Grow or Die!

Grow or DieGrow or die! I like that. The growing part, not the dying part. I guess a nicer way to put it is: If you aren’t improving then you’re standing still. That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

Have you ever met someone who is merely coasting along in life? They have it pretty good. They have a car, a job, a place to live, food to eat and cable TV. What more is there to life?

Okay, I think we all know people like that. They are not moving anywhere in their life. Nothing has changed in their life for the last ten years. They haven’t done a thing to improve themselves or make this world a better place. Most of their time is spent in front of the TV watching sports or the news or, heaven forbid, reality shows! They spend two or three hours a day reading the newspaper from cover to cover only to throw it away the very next day because just about everything in it is worthless. Each day they go through the same process. Life is just a big circle going round and round headed for nowhere. Each day finds them not one bit better than the day before. Each day they contribute nothing to better the world they live in. They are content and satisfied with the status quo.

I think that’s very sad. Life is for LIVING!

There is a woman that I know who is in her eighties. Right now she’s enrolled in college and working on a degree. She’s continuing to improve herself to make herself better. I think what a contrast between her and most retired people. How would it be if all the retired people in the world continued until the day they died to improve themselves, to learn new skills and worked every day to make this world a better place? Many do and I admire those people and I want to be like them. I hope I die when I’m 105 working on my pilot’s license and not lying in bed at an old-folks home.

If a plant stops growing, what is it? It’s DEAD! What happens when you stop growing? I think you get the idea. There seems to be a lot of people in this world who have stopped living. They have just delayed the funeral. Don’t be one of them. My challenge to you today is to continue to improve yourself, to continue to move forward, to move higher, to keep growing.

Getting Yourself to Act: 3 Ways Commitments Give You Power

BurningShip

Are you having trouble getting yourself to act on your goals? Is your motivation, shall we say, pathetic? I was experiencing this recently until I did one thing: I made a commitment.

When I say I made a commitment, I don’t mean I made a decision. A decision is good but it lacks power. A commitment is something you do that is more tangible and real.

The commitment I made was to sign up for my 10th marathon. I spent the $80 and registered. Now I am committed.

Making that small commitment has had a great effect on my daily exercise program. I was having trouble getting out every morning to run or exercise. My motivation was anemic at best. I knew I needed something to motivate me to get out there every day. That’s when I decided to run another marathon. But that was just a decision. The commitment came when I actually put my non-refundable money where my mouth was.

I’m reminded of the story of General Cortez when he landed his armies in Mexico to fight the Aztecs. To insure victory, he ordered the burning of their ships so there would be no means of retreat. By burning the ships it gave the soldiers only two options: win the war or perish. Now that is what I call commitment!

There is great power in making commitments. Here are three ways commitments can help:

1. You have a goal to work towards.

When I was getting up each morning to simply go out running I had no real reason to do it. Sure, I wanted to be healthy but sometimes that’s not enough. When I committed to run a marathon it gave me a very clear-cut and definable goal to shoot for.

2. You will experience pain if you don’t follow through.

Let’s face it, we are all motivated to avoid pain. When I was trying to exercise each morning without a commitment, failure to do it wasn’t too painful. Now that I’ve made a commitment, failure to exercise each morning will result in a very painful failure, the pain and humiliation of not completing a marathon.

3. The decision is already made.

When you make a commitment, it locks you into a decision. There is no wondering for me each morning whether I should go running or not. The decision is made. (See article Decide to Decide).

My challenge for you is to examine your goals and find ways that you can make a real commitment to do them. Burn your ships, so to speak. Put your money where your mouth is. Commit!

Thank you.

I Have Quit!

quit

Recently I read of a man who had tried for years to overcome his drinking habit. He knew his drinking was taking a toll on his life and was costing him many opportunities. He tried every way he could think of to quit and failed each time. Finally he developed a habit, whenever he was offered a drink or when temptation arose, to say firmly, “I have quit.”

It wasn’t “I’m trying to quit” or “I’m going to quit.” It was “I have quit.” End of discussion. There was no more deliberation or debate after that. The decision was already made that “I have quit drinking.” He didn’t have to think about whether he should take the drink or not. He simply said, “I have quit” as if it were a simple, ordinary fact of life. As a result of using this method, the man hasn’t taken another drink in twenty years.

You can use the same technique for a number of obstacles in your life that you are trying to overcome, whether it’s smoking, overeating, lack of exercise, cutting out fat in your diet, overcoming pornography or drugs or any challenge you are dealing with. You don’t have to deliberate or debate it any more. You can simply say, “I have quit!”

What is Your Threshold?

Pressure GuageThat’s it! I’ve had it! I’m going to change! We usually don’t hear those words until we have reached our Threshold. This article will explore what threshold is and how to use it to your advantage.

Threshold is like a boiling point or a point that you reach in your life where you say you’ve had enough, that’s it, I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the way I am.

Most homes have a hot water heater. Every hot water heater has a valve on them, a special safety valve. It’s a pressure release valve. To keep the hot water heater from exploding from too much pressure, this release valve will open if the pressure gets too high.

Our “Pressure Release Valve”

Inside each of us there is a pressure release valve so-to-speak – something inside us that kicks in and says, “Whoa, you’ve gone too far, you’re over the limit, you’ve done it this time” and it wakes you up and says, “hey what in the heck are you doing?” It’s a threshold that you reach or a line that you cross that tells you, “Hey, you need to change. You can’t live your life like this anymore.”

