Just One Step Forward

Stop and look in the mirror. 100% happy with everything you see?

I certainly am not. I’m still scrawnier than I’d like to be. Ideally, I want to gain another 30 pounds of muscle. My bank account? Well, that’s scrawnier than I’d like it to be as well. My career is moving along, but if I’m honest, I’ve not done as much as I thought I would when I was a senior in college and expected myself to change the world. Socially, I have a few good friends and I’ve made a lot of progress towards overcoming that natural shyness that I grew up with. But you know that guy that just walks into a room, commands instant respect, and electrifies the crowd? That’s still not me.

If I honestly assess where I am at as a person vs where I’d like to be, I see so much ground I need to cover. It’s a bit overwhelming – so much to do. I find myself either stressing out about how far from my ideal self I still am or trying to just accept where I am now as good enough.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

I could freak out and stress over how much work I still have to do or I could give up and just accept I’ll never reach my goals, but a third option exists. Just One Step Forward. All I need to do today is take one step forward towards my goals. Just one step. Slow, steady forward progress will eventually accomplish your largest, most incredible dreams.

What can you do today to take 1 simple step forward? Here’s a few ideas.

  • Take a jog to burn some calories and strengthen your heart.
  • Sign up for a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn.
  • Visit the store and buy one clothing item that fits well and gives you confidence.
  • Join an online dating site and practice chatting with someone.
  • Better yet, visit a coffee shop and make small talk with someone there.
  • Sign up for a gym and search Youtube for a few basic workouts.
  • Fill out a to-do list to get yourself organized.
  • Clean one room or even one part of a room.
  • Message a friend to reconnect.
  • Read the first chapter of a book you’ve always wanted to read.
  • Drop $10 into a savings account.
  • Take 5 minutes and just breathe. Repeat the word “peace” or “strength” or “love” in your mind. You just meditated.
  • Plan to help someone today. When the opportunity presents itself, go for it.

None of these ideas are dramatic or life-changing. But then again maybe they are. If the journey of a thousand miles really does begin with a single step, then these simple steps may change you in ways you can’t imagine. You don’t have to change the world today. You don’t even have to transform yourself. You need just take a single step towards a better you. And in doing so, you just might end up changing yourself and the world more than you ever realized.

If you really want to master something as quickly as possible and go from first step to goal even quicker, I highly recommend The First 20 Hours – How to Learn Anything Fast. Josh Kaufman helps self-directed learners like us expedite the learning process get to the stage of enjoying what we’ve learned as fast as possible. If you are serious about self-improvement, moving forward towards goals, and achieving skills faster, then consider this book a strong introduction to everything you need to know.

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Happy reading, happy improving, and may your small steps lead to giant leaps toward your dreams!

3 Killer Ways to Improve Your Writing

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The pen is mightier than the sword. Are you well-armed?

If you want to improve your life this year, a key area to target is your communication skills. We’ll cover conversational skills in a different post, but let’s focus on writing today.

Fair or not, people judge your writing skills A LOT! Your resume. Your school assignment. Your dating profile. Your social media posts. These have the power to shape your life. If your writing skills aren’t at the level you’d like, then please, follow my 3 steps and you will be a better writer today!

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#1 Avoid Crutches:

So, crutches are those things you add to your writing, thinking they add value, even though they don’t. What do I mean? Let’s look at some examples more closely.

Adverbs – Take a look at these sentences. He shouted loudly. She walked nervously. He ate quickly. He spoke proudly. All these sentences contain adverbs and all these sentences could be made stronger. You see, writers often lean on adverbs because they have chosen weak verbs. Look at the verbs in those sentences. Shouted. Walked. Ate. Spoke. All of these are rather generic and weak. That’s why the adverbs were added to give a little more color to the sentences. But better yet would be to swap out the original verb/adverb pairs for a single powerful verb. Look at how we can upgrade these sentences. He roared. She tip-toed. He gulped. He gloated. There is almost always an amazing verb that will improve the sentence. Find it. Use it. Instant improvement.

