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Eliud

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One of the reasons I get motivated to do what I do is because people like MJ and others in this forum, always have great (proven) insights to pump the correct strategic moves for us here.Thanks MJ!
 
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eliquid

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Really nice post @MJ DeMarco , thanks. It was really helpful for me to see all those tips/facts laid out in one place serving a direct purpose. Also, is there any chance you could backsave that excel sheet to 2003 format and post it?
 

BeGreat

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I started using MJs "Fastlane Daily" 2 days ago. I am seeing progress in what I get done each day already. I think its so important, like MJ stated, to use a physical form (vs digital).

Does anyone have a suggestion for organizing all the weekly tasks? I have a vision of having one place where, on Sunday, I record everything to do for the upcoming week. And use that as a guide for my Fastlane Daily sheet. I can just use a blank sheet of paper..but if anyone has a better idea I would love to hear it.
 

Silverhawk851

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Bump
 

jason91

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Man.. this post helped me so much.

THANK YOU MJ


I hope I can contribute to others as much as you have to me and the rest of us on this forum. You've set such a great example for us. Can't say it enough times...

THANK YOU!

 
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Just reread this post and realized I was doing something very similar to the Kaizen technique that you talked about.

I've been using a platform called Chains which is essentially just Kaizen but in a more visually appealing form.

If anyone wants to check it out I linked to it.
 
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James Thornton

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That's looks like a great program however the point of the to-do list is to keep things written by hand, and not digital. I've done both and going digital doesn't seem to have the same effect... it just seems like another app of many floating on my machine, when the written document is always front-and-center, and I have to interact with it physically, as opposed to clicking and then you're done.

One of key things on this is the sidebar, completing that every day BURNS into your head what you're trying to do. It's the reminders that keep you on track. And trust me, after writing the same thing for 7 days (insofar as the weekly goal) by the 7th day if you haven't finished, you're like, MAN I GOTTA FINISH!!
Initial reaction: Nah, I like digital. iPhone reminders app is a daily habit. Feels good to delete those tasks.

Second reaction: Writing out your to do list and goals every day seems brutal! In a good way

Will try
 

Grok

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finally read this. I gave advise to a person earlier today to read this. took my own advise!
great stuff, thank you!
 

business_man

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#1: Accept Reality: There Are No Shortcuts. Real Change Requires a Real Process.

Let’s first get the uncomfortable shit out of the way.

Anything worthwhile in life will require a worthwhile effort. There are no shortcuts. There are NO silver bullets, NO magic pills, and NO secret sauces. If you’re still trolling the internet looking for this stuff, move along. You’ve got the wrong forum, the wrong article, and the wrong author.

So lets start with the old guru mantra “take action!

We say it a lot around here: Take action! Take action!

While action is important, action isn’t what creates change.

Taking action, by itself, is just an event that produces little, if any results. In fact, “taking action” is right behind “do what you love” as one of the biggest guru hoaxes ever perpetrated on the self-improvement industry.

Blasphemy?

Here’s why.

“Taking action” is merely a micro-task to a process, and a process is what precedes real change.

What’s a process? A process is a systematized series of focused actions. A process is repeated. A process is “taking action X 1000" and making adjustments along the way.

Once a process is established it then becomes a habit, which then integrates the process into your mind as automatic, instinctual, and almost subconscious. It actually becomes woven into your existence. The result is a lifestyle which ultimately creates the change you want. The change isn’t fleeting or short-lived, but permanent. Short-cuts are short for a reason— they don’t last.

Unfortunately, most people leverage “taking action” into some sort of mental masturbation trick designed to give us a fleeting "feel good" moment. It’s a temporary exercise orchestrated to fool yourself into thinking that you are doing something, when in actuality, you’re just painting lipstick on the pig. You’re committed to the idea of change, but not committed to the process of change.

Hit the gym the first week of January. See all those people? They’re committed to the idea of change (which are just fleeting thoughts) but not committed to the process (which is the focused action). By February, 95% of them will be gone.

View attachment 6828

You see, going to the gym constitutes “taking action”. However, if you never return, will anything really change? Not a damn thing except for that moment of “feel good” which is now, long gone.

Want to eat better and shed a few pounds? Great— for lunch you have steamed halibut and broccoli. Awesome choice. Healthy and nutritious, a perfect decision for your goals. Unfortunately, for dinner you’re back at the old double-bacon cheeseburger with fries. Again, absolutely nothing has changed despite “taking action.”

Ever hear someone say “I’m on a diet?” What they’re really saying is this:

I am NOT committed to permanent change.
I am NOT committed to the process.
I am NOT committed to a transformation from action, to habit.

The word diet implicitly means FAIL. Diets are event-driven based on “taking action” — but the word implies temporary, which implies failure of process.

Diets die and only succeed when they become lifestyles, making the diet, no diet at all— but a simple way of living.

You see, your lifestyle is what produces the real change you seek. That’s how you make a difference in your life. No pill, no diet, and no book can give you the “secret” — the secret lies within yourself, your process, and your expectations of that process.

Focused action > Committed and Repeated > Habit > Lifestyle.



#2: Identify What You Want

What exactly do you want?

Envision yourself time-shifting 1 year into the future at a New Years Eve party. Envision yourself celebrating the year that was, the year that changed EVERYTHING. Take a moment and reflect on the accomplishments you are celebrating in this moment.

Do you want to lose 60 pounds and did it? Did you eat better and got your cholesterol down to 180? Did you enter a fitness competition and placed in the top three? Did you start a new business and doubled your income? Quit your job? Met your soulmate? Complete a full length novel?

Identify EXACTLY what you want to feel in this moment and envision yourself there.

If you don't know where you want to go, you don't know the road that will get you there.



#3: Apply Mathematics To That End Goal, If Possible

Now that you’ve envisioned how awesome your new year will be, attach a numerical figure to your goal.

If “lose weight” is the goal, this would translate into “Lose 25 pounds” or “Get to 15% bodyfat”. Likewise, if your goal is to “start a business” you would need to identify a numerical number, say sales, profits, or # of customers.

The mathematics of the change is crucially important as subjective milestones cannot be measured, and often are action-fakes for real progress.

For example, if “start a business” is the goal, what measure identifies meeting the goal? The moment you get business cards? Or a fancy logo? The moment you launch the website?

While these milestones are apart of the process, they are merely circle-jerking action-fakes designed to make us think that we’ve accomplished a goal, when the real goal should be a sustainable mathematical momentum that keeps us moving toward habitual and addictive producing results.

If it cannot be sustained, it isn’t real — it isn’t habit and it isn’t lifestyle.



#4: Segment The End Goal Into It’s Daily “Take-Action” Step

After you isolate what you want to achieve and quantified it, break down that achievement into it’s core “take action” component, or what I call “the daily target”. What daily routine will get you there?

For example, if you objective is to write a novel, your daily target could be to write 500 words everyday, or a minimum of 2 hours. If your objective is 12% body fat and six-pack abs, your daily target would be to either workout and/or eat no more than 2,000 calories. The important thing here is to isolate the micro-task that builds the process.

If your goal cannot be measured, use a daily accounting instead. For example, on my attached spreadsheet I have an end goal as “education” — I want to expand my knowledge. In order create change in this area, I will strive to learn something new everyday. Doing so completes the task.



#5: Identify What Threatens The Daily Target.

In other words, you need to identify what IS NOT working. What can and will threaten your daily target? There’s that old adage: The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results. In other words, the choices you made this YEAR resulted in the CONSEQUENCES you have NOW.

