Lessons to Learn from Olympic Athletes

Every four years, we get to see the best of the best of the best compete. The Olympics is so interesting, because the athletes have few chances to win medals in their lifetime. In almost every other sport, you get a new season each year, but in the Olympics, it’s do or die. Lose and wait close to a half-decade for your next opportunity.

Every year I cry with those athletes who break down on the podium while holding their gold medals.

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Image from Google. From Left: Emese Szasz, Ryan Held and Sarah Sjostrom

And I also cry with them who were not able to make it this year.

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Image from Google. Jaqueline Endres

And then I wonder, what sort of training could have possibly made them so emotionally strong, what motivates them to train like crazy for years and shed their last drop of blood in a competition like this. I was determined to find out all about their ‘mind secrets’ and wanted to know if there is any tricks that we could learn and implement in our daily lives. Fortunately, I found ten.

Today I will share those lessons that we can learn from the world’s greatest athletes in the world’s greatest athletic showcase.

Love the work for the sake of the work

For every Michael Phelps, there are hundreds of Olympic athletes who don’t make sizable incomes. Olympic athletes train and compete for love of their sport. It’s why they’re so endearing.

We all want to make a full time living from what we love. But that might not always turn out to be the case. There’s none of the pretentiousness you see with professional athletes. The Olympics represent sport in its purest form. If  you want to be a writer, write for joy. Write to make a difference and get ideas you believe in to spread. Don’t write just so you can create a course or get a book deal. People can tell if you’re being sincere or not.

Work, Work, Work

Imagining practicing your craft for 4 long years every day and night. That’s what it’s like to train for the Olympics.

Sure, there’s world championships in between, but reaching the podium is the holy grail Olympic athletes are really shooting for. The medalists get there by incessant practice — shaving milliseconds off their start, jumping a half an inch higher, repeating routines until they’re woven into their muscle memory. Many of these athletes dedicate their entire existence to practice and do little else.

Each time I feel like complaining about my lack of ‘speedy success’ in my craft, I remind myself how much practice and time it takes. I guarantee you there is always room to practice more than you are right now. Make your effort match your aspirations.

Get Obsessed with your goals

We’ve all heard the stories how Olympic athletes literally eat, breathe and sleep their sport. Life is focused on one thing: becoming the world’s best at that sport. Obsession is part of achieving goals. As average performers begin to forget what their goals are because of a lack of exposure to them, the pros are imbedding their goals deep into their subconscious minds daily. Their minds are like guided missiles, always adjusting and correcting to maintain accuracy toward the target.

Have a sense of Emergency

Most of us operate like there is an endless amount of time in a day, week, month, year and life. Olympic athletes are extremely sensitive to time. They have a sense of urgency because they are operating at a level of awareness that constantly reminds them the present moment is all they really have. They’re on a mission to fulfill the dream of winning the medal, and they know the clock is ticking.

An Olympian gets one shot every four years, and can realistically compete for two or three Winter Games. Life is short, and if you’re going to make something happen, now is the time.

Take Care of Your Body

Olympic athletes keep strict diets to keep their body in peak condition for competition. You can’t eat fast food 3 times a week and win a gold medal. Sure, most of us are not athletes, but productivity and health are greatly tied to each other.

In our daily lives we’re consumed with both personal and professional stressors. Time off and life balance are key factors in performance cycles, as are massive influxes of effort. Getting more sleep, eating healthier, working out regularly, taking care of the mind are extremely crucial to produce quality work.

Believe in Yourself

Ask any Olympic athlete from any country competing in the games how they expect to place in their competition, and every one of them will tell you they expect to win the gold. That’s because faith has always been a hallmark of world-class performers – most notably the faith performers have in themselves.

It’s so difficult to see yourself in a place of success when you’re nowhere near reaching it. Mastering your mindset is just as important, if not more, as mastering the craft. Olympians have an extremely high-level of trust even when they are failing or going through a slump. This faith in self may stem from being raised in a positive environment, or from performers talking themselves into it. Muhammad Ali admits he told the world he was the greatest before he truly was as a way to bolster his faith in his own skills.

The difference is champions like Olympic athletes have faith in their goals and dreams while most people are often deathly afraid of believing in something that may or may not happen.

