more times than I can count. There were months where I wanted to quit every single day.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I absorbed the ‘everything matters’ lesson. Quitting was not a way to get me anywhere. Passivity would brought me down. I had to keep going.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” — Jim Rohn
2. Consistency is more important than results.
I wrote this statement for the first time when writing “The Art of Persistence” in 2014, but I had already had implemented that lesson in my life. I kept many of my habits just for the sake of having them. I knew that if I didn’t have some daily action moving me in the right direction then I was almost guaranteed that I’d never reach the destination.
I had no clue if those specific habits would give me the results I wanted, but I was sure that no habits will give me no results. I had already lived the “not much” life Jim Rohn talked about and I had no illusions that it would be ever fulfilling. And I hoped to achieve more with my new habits. I already had experienced with some of them that this approach works and I trusted Jeff Olson that The Slight Edge is indeed applicable in every area of life.
I was right.
I focused entirely on the consistency of my daily actions, not on some specific outputs. Whenever I did that, I was able to achieve or exceed my goals. Whenever I shifted my focus to reaching some specific metric I failed miserably.
Consistency is more important than results because it’s a vehicle that delivers the results. If you can maintain consistency, the results are guaranteed. If you get results, consistency is not guaranteed. In fact, often when you hit some goal you allow yourself a false celebration and indulge in some not-so-wise behaviors that torpedo your habits.
Because I was writing 400 words five times a week I could scale my writing up to six days a week, then 600 words a day, then writing 1,000 words every day. Because I was writing consistently I published 16 books, hundreds of articles and blog posts and over 1,000 answers on Quora. Thanks to this output I earned thousands of dollars that made the difference in my family’s life. We bought a home. My wife quit her day job. I downsized my day job to 10 hours a week.
It all happened because I wrote every day, not because I set a goal of quitting my day job or buying a home. In fact, the home was nowhere on my radar. Buying it was just a byproduct of my daily actions.
In the same manner I achieved many other feats I never aimed for. I was interviewed on podcasts many times. I was published in online magazines to which I never applied. I got coaching clients I never imagined I could’ve coached. I joined an American mastermind and traveled to the States twice.
I started a book advertising business. I had never dreamed about this. In fact, I was adamant not to provide any service to the self-publishing community. I saw so much hype in this industry that I didn’t want to be connoted with it at all.
Focus on consistency. Develop habits that will generate results. Eliminate consistency from the equation and you will end up with only life experience at best. You will have no habits, meager results and you will waste a lot of your time and effort on inconsistent rushes of activity.
3. Gratitude has an immense power.
I had no idea how huge this power was at the beginning. I met with emphasizing the importance of gratitude very quickly in my personal development restart. Jim Rohn mentioned it off-handedly. Darren Hardy dedicated a whole chapter of “The Compound Effect” to it. It is central to The Science of Getting Rich‘s concept. I even included it as one of the values I wanted to work on in my personal mission statement.
I started my first gratitude journal in September 2012, within a few months expanded it to three journals and it was pure fun for me to write them. But I didn’t pay much attention to them.
The first time it dawned on me how huge gratitude is when I listened to Shawn Achor on EntreLeadership podcast. I understood that a big part of my success was rewiring my brain into positivity thanks to regular gratitude practice. I had my fair share of disappointments and discouragements, but I kept going because I filled my mind with hope despite the struggles and obstacles.
In the same podcast episode Shawn instanced a research where gratitude journaling was enough to rewire into positivity brains of people with a pessimism gene.
My mind was blown away. Then I started sharing my revelations about gratitude with my audience and my intuition was confirmed. This topic was very engaging. People were hungry for this. My best ever Quora answer that was viewed over 400,000 times talks about gratitude. I got dozens of comments for this piece. It led me to writing a comprehensive manual on how to keep a gratitude journal and it became one of my most popular pieces on Medium.
It’s amazing that positivity of your brain improves everything at once by a significant margin and it’s even more amazing that gratitude journaling works so fast. 30 days is a blink of eye in human life. Also, gratitude journaling is so absurdly easy to do. It takes maybe a minute or two, you don’t need any special skills or resources and the effects are so profound!
Since then I consider gratitude a basic tool, tool #1 in personal development. It’s doable even for depressed people. It rewires your brain into positivity, so everything else down the road can happen- improving your character, habits, relationships, education, career, health – everything people are turning into personal development for.
Gratitude journaling is one of the very few “self” things that works in so-called self-help. This is something you can indeed do on its own and get meaningful results.
