How I’m making a success of my life!

 

IMG_1360 copy.jpg

Are you making a success of your life?

How do you even figure out if you’re successful? 

What measurements do you use to judge whether a person is “successful”

Money? 

Position

Power? 

Fame

Something else?

 

Tim Ferris frequently asks:

 

“When you think of the word “successful” who’s the first person who springs to mind?” 

Who jumps to mind for you?

 

Do you consider yourself to be successful? Do you look to your own measure of success and equate successful people as those you have attained your goal? Are people successful if they achieve things you don’t care about? Maybe.

 

So, how have I made my life a success

Well, it starts by defining where success lies. For me it isn’t really any one single thing as much as it’s about being happy. And my happiness comes from having the means, the time and the opportunity to do the things I want to do. (Isn’t that freedom?) Success for me is that end. That point where we can do it ourselves.

Who do I look to as someone who has achieved that goal? Well, no one person I guess, people are achieving my goal every day. Not in a famous, everybody knows their name kind of way, but in a quiet, understated way; and that’s why I know I’m going to be a success. Because I don’t need the adulation and noise, I don’t need tonnes of cash, I can succeed in that quiet way that means I know I’m there (and no one else will even care).

 

Success is today

The thing is, success isn’t yesterday and it isn’t tomorrow. It can only be today.

 

So my measure of my success, heading towards my own goal, is only actually whether I’ve killed it today!

Have I done everything I can today to push me towards my goal. That’s success today.

 

There are days when I’m not where I need to be, but as long as there are more days where I am where I need to be than days when I’m not, I must, by definition be making progress. Every day I tip the balance further towards nailing it I’m closer to my goal and increasing my momentum. That’s a goal. That’s awesome.

 

When I know what I want and I know what I’ve got to do to achieve it I can take daily steps to hit that goal.

 

Let’s do it.

 

What’s your definition of success? What do you need to do to succeed? Let’s make it happen. Send me a note, let’s do it together!

 

 

5 Ways to make yourself happy!

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it takes to be happy. As is often the case, it was a book which kicked off the thought process. And in this case it was Kamal Ravikant’s book “Love Yourself” which had the Mrs and I discussing first whether we thought we were actually happy and second what it takes to BE happy and even whether “happy” can be engineered

First I can’t pass by without a recommendation. Kamal’s book is excellent. It’s only short but the hour you spend reading it will be paid back many times over. It really is a good one!

Are you happy?

How do you know if you’re happy?

happy

Sounds odd to even ask, but I don’t think it’s a bad question to ask from time to time. And I don’t think you’ll get the same answer each time you ask it of yourself. In fact, if you’re asking the question, the response you get is probably in the negative. Actually, if you’re asking the question and the answer is a resounding “YES!” then you need to take stock and know why. “Note to self – I’m happy and here’s why”…write that down, it could be invaluable in the future and you don’t want to forget!
So if the answer’s no, what can we do to be happy?

Choose happy.

First of all, happiness is a choice. That’s a favourite saying in this house. It’s up to you, the minute you wake up to choose how the day’s going to play out. You can take responsibility, choose happy and make the day a happy one or you can choose unhappy. But, be sure of this: it’s up to you. It’s your responsibility, you can’t blame your unhappiness on someone else. “Happy” needs to be a conscious choice every day!
(Imagine how different the world would be if we all chose HAPPY every day!)

Be happy now.

I think this is possibly the most important of these 5 guides. “I’ll be happy when….” doesn’t work. If you’re chasing something which you think will make you happy when you get it or achieve it, you’ll never be happy. Our lives change all the time and unless you can be happy now, you’ll never be happy if you’re constantly striving to attain whatever that next thing is that you need to achieve happy. No one who chases the monkeys ever catches the monkeys. Stop. Be happy now. You’ll find that you won’t need what you thought you needed and you’ll save an awful lot of precious time too.

Be your happy, not someone else’s.

Have you ever found yourself looking at Facebook jealously wishing you had your friend’s life. They’re off on holiday again, at another party, showing off their new car? I have. It doesn’t feel good. It certainly doesn’t make me happy.
Time to look the other way. Don’t compare yourself with the rest of them, that really won’t help. For a start you only see the best bits of other people’s lives. You know your own good bits, but you also know the not-so-good bits too. They have rubbish bits, but you never see that, no one ever tells you what a miserable time they’re having, at least not like that!
Be happy in your own life first. Feel confident in your happy and THEN look at their lives from a position of strength and happy. You’ll find it easier to be happy for them, I guarantee it.

