One of the best ways to stay motivated

Many of us push ourselves to stay motivated. We force, cajole, pressure, sometimes even yell at ourselves to get going.

But pushing yourself isn’t as effective as being pulled.

I don’t mean being yanked or dragged like a prisoner, no.

I mean something summoning you by an irresistible force, like being in love, where you’re carried forth, wooed, because you want to be, have to be.

And the thing that best pulls us is this.

Purpose.

Purpose gives you meaning

It’s the why we do what we do. It’s the reason for which we live and act and rise.

Purpose gives us meaning.

It clarifies our lives, bringing it into focus, letting us see the reason for living.

Purpose gives you the feeling that you are connected to a bigger plan than just making money, accumulating things, raising your status, lifestyle, and well-being. It’s something you would die for. But more importantly, it’s something you live for.

Purpose propels you further

Purpose is life’s greatest magnet, drawing you forth. It beckons you to attempt greater feats, go farther lengths, pursue higher goals, and achieve more than you could ever imagine.

It provides the oomph to lean into the most challenging seasons of life, face the darkest times, learn in the face of failure. It strengthens us in the face of stress, fatigue, and uncertainty.

Purpose’s purpose

So, if you want motivation, energy, a reason to get out and face the day, don’t spend your time shoving and pushing yourself—no.

Instead, answer this question.

What is your purpose?

Doing that will help you do everything else.


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Overcoming one of our greatest obstacles: ourselves

Our lives are determined not just by what we think but how we think.

Before I started writing I used to believe I couldn’t write. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that my high school papers, after being graded, had so much red ink on them that they looked like someone dragged a freshly killed animal over them. It was traumatic for me. And add the fact that I grew up in an immigrant family where English was a third language and Dr. Seuss wasn’t read to me, I thought I was doomed to be a poor wordsmith.

That frame of mind followed me all the way through college, into my career, and got worse when I started a creative agency, and reached all the way into my midlife.

But I was wrong.

See, in the cradle of our minds we nurture something that forms us all. It’s weened in the shadows of our psyche, hidden, growing into an idea or narrative that chokes our dreams and kills opportunities because we are often too afraid to challenge it.

This “how” we think is a framework of thinking that we all possess. They are the ideas that we have about ourselves and others and the world, that guide us.

They exist in the forms of memories, stories, experiences, phrases spoken to us in anger by loved ones, past failures, etc. And they hold incredible power of us.

Once I heard about puppies that someone was training and they used a gate to keep them in the kitchen. And one time, when the puppies were playing with the gate, testing the limits, it fell on them. And never again did they try to test that barrier. They were terrified of it even when they out grew it and towered over it; they dared not cross it.

We are those puppies. And we all have gates in our lives.

Even if we’ve outgrown them, they still feel like they tower over us and can hurt us, even if we can clearly see that all we need to do is jump a little and we would easily clear it. But, instead, the gate traps us.

But it’s not the gate that traps us but how we think of it.

You see, the puppies weren’t trapped by the physical gate. It was their idea of the gate that was trapping them.

The same was true of me: it wasn’t my bloodied high school papers and growing up immigrant that kept me from writing—no. It was my idea of myself that did that. And it held me back from doing what I enjoyed, loved, all because I was afraid of something I had outgrown.

What are your gates?

It can be anything. I’ve had friends who believed they couldn’t get married, or that they couldn’t be happy, or that they couldn’t get fit, or that God wouldn’t forgive them, or that the world is ending. Maybe you’re wondering if you can make it through this pandemic. There are endless options of the gates that imprison us.

To find out what they are, an exercise you can do it just to write down all of the things that you believe you can’t do but enjoy doing. Take time to slow down and really parse through your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and actually put them down either in your device or even on paper with a pen. Doing that will help you practice awareness. Wake yourself up to the way you see yourself. You don’t need to write Pulitzer Prize winning work. You just need to document your observations so that you can read it and reflect on the ideas and stories that are barricading you.