4. All is well.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. — BrianTracy
Many of Law of Attraction gurus preach the same message. Everything is OK, just believe it.
I discovered it’s true with a one tiny difference. It’s not the impersonal enigmatic Universe that conspires for your wellbeing. It’s God, a Person. His Providence arranges everything for the sum of good of us all. Hey, He is Omnipotent, so he can do this, as hard as it is to believe.
I admit, this lesson was easier for me than for most because I didn’t have excruciating struggles in my life. I’m aware that bad things happen in this world, I’m not blind nor stupid. But I won the lottery of life. My health was always OK, I had a couple heartaches in my adolescent years, but I’ve been in a stable relationship for over 20 years. Compared to many others, I had it easy.
However, I’ve also seen wrong turning into right so many times that it supports the All Is Well explanation of how life works. There is never something entirely bad, there is always a seed of good in everything.
A brother from my church community died of a brain tumor 10 years ago. He left a wife and four children ages from two to nine years old. I’ve seen how they survived. I’ve seen the kids growing up and turning into decent young adults. I’ve seen his wife crushed with pain, overwhelmed with responsibilities who clung to God and, well, lived. She is one of the most peaceful persons I’ve ever met.
My cousin’s son was born disabled two years ago. Doctors have no idea what’s wrong with the boy. His brain doesn’t develop and the kid lives with a death sentence hanging over his head.
My cousin and his wife didn’t expect that at all. They have an ordered life, their own apartment, jobs and were prepared to live happily ever after.
I, and everybody around, have seen how this situation helped them grow. Their mental and emotional strength is absolutely inhuman. Everybody admires them.
My friend, Rebecca Patrick Howard lives with a death sentence as well. She has a genetic disease. Her body doesn’t function well on a cellular level which causes chronic pain and an endless string of serious afflictions (like ruptured intestines). She is also one of the best people I’ve ever known. She lives to the fullest. She is an awesome mom and an amazing friend.
And I can see only some facets of good in the above instanced stories.
However, when I look back at my history, I can tell every single time how my struggles were good for me.
My first book about writing a personal mission statement became a bestseller. Not in any spectacular way, but it started to sell the first day since I published it and it never stopped generating sales. I was at the lowest of my capabilities when I wrote it, yet it has been popular and relevant for over five years.
It happened because I struggled for years with defining my purpose in life. I had no idea why I lived, and that was the biggest pain of my life. I truly led a life of quiet desperation.
Thanks to this struggle, I was able to document my experience with creating personal mission statement after 16 years of complete neglect and impotence in searching for meaning. My painful experience, not wise words, speaks to the hearts of my readers. They can relate to me, thus they can follow me.
About two years ago, I was going through the hardest time in my life. My marriage was crumbling and I had no idea how to change that. I also experienced extreme spiritual struggles.
That experience cleansed me like nothing else. My spiritual life advanced rapidly. I no longer put trust in my abilities, but rather in God’s mercy and Providence. I was helpless, but He wasn’t. I barely survived that experience in one piece, which showed me how weak I really am. 90% of this struggle happened only in my soul, I really had nothing substantial that brought that pain. Remember my cousin with a disabled newborn. He has real challenges and he is a real hero. Me? I realized I’m entirely supported by the Lord’s hand.
Today, I am so glad I had that period of extreme suffering. I learned some meekness and compassion which I hadn’t had previously.
All Is Well. This belief is the core of my strength. Nothing penetrates the peace that comes from this thought. Yesterday, my 12-old daughter was accused of encouraging her friend to commit suicide. I didn’t care for this, not even for a second.
Then we checked the chat history in my daughter’s phone and, of course, no such things ever happened. On the contrary, my daughter was burdened with her friend’s drama and dark secrets.
But All Is Well. I could immediately see through the lies of her friend who tried to get attention and love from her parents, hence her self-injuring. She was afraid of her parents to tell the truth, so she accused my daughter. I could see how revealing the truth may be liberating for that family who lives in denial.
I saw how my daughter was brave in the whole situation and how profitable the whole experience was for her. My daughter’s life is pretty much an idyll, so a pinch of painful reality of others was a sober lesson for her.
All Is Well. I feel the same about every situation and fear. It’s all in God’s hand. In reality, there is nothing to fear. Unpleasant or painful experiences are just learning lessons. In fact, if approached with this mindset, they always make me a better person.
I can clearly see Providence working in my life, thus I can sense it in the history of others as well. I was meant to write. This is a purpose of my existence. Millions of views on Quora, tens of thousands of my books sold and hundreds of raving reviews are a proof of that.