In order to hit the daily targets you’ve set, you’ve got to identify exactly WHAT will stop you from achieving them. Why have you failed for the last 10 years? What things do you need to stop doing to make this happen THIS YEAR? Success is more about what you need to STOP doing versus START doing.
  • Are you spending 5 hours a day on Facebook playing the latest and greatest game?
  • Are you jumping from one idea to the next with no focused action or plan?
  • Does your ego require an expensive BMW? Which then requires you to maintain your 60 hour a week soul-sucking corporate job?
  • Are you giving into false narratives (I have no money! I have no skills! I'm not a morning person!) that preclude you from making a change?
In order to tackle the hardest part of process, which is “committed and repeated”, you have to dig down into your life and expose everything that is thwarting process.

It all boils down to one thing: Your choices.


"Greatness is a lot of small things done daily."

What are you choosing instead? What bad habits are stealing your time and derailing your progress?

The bottomline is, if you don’t have what you want, its because of one reason only: You’re simply not making the required sacrifice. You are choosing actions not correlated to your goal.



#6: Target Threats By Identifying Where the Battles Are Won and Lost.

Most people fight their wars on the wrong battlefield, resulting in loss after loss. If you only knew WHERE and HOW to fight, you would have a fighting chance to create the change you want.

For example, if you want to lose fifty pounds, you have to first identify where the battle is won and lost.

Most people think the battle is won at the refrigerator. As you open up the door, the battle begins:

  • “OMG, don’t eat that ice cream! Pick something else!
  • “Oooh, look at the cheesecake! Should I eat a few bites? No don’t!
  • “Mmmm, I would love an ice cold Pepsi right about now… but I shouldn’t.
  • “Don’t eat that block of cheese! OMG I can’t stand it!
  • “No, don’t grab that gallon of ice cream! Oh, just a little dish won’t hurt…
Sorry champ, but you’ve already lost.

The war you’re fighting isn’t fought at the refrigerator, its fought at the grocery store. The moment you put this crap in your shopping cart, is the moment you’ve lost the war. You’re fighting a war with sticks and stones while your enemy has an AR-15.

Been spending hours watching mindless reality television? The battle you need to fight isn’t on the couch with the remote control, it’s on the telephone. Pick up the phone and cancel the freaking cable TV.



#6) Attack bad habits with inconvenience and/or pain.

Once you identify the battlegrounds, your bad habits are now ripe for attack.

How do you attack them?

By leveraging your natural human instinct which is to seek the path of least resistance. In other words, make your bad habits a royal pain in the a$$ to continue. Make them invasive. Inconvenient.

In our refrigerator example, if you’ve won the war at the grocery store, you now have attached inconvenience to the bad habit. If you want ice cream, you’ve got to hop in your car, drive to the store, troll the grocery aisle, buy it, and drive home. Not super complicated, but certainly not super convenient.

If you’re trying to stop playing video games, pack up your XBOX console and sell it. Or throw it in the attic. Now if you want to play, you’ve got to climb a ceiling ladder and crawl through a dusty attic to unpack it, wire it up, and play.

Again, not very convenient.



#7) Reward Daily “Action-Taking” Accomplishments with a Physical Cue.

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve learned that crossing-off line-items on my to-do list is addictive.

It feels good.

I love seeing that “X” being marked off as it gives me a sense of reward. If you can do the same with your daily “action taking” we can encourage process and habit changing behavior to take place.

I’ve attached a spreadsheet that can help us accomplish this. It also outlines this entire exercise in procedural change.

Going back to our “lose weight” example, your daily ritual should include a visit to the gym and a better diet. Each day this is done successfully, mark down its accomplishment in a journal or a spreadsheet. On my spreadsheet, it’s achievement is marked by an X.

The objective of the spreadsheet is to create a mental map of your “action taking” so it eventually forms a process.

The goal is to get vertical with the X’s as much as possible for each goal target. If you target ONE X MINIMUM for each day for each row, you will experience KAIZEN, or constant improvement.

Over the course of thirty days, you will see noticeable results.

In a year, you won’t recognize yourself!!!

Optimally, you want to create columns of Xs on consecutive days for each objective. The minimum goal should be at least one X on each day— this means you are improving yourself every single day. To get started, I suggest a simply 30-day challenge, or baby steps, a 10-day challenge.