Think for a moment why most people don’t make changes in their lives. Usually there are some real things they need to change but they don’t. Why? Because things are bad but they’re really not that bad. They’re just cruising along and maybe they’re not doing things right but things aren’t really so bad so it’s hard to be motivated to change in that situation.

Hitting Rock Bottom

But when someone hits rock bottom in their life, when the level of pain is so great that they can’t stand it any longer, that’s when they are more likely to change. Now I’m not saying you have to hit rock bottom but sometimes people do have to hit rock bottom, they have to go over that line before they will make a change, before they can get enough motivation enough strength, enough energy inside of them to really want to make a change.

An example might be a person who is a little bit overweight. They know they’re a few pounds overweight, 10 pounds for example, and they don’t really have that much motivation to change. Their clothes still fit reasonably well, they look reasonably well in the mirror. Usually something has to happen to where they say, “whoa, I’ve got to change, I’ve got to stop eating.” Maybe they went out to the local buffet and just made a pig of themselves and came home and are feeling sick. Maybe that’s their threshold or level of pain. Or maybe they see an old friend, somebody they knew in high school or college, and this old friend looks great and fit and they are embarrassed for the way they look. They look at themselves and think, “What has happened to me? I was so embarrassed to meet that person.” That’s an example of threshold.

So be aware of this force in your life and use it to your advantage. Try to lower your threshold level so you can reach the point of motivation to change sooner.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Do What You Know

farmer I once heard a story about a farmer who had been farming for many years. He had a son who went off to college and after a few years came home with a degree in hand, and a head full of knowledge. He told his father, “You know, Dad, this farm would be much more productive if you would use the new methods of farming. These days everyone is using hybrid strains of seeds. There are better methods of crop rotation and contour plowing. Plus you really should be using up-to-date insecticides and fertilizers. And did you know most farmers are milking their cows three times a day instead of two.” He went on and on expounding the virtues of all the modern methods of farming. Finally his father said, “Now just hold on there son! I’m not farming half as well as I know how already!”

Isn’t that the way we are? We seldom perform as well as we know how. I’ve heard people say that “knowledge is power.” To a certain degree it can be. But in my own personal experience I find that I know a lot of things that I should be doing but I don’t. Just having knowledge about something doesn’t necessarily translate to the ability or power to do it.

Many times over the years I would tell my children to do their homework. Invariably they would answer back, “I know dad!” and I would say back to them, “Then do what you know!” It’s kind of a joke around my house because I have said that phrase so many times to my children: Do what you know.

How many self-improvement books have you read over your life time? I have hundreds of them! We probably learn ten-times more than what we ever put into action in our lives. Yet we keep buying books and wanting to learn more.

At some point it’s time to stop learning and start doing. We need to put our knowledge to use. I’m not suggesting we completely stop learning but what good is learning if we never use it?

Here is my suggestion: How about making a list of all the things you know you should do but aren’t. Then from your list choose two or three things and start doing them! You can read books, read blogs and listen to tapes and CDs till the cows come home but until you actually do something you are going nowhere. It’s time to take real action! At the end of the day, knowing the answer means nothing if you don’t do anything about it.

Outside Changes Start Within

Thinker“If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” -Unknown

If you look at your life and things are still the same as they’ve always been despite your efforts to change, there is a good reason. You are most likely trying to change the effect without changing the cause.

It’s like treating a cold with the typical over-the-counter cold medicine. It may relieve the symptoms for a while but the cold is still there. To make lasting changes in your life you must work on the root causes.

Henry David Thoreau, 19th century naturalist, wrote these words.

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

Looking for love in all the wrong places

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be miserable and unhappy no matter what? I know a woman who has been divorced several times. She goes from one relationship to another and always ends up getting hurt. The guy always turns out to be a dreadful twit.

I know a man who has had so many jobs I can’t even count them. He goes from one job to another and is never happy with where he is currently working. The standard reason he always gives for leaving his last job is because the boss was a big jerk.

There are other people who are never happy with where they are living. They are constantly on the move, looking for happiness and success in the next town.

The problem with these people is they are trying to solve their problems by changing the symptoms and not striking at the root of their problems.

Your mind creates the world you live in

So what is the root of their problems? In each case the roots are different but they all reside within the mind of the individual. The mind must change first. If your mind stays the same it will continue to produce the same results that you have always got. You can change your environment, your spouse, your job or your home but if your mind remains the same you will create the same problems over and over again.

Change your thoughts, change your world

So what can you do? You don’t want to go through life never being able to change yourself or your circumstances. The answer lies in you becoming aware of your thoughts. The creative force of your mind brought about the world you live in. You are responsible for your life through the thoughts that you entertain on a daily basis. You are the one placing limitations on yourself that are holding you back.

If you have the power to create a miserable world then it stands to reason that you have the power to create a happy world.

“Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruits and man is his own gardener.” –James Allen

As ye sow, so shall ye reap

You are the master gardener of your thoughts. The fruit it produces is the life you live every day. You must guard every thought that enters your mind and determine if it should be there. You need to constantly entertain thoughts that invite positive and good into your life. You must be aware of all the negative influences that enter your life, be it the media, friends, music, or the internet and only allow those in that you invite.

You are the sower of the seeds your life. What are you sowing?

Thank you.

Master Yourself, Master Your Life

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson