Quitting Our Commitments

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Quitting Our Commitments

Many of us stay in relationships for too long, jobs that make us miserable, or pridefully sustain habits for the sake of not being a ‘quitter’.  We are all part of things at one point or another that cause tension in our lives. So why do we choose to muddle forward? What stops us from quitting our commitments ?

Perhaps it is because we understand that sticking with our choices helps build resilience. As we endure through hardship, we can develop the tolerance to believe. And when we believe in our capacities as a human to grow, we develop the confidence to surrender to the process of living life intentionally; thereby accessing our un-tapped potentials.

Moving on

Intentional living means making sacrifices to continue to progress. But what if the path you have chosen is one that instead of liberating you, binds you. Personally, my greatest vice is transmuting all my energy towards life choices. As I deem things as valuable (worth my time resource) I put all my eggs into those things, sacrificing a great amount of what I may have incrementally established in the first place.

It’s clear there comes a point where commitments become rotten. Yet we endure in fear that this is merely a point of contention, a moment to show our stuff and concur another obstacle.

As we stumble down our life paths, the odds of taking the wrong turns are high. So what do we do when our choices are straying us in direct opposition to our life goals?

It may be time to quit.

As I wrote briefly about when I was discussing when to stop reading a book, quitting ahead of time can be exactly the thing we may need to do to improve our ability to stick to the things that help up become our greatest selves.

Our goals should never be to endure every challenge we choose to accept to the end. We need to learn to sort through our commitments to make sure we can discern when we may be over-committing ourselves to the wrong things.

Quitting Points

When we are questioning if it is time to quit, we need to ask ourselves if we have engaged with the task long enough. But what really is long enough? With such an abstract cut off we cannot learn to stick to our commitments. We leave room to alter our definition of ‘long enough’ whenever it is convenient.

Starting today we need to set guidelines for our commitments. Understanding that the nature of our lives is change, we can respect that what we deem as valuable is ever changing too. Therefore, as we move forward in our lives we no longer become overstrung by past commitments because when we accept said change we are constantly asking ourselves: Is this still what I aim at becoming? And if so, is this still the effective way to do so?

Instead of retrospectively choosing to part ways with our commitments, we can set quitting points ahead of time. When we set points ahead of time this gives us a definite control over our lives. Who wants to stay in a position forever that makes them miserable? But how about a 3-month test period? Or even 30 days?

Setting Test Lengths

Anytime I am starting a new project I run it through a 30-day challenge. 30 days is sufficient enough time to give a commitment a chance at influencing my life. Such trials are a great way to find what you’re interested in without running yourself into a roadblock.

For example, I once wanted to start coding for the website. So I put myself through 30 days of coding practice for two hours a day. Now normally, such a schedule would be grueling and cause me to give up the idea of learning web development in its entirety. But I had a measurable unit of time to test my resilience and most importantly I had time to re-evaluate my commitments.

Setting Re-evaluation Points

Okay fine, that may work for new commitments, but what about the ones I have already started and do not plan to stop?

As someone who avidly reads, meditates, and exercises each day I know the merits of long-term habits. But it isn’t fruitful to just continue a commitment for the sake of just going through the motions. As we become complacent we lose the benefits of the activities. To prevent this, we can set points throughout our progress that we re-evaluate our commitment.

To use my meditation practice as an example, over a period of three-years my meditation has fluctuated from an hour long to 15 minutes sessions. Each month I am re-asking myself how were my sessions. Was I rushing them? Was I concentrated to the level I need to be? Did I fall asleep a lot? These questions and more provide me with information for the up and coming month as to what I need to focus on to continue to move forward in my practice.

Think about a part of your life that you use as a measure of your own identity. Now constantly ask yourself if you are living up to the expectations of that commitment. Over time you will see that taking great care of said commitment will reflect deeply on your own progress in becoming a part of that identity.

Life Impact

It is my firm brief that we have a finite amount of attention that we can distribute across the commitments of our life. From that, it is only logical that as we put more into one thing or another, we strip ourselves of the ability to engage fully with other things. The question then becomes are we pulling energy away from things we find merit in? I'm sure of it.

