The Best Way to Get Ahead? Don’t Get Behind.

“Did I really work towards my goals this week, or, did I work just to ensure that my goals don’t get farther away from me?”

I had an epiphany this weekend.

I was stuffing my face with pizza and cookies, but only half enjoying it. The other half of me was trying to calculate how much extra cardio I’d have to do over the next few days to make up for the extra calories I was consuming. With already so much on my plate for the week (no pun intended), why would I be consciously participating in an activity that will add all this extra cardio (work) to my “to-do list”? That just makes no sense! I complain all the time about my ‘lack-of-free-time’, yet here I am, on my day off, doing something that will ensure more work for me over the following week!

And that’s when it hit me, the true reason it’s so hard to ‘get ahead’ for most of us..it’s because we spend most, if not all of our time catching up–making up for previous mistakes, errors or procrastinations, thus leaving ourselves very little time to get ahead!

The real way to get ahead it seems? Don’t get behind.

Sure, the pizza tastes good, but as I’m doing the math in my head, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I know there’s 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. That means to lose a pound of fat a week, I’d have to be in a 500 calorie deficit a day for 7-straight days. The pizza and cookies I’m eating could easily be 1,500+ calories, putting me 3-days behind, or half my week!

Think about that for a second..Instead of spending this coming week losing a pound of body fat, I’m going to first spend half my week just making up for Sunday’s dinner! That only leaves me 3-4 days to actually get ahead on my diet, but the truth is, even if I were to be in 1,000 calories a day deficit for those 3-4 days, I wouldn’t come out ahead. No. Instead, I’d be just back ‘on track.’

And here’s the worst part… after all the extra cardio and the extra caloric deficit I’d have to maintain for the week, I’ll feel like it took way too much effort this week to not lose any weight. After all that hard work, self-discipline, and ‘under-eating’, I’ll come out ‘neutral.’ I’ll be unmotivated to continue the following week, or even worse, I’ll feel the ‘need to congratulate myself’ on Sunday with another pizza! And so the trend continues…

Now this may be a simple example, but the truth is, we act this way with most things..

-How many times have you had to work overtime just to pay off a credit card bill?

-How many times have you returned from a vacation just to have to put in extra hours for a few weeks to make up for the extravagance you experienced while you were away?

-How many times have you treated your girlfriend/boyfriend to a gift only to make-up for a fight?

-How many times have you called a family member only because you ‘haven’t talked to them in forever’?

If any of those examples resonate with you, then you may be guilty of spending most (or all) of your time ‘playing catch-up’ as well. And if you’re spending all your time ‘catching up’, when are you getting ahead? And when you’re relaxing on a Sunday afternoon, eating that pizza, celebrating your accomplishments for the week, ask yourself,

Did I really work towards my goals this week, or, did I work just to ensure that my goals don’t get farther away from me?

My guess is, if you’re like most of us, then you spent most of your week working to ‘stay neutral.’ Most of us don’t exercise to ‘get in shape’, but rather, to avoid ‘getting fat.’ Most of us don’t work to ‘get rich’, but rather, to avoid ‘going broke.’ We work our butts off not to get the life we want, but rather, to avoid losing the life we have. And that is the issue.

Therefore, if you actually want to get ahead, don’t allow yourself to get behind.

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5 Morning Habits that Ensure a Successful Work Day

It’s true, your morning routines will either set you up for a successful, or unsuccessful, work day. Early successes set the tone for the rest of the day, by sending subconscious messages to your brain that “today is going to be a good day.” My goal is to help you make every morning a good day, so here are 5 tips that will ensure your morning is successful:

  1. Get Up Early: Like really early. The last thing you want is to feel “rushed” in the morning. Your mornings should be peaceful, productive, and stress-free, but if you’re getting out of bed 30 minutes before you need to leave for work, you’re going to feel rushed/stressed before you even walk out the door! This is not the tone you want to set before your day even begins. I recommend getting up 3 hours before you have to leave for work. So, if you need to be out the door by 8:30 AM every morning, you should be waking up at 5:30 AM.
  2. Drink a Large Glass of Water: Before you do anything else, go into your kitchen, find your largest glass, and fill it with water. Sleep can dehydrate you, as can coffee, so before you go “doubling-down” on dehydrating yourself by reaching for the coffee mug, start with water. Dehydration can lead to feeling anxious or easily irritated, two feelings we’re trying to avoid this early in the morning.
  3. Make Goals for the Day: Give your day some purpose by writing down your goals for the day. By taking 5-10 minutes every morning and writing down the 3-5 things you want to accomplish that day, you’re giving yourself direction, which will make you feel much more purposeful throughout the day. Life can be distracting, and it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of ‘feeling busy’, easily forgetting what you woke up for. By writing down your goals first, when it’s quiet and there are no distractions (yet), you’re setting yourself up for a successful, meaningful, day.
  4. Start on Your Most Important Goal Right Away: Don’t wait until you get to the office, do it NOW. By knocking out your most important goal of the day before leaving for work, you’ll walk into the office already feeling productive and stress-free. Instead of being the person at work who’s freaking out about potentially missing a deadline, you’ll be the calm, collected one spending your time helping others with their tasks, since you’re already done with your own. Your calm and collective demeanor will set the tone for your entire team, making your morning habits not only an advantage for yourself but for those around you as well. Now that’s a leader.
  5. Exercise: Last but not least, get a sweat in! The extra oxygen to your brain, the blood pumping, and warming up those cold, stiff muscles that have been still all night will make you feel alive and invigorated for the day! It doesn’t need to be intense, even a 15-minute jog or a walk with your dog will do the trick. The key is just to get moving, and warm your body up before leaving the house and beginning your commute! Again, this will have you feeling calm, but excited, for your day, instead of stressed, and anxious.

The true purpose of work is to create value for others, by either creating a product that people use and enjoy or performing a service that people need. And only once you’ve taken care of yourself, first, can you go to work and take care of others. That is what makes a morning to yourself, a successful one.

 

5 Tips for Creating Inspiring, Achievable Goals

What is the one habit that all successful people have in common? They all have goals, and they spend their time working towards those goals every single day. As simple as it sounds, one of the easiest ways to ‘get ahead’ in life is to create goals–for your year, your month, your week, and day. But with so much to accomplish and so little time, how do you create goals that not only inspire you, but are actually achievable? Below are 5 easy, quick tips that will help you create such goals:

