Steve Jobs: Magnificence and Mortality

By Goals, Leadership, Motivational, Quotes No Comments

Today, I woke up to the death of Steve Jobs.

At the age of 56, he did what most entrepreneurs dream of doing – changing the world for the better.

Even though I didn't know him, I could help but feel saddened and tearful. Part out of respect – and part out of feeling that I'm so far from realizing my own change in the world and making the impact that I want to.

He's was 16 years older than me.

16 years.

When I think about that, and let it sink in, my head spins with the idea that every day must be important – it must matter. I can't spend my time getting caught in the thickness of thin things. One day, my life will be done here on earth, and what will matter are the gifts I've left behind, and the positive, lasting impact I've made on the world.

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life,"

"Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

– Steve Jobs, 2005

Today, I woke up to the death of Steve Jobs.

Today, I woke up with a deeper realization of my own mortality.

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Do Something Extraordinary. Personal Notes from 10 years ago.

By Goals, My Writings 2 Comments

I routinely like fixing a martini and writing about philosophy and what I'm experiencing in life at that moment. It helps me stay clear and focused on the bigger picture. It helps me not get caught in the 'thick of thin things'.

I was looking through a few old notes and I fould this posting I wrote 10 years ago. At that time, I'd had a business win under my belt and thought I was hot shit. Instead of continuing to better myself, I had slacked off and stopped challenging my mind. Even though I had more financial resources, I was emotionally empty.

Sometimes I could not see my path until I was able to look back and catch the vibe of where I was, what I learned, and how I've grown. I'm thankful for the people in my life that continue to push me.

May 6, 2001

I am realizing that if I don’t start acting now, continuing to reinvent myself, I run the risk of being one of those middle-aged guys that was mediocre, but never stood out. A good guy, nice person. But never did anything extraordinary.

I am afraid.

Afraid to even type the fact that I’m scared of letting my life pass without making it count.

It is time to re-invent myself. To become the mover and shaker that I know I am. It is simply an unfulfilling life to be a nobody – someone that doesn’t make a difference – someone who doesn’t risk. Half of me runs afraid of losing what I have (my house, etc) and the other half run afraid of being mediocre and not becoming all I can be.

I lost some of the FIRE I was famous for.

Somewhere along the way, I lost the frightened and scared kid that pushed me away from failure.

Somewhere, I lost the necessity for action. I lost the drive that pushed me never ever to settle.

I lost the bull-headed, focused, belief that anything was possible and nothing was good enough.

I lost that feeling that drove me to go to school – that drove me to try my hand at buying houses – that drove me to give up my job and head to Vegas – that drove me to quit a well-paying job for the shot of doing something great.

In essence, I decided to let my life just pass me by for the past few months. I decided – by not deciding – that I had pushed hard enough and now was a time for coasting.

Fuck coasting!

Coasting is being mediocre. It's for the 95% who do not care to push forward.

Coasting is compacency. And complacency is death.

And there I sat, in the midst of the very success I created, and let that same success drain me from the core of what pushed me to start with.

It’s wrong. It’s so wrong.

It’s not the matter of how much cash I have, or what car I drive. It’s that I always keep pushing myself. I always drive forward.

Steven, your goals – your drive – is more important. You are slacking when you fail to commit! I must stay committed. I must stay focused.It's not about setting goals, it's about having the discipline to achieve them.

Take my weight for instance. This is not just about weighing 185. This is about being able to sacrifice for my goals. This is about being able to finish the workout and cardio – even though I feel like quitting.

Do you understand?

This is about CHARACTER.

This is about being able to keep a long-term commitment and surpass all expectations.

This is about pushing myself – getting the FIRE back – getting the drive back.

This is about having the discipline to control my destiny!

This is one way you are going to get your life back!!! What’s “good enough”? Good enough is for losers. Good enough is for people looking for an excuse. I've decided that good enough is not good enough for me.

What motivates me is the pursuit of the challenge, creating, winning, helping someone else achieve, love and loyalty, deep friendships, and fuck-you money. I refuse to hang out with people who are not striving to become better.

It's time to make a change. It's time to require more of yourself than others do. It's time to become passionate again.

In order to make change, I can’t just change my behavior. I must change my belief of who I am. I must change my IDENTITY to myself.  I must BE my WHY. Step into your new role TODAY. Change your identity to become what you want. How would I act and feel and think if I was exactly like I want to become?? Go out and DO and KNOW.

Today I will dedicate myself to make a change. And I will be a better man for it.




55 Ways to Get More Energy Into Your Life

By Goals No Comments

Steven’s note: The original post is from a great site called Zen Habits and is edited by Leo Babauta. This is a guest post from Greg Go, co-author of Wise Bread’s new book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. 

If you’re tired all the time, a change in what you eat (diet) or
what you do all day (activity pattern) may be all you need to turn
things around 180°.