I recently had the opportunity to experience this myself.

I took on the challenge of entering a new career field and subsequently began to do what I do best; give it my all. Though as I put my time and attention into the position, my life slowly began to crumble around me. I stopped writing for the site, I ran minimally, meditated aimlessly, and even communicated with my friends and family sparingly. Something had to give, and it just so happen that it wouldn’t be the new thing I just attempted to incorporate into my life, it was all that I had incrementally worked for over the past 4 years.

I would have no more of it.

I set a point for evaluation and worked up until that fateful moment when I decided to leave. Now am slowly but surely recreating the life that I know is guiding me towards a life as my greatest self. In hindsight, my greatest lesson is to request information about time commitment sooner. I have come to an understanding that great sacrifices ought to be made to venture into a rigorous field, and when that career does not align with my life virtues, It must be eliminated.

Finding Quitting Points That Have Promising Results

‘‘The best way to predict our feelings tomorrow is to see how others are feeling today”
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

In Stumbling on Happiness, Gilbert goes on to state our capabilities for foresight are…well poor to say the least.
We have poor insight when we are making presumptions about the happiness of ourselves in a given circumstance. As a precautionary measure, Gilbert has stumbled upon some great advice that I have only begun to recognize its merits and would like to close by sharing with you. He states:

“If you believe that people can generally say how they are feeling at the moment they are asked, then one way to make predictions about our own emotional futures us to find someone who is having the experience we are contemplating and ask them how they feel.
Instead of remembering our past experience in order to simulate our future experience, perhaps we should simply ask other people to introspect on their inner states, perhaps we should give up on remembering and imagining entirely and use other people as surrogates for our future selves”

What better person to ask than the one who is subjectively experiencing what we hope to experience? From now on, instead of trusting the tools of foresight that Dr. Gilbert has gone to great lengths to show have bias outlooks. It is in our best interest to look towards people with experience in the state of mind that we aim for. This is surrogation at its finest.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. From now on when I commit to something I look for people who have done the same. Now I potentially have a collection of people who have been through the same situation.

So not only does this settle any anxiety I may have about what a commitment may mean for the remainder of my life obligations, it gives me information about where to go after that seemingly tragic event occurs.

Commitment Takes Integration

What I’ve learned is dead ends are only so when you cannot integrate what has been of great value with whatever you are currently attempting to grasp. All that we purposefully engage with must continually align with that of what is to come. It is such clarity that will charge our mental volitions, and ultimately further our journey towards discovering commitments that when engaged with for the long term, change our lives for the better.

My Motto: Today is the best day of my life

I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.

How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.


Rejection: 3 Lessons From My Graduate Application Process

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Rejection: 3 Lessons From My Graduate Application Process

In the last few months, I have experienced one of the largest upsets in my plan for building the skills needed to make a difference in this world.

But before we can get to that it is important that you know what keeps me up at night.

I want to study decision sciences. Developing a stronger empirical understanding of how people make choices and using that information to structure decision environments is my thing. I think we can take advantage of human psychology because a stronger foundation based on what we actually are- human- can only strengthen the systems we use to assisting those in need.

I am enamored by it all. So after graduating undergraduate, I ventured into the land of Graduate studies; GRE, application essays, references, research programs, etc. I wanted to find a new home, one that would provide even better opportunities to meet with top performers in their fields; I wanted safety from the uncertainty that was inevitable now that my time had run out at Shippensburg University.

For Fall 2018 I applied to 6 graduate schools, all of which were Ph.D. programs in psychology.

But I failed.

I was rejected from every single school on the merits of a large and exemplary application pool.
I was not the one.

Though all was not lost. I find that the experience still ended up being a powerful tool for my future as a growing expert in psychology and continues to be a reference for what I need to remember in becoming my greatest self.

Here are the 3 lessons from my graduate application process. My hopes are that you will heed these lessons for any of your long-term plans.


I had confidence.

I had just finished undergrad in three years, jamming the experience with clubs, conferences, and research. I ended finishing school Summa Cum Laude, and highly recommend by professors for a career in academics.

