“The best ambition killer is trying to play someone else’s game.” — Dan Sullivan
Craig Ballantyne, author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day And Control Your Life, has a really powerful exercise to help you realize if you’re seeking approval in the wrong places.
He calls it the STUPID GOLDEN STAR Exercise. As Ballantyne asks, “Who is giving you stupid Gold Stars in life? And what are they costing you?”
What are you getting approval for that is not serving you?
Who is giving you approval that does not serve you?
Why are you seeking this approval?
What is this costing you?
If you’re saying “YES” to the wrong things, it’s because you’re seeking approval from the wrong people.
If you’re trying please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one. Without question, you’ll not end up pleasing yourself and those closest to you.
If you’re not discriminate about what you’re willing to work on and focus on, then you’re life is far more of a mess than you think.
If you’re feeling super busy and out of control, then you are out of control. If you don’t have time to put yourself first and have a morning routine, then your life is a mess right now, and you’re being totally ineffective.
You are seeking approval from all the wrong places.
You’re seeking quick wins.
You’re trying to do it all.
You’ve lost sight of your grand vision.
If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing nobody. Because you can’t keep up the charade forever. Eventually, your relationships will become transactional. And those relationships will end. Because right now you’re forcing it. You’re not coming from a position of power. You’re trying to force success. And when you operate from this perspective — you start to make impulsive and ridiculous decisions.
Day-by-day, your internal reality will become more of a mess. You’ll know you’re going further and further out of control. But you keep convincing yourself that next month will be different. Everything will come together and THEN, you’ll start focusing again.
Not gonna happen.
You’ve got to pull the plug.
You’ve got to start running your own race again. Somewhere along the line, you forgot about WHY you were doing this. You got caught up in the whirlwind of other people’s goals and agendas and values.
How to get things back on track
Ballantyne has the following questions to help you get back on track so you can start getting “Good Golden Stars” again.
- What do you NEED to get approval for doing?
- Who are the right people to get approval from in your life?
- Who are the right people that you need to give approval to, yourself?
- Who are the people — personally and professionally — that really matter, here and now, but also in 20 years?
Joe Polish, founder of Genius Network, is known for saying: The people you meet on the way up are the same people you meet on the way down.
If you enter relationships from an impulsive and selfish perspective, those relationships will eventually come back to bite you. People won’t trust you. They’ll see you as only looking out for yourself — since you used a lot of relationships to get you where you’re at.
You weren’t really thinking about them, but where those relationships could quickly get you.
Your intentions may not have been hostile in the first place, but you also weren’t thinking long-term. You were trying to force things.
When you’re trying to force things, eventually everything starts crashing down. David Hawkins explains this better than anyone in his iconic book, POWER VS. FORCE. As Hawkins says, “The person who suffers from inner poverty is relentlessly driven to accumulate on the material level.”
How to accomplish more in 30 days than most do in 365
“It’s very easy to fall into the trap of being busy, and being busy is not necessarily productive.” — Tim Ferriss
According to Chris Smith, founder of The Campfire Effect: If you’re not feeling motivated — you’re either not experiencing enough pain to change, or you’re not curious enough about the power of possibility.
If you’re not making tangible progress, things can feel boring or not worth the time.
So you need to start making tangible progress.
You need a future vision that seems exciting. And you need to get back to feeling like what you want to achieve is a game.
In the book, MY LIFE IN ADVERTISING, Claude Hopkins says, “If a thing is useful they call it work, if useless they call it play. One is as hard as the other. One can be just as much a game as the other. In both there is rivalry. There’s a struggle to excel the rest. All the difference I see lies in attitude of mind.”
Your work needs to become “play” again.
You need to make it a game.
You need to get excited about making progress, growing, learning, and changing your life and circumstances.
You need to get back to plotting and scheming and making plans.
If you’re too busy to sit and make plans, you’ve lost sight of what really matters to you. You should never be too busy to be able to sit in the silence to meditate, pray, and write down your thoughts and plans.
Breaking this down:
- Seek approval from the RIGHT PEOPLE
- Give approval to the right people
- Remove everything from your life that is impulsive
- Get back to your purpose
- Get back to planning and scheming
- Make it a game
- Make your work play again
- Be willing to fail
- Enjoy the work and activity in and of itself (not for what it will get you)
- Detach from immediate outcomes and refocus on your purpose
- Get back to the whimsy and play and fun of life
- Allow yourself to embrace the pain of growth and failure
- Embrace the curiosity of seeing how far you can go
Life becomes play when you’re living congruently. When you’re focusing on the right things and the right people.
When you’re putting first things first.
When you’re taking 20 purposeful steps in 1 direction rather than 1 “busy” step in 20 different directions.
If you’re not making time to have a morning routine — where you’re getting clear and intentional, every single day — then you’re not moving in the right direction. You’re also not being effective.
The purpose of a morning routine is to give yourself the time and space to get clear. To get yourself energized and focused. And then to set your day on the right track so the day doesn’t derail you as it does most people.
Then you need to get excited again. Usually, you get excited by seeing tangible results in the near future. You need a short timeline to sprint toward. You need to create a result that you’ve wanted, or your family has wanted, for a long-time. One you’ve procrastinated and stopped pursuing with vigor because 1) you stopped making your work play, 2) you’ve lost the excitement of progress, and or 3) you’ve lost focus of what you really want and got “busy.”
Often, you can’t get yourself to do what you need to because work feels like work again. And you don’t have anything exciting to accomplish.
You’ve lost your energy and are feeling depressed. Of course you’re feeling depressed — your behavior is incongruent. You’re not putting first things first. You’re back to sleeping-in and living reactive.
Research in psychology is so clear: confidence doesn’t start the journey. It’s not confidence that leads to success. It’s successfully executed behavior that creates confidence and momentum.
Give yourself a 30-day timeline to accomplish something big.
- Cut-off everything that’s a “busy” distraction
- Stop seeking approval from the wrong people (have some honest conversations, clean out your calendar and life, and focus again on the right people)
- Get back to your morning routine where you’re getting energized and focused and clear
- Make work play again (it can only be play when you’re making tangible progress toward something that excites you)
- You can make something exciting by, 1) making some form of progress, and 2) having something compelling in the near-future to look forward to
- Get back to plotting and scheming (literally get a white board and start writing all of your dreams down, and your values, and what you’re grateful for, and what matters most to you)
- Get connected again to yourself and what you’re really about
- Then sprint toward a vision that you know you can achieve
- Most people — even those at “the top of their game” — are a mess right now. The globalized society and the internet has leveled the playing field. If you’re ambitious and willing to fail and respond well to failure — you can easily catapult yourself to the top of your field
- Wherever you are, that’s the best place for you to be
- It doesn’t get easier the more successful you become, it actually gets harder and more confusing (unless you continually re-invent yourself and never stop failing and remaining humble and grounded)
- Remain the underdog by continually failing forward
- Give yourself less time at work and more time to play (Shawn White said the reason he has been able to stay at the top of Snowboarding for nearly 20 years is because he spends a lot of time away from the sport — he has a life outside of snowboarding)
- Cut yourself off when you need to (if you give yourself shorter timelines, you’ll get more done) — often 80% is sufficient
- If you do a morning routine, you’ll focus on the right things while you are working
- If you focus on the right things while you’re working, you’ll make progress
- If you increase your ambition for what you can be, every step you take forward will be a BOLD step, because you’ll be willing to fail
- The more energy you can put into BIG AND BOLD steps, the faster you’ll move beyond those at the top of your field
- All the while, you’ll be congruent, because you’ll be putting yourself (and your health) first, so you can be better at your work and with your loved ones
This article originally appeared on Medium.