If you’re wanting to improve your life, you have to be willing to do the work.
Actions mean a lot more than words.
Recently, I spent some time with the folks over at ERA King Real Estate. One of the ways that I’ve tried to put my money in a position that it will continue to grow for me is by putting it into real estate, but that’s not the only reason I went to visit ERA King. I’ve talked about before in my blogs how I find my own purpose in life through serving others. That’s why I coached football back in the day and that’s why I created Mealfit and Table & Thyme. It’s so important to me to take the things I’ve learned from life, whether it’s lessons that were taught to me or it’s things I’ve learned the hard way, and to teach others ways to improve their own lives.
Even though I’m in the business of food, I still have a lot to offer the agents and staff of ERA King. I’ve put a lot of work into figuring out how to share the practices and perspectives that have helped me build my life and my businesses exponentially and these things are great for anyone looking to improve their life, regardless of the industry they work in. I shared some pretty important principles that day and I think there is a ton of potential for others to grow from this advice, too, which is why I’m sharing it here.
Improving your life isn’t something that can happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication, accountability, and a strong support system. I’ve created a series of fundamental concepts to remember for anyone trying to improve their lives. These concepts aren’t specific to just business and can be applied to anyone hoping to improve their health, their family relationships, and even their level of spirituality. In order to grow in any area of life, all of these other areas have to be addressed, which is what makes these concepts so important to understand and integrate into daily practices. Here is what I call the ‘ABCDs of Getting Better’:
Saying these things is one thing, but how can they actually change your life? Don’t worry, I’m not gonna leave you hanging. My pastor taught me something 20 years ago that is still so important to me today and that is you can’t just give people ‘theory’ if you’re giving advice, you have to give them something to work with, something they can do immediately. I’m going to break down each of these fundamental concepts of growth and also give examples of how you can apply them to your life. The practical actions that come with each concept are going to be what actually get you results, so if you’re gonna take anything away from this advice, remember that actions literally speak louder than words and you’ve got to take action to see results.
If you’re wanting to improve your life, regardless of whatever area you’re hoping to change, you have to be able to focus your attention. You’ve probably heard how you should aspire to live a balanced life, but in my opinion, that’s not true. Living a focused life is much more fulfilling than a balanced one. That may not make much sense at first, but I promise once you understand how focus and balance play a part in your life, you’ll see how much better life can be if you focus the right way. A good way to explain this idea is riding a bike (without training wheels, of course, because life doesn’t come with training wheels). If I’m sitting on a bike, I’m going to go a lot further if I’m focused on going forward than if I’m putting all of my energy and attention to staying balanced. If you’re focused enough and dedicated to moving forward, the balance will come naturally. As you move forward, your body learns what it needs to do in order to stay upright and push forward through life. However, trying to manage all of the mechanics of just being balanced on the seat, you may be ‘balanced’ but you’re stuck in one place, never moving forward.
Relating this idea to the real world, work is a pretty important part of life. In Genesis 2:15, the Bible says humans were put to work almost immediately, so we can’t really avoid it. Think about how you balance your work life with your family life and your personal life. Do you take calls or texts from family and friends about your personal life while you’re at work? Do you think about work, take calls, and answer emails while you’re spending time with your family? This isn’t a balanced life, all of your energy is being pulled in so many different directions that you’ll never be able to pool it together and grow in any area of your life. You need to set specific parameters and boundaries to keep all of these things separate so you can put all of your attention into each area. Your family will be there after work, so avoid putting your time and energy into your family life while you’re working so you can get the most out of the work you do. The same thing goes the other way around. If you’re spending time with your family, don’t divide your attention between them and work emails.
Work is about doing, and in order to do the work, you have to be paying attention. Family is about being. If you’re not there and present, you’re not really spending time together and growing in your relationships. Your family wants you to be there, but not if your mind is off somewhere else. Don’t just do, be there, wherever you are. Whether you’re at work, home, or anywhere else, learn to direct all of your attention to achieving your goals rather than having it divided. That will help you live a much more fulfilling and balanced life.
Practical Actions for Attention
It’s not as simple as just ‘directing your attention’ better, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t simple ways to take action in that direction. One way to implement this practice into your life is to be particular about your phone. Firstly, turn off your notifications. Emails, social media, your fitness watch, whatever it may be, notifications can so easily distract you at any given time. Turning off your notifications won’t derail your life and you can even set it up so that any emergency notifications will still come through. We’ll talk more about how to handle notifications in the next section, but you should also be careful about your phone use at home. My number one piece of advice for prioritizing your relationship with your spouse is to keep your phone OUT of your room. I’ve talked about this before and why I do it in my Making Your Mornings Work For You blog, so if you’re interested in learning more, feel free to check it out. Anyway, the bedroom is for two things, and scrolling is not one of them. If you want a strong relationship you can’t be distracted when you’re spending time together. You can live without your phone in the bedroom pretty easily, I do it everyday so you can trust me on this.
My other piece of advice for growing your relationship with your spouse is something I’ve been working on with my wife for awhile now. It’s so so so important to date your spouse. And I literally mean date them. Take them out regularly, treat them like you did in the beginning of your relationship, and put effort into your marriage. For more advice and to learn more about how much this has helped build my own marriage, read more in my Secrets for a Successful Marriage: Why You Should Date Your Spouse blog.
Finally, the last piece of practical advice I have for living a more focused life is to outsource the small stuff. Find someone to help you manage the smaller things at work and that will help you stay guided and focused on growing your business. For example, I use a virtual assistant to help manage a ton of different things in my work. It has made work into such a dream because now I can focus my attention on the big-picture aspects that are going to get me closer to my business goals. If you don’t want an assistant, surrounding yourself with a strong team that you can put your faith into who will get things done the right way the first time will be just as beneficial to you.
Blocking out your time is an essential practice to being more productive. In fact, scheduling is central to all of the concepts I outline here for improving your life. In most cases, good intentions will never help you accomplish anything. What do I mean by that? Well, here’s a good way to visualize how little intentions mean in action. I can get in my car and drive down the road, and let’s say you are crossing the street and we didn’t see each other. You didn’t intend to get hit, and I didn’t intend to hit you, but you’re still getting wheeled into an ambulance regardless of either of our intentions. That’s a pretty extreme way to explain it, but the reality of the situation is, intentions come second to action. When it comes to scheduling your life in a way that you can manage effectively, you have to stick to it and take action to make sure you’re following through with your plans.
Practical Actions for Blocking Out Time
It may seem pretty simple to integrate into your life and honestly, that’s because it is. But here are some tips that you can use, anyway. Firstly, when you’re scheduling things out, give yourself extra time. What I mean by that is, if you have a meeting scheduled with a client for say 20 minutes, block out 30-40 minutes. That way, you won’t be rushed if that meeting runs over or you can have time to recalibrate for whatever is coming next on your schedule.
A good exercise you can do to get better at managing your time is outlining your perfect day. If you could get everything you wanted done in a single day, how would that look? If you do this every day, use it as a guide as you navigate your day. Keep track of how much of that plan you accomplished and the more you hold yourself accountable, the more you will accomplish throughout your days.
Another thing you can do is rely on the team (or assistants) you’ve got to help you make the most of your time. I like to call my clients during my commute, that way I’m not wasting any time throughout my day. I trust myself to stay focused on the conversation, but trying to take notes while driving isn’t the best idea. What I do is patch in my assistant to let my client know that I value talking to them and my assistant can listen in and take notes so I can look over them later.
I mentioned before that we would talk about how to manage turning off your notifications and work, and trust me, it can be done. What I do and what my team has started to do is to schedule out time to check and respond to notifications like emails, calls, and texts. To keep us from getting distracted from the work, we are doing throughout the day, we keep our notifications off and check every day at specific times. I’ll typically check in the morning, maybe around lunch, and then again just before we head home. Other than that, we are totally focused on the work in front of us and we still communicate with everyone we need to in a timely fashion.
Consistency & Companions
Being consistent in everything you do is one of the most basic keys to success. As a successful person, what sets you apart from others is how consistent you are in overcoming boredom and discomfort. Not every moment in life, whether it’s at work or home or wherever, is going to be filled with excitement. You’re going to have to send emails, you’re going to have to go to parent-teacher conferences, and you’re going to have to go through the mundane, boring, or uncomfortable parts of life that everyone else does. If you’re wanting to improve your life, you have to be prepared to push through those moments in order to come out on the other side. A really good example of this is actually something I learned from my dad a long time ago. He coached football and was an amazing coach; I mean really great. One day, someone told him that the way he coached his team’s offense was “boring” and he said “well, I’d rather be bored than beat.” I go into a lot more detail of this principle in the interview I had with Dr. Edwin Adams, so if you’re interested, you can read more about it in my blog What Makes a Successful? The Aesthetics of Leadership Podcast with Dr. Edwin Adams. Essentially, your consistency is measured in how consistent you are all the time, not just in the big moments.
Another important aspect of this is in how the little things you do will compound on one another and impact your life in big ways. It’s a concept from Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect. I’ve talked about this book time and time again because it’s filled with so many important ideas and principles for building a successful mindset. You can read my thoughts on the book in my 4 Books to Help You Succeed blog, but I think it’s a great read for anyone looking to take action and live a better life.
Another really important aspect of consistency is how consistent you are in your relationships with your companions. How are you running with? We are so heavily influenced by the people around us that it shapes who we are as a person. Are you being careful of the people you surround yourself with? Who are you accountable to and how does your responsibility to others impact your life? Having the right connections will not only compound your efforts, but it can easily multiply your business in ways you never imagined possible.
Practical Actions for Consistency and Companions
The compound effect is a principle that can be implemented in any area of life. For example, you have to take care of your health and your body. You exercise to stay fit and eat healthy foods so that later on; you have a body that takes care of you because you took care of it. You can find ways to continue learning through constant study. You can expand yourself in your spirituality by taking time to explore and maintain your spiritual relationships. You can build an effective network through prospecting, sales calls, and more that will lead you to success in the long run. Evaluate the people around you and how they impact your life and your behavior, and use the knowledge you gain to build a better future for yourself. These are all ways you can implement consistency and companionship in your daily schedule and I promise you, paying attention to these things will change the way you live your life for the better. I would also recommend finding someone and taking them out to lunch. You can use that opportunity to learn from their experiences, grow your network, and evaluate the relationships you already have.
The concept of delayed gratification may not be a hard thing to grasp, but for a lot of people, it is very hard to follow through with. In today’s society, we are so used to immediate gratification. If you want something, you can get whatever it is pretty much instantaneously. But a lot of times, the thing that’s right in front of you, isn’t always the best thing for you. For example, you probably have a cabinet full of food with ingredients you can’t even pronounce that you can make in less than 5 minutes in the microwave. But the most healthy option is going to be the food that consists of a single ingredient. The fresh fruits and vegetables that you may need to spend time cooking for a meal. The point is, good things take time and effort. It may be important to learn how to say ‘no’ to yourself and others in order to keep your eyes on the prize instead of falling prey to whatever is being offered to you at the moment. Set your goals and stick to them. You can always establish new goals in any area of life. For your physical health, maybe you want to build more strength, gain or lose weight, run a marathon, the list is endless. Financial goals can be more than just so much money in the bank. For example, my financial goals don’t have a price. My goal is to take care of my family and to create great citizens. I talk about this goal in more depth in my blog, Our Modern Family Traditions: How We Started a Tradition To Make Our Memories Last Forever, but my goal is to have the means to do that. Speaking of family, remember that tomorrow will be here before you know it. Even if it seems like later is so far away, it’s really not, so putting in the work for a healthy family relationship now will mean a better future tomorrow.
Practical Actions for Delayed Gratification
The practical actions you can take to be more receptive to delayed gratification are not difficult on paper, but you have to be diligent and consistent in real life. My advice is to try saying ‘no’ more. Skip dessert, even if it is your favorite. Next time your friends invite you out for a night of partying, opt for a night in. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but every time you do say ‘no,’ dedicate your time and energy to something important in your life (work, marriage, family, etc).
None of these things are going to happen overnight, but knowing the steps you can take now is important for improving your life in the long run. Remember that no single thing is going to create any real change in your lifestyle that will last. It’s going to be a bunch of small things compounded together, so if you can gain control over those little things, you’ll have a much better future set up for yourself.
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