While this is great and all, I allowed these allocations to blind me from the likelihood of failure. So, I applied to only the best schools, schools I thought deserved me, someone, that I knew could do anything because of my work ethic and enthusiasm.

But I was wrong.

I saw myself as a statically anomaly when in reality I was just another person with the same 3-9% chance of acceptance.

Overconfidence took over. 

Yet without the rejection, I’m not so sure if I would have been able to see that with the same respect that I do now. It’s only through reevaluating my own significance was I able to see that I was overshooting it. I was betting against the math.

I now know to warrant my risks with some type of security. It would have been easy to apply to master’s programs around in my field of study, but I only saw what I wanted as a potential reality and closed off the idea that anything else was even an option.


Plans are nothing; planning is everything. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Building on top of my overconfidence, I proceeded to think about only futures that included graduate studies as the next plan. But when I got the news, I was served with a big bowl of uncertainty with a side of 'you-screwed-yourself'—or at least these were my initial thoughts.

We all need a plan.

Yet nothing about a plan states that it ought to go according to its outline. Its only after having my big plan fall apart was I able to embrace planning for very different futures and not just slight variations on the same thing.

Plans for the future now look nothing alike. I need to be fluid. Fit and able to move into any future so long as I remember my ultimate vision. When we become more accepting of a plans ability to fail, it’s easier to then build hundreds of outlines for what is to come. These models for addressing plan permanence detach us from any set expectations while ensuring we are always moving towards our individual higher purpose.


I was scared.

I was afraid of what a future looked like, so attaching to yet another institution was my way of numbing the sensations that I felt about the unknown. But as that plan quickly started to go sour, it became inevitable that I would have to face uncertainty. Yet instead of allowing the void to consume me for the worse, I fell forward and accepted all that the unknown had to offer.

You gotta let go and let it happen.

As I pack for my 2-month backpacking excursion to India in a few days, I’ll continue to build my presence as a digital influencer and prepare for another round of applications. Maybe I’ll get my Ph.D., maybe I’ll work for the peace corps, or maybe I’ll move to California. It makes no difference. No longer am I going to attach to any specific outcome, because I know how things can change. What’s most important is that my aim to live a life full of purpose—one that shares what I have learned about the world with others—is steadfast.

This experience has taught me the profound benefits of the inevitable life rejection. Rejection is no indicator of our capabilities to grow, it’s a messenger who is helping guide us to find what we’re missing. Just as I learned the 3-powerful lesson above only because of the rejection, I hope that your intentional life is full of rejections that inspire you to change for growth.

My Motto: Today is the best day of my life

I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.

How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.


Becoming the Third Bricklayer: Lessons in Cognitive Appraisal

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Becoming the Third Bricklayer: Lessons in Cognitive Appraisal


Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?”

The first says, “I am laying bricks.”

The second says, “I am building a church.”

The third says, “I am building the house of God.”

The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling


What about the three bricklayers is so different?

How can each of them have such varying perspectives on what is happening?

Why can’t we all be the third bricklayer?

It’s all a matter of intention.

The Bricklayer parable highlights how even the most mundane tasks can mean the most profound of things. Modern psychoanalysis has discovered that how we think about changing our lives is fluid—no one has to live a meaningless life, we can use the lessons from cognitive appraisal to become the third bricklayer.

But how? Can a situation really be anything but what I see? And if it were really possible to change how would I?

Below you’ll find the answers to those questions and much more. Creating an intentional life isn’t easy. My hopes are that below you’ll find what you need to start becoming more aware of the various ways our interpretation can be altered, and in turn use that information to modify how you present your life to yourself—together we can become the third bricklayer. Let’s get started.

What is Cognitive Appraisal?

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. –Viktor Frankl

Cognitive appraisal is the personal interpretation of a situation; it is how an individual views a situation. Appraisals refer to direct, immediate, and intuitive evaluations made on the environment in reference to personal well-being.”

Our mechanisms for appraisal are powerful tools that provide a window into how each of us subjectively experiences life situations. They are strongly correlated with our emotional states, and are seemingly automatic—we will work on that soon enough.

