2018 Goals!

I started this blog a while back as a way for me to develop my skills as a writer and share my work with anyone who might find my story interesting.

I failed.

However, the lessons learned since I began to consider myself a writer and started on this journey changed my life in many ways.

My intent of this blog at first was to distill some of the failures and lessons I’ve learned in my life. I’ve always been a do-it-myself – learn by doing – type of guy. This led me to make some bad decisions which resulted in mistakes that many people make. These are the stories I hope to share with you all at some point in 2018 as I continue to learn and improve each day.

My commitment to personal growth and self-discovery began last year. I’d argue everything that had happened before that point was due to ignorance and blatant stupidity.

Not many people argue I’m the smartest guy around, trust me, I don’t either.

However, for a long time, I felt compelled to defend myself, my actions, and put on a persona that was not my true self. I was unaware of how influenced I had become by my environment, family, and more than deeply affected my confidence.

Now that you understand that a bit more, outside of diving into the depths of subjects that fascinate me, I intend to fulfill my commitment to you all this year and embrace blogging for what it is (or at least how I see it).

This is a little late but with 2017 in the books and 2018 in full force.

Here are some areas of my life I intend on improving in 2018. These can be considered goals, action items, thinking points, and for me, they are building blocks to my future. To continue acting in accordance with my virtues, limiting my vices and to be myself as often as possible.

2018 Goals

  1. Improve Relationships: A bit personal for me to share, yet something I’d say requires improvement in my life. Better communication with family, friends and important people in my life. I’ve let too many people down and too many people go in my life. Some for better, others for worse. I plan to reconcile lost friendships, put an end to relationships which are holding me back, and continue to build new relationships with people who inspire and motivate me to become better every day.
  2. Exercise: I no longer have a gym membership which was a decision I made to save money in Q3 last year. Yoga, bodyweight and home workouts have saved me. I plan to continue my twice weekly Bikram Yoga practice, run 1-2 times per week, and 2 days of hard bodyweight/jump rope work at home. Basically, continue what has been working great and build as I improve.
  3. Diet: More green smoothies! They don’t always taste great but the feeling in my body afterward is sensational. The confidence and strength gained from treating your body right are incredible. Eat more veggies, fewer carbs, and less refined/processed sugar.
  4. Books: Last year I read somewhere between 40-50 books (several twice). I’m so proud of myself for committing to the glorious habit of reading! I am obsessed. My goal for this year is 50-60 books (Print, Kindle, Audible). So far I’ve read “As A Man Thinketh”, by James Allen and “Sapiens”, by Yuval Noah Harari. 2018 will be my best year for knowledge, that I know for sure.
  5. Writing: Right now I write at least 1,000 words a day in one sitting combined with all of my other writing (journaling, minimal social media, emails, Medium, etc…). I’m thinking deeply about my authorship goals for 2018; a novel, non-fiction book, screenplay, or something relating to comedy. My major goal is to find writing/publishing mentor or agent combined with an internship, part-time job, or career opportunity to build more relationships with people who inspire me and can help to improve my craft. I should subcategorize writing since this is a major part of my and ambition.
  6. Coffee/Caffeine: Yes this deserves its own section. It’s my blog. One coffee a day. I’ve been drinking Mushroom Coffee by Four Sigmatic and I swear to you, NO jitters, NO anxiety – PURE FOCUS! Other than one coffee a day I drink a lot of caffeine free tea, mostly chamomile early morning and late at night.
  7. Blogging: 1-2 posts a week. I write far too much to not be able to share SOMETHING with you all every week. I read and listen to far too many books and podcasts to have nothing interesting to say, ever. I apologize for my lack of commitment and I will stick with it this year! (even if it sucks…)
  8. Reading: 1-2 hours per day. I heard that Bill Gates carves out one-hour blocks of time to read in order to engage with the material in more depth. Once I heard that I immediately applied have been processing, learning, and understanding material at a MUCH deeper level. I throw some meditation, jazz, or other enjoyable background music on and allow the book to consume me. It’s wonderful.
  9. Budget: This is the most important aspect of my life. For lack of a more appropriate word. I’ve fucked up my credit and finances. I thought I had everything figured out and slowly the Compound Effect worked against me and here I am. I will be credit card debt free in 2018 and I intend to stay that way for the rest of my life. 2017 was the year of DECREASE in my life. No more daily trips to Starbucks or Chipotle; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will suffice. Store brand over name brand groceries. No more eating out for lunch every day. You get the point. I’ll write a blog to detail out exactly how I cut my expenses and minimalized my spending as much as possible. I hope to be in a financial position to eat and live the way I desire at a minimal scale and not worry about much else. Until then, it’s PB&J’s…
  10. Travel/Relocation: A city that is conducive to my lifestyle is a major part of my year. I’m heading back to up New England next month for one trip and would love to plan a Q3 or Q4 yoga/meditation retreat. The destination is still to be determined (still researching). I’m super grateful for my job now and it allows me a super flexible work-day so I may stick around North Carolina for a while if things work out there…
  11. Minimalism: If you’ve read the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, by Marie Kondo you understand. I plan to dispose or give away any old or unwanted “stuff” in order to be more flexible when I decide to travel/relocate. I don’t think I want to go as far as buying a Tiny House (a little much for me) but getting rid of my excess material possessions feels great. It was cleansing to do before I moved to North Carolina and I realized I didn’t do a good enough job when I was unpacking clothes I hadn’t worn in years.
  12. Try New Things: I had a lot of “firsts” last year. I want to continue to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and explore things that I may love and not know yet. It’s been an interesting time in my life and I intend to keep the door open for opportunity. A few include; try stand-up comedy/improv (still scares the hell out of me, and I’ll DEFINITELY bomb!), tr*avel overseas, drive across the country, perform more “30-day challenges” to find new habits, finish writing a book, and many more. I love the idea of experimenting with new things, especially short-term projects that you can do every day. Neil Strauss has something he does where he’ll do something for a month to try it out. For example, strike up a conversation with a stranger every day for a month. Get rejected for something every day for a month (for reasons I’d rather not explain here), practice drawing or guitar for 10 minutes a day, the list goes on…
  13. Improve Communication Skills: Podcasts, interviews, audio recordings, presentations, meetings, dating, and relationships – our lives are becoming more and more inclusive of many forms of communication. I love to talk but most people who know me also know that I tend to ramble and rant when I get going (JUST SHUT UP ALREADY MATT), I apologize in advance. In order to button this up, I plan to practice my speaking skills and become more comfortable speaking in front of people, a camera, and socially to share my ideas without sweating profusely. I hope to become a better presenter of information; speeches, and ideas. A major life goal of mine is to present a TED Talk on a subject I’m passionate about.
  14. Editing: I’ve realized a weakness of my writing skills is my ability to edit and “murder the darlings” of most of my work. Most of my fiction writing has come out in a way that I can only describe as “stream of consciousness”, which isn’t always a good thing. I have no clear goal for this as of today outside of several reference books I use. 2018 will be a productive year for developing my understanding of the use of plot, narrative, and characters within all of my stories.
  15. Mindfulness: “Be Here Now“, by Ram Dass. A phrase I tell myself often when I become anxious or uncomfortable in any situation. Mindfulness and meditation came into my life at a time of poor health, habits, and decision making all around. This combined with treating my body poorly left me unhappy and discontent with life. Some may argue depressed and lonely. Not my finest hours, admittedly. Whatever, mindfulness for me is being present. Present to make the right decisions, present to stay focused on whatever it is you’re doing, and present to always be grateful, appreciative, and humble towards every beautiful day of life. We don’t deserve much in this life; we earn it.