Adjectives – Take a look at these sentences. The beautiful girl sang a lovely song. The small house was in the green forest.The hungry wolf wanted to eat the pig. See the adjectives? Beautiful. Lovely. Small. Green. Hungry. Notice that they are common and overused adjectives that don’t really add much value to the sentence? Their only role is to take your eye off the fact that the nouns are even more common and overused. Girl. Song. House. Forest. Wolf. Pig. So here’s what to do. If possible, combine the adjective and noun into a new noun which carries the meaning of both. “Beautiful girl” can be an “angel”. “Small house” can be “a cottage”. If such a word does not exist, (for example there is no specific word which means “hungry wolf”) at least choose a more specific adjective, and consider substituting some imagery in place of the standard noun. Let’s see how this looks. “The beautiful girl sang a lovely song” becomes “The angel sang a stirring aria.” Better yet, “sang” is an overused verb, so let’s change the sentence to “The angel lifted her voice in a stirring aria.” Amazing improvement. “The small house was in the green forest” becomes “The welcoming cottage was nestled in a peaceful green sea of trees.” “The hungry wolf wanted to eat the pig” becomes “The rapacious monster longed to devour the unsuspecting farm animal.” If you want your words to come alive, swap out the common for the uncommon and you’ll get instant improvements.

Cliches – I struggle so much with this. A cliche is any phrase that has been used again and again to the point of losing all freshness and originality. As much as I try not to, I tend to overuse cliches frequently.

“At the end of the day”

“All’s well that ends well”

“Bring your A-game”

Here’s a huge list if you’d like to see more. http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-cliches.html

Like I said, I’m bad at it; I use cliches far too often. When you catch those, cut them out and come up with a fresh way to say it. Now that you are aware of it, you’ll notice them in your writing. Ruthlessly remove and replace for an instant boost to your writing.

#2 Get a Decent Thesaurus:

Seriously. Get a physical copy, place it on your desk and become friends with it. Refer to it often. A good thesaurus contains far more than just synonyms. I personally love Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers. It contains over 2,300 emotive, evocative, descriptive synonyms, antonyms, and related terms every writer should know.

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As you refer to a thesaurus over time, your vocabulary and writing skills naturally strengthen.

Avoid Grammar and Spelling Mistakes:

OK, if you follow steps 1 and 2, you’ll be crafting incredibly descriptive sentences now, but you still don’t want a perfectly good email or journal entry to be marred by basic errors. How can you avoid making grammar and spelling mistakes, especially when you are in a hurry? I use Grammarly.

Grammarly is a cloud-­based application. As of now, it checks for over 250 types of common grammatical errors, corrects contextual spelling mistakes (which means it’ll notice that you used “too” when you probably meant “to”), enhances vocabulary usage, and provides citation suggestions as you type (a fantastic aid for college students). My favorite feature is that it runs in real-time as you type, so you see a variety of suggestions which don’t obstruct your view or distract you as you work. If you want to correct an error, you simply click once on the suggested improvement and your text is instantly fixed. There are browser extensions available as well, so wherever you are typing (emails, Facebook, blog comments, etc.) you are protected from errors. They have both a free service and a premium one. I started with the free service for some time; later I upgraded to premium and I love it even more. Seriously try the free version for yourself and I’m pretty sure you’ll wonder how you lived and worked without it for so long. Millions of people worldwide including myself rely on Grammarly and it can be the key tool that makes you a better writer.

So there you have it! Avoid crutches like boring adverbs and adjectives. Get a thesaurus and use it as you write to build your vocabulary. And use Grammarly to catch all the tiny errors that you miss but the judging eyes of someone else won’t. I truly believe that as you write better, your career, your relationships, and your reputation will improve.

Go for it, and if you have additional tips, feel free to share them in the comment section below!

Jamie

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A Counter-intuitive Way to Say “Goodbye” to Worry

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I have a tendency to worry. I think it is due to the fact that I juggle a lot of responsibilities and often find myself involved in projects that have me out of my comfort zone.

Additionally, I think I worry sometimes because there are many wonderful things in my life that I fear losing.

Actually, when you think about it, that’s what all worry is – a fear of loss. I worry because I don’t want to lose something I have or something I hope to have.

Ironically, this means that worry can strike even more during the good times in life. Have a great relationship? You can start worrying about losing that person. Just landed a new job? You can easily begin worry about screwing up at work.

