Why goals are pointless unless you have this

Comedian Louis CK has a great bit about how people on airplanes are the worst.

“I had to wait 40 minutes on the runway.”

Really?  You left out the part where you flew through the air…like a BIRD.  What about the miracle of air travel we all take for granted?  Nowadays you can do New York to L.A. in 6 hours.  Once upon a time the same journey could take thirty years, and about half of you wouldn’t survive.

That’s one reason I like stand-up.

Nothing like a little pointed ridicule to remind us when we’re acting like attention deficit millennials who freak out in a brunch line.

Look, we all have problems.

But here’s a rule of human achievement too powerful to ignore:

Until we appreciate the good we have, we won’t get any more.

Think of a child.  You buy her a toy.  She turns it over in her little fingers a few times, then chucks it on the floor and demands new one.  How inclined are you to buy it for her?

The energy of GRATITUDE is a prerequisite for GAIN.

That’s why it’s pointless to have goals unless you start from a place of gratitude.

Want to be healthier?  Appreciate whatever health you have now.

One reason New Year’s Resolutions fail is they’re big lists of things we don’t like.  And often, we’ve been stewing in our resentment of these things for a long time.

But consider this…

It’s impossible to feel resentment AND gratitude simultaneously.

They’re incompatible.

Similarly, you can’t experience FEAR and ANGER when every cell in your body is vibrating at the frequency of LOVE.  Negative emotions are ancient brain states designed to protect you by keeping you ensnared in the known.  That’s why gratitude is a launching pad.  It puts you in a state that makes you more receptive.  It inspires right action.  And it acts as a beacon that draws in the abundance all around you.

So don’t make lists of goals…

Make lists of what you’re grateful for.

Do it daily.

Don’t leave it to chance.  They’re YOUR thoughts, take responsibility for them.  Prime the pump and appreciate any time it feels right to do so.

Goals, and *what’s next* flashes are the natural offspring of this process.

One last anecdote: when I worked at Extreme Fitness, the cleaner was a Mexican guy called Carlos.  Every day Carlos came to work, he wore a beaming smile, and greeted everyone with an enthusiastic, “ehhh, Muchacho!”  Carlos had a lot of friends, and despite what we might consider his relatively humble position, a great life.  I once asked him why he was so happy.  He seemed puzzled.  “Life is BEAUTIFUL,” he said.  “I have my family.  I have a job – so many nice people here.  And I live in Canada, where it’s safe.”

Good share.

Make it a point to count your blessings on the regular…

Then, let goals be the sincere expression of living a life of gratitude.

Happy Appreciating,

Conor Kelly
conorkelly.com

How to have more self-control

One of the major tenets of my success philosophy is to limit the extent to which you rely on self-control for getting things accomplished.

This ties into to a revelation in psychology studies that willpower, or more generally *self-control*, is like a muscle that fatigues the more you flex it, and ultimately tuckers out.

Thus, you make better choices by organizing yourself to make fewer choices.

That’s the mantra.

(Check out my post Give Up The Willpower Binge for more on this.)

The flipside to this deeelightful little nugget is you can actually build your self-control muscle for times when some good ol’ fashion, forceful decision-making is required.

In brain science terms, the neural connection between the instinctive emotional functions of the limbic structures and the thinking capacities of the cerebral cortex can be strengthened, lending some additional juice to your resolve.

To this end, experimental psychologists have prescribed everything from journaling food, to money management tasks, to more adventurous themes like avoiding curse words, or never beginning a sentence with I.

Result?

Subjects on these mini power programs are more resistant to the standard pattern of self-control degradation.  They even show improved discipline in their lives…watch less tv, drink less alcohol, eat less junk food, exercise more often, and study longer.

In the same way regular workouts can improve your body, the habit of deploying your self-control in measured bursts can help your brain.

The key is to do this on little things first, then let it expand into other areas of your life in which you’d like more self-control.  Something as simple as brushing your teeth or operating your mouse with your non-preferred hand can turn up your impulse control a few notches.

Here are a some of my preferred self-control boosters…

*Keeping a nutrition journal
*Daily exercise (even if it’s just going for a walk or doing a few pushups when you wake up)
*Reading instead of watching tv
*Going to bed 30 minutes earlier
*Eliminating starches from your diet 1-3 non-consecutive days per week (eat just proteins and veggies)
*Talk to strangers (seeing as you’re not five years old anymore and can probably update Mom’s advice)

And my favorite – if less obvious – self-control adjustment: learn a new language.

Language is one of the most transformational forces on the planet.

(More on this in another email.  Suffice it to say, the hippocampus lights up like a Christmas tree in language learners, affording you improved memory, and easier adaptation as your brain reshapes itself.)

Whatever self-control regimen you choose, start small, with seemingly unnecessary, and emotionally neutral tasks.

Be persistent.

You’ll pick up steam as you go along.

If it becomes a permanent part of your daily routine, then, in the words of William James, “[you] will stand like a tower when everything rocks around [you], and when [your] softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.”

Dude could write.

Happy Self-Controlling,

Conor Kelly

Give up the willpower binge

Did you know you have a limited supply of decision-making power?

That’s right, research shows willpower is like a muscle…it fatigues, and eventually refuses to cooperate altogether.

The more decisions you make in any given day, the more you deplete your willpower stores.

Yet, most people attempt to form new habits (e.g. eating well, exercising) by willing themselves to it.

And it don’t work.

That’s why I recommend abstinence in making choices.  Quit dispensing your willpower in such a willy-nilly way.  Restrict yourself to high-leverage acts of will, and instead of trying to moderate your minute-by-minute behaviours, focus on applying what I call *context changes*.

A context change is a change to your environment.

The reason it’s so powerful, is you apply a little determination ONCE, and it pays off over and over again.

Eee Gee

One of my most harped upon nutrition strategies is food prepping.  Why?  It’s a high-leverage, high-upside decision.  Sure you’ve gotta convince yourself to make time to cook and pack meals.  But that one move saves you having to make 6-10 individual choices you’d otherwise encounter if you didn’t already have meals and snacks on hand.  Standing at many repeated crossroads will eventually leave you tapped out in the good-decision-making department.

You’d be binging on your own willpower.

Example numero dos

Let’s say you want to walk more.  One way is to simply tell yourself you’re going to walk more, and daily match wits with the devil on your shoulder and his compelling case for collapsing on the couch instead.

The other is to not buy a metropass, so you’re forced to walk to and from work each day.

Again, one choice vs. many.

Leverage.

Got a weakness for potato chips?

Perform a Lays-ectomy on your kitchen cupboards.  You might still eat them, but at least you don’t have to stare temptation in the face so often that it erodes your judgment.

Is any of this advice new?

Maybe not in the specifics.  But I’ll wager the concept behind it has never been placed before you in such a neatly wrapped package.  Once you get the thought-process behind the examples above, you can see with new lenses any area in which your actions often betray your goals.

What context change can you implement?

How can you make better choices by making fewer choices?

I cover this in full detail, along with several other BREAKTHROUGH concepts at my Lean For Life talk on April 25th:

=>Click here for details & to save your seat.

Don’t miss it.

Hear me, ye faithful…

Forsake thy binge.

Ration thy willpower, and thou shalt not hunger.

To A Low-Willpower Diet,

Conor Kelly