You won’t be able to do everything on this list all the time — you’d
tire yourself out trying to get more energy — but do try them all to
see which ones work for you and your schedule. Add a few of these tips
to your regular routine. Or mix them up to keep things interesting.

1. Change your socks for refreshment.

It’s an amazing trick. Bring a change of socks to work, and change
your socks midway through the day (say, after lunch). You’ll be amazed
at how much fresher you’ll feel. This trick is especially handy on days
with lots of walking — like during a hike or family outing to the
amusement park.

2. Rock out loud.

Whether you work alone or in a room with coworkers, a quick one-song
rock out loud session is an effective way to beat back exhaustion.

In a cube farm? Get everyone to sing along! The key is to choose a song that everyone can sing along with. (I like Kokomo.)
The energy boosting effect comes from bobbing your head and singing out
loud. One song, 3 minutes. That’s a quick boost of adrenaline that
lasts for a bit. You’ll be singing to yourself the rest of the never
ending project delivery night.

3. Get rid of the stuffy nose.

If allergies have your sinuses blocked, you may be feeling more
tired and cranky. An over-the-counter allergy medication should clear
up your sinuses (and your mind).

4. Work with your body’s clock.

There is a natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day. We
start off sluggish after waking up, even after a solid 8 hours of
sleep. Our energy peaks mid-morning, and it’s natural to want a siesta
in the afternoon. We get a second spike of energy in the early evening,
followed by our lowest energy point just before bedtime. Once you
understand this natural rhythm of energy throughout the day, you can
work on the important tasks during your peak hours and avoid early
afternoon snoozefests (meetings).

5. Have a piece of chocolate.

Not too much, but if you’re going to have some candy, it might as
well be chocolate. We get an endorphin buzz from chocolate (not to
mention the energy boost from the slight bit of caffeine chocolate
contains). Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate.

An afternoon snack of yogurt, berries, and nuts will provide the boost of energy to carry you through the day. Photo by lepiaf.geo / Flickr)

afternoon snack of yogurt, berries, and nuts will provide the boost of
energy to carry you through the day. Photo by lepiaf.geo / Flickr

6. Have an afternoon power snack.

A small healthy snack
that is low in sugar and has protein and/or fiber a couple hours after
lunch helps you finish off the day strong. Some suggestions:

  • mixed nuts
  • nonfat yogurt
  • apple and peanut butter
  • frozen berrie smoothie
  • trail mix
  • granola bar

7. Hit up the water cooler for inconsequential banter.

A little midday gossip and random banter is a great pick-me-up for
your tired mind. It works because it gets your mind on zero-stress
thoughts for a while. The mental break for just a few minutes will
revitalize you.

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How to Set Goals : My 2009 Goals

By Goals 2 Comments

I'm a big goal-setter. My junior year of high school, I got sick of being fat, never going on dates, and being cut from the baseball team. So, I wrote down "10 things I want to do" on a piece of paper, made copies, and hung them up everywhere I could – in my bedroom, bathroom, in my locker, in my notebook.

A funny thing happened that year. My life changed.

Within six months of writing those goals, I had lost 50 pounds, make the all-state baseball team, and was dating the homecoming queen.

Over the years, I've developed a pretty sophisticated, yet simple, process for setting my goals and holding myself accountable for them.

First: Get in a state of possibility:  I let myself get into a complete state of possibility – with no limits on my imagination. I write down all the things I want to do and accomplish, segmented into different areas of my life: personal growth, relationships, career, health, fun & things. I use a combination of Tony Robbins goal-setting MP3 found in his Personal Power book, and Wayne Dyer's 7 Habits books.

Second: Get clear on the time frame: I then divide the goals into 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, 10 year, and longer time frames. This lets me see the long term view, as well as what I need to do this year to stay on track for the long haul. From there, I pick the 10-12 most important goals that I am absolutely committed to accomplishing this year. I've found that when I get more than a dozen goals, I end up not being able to focus on any of them. (I used to do this quite a bit in my 20's, then feel like I failed when actually I was just trying to do too much to quickly). 

Also, another tip is to make sure that you have a good balance in your goals. If all of your goals involve your work (yes, I'm talking to you Mr. Internet start-up guy), or farting around, or God, or money, then you're life is going to get lopsided, out of focus, and something is going to suffer. When I focused totally on work, I found that my personal life and health suffered, which in turn, decreased my effectiveness at work.

Third: Get committed: After I have my list of most significant goals, I write down why I'm absolutely committed to accomplishing each of them this year, and what it will cost me if I don't do it. This helps me truly visualize what I want, how I'll feel when I get it, and the pain I'll experience if I screw off and don't commit myself.

Here's an example of on of my goals and why I'm committed to it:

Find 12 smart, driven people to be my friends. I am absolutely committed to this goal because I realize that what creates the joys of memories is being able to work on them with others and share them with people. If I am to be around people, I want to be around people who inspire and motivate me to see beyond my own abilities. I don’t have this in my life right now, but I have the opportunity to grow it. Thus, I am going to. I have let myself fall into this non-social rut. It’s going to stop. Life is about people. Life is about people who believe in you and who you can lift up and support through the hard times. Create memories with people!!!