Pick a goal, line up some “X”s and see how to goes for you.

On my spreadsheet, I have several categories. Each are designed to improve my life in a different facet. This challenge also exposed an interesting "false narrative" in my life ... The last 2 weeks, I've been getting up at 4:15AM and hitting the gym. While the early days were a struggle, I'm to the point now where I discovered that "I'm not a morning person" was simply a narrative I told myself so I didn't have to exert the discipline to get up.

So, who wants to change their life in the next 30 days?

:)

KAIZEN: Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the best", refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes.

Great post MJ.

Started using it for my specific goal in business (increase in expertise and profit).

Few questions.

1. Do you use it only for short term progress (1-2 months etc)? Because if I put it a long term my targets start changing (if I had to apply 10 gigs a day for 10 $/hr first month, after half year I need only 5 gigs for 200 $/hr).

2. I saw in your spreed sheet Writing goal is in $ as I understand. How do you track this? As if my start goals is 1$ and my end goal is 1mln$ after half year. The only X market will be lats day or a day a achieve 1mln. No Kaizen for half year :D

Is it better to separate it to shorter periods?

Appreciate your time.

Zee
 
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Luffy

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I want to reply to this even though the thread has been up for a year now. I was able to complete my new year resolution and do everything I wanted to do even stuff I only had in my head and didn't write down, hell even a childhood goal have come true this year for me.

Financial freedom is my current goal as I'm sure is the case for everyone here. I'm announcing that I will start a business. To be more specific. I'm going to earn $6000 per month at minimum so I don't ever have to work a job. I'll be creating daily to do lists that will bring me closer to my goal everyday.
 
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Delmania

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Are you giving into false narratives (I have no money! I have no skills! I'm not a morning person!) that preclude you from making a change?

I love this thread, I've been spending my morning time putting together a little of my goals and breaking them down into daily actions. However, I do have one question, which concerns the quoted part. How do you overcome false narratives, especially for someone who struggles with depression?
 
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LouieLouie

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#6: Target Threats By Identifying Where the Battles Are Won and Lost.

Most people fight their wars on the wrong battlefield, resulting in loss after loss. If you only knew WHERE and HOW to fight, you would have a fighting chance to create the change you want.


I love this entire post, so much that I have printed it off and put into my yearly goal workbook.

Maybe someone can help, with this problem I have.

This 7 step process MJ so brilliantly outlined, worked so well with health and fitness, this year.
  • Run 6 days a week
  • Never miss 2 days in a row.
  • Increase weekly

However I am struggling to gain the same traction applying this to cold calling.

I have no other pressing tasks, my Saas product v1 is done, and ready to sell.

But

For some reason I just haven't got started cold calling.

I am assuming the 2 habits are similar in difficulty, as I was overweight when I started running.

Why did it worked so well for me in forming the habit of running? I have run hundreds of miles this year.
And now is so difficult with Cold Calling?
Am I missing something?

I just can't seem to break through getting started building this cold calling habit for life! Which I am committed to!

If I don't soon figure it out..................................well you know what happens without sales.
Any help would be awesome!
 

Kingmaker

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I love this entire post, so much that I have printed it off and put into my yearly goal workbook.

Maybe someone can help, with this problem I have.

This 7 step process MJ so brilliantly outlined, worked so well with health and fitness, this year.
  • Run 6 days a week
  • Never miss 2 days in a row.
  • Increase weekly

However I am struggling to gain the same traction applying this to cold calling.

I have no other pressing tasks, my Saas product v1 is done, and ready to sell.

But

For some reason I just haven't got started cold calling.

I am assuming the 2 habits are similar in difficulty, as I was overweight when I started running.

Why did it worked so well for me in forming the habit of running? I have run hundreds of miles this year.
And now is so difficult with Cold Calling?
Am I missing something?

I just can't seem to break through getting started building this cold calling habit for life! Which I am committed to!