Also, you can’t do it alone. Often, we need help. For me, it was my wife and God. I felt like there was divine assistance that sparked my mind to see the possibilities, then my wife fanned the flame. There was a God given desire to write. And my wife had heard my musings and love for words and encouraged me.

“I can’t…” is too often said about this or that dream or possibility. But more often than not, it’s just a gate that fell on you when you were young.

It’s time to jump the gate.

Lots of love,

John


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You are not an imposter

You’re not an imposter; you’re just in-process.

You might be a father learning to parent, an employee who is progressing in your career, an entrepreneur hustling to survive, or a couple trying to forge a healthy marriage. That’s good; that’s great.

Life is a process.

Anytime you try something, do something, go somewhere, you’re not going to be an expert, specialist, authority, master.

And it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong, like you’re “faking it.” But you’re not.

For anyone to become a master, you have to be a beginner. You have to muddle through, practice, attempt, fail, then try again and improve.

You’re in-process.

There’s nothing more real than that.

Even experts still need to learn and feel like imposters, because we’re all continuing to learn, grow, and become.

See, to do anything, everyone is an “imposter.” Everyone is between a beginner and expert, student and teacher, birth and death.

And that’s a great place to be. That’s where the adventure is, learnings are found, discoveries are made—life is lived.

So just because you don’t know as much as you want to or feel out of your depth or lack clarity on the future, that doesn’t make you lesser.

It just means you’re on a great journey to better things.

The key is to keep moving forward.


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Unlearn yourself

You’re not stuck; you just haven’t learned to unlearn yourself.

That phrase, “unlearn yourself,” is powerful because it unlocks the potential we all have within us. And it reframes the stories we tell ourselves that hold us back.

Our stories define us. And those definitions often trap us. They’re a cage of assumptions and ideas that confine and hinder us from improving our lives, living better.

Years ago, I used to have chronic pain, which I believed was the reason I was terribly out of shape. And I thought that I really couldn’t do much about it because I went to countless doctors but still agonized.

That was my story. That’s what I told myself. I was trapped.

Then I started mall walking with my wife. And I might have been out of breath the first few times, as grandmas lapped me. (Seriously.) But somehow I felt better physically after I went, so I kept at it.

Eventually, that led to me start running regularly, which set my lungs on fire, but also made me feel good, somehow.

And after years of incremental changes and improvements to my workouts and diet, I became healthy and fit. More than that, the pain dissipated.

After all of that, I realized how wrong I was about my body, my health, my pain, my story—me.

There was a cage around me that I never even realized was there. It was framed in a story that I wove about myself until it held me captive.

Then, I unlearned myself.

And everything changed. I changed.

What about you?

What do you believe about yourself that isn’t right or is entirely wrong?

It’s hard to see sometimes. Start by doing this.

Take stock when you say, “I can’t do that,” not about anything immoral, but those things you want to do or should do but believe you can’t.

What are those things, areas, goals, practices? Start there.

Unlearn yourself.

And you’ll learn how powerful you really are, unlocking the potential you never knew you had.


Want coaching?

I’m only taking on a limited number of people, like 3. But if you’re interested, contact me and let’s set up a time for a video call.

Whether it’s in business, career, relationships, life, I’m here for you.

The first thirty minute session is free.

If you want to proceed after that, I will provide pricing.

I hope to connect with you and reach new heights together.


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Waiting well will transform your life

Waiting feels terrible. But when we wait well, magic happens.

Growing, improving, changing doesn’t happen quickly. We know that.

But for some reason, we still get impatient and disappointed when it doesn’t happen when we want it to, which often means yesterday.

And we know that we must wait. But what we often fail to understand is that we mustn’t just wait.

For how we wait is what really matters.

Waiting well is key.

“Waiting” usually means we get antsy, we fidget, we get impatient. Then we start to wonder if this is worth it, and we begin to stray. And wondering becomes wandering. Before you know it, we’re completely off the path.