Have Patience

To be successful in any career you need to work hard and practice, but the most important trait anyone can have is patience. Building a career is a marathon, and most of us burn ourselves out (way) before we even succeed.

Multiply the length of time you think it will take you to succeed in your career times ten. It’s hard.

I haven’t yet mastered patience, but I keep trying, because I know there’s no other way. I have to remind myself to stay steady and avoid burning out — every.single.day.

Compete With Yourself Only

I like the fact that the Olympics includes so many individual sports. Individual athletes compete with themselves only. In sports like swimming and track and field, you aren’t trying to penetrate your opponents defense. You’re just doing the best you can, and the best wins. It’s pure.

You’re the solitary athlete. You train constantly to prepare for your next big shot. Each blog post or book you write is an attempt at reaching your “personal record,” for quality, craftsmanship, and excellence.

If you look in the other lanes during the race, it’ll slow you down. Keep your eyes forward and run to the finish line.

Invest and get a Coach

Some people scoff at hiring a coach or taking a paid course because they think it’s just as easy to find helpful information online for free. This comes from a scarcity mindset.

Are we so gifted that we can’t benefit from training or coaching?

Do we know something the world’s most successful people who use coaches don’t?

You can spend endless hours, months, maybe even years of your life trying to figure everything out on your own, or you could get help.

Olympic athletes work with the best trainers.

Internet marketing draws its share of seedy characters, but there are coaches and training programs with honest intentions to help you. I’ve paid for membership websites to help me improve my craft on a regular basis.

You’re smart. Do your due diligence, and invest in yourself.

When you watch the games this week, think of the dedication, time, and energy these athletes put into preparing for their events. Think of the mindset it takes to train four years for a race that lasts ten seconds.

I am sure that If we work even half as hard as an Olympic athlete, we’ll make it till the finish line.

Willpower is Overrated!

We all have our big, audacious goals, and we know what we *could* and *should* be doing to reach them. Suppose that you have set a goal to lose 10 pounds. You are absolutely determined to be 10 pounds lighter by next month! You are using your willpower to prove that you are stronger and more powerful than those extra cookies and calories. So you say to yourself, “I will not overeat… I will not overeat… You repeat this to yourself over and over again, using your willpower. But all the time you are consciously saying this, your imagination is visualizing how great those cookies smell, and telling you how great those cookies taste. Sooner or later you will grab those cookies or extra calories and chug them down. Why?

Despite having both the motivation and the know-how to get things done, you’re confused as to why you can’t seem to accomplish your goals. At the end of each week, each month, or each year you look back and feel guilty about all that you didn’t check off your to-do list, and you wonder if it’s because something is wrong with yourself, or that maybe you don’t have enough willpower to reach the huge goals you set for yourself.

I have done enough research on it and today, I’m here to tell you that nothing is wrong with you or me, and that willpower is overrated.

Why We Can’t Rely On Willpower

“You will have to choose your willpower battles wisely.”

Studies have shown that we do have a type of reserve for willpower, a fuel tank, if you will, that can run low and cause us to avoid accomplishing tasks, going to the gym, or even yelling at someone in traffic on the freeway. Since you run your business 24/7/365, you have to know which tasks are worthy of using your willpower and which can be made automatic so you can save that precious resource.

Whenever you have a conflict between willpower and your imagination, whenever they are pulling in opposite directions, your imagination will ALWAYS win! But if your willpower and imagination are working together, pulling toward the SAME goal, this will create an all-powerful force that is impossible to overcome, and success is always the automatic, inevitable result.

You Have More Control Over The Situation Than You Think

Instead of feeling bad about how much willpower you don’t have, concentrate on what you can change. Do not forget that you do have control over how you organize your environment, the habits you build, and the routines you create for yourself to get work done.

1. Design Your Ideal Environment

Remember that our brain is very adept in picking up all sorts of visual cues from the environment around us. For example,

  • If you usually work from home, don’t work near a bed which is not made. You will be tempted to lie down for a while more frequently than concentrating on the work at your hand.
  • Use Post-it notes everywhere to remind your brain about the important goals or milestones of your life that you still need to achieve.
  • Organize your desk. Make it more tempting to work.
  • Uninstall apps like Facebook or Netflix from your phone if you are ending up wasting a lot of time on them.

In short, remove all the distractions from your environment so that your brain does not have to make such trivial decisions all the time and therefore, use your limited willpower reserve.

2. You Are A Creature Of Habit

I cant stress enough on this point. There are things that you do on a daily basis, like brushing your teeth, taking the dog for a walk, or catching up with your significant other over breakfast. These are practices that you do on a regular basis that you don’t have to actively think about. In fact, they’re so ingrained that you exert little, if any, mental energy to do them and that’s beneficial because then you get to spend all your willpower to take more important decisions. Let me explain more on this.

  • Instead of thinking about losing 50 lbs, you might want to create a routine of going to gym every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6pm after work.
  • Instead of thinking about becoming a writer ‘one day’, you might want to create a routine to write only 100 words every day.
  • Instead of thinking about joining the famous 5AM club ‘some day’, you might want to create a routine to wake up only 10 mins earlier than the day before.

My favorite quote from Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Almost all the successful people on this earth have some sort of routines in their lives. Some of them eat the same breakfast everyday where as some of them wear the same dress at work everyday. When you create routines, it becomes easier to estimate what you can accomplish each day, which allows you to be more productive today and in the long-term.

3. Discipline is a Far Superior Alternative

Discipline elicits positive behavior by adhering to a set of rules, while willpower elicits positive behavior by exerting effort to resist impulse. When you consider that difference, you realize that discipline and willpower are in fact complementary — if you have more discipline, you actually need less willpower.

Here’s a quick hypothetical scenario to demonstrate this:

Willpower: There’s a box of cookies sitting on the kitchen counter, and I must resist them every time I walk past.

Discipline: The rule is no junk food in the house so I’ll never see the cookies and subsequently think about them in the first place.

When I say the word ‘willpower’, what comes to mind? Probably a person, staring at a plate of cookies, showing visible signs of pain as they perpetually resist grabbing one.

When I think of the disciplined soldier, I imagine a blank faced person simply moving along with the metaphorical current created by the set of rules they must follow. The rules are external – they don’t need to think or worry about them. The soldier simply moves with the rules, like a raft on a river, almost effortlessly. They demonstrate strict discipline, yet the actual behavior is thoughtless and automatic.

The key point: Being highly disciplined actually requires very little mental energy and effort which makes life easier.

Another scenario,

Willpower: I know I need to go to the gym, but I’m tired and want to lie around, ugh, ok, c’mon, gotta get going…

Discipline: I go to the gym every Tuesday at 6pm after work, looks like it’s time to go.

OK, One more,

Willpower: Ugh, I don’t want to get up, I’ll snooze it once (rinse and repeat 10 times, you’re not fooling anyone)

Discipline: My loud ass alarm is blaring across the room. I literally cannot go back to sleep. I have no choice but to get up to turn it off.

Got it?

Concluding Summary

Willpower can be a great starting point. In the beginning it will take some willpower in order to resist having that extra slice of cake or whatever other activity you are trying to change. But relying strictly on willpower is a losing battle. Eventually you are going to run out. Using willpower creates an enormous mental and emotional strain, and at some point everyone breaks and breaks hard, undoing all of the good they may have done.

Instead, using a system of rules and routines is much more conducive to success than excessive exertion of will is — discipline works with your inherent inclinations, and willpower works against them.

So next time you feel like your lack of motivation or willpower are holding you back, take a second and look a little harder. Have you done everything you can to set yourself up for success? Do you have a specific plan of attack, with clearly defined goals? If not, take a step back and create a plan first. I promise it will take you a lot further than willpower and motivation ever will on their own.

 

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Most personal development books advocate secret shortcuts to success. The 4-Hour Workweek, an extremely popular title from author Tim Ferriss, detailed strategies for “joining the new rich” and traveling the world by working as little as possible. Cal Newport’s latest book entitled Deep Work by contrast is refreshing in its emphasis on extremely cognitively demanding work as the key to success and personal fulfillment.

Deep Work is defined as “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” Deep Work is contrasted with Shallow Work, defined as “Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.” Newport’s thesis is that the ability to actually concentrate on hard stuff is becoming rare due to addictive and distracting technologies from Facebook to Buzzfeed to email. Meanwhile, any job that can be replaced by a computer or someone in a developing nation will be, so deep work is actually more valuable than ever.

Deep Work is the knowledge workers’ version of “deliberate practice,” the sort of which leads to expertise as found by K. Anders Ericsson in studies of violin players, golfers, chess grandmasters, and so on. Sheer number of hours of very challenging practice with the aim to deliberately improve one’s skills correlates with the greatest expertise, hence the “10,000 hours rule” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. Expert violin players practice 3-4 hours a day, whereas mediocre players practice only 1 hour a day or less. Similarly, knowledge workers who spend 30-50% of their work day in completely focused concentration on important, difficult projects produce more value than knowledge workers who spend most of the time checking email, sitting in meetings, and distractedly trying to get a few things done each day.

While Newport emphasizes the benefits in productivity and job security from Deep Work, I think the real benefits are in meaningfulness and life satisfaction. Newport has given a name to something vague I’ve felt was missing in my life. Now I not only have the vocabulary to talk about it, but also a model of how to live a deeply meaningful life in a sustainable manner.

I’ve had a belief that to do a high volume of good quality work, it was necessary to be a workaholic. Not wanting to experience the obvious negative effects of workaholism, I’ve instead chosen to be a slacker. Newport presents a golden mean between the extremes of workaholism and slacking, activity and rest; that of spending 3 or 4 hours a day sequestered in highly concentrated periods of challenging mental labor, 90-120 minutes at a stretch, never working after 5:30pm, and managing all this by ruthlessly eliminating the inessential. Newport advocates hard, hard work for which there is no shortcut.

Ultimately Newport’s Deep Work is not simply about doing better work, it’s about living a better life, balancing many competing priorities, determining which technologies aid your most important labor, and valuing your energy and your time as the precious and non-renewable resources they are.

This book a must-read for anyone who does knowledge work of any kind and wants to live a meaningful life in our age of distraction.

 

100% Commitment Is Easier Than 98%

I agree that the topic is pretty enticing. We always want to commit 100% to all our daily responsibilities. But at the same time, we fail and we fail very badly. And when we fail, it’s personal because we generally don’t put effort into things we care little about. This blog is intended to provide you some new thoughts about what you want to commit and how you want to pursue it in order to get success. Before I start, please note that I am not 100% perfect in this art either but I have been training myself for months and hence, I am certainly better than the average.

If you try to tackle everything wrong in your life at once, you’ll quickly burn out and quit. It’s happened to me many times before. Life is super busy. You don’t have time to focus on a thousand different areas of your life to change. That’s exhausting, and frankly, not helpful.

“small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.” – Charles Duhigg in his book ‘The Power of Habit’

I used to be terrible at working out regularly. But then I forced myself to go to the gym just for 2 days every week (for about 30 mins). Eventually I started to feel confident about it and ended up hiring a trainer. He helped me to boost my confidence even higher. Now, I lift weights regularly and I am more cautious about what I eat or drink. I feel less stressed and more control on my life. All because I started exercising twice per week.

Now, let me talk about the term ‘Absteiner’. An abstainer is someone who is generally all or nothing. Hence, when an abstainer falls off the wagon, they crash and burn. However, when they focus on just one thing at a time, and succeed at that, they feel more in-control of their lives and when an abstainer feels in-control, there is nothing that can stop them. They become fiercely committed to what they’re doing and experience a sense of limitless power. As an abstainer, this feeling only comes after you’ve kept your own commitments. Does that sound like you? If yes, you will be glad to read this post.

As You Succeed, Your Vision For Your Life Will Expand

A natural consequence of success is an increased vision for what you can do. This is where abstainers often fail. Because we’re are highly passionate about what we do, we often start at a sprint. But long-term commitments are marathons, and so abstainers often burn out.

*Note: This happens to me almost every time I set out on a new grand plan. I get so pumped up and excited that I try going a million miles an hour, only to find I’ve given up later that day.

