The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help Books

(And what you can do to really use this sentence to your advantage).

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksDon’t get me wrong. Personal development books (by the way, I hate the term “self-help”) do work. In fact, I changed my life because such a book caused a shift in my perspective on success and life.

However, they don’t work very often. And this one overused sentence is a reason for that:

“Ask Yourself a Question…”

I don’t suggest you shouldn’t ask yourself questions, because the book should provide all the solutions for you on a golden plate. Yep, you should do the work. If you want someone else to do the heavy lifting for you, pay hundreds of bucks for coaching or thousands of bucks for consultations, not a few bucks for the “self-help” book.

In fact, purchasing and reading a book suggests that you prefer to work out your problems alone. No shame in that; many small issues in life are totally manageable on your own.

So, where does the damage come from? Why is this sentence overused to the point of abuse?

Expert’s Blind Spot

I write personal development books. I know plenty of other authors in that genre. We are not a common flock.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksMost of us are self-made, and we are especially skillful in areas that most people really suck: mindset, self-analysis, motivation, willpower and managing our emotional states. Oh yes, at one point every personal development author was at the same starting position as his readers – confused at best, and a clueless mess at worst. But they painstakingly built themselves from the ground level (and some, like me, from the below-ground level) to the point where those skills are as natural to them as breathing.

But asking self-analysis questions is not natural for the majority of the population.

Even if a reader takes a break to actually do the exercises prescribed by an author (which only a very few do), the results of such exercises will rarely convert into any lasting effect. Overwhelmed by life, a reader will simply forgot about his insightful answers. They will fade away with time.

Authors are sadly ignorant about this fact, and they pack their books with exercise after exercise and a question after question. Eventually, they assume that their readers are an above-average bunch, and they possess the art of governing one’s mind effectively.

That’s why, most of the time, the biggest benefit of reading “self-help” books is that you are not indulging yourself with much more harmful activities, like watching TV or taking drugs. They occupy your time, and something useful (research says we retain about 4% of what we read one time) always will stick in your mind.

What Can You Do to Make this “Magic Sentence” Work for You?

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksDevelop a habit of mindfulness. The exact method you’ll employ is of little importance. The crucial part is to make your mindfulness habitual. I call it “mindfulness” because it’s the most popular term, but what I mean is the state of mind that allows you to ask yourself questions. What is more, those are different questions than usual.

Your subconscious bombards you with questions all the time. And most of those questions are crap: “Why does it always happen to me?” or “Why am I a failure?”

They aren’t tools for gathering information, but rather clubs used to beat you down.

Developing your new habit, you should follow the framework: design it consciously, do it every day, identify yourself with a habit (“I am a person who…”), track it, build a streak (do it every day and maintain a visual reminder of how long your streak is). If necessary, start very small, so doing your new habit every day should not be a problem. Consistency of your routine is more important than initial results.

Here comes several specific activities to build such mindfulness habits:

1. Journaling.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksThis is, by far, my favorite method. 6 days a week, I ask myself an insightful question and answer it on paper. On the 7th day, I read and review my entries. I dedicate 10-15 minutes in my morning for this. I’ve been doing it since 26th of May, 2013. That’s a lot of repetitions and a lot of questions answered.

Not only did I get over a thousand answers, I also developed a mindfulness habit. I don’t go lightly over new questions in my life. This practice hammered into me a deep work kind of approach to answering personal development questions. I don’t brush them aside. In fact, when I get an interesting question, I note it down in my journal and answer in one of my morning sessions.

2. Meditation.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksMeditation is very easy to start in small doses (2 minutes or less). You don’t need any accessories for it, and you can do it practically everywhere and in any moment.

It gives you a picture of your mental world like no other activity. Apart from journaling, of course 😉

I started meditating about a year after I started journaling, and I found it very easy. Why? Because I was used to the bustle of my thoughts, thanks to my journaling sessions. Most beginners of meditation complain about the mental chatter that takes place in their heads and disperses their focus. Advanced meditators don’t complain about this, but not because they had no voices in their heads or because they are super humans who can silence them down without raising a finger. Nope. They have the same mental chatter inside, but they got used to noticing and acknowledging it.

That’s the whole point of meditation: self-awareness. You are no longer responding on autopilot to subconscious mental stimulus. You become aware and can discern more and more different signals that are usually enticed by emotions. You know what thoughts appear when you are bored, angry, frustrated or exhausted.

3. Silence.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksTry not to utter a single word for a specific period of time. It’s especially hard when you are among other people, whether at home or at work. I tried unsuccessfully for a few months to be quiet for an entire day while living my ordinary life. I think my best result was opening my mouth only a couple dozen times.

However, I learned that such a struggle of will provides increased awareness about what’s going in your mind. You see, whatever you utter aloud is first born in your mind. If you want to tame your tongue, the best way is to intervene into your thinking before words land on your tongue ready to launch. You must be watchful all the time to shepherd your words. I think my few-month practice of silence was another factor that contributed to my ease of mastering meditation.

4. Govern Your Talk.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksIf keeping your mouth shut is difficult, controlling it is downright impossible. The Bible says

Nobody can tame the tongue — it is a pest that will not keep still, full of deadly poison. — James, 3:8

That’s true.

On the other hand, even unsuccessful attempts to reign over your speech patterns will provide self-awareness in the same way that silence does. You need to be extremely focused on what’s going on in your head to be able to control your words.

A few simple methods to tame your tongue:

-introduce a new word or phrase into your vocabulary; try to use it 10 times a day for a few days;
-avoid specific words and phrases; a foul language makes a great game for this technique;
-introduce synonyms; replace a word you commonly use with its synonym or a few of them.

5. Affirmations.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksThis is the trickiest method. Affirmations will not make you mindful, per se. They are difficult to use even without a goal of improving your self-awareness.

You can use affirmations with the aim to grow your mindfulness. “I purposefully stop and marvel on the beauty of the universe,” or you can try to use them to manage your emotional states. For example, every time you feel frustrated, you can say to yourself: “In ten years, it will not matter at all.”

The best affirmations are the simplest ones. In fact, the two I mentioned above are overly complicated. I used to tell myself three times “It’s possible” whenever self-doubts attacked me.

6. Ask Questions.

Yes, I stated most of us cannot do this. But you can learn this skill. Approach it like any other habit you build.

a) Design it

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksHave specific questions in mind; be prepared. Write them down, carry them with you in your mobile or on an index card.
Define how your routine will look: Will you ruminate about it briefly in your head or will you write down your answer on paper? Decide how often you will do it and when. If you want to discuss the thing internally, you have plenty of opportunities during the day – while commuting, walking to a grocery store, using stairs or elevator, waiting in a queue.
If you want to answer on paper, you need to be able to sit down and write for at least a couple of minutes. Maybe during the lunch break at work, or early in the morning when everybody else in your household sleeps?

b) Pick your trigger

The trigger is the most important element of your habit creation. A good reliable trigger improves manifold your chances for developing a lasting habit.

If your routine is quick and dirty – you think over the question and answer in 1-2 sentences in your mind- it can be as simple as setting a reminder with the specific question on your mobile. The alarm goes off, the question pops up on the screen, and you are instantly reminded about your questioning habit.

At the beginning I recommend this approach, so you can repeat your routine many times a day, and repetition is the food of a new habit.

Another great idea is to base your trigger on an existing habit: making a coffee at home or at the office in the morning, arriving on a bus station or a train platform on your way to/from work, brushing your teeth. Doing these activities is already automatic for you. When you consciously make them a starting point for your new habit, it will become automatic much faster than without such a rock solid trigger.

c) Do the routine

This is truly the easiest part. Once you know what you have to do, where, when and how, doing it is a trivia. If you choose your trigger right, it will spring you to action. You will take out a mobile to silence the reminder’s alarm, read the question, have a moment of reflection, and answer it before putting the mobile down.

Or you will make the coffee before going to work and have your journal and pen ready at a coffee table with a question already written down at the top of a page. You will sip your coffee, writing down your thoughts.

d) Endpoint

An endpoint to a habit should be self-explanatory; a clear point that finishes your routine. Like in the examples above: finishing your coffee, putting your mobile back into a pocket, a train arriving at the platform.

I answer one question every day in my journal, and I have a specific space on a page for that. When the page is filled with my reflections, I finish the routine of answering the question.


Now you know what to do. Build your mindfulness habit.


Make the “magic sentence” work for you. Any questions? Shoot them in the comments below.

The One Surprising Habit of Successful People

 The One Surprising Habit of Successful PeopleOh, they have plenty of common habits: successful people meditate; set daily priorities; exercise; cultivate gratitude; keep a journal; mindfully take care of their relationships; have morning rituals; tackle the biggest tasks first; restrict their time on social media; or allow themselves to check email only twice a day.

But there is one that stands out and I will focus on this one.

They Sleep

Moreover, they sleep smart.

Yes, there are stories about Edison or Michelangelo and how little sleep they needed. Edison prided himself in that—like every modern corporate rat. But he was probably delusional about his ability to sleep very little because of frequent naps.

Napping

By the way, napping is one smart way to maximize your sleep that successful people often practice.

Winston Churchill, a leader whose country fought the total war, took naps in the middle of the day.

John D. Rockefeller had a sofa in his office, so he could catch a nap in the midst of leading one of the biggest company in USA.

Edison used his frequent naps to sleep on (or generate) some ideas.

A 20-minute nap is better than a cup of coffee. Time management is really energy management. A coffee or other stimulant, usually provides a quick boost of energy and a fast slump afterwards.

A nap can reinvigorate your whole body and mind.

Successful People Sleep Enough

They took pains to have optimal amount of night sleep. Jon Morrow is a successful entrepreneur and at the same time a guy who is completely paralyzed from the neck down. During his interview for EOFire with John Lee Dumas, he said that the habit that contributed most to his success was sleeping eight hours a day—(or rather “a night”).

“Optimal” doesn’t mean “eight.” Sleep needs are individual.

People in natural conditions—living without modern life stress, junk food and without electricity disturbing natural sleep patterns—sleep 6.5–7 hours a night.

3% of the population can thrive on 6 or less hours of sleep. You know what a joker God is, quite often those gifted with little-sleep genes—are gifted with many other gifts as well.

But some folks need over eight hours of sleep which seems like the biggest secret of the universe. You will hear a zillion stories of “bigshots” sleeping 5, 4, or 3 hours (like Donald Trump), but very—very little about people who regularly sleep over 8 hours.

For example Matthew McConaughey sleeps 8.5 hours a night.

(photo credit: By (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons)

Quite a successful fellow, isn’t he?

Hence, get to know yourself and your sleep needs—better.

They Adjust their Lifestyle to Their Biorhythm

Most people have no special circadian rhythm. They are fine with going to bed at 9:00 p.m. or 1:00 a.m. Others are wired differently.

In the above, I mentioned Churchill. He was a night owl. He slept from 3:00 to 8:00 a.m.

I have a very volatile circadian rhythm. If I push myself to the limit, I almost collapse 4–5 times a day. It’s much better for me to take a 10-minute nap —than to try working on anything. I simply shut down.

Many people are well-adjusted to thrive in the morning. Thus, many successful people choose to wake up early. They dedicate the first few hours of the day to take care of their well-being and face crucial projects. Because they know the importance of sleep, they automatically choose to go to bed early.

Yes, They Know the Importance of Sleep

Instead of priding themselves on how little sleep they need to function, they examine their performance very closely and make sleep their priority.

Most people (those without ‘magical’ genes) after two weeks on 6 hours of sleep—degrade to the performance level of a “Zombie.” To be exact—according to scientists—to the level of a person who hasn’t slept for 48 hours straight.

Here comes the biggest shock. They don’t even realize how poorly they perform. They think they “crush it.” An “Under-Sleeper’s” judgement is deranged. The gradual nature of sleep deprivation causes them not to notice the difference between performance on Day 1 and Day 15.

Some recent research also suggests—that even one night without the optimal amount of sleep, weakens the human immune system.

Sleep enough.

Your chances for success will significantly increase.

One Tactic to Deal with Bad and Good Habits

Deal with Bad and Good HabitsThere is one method that works very well in both breaking bad habits and developing good habits.

That’s a rarity because usually you need a totally different “toolkit” for those two activities.

This is habits tracking.

