The difference is a mile wide when I focus on a project that truly matters compared to one that’s ehh.
My tank is always full of inspiration and a healthy urgency when working on a mission critical to me.
For example, I’m motivated to wake up early and work harder during book writing season. The prospect of writing a book that drives value to other people and myself energizes me each and every day. My books propel individuals and my career forward, defining success.
It’s also easy to be positive during this time. So making progress on my manuscript is my drug, in a way.
When I worked my outside sales job, I often found myself frustrated because the activities ultimately didn’t help my entrepreneur career—what mattered most to me. I’d find myself taking longer lunches, putting less into the job than I could, and being drained on my way home from work. The sales job didn’t fulfill me.
I know the same is true in your life. You know the difference when you’re working on something that truly reflects where you want to go in life, and work that you could care less about.
But too often you’ll find yourself making a little progress on a bunch of unimportant activities and making no progress on something you really wanted to accomplish.
What’s the purpose of that?
The Only Way To Succeed
You only have 24 hours in a day. Meaning you don’t have time to fit in all the activities that matter and don’t matter.
If you spend too much time on unimportant activities, you’ll regret it for two reasons.
First, you won’t get the opportunity to make strides in what inspires you. You’ll know what you want to do, where you want to go, but you’ll show no signs of ever getting there. How frustrating?
You’ll get upset. Maybe you’ll start making excuses. Maybe you look for shortcuts and stop developing the fundamentals. Maybe you do the worst thing possible and give up on your goal because you’re not seeing any progress.
It’s a nightmare when you know what you want to do, but don’t spend the time doing it. That’s a recipe for depression.
On the other front, achieving progress in areas that don’t mean much to you will never give you real happiness.
Being promoted from retail assistant manager to manager is success on its own, but if you want nothing to do with retail then this won’t feel like success. It’ll feel like a pat on the back instead of a glorious victory.
If your parents hand over the family business to you and make you CEO, other people may see you as successful. But if your heart knows you always wanted to be a sports agent, then the family business won’t be fulfilling.
Always regretting that you didn’t chase that sports agent dream, for example, is not the way to live. You’ll imagine how your life would be if you took that road and you’ll kick yourself for not following it.
Since you only have one life, please promise yourself you’re going to give your time and energy to what truly gives you satisfaction.
A key to personal happiness and success is to spend as much time focusing on what matters to you and spend as little time, or stop completely, on the less important activities.
Do this and for the first time in your life you’ll make substantial results in something you’re truly interested in. And you’ll be ecstatic because of it.
You’ll become alive like you never imagined. You’ll feel like a completely different person.
I’d know, because this has been true for me ever since I quit my sales job and became an entrepreneur.
How To Focus On What Matters Most
There’s a difference between knowing you need to focus on what matters and executing. The following tips show you how to take action to implement this in your life.
1. Set a long-term goal.
Think about it, how can you focus on what matters most when you don’t know what that is? That’s why the obvious first step is to set a long-term goal, or multiple goals that align. (Just don’t get carried away and come up with four goals that all pull you in different directions.)
Write down a specific, measurable goal and a date you need to reach it by to make your mission more tangible.
For example, a bad goal is “to become rich.” That’s vague and gives you too much leeway to miss it. A much-improved goal is “to have a $1,000,000 net worth at 30.” Or “to be a millionaire 10 years from now, on 07/18/16.”
At the minimum, set a goal six months from now and at the most 10 years from now. Although playing for the long game requires patience, the world and you will change too much to set a goal any farther out.
But this long-term vision will also help you ignore the little curveballs from life. If you don’t get as much work done as you wanted because your computer breaks or you’re sick for a week, it’s ok. You’re in it for the long haul and you will make that up over time.
2. Create weekly goals.
With the big target in mind, consider what you need to accomplish this week to make progress.
For me, that looks like seven to ten weekly goals: three to four upcoming book tasks, four blog posts, and a few random tasks each week. I review the past week’s goals and set new goals for the week each Sunday.
Over time, you’ll get better at recognizing what weekly goals are too easy, what ones will push you, and what ones are unreasonable to accomplish. Stick with the goals that will push you to maximum effort.
Don’t get confused. A long-term goal (tip #1) doesn’t give you permission to be lazy, otherwise you’ll never reach it. It gives you a focus to put your weekly energy towards achieving. Without any hard work, you’ll never make significant progress.
3. Start the day with your most important activity.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m big on starting the day with the most important activity. If this concept is new to you, you’ll ask what’s the most important activity?
It’s the task that will help you get closer to your long-term goal more than anything else. If you want to be a screenwriter, it’s spending that first hour developing the opening scene. And setting aside little chores like email and laundry.
Ironically, it’s the thing you know you need to do the most so you want to put it off for later. The key is to overcome the greatest task right when you wake up. If you can do that each day, you’re golden.
Because the positive momentum created by completing this task is unbelievable. It sets the tone for the entire day, making each following task easier. I’m confused why everyone doesn’t do this.