If I don’t do this, I cannot create the most lasting, powerful memories that I could have. I won’t be able to contribute to others and make a lasting impression if I don’t meet them to start with. This has been a trouble spot for me because I’ve put so much effort into the company. It’s time to diversify and make sure my people skills get back on track.

Fourth: Put it where you'll see it: I'll make a list of my goals and, just like when I was in high-school, I'll place my lists in areas where I know I'll see them on a daily basis. Since I use Outlook for my daily calendaring and task lists, I've set up a daily recurring task where I have all my goals listed.

Fifth: Break it down. I think this is the area where it's the easiest to fall off the wagon. It's not enough to write down your yearly goals and then tuck them away. You have to have a way to measure whether you're moving forward. What I do each Sunday is to take a look at my goals and see what I need to do THIS WEEK in order to move me closer to them.

For instance, another one of my goals is to read 18 books this year. So, I can break that goal down into micro-goals (many people call this "chunking" – referring to breaking a bigger goal into bite-sized chunks). Since I need to read 18 books for the year, this means I need to read 1.5 books a month. For me, this is about two hours a week. So my goal for the week  is to read 2 hours. Simple and manageable! 

Sixth: The Key – Measure it. How do you know if you're on track if you don't measure your results? Measuring results on a weekly basis is critical to your success because you can immediately see if you start falling behind. By measuring yourself, you'll always know where you stand.

Here's how I do it.

As I mentioned before, each Sunday I'll look at my goals and make a list of what I need to do this week in order to move me closer to them. with 10 main goals, your weekly list could contain 10-20 items. For my "18 books" goal, my weekly tasks are to a) read 2 hours and b) go to Borders and pick up a new book. I'll do this for each goal.

Then on the following Sunday, I'll look back over my list of tasks and give myself a score according to how I did. If I read for 90 minutes and went to Borders, I'll give myself a 75% on that task and a 100% on my second task. The blended accomplishment rate for that task is 88%. I'll continue this process for each set of goals.

At the end of this exercise I'll normally have 10 scores (for my 10 goals) and then I'll blend all ten to get an overall weekly accomplishment score. Note that some weeks you won't have 10 scores. Sometimes there is nothing to do for a particular goal. That is normal and completely cool.

This score should be between 75-85%. If you are always hitting 100% of your goals, then you need bigger goals. If you're at 50-60%, then you need to try harder.

Transfer this score into Excel and build a weekly graph to show how you're doing. Over time, you'll be able to see how you did vs. your goal list. Here is an example of my last year's accomplishment chart:

Picture 3

As you can see, sometimes I just have bad weeks. I screw up and fall short of my goals. Because I'm able to visualize my screw ups, it becomes easier to motivate myself to get back on track. It's better to know you're not on track than to think you might be, but find out later that you're way short of where you thought you'd be.

The Loop. This entire process creates a loop of accountability. You get focused on what you want, then you have a way of knowing if you're moving closer to your goals. I've found that the accountability portion really adds tremendous value. It is the edge over most goal setting programs. 

How much time does this take? When I explain my goal system to people, some look at me like I'm a complete nerd. Well, actually they are right. I'm a nerd who likes to get stuff done. 🙂 I figure that I have one shot in life, so I need to know I'm working towards something. It's just the way I'm wired. Anyway, you can expect to spend 2-4 hours at the beginning of the year to get really clear on what you want. Then, on Sunday, I spend about 15-20 minutes measuring myself and setting my goals for the following week. Once a quarter, I'll write a review of where I am, what I need to change, and gut-check myself to make sure my goals are still valid for me (goals change over time – you need to remain flexible and be ready to change when your hear tells you to). 

It just doesn't take that much time to do it right. It's really efficient, and the time you save during the week because you're working on your most important tasks make up for the time in spades.

So, that's it. That's my goal setting system. If you like it, feel free to use it. If you need help understanding something, email me or leave a comment and I'll do what I can to help out.

2009 Goals: Here are my main 2009 goals. Where are yours?

  • I will read 18 books this year 
  • I will continue my never-ending quest to master character traits of "POPPS" (Passion, Optimism, Purpose, Persistence, Self-Confidence)
  • I will find 12 new, smart, and driven friends
  • TakeLessons reaches $(xx) in profitability (hidden for competitive reasons)
  • Begin to do public speaking
  • Earn $(xx) this year in personal income (hidden for personal reasons)
  • Beat the S&P by 20%. So if the S&P is up 4%, my goal is to be at 4.8%
  • Open trust/college savings accounts for my niece and nephew, Bethany and Jake
  • Save 15% of my income for a rainy day
  • Move into a different place in San Diego. I'm ready for a yard and a view.
  • I weigh 180 and am in excellent health. Goal is to be in just-as-good shape at 40 than I was at 25.
  • Trip to see the European Castles