Now a lot of people will tell you that the way to avoid worry is to not think about it, but honestly, that doesn’t work. Don’t think about a dancing bear in a tutu. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what is in your mind now.

In fact, by trying not to think about something, you actually increase the likelihood of it occupying prime real estate in your mind. So what can we do?

Let’s try something very counter-intuitive.

Rather than trying to forget our worries, I want you to focus on them. How and why?

Here’s how. First, get a journal. Here’s a nice one. It’ll be your worry journal. Next, everyday for at least a week I want you to write down every worry that pops into your mind.

“I might be late today!” Write it down. “I think my coworker thought my joke was dumb.” Write it down. “I worry my partner won’t love me someday.” Write it down.

No matter how big or small the worry, get it down on paper.

Why are we doing this? Well there are 2 huge benefits.

First, by getting these worries out of our heads and on to paper, we surprisingly will reduce the attention we pay to them. But the second benefit is even more powerful.

Imagine you have a friend who always gives you advice. Unsolicited. But he’s almost always wrong. Would you listen to him? Would you let his words dictate your  life? Of course not!

But here’s the thing. Your worries are nothing more than unsolicited advice and they are usually incorrect, just like the friend in our imaginary example.

Don’t believe me. You will after this experiment. After you write down every worry for a week, I want you to review your entries.Calculate what percentage of them actually came true? Find out what percentage turned out to be totally unnecessary.

The results will prove to you once and for all that in most cases you worries are to be laughed at, not feared.

Give it a try, and set yourself free from your worries.

Jamie

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How to Have a Great Morning: 4 Steps to the Perfect Morning Routine

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4 Rules for a Great Morning… Every Day!

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Drink Water Right After Waking Up

Your body needs water to, well, to survive. But you don’t want to just survive, you want to thrive. Check our post on how to get enough water throughout the day and watch your skin, energy, and brain power improve!


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Make a Simple, Fresh, Healthy Breakfast

You don’t have to get fancy here. A homemade smoothie is so easy, so delicious, and best of all, so good for your body. Check out our post on how to make smoothies part of your morning routine.


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Do Easy but Effective Body Weight Exercises Right in Your Own Home

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for you going to the gym. But if you are pressed for time or money, there is really nothing better for your morning routine than a quick run through some body weight exercises. Check out our post on how to use these effectively right in your own home for great results!


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Do Something You Enjoy in the Morning

The secret to getting up easily in the morning is having something you want to get up for. Set aside a little time each morning for something you love to do. Need ideas? Here are a few!

Read something you love.

Keep a journal.

Start a blog!

Go for a run!


If this blog is inspiring you to make positive choices in your life, please share us with your friends! You can follow us on Facebook!

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Why You Should Already Be Blogging & How to Start Your Blog

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Benjamin Franklin once said, “Write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Today, we’ll learn how to do both by exploring the topic of blogging. If you want to improve your life this year, you absolutely should be writing your own blog. Why? Well, let’s look at a few of the benefits of blogging first and then I’ll show you how to get started. It’s damn easy and if you’d like, after you read this post, you will know how to have your own blog up and running in just a few minutes. But first, let’s see the reasons you should be blogging.

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You will Improve Many Skills

Spelling. Grammar. Storytelling. Using your computer for more than just web-surfing. You will learn a lot of skills by creating and maintaining a blog. A lot of those skills – communication, tech, marketing – are in big demand. So today’s hobby can lead to tomorrow’s promotion. Speaking of which . . .

You will Improve Your Career

If you blog about a topic related to your career, 2 things will happen. First people will begin to perceive you as a thought-leader in your field. They will come to see you as the person who knows a lot about your job and industry. This can lead to networking opportunities, chances for promotion, and even new job offers. Secondly, you actually will become more of an expert in your field. You cannot help but know a great deal about your business when you are writing about it frequently.

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You May Make Money!

If your blog becomes popular, you will be able to make money selling ad spaces, providing affiliate links, or selling your own products like ebooks. I will be writing future posts explaining how each of these methods work. April was the first full month of this blog and it already earned over $100. I ain’t getting rich yet, but it’s nice to earn a bit of reward from your hard work, and once I implement some other monetization strategies, I expect this website to become very rewarding. I’ll share all these tips with you in future posts, so stay tuned!