I’m certain these will continue to vary as time goes on

My life philosophy and habits are what help me become who I am today. With that said, will publish another blog about my professional goals and how I plan to add the most value to the world with the gifts I’ve been given. Also, I will share what I have for upcoming projects once my goals are more clear for this year.

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment below with one of your goals for 2018!

Live as if you know nothing at all – Keep the desire to know more alive

I never thought of using Twitter as a source of inspiration until my experience with WordPress University – #everydayinspiration. I’ve since made strides to consistently improve my writing – opening up tremendous opportunities for freelance work to help me grow as a writer.

My daily writing practice has helped me realize my current skills as a freelance writer. With ideas flooding in each day I will be building my platform to share much better content, articles, newsletters, to display my portfolio of work. So any suggestions on content, blog posts, newsletter ideas, and weekly feature ideas – please comment, message, or share your ideas with me!

“You study, study, study, and at the end, you are lucky enough to discover the greatest gift of education: that you know nothing at all.”

At first, this insulted me. What do you mean study to become educated to know nothing at all? I was naive. I took this at face value. I reflected on its’ true meaning which opened my eyes to the world of lifelong education even further. Life is full of energy. It contains powers far greater than our minds will ever conceive.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” – Socrates

Reflecting these past few months has helped me display the remarkable progress I’ve made in my life. I am confident saying my skills, passions, and purpose have become less self-centered to focus on helping as many people as possible in my short time here. After graduating with my Bachelors Degree I had so many questions on what was next – I still do. The beauty of all the recent growth, as well as personal development, is the joy I’ve found thinking about my life, future, plans, and goals. During this time I’ve identified my core values which I intend on living the rest of my life upon, expanding each to become the best possible form of that person.