But I have worked on it (and still working) and have made myself better. The goal of this blog is to discuss those tactics that have helped me to get better at the craft.

Feel It

Feeling good is so important for passionate people like us. As our own toughest critic, we often ride a roller coaster of emotions. However, as we succeed at our one thing, and our vision for our lives expand, we will naturally feel amazing.

When you feel amazing, you show up to life differently, don’t you? You are more present and attentive to others needs. You’re less focused on your own problems. You’re less worried about the results and worried more about being genuine. Commit to this one thing and life will feel great.

Attach yourself emotionally to the goal. Feel it inside and constantly visualize the moment of success and there is a high chance that you will be able to conquer your goal.

Gain Insane Motivation And Momentum

As stated previously, when you succeed at your goals, they generally expand. When your goals expand, a gap is created between where you are and where you want to be. This gap ignites in us a psychological process called self-regulation, which is our motivational resources management system that helps us attain our goals.

Specifically, self-regulation works in three ways.

  • Self-monitoring determines how well we are currently performing
  • Self-evaluation determines how well we are performing against our goals
  • Self-reaction determines how we think and feel against our goals. When we feel dissatisfied with our performance, self-reaction pushes us to reallocate our motivational resources

To trigger this self-regulation process, goals need to be highly specific, based on external indicators, deadline-driven, and challenging.

As you succeed in your one thing, and as your vision for your life expands, this process will commence. Thus, as your goals grow, you will naturally alter your behaviors to match your new goals. Your motivation and momentum toward huge things will surge and skyrocket.

At the end..

One of my all time favorite quotes is as follows:

“Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.” In our minds, we can justify these small choices. None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.” — Clayton Christensen

People are really good at self-sabotage. We consistently behave in ways that contradict our goals and ideals. This is incongruence. Hence, Clayton Christensen says 100 percent commitment is easier than 98 percent commitment. When you fully commit to something, the decision has been made. Consequently, regarding that thing, all future decisions have been made. As you stick with your 100 percent commitment, you’re life will be far easier. You won’t have to agonize over needless decisions. You’ve already decided. You’re not going to eat the cookie or that sugar drink. It’s not even a debate.

 

It Will Always Suck

According to psychological research, the anticipation of an event is almost always more emotionally powerful than the event itself.

The fear of asking your boss for a raise is paralyzing and can last months. Yet, once you get yourself to finally do it, it’s over before you know it. The excitement of attaining some object or objective can become obsessive. Yet, shortly after you obtain your desire, you’re bored and in search of something else.

“We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them,” – Cornell psychologist.

Interestingly, your mind can seduce you so much so that the idea of something becomes more satisfying than the thing itself, so you stop at the idea and never make it real.  It’s so easy to dream. It’s easy to tell people about your ambitions. It’s easy to create vision boards and write down your goals. It’s easy to stand in front of a mirror and declare affirmations. And that’s where most people stop and I had stopped too. The very act of dreaming stops us from achieving our dreams. Consequently, when we attempt the activity itself, we immediately hit a stone wall of resistance. More often than not, we quickly distract ourselves from the discomfort with some form of momentary pleasure.

So how can we control it? How can we get out of this blackhole? Should we stop dreaming altogether? No. Instead Do something and don’t stop until it’s complete, no matter how long it takes.

The Power Of Objective-Based Pursuits

Your goal is to learn how to accomplish hard things without continuously distracting yourself. You want to develop what Greene calls “A perverse pleasure” in experiencing internal conflict, and sitting with it.

If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.

You can apply this principle to anything and everything. You can do a homework assignment and just do it until it’s complete. You can write an article and stick-to-it until it’s published. You can do 100 pull-ups, or run 5 miles, and go until you’re done. Who cares how long it takes?

Without question, we live in the most distracted time in human history. It is almost impossible to remain focused on a single-task for more than a few minutes at a time. The law of opposites is in affect. With every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction. While most of the world is becoming increasingly distracted, a select few are capitalizing on this fact. Hence, Economist Tyler Cowan has said, “Average is over.” The middle-class is gone. Either you’re among the select few who are thriving, or you’re like most people who are distracted, overweight, and struggling.

The choice is yours.

