Start where you are, use what you’ve got.

Start where you are use what you’ve got

This is the quote I’ve had in my head and repeated to myself many time, until today I had no idea where it came from.  It turns out the quote comes from a guy named Arthur Ashe and the version I had heard was somewhat butchered. The original quote Was actually:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do you what you can”

Arthur also seems to have had a plethora of other good quotes that I haven’t heard before, including:

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to pass all of us at whatever cost, put the urge to serve others at whatever cost”

Arthur was an American professional tennis player who in his career 3 Grand Slam titles, this isn’t a history lesson but interesting trivia all the same.

Standing at the foot of large mountains

The utility of the start where you are quote  for me has always been to break down what seems like a dauntingly massive task. It’s easy to look at gigantic a far reaching goals and know exactly where you want to be but extremely difficult to see those first few tiny tasks on the path through to completion.

For some unknown reason I’ve only recently got round to reading the four hour work week by Tim Ferris. Despite having heard it mentioned on 1000 podcasts and cited as inspiration for 100 of the books I’ve read I’ve never actually got round to buying a copy and sitting down with it.

In this book,  as I’m sure you’re aware, Tim talks about breaking down tasks into the smallest possible actionable units. This works in much the same way.

By breaking tasks down into tiny actions we can move along the path. We can take action towards our goal. The trouble with these tiny actions and the reason is that so hard to do in the real world is it they provide us none of the satisfaction that sitting and thinking about achieving Our lofty goals does. It’s much more satisfying to sit on the sofa and think about summiting the Mountain than to start the painful process of stepping forward.

Push your stone

Every time I set my mind to Achieving something important to me I find that my brain wants to achieve the goal and a single sprint. A Single set of actions that I can start right now with a linear path to the finish line. In reality though, nothing important is Achieved this way.

The way to achieve the truly life changing stuff, the kind of stuff that sets you apart from other people and puts you in the small percentage that are willing to take the sacrifice necessary to make real change you must treat your goal like a heavy stone. If you had to move the heavy stone down A long path you would never consider trying to do it on a single sprint. For some reason millions of years of evolution has allowed us to see physical tasks like this much more clearly than conceptual goals.

Consistency is king

On the journey of shifting that stone you’d break for lunch, take a nap, maybe even take a few days off and come back to it. You take the time between pushes to consider the best route forward and ways to make it roll easier without beating yourself up for procrastination. If each  time you return you can move it a few inches forward over a weeks months or years it will get where it needs to go.

Actions yield results

This approach separates the successful from those who only dream and is the reason why the first steps are so critical.

Want to be a rockstar? Learn a chord.

Want to be an artist? Paint a canvas.

Want to be an blogger? Write a post.

And another the next day. And another the next day. And another the next day. Now, How can you make it better? Read a book written by master. Now another and another and another. Stop and think, how can you reach more people? Who do you know that may be able to help? Another, another, another.

Repeat. repeat. repeat.

This is the truth of how empires are built, all great art is created and of how empires are built.

The fact that it’s difficult and unglamorous And can take many years or decades is exactly why great success Is rare. The process will be exhausting and painful and you will see no success for just long enough to make 99% of people quit.

It’s an old but accurate cliche that it’s very hard to beat a man who won’t give up.

Ultimately we all choose our results, we choose the pain of decades of toil after something we love or we choose the easy life now and questions of what would’ve been later.

Get Better without Comparison

Get Better without Comparison

Objectivity

If your experiencing a feeling of failure or unhappiness you are not alone.

“The Conference Board reports that 53 percent of Americans are currently unhappy at work.” – Forbes

“Researchers find 69 per cent of people feel trapped in the same old routine and over 40 per cent are unhappy with their lives” – The Telegraph

Before I go on, I just want to state for the record that I am no expert and any advice I give is based entirely on my own experience and opinion. I have experienced a lack of fulfilment many times before and have found that the ideas in this article along with good diet and exercise have contributed towards a solution.

Now that caveat is out of the way…

Firstly it’s important to work out if you are actually objectively not succeeding. Social media gives everyone the ability to follow the 0.001% of success stories as if they were high school friends. This opens up the door to negatively comparing your own life to theirs even if you yourself are in the top 1% of achievers.

To address this, try to think about your own habits and actions isolation. Are you actively doing something that is causing you to feel pain? are you not putting your best effort into something?

If this is the case, you can begin to rectify your these actions and fix the cause of the pain. More on this in future posts but put simply – Identify and eliminate. If it is lack of action that is causing you pain Identify and Implement.

Realisation

Much of the time you may find that it isn’t your actions that are the issue, you are genuinely giving your best effort and having some level of success in your endeavours. It isn’t your action or inaction that is causing you pain its the perception of your results. The issue may be purely that you feel artificially close to those that are the top of your industry. The truth is that at any other time in history you would not feel like you needed to compare your results to these people.

A lot has been said around social media so I will keep this brief – you do not know the reality of these peoples’ lives or where they started from.

Now at Improvr we are absolutely not about excuses, we believe you can do better but success comes from focusing on your own actions not the results of others. If you find that certain people on social media are causing you pain delete them.