  1. Keep the list short. The Chinese have a saying, “a man who chases two rabbits catches none.” As tempting as it is to create a laundry list of goals and try to ‘maximize’ your list, don’t. Keep it short. Ask yourself over and over again when creating your goals, “is this really just a sub-goal of something larger?” For example, if you had two separate goals such as “I want to lose 10 lbs” and “I want to be able to do 50 pushups”, is there really a bigger goal that you could shoot for that would encompass both of those goals? If so, go big, and condense that list.
  2. Start Long-term, and work backward. It’s true that you have to set high, lofty goals in order to create the self-inspiration and motivation you’ll need to pursue them, but sometimes, large goals can feel more like ‘distant dreams’ than realistic goals. The key? Start long-term, and backward. For example, “I want to read 50 books this year” sounds lofty, but when broken down, that’s less than 1 book a week, and if the average book is 150 pages, that’s roughly 20 pages a day of reading–very attainable.
  3. Make your goals OUTPUTS. One of the biggest ‘mistakes’ I see in goal setting is making a goal that’s intangible, like “I want to be happy” or “I want to lose weight” or “I want to become fluent in Spanish.” In order for a goal to feel attainable, it must be concrete, and it must be measurable. So instead of “I want to lose weight”, which is a feeling more than it is a goal, pick a number. “I want to lose 20 lbs this year” is a lot more attainable than simply “I want to lose weight” because it’s measurable. The ‘output’ is being 20 pounds lighter, and that makes it very easy to say either “yes I achieved this” or “no, I did not.” Instead of “I want to read more”, say “I will read 50 books this year” or instead of “I want to start journaling”, say “I will write 4 journal entries a week.” By having your goals be ‘outputs’, you make the status of your goals binary: complete or incomplete. This is not only the easiest to track, but also more rewarding for you, psychologically. It’s easy to look back at your year, read your goal of “I want to read more” and feel like you came up short, even if you didn’t! By making your goals ‘outputs’, you eliminate that internal ‘feeling-biased‘, and your goals instantly become more attainable, and more rewarding.
  4. Breakup goals by category. I’m sure most of you, like myself, have several different ‘personalities’ to manage. There’s the ‘work you’, the ‘home you’, the ‘you with friends’, the ‘you with family’, the ‘private you’, the ‘charitable you’, etc. How do you keep your list of goals short while still appeasing all the different ‘yous’? Solution: Categories. Create 2-4 categories, and create 1-2 goals for each category. For example, I have 3 categories: Professional Goals, Personal Goals, and Character Goals. Then each week, I will create 1-2 goals per category, that are small steps towards my Yearly Goals for such category. Last week, I had a Professional Goal to “finish our web app and push it live”, a Personal Goal to “post twice on Medium”, and a Character Goal to “help 1 stranger a day.” By breaking up my goals by categories, I can keep my goals concise, and appease all the ‘Brians’ in my life.
  5. Every day, work on the most important goal first. The easiest way to feel ‘accomplished’ every day is to get the most important goal out of the way first thing in the morning. I recommend waking up at least 3 hours before work, and spending that early-morning, quiet-time tackling the most important goal for that day. If that’s “lose 1 lb this week”, start the day at the gym, or if you have a goal to “be able to hold a 5-minute conversation in Spanish”, start your day by doing a Duolingo class. Life has the habit of “getting in the way”, and at times, it’ll be challenging for you to try and juggle “life” and your goals. However, the best way to mitigate this is to do what’s most important to you before anything else! No, you don’t have to check emails in the morning, and no, there’s nothing on the news you ‘have to see.’ Wake up, brew your coffee, and knock out that first goal, first!

33 Reasons People are Everything

Since Donald Trump has taken office, I’ve seen a lot more disrespect amongst people. I’ve heard more arguing amongst friends (and no, not the productive kind), seen more name-calling, more racist and hateful remarks, and much, much less respect for others–from both sides. Not only is treating people with disrespect wrong, because it’s hurtful towards others, but I also believe it is extremely hurtful for the person delivering the disrespect, as it negatively affects their ability to live a productive, fulfilling life long-term.

I’ve always preached that “people are everything”, and that no matter what you want in life-love, riches, fame, recognition or appreciation-it’ll only come to you with the help of other people. Since people seem to be forgetting just how important it is to treat their fellow human with kindness, I decided to make a list of 33 times you’ll need people on your side:

  1. Every job you ever get will be because a person hired you, and most likely because you were highly recommended to that person, by another person.
  2. If you ever start a business, you’ll need to convince people to buy from you, people to work for you, and people to invest in you, and you must have all 3.
  3. If you’re looking for love, people will set you up on dates.
  4. People will be who you date.
  5. People who date you will want to know what other people think about you before dating you.
  6. People who date you will change their minds about how they feel about you if their friends, or parents, don’t like you.
  7. People will save your life if you ever go to the emergency room.
  8. Or come to your rescue if you’re unable to get to the emergency room.
  9. People will keep your neighborhoods safe so your children can play outside without you worrying about anything happening to them.
  10. People will watch your children when you need a night (or nights) to yourself.
  11. People will deliver your children.
  12. People will teach your children.
  13. People will teach you!
  14. People will be there celebrating for/with you as you pass every major milestone in your life. Every birthday, job promotion, school graduation and of course, your wedding day!
  15. If you’re renting, a person is giving you a place to live without having to buy a home.
  16. If you’re buying an old home, a person is selling you their home.
  17. If you’re buying a new home, people are building that home for you.
  18. If you ever run for any office, you’ll need people to vote for you, and lots of them!
  19. Every piece of food you’ve ever eaten unless you’re a farmer, was grown, harvested, and checked for ‘safe to eat’ by other people.
  20. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can go out and have food cooked for you, by other people.
  21. If like me, you stop for coffee every morning on your way to work, your caffeine fix is being prepared by another person.
  22. If you have a cavity, there’s a person for that.
  23. If you need a massage, there’s a person for that.
  24. What about a ride? There are people for that.
  25.  All the news, information, knowledge and wisdom you acquire throughout your life will be acquired through other people.
  26. And everyone needs a hero! Guess who yours is? Another person.
  27. A Mentor? There’s a person for that.
  28. A God? Depending on your faith, that could be one ‘person’ or several. And if you’re looking for a person who can bring you closer to God, there are Rabbis, Priests, Pastors, Nouns, and several other spiritual leaders for that.
  29. If you’re looking to excel at anything athletic, you’ll need a coach. And a trainer! There are people for that.
  30. But most sports are team sports, so you’ll need other people for that, too.
  31.  If you’re looking for a book to read, you’ll need people to write those!
  32. If you’re looking to write a book, you’ll need people to read it!
  33. If you want to create anything, ever, you’ll need people to create it with, and people to create it for. You think Thomas Edison invented the light bulb by himself, for himself?