I was meant to run Amazon ads for other authors. If Amazon’s system would be any better, more systematized, others would’ve had advantage over me. But their system is clunky to the extreme.
My superpower is that I sense numbers, not analyze them. Oh, I’m able to analyze numbers, but I never met someone with my ability to judge the numbers by a single glance on a table or chart. I see numbers and I can feel real-life correlations long before I can rationally explain them. This is how I navigate Amazon’s wonky advertising system.
In the last several years, I did things I only wished for or that were never-ever on my radar. Some of them were close to impossible according to experts. I became a writer. I developed dozens of daily habits in a very short time. I became a life coach. I obtained a few professional certificates in my day job. I bought a home! I became a world-class expert in advertising books on Amazon.
5. Morning ritual.
For the last several years, every morning I’ve been doing several disciplines right after waking up.
I repeat my personal mission statement in my mind. I exercise, drink two glasses of water, pray, look at my vision board, read random quotes in a document with quotes which shaped my philosophy and read several sentences from four books that did the same. I journal and I listen to podcasts or audio programs.
When I listened to Hal Elrod on the SPI podcast, I was amazed how much my morning routine overlapped with his miracle morning routine, despite the fact we developed them independently. It was because we both followed the guidance of successful people.
I got the idea and a few elements of my morning ritual from Brian Tracy and Craig Ballantyne. Hal had his mentors. Many of successful people have their own morning rituals because they are effective. Period.
Your mornings shape your days. Most people are at the top mental and physical shape in the morning after the whole night sleep. If you are an early riser, no one interrupts you. This is even more important in today’s distraction-filled world
But most importantly, morning rituals work because they are easy to develop. It’s relatively hard to develop any new habit –whether you want to exercise, read, write, or even start to drink a glass of water.
Any moron can develop a morning ritual. Why? It’s based on the most reliable trigger – the act of waking up in the morning.
In fact, as creatures of habit, at least 80% of human beings already have some kind of morning ritual. Kids are waking up, making cereals with milk while watching TV (or YouTube on their mobiles), then grab their lunch box, a backpack and run for a bus.
Workers are getting up, shaving, brushing their teeth, making and drinking a coffee, dressing up for work and starting their commute.
Housewives are getting up, waking up their kids for school and their spouse for work, preparing sandwiches and/or making breakfast.
A key element to any habit is its trigger. If you have a reliable trigger you can hammer a new habit into your brain in no time.
Thus, building a morning ritual is childishly easy. You wake up and start doing a new thing. You repeat it tomorrow and the day after. This consistency informs your mind that this is a behavior worth automating and a habit loop is quickly built in your brain.
So, you now have this new, highly repeatable behavior. Now you stack another habit on top of that. The endpoint of the first habit creates a highly reliable trigger for a second habit. The endpoint of the second habit creates a trigger for the third one.
You can develop a dozen new habits in a few short months with this method.
You reap the benefits of those habits and those benefits are enhanced by everything I said above about a morning ritual: no interruptions, top mental shape, high willpower, plenty of physical energy and so on.
You can improve your health, get the job done, start having a deep spiritual life, get an education, get to know yourself better, become more mindful or sharpen your mental qualities in the morning. Then you go and conquer your day.
My mornings have been an ideal time to get some ‘me’ time. I’m an introvert. Being around people depletes my mental energy. Before I adopted my morning disciplines I never had had time to think. I didn’t dream. I didn’t plan. I didn’t prepare for the day ahead nor for the year ahead. I lived just to go by.
My morning ritual provided me with intentionality I very much needed. I got clarity about who I want to become and what I want to achieve in my life. I got so much better at getting control over my thoughts and self-talk. I got to know my strengths and weaknesses. And I took care of myself.
My morning ritual became the engine for my relentless pursuit of growth. Only because I was doing it every day I got the stamina, strength and perseverance to keep my nose to the grindstone for long years with meager visible effects.
My mornings shaped my days. My days shaped my weeks, months and years.
I firmly believe that your habits determine your essence – personality, character, personal philosophy, thinking patterns and everything that sums up to who you are. That’s what the etymology of the word says. You are your habits.
There is no easier way to shape your habits than by developing a morning ritual. If you want to transform your life, you should not overlook your mornings.
Everything matters. Consistency. Gratitude. All is well. A morning ritual.
Take those five lessons to your heart and you will transform your life. Amen.
This article originally appeared on Expand Beyond Yourself.
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