To use the parable as an example, each bricklayer has made an evaluation of the situation given what he or she knows. Yet through the changeable perceptions of the circumstance, each yields distinct outlooks—they have different cognitive appraisals.

So it seems that though nothing externally has really changed, it is as Psychotherapist Viktor Frankl said, our attitudes that shape what we perceive. But perhaps the parable isn’t a good enough example.

Real World Examples of Appraisal

Let me give you a personal example,

I work at a warehouse full time for 12-hour shifts on the weekends. Under some circumstances, standing for 11 hours a day, doing the same task can be considered mundane, mind-numbing, or perhaps even slave work.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Now consider the following appraisal to my situation as I perceive it:

Where I work we pack food that helps people lose weight.

I took this simple detail and transformed my job into a profoundly meaningful duty.

I’m not the guy who just packs boxes all day. I am the guy who with each box is potentially combating the obesity epidemic in our country. Each and every box of food we ship out has the potential to make the difference in changing someone’s habits. Some people have not learned how to control their eating habits which have led to years of poor choices. I have been given another opportunity to live by my life creed; this packing job is part of fulling my greatest self.

I’m part of changing someone’s habits for the better—I have a calling.

Notice how quite different my warehouse job now seems, Each day I am excited to go and work because I know how much this means to someone else, and I have made it mean something to me by reappraising a normal job to fit my personal model of living.

If you think that what you’re experiencing is somehow worse, and therefore it’s not possible to change your situation. Let me give you a more extreme case.

Psychotherapist Dr. Viktor Frankel was captured and imprisoned in an Auschwitz concentration camp during some of the most brutal periods of mass genocide during the Second World War. Professor Frankel endured a time when you were more blatantly likely to die at any given moment for no specific reason you could ever rationalize—consciously aware of his mortality with little ways to guard it. Many inmates found it hard to see existence as anything but meaningless, hopeless, and disparaging.

Yet Frankl found purpose. Frankl wanted to rewrite his manuscript that he believed to be a solution to mental health issues of his time. He immersed himself in his calling. Any situation he encountered became another mechanism to share his insights about how we could all live through anything just as long as we own had a why.

He recounts, “When in a camp in Bavaria I fell ill with typhus fever, I jotted down on little scraps of paper many notes intended to enable me to rewrite the manuscript, should I live to the day of liberation. I am sure that this reconstruction of my lost manuscript in the dark barracks of a Bavarian concentration camp assisted me in overcoming the danger of cardiovascular collapse.”

Appraisal Matters.

Given the examples you how much our appraisal really changes what we are experiencing. The situation is only a small matter in comparison to our appraisal. But how can you start recognizing these opportunities for reappraisal in your own life?

For a more in-depth look at Vitor Frankl's experience, go check out A Man's Search For Meaning.

Questions for Guiding Cognitive Appraisals

These questions cover the various degrees that a situation could be interpreted. Each question gauges the common determinants for how humans tend to appraise their lives. By asking yourself these questions, you can start reappraising situations in your life towards your calling.

Is it this situation pleasant?

When a situation presents something we desire, we automatically evaluate it in view of that. Before we can even cognitively deliberate what is happening, our prior happenstances have already created an evaluation model. We have to start asking ourselves what that appraisal is to access its usefulness. Pleasant or unpleasant, what matters is that we have noted what our immediate reaction was as a reference for what it can become.

How much attention does the situation call for?

An easy way to interpret a situation is to weight its impact on your attention. Is it something that requires your undivided attention? Are you able to ignore it? Or perhaps it is something that you can avoid having any attention on whatsoever. We need to understand the toll of attention a situation takes on our lives to access whether this is a matter even worth redirecting.

How certain am I about what is happening?

When we feel certain, we feel at ease. Part of changing our interpretation is finding a level of certainty amongst the waves of uncertainty. Questioning the unpredictability of what is happening provides insight as to why we may be focusing the level of attention we are on the situation. Part of the reason something may feel as though it is ruling your life—taking up all your attention—is because of how certain you feel about the situation.