If I don't soon figure it out..................................well you know what happens without sales.
Any help would be awesome!
Set yourself a monetary penalty for not cold calling at least 1 hour a day.

For example, if you don't cold call for 1 hour today you have to take a $20 bill and burn it (literally, with a lighter, or donate it to a cause you oppose). 2 days in a row - $40, 3 - $80 etc.

It worked for me, my fear of wasting money is apparently stronger than fear of rejection on the phone. :)
 

LouieLouie

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Set yourself a monetary penalty for not cold calling at least 1 hour a day.

For example, if you don't cold call for 1 hour today you have to take a $20 bill and burn it (literally, with a lighter, or donate it to a cause you oppose). 2 days in a row - $40, 3 - $80 etc.

It worked for me, my fear of wasting money is apparently stronger than fear of rejection on the phone. :)
Thanks for that, I will implement that.

I had been thinking about it...... no more "thinking"

You mind sharing the logistics of how you donated without letting yourself off the hook
 
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Omni

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I love this entire post, so much that I have printed it off and put into my yearly goal workbook.

Maybe someone can help, with this problem I have.

This 7 step process MJ so brilliantly outlined, worked so well with health and fitness, this year.
  • Run 6 days a week
  • Never miss 2 days in a row.
  • Increase weekly

However I am struggling to gain the same traction applying this to cold calling.

I have no other pressing tasks, my Saas product v1 is done, and ready to sell.

But

For some reason I just haven't got started cold calling.

I am assuming the 2 habits are similar in difficulty, as I was overweight when I started running.

Why did it worked so well for me in forming the habit of running? I have run hundreds of miles this year.
And now is so difficult with Cold Calling?
Am I missing something?

I just can't seem to break through getting started building this cold calling habit for life! Which I am committed to!

If I don't soon figure it out..................................well you know what happens without sales.
Any help would be awesome!

@LouieLouie I've been through this. It still happens when I tie my self worth too much to the results of a project, where I think I'm a success if this project exceeds expectations or I'm a failure if this project misses expectations. Why it happens is understandable, since you put so much time and effort into creating something and now it's judgment time.

The solution is to detach your worth from the project. Realize that whatever happens, you're still you. You're not a failure because you're more experienced, knowledgeable, and stronger for all that you've been through because of the project. And that whatever happens, you know you can improve on the bad and embrace the good. Then do 1 small task that moves you forward and build that momentum!
 

liquidglass

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For some reason I just haven't got started cold calling.

I am assuming the 2 habits are similar in difficulty, as I was overweight when I started running.

Why did it worked so well for me in forming the habit of running? I have run hundreds of miles this year.
And now is so difficult with Cold Calling?
Am I missing something?

I just can't seem to break through getting started building this cold calling habit for life! Which I am committed to!

If I don't soon figure it out..................................well you know what happens without sales.
Any help would be awesome!

What @Omni said

With running you either run or you don't run, you're the only one who knows/judges
With cold calling there is the very real (and assured) chance of rejection. You're afraid that your idea isn't good enough and you want to be inside your comfort bubble of believing it's the best thing since sliced bread. There's nothing wrong with wanting that, but when it comes to cold calling you've just go to do it!

Set a goal for cold calls each day, I'm not sure how big your market is so start with:

50 calls each day
- it's attainable
- it's not as intimidating
- you literally get to countdown the number of calls b/c it's limited
- don't do any more than 50 you first few days, then after your first sale you're going to want to up that limit!

Good luck!
 

LouieLouie

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50 calls each day
- it's attainable
- it's not as intimidating
- you literally get to countdown the number of calls b/c it's limited
- don't do any more than 50 you first few days, then after your first sale you're going to want to up that limit!
I like that exact number, I am going to go for that!
I'll probably start a progress thread here to keep me on track.
 
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Sean Marshall

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Focused action > Committed and Repeated > Habit > Lifestyle.

I LOVE this! Our lives are a result of our choices and actions.