The skills and experience I have gained are heavily praised by so many which I encounter each day including; family, friends, colleagues, strangers, and daily interactions. I often find that when I meet new people they feel inclined to mention how ‘wise’ I am for a young professional. Yet for some reason up until recently, my internal uncertainty had been eating at me from the inside out each day. This uncertainty led me on a journey of self-discovery, reflection, and understanding of my life’s purpose. I was certain – however – of my mission in life. My purpose is to no longer be ungrateful. To understand how blessed I truly am. To share this as often as I can. Help as many people as possible. Learn as much as I can and become the best person I can with the life I’ve been given.

“Those who look ONLY to the past or the present, are certain to miss the future” – John F. Kennedy

Here is a little context of my past – I underperformed in high school (to say the least). My grades were poor – so was my attitude. Through middle school life was on track, I did well in school, only to slowly spiral downhill after. I spent a majority of my time with questionable people, making questionable decisions. Is that why I have all these ‘questions’? I used to be in such a rush for everything in life. Never enjoying the moment nor satisfied when I reached the destination. That may be why yoga/meditation have become such a crucial part of my life today.

I neglected my physical, mental, spiritual, emotional health for years. I came to this realization after high school but didn’t learn immediately. Lucky for me was a chance to go back to school and begin a career in the Technology sector. My uncle is CEO of a company that changed my life. This opportunity balanced with a college education built a foundation of skills I will be forever grateful – yet uncertainty was still lingering around the corner. I suffered in the sense of suffocating my intelligence by not treating my body or mind the way they deserved.

I began to see correlating effects behind what I ate, what I read, what I wrote and their respective counterpart outcomes in my life. These came in the form of habits, routines, diet, fitness, nutrition, business, financial, and much more. I no longer escaped life through my vices. I visualized what my life would become and knew change when imperative to my growth.

Since graduating college with my Bachelor’s Degree, I’ve come to this fascinating realization it was only the beginning. My journey into lifelong education remains the foundation of my life along with my core values, principles, and habits. The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know. I develop new questions, immense and superior problems, harder challenges – this was my wake up call. Life is a combination of finding yourself while learning from your experiences (failures & successes). This philosophy helped me realize who I was becoming and how I needed to change that.

As I said – these past few months have brought clarity to my vision of the world. Hence this empowered enthusiasm, joy, and passion for putting 110% into life each day. I no longer feel restricted by the grasp of the influence the lives of others had on me.

“Live as if you know nothing at all, to keep the desire to know more alive.” – Unknown? – I wrote this in my journal one night, if anyone knows if this has been used before please message me,

The beauty of true wisdom lies within the knowledge we have to be humble and understand that we know nothing at all. Be the optimist – see the good in life – the bright side of things. We all experience negative emotions. Let them occur, try to begin viewing them in the light of opportunity. Bad things are going to happen, but there is a chance, somewhere somehow – something good will come from it. Enjoy the highs and respect the lows of life. Be proud and grateful of good moments and let the bad ones fade quietly and quickly.

This process of seeing what is right in the world changed my perspective on how I viewed others. I treat everyone in my life with the same level of respect. I remain humbled by each interaction. I am fortunate to be where I am, possess the skills I have – I remain blessed to be the person I am today. This constant reminder of appreciation, respect, and humility is what helps me to focus on what is truly important in my life. I’m not always perfect – I get frustrated, angry, or upset – until I remember what is important when it matters. To prevent a situation from escalating out of control. Be mindful of your environment and who may be influencing your life.

It is this level of humility which keeps me grounded when I need it most.  So, “you study, study, and study to find out life’s greatest gift of education, the wisdom of knowing nothing at all.” Good. The greatest gift we can leave this Earth with is never saying we wish we followed our dreams or did more. So many of us desire more out of lives. Don’t wait around. Life is nimble – stay on your toes, work hard and don’t sit around waiting for an opportunity – you’ll wake up wondering where it all went.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Here is another #everydayinspiration post for you inspired by Daily Post and WordPress University.