This list took all of 5 minutes to jot down. If I had the time this morning, I’m sure I could come up with 1,000 other reasons why people are everything, but I hope by now you get the picture.

Every time you’re unkind towards someone, sure, it hurts that other person in the moment, but it hurts you far more because it negatively impacts your ability to enjoy any of, or several of, those 33 things. In the moment, it may feel great to ‘blow off steam’ or tell that jerk at work ‘how you really feel’, but in the end, the person you’re really doing a disservice to be being unkind to others is…..yourself.

So go out there today, be kind to every person you meet, treat others with respect and love, and selfishly, your own life will flourish.

An Unlikely Inspiration, from a Likely Source

Like most people, my father is my role model. He’s everything I want to be as a man, a father, a husband, and a sibling (as he is to his). For the most part, I’m sure every son in the world can relate to the above statement, or at least, I hope so.

What’s unique about my father’s inspiration on me, however, is that he’s the reason I want to (continue to) be an entrepreneur. Now, my father isn’t the traditional small-business owner, nor is he a huge risk-taker. On the contrary, my father went to school for Chemical Engineering, and worked for a large corporation (the same one) for 30 years before being laid off in 2008 at the height of the recession.

My father’s message was always clear to us children: go to school, get good grades, get a good job, be a good spouse and parent.

An admirable message, to say the least. The problem is, I’m an entrepreneur. I always have been, whether I’d like to admit it or not. I’m a risk taker, I’m an ‘all-or-nothing’ go-getter, and I’d rather work 24/7 for something I believe in, for free, than work 5 minutes on something that doesn’t spark my interests.

As you can imagine, my father, nor my mother, was particularly pleased when I told them 3 years ago that I wanted to leave my job and start Buddytruk. I was “crazy” and “not thinking straight.” This was just another “excuse to get out of working.” I went ahead and did it anyway, and 3 years later, I couldn’t be happier in my decision. Ironically enough, it was my father that motivated me to do so.

You see, my father told me not to do it. He told me the likelihood of failure was high, and sure, he was right. But what I haven’t told you, is what my father did after he got laid off in 2008.

My father, not one to sit still, started trading stocks and penny stocks online. He thought he could make money by day-trading full-time, and it turns out, he couldn’t. So what did he do? He did what any other entrepreneur would do, he pivoted and tried something else. The second thing he tried was real estate, and he bought a beach house in Galveston, Texas and started renting it out on VRBO. Well, it turns out that his second stint worked pretty well, and 8 years later, he has 4 beach houses, and has flipped 3 additional properties. My father, with his “get a good job and work hard for 30 years” mentality, has become quite the entrepreneur. He may hate the title, and claims he only does this for fun and to “pass the time”, but make no mistake, this is a business, and one that’s run very well.