I would only add that as we take action, it's the RIGHT action. To follow MJ's outline, I suppose this is really making sure the actions we're making are part of the right process. We can take action every day organizing our desk and checking emails OR we can make 100 sales calls. It's all about making every little action an effective one that's part of a bigger effective process.

Thank you for the spreadsheet MJ!
 

Omni

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I like that exact number, I am going to go for that!
I'll probably start a progress thread here to keep me on track.

Also believe in your product. If you created a cure for cancer and know that other people would benefit from your creation, would you still be hesitant?

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk
 

StompingAcorns

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This is a really awesome thread. Thanks, MJ. I personally think it should be required reading for newcomers. I have a shortcut to it on my desktop, and I like to re-read it once in awhile to remind me. You've distilled a lot of key concepts into very simple and straightforward instructions. I hope you are/already have incorporated this into your next book. In the spirit of adding to that, here are a couple of ideas that you and others have mentioned in other posts.
#4: Segment The End Goal Into It’s Daily “Take-Action” Step

#5: Identify What Threatens The Daily Target.

#7) Reward Daily “Action-Taking” Accomplishments with a Physical Cue.

4a or 5b - the "one thing" idea, or "3 things" (e.g., LightHouse's Laser Focus thread) - how to ensure progress when you have a lot of goals. I have a lot of goals, but my most important goal is to take action on my #1 priority every day. Even if I'm not willing to reduce my goals to one and only one goal, I can make taking action on the #1 goal the most important priority for the day. This also means taking that action first thing in my day, when my energy and resources are at their peak. This could go under #4 as how to ensure focus on the most important action or under #5 as to deal with too many goals tripping you up.

5b - how writing down your intentions for the day can help you discover what is threatening the target and help you notice what you're actually doing versus what you think you're doing. For example, using your FastLane Daily log (see page 5 of this thread for MJ's log), or recently I started using what I thought was an archaic handwritten journaling system. The act of slowing down long enough to handwrite things every day and every month has been tremendously eye opening. I have learned that what I planned to do and thought I was doing was not really what I was doing. I was able to see exactly how I was intending one thing but doing another. For example, I would write down 3 of the most important things to get done for the day, set my pen down, and immediately start on some random thing that was not on my top 3 list. I saw how I would set the intention do X, and then pour tremendous energy throughout the day into some project I thought was 4th or 5th or 6th on my list. Others may get similar insights with spreadsheets, applications (like Trello), and apps. Personally, I've become a huge believer in the power of handwriting for focus and attention.

#7 - this is just a personal comment. I needed to see this again, and I'm going to start today, right now, making Xs. I would love to hear more thoughts about rewarding yourself. I know this is an area where I have not done a good job - rewarding myself, in little ways and big, for accomplishments. For example, I didn't attend my college graduation ceremony. It seemed like a non-event to me, and it still does. I ran across my diploma the other day, all rolled up - I never even framed it. As another example, I watched an instruction video some months ago, and the instructor kept commenting on what he was creating, like "that's just great," "this is turning out great," "I like that," "I'm doing good," over and over, to the point where it was almost comical. But it made me realize that it was a reward system of sorts for even attempting what he was doing; and I don't have this kind of positive, encouraging self talk. I know this is a personal psych thing, but that's why further thoughts and ideas on how to integrate a positive reward system would be really useful for people like me.
 
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Thanks Andrew

I've been reading the book "The Slight Edge" and it covers this exact topic in depth. Well worth the read in my view. Has a lot of fast lane principles embedded in it. You definitely pointed out one of my biggest problems, which is jumping from one project to the next with no commitment (project, job, girlfriends...ha!). While I knew it was the case that anything worth doing in life wasn't going to come easy, for some reason that never really sunk in--those synapses just didn't form. I always had the excuse that "I'm not a patient person." Seriously, that was my excuse. But slow and steady wins the race. Thanks for the post.
 
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2 Years later and this info is still golden! Writing everything down is so important, always plan tomorrow the night before this way you have a clear schedule and dont waste time during the day
 

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