As someone who is changing careers to pursue my passion for writing, I know how to keep myself busy when I’m not writing. None of which includes; watching Netflix, binge watching a new show, neglecting my health, spending hours on Social Media, or just plain wasting my time. Only to name a select few…

To keep things in the present, I’ll discuss what I’ve been doing since I began focusing on my blog and writing career. I start by writing my three long-hand “Morning Pages” each morning. I then let my goals/objectives dictate my day. If I have a big project I will work on that, but sometimes I’ll schedule a personal day to handle finances, expenses, email, calendar, and catch up on any missed tasks. Sundays are great for this. I’ll then spend my time with constructive activities to stay busy and engaged with the world when I am out and about not writing.

I enjoy many hobbies to clear my mind and get out into the world. I enjoy all things; surf, skate, snow, golf, yoga, and fitness. I do some form of exercise daily to keep my mind and body strong.

I recently purchased a jump rope inspired by ZenDudeFitness – Check out these high energy guys on their website or Instagram. They are inspiring the world to stay in shape, exercise and most importantly jump rope every day or #dothething.

Lately, when I am away from my desk or escaping the Starbucks induced caffeine high, you can find me; walking around the beach, surfing some waves, playing nine holes of golf or at the driving range, skateboarding around town, going for a run, getting some exercise, hitting my local gym, reading, or listening to a book on Audible.

Reading is my favorite constructive non-writing habit. Especially print books which I can annotate and ask questions of. I carry a pencil with me everywhere now. I love this habit. It was inspired by “How to Read a Book“, by Mortimer Adler. Adler explains the benefits of annotating a book as you read. I find myself writing down questions, answers to those questions, underlining and circling words and phrases I like, and more. I now enjoy the process of buying a book knowing that I am going to fill it with my own creative annotations. My proudest accomplishment of this technique is “The Personal MBA“, by Josh Kaufman. I’d never previously physically taken notes ‘inside’ the book before until I read Adler’s book before starting on Kaufman’s. I found myself asking questions about the content, why he said certain things, quotes I liked, new words, reverting back to important pages, etc… Every time I pick it up I know exactly where to look for what I need it. This is why Kindle books aren’t always the best idea. They can be difficult to search, tough to track notes, and hard to annotate. Does anyone have suggestions with Kindle?

Right now I transfer passages, questions, thoughts, and quotes to Google Keep with a specific label for each book. I will take notes in my journal.

How I spend my time when I’m not writing helps me to be in a position to write at my best. I need nature. I need social interaction. I need solitude.

I am a big proponent of ‘accidentally’ leaving my phone in my car or at home. ‘Forget’ it at home and head to the beach. I like to get lost. The feeling of being completely immersed in nature; hiking a mountain, paddling out to surf, riding around town, biking around unfamiliar trails, and escaping the noise of the world. The feeling of being free from technology is surprisingly rewarding, and the freedom from everything else in the world. If I’m going hiking somewhere new, yes I’ll bring my phone but I use it only as needed.

This explains why I love to travel.  The feelings brought on by traveling to new places and far away parts of the world is captivating. When I’m not traveling or exploring a new place, you won’t find me at the bar or out late a night very often. I’m a morning person. You will, however, find me trying to catch a glimpse of a sunset or seeking to find the road less traveled as often as I can.

To summarize, I need excitement in my life.  I’m usually quite spontaneous which helps when I need a day to clear my mind. I’ll go one place and allow the day to take over and dictate what happens. Sometimes I find myself heading home early, sometimes I stroll in late wondering where the time went. I like those nights. The sunny, summer nights where the day escapes you and nights never end.

I practice yoga regularly as well for typically 20-30 minutes a day. This has helped me minimize physical injury and ensure my body can keep up with the demands of the life I desire.

I’m hoping to become a full-time writer (amongst other Entrepreneurial ventures). I love learning, researching, and writing about new and innovative companies, products, services, ideas, people, and more.

What Can You Write in 15 Minutes?

Write, carry a journal, research and more. What can you do in 15 minutes?

A Writer's Path

by Kelsie Engen

Writers can mostly agree that writing is a time consuming process. You write a first draft, step back, revise into a second draft, send out for feedback (beta readers or developmental editor), receive and revise, send for final edits, then finally submit and (possibly change) and then publish. Whew. I get tired just writing that list.

Then factor in this: Some authors spend a decade or more writing and perfecting their novels.

So…what can you possibly do in 15 minutes?

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Jump your way to success!