The successful people you look up to followed this same formula of completing their most important activity each day. They’ve just done it more consistently and for longer than you. That’s why they’re elite at what they do, rich, and famous.
4. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.
Following this path means you’re going to have to ignore some parts of your life that you used to spend time on. But this is ok, because the consequences of ignoring those activities aren’t a priority to you.
So ask yourself what do you do that you can afford to neglect? Maybe you used to have a hobby that at one time had importance, now you’ve changed and it doesn’t. Drop it completely.
And often times, we do things not because we care, but because other people care. Stop that! Those are the first things for you to let go. Being selfish in this case is a good thing.
Also, this mindset means sometimes you should pay for someone else to do a task so you can unlock more time for yourself. I’m all for saving money, but not trading time for money.
5. Reflect on your progress.
If you follow this advice above, then you can easily reflect on your daily and weekly goals. Did you complete your most important activity today? Did you meet your weekly goals?
If you’re honest, you’ll know right away,
Then, make it a point to reflect on your overall progress each month. Reviewing your overall progress gives you a pass or fail grade that’s motivating.
If you’re closing in your long-term goal, then keep up the hard work. You have a good routine going.
On the other hand, if you’re far behind where you wanted to be, you need to change where you direct your time. Refocusing on what matters will be the spark to get you back on track.
That might mean you need to stop playing Pokemon Go to get more done each week. But sacrificing a game to make progress on your goals is always worth it.
For your happiness, please find what excites you and take massive action to pursue it. It’ll be the thrill that never goes away.
What’s the one thing you’re going to focus on? And when’s your deadline to accomplish it? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments section below.
Life Tip: Never Take Anything Good For Granted
Have you ever had something really good in your life, until you took it for granted and lost it? What a horrible, miserable feeling, right? It’s the worst.
I know from experience.
My senior year of basketball still leaves a sour taste in my mouth thinking about it.
It’s strange though because it started out good, like really good.
After thousands of hours of insane dedication to practice my basketball craft and improve my shooting, dribbling, passing, defending, and rebounding, I reached a dream of mine: make the starting lineup for the St. Xavier Bombers varsity basketball team.
Not only that, my first game of the year couldn’t have been better considering I only played 14 minutes the entire game. The stat line below proves it.
And we won the game by 23 points. Everything is going smooth, until it wasn’t.
From the next game through the last game of the year it was all downhill.
Let me explain.
The Lost & Final Basketball Season
Let’s just say I was a different guy in high school. Now I’m all motivated and focused on building my businesses and leaving a legacy.
But the 18-year-old Brian was all about wreaking havoc and having a good time above all.
To express himself at school or during basketball team activities, he’d go as far as he could to toe the line of breaking the rules for pure laughs and excitement. Often he crossed the line.
Here are some of the reckless things I did during that basketball season:
- After receiving a hard foul when driving to the basket, I stayed on the ground and racked off 5 push ups before shooting foul shots
- On the bench during a pre-season game, I grabbed my phone and sent a tweet out to my Twitter followers explaining what I just did (tweeted during the game)
- Ruined team pictures by putting a 3 goggles sign on my thigh, so the school had to retake them a week later
- Stormed the refs locker room after a frustrating overtime loss when a bunch of questionable calls went against us
- Put a teammate in a headlock during a shoot around hours before a game
- And a lot more crazy stuff
That’s not close to all of the bad-boy moves.
I don’t know if you realize this, but it’s hard to play solid basketball and stay in the coaching staff’s good graces when you’re messing around whenever you can. It doesn’t work out well.
That’s why it’s to no shock looking back that I got suspended twice. The first time I had to sit out two quarters against our biggest rival. And then I was suspended a full week from the team later in the year.
Not to mention a bunch of other disciplinary issues and conflicts with coaches that I don’t have time nor want to discuss.
It all boils down to the fact that my antics sabotaged my final year of basketball.
After the season ended, the problem was I couldn’t go back in time to stay focused on basketball and give it my 100% again. That ship had sailed. The opportunity was gone.
So I had to, and now have to, live with regret when thinking back to that year and what could have been.
But regret about not appreciating the game of basketball isn’t the only thing I received from that experience. It’s the unforgettable lesson: never take anything good for granted.
Fortunately I learned this lesson at age 18, not 48.
Never Take It For Granted
Thanks to my failure that year, I developed a wiser perspective to appreciate the good things in my life.
So now I know never to take my work, my company, my clients, my health, my friends, my family, and life in general for granted. Regret is the worst feeling out there so I want to live in a way that eliminates it.
Where maybe if my senior year basketball season went smoother I’d never have learned the full extent of that lesson. Who knows? Maybe something far worse than a disappointing basketball season could have went down.
But because of the outcome I get to hold that experience in my back pocket going forward. I turned a scar into an advantage.
Although it’s always cool for me to flip negative experiences into positive ones, it’d be even better if I didn’t have to learn the hard way.
Truth is you don’t have to be a dummy like me.