Anyway, how do we get started? You can make a simple website with WordPress. If you want to make something beautiful and more personalized, try Strikingly. It’s simple to use and creates stunningly beautiful websites. They have an amazing feature which allows you to convert information from a Facebook page (great for small businesses) into a website or convert information from a LinkedIn profile (great for job-seekers) in a website.

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Another tip for getting started – If you use WordPress or Blogspot or one of the basic blogging services, your website address will include their name. Your site will be something like http://www.improvemylifethisyear.wordpress.com. Not so sexy. If you really want full ownership of what you create and the most professional image, you should get your own domain name and host. It’s simple and inexpensive and dramatically increases your level of control and status in the eyes of readers. There are many to choose from, but many bloggers eventually settle on Blue Host. Why? Here’s what Blue Host brings to the table for bloggers around the world.

Bluehost was founded in 2003 with one goal: to make a better hosting company. Built on open source technology, they’ve since grown to become one of the world’s largest providers of online solutions. Bluehost is a top recommended host by WordPress and also proudly supports many other open source programs. Blue Host provides . . .

Money-back guarantee
1 FREE domain registration
Unlimited domain hosting
1-Click MOJO Marketplace installations
Free drag-and-drop site builder
Unlimited disk storage
Unlimited IMAP & POP3 e-mail support
Industry-leading technical support located in the USA.
24/7 chat, email and phone support for customers.

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How to Make Your Blog Successful

I won’t complicate things. There are really only 3 things you need for success.

  1. Write (a lot). You just need to churn out a lot of writing. Readers keep coming back to a site when they know it routinely is updated with fresh content. You need to post frequently. I make multiple posts per week here on this site. You might post less frequently, but at the very least, you need to get an article up per week.
  2. Write well. You don’t have to have a degree in English to write a blog. But at the very least, try to avoid simple errors that damage your credibility. I use Grammarly to keep my writing crisp, clear, and error-free. They have a free version and a paid version, depending on how hard-core you want to be about your writing.
  3. Wait a lot. It takes time to build up an audience. It takes time for Google to respect your site as well. So don’t give up in those dark, lonely early months of your blog. If you keep at it, you will see progress. A previous site I launched that I no longer add content to continues to grow now thanks to some love from Google bringing me search traffic. But at the beginning, I was writing a lot and getting very little traffic. That’s normal, expect it, and don’t get discouraged. Results will come!

This post is very brief, but I promise to deliver some future posts that will dive into much more details. I look forward to sharing all the things I’ve learned thus far.

But enough reading me. Start writing your blog now!

Jamie

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How to Start Your Own Journal

George Santayana said that those who forget history are destined to repeat it. Well, if you want to improve your life this year, you need to learn how to remember your history. You need to start journaling.

I hear your complaints. Writing my feelings sounds boring. Sounds weak. Sounds emotional. Let me stop you in your tracks. Writing is one of the single most powerful things you can do. Why?

  1. Journaling improves your self-awareness. When you write about your day, over time patterns emerge. You’ll understand more fully what triggers your temper. You’ll see who makes you feel down. You’ll get how exercise improves your mood. You’ll see connections that you didn’t really notice before. Maybe you eat junk food a lot more after working overtime. Maybe you tend to skip the gym whenever you hang out with your lazy buddy. For example, before I journaled, I assumed that I felt jealous based on external things, like the behavior of my partner. After journaling, I realized my feelings of jealousy almost always came after I felt disappointed in myself for something. Now that I am more self-aware, I stand a better chance of tackling the source of negative feelings, rather than suppressing them or blaming someone else. Half the battle in life is truly understanding yourself. Journal for one month and I guarantee you’ll know things about yourself that you never realized previously.
  2. Journaling organizes your thoughts. Thoughts inside our head are blurry and nebulous. Forming our thoughts into words and sentences have the effect of crystallizing them into coherent ideas. If you are facing a complicated problem or important decision, getting your thoughts onto paper is absolutely vital to clarifying the issue at hand. I’ve found that some perplexing problems suddenly seemed so clear to solve once I jotted them down.
  3. Journaling de-stresses you. Sometimes we have a fear or challenge that we do not feel comfortable sharing with anyone. It goes unspoken and we carry it inside day after day. This low-grade stress is harmful to your body. Journaling is therapeutic because it involves a conversation between you and your notebook. Those worries can escape your mind and land instead on the paper. Elevated stress levels left unchecked actually sap male testosterone, so writing a journal can be one of the manliest things you do.