If you want to be successful, you have to jump, there’s no way around it. When you jump, I can assure you that your parachute will not open right away. But if you do not jump, your parachute will never open. If you’re safe, you’ll never soar!” – Steve Harvey –

I can’t think of any better quote to kick off this post than from the man himself, Steve Harvey. I believe it comes from his book, “Jump: Take the Leap of Faith to Achieve your Life of Abundance“. This was quoted to me a few months back before I quit my job by a close of my mine. The words have not left my ears since. I think about them every time the little voice in my head says “what in the world are you thinking“. Some days I’m certainly not sure, but I am certain. I’m certain I made the right decision for my well being. I jumped. I’d actually say I jumped a few times before I actually felt like I landed anywhere close to where I expected. I still feel like the parachute is waiting to be opened, but I haven’t hit the ground yet. I certainly didn’t expect to be where I am today, writing this blog…

This picture speaks volumes to my life. Just jump, you’ll never know what will happen until you jump. If you are thinking about your future, what you could accomplish, or dream of doing with your life, just jump. Don’t overthink it. Don’t get caught asking yourself “what-if”, this is a form of procrastination which will eat you alive from the inside. It can be crippling to your health, mentally and physically, to stay at your current job if you are unhappy, to remain in a negative relationship, or stick around friends who aren’t helping you grow. These decisions don’t come easy, but you’ve got to jump sooner than later.

Personally, I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in my life to be where I am today. I’m incredibly lucky to be where I am at, to have jumped. I am risking a lot to change my life to pursue dreams that aren’t yet clear. I do know one thing. I love writing. I love mindlessly spilling words onto the page or hammering away the keys of a keyboard to produce something unique to my life. I never knew it could have such a powerful impact on my life but it certainly has. What writing does for me is what closing a deal does for a Sales Rep (which I’ve done), it’s what the engineer gets from finishing a large project, the architect from designing a masterpiece, an artist finishing a piece of work, you get the point. It is a feeling of fulfillment, accomplishment, and achievement followed by a desire to keep going. To continue improving and becoming better each day.

What do I think of when I see this photo?

Memories of fear in my life. The fear of my first runs down the Extreme Terrain backcountry in Breckenridge, Colorado. The fear of another false summit throughout my first hike up Mount Washington. The fear of massive waves crushing my spirit and confidence paddling out for my 2nd time surfing. The fear of missing out on an opportunity (or FOMO). We are always missing out on something. Make sure you are focusing on what’s most important so you limit this feeling.

I’ve spent this beautiful Sunday in Wilmington, NC writing, basically all day. I edited my website (I hope you like the new theme), signed up for a WordPress course, and Web Design course to work on the important skills as a Freelance Writer. Oh yeah, I also completed my first paid Freelance Writing project today. They loved my work enough to extend the contract for another two weeks or so. I’m really excited and hope to deliver nothing but the best (or my best) from this point on! I’m not rich yet, but as Tony Robbins says, “Progress Equals Happiness“.

I’m incredibly grateful for everyone in my life. Thank you all for the constant help, guidance, support, and love through all the shenanigans over the years. Most importantly my family, friends, and acquaintances along the way.

If you need any type of writing done; content, blog, social media, articles, etc… Let’s chat!

Have an amazing week everybody!

10 Books That Inspired me to Change my Life

After two rough drafts of this exercise today I’ve realized that I don’t enjoy making lists. For some reason, my mind feels the need to explain things in great amounts of detail rather than short summaries. So instead of going crazy and overthinking this entire post, I’ve decided to make a list of the top 10 books that inspired exponential change and rapid growth in my life.

“The man who does not read good books have no advantage over the man who does not read” – Mark Twain

Books have helped educate me on becoming better in the critical areas of my life; son, brother, lover, communicator, employee, and overall contributor to humanity. I say this because we all have a past. For me, I lost a lot of confidence when I made a big mistake months ago now. I’ve since made a substantial change in my daily routine and activities. I realize now how lucky I am to be alive and how much greatness I have to contribute back to society. When I came to the realization of the skills, knowledge, and capability I had is when I changed my habits. I woke up and said I no longer want to be apart of the 99%. I want to be apart of the 1% that values giving over receiving. I desire to lead by example and be remembered for what I did right not what I did wrong. It’s easy to be negative, complain, and talk about what is wrong in your life or the world around you. I’ve committed myself to no longer blaming anyone else in my life for downfalls except myself. To no longer thinking about what is wrong in my life and focusing on what is right. I’ve taken action to change the course of my life and want to share what I’ve learned with you.

Here are 10 books that I’ve read this year that changed my perspective on life and redirected my future. They have all been read in the past 3 months. Check out the links for details and more.