Spend your money on experiences not things.

“No thing you buy for yourself will make you happy.”

Let’s qualify that statement.

No thing you buy for yourself will provide any lasting sense of happiness. Yes, you might feel a little happier for a time. They call it, I believe, “retail therapy”…..shopping! But it won’t last and if you try to make yourself happy with things you’ll always need to find the next thing to find that happy feeling again (we’re back to chasing monkeys!). If nothing else, that’s going to get pretty expensive, not least because you’ll need a new house to put it all in!

But experience, that’s a different thing, especially if you’re sharing whatever it might be with someone you care about. Watching TV last night, the Mrs and I watched a group of guys trying out driving NASCARs. It was an incredible experience for them. So we’re going to do the same thing. Already the thought of the shared experience is making me happy, and we’re nowhere near doing it….but we will. And when we have, we’ll look back on that shared adventure and enjoying reliving those memories!

Exercise

Last but definitely not least. Sweat at least once every day. It doesn’t really matter which exercise, just get out there and do it. The benefits are well known: healthier, less stressed, fitter, stronger. Throw in the body’s release of the happy hormones: endorphins (that word has a fascinating derivation: it means “endogenous morphine” – endogenous meaning created by the body, coming from inside and morphine, well we all know what that’s about!) and you’re on to a winner. There’s no downside to exercise.

 

Whoever you are and whatever you do, whatever situation you find yourself in, these 5 strategies are guaranteed winners.
Of course there are lots more we can do, but start with these 5 and feel different today.

(Did I mention motorbikes? Motorbikes make you happy too!)

 

Good Samaritan, yes or no?

I helped an old couple today.

 

They had hit the pavement with the passenger side front wheel, smashed the rim and blown the tyre. They came to a halt right outside our house.

 

I guess I did what anyone would have done. They were utterly unable to sort themselves out. There is no way they could have changed the tyre. I struggled myself. It took me nearly two hours. My hands are ripped, sore and blistered.

 

But, I did help. And we sent them on their way.

 

Now, I’m worrying about them. The spare was only just fit for purpose. I got them back on the road, but I’m wondering if I’ve done the right thing and whether, actually, I should have just given them my phone and the number of a local garage?

 

Tricky one that. In helping I’m taking responsibility for the rest of their journey, aren’t I? What if the spare wasn’t fit for purpose! I’m not a mechanic, I don’t know.

 

Is there a time when not helping is actually the best way of helping, or is it the case that, regardless of how old, as motorists, they are responsible for their vehicle and the condition it’s in?

 

I think I did the right thing. They made it to where they were going (I know, I got in my car and followed them!) so I know they were OK but, they have a long journey home. I hope they are sensible enough not to drive home on the spare.

 

So, what would you have done?

 

Are you a good Samaritan? Helper or not? Did I do the right thing?

(There’s an end to the story…want to know what happened? Ask me!)

Media overload?

The weekend rolls into view again. This weekend we are promised the two warmest days of the year so far, and from where I’m sitting it looks like the weather forecasters are, for once, spot on.

 

It’s been a good week at work. I was lucky enough to see Guns n Roses last night at the Olympic Stadium in London. The sun’s out. We’re planning to meet friends for drinks at the brilliant Bertie Arms before dinner tonight. Life’s good.

 

It’s easy to feel grateful today.

 

I know, though, how our lives change in an instant.

 

Can’t remember who said it, there are few sayings more true than:

 

“Your current reality will and always changes.”

 

I’m not being negative when I say I know tomorrow might not be quite as sunny (metaphorically speaking of course) and I’m actively imprinting this feeling of well being and gratefulness and satisfaction to make sure I have it to hand when the outlook isn’t quite as rosy.

 

It isn’t the situation, it’s my reaction to the situation, right. I’m not up and down as a person, but I am focussing and learning how to improve my reactions to things going on around me to enable me to remain constant, grateful and there for my friends and family.

 

Our mega-connected world exposes us continually to a world full of events 24/7, few of which ever make me (better not speak for you dear reader!) feel like singing. It didn’t seem like it could get much worse after recent terrorist attacks at the Houses of Parliament, in Manchester and on London Bridge and then, this week, we’ve watched another tragic loss of life, we still don’t know how many lives perished in the unimaginable hell of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

 

My point is this: if I choose to open myself to a world full of information, I have to equip myself with the tools to manage what I take in. I can’t go down and keep going down every time there’s a story I don’t like. I have to be able to deal with external influences and stay constant, or else it’s probably better to turn the TV off, put down the newspaper and limit the information coming in.