Instead, waiting well gives us poise as we do our daily routines, form new habits, learn new lessons. It knows that transformation doesn’t occur in a moment, but rather moment by moment by moment. It’s gradual, incremental.

Waiting well means resisting looking at the results but revels in the process. You’re not looking to make quick gains but gain a life long practice.

And thinking like that will transform your life.

Waiting well plays the long game.

And if you do that, you will win.

The power of starting

With every second that passes, you are one moment away from changing your life. Really.

That project you always wanted to do, the career path you always wanted to pursue, growing more fit, exercising your faith, becoming a better person are all before you, right now, this instant.

All you have to do is this: Start.

That’s it.

The problem often lies in the belief that starting isn’t enough; we believe we should be finished when we’ve just started. We’re impatient.

But thinking like that will get you nowhere. Because when you begin, you have to accept the fact that you are a beginner. And that’s ok. That’s good.

Being a beginner is key. It’s how you get to the finish line. It’s how you win: one step at a time.

That’s how I lost fifty pounds in my forties: I started by walking in the mall and getting lapped by seventy-year-old grandmas; it was embarrassing, but I began.

That’s how I started my companies: I had no idea what I was doing and just talked to smarter people than me, and an opportunity came along that gave me liftoff.

That’s how I started blogging: I always believed that I was a terrible writer, but I still wanted to say something and began banging away at my keyboard until what I had to say seemed like something worth listening to.

Today, right now, this second is an opportunity for you to grow, get better, succeed. It’s not even about finishing or winning; it’s about progressing.

And before you know it, you will be transformed.

Keep your New Year’s resolution by thinking like this

The size of your resolution isn’t what causes you to quit. It’s because you’re going too fast. If you slow down, you’ll have a better chance at keeping your resolution.

Let me explain.

Maybe you want to get super fit, or land a massive promotion, or make millions in your new business. Those are big resolutions, and that’s great. You should. That’s not the problem.

What is is this. You want results now, or tomorrow, or next week. But that’s not how you reach big goals. That’s not how it works. It’s not fast. It’s slow.

It takes time to get healthy, lose weight, gain muscle, lean out. It takes a lot of work and wins to get a promotion, land that corner office, win that title. And most businesses take years, even decades, to build.

When you rush to achieve that resolution, you will feel defeated when you don’t make the progress you were hoping for after too short of a time. Instead, you need to set your expectations rightly. Extend your timeline—practice patience.

No one wants to hear that, I know. But it is the truth. The good news is that resolutions are achievable. All of what I lined out can be done. You just need to give yourself enough time to accomplish them.

You need to slow down. Take one step at a time. Set your internal clock accordingly, and you won’t feel like a failure because you didn’t lose twenty pounds or gain ten pounds of muscle or start running a 10K yet. You can be content with making those small steps and realize that you are playing the long game. But you’re playing to win.

A lot of reaching your resolutions is in building habits. And those take more time than we’d like to admit. Wendy Wood (affiliate), a research psychologist who’s spent the last three decades studying habits, has seen that different habits take different amounts of time to codify into one’s life. The more complex an act is, the more time it takes to make a habit.

Most of us have heard that it takes thirty to sixty days to create a habit. But Wood found that simple actions like doing some pushups every morning may take that amount of time, but going to the gym and doing a series of workouts would take more, like four or more months.

Habits are powerful. I’ve seen it in my life. Much of what I do that’s good for me is automatic. Doing my workout in the morning, intermittent fasting for twenty hours six days a week, reading fifty pages a day, writing this blog post are all built into my daily routine. I do it without thinking.

Sure, fasting twenty hours every day sucks. And I want to eat breakfast with my family, but it’s a lot easier than when I first started. But when I began forming that as a habit, I fasted for much shorter periods and took my time to get to where I am now. In short, when I started, I expected less of myself.