1) “Start with Why”, by Simon Sinek

Why? I consider this the most simple yet powerful question known to man. The ability to ask yourself why and understand the importance of your purpose. Simon Sinek does an incredible job of explaining his message of “how great leaders inspire everyone to take action”. I received this book from a previous employer in the midst of an early twenties career change. I picked it up and finished it within a week.  It changed my life. I began asking myself difficult questions and working to answer them to help determine my purpose in life. My why. This question can change the course of your life, career, family and more. Become crystal clear on your why. Why do you want that job? Why do you need to go on vacation? Why do you want that promotion? Why do you want more money? Why did you choose this career? If you keep digging around your ‘why’ you’ll surely find your ‘how’ and your ‘what’ right around the corner. Check out a review I did of his book in more detail here.

“And it’s those who start with why, that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.” – Simon Sinek

2) “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

It is rare to not come across this book high on the list of some of the worlds most successful people. I’m glad to be apart of that list and believe that it is one of the most inspirational books today. It has inspired me to change how I dealt with other people. I now make a conscious and consistent effort (even when I’m not feeling it) to be as genuinely interested in the lives of other people as possible. Here is what I’ve personally used this book for:

  • Sincerity and appreciation
  • Smiling, even when I’m not feeling it
  • Remembering and using other people’s names. Everyone loves this.
  • Genuinely listening to others and understanding their story.
  • Admitting when I am wrong.

For a more complete list of what this book can inspire in you, check out this simple summary on Wikipedia.

“Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving” – Dale Carnegie

3) “How Successful People Think” by John C. Maxwell

This book comes everywhere with me. I have the print copy and am in the middle of a second reading. It is remarkable how much a second reading can deepen your understanding of a book. The second reading for me is the application of the material. First is understanding, then the application. This time I’m annotating the book and asking myself questions of each of the different thinking styles. If you haven’t read this one yet I can promise it will be worth it. Here are John C. Maxwells’ “Final Thoughts” towards the end that may inspire you to give it a chance:

  • Everything begins with a thought
  • What we think determines who we are. Who we are, determines what we do
  • Our thoughts determine our destiny. Our destiny determines our legacy
  • People who go to the top think differently than others
  • We can change the way we think

You will not regret reading this short but incredibly insightful book. Mine never leaves my side.

Successful people…focus on the rewards of success: Learning from their mistakes and thinking about how they can improve themselves and their situations.” – John C. Maxwell

4) “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren

Go read this book. I don’t even want to summarize it. The title explains it all. If you think you know how to read, you’re wrong. If you haven’t read this book you are wrong. It may be the single book that has given me the ability to learn and understand things I read better than ever before. This includes articles, magazines, books, periodicals, news, social media, and more. If you are looking to start a new habit of reading, look no further and start here. It is a simple book that will have a profound impact on your ability to understand the meaning of books at a deeper level.

“Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men” – Mortimer Adler

5) “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

I have these 7 habits highlighted on the vision board in my office. For anyone who has NOT yet read this book, it is vitally important to understand that these habits are divided into two sections: independent and interdependent, and a third called ‘sharpening the saw’. As Covey explains, personal victory comes before public victory. For us to serve others, we must be capable of best serving ourselves. So work on yourself; Be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. Once you have a foundation of yourself you can begin incorporating some other disciplines impacting the lives of others. This is another timeless book that has changed the lives of many successors over the years.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey

6) “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn

“OF COURSE” this book is on my list. I have Jim Rohn’s words echoing in my ears each and every day. If you want to change your life, design your future and pursue your dreams this is a must read/listen. His recordings are powerful and will help you reassess your life and establish clarity through disciplining your life, changing your habits, setting goals and more.

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better” – Jim Rohn

7) “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

Life is all habit. The book incorporates an extensive amount of research and science backed studies to explain how habits run our lives. At the core of every habit is something called the ‘the habit loop, explains MIT Researchers. It consists of a cue, a routine, and a reward. He explains many scenarios proving this research correct and will certainly get you thinking about your daily routine and habits that you have now and are probably unaware of. Any habit can change as Duhigg explains here. This process starts by identifying the routine of your habit, finding your rewards and experimenting with new ones, isolating the cue of your habit and having a plan when that cue occurs. Trust him over me, but it will work.

“More than 40% of the actions people perform each day, aren’t actual decisions, but habits” – The Power of Habit

8) “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy

What is 1×1? 2. What is 2×2? 4. What is 10×10? 100. The message I received from the compound effect is this. Similar to interest compounding daily, weekly, monthly or annually, our habits and disciplines do the same. If we treat our bodies poorly, the health risks will compound over time leading to the negative results. Instead, if we exercise daily and eat healthily, the health benefits will compound over time leading to longevity and a better quality life. It is important to know that the Compound Effect works both ways. It is a great extension from “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn to help set goals and design your life. To assess your surroundings and who is affecting your life. You are one discipline or decision away from a different life. Take control of future and change your life.