So naturally, my father’s success has inspired me to master my own craft as an entrepreneur. Our conversations are much more frequent than they used to be, and we talk business on almost every call, and not because we feel the obligation to ask the usually mandatory “how’s work?” question, but rather because we are both generally passionate about working for ourselves.

But what’s even more inspiring to me than my father’s ‘on-the-field’ success, is how this career change has affected him ‘off-the-field.’ In Stephen Covey’s famous book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen talks about a concept he calls “private victories before public victories.” What Stephen means is, in order for someone to have success in business, or in relationships, one must first have success internally. In other words, someone who’s generally happy with themselves, tends to work better, treat others better, have better relationships, manage better, etc. And this is so true with my father. As already mentioned, my father has been very successful over the last 8 years running his own business, but what means much more to me, and perhaps I’m biased because I’m his son, is how much better our relationship has become because of it. When I was growing up, my father had a short temper, yelled at me when I made mistakes, and genuinely seemed unhappy most of the time. As a kid, I just thought that he was “grumpy”, but now, as an adult and entrepreneur, I see the truth: he wasn’t passionate about what he was doing.

I’ve always believed the key to happiness is following one’s passions, and my dad is the perfect example. Now that he’s doing something he’s passionate about, he’s happier. He’s more patient. He’s a better listener. He’s more empathetic. He went from being the parent you’d “avoid” when you made a mistake to the guy you’d run to for advice when you’ve messed up. Whenever I call, he answers. And no matter what he’s got going on, he’ll talk to me for hours on end just to help me with my problems. Now granted, I’m sure this sounds like a lot of stuff fathers are “suppose to do”, and you know what, you’re right. But I know way too many parents, my own included, who have let the stresses from work affect their family life. I myself have passed along my stress onto others after a long day at work. It’s human nature. But to me, it’s clear as day to see that those who are passionate at work, tend to live much better lives. They stress less, they worry less, and because of that, they think about themselves far less. Because my father thinks about himself less, he’s able to think about me, and my sisters, and my mother, and his parents, much, much more. In the last 8 years, I’ve seen my father go from the “grouch” in the family to the “rock.” Even my mom’s mom goes to my dad for advice now! And it’s obvious why, he’s simply the best listener in our family, and the most understanding person I know.

Perhaps there are other factors at play here, but I can’t help but think that this career change is the main driver in my father’s change of heart over the last decade. As Aristotle says “we are what we repeatedly do”, and if you go from spending the majority of your time at a job that stresses you out, to a job you genuinely love, you’re damn sure it’s going to positively affect ALL aspects of your life, not just your professional one. It’s my father’s ‘off-the-field’ success that’s most inspiring to me, and makes me want to continue to be an entrepreneur. He’s shown me through his actions, regardless of his words, that how you spend your time has a major effect on who you are, and who better to be, than a man of passion!

Thank you Dad for all the inspiration, I love you dearly.

Must Win, Part II.

I must admit, I was wrong in my last post. I went 1-3, missing both Game 3 of the NBA Finals and Hillary vs. Bernie in California.

Hillary vs. Bernie in CA

I clearly underestimated Hillary’s ability to “close.” Hillary needed a big day on Tuesday, and she got it! This was about the same time her campaign fell apart in 2008, and part of me was expecting the same thing in 2016. Bernie had seemed to be gaining momentum, and CA and Bernie seem to align on several issues. However, when it mattered most, Hillary got it done. Well done, Hillary.

It’ll be interesting to see who wins in November, as both candidates are clear winners (in the sense that they win, not that I endorse either one). Traditionally wisdom must have Hillary as the favorite, but since when has Trump followed traditional anything on his rise to the top of the GOP? Too hard to predict.

Cleveland vs. Golden State, Game 3

Again, I underestimated Lebron’s ability to win a “must-win” game with his back against the wall. Instead, Cleveland won by 30. I’m impressed, they showed up!

Not surprisingly, Golden State came back to win Game 4, after being down 8 in the second half. They now head back to Oakland for Game 5 up 3-1 and have the chance to close it out. Do I even need to predict who I think will win Game 5 tonight? Let’s just say there will be plenty of celebrations in the Bay Area tonight.