And I think that’s where a lot of our resolutions get shipwrecked. They are dashed on the rocks of our expectations. We expect ourselves to be much further ahead than we should, and when we aren’t where we think we should be after struggling for a month, we get discouraged, deflated and stop.

Instead, take your time, but also start smaller. Take smaller steps. If I would have tried to fasting every day for twenty hours, at first, I think I would have given up and stuffed my greedy face with all of the food I could find. But, by making my goal ten to twelve hours in the beginning, I was able to build confidence and, more importantly, the habit of intermittent fasting.

As you round out the first week of this fresh new year, you can reach your goals and fulfill your resolutions, even the big ones.

But don’t go fast. Slow down and form habits.

And win.

Make the time to do what you love by thinking like this

Sometimes we can think that we don’t have the time to pursue what we’ve always wanted to do.

But, you do. You always do.

Do you know why? Because following our dream is a choice.

You can choose to reprioritize your time, what you do with it, how you fill it.

Stop saying yes to all of the crap that people ask you to do and tell them that you’re committed to something else.

Ok, maybe you have a job and need to eat or feed your family. I get that. But, you’re not at your job all the time.

You can carve out thirty, twenty, ten minutes a day to write that book, start that business, build that thing.

It’s true; you know it’s true. Time isn’t the issue. You are.

Regret is for the birds. So decide to follow your dream right now. Do it.

Commit.

You will love yourself for it.

Go.

This is one of the best ways to reach your goals

The key to accomplishing big goals is making tiny ones.

Big goals are overwhelming, distant, intimidating, scary. They freeze us in panic. Like deer caught on the road by headlights, we get paralyzed. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

You may want to lose fifty pounds, run a marathon, pivot your career, start a business, become a blogger, become a better person. Those are all great aims. But they are also big.

So start with incredibly small goals. Ones that barely even feel like a goal. Seriously.

You want to get fit, great. Start with doing one push up and one crunch per day. That’s it. But do that every day.

Want to run a marathon? Fantastic. But you’ve never really run before, not to worry. Start by running for one minute. And do that regularly, like three times a week.

Changing your career isn’t impossible. Dabble, try new things, read books about what interests you. Talk to friends in various fields. Don’t leap; don’t even take a step. Do that for three months while you work at your current job, and then you can determine what’s next.

Starting a business can look very similar to making a career shift. Explore various ideas without taking a large amount of risk. In fact, you can begin by risking very little, virtually nothing. Start by learning, reading, asking questions.

Interested in blogging? Great. Start by writing ten to twenty words per day. That’s it. But do it.

You get the picture. And after a while, your first tiny goal will seem too easy, so you will naturally take on the next slightly less tiny goal. A crunch and pushup will grow to become two or four or ten. One minute of running will increase similarly. Your career exploration or start-up quest will solidify into an idea, maybe even a decision. Writing twenty words will turn into fifty or hundred.

Tiny goals seem insignificant, but they’re not. They are powerful. They let you start without feeling like starting. You will barely feel anything happening, but something is, something magical.

You are changing. New habits are forming. Your mindset is improving. You’ve overcome one of the most significant obstacles of reaching a big goal–starting.

So don’t let the huge goals scare you away from following your dreams. You can accomplish them one tiny goal at a time.

And over time, you will see your body transform, your work improve, your dreams materialize.

You will be better.

Feeling amazing one bite at a time

I love meat. I always have. 

But now I’m a vegetarian. Why?

It’s simple: I feel amazing.

For decades, I felt terrible. Chronic pain in my back, legs, and joints plagued me. 

But here’s the crazy thing, I accepted it as my fate, thinking that feeling that badly was my normal. Being tired, experiencing pain, and groaning as I got out of bed was just a part of my life. 

But I was wrong. 

I could feel better. I could be well. 

It, however, did not come through modern medicine, although I saw dozens of physicians for my pain through the years, which led to large bills or hearing that I was “fine,” but no help. 