Check out Darren Daily for his daily mentoring emails which will keep you inspired and focused on your purpose each day!

“The accomplishment of any goal is the progressive accumulation, or compound effect, of small steps taken consistently over time” – Darren Hardy

9) “The 5 Second Rule” by Mel Robbins

Here is my review of her book I did recently. Mel Robbins does an incredible job with her audio book on this one. A very personal, comforting tone throughout. She explains how decisions are made within five seconds and how this rule or ‘tool’ as she refers has changed her life and the lives of many others. Take a look and if you struggle with decision making or simply getting out bed in the morning, her tool will help you make those critical decisions to changing your life. One small 5-second decision at a time.

“If you only ever did the things you don’t to do, you’d have everything you’ve ever wanted” – Mel Robbins

10) “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

Well, this book takes a different approach opposed to most of the books above. This book says f*ck positivity, and stop giving a f*ck. Stop thinking that you need motivation and positive thinking to lead a successful life. This is not the case. Mark explains how so many of us focus so much on being happy, that we give too many f*cks about being happy, only to never end up happy. Maybe that is true? Regardless this book sheds some great insight into reality and for someone going through extensive personal development was a great wake up call to stop giving a f*ck. In reality, it is true. We need to stop creating fear while worrying about what other people may say or do. We spend so much of our time over-thinking our lives that we never end of taking action. I decided that I was going to stop giving a f*ck about that and live my life. This blog is a start, right?

“To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action” – Mark Manson

The pressures of Social Media (Overcoming the stimulation of checking your phone) – How to get back to reality!

Why are we all addicted to social media?

Is it the stimulation of technology that we require the constant ‘high’ from scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others? I want to engage in more deep, meaningful conversations to enhance the quality of life in those around us. Not spend them constantly and quite frankly rudely interrupted by social media, email and more. Don’t get me wrong, they are important and have their place, but knowing that place is vital.

Use social media with discipline!

Social media has completely transformed the world as we know it. Our days are overtaken by the countless time spent on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, only to name a few. I say overtaken because maybe you are like me. Maybe you are puzzled at the lack of interaction in our daily lives. Maybe it’s the lack of engagement in people to have a meaningful discussion. What bothers me most (and probably you too) is when in the middle of a conversation with family, friends or colleagues is that their phone seems to get all the attention. Have you ever had someone check their phone and completely ignore you, right in the middle of a discussion? Why are people so preoccupied with the lives of others on social media? So much so to neglect the human interaction and relationships right in front of them. This seems to be a trend that most are unhappy about. It’s time we take control of the precious time of our lives we spend on social media and focus on what we can actually control. Our time. So what can we do? Let’s start with listening to each other more!

What does your morning look like?

How many of you wake up each morning and mindlessly swipe through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and then watch everything your friends were doing on Snapchat from the day before? Be honest. This is important. I use to be this person until I realized the impact it was having on my life.

I ask this because I found myself in the same predicament. I began each day focused on the lives of other people instead of myself. What they were doing, who they were with, the things they have, people they know, you get the point. If you were to transition that energy towards yourself and what you wanted, who you wanted in your life, where you wanted to live, and what you wanted to accomplish, you’d be impressed with the results. To start and end each day staring a screen, disengaging from reality, and focusing on other people’s lives is no way to achieve your dreams and spend your time.

Enough is enough!

I woke up three months ago and gave myself a reality check. I told myself that it was time to go on an information diet and start reading and writing every day. The results have been immeasurably positive. I replaced my morning rituals of social media and hitting the snooze button with exercise, reading, and writing. This usually includes audio books depending on the day, journaling and reading books of quality substance. Nightly reading/writing as well to decompress from the day and recall all of the amazing experiences that had occurred. I am a firm believer that being proactive is critical to each of these habits for the day to be a success. Be proactive on your day, wake up early, and focus on what is important in your life!

What we feed our minds deeply impacts our lives. How we feel emotionally and the state we live in each day is affected by what we put into our bodies (physically, mentally and spiritually). I started researching ways to discipline my time and increase productivity to take control of my bad habits. We are lucky to wake up each day and have another opportunity for life. Instead of using my precious mental capacity for mostly useless information, I changed my life. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, jealousy, envy, regret, and more were affecting my life and I was blind to this. I realized that my actions each day were not only having a large impact on my personal happiness but the happiness of those around me. To all those affected, my bad. I won’t let it happen again!