When something sucks, do you quit? Or do you push-through and eventually enjoy the satisfaction of growth and success? Anything worth doing is going to suck at the beginning. Anything worth doing is meant to require pain and sacrifice.

True confidence is earned. It’s earned by succeeding. Not by wishing for success. True confidence emerges when you consistently push-through things that suck. The longer you sit with the boredom, pain, and discomfort — and actually create something meaningful, the more confident and successful you will be.

Doing the work is hard.

Getting into elite physical condition is brutal.

Developing deep spiritual maturity requires giving-up who you want to be for who you really are.

All of these things “suck,” at least initially, and in-the-moment. However, if it doesn’t suck, it’s not worth doing. And all of us absolutely can learn to endure the discomfort of the moment to build a life worth having.Can’t we?

The Miracle of Self-Descipline

Studying Successful men and women is one of my fondly cherished hobbies. I have studied over 100 of successful people through biographies,autobiographies,blogs,diaries and many more just to find out what it takes to be successful.  I have always been very intrigued with the thought that why there are so few people on this planet who become successful in what they do while we all have the same 24 hours of time every day?

Scientifically, it has already been proven that talent is overrated. There are probably millions of unknown people on this earth who are way more talented than some of our famous ones but unfortunately, we never get to know them. Hardwork definitely plays a key role. In fact, in one of my previous posts “10,000 Hours of Practice“, I have already pointed out there is no substitute for hardwork if you want to be successful in life. But even then, that is not all it takes. There is one more characteristic of successful people that popped up repeatedly in my study of Successful people. Therefore, today I am going to talk about that missing element that will make you successful in whatever you do and the name of that element is “Self-Descipline”.

What is ‘Self-Descipline’?

Self-Descipline is a habit, a practice, a philosophy and a way of living. Contrary to common belief, self-discipline does not mean being harsh toward yourself, or living a limited, restrictive lifestyle. Self discipline means self control, which is a sign of inner strength and control of yourself, your actions, and your reactions.All successful men and women are highly disciplined in the important work that they do. All great success in life is preceded by long, sustained periods of focused effort on a single goal, the most important goal, with the determination to stay with it until it is complete.  Throughout history, we find that every man or woman who achieved anything lasting and worthwhile, had engaged in long, often unappreciated hours, weeks, months and even years of concentrated, disciplined work, in a particular direction.  Fortunately the quality of self discipline is something that you can learn by continuous practice, over and over, until you master it.  Once you have mastered the ability to delay gratification, the ability to discipline yourself to keep your attention focused on the most important task in front of you, there is virtually no goal that you cannot accomplish and no task that you cannot complete.

How do we build it?

Now that we know what it is, the next obvious question is how can we build it?

Lets imagine for a second that there was a switch in your brain that would allow you to efficiently smash through your daily to-do list, eat only foods that are good for you, and never skip a workout again. Ever wonder How would our life be different then?  Well, I have a certain vision of my future-self in my mind and every morning when I wake up, I always try to put my best effort to move one more step forward towards my goal. Life is always hard and I am still not there yet, but I am NEVER STOP researching and trying new ways to get there and one day I know, I will.

There are plenty of ways you can teach yourself on becoming self-disciplined. Below are the one that are my top priorities right now. Research shows that these are the most influential areas of your mind that can lead you to success.

  • Meditation – The Zen Way

    Practicing mindfulness meditation for a few minutes each day can actually boost willpower by building up gray matter in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and govern decision making.” 

  • Exercise- Magic for your body

    This is already a well-discussed topic. Not only does it increase our fitness and mental performance, improve our mood and sleep quality, reduce our body fat percentage, anxiety levels and likelihood of becoming sick. It’s also been shown to improve our willpower.

  • Harness the power of Accountability

    Admittedly, accountability isn’t the sexiest word in the English language. But the concept it represents is extremely powerful.The idea behind it is that when we’re left to our own devices, it’s easy to come up with excuses not to do something.

    I’m tired, I don’t feel like it, it’s too much work, it’s too hard.”