Speaking of manly, if you want to commit to journaling, what better way than to have a journal you look forward to writing in? This affordable genuine leather journal is a pleasure to use and will look so good on your desk. You want to improve your life this year, so commit today to keeping a journal, and see the benefits it will bring to you.

Some people struggle to start and stick to the habit of journaling, so if you worry that you won’t be able to keep at it, here are a few tips for you.

First, understand that the hardest thing about journaling is establishing the habit. So I’d suggest making your writing as short and simple as possible at the start. Once you are used to doing it daily, then you can start to expand your writing.

Next, choose a specific time and place you will journal, and make it as easy as possible to follow through. For example, if you plan to write right before you go to bed, keep a pad of paper and a pen on your nightstand.

Finally, choose a specific question you’ll be answering. That way, you won’t struggle to find a totally new topic to write about. For example, you could decide that for the next week, you’ll write down one positive thing that happened to you that day as a way of noticing and expressing gratitude. Or, you could write down one mistake you made and how you’ll handle that kind of situation in the future as a way of providing yourself constructive feedback.

By making sure your new habit is easy to do, doesn’t take much time, and delivers positive benefits to you, it’ll be far easier to start and stick to it.

To summarize today’s post, journaling brings many benefits to you, and if you ease into the habit gently, you are far more likely to make it work in the long-run. I also recommended this journal as a great option for those ready to start this valuable daily habit.

To your daily growth!

Jamie

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How to Become a Better Reader in 5 Easy Steps

Do you want to improve your life this year? Read. Consider this thought.

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Nothing can launch your passions, enhance your skills, nor cultivate your personal growth like reading can. Simply put, you really cannot claim to be serious about becoming a better person unless you are willing to put in the time and effort to read.

Now I understand many people don’t really find it easy to establish the habit of reading. So today let’s run through a few steps that will ensure you become a better reader. If you actually carry out today’s assigned tasks, you’ll be an avid reader in no time. Imagine being able to carry on conversations across diverse topics with ease. Imagine understanding the latest research on how to be productive, happy, and successful. Imagine the sense of pride that comes from having a broad set knowledge. These and more can be yours. Let’s see how.

Step 1: Write down your reading purpose. It is very hard to stay motivated when you do not even realize what you are reading for. What is your purpose? To have fun? To learn more about specific topics? To improve a skill? To be a better conversationalist? Whatever your purpose, write it down and remind yourself of it when your motivation needs a boost.

Step 2: Write down your reading goals. What books do you plan to read? Choose books that support your overall reading purpose. If you want suggestions, feel free to comment below and I’ll recommend something just for you!

Step 3: Download the Kindle app on your phone or on your PC. One of the best ways to get more reading done is to make use of those slow moments during the day? A little extra time on your lunch-break? Waiting in line at the store? Commercial break on TV? Seize those moments to go into the Kindle app (which is free!) and read. Choosing Kindle Unlimited which gets you access to over a million popular ebooks is another great option. Here’s a free monthly trial of Kindle Unlimited if you’d like to try it out.

Step 4: Create a reading schedule. Reading doesn’t just happen because we want it to. We have to proactively schedule time to read. How can we do this? Look at your day and literally pencil in times for you to read. Once you specifically set time aside each day, you’ll find reading comes naturally. Be as specific as possible if you want to increase your chances of success!

Step 5: Journal short summaries of what you learned from each book. The human brain is fickle and you don’t want to lose all the rewards of reading because you slowly forgot what you read. Writing down a short summary of the key points you learned from a book is fantastic because the act of writing actually strengthens your memory and if you do forget, you’ll have notes you can review later.

Follow these steps and soon you’ll be the smartest person in the room. Good luck!

To your daily growth!

Jamie

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