Are there obstacles in this situation? How much effort is involved?

Knowing the obstacles offer a measure for reinterpretation. If you’re like me, knowing situations have obstacles makes it very enticing because anything that presumably offers a challenge is a method of strengthening my being. Any complications in a situation that arise can become a means of reaching our personal calling. When we ask ourselves about how much effort this particular situation takes, we become aware of the level of attention we are giving an event. If a situation requires a lot of effort, it becomes more important to ensure our appraisal is oriented towards our calling.

What control do I have over the situation? Is this situation my responsibility? Do I deserve this situation?

The extent that you believe you have control over a situation in your life matters. When you are experiencing a situation that is controlled by external factors it seems as though nothing can be done. We need to know the basis for which a given situation is under our control. Once we start addressing only those things in our control, we can become more comfortable with what isn’t. Such awareness legitimizes the situation. It’s no longer just a situation you’re a part of, it is an event you are observing. Like an outsider looking in from a distance, asking these question putting you in a position to pinpointing exactly what’s responsible for what.

Be The Third Bricklayer

No matter the actual substance of the experience, you take only what is of pragmatic value. It’s important that you develop enough awareness of what actually is happening to remove yourself from what you think is happening. What you experience is fluid, and in no way have to be what you’re making out to be.

Our defining moments are exactly that; ours.

Part of intentional living is asking all the right questions, it’s my hope that I was able to provide you with some questions to change how you are presenting your life to yourself. It's only through asking these questions that I believe we each can orient our lives to always to focus on a calling—to become the third bricklayer.

My Motto: Today is the best day of my life

I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.

How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.


Fail Better: Mental Models for Overcoming Failure

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Fail Better: Mental Models for Overcoming Failure

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better” -Samuel Beckett

As humans, we are not particularly interested losing, in any context. Scientists who study human decision making have identified several our predisposition to value losses over gains—failing can be biologically hard to embrace. It’s in our evolutionary recipe to take loses harshly, and therefore, getting excited about failure has been a bittersweet lesson for me.

My accomplishments take a central role in creating the narrative that I embrace. Failure, in a way, is the deconstruction of those ideals. Any idea I have of myself can easily be second-guessed from a circumstance in my life that proves otherwise.

But that’s just it.

It isn’t the event that is harming me, it’s my mindset. So how can we reconstruct how we think? What does it take to reinvent failure? How can we fail better?

Enter Mental Models.

“The chief enemy of good decisions is a lack of sufficient perspectives on a problem.” - Alain de Botton

 "A mental model is an explanation for how something works."It is a system, principle, theory, aphorism, heuristic and much more. Call it what you want, its central tenet though is essentially something you carry around in your mind to help interpret the world—broadly I like to think of it as a mental representation of how to think about stuff.

Commonsensically, the particular way you perceive reality will yield a specific perceptual experience. That means when you’re, upset, angry, or feel like a failure part of the reason is the given subjective lens you consider part of the experience—your mental model.

When you train your brain to rethink failure, you win.

Over time I have gathered a toolbox of mental models to help better grip failure by reconfiguring my perception. Failure is not a loss, but an opportunity. These are specific methods to disarm yourself from defending against failure, let’s get right into the 3 mental models for overcoming failure.

Failing Faster

“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

When Henry Ford released the Model A it was awful. Mechanics found problem after problem from customers complaining about the quality of the vehicle.

But he and his partners already knew that—Henry Ford wasn’t looking for perfection, he was looking for opportunities to lose.

Subsequently, Ford fixed every single problem. With the information gathered from releasing an imperfect model A, Ford was able to produce the Model T. Ford opted to fail first and succeed later. Without the data from the Model A failure, Ford would have never been able to create a car that is now considered a pivotal moment in automobile history.

Fast failing is a longtime praised in business as the most effective methods for reach maximum effectiveness or efficiency. As a mental model, failing fast can be used to test out any habits, behavior routines that we would like to incorporate into our lives. When we get failure out of the way we save resources that would normally accumulate over the long term, develop correlations for what works, and avoid what doesn’t.