    The solution is simple: build structures in your life that will hold you to a higher standard and that will prevent you from coming up. If you do not like to go to gym, hire a trainer, if you do not feel motivated to work, have a co-worker or partner to whom you report every day, if you do not have anyone, use website like stickK. Whatever specific system you use, the most important thing is that it takes away your ability to procrastinate and make excuses, and that it makes you stick to your plan and highest values.

  • Set SMART goals

    When someone asks me how they could have more discipline and willpower, my first question to them is always, “do you have clear goals for yourself?” 90+% of the time, the answer is no. Oops.Why is it so important to have defined goals?Because they give you a clear direction in life and help you connect your daily actions to a greater purpose. I have worked really hard to define my goals. Trust me, it is not easy. But once you have that, its easier to take control on rest of your life.

    When you create your goals, make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable Attainable, Relevant and Timely

For instance, don’t set a goal of “I want to lose weight” or “I want to make more money”. Instead, it should look more like “I want to lose 10 lbs of body fat by March 1s”  or “I want to increase my monthly income by $5000 by June 10”. Once you do that, taking action and staying disciplined every day will be infinitely easier. You’ll be “pulled” towards the achievement of your goals, and you’ll feel a great sense of  purpose and fulfilment.

  • Remove Temptations and Distractions

    We all are subject to temptation—it’s just in our nature. And in today’s world we’re surrounded by more temptations than ever.Google gives us access to all the information in the world within a few seconds. YouTube is filled with funny, entertaining, and interesting videos. Our Facebook newsfeed gets updated every few seconds. Our smart phones are full of apps and other cool things. Knowing this, it’s imperative to figure out a system to bulletproof ourselves against all these distractions.

Some of the ideas along this line would be putting our phones away when you are working, use apps like Freedom to block internet for a certain period of time, block hours in your daily routine when you do not want to be disturbed by others, keep only those foods in the fridge that is good for your health etc.

  • Eliminate Unnecessary Decisions

    Our brain is our the most important resource and we need it protect it.As Baumeiseter found, every single decision we make during the day dips into our willpower reserves. Therefore, we need to cut down the number of decision we make to a minimum, and focus on the ones that truly matters. President Obama once said, “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.

This is why all the famous people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and many othe prefer to wear the the same outfit, eat the same breakfast and lunch every single day.

  • Create Power Habits, Rituals, Routines

    Creating rituals is a great way to remove needless decision-making from your day. Once something has been turned into a habit, you don’t even have to think about it. You do it without using any of your willpower. Each step of the ritual is carefully choreographed for optimal results, yet it requires no willpower on my part because it’s engrained in my ritual. You can read my other post on this related topic here.

  • Hack your Mind- 5 Minute Rule

    One of our mind’s greatest flaws is that it often struggles to get things started. But once we’re in flow, it’s easy to keep going.

    If you’re struggling to get started on some work you have to do, or to start your daily meditation/workout, make the following deal with yourself: you’ll do it for just 5 minutes.

    Answer one email. Run 1 time around your block. Meditate for 5 minutes.

    From personal experience and discussing it with others, I’ve found that 80 to 90% of the time, once we’re in motion, we end up continuing well past the 5-minute mark we had decided on.

  • Go for 100% Commitment

    Jack Canfield, author of the book Chicken Soup for the Soul famously said “99% is a bitch, 100% is a breeze.

    If you really want to do something, commit to it 100%.

    If you’re just sorta-committed, there’ll always be a little voice in your head saying “aahh, maybe today I’ll take the day off“. You’ll waste a lot of willpower fighting off that little voice.

    But the moment have you that 100% commitment, the game becomes easy. You don’t have to think about it… you just do it!

 

 

IRC is Back

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a protocol, created in 1988, and was meant to help facilitate group discussions, via various channels. The channels served to identify different discussion topics you could pop in on. In the 90’s, IRC chat was world changing and career-influencing. However, I was too young to enjoy its flavor back then, but there is no doubt that it showed the developers the potential of the Internet as a globally-connecting venue for meaningful cultural collaboration and connections. Over the time, IRC has lost 60 percent of its users, going from 1 million in 2003 to about 400,000 today. And IRC channels? In 2003 there were 500,000; now there is half that number. This is due in large part to the advent of the Web, social media, and tools that can do a lot more than plain text can do. 