Here are five tips that help me overcome the negative impact of social media, “win my mornings” and most importantly win back my time.

How I stopped occupying my precious brain capacity with mental activity on social media that added little substance of my existence:

Turn off social media notifications

  • Eliminate the need or temptation of social media triggers by turning off all notifications that would cause you anxiety. If you don’t see them immediately, you’ll be less tempted to check them.
  • Schedule specific time throughout the day that is scheduled for social media. This can be to make your posts, respond to others, share with your friends, or take a break from work. Limit this to as few time-blocks as possible to increase efficiency.
  • How to turn off notifications for Android
  • How to manage iPhone notifications

What are the benefits you think this could have in your life? Are you willing to try it?

Place your phone/alarm across the room

  • Force yourself out of bed. Don’t give yourself the chance to roll over and hit that damn snooze button.
  • This will stimulate your nervous system and allow your body and mind to start working together to get your day started.
  • Resist the temptation of checking social media and convince yourself it can wait. You won’t regret waiting. You’re not missing anything at 5-6AM when the rest of the world is sleeping.
  • Here are some biological reasons and analysis summarizing why the snooze button could be ruining your sleep.

Have you tried this before? How has it helped you to be more proactive in your life?

Why I stopped listening to music in the morning

  • For me, music was similar to social media in the way it was affecting my mental capacity. Try listening to Audible books instead to start the day feeding your mind with valuable information. If some noise is required early in the morning it’s fine, but I sometimes will leave my phone behind during my morning workout or listen to a meditation playlist that helps keep the mental stimulation to a minimum.
  • An alternative completely is trying to exercise or workout without any headphones or noise at all. This varies day to day for me. Some days I want some noise, others nature will handle it quite well for me.

What do you listen to during your morning rituals? Does music distract you? Is there a connection between headphones, music, and energy in the morning?

Meditation/Breathing Exercises

  • 5-10 minutes of either lying or seated meditation. Still, with no social media connection, I allow my mind and body to be present and aware of all pain, stress, anxiety, aches and relax
    • I highly recommend meditation for anyone who is considering it but hasn’t tried. Headspace and Calm are great for beginners.
  • If you are unsure of meditation, check out Wim Hof and his incredible breathing exercises. I do this every morning before I workout and it has helped me consistently run further with less struggle early in the morning.
  • 10-15 minutes of yoga can also be a good way to relax, stretch out your muscles and quiet the mind.
  • Allow your mind to be present and think about the important things for the day and the priorities in your life. This is a good time for thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.

How have yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises helped your morning routine? Which do you find best prepare your body and mind for the day?

Morning Pages or 5MJ – Thank you, Tim Ferriss, this is my favorite part of the day.

  • The first three hours of the day are claimed to be the best and most productive of the entire day. Focus on what you are most hoping to accomplish in your future and how you are going to do it!
  • This is a great time to express gratitude and understand how lucky we are. We can achieve our greatest desires in life by focusing on what is vital to our purpose in life.
  • Ask yourself questions. What do you want out of the day? What are you grateful for? What would make today a success? Are you going to give today your best possible effort?

What you focus on, you become. Focus on your greatest desires in life and cultivate the ability to think big. Think about your life, don’t daydream about other people’s lives. Visualize what you want your life to look like. Where do you want to live? Who do you want in your life? What do you want to have? This way you can start your day with an increasingly more clear picture of how you are going to accomplish your goals and become the best possible person you are destined to be. To achieve the things you desire most in the one life we are lucky to have.

Do you journal now? How has this helped your life? What do you write about that others may benefit from?

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We are all far to overtaken by social media stimulation. It is just as much of a habit as is brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on your shoes or anything else. These are not always good habits as we’ve come to learn. What I do is schedule time for checking emails (2-3 times a day) as well as social media outlets for a set amount of time, depending on the level of engagement necessary. Typically after my morning routine to make sure I’m not missing any important business connections, messages, or important commitments that require my attention. For more science and extensive research on habits, I highly recommend everyone either read or listen to “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg. It will help you understand why humans do exactly what we do not only in life but in business as well. It will certainly not disappoint.

How can I improve?

I hope you enjoyed my post and found valuable information here!

Any questions, advice, topic suggestions, or feedback please comment below! I will be posting weekly on Thursdays’ with a new topic that may help guide us through life sharing my experiences along the way. Feel free to add me on all media outlets to follow my journey and subscribe to be notified of my weekly updates!