Brian’s Correct Pick, USA vs. Costa Rica

I’ll save my gloating for last. I called a “big win” for USA over Costa Rica, in a must-win game for the States. I called for 2-0, but instead, USA romped Costa Rica 4-0. The US went on to beat Paraguay 1-0 on Saturday, and after Columbia’s loss to that same Costa Rica squad, USA won the group! We now play Ecuador in the QF on Thursday. My “soccer brain” doesn’t know enough about the Ecuadorian side to make a logical pick, but my “soccer heart” would love to see the US advance. Can we all agree that Brooks is the best defender the US has had…maybe ever? He’s playing with intention right now, and it’s fun to watch.

Must Win.

Today is a pretty beautiful day. It’s election day in California, USA plays Costa Rica in the Copa America, and Game 3 of the NBA finals is tonight! Not bad for a Tuesday…

These events got me thinking, who wants it more? What I’ve found is, as in sports and in life, is that “winners, win.” They win because their focus is on winning, and nothing else. They don’t care about stats, how “well” they play, or anything else. They only care about winning.

The same philosophy can hold true in “must win” situations. The reason “winners win” never disappoints is because, since winners only care about winning, they tend to “want to win” more than their opponent, and ultimately, the team or individual that “wants it more” almost always comes out ahead.

So let’s apply that philosophy to the events today and see how accurate we are:

CA Election Day

Now I’m not trying to get political here, so please don’t confuse my pick of who I think will win versus who I think should win. This is simply a prediction. Also, since the Republican side is already finalized, we’ll stick to the Democrats.

Based on the “Winners Win” mentality, you’d have to say Hillary is the favorite. She’s been the clear pick (according to politicians) since the beginning, and has maintained a pretty comfortable lead over Bernie the entire primary season.

That said, in respect to “who wants it more”, I think you’d have to say this is a “must-win” for Bernie. Hillary already has the 2,383 delegates she needs for nomination, but Bernie is a good 800 short. California could help Bernie a lot, with 475 delegates at stake.

When you contrast the “Winners win” mentality of Hillary versus the “must win” situation with Bernie, I’m going to give the edge to Bernie. Why? Well, for one, Hillary hasn’t always been a winner. She lost to Obama 8 years ago, and she’s lost over 10 states to Bernie already. Thus, I “trust” Bernie’s ability more when his back’s against the wall, then I do Hillary’s overall ability to “win.”

Prediction: Bernie wins a close one in CA.

USA vs. Costa Rica – Copa America

This one is pretty easy. USA is already a clear favorite over Costa Rica, and after losing 2-0 to Columbia in Game 1, if USA doesn’t win this game, it’s over. I like USA big in this game, winning by multiple goals.

Prediction: USA 2, CRC 0.

Game 3: Golden State at Cleveland

This game is tied with the election for “hardest to predict.” If you’re going to adhere to the “Winners Win” philosophy, Golden State is the clear favorite. However, when it comes to “must win” games, this is about as much of a “must win” situation for Cleveland as it gets.

This is why I think Golden State will ultimately decide who wins this game. Cleveland clearly needs to win, and with Lebron, and the crowd, Cleveland is the obvious favorite. If I wanted to make a conservative pick here, I’d say Cleveland wins a nail biter. Lebron isn’t the biggest “winner” in NBA history, but he’s won 2 Championships already and he knows what it takes to win big games. If they lose tonight, it’s over. He knows that. Most “smart” people would take Cleveland tonight.

But, I adhere to “Winners Win” above all. Yes, this is a must win for Cleveland. Yes, Golden State will win this series regardless of whether they win tonight or not. But something tells me this team learned something from the OKC series: take no game for granted. Golden State is 5-0 since being down 3-1 in the last series to OKC, and I don’t think they want to start losing anytime soon. Golden State also knows if they win tonight, the series is over, and at this point, I think that’s enough to motivate them to “show up.” They’re the better team, and they’re the “winning-er” team. I like Golden State to “shock” the critics and go up 3-0.

Prediction: Golden State 104, Cleveland 99.