In its bare minimum, you should simply check every day if you did your new habit—committed “old sins”—or avoided a bad habit. This is very simple, but amazingly effective technique.
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How to Measure Your Personal Progress: My Own Toolkit

Measure personal progressWith your personal life, you can be really creative in measuring your progress.

You set your goals. You set your metrics. You set your frequency. You conclude how often you will gauge your progress. You decide on the tools you will use.

Whether you decide to exercise, read, learn, or quit smoking, your goal and strategy should be clear. You don’t just say to yourself, “I sure hope this time I’ll exercise regularly.” You describe your desired end result. You need a plan to achieve it. You translate this plan into a regular schedule, and you keep to that schedule.
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The 7 Money-saving Habits for Common Mortals

The 7 Money-saving HabitsI have several money-saving habits. It’s hard to estimate exactly how much money each of those habits has brought me. But hands down, the most impactful is:

  1. Paying Myself First

For years, I struggled with saving money. I had been saving a portion of my salary only to spend money on some substantial item like repairing my car after I drove straight into a tree; or something lavish like gambling on the stock market.

I had been earning good money—but I had no support from my family. I had no assets at the beginning and a family of five to support

My saving ratio was hoovering about 3-4% point. Then I read “Start Over, Finish Rich” by David Bach and got one main takeaway from it: pay yourself first.

The idea seemed a bit preposterous, our budget was tight and we had no leeway to put away a significant chunk of salary. What difference would have made saving money at the beginning of the month and not at the end of it, from leftovers?

It did all the difference.
The 7 Money-saving Habits(my saving ratio over time)

In a few months’ time, my saving ratio skyrocketed to about 20%. Yet again I spent all of my savings when we bought our first house in 2014. For several months, we were almost as poor as during my time as a student—having two kids and on welfare. We survived on stipends, and student loans as our main sources of income.

But I rebuilt my savings… and spent them once again on the house renovation. That was at the beginning of 2016.

Still, I was able to save for those extraordinary expenses thanks to the “pay yourself first” rule.

I estimate that thanks to the difference between my previous saving ratio and the current one—plus the fact that my income grew by about 90% in the last few years—I ended up with equivalent of my 14 salaries in my pocket. I spent about 10 of them, but I could spent them in bulk on expansive things that improved quality of our life; not on trivia.

The Other Six Habits

  1. No Addictions.

I don’t smoke; don’t drink alcohol; and never did recreational drugs. Those “habits” can consume a large chunk of your income.

The fact is, I’m no saint and I actually have a few “light addictions.”

I spent a small fortune on books and I have a hopeless sweet tooth. The last addiction I mentioned has downsized and became manageable in the last few years.

  1. Paying With Cash.

I was about 30 years old when I paid with a debit card for the first time in my life.

Good for me.

Paying with a card can lull you into thinking that the money is not real. But the bills are real as well as the balances you have to pay.

Till this day, I prefer to pay with cash and I manually register every automatic/digital payment on an Excel sheet. It works wonders with your awareness—of where your money actually goes.

  1. Not Eating Out.

I have family of five to feed. It’s much cheaper (and healthier) to buy ingredients and cook your own meals. In the last 5 five years, I’ve ate out maybe a couple dozen times—most of them when on delegation away from home.

  1. No Impulse Buying.

Alright—let’s be honest—I do very little impulse buying although I’m not completely immune to the shiny promises of marketing.

But I’m totally not interested in brands and sometimes it works against me. I’ve bought the cheapest laptop in the store and I discovered it is absurdly slow. I have a lot of opportunities to practice my patience with it.

But 99% of time, it serves me well. I bought an old Mazda 626 about 10 years ago. I put into it almost double the initial price (half of which after that accident with a tree). But that’s still much less than half the price of a new car and I know quite a lot of folks who exchange a car every few years. That Mazda is a small fortune “saved”.

I don’t follow trends and I don’t chase shiny objects. I buy new items when I need them; not when I want them.

  1. Tracking All Expenses.

I’m doing my best to register every single cent that’s going out of my pocket. I’ve tracked them in an Excel sheet since November 2012. I have quite a history in that file now.

Tracking sharpens your awareness. If you track your spending, it’s much harder to be ‘blissfully’ unaware how you spend your money and you think twice before wasting your money on trivial things.

  1. Saving the Excess.

In 2015, I changed jobs and got a salary hike of 35%. I kept my expenses at the same level but did not dedicate all of it to savings.

I didn’t dedicate even a dime of it to pay bills or buy food. I spent a bit more on charity—saved 30%—and invested 20% into my business.

I used only about 40% of that additional increase on consumption, but not for trivial things. I was able to afford to buy my wife a gold ring, send my kids to summer camp, purchase a computer and four bikes.

I do the same with my royalties. I treat this income as additional to my base income.

I save it—invest it—or spend it bigger items like a mortgage contribution, buying a second car, or house renovation. I intend to do that with every additional dollar till I become financially independent.


What are your money-saving habits?

10 Habits to Improve Your Life (That You Can Do Under 5 Minutes)

I propose good and small habits that anyone can start, and more importantly, stick with them. 15 minutes of meditation doesn’t fit that bill. On the other hand, I practice several which really can make a difference without huge time investment.

1. Exercise

10 Habits to Improve Your Life Under 5 Minutes
Yes, you don’t need to exercise more than 5 minutes to keep fit. I’m a very busy person. I rarely can afford the luxury of a 15-minute workout. Hence, I train very intensively for a few minutes at a time.
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6 things to do daily to have a good life

6 things to do daily to have a good lifeI consciously practice about 20 things daily “to have a good life,” and probably twice as much I do without even thinking about it. Focus on the following several areas; I will provide specific habits for each of them.

1. Habits.

Your habits make you who you are. The etymology of the word “habit” says that your habits determine your essence. I fully agree with that. Pay attention to your habits. Develop good habits in a conscious manner. Look for new habits and incorporate them into your life, into your daily schedule.

When it comes to habits the best habit you can have is to monitor them. Have in place a system for tracking your daily activities. I track my habits in application Coach.me, but you can do it in many ways: on your wall calendar, personal notepad, Excel or text files.

2. Self-awareness.

This is extremely important. You are the person who talks with yourself the most. If your internal dialog is crappy, you cannot have a good life. Whatever good will come your way, your negative self-talk will find a way to spoil it.

Self-awareness provides a multitude of benefits other than just improving your self-talk. When you strive to consciously control your internal world, the external world seems to comply and become more controllable. If you are aware of your thoughts, words and deeds you make fewer mistakes. If you lead your life on autopilot – on the contrary – it’s easy to make mistakes.

Self-awareness also gives you input about your weaknesses and strengths. In the new economy where information is everything, this is priceless. People who know themselves can position themselves in a place where they can provide the most value to others and they can be rewarded accordingly.

Habits:

Journaling. A lot of successful people kept journals, including at least a few who had a global impact on politics at their times (Napoleon, Marcus Aurelius). When you keep a daily journal, you can often consult “with yourself” and notice what’s going on inside your head.

Meditation. I know people for whom meditation was a life breakthrough. My friend, Rob Cubbon, came from a position of being unable to break his bad habits and feeling unhappy with his career and life to ditching alcohol and smoking and starting his own business. If you ask around, you will get to know more such stories. When Pat Flynn started to meditate regularly his revenues grew from five to six figures.

Meditation makes you aware of your internal clutter and chatter. When you try to sit for a minute and think nothing you can’t help, but notice the mess in your head.

3. Health in general.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” — Jim Rohn

It’s a struggle to have a good life if you’re sick. It’s possible, but it’s an uphill struggle. There are some very successful people with serious health problems: Nick Vujicic has no limbs, Stephen Hawking is paralyzed, my friend is a bestselling author but she has a genetic disease, lives in almost constant pain and doctors give her no more than 7 more years of life. I wouldn’t have exchanged places with any of them.

And there are many things you can do every day to maintain or improve your health.

Inspired by concerns about my weight loss I researched quite a lot (which is a bit unlike me, I prefer practice above theory) and built 8 habits:

-limiting sugar intake,
-intermittent fasting,
-exercise,
-drinking coffee to accelerate my metabolism,
-drinking two glasses of water first thing in the morning,
-tracking my consumption,
-eating at least one raw vegetable/ fruit a day,
-and tracking my sleep.

Writing a couple of books and several articles about health I recognized even more healthy habits in my life that are working on autopilot, so I usually don’t think about them:
-not eating outside,
-not drinking coffee after 3 pm,
-reading food labels when I buy the item for the first time,
-running all the stairs,
-taking stairs instead of an elevator,
-napping whenever I feel like it (including behind the desk at the office).

I’m pretty sure I have more habits that contribute to my wellbeing, but they are so ingrained into who am I, that I don’t even notice them.

The last time I was sick was in July 2013. I beat over 128 fitness records since April 2013.

And I hardly ever think about my health. Even when I do, like if I hesitate if choose stairs or an elevator, the moment of decision is ultra-brief and 95% of time I choose in accordance with my habits.

Automating my health took me no more than one year and it will benefit me to the end of my days.

4. People, or rather relationships.

This is paramount as well. Human happiness comes from relationships.

If you take 1,000 happy people, 900 of them are happy because they have good relationships in their lives. The remaining 100 can draw their happiness from their achievements, possessions or other sources. Relationships are the only factor that scientists found correlated with happiness. It’s worthwhile cultivating them.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

Another thing is that whom you are hanging with affects who you are. You don’t have to acknowledge that, you don’t have to believe that, it’s just a part of human constitution. We absorb attitudes by osmosis. If you surround yourself with positive, passionate, successful people, you will become positive, passionate and successful. Period.

One more scientific tidbit—humans are motivated in a big part by other humans. We are very careful about what our peers think about us, we want to impress our mentors, we want to be loved in our families and there are some people who just want to do good for others from a pure benevolence.

Cases of people who have undertaken a great effort just for their own sake are exceptionally rare, because they are, well, exceptions. I’ve seen so many questions on Quora about self-motivation. In short, the answer to all of them is: there is no such thing as self-motivation. Some people possess this exceptional trait, but they are rare like Savants. If you want to be motivated you’d better start working on your relationships. Motivation comes mostly from other people, even if in the end it translates into “I want to look good in their eyes”.

I advise two daily activities:

one that builds your people skills and another one for cultivating your existing relationships.

If your social skills are well below average, it’s hard for you to create relationships in the first place. It doesn’t have to be something grand, in fact, it’s much better to start small and be consistent. I started from making eye contact with people on the streets and in public transportation.

Cultivating your relationships should also involve a small sustainable activities: saying “I love you” to your spouse, praising your kids, sending a text message to friends or siblings etc.

5. Education.

Your education doesn’t finish when you leave a school. Humans are designed and created for growth. We strive for progress, it’s in our nature. I think most of a modern existential void comes from the lack of growth in our lives.

Education doesn’t equal school. You don’t have to get degree after degree for the rest of your life. But if you want to progress, you need to remain curious and research and study on your own as long as you actively work in some area of activity.

For example, since I decided to become an author I read about a dozen books about the writing craft, being an authorpreneur and self-publisher. I consumed dozens of podcast episodes dedicated to writing and publishing. Teaching is a huge boost to one’s learning process, so I contributed to a few podcasts as well as a guest.

I followed a few authors’ blogs and interacted with their owners and their audiences.

I joined a few online communities for authors and writers and exchanged experience with my peers.

None of the above reminds me of a classic education, but it was as valuable as master’s degree, or even more so. My friend Matt Stone studied publishing and quickly he realized that most of his professors had no clue how to publish a book in practice.

There are different ways to study in online world and you should pick those that are suitable for your situation. You can read books, magazines, websites and blogs. You can listen to podcasts or audio programs. You can take online courses (most of them are in a video format) or watch video on YouTube or similar platforms.

I hate learning from videos. The only video content I can stand is an online real-time interactive class.

I don’t prefer listening either, mostly because I find very few opportunities to listen to. When I do something physical, like taking a walk or doing chores, I prefer to pray. Besides, when I really want to learn, I have to go back to the material anyway and make notes.

I love to learn via reading. I retain much more information that way and even when I don’t I can search and access written material much faster than audio or video.

Take inventory of your learning preferences and build your own self-university accordingly.