Where medicine failed, food worked; it healed. Or to be more precise, eating the right kind did. 

I don’t know if being a vegetarian is right for everyone. But if you get anything from my story, know this. 

Food is powerful. What you eat can change your life. It did mine. 

When I went to a plant-based diet, my pain disappeared. The inflammation, the aches, the sharp stab I felt when I moved my knees or hips or back, subsided. And I have the energy like I did when I was in college. 

It’s hard to believe; I’m right there with you. 

But it’s true. 

Maybe you struggle as I did. Or perhaps you don’t have chronic pain, but you just don’t feel well. 

Have you considered trying to eat only plants or at least improving your diet to non-processed foods that resemble what a farmer would harvest from the earth or her farm? 

I think doing that will surprise you. 

Becoming a vegetarian wasn’t easy. It was really hard for me. 

Changing to a plant-only diet sucks when eating meat is one of life’s greatest joys, as it was for me. 

It was my favorite cuisine. I didn’t discriminate. Pork, beef, chicken, squid, etc. on a stick, on a plate, in a pita, with sauce or dry, dry-aged or fresh, I loved it all.  

So how did I become a full-on plant-only eater? 

Gradually. 

After I watched a documentary (I don’t remember which one) about how we should eat mostly vegetables, that idea grated against my sensibilities at first. But as I marinated on it, I couldn’t see why I shouldn’t try what the documentary recommended.

Going full vegetarian was out of the question, but I could go partial. It would be for one meal, daily. I was a vegetarian for dinner; meat became a much smaller portion of my diet. That went on for several months. And I felt better, good even. 

Then after a Father’s Day meal that consisted of a monstrously delicious pork chop, I got sick—the stick my head in the toilet kind. And I suspected that it was eating all of that pork. After that, it got me thinking about something I never considered before. It was this. 

Maybe meat isn’t right for me. 

That thought seemed so fantastical and unreal because I had loved meat all my life. It never occurred to me it could be bad for me, that meat didn’t love me back. I thought our affair was mutual. But I couldn’t ignore getting sick.  

I imagined the unimaginable: a breakup. I had to stop eating flesh. 

And a week later, I was a vegetarian. 

I must confess that I was scared. When I was in college, I tried eating only plants, but it went terribly. I felt weak and tired. And I thought I would never do that again. 

But as I considered my change, I heard about B12, a vitamin that’s naturally in meats. And often if you go to a plant-based diet, you can become fatigued since you lack it. So it’s important to take a B12 supplement when becoming a vegetarian. I did. This supplement is the one I take (affiliate link). 

The results of eating only plants were immediate. I started feeling better within days and great within a week or two. 

Now, I don’t eat any meat. Well, sometimes I cheat by eating a pepperoni pizza, but very rarely. 

I just feel too good to go back. 

When I started, it used to be hard seeing people eat meat while I sat and chewed on my brussels sprouts. It felt a little unfair, and I’d feel a bit sulky. 

But now it’s just life. I’ve found foods that I can indulge in: bagels, noodles, rice, pizzas. They haven’t replaced meat. But they make eating more enjoyable. 

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the veggies I eat. But it’s nice to change things up from time to time. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to two barbecues and didn’t stray. If you had told me a year ago that I would be at two barbecues but not partake from the grill, I would have laughed at you. 

But there I was chewing on a leaf while my friends enjoyed juicy bites animal. 

But don’t feel bad for me. 

I feel great, better than I have in decades. 

Feeling like this is addicting. And if staying away from beef and chewing on leaves does it, sign me up. 

That feeling is what keeps me going and has made staying away from meat easier, better even. 

And now I’m not even tempted. 

Food plays a powerful role in our lives—sometimes more than we can imagine. 

If eating only plants doesn’t make you feel well, try something different—experiment. Find what works for you. And you can feel better than you do now. It doesn’t need to be normal to feel like crap. You can be well.

What you eat can be the difference between feeling terrible or amazing. 

What will you choose?