 

A question for you then, dear reader: am I better off with or without a 24 hour multi-media feed?

How I put the spark back into our marriage.

In the USA, this year, as a newly wed, you only have a 50% chance of your marriage lasting.

What a statistic!

If you’re already on your second or third marriage you have even less chance of your wedded bliss outlasting you. In the UK your chances are marginally better, but only marginally! For those who take marriage seriously, these then are worrying times. It may not matter to you but I suspect that if you’re reading this post your marriage means a good deal to you.

divorce

There are many reasons for marriages failing, of course. Ignoring the outliers, I think I have uncovered the reason for lots of marriages failing and even relationships outside of marriage ending prematurely. And it’s frighteningly simple and so obvious, it’s actually no wonder so many marriages fail.

No, I’m no marriage counsellor (Remember, these posts are just what works for me!) but I am just like you and I’m subject to all the same external influences you are, so I can see what’s happening to me and because I’ve noticed it just recently I can also see a way out.

When we first get together, it’s all magic and excitement, right? Sitting up all night talking, doing “stuff” for the first time in new places, going out together, setting up home, getting to know each other, new friends, new family, it’s all good. And even if it’s not all rosy, it’s all about the challenge of working it through. And if we make it through those early days, marriage is an obvious progression; not without its challenges again, but good nevertheless.

So what happens?

Why after those early days of bliss, can it all go so quickly wrong? Actually, the downward slope isn’t a quick thing often, because this is an insidious thing, creeping in when you’re not looking for it. In fact we can sometimes even see it as a good thing, not only that, but it can be hard to avoid purely because we’re human.

So what is it?

It’s our daily routine.

It’s not just what we do, it’s the fact that we do what we do repeatedly without thinking about it, that we lose our capacity for excitement, that we lose the ability to even create that spark.

Think about your day. Any day. It actually doesn’t matter if it’s a week day or the weekend. I bet you’re doing the same thing you always do on a Tuesday, or even a Saturday. And therein lies the problem.

The spark’s gone.

Most of those who find themselves having an affair, I bet, all of a sudden find the capacity again to produce that spark. Why? Because what they’re doing isn’t routine. It’s new, it’s exciting, it takes a bit of thought, it demands activity, it proves you’re alive (again). The affair is the opposite of the routine. And it wasn’t that you were looking for it, consciously at least. Subconsciously, that’s another thing. It’s hardly surprising that our brains are looking for that dopamine hit our routines have stolen from us. And it’s hardly surprising so many affairs happen like they do.

But I haven’t had an affair.

No, and that’s a good thing.

So it’s time to get out of your routine and do something, as Arianna Huffington says in her book “Thrive“, to put the wonder back.

That’s my plan.

I’m stepping out of the routine.

Yes, I’m still going to work on Monday, but I’m also going to start adding in some actions which break up the routine. New stuff. And I’m going to make sure that we, as a family, and as a couple, are doing more than the normal. I can change to make sure ROUTINE doesn’t creep into our lives like a debilitating fog, crushing the fun, removing Arianna’s wonder and leaving us potentially just another sad statistic.

 

 

 

 

Back in Training

A Big Decision

I’ve had a break of more than two years. I think I needed that break. Stopping was a difficult decision to make especially because of the length of time weight training had been a part of my life.

My dad introduced me to proper old school weight training in the very early 80’s. He came from a physical education background and he passed on a desire for physical fitness that has never left me. With my daughter’s request yesterday to join me for a workout (she’s 12) the circle is complete!

I’ve watched the growth of the world of training and bodybuilding and I’ve seen it develop and evolve over the years. I’ve trained in some great gyms and I’ve trained in the garage at home; I’ve trained with inspirational people and I’ve trained alone. I’ve trained in the evenings and I’ve trained before the sun came up. Training has been a huge part of my life for so long.

In the early days we idolised Schwarzenegger in his prime. We saw those incredible pioneering physiques, just enough chemical help to push the boundaries of human development whilst avoiding the bloated freaky (just my opinion, right!) looks the top bodybuilders achieve these days. Lots of those originals are no longer with us sadly…(maybe those steroids weren’t quite as safe long term as we’re taught – but that’s a conversation for another day!) but they set us a goal to aspire to. We collected the magazines, we read every article and we nearly killed ourselves trying to copy those workouts!