But here is the thing. I’ve noticed in the last couple of years is a resurgence in using IRC as a primary means of communication, especially for open source projects. I hear about IRC all the time in the geek world. I asked on Twitter and Facebook if people use it and, sure enough, the open-source and developer crowd shot right back that it is still their chat world of choice. While there have been group-based services for a while (Skype, Campfire, Google Hangouts, etc.), the relatively open nature of IRC makes it easy for large groups of people to hop on a channel and collaborate easily.

So you want to get into this “IRC thing”. That’s actually a good thing because to be honest, a LOT of great discussions are happening on there and in some cases, going to a channel is the only way to get any decent support, especially for some open source efforts. I did some research on it lately and findings are amazing. Read on..

Right Network

IRC works by using some type of client that connects you to an IRC network. The networks are just machines that are setup to allow users to connect to IRC. There are a number of networks out there, and most are targeted to specific interests. According to IRCHelp.org, the major networks are as follows:

  • EFNet
  • Freenode
  • Dalnet
  • Undernet
  • Quakenet

While QuakeNet targets video game players – especially Quakeworld players, Freenode is rightfully one of the best development platforms. Here’s how the Freenode network describes itself:

“An IRC network providing discussion facilities for the Free and Open Source Software communities, not-for-profit organizations, and related communities.”

And with open source software so vitally important today to just about every major web property, it makes perfect sense why so many of the popular development channels are on Freenode. Wikipedia lists it as the largest of the major networks, with approximately 85k users on it at peak hours.

Channels

Specific networks have specific channels for specific topics. By joining a channel, you’re choosing to jump into a discussion group about a specific topic. The discussion is typically free-form so don’t expect to go into a threaded UX with everything tightly organized or hierarchical. In fact, depending on the number of users in the channel and how active they are, discussions can be challenging to piece together. You’ll typically participate in group chats, but IRC does support 1 to 1 private chats as well, along with the ability to transfer files. As always, safe Internet practices are essential. Chances are high that you DON’T know the person on the other end of the wire; so you need to be careful when accepting anything from anyone.

Developer Channels

I recently asked senior developers in Twitter and Quora about channels that developers are using and I got some nice feedback. The following list is a little long, but I think worth posting since the channels are incredibly useful:

  • #html5
  • #gruntjs
  • #yeoman
  • ##javascript
  • #jquery
  • #angularjs
  • #requirejs
  • #node.js
  • #css
  • #httpd
  • #webgl
  • #webrtc

This is NOT an all-encompassing list of every awesome web development channel so if you think there are others that would be useful, drop them in the comments section.

The hash (“#”) in front of the channel is purposeful and meant to identify channels that are available across a whole network.

Getting Connected

  • Windows – HexChat, mIRC
  • OSX – Colloquy, LimeChat
  • Browser Based- Just hop on over to Freenode’s Web Chat if you do not want to install any software.

Useful Commands

  • /who <nick> – This allows you to get more information about someone in a channel.
  • /list – This will return a list of all channels available on a network.
  • /join – This allows you to join a channel via the Freenode command line. Remember to prefix the channel name with a hash (“#”)
  • /msg – This allows you to have a private chat with the person whose nick you’ve specified and will send them the message to kick off the chat
  • /invite – This allows you to invite a user to another channel for a chat
  • /away – Tells users that you’re away from your PC for a bit
  • /quit – Tells the network you’re done and are leaving

Stay Safe

I can’t stress enough that IRC offers no anonymity. Don’t assume anything you say is private and can’t be seen (unless you’ve gone to great lengths to anonymize yourself). Conversations can be logged and in fact, most IRC clients have that feature built-in. Your IP address is also easily visible by simply using the “/who” command.

  • Don’t accept file transfers
  • Don’t accept direct connection requests (you’re bypassing the IRC server and directly connecting to another computer)
  • Don’t run commands that someone tells you to run
  • Don’t run scripts that someone has sent you. You can get backdoored.

Go through this page for more details.

Conclusion

IRC offers a great opportunity to get developers from across the world together and share a wealth of knowledge. So, if you haven’t yet tried IRC or you’re a veteran that needs to re-grease the wheels, IRC is back and ready for you.