6. Gratitude.

By cultivating gratitude you keep (or make if it’s not) your brain positive. Why is that important? When your brain is positive:

“every possible outcome we know how to test for raises dramatically.” – Shawn Achor

Gratitude is so important because it’s a catalyst. It has potential of providing better results in all areas of your life. EVERY measurable output, remember?

So far scientist have correlated gratitude with less stress, more health, better relationships…

It’s also absurdly easy to cultivate on a daily basis. I started my gratitude practice from a gratitude journal about my wife. Since September 2012 every day I note at least one thing about her I’m grateful for.

Your gratitude journal can be in a multitude of forms: about a person, about your daily efforts, your daily achievements, possessions, emotions, relationships or the mix of them all.
My gratitude entries are usually a dry but long list. I know people who jot down only a few points, but add elaborate explanations why they are grateful for them.
A tidbit: in almost every gratitude journal food appears.

Another form of expressing gratitude on a daily basis is sending thank you notes. It not only helps you focus on reasons to be grateful for, but also trains your “social muscle”. Expressing gratitude is unbelievably rare and people will your remember you for that.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

I once took an inventory of thank you notes I received from my readers. I obtained a ratio about 20:60,000
Even if I was mistaken because of my normal tendency to focus on negative, it couldn’t increase beyond 100:60,0000. That’s still exceptionally rare.

That’s how exceptional you will be expressing your gratitude.


Just 6 simple things to do daily to have a good life. Design yoour own habits in each area. Implement them. Enjoy your improved life.

Infallible Framework for Habit Development: Implementation

Implementing The Infallible Framework for Habit Development

I developed dozens of daily habits without a fail using this framework.
This is a summary focused on implementation of all framework’s pieces.

Infallible Framework for Habit Development: Implementation

Infallible habit development
How to build a habit then? Here is the step-by-step framework I used with success to develop dozens of habits:

Decide what habit do you want.

Be specific. Design it. How often? When? Where? What will you do? How many repetitions? For how long?
Define the trigger and endpoint for your habit.

Perform your discipline at least once a day.

Weekly and monthly habits have their place too, but if you cannot build and maintain a daily habit, a weekly one will be a nightmare to develop. Learn the art of habit development in the most efficient way, via daily activity, and only then start more ambitious projects.

Track your habit daily.

“You can’t change what you don’t measure.” — Tony Stubblebine

That’s exactly my experience. When I measure my habits, when I track them, the process of habit development is smooth and efficient (well, compared to NOT tracking, of course). Make sure that the tracking method you choose serves its purpose, but doesn’t become an end unto itself. You shouldn’t spend too much time and attention on tracking. Remember what your main goal is: building a new habit.

Build streaks.

They will help you with your motivation like nothing else. In the end, they will integrate your habits into your personality. You will not be able NOT to perform your disciplines.

Continuous tracking is your feedback loop. Your habit is not set in stone.

I did a single series of consecutive pushups for years. First I struggled with consistency, so I coupled this activity with my morning prayer. That instantly helped.

Then I modified this habit and started doing various pushups; my workout started to be more interesting, I had more records to beat (diamond, legs-elevated, wide-grip pushups etc.) and I used less time for exercises (doing 100 pushups takes several minutes). I became so strong, that even the most difficult kind of pushups took me several minutes.
Habit Development
Then I switched to pullups. I can do quite a lot of them, but I can’t do them for longer than two minutes. This is my ideal workout.

This habit morphed throughout the years, but the underpinning stayed the same: I couple my morning prayer with it; it’s very short and very intensive; I can track the number of repetitions and motivate myself by beating records.

The purpose behind the habit stayed the same and it’s still fulfilled: to train my mind, body and soul first thing in the morning.

The challenge

I declare that it’s impossible to fail using my framework. I have never failed using it. I’ve quit on many good habits and I’ve been doing some in an erratic manner, but only when I missed at least one framework element: conscious design, identyfiying with the habit, doing it daily, tracking, building a streak. Using them all I’m invincible.

Try it and give me your feedback. Maybe we can improve it even more?


Part I: The Habit Loop and Its Endpoint
Part II: Identity Habits
Part III: Habits Tracking
PART IV: Habits Streaks


If you need help while developing your habit hire me as your online coach (first three days are free). Get coached on Coach.me