Time for a change.

So, weight training, diet, fitness and sports of all kinds have been part of my daily existence until two years ago I stopped. It was as much a decision related to my mental state as it was to just taking a break. If all you do is think about training and food, your body composition and fit your life around that it can be a bit counter-productive to say the least. So the decision to stop wasn’t easy but it felt right.

men-flexed-muscles

What happens when you stop?

Well I knew theoretically what happens to other people when they stop, but what would happen to me? Physically, as it turns out, just the same as the next man. As soon as you’re not training your muscles and feeding them with abundant protein your body quickly lets non-essential muscle waste, and your hard earned muscle just disappears. With the drop in muscle mass you are less strong. You lose weight, all that muscle was heavy! Three times heavier than fat… and clothes which used to be tight in all the right places are, all of a sudden, loose and actually just too big.

No one else mentioned any change. Which just shows how little attention people were paying in the first place (that’s a topic for another blog, surely – was the effort worth it if no-one noticed?).

And mentally it was tough. Really tough. Me and training….like fish and chips, it’s not me unless you have the two…but now it was.

Two years….

A New Hope 

(where did that title come from?)

Enough!

Two years and I need some iron back in my life.

This blog is all about self-improvement, not you, me! And a return to physical fitness is a big part of that. James Altucher, in his book “Choose Yourself” talks about four areas of focus which serve as a foundation to enable you to grow and work towards a successful life: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I need to get all my ducks in a row if I’m to succeed and physical well being is a good place to start.

Interestingly, it hasn’t been easy to get back into training. I’ve worked hard mentally to get myself back to a place where I’m up for the effort again…but I’m there now. It isn’t easy because it has to be part of your routine, you have to make time and you have to be consistent, and you have to fit training into to your already busy schedule.

Getting back into it.

So I’m at the end of Part II, Week 1.

When I started first time, I was 11. I’m now 46. And, jeez, am I sore! Yes I know to take it easy and get back into it slowly, but that HURTS! Three workouts in…

So what’s the routine?

My plan is to stick to that old school style of training:

Two body parts per session:

Chest and triceps

Back and biceps

Legs and shoulders

3 exercises per body part.

Four/five sets per exercise.

12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps per exercise, increasing the weight with each set.

Simple!

No squats combined with shoulder press, no box jump bicep curls, no lunges combined with trciep extensions! Just simple and heavy.

Training in the evenings (until the dog dies, and then I can train in the mornings instead of having to walk him round the fields in the dark!).

And more protein. Lots more protein.

And I can say, I’m loving it. As sore as I undoubtedly am, it feels like I’m back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Bridge, 3rd June 2017

We live in strange times. The events of last Saturday night here in London prove that life is extremely precarious and that unexpected and truly horrific events can and do happen. Repeatedly. Three times now in as many months.

We can’t keep our children with us all the time, we all have to go about our lives as if nothing untoward was ever going to happen. We can’t live our lives waiting for the next attack.

I don’t understand the motivation that turns a man into a vicious killer, prepared to use whatever comes to hand to murder and maim. Children last week, people enjoying their Saturday night out this week!

London-Bridge-terror-attack-le

There’s another attack coming, that’s a certainty. We don’t know when. We don’t know which country, which city or which neighbourhood but there’s another attack just round the corner.

Do we change our behaviour?

Are you going to change yours?

How do I guide my children? How do I educate them to see the devastation and then to look past it, to see the hurt and the sadness but to ignore it and then carry on as if nothing had actually happened?

Should they worry when their mum goes to work in London on a Tuesday?

The fact that we don’t know when the next attack is going to happen means that we can’t change our behaviour. We won’t change our behaviour because that’s what the terrorists want. Actually these aren’t attacks on us, they are attacks on our freedom and our way of life, and however many of us die in these attacks we won’t change our fundamental way of life. So these terrorists can’t win.

Actually, for me, these attacks are having the opposite effect. I’m consciously spending more time with my family. Consciously doing things with my children, making memories, going to concerts, going to the pub, doing the things these terrorists hate. They are changing my behaviour, but not the way they want.

I’m moved to tears every time I hear the personal stories of the people whose Iives have been changed forever, loved ones murdered or suffering life changing injuries. I feel for all of them because I can put myself in their places. It touches me profoundly because these people are just like me.

And so, I’m changing my behaviour.

I’m going to put every effort into making more memories with my family. I will exercise my right to vote later in the week. I will do more of what the terrorists hate.