Resistance

You may feel like these same people provide value or inspiration to you and this may be true. You must think carefully about the net effect on your life. Watching other people succeed is a form of procrastination. You must concentrate on your work.

If these people have a net negative effect, delete them! you are not missing anything.

Control your media diet. Focus on you.

and remember

“Comparison is the their of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

Progress doesn’t work how you think…

Much like the motivation you experience for any particular goal life seems to move in waves. A period of stagnation followed by a period of progress. Although it often appears to be the oppositve I firmly believe that the solid work done in the stagnation phase is the key to overall success. Like a hammer smashing through the window there is no measurable progress during the swing, but this is where you build momentum. All at once something will give and sudden progression occurs.

Constant effort to transcend your current level in all persuits is mandatory for a life well lived. We are self improvement machines and overcoming an obstacle can have unintentded side effects. Whatever stage you are at the people around you will tell you that the next level cannot be achieved. It’s too hard. It isn’t worth it. It’s too risky.

Do not listen. These people are wrong.

The truth is that the people around you are often stuck at the same level you are. They don’t want to see you progress because of what that means for them.

If nobody is telling you that your efforts are futile and a bridge too far you are not trying hard enough. Seek out new challenges constantly.

You must improve. This is a mantra for life.

Oportet Amplio.

Get Better with Keystone Habits

“I haven’t got time to exercise”

“I will get my finances in order when I earn more”

“I’d rather watch TV than read, I’m too tired by the time I get home”

Sound familiar?

Here are just a few phrases that I have heard hundreds of times from people who in many other ways have their life in order. You may meet a business executive making a massive salary that slurps fizzy drinks and orders pizza every night. You may meet the fitness freak that doesn’t pursue education. You may meet the professor that refuses to exercise. The most common of all is someone that eats like hell, doesn’t exercise, doesn’t read and whose debt is forever on the increase.

Now, everyone is given the same 24 hours in the day, so logically it would make sense that if someone has one area of their life in perfect order they probably wouldn’t have time to perfect the other areas? Right?

But generally that’s not we see – usually someone either has everything in good order or nothing at all. Why could this be?

What if, just like compound interest, having an area of your life in order made it exponentially easier to tidy up other areas? In my opinion this is exactly what happens.

There are a few things in life that give back you vastly more energy than you need to give to achieve them. These habits, if done well, can have knock-on positive effects in all other areas of your life, activities that give back many times what you have to put in are known as ‘keystone habits’. Today I want to discuss 3 keystone habits that once implemented gave me massive returns on my time and effort investments.

If you have not yet got a reasonable routine around any of these areas of life I can’t recommend enough that you make the change, the impact will always be more than you could have reasonably expected.

Health

Leading a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate keystone habit and is the one that you should start with if you aren’t already smashing it. Health has the advantage of having 0 barriers to entry. Everyone from the poorest to the richest, the bored to the time strapped, the Brainiac to the dummy can improve their health habits.

There are 2 main facets of health – diet and exercise, below are some basic ideas about what bad health habits tend to look like vs better versions.

 

Bad vs. Good

I walk up and down stairs, that’s exercise vs. I have a regular sport/hobby that leaves me out of breath and aching the next day

I don’t regularly wear exercise clothing vs. I have a bag filled with gym gear that I use regularly and for a variety of different activities

I consume more than one chocolate bar/fizzy drink per day vs. I do not consume anything obviously sugary on a regular basis

I eat salad occasionally vs. most of my meals are based on either fruit or veg

I buy fat free vs. I consume good fats in the form of avocados, Greek yoghurt, almonds etc as a staple of my diet

I don’t have time (to cook/exercise/do anything else positive) vs. I make the time to these things because at the end of the day my health is a huge priority and it’s my responsibility.

I do exercise sometimes vs. I have an activity that I do at least 3 times every single week

Shifting from the left to the right in these habits will leave you with more energy, clearer thought and higher self-esteem. Getting your health right can have unexpected effects on all other areas of life. Realising you can control and positively influence your body leads you to the realisation that you can control and positively influence other aspects of your life.

Finance

You can (and we will) go very deep on finances in futures posts but everyone should know the basics:

1. Earn more than you spend.

2. Control your spending with a budget that prioritises what’s important to you.

3. Get rid of as much consumer debt as possible. Do not take out more loans.

4. Invest the difference in a low fee index funds.

Having your finances in order and seeing your net worth grow month by month is extremely positive for your mental health. Knowing that one day your passive income will exceed your expenses is even better.

Education

Not in the sense that I think it’s wise for everyone to take out a huge loan, pack their bags and head off to University (I have been there it’s mostly drinking games). What I mean is committing to continual self-education through books, podcasts, documentaries, interpretive dance or whatever means you find most digestible. Seek out people who have what you want, learn from them. Even more seek out people who have had what you think you would want and turned their back on it, find out why.

By continuing your own education, you ensure that your skills, knowledge and the level at which you understand life will never peak. You ensure that every day you will be slightly more intelligent than you were the day before.