The Obstacle is the Way

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” -Marcus Aurelius

Originating from Stoic philosophy and popularized by bestselling author Ryan Holiday, the obstacle is the way is a mental model to better embrace the realities our lives that are bringing discomfort by changing your perceptions, actions, and willpower.

What do you get from running away from obstacles? Not much. Any discomfort you experience can be addressed. So when you choose to respond to obstacles with a realistic perception of what they are—your method for breeding success—you see how much control you really have over every situation.

Transform adversity into advantage.

As a mental model, viewing any trial that is to come in your life as exciting, invigorating, and perhaps even something to be grateful for it will bring a new life to all experiences—intentional living starts here.


It’s been said many ways but the first time it really clicked was a few months ago when I heard Daniel Pink say this…

“If you want to know what an experience is going to be like, find someone similarly situated and ask for their experience. A very good way to avoid failure is to learn on someone else’s dime. Let them make the mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. I much prefer learning from other people’s mistakes than from my own.”

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. When I fail at something. I look for people who have done the same. Now I potentially have a collection of people who have been through the same situation and the best part is, they survived.

So not only does this settle any anxiety about an outcome being the death of me, it gives me information about where to go after that seemingly tragic event occurs.

Take how others have failed to broaden the perspective of your own failures.

Surrogation as a mental model is the meta-mental model—it is a model that heeds advice about the benefit of collecting mental models. The models above are themselves all methods of surrogation. What top performing humans have used or monitored in their own experience are the best tools for addressing your own issues.

We are not too different from one another. So when you find yourself failing, look towards those who have ventured into the same valley as you, how did they survive?

Fail, in fact, fail a lot; you’ll learn far more.

Many of these mental models for interpreting the world are similar. In one way or another they all state when things don’t work, make a serious effort to understand why, and you are bound to be successful. Part of living an intentional life is bringing meaning to even the banalest. Don’t minimize your failures, become aware of each event, and use the mental models above to modify your perception. Soon you’ll see failure will no longer be an inhibitor, but the contributor to all of your achievements.

My Motto: Today is the best day of my life

I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.

How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.


How Habits Fail: Common Mistakes in Habit Formation

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How Habits Fail: Common Mistakes in Habit Formation

I fail a lot.

  • I fast intermittently between 8 pm and noon; I’ve but I ate an entire tub of ice cream at midnight.
  • Forces of Habit was a supposed to launch at the beginning of 2017
  • I was fired from my first ‘real’ job

When it comes to habit formation. I have a laundry list of failures.

But I’m grateful.

Because without those failures, I would never have been able to build a method for living the best day every day. Intentional living begins with failure in mind, and common mistakes in habit formation are a dime a dozen on our journey to becoming our greatest selves.

Look at the numbers. By this point in the year, over 50% of New Year resolutions enter the ether. Take gym memberships for example.

Gym membership rates are down. People say it's “too hard to get back on-track” or “its hard to find time”.

Try as we may, why don’t good habits work out? How can we make change easier to change our lives for the better?

If you build good habits properly, results will come.

Let me tell you what I’ve learned from deliberating reforming my ability. Piece by piece I harbored mistake after mistake. I’ve learned from the best and built great habits. It’s my turn to share the common mistakes you’ll encounter on your journey toward habit formation.

Building too many habits at once.

Changing behavior is by far one the most challenging things a person can do, so why do it in several domains of your life at a time? Habits take a substantial amount of time and energy to change, so when we take on multiple habits at a time we lose out on giving our all to making a change.

When I first started building habits I was only running. Every day I would run a bit and feel like a champion; that was it. I didn’t need to read, eat healthy, or meditate. Those things came once I felt deeply rooted in my first habit.

You seek the outcome rather than relishing the process

Goals are great but, getting wrapped up in the idea of hitting your goals will level your drive when change doesn’t come—there will be times you won’t see any change.

New goals do not yield results just because you put in some work.

You need to put work into building your habits every day and leave the expectation of an outcome at the door. As we improve, the effects of our actions become blurred and fear of stagnation sets in; have faith. If you have a system, stick to it, long-term growth is inevitable as long as consistency is present.

All of our efforts are not linearly related to the outcomes. Nonlinearity resulting from a linear force exerted on an object isn’t uncommon. Said another way the efforts we put in may not result in the same improvements we saw right when we started.

So when you find yourself thinking too much about the goal or outcome, step back, ask yourself what is the habit that gets you to the outcome, and do the thing.

Further Reading: Fooled by Randomness

Your Habits are Private

Part of making an obligation to yourself is making sure you’re not the only one aware.

Last month I edited three photos every day and I kept myself motivated by sharing a public google doc that I shared on social media and the newsletter.


I did it.

Missing a day would not only let me down but my readers. I made it hard to quit and easy to stay motivated.

Completing a task that everyone knows you are aiming for can be invigorating—the change becomes you. Social proof backed habits put your reputation on the line, something so precious that humans are evolutionarily predisposed to be ruffled by the idea of being socially ostracized; take advantage of this.

Use social proof. When you hide your habits from people it is easy to quit.

Who can think poorly of you if no one even knew what your plans are? But the flip side, who can encourage you if no one knew what your plans are?


Find the link to the google doc in this month’s newsletter.

Not signed up? Here is the link to all 90 pictures

Further Reading: Influence

You’re Attempting Unreasonable Habits

“I wanna start reading; I’ll read for 8 hours a day”

“I think I will start exercising; I’ll do 100 pushups and 10k every day”

“Maybe it’s time to start a diet; oh, I’ll just start a 20-day water fast”

When you set too large of a commitment from the start, you set yourself up to fail. It isn’t about the quantity of the change initially, that will come as you gradually raise your standards.

At first, think small.

Instead of 100 push-ups, how about 1? Your mindset may be motivated now, but your brain needs time to strengthen the synaptic connections. Letting out brains grow accustomed to the routine keeps the habit going when you aren’t so motivated; the habit is already ingrained in you. You no longer need to be pumped to do the thing because there is less inhibiting you from considering anything that isn’t the habit in the first place.

Pick a habit and start small. Focus on the repetition, and once you have then down, up the intensity.

Further Reading: Read More, Small Actions and Meditation: The One Minute Sit

Not tracking the change.

“What gets measured gets managed" -Peter Drucker

A common mistake in habit formation is forgetting to track. An easy way to demotivate yourself is to lose track of the metrics you’re using to access the progress of a habit. Knowing how long it’s been is great reference information for when you are tweaking the habit for better results.

When it comes to tracking I am a maniac.Forces of habit Journal

I track all of my habits in my personal development journal as a method to encourage myself and others. It really is a physical representation of all the hard work I put into becoming my greatest self.

Try to remember every time you hit an achievements mark. How far have you come? What patterns do you notice? Where did you write down that game plan?

Building a habit is a lot easier when you formally record your progress, and the best method to breed your success is keeping it all in a single place, like a notebook or journal.

Writing something down has a memorizing feeling to it. Putting something to paper in a meaningful place it makes it real. It’s much harder to back out of a commitment you make with yourself especially if it is solidified in writing.

Further Reading: Journaling for growth

Attempting to Reinvent the Wheel

If you want to know what an experience is going to be like, find someone similarly situated and ask for their experience. A very good way to avoid failure is to learn on someone else’s dime. Let them make the mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. I much prefer learning from other people’s mistakes than from my own.

-Daniel Pink

Another common mistake in habit formation is starting from scratch. Billions of lives have been lived, so why fall for the same pitfalls that cause someone else to fail? The lesson has already been learned, so instead of making the same mistakes try taking using what they learned and build upon it to create a new and improved habit.

Someone’s gotta fail, but no one said it only has to be you. Your next choice can be backed by the lessons of the entire human race.

Keep failing

If I can offer one parting piece of advice it would be to keep failing. All of the common mistakes in habit formation listed above only exist because people like me and you took a chance and failed—it’s just part of life.

Habit change won’t be getting any easier anytime soon. But by avoiding these common mistakes in habit formation, I know you can start to live more intentionally.