There’s a lot of self-improvement literature out there telling people that they should go “easy on themselves”. While this may sound good in theory, I’ve never seen anyone accomplish anything worthwhile by taking the easy route.
The most common way I know to get things done, to achieve and to motivate yourself is to be kind of hard on yourself, in a good way. To set very high standards for yourself that you want to stick to every time.
This way of going about things brings forth a higher level of effort, that very effort needed to accomplish something as significant as financial freedom.
Pop quiz? If someone says they’re going to do something but doesn’t actually do it, does it count? Of course not. Yet, many people mentally “grade” themselves in a way that intending, even really intending, to do something counts as “just as good” as doing that something.
From my experience, we as a society grade ourselves way too easy on the things that we “are going to do”, on our good, and even sincere, intentions. “I’m going to read that book on investing” gets self-rated almost as high as “I did read that book on investing”. “I registered for the training” but didn’t attend, is equated to actually attending the training. The “I will, I want to, I plan to, I need to, I’m thinking of…etc..” statements get a silver medal from us and hey, second place isn’t too bad right?
This way of thinking is nothing but whitewashing a bad situation. These phrases are just convenient noise meant to silence the sound of the thorns growing in our lives.
They make us feel better about ourselves temporarily, so that we don’t have to admit what we know is true –we’re not going to that seminar, not going to read that book, not going to take the hard steps today to start that business. But it’s a fleeting emotion.
Here’s a question – Do you cut yourself too much slack?
It’s okay to say yes. We all do. And while you don’t need to be overly hard on yourself (that’s a mental disease), being too lax can have negative consequences down the road.
The interesting thing about consequences is that they don’t always show up immediately. If you are too easy on yourself in high school, you kick yourself when it’s time to get into a decent college. If you party too much during college, then you find yourself floating aimlessly after you graduate. That’s if you graduate.
We can let ourselves have “cheat days” where we don’t focus on our goals, but we must make sure those cheat days don’t grow. The fact is if we’re too soft on ourselves, we allow excuses to remove accountability and responsibility. When we don’t hold ourselves accountable it becomes too easy to procrastinate and avoid our priorities. Sometimes people sabotage their potential, not because they take a cheat day, but because they indulge in excuse-making for it. You see, there’s a thin line between self-compassion and self-indulgence.
If the latter hits close to home, you may be guilty of being too easy on yourself. If so, the first step is to acknowledge that you’ve got to find your way towards the middle. We have to be tough on ourselves to push towards achievement and have the follow through in order to succeed.
Here’s two quick signs, using a workout metaphor, that you may need to take things up a notch:
Sign #1: Your “heart rate” isn’t that high
I hate to break it to you, but when you think you’re exhausted and can’t give any more, you might be able to dig deeper. When we rely on perceived effort, or how we feel working towards our goals, we’re often overestimating how hard we’re really working. There’s a reason why fitness professionals advocate using a heart monitor to really tell how hard your workout is, because we tend to grade ourselves generously. In a similar manner, it’s easy to put in 70% effort towards success and fool ourselves that we’re doing more. What’s your “heart rate” for how you’re working towards success? Are you breathless at the end of the day or weekend from all the work you are putting in or are you too quick to congratulate yourself on a half-effort? Remember, the bank balance, like the bathroom scale, doesn’t lie. Check yourself and make sure you’re all-in for success. Anything less won’t get you to where you need to go.
Sign #2: You’re too easily lifting 10 reps
We all know the drill for exercising. Do 10 reps of an exercise and then do 3 sets of those 10 reps and that will lead to incredible fitness. Ta-da! Not really. What the fitness experts know is that heart rate isn’t necessarily going to be an accurate indicator of the difficulty of a weight workout. In fact, it may only increase slightly, depending on what type of workout you’re doing. When it comes to strength training, it’s better to gauge effort by muscle fatigue. And so it is with success work. If you can complete “10 reps” with ease, it’s time to move up in weight. If you’ve been talking about starting a business for years, but haven’t taken any concrete steps to start it, you’re probably just doing 10 easy reps. What could you do to increase the “weight”? Here’s what adding weight looks like – filing those incorporation papers, putting a deposit down, and ordering marketing material. Another great test that intermediate and advanced weight lifters use is the one-rep max, which analyzes your absolute strength — or how much you’re able to lift just once. What’s the one-rep max weight that you could try towards success that will really tell you what you are capable of? Can you read 3 self-improvement books in one week? Yes, it will push you but that’s the point – to test the limits. Determine a one-rep test of success and go all out one time. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll accomplish.
A final thought. What’s that key measure, for you? What are the common threads running through your pursuits in life?
·How many places in the world you visit?
·The age at which you’ll retire?
·How much money you’ll have in the bank?
·How much time you spend laughing?
How do you grade yourself?
If you are too easy on yourself, pay attention to your language as excuses are the tell-tale sign. Turn excuses into reasons that will point you in the direction of what you need to fix. Are you doing the minimum required to get by? Have you given any thought to the incredible high you could get by accomplishing so much more?
If so, remind yourself that you are cheating yourself, missing out on a really good life. The financially free life.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
P.S. Why aren’t you wealthy yet? It’s because of something you don’t know. Otherwise you’d already be rich! Isn’t it time to learn what you don’t know? Consider signing-up for my newsletter below, to help you build wealth faster.
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