I don’t know what your “it” is (I can guess it’s your family, friends, faith, career, pets, house, teachers, and country). I do know you need to never take it for granted if you want what’s best out of your life.
Also, don’t forget to appreciate the little things that come and go during the passing days.
It could be your peaceful commute to work where you’re alone with your thoughts. It could be the Monday morning cup of coffee you can afford without thinking about. Or it can be your place’s proximity to the beach that other people would kill to have.
Never taking life’s big and small gifts for granted is a big step to living the good life.
And there’s another reason to have this mindset: you don’t want to mess around with regret.
Regret Is Brutal, Eliminate It
Regret is the worst feeling out there in my opinion.
Sadness sucks but you can become happy again. Anger isn’t fun but you can eventually relax and get over it.
But regret, there’s no way to reverse it and recover. It sticks with you the rest of your life. That’s why it’s brutal.
Your only solution is to do your best job to eliminate it at all times by both being super grateful for what’s good in your life and staying focused to keep it going well.
If you are unappreciative and lose focus, there’s sometimes no going back from there. Your fate is often sealed once the moment ends.
I want my life to be filled with as little regret as possible. That’s part of the ingredients for a great life, in my humble opinion.
Don’t you agree? Please join me in this effort to never take anything good for granted.
Brian, Promise You’ll Never Stop Writing
Hey guys, to celebrate video number 40 on my YouTube channel I put together a different kind of video.
Here I share a personal story and value I hold dear to my heart. It’s all about my relationship with writing and how it’s went from zero to hero in my life.
I hope you enjoy the video and feel inspired!
If you’re interested, here’s the transcript:
Let’s first take it back to high school. You sucked at writing. Just like all of your other classes, you hated it and let your teachers know by your classroom antics or naps, and doing the bare-minimum on papers.
Writing never interested you because it was a part of the school system you went to war against.
Brian this is a note to your future self.
Things changed your freshman year of college. You wanted to be a big time lawyer, and writing soon became your major since top lawyers know how to read and write well. So you needed to write, and write well, to get a top GPA and reach your dreams. And you did.
But things changed again. You said see ya to law school, hello entrepreneur land and started the blog takeyoursuccess.com. That meant constant writing, and hours of it to publish 2-3 posts a week for the past few years. And then you became an author from your writing, already accomplishing a major achievement on your bucket list through this method of communication.
Now writing is your daily routine as much as breathing and eating is. Writing is your public and personal journal, the world sees it but you know the heart of what’s behind the words and the words unsaid. Writing is magical to you.
Although you’re a business owner, author, and coach, at the end of the day, remember your journey all started from a blog, from writing. You’re a writer, writing your story as you go, figuring it out piece by piece, and telling the world, striving to create your legacy one word at a time.
So note to future self, never stop writing. You wouldn’t be the same without it. And all great stories have a storyteller. You happen to be your own storyteller, just how you like it.
What’s your story?
What do you want to tell your future self to commit to?
What’s magical to you?
I hope by hearing part of my story you find clarity in your story. Because we’re all in this thing called life together, so let’s make the most of it.
The Art Of Negotiation: Care Less
The art of negotiation is truly an art. Either you’re skilled enough to win, or you’ll stumble to the finish line as a loser. Those are the only two possible outcomes.
Depending on the deal, the difference in winning and losing could mean securing your dream job or entering unemployment, getting a deal or getting ripped off $10 grand, and building a million dollar business or going bankrupt.
But like many things in life—how to write a winning resume, who to marry, how to make money, how to invest—no one teaches negotiation.
Our parents: only if we’re lucky. The school system: fails at this. The government: nope.
If government and corporations had it their way, we’d never learn to negotiate so we would have to take the short stick without complaining. That’s just wrong.
Since you’re reading this article, you’re on the right path though. Because the first step is to want to know how to negotiate better.
The second step is to learn how…
“He Who Cares Less, Wins”
Emotions can often be helpful.
For example, you should feel love toward the person you’re about to marry before you go through with it. Duh!
Or you should feel sad when your parents are getting old and sick. That sadness can help you appreciate them better and prioritize quality time going forward.
But in the negotiation arena, emotions will kill you before you know it. It’ll be like a sniper with his finger on the trigger and a red dot on your chest—it’s already too late for you.
Why do emotions kill negotiation ability? It’s mainly because feelings cloud judgement.
Your brain focuses on how it’s feeling instead of reason, logic, and answering does the math work for you to go forward. Insecurities also come into play, which can make you do the opposite of what you intended.
Clouded judgement leads to rash decisions and often buyer’s remorse.
It also costs you real dollars.
This study found anxious negotiators were more likely to take deals 12% less financially attractive than their counterparts. If it’s a 12% loss off a $500,000 mortgage, we’re talking about $60,000. That’s a big deal!
But consider someone’s approach who couldn’t care less about winning the deal: They’re relaxed. They speak clearly and listen carefully. And they’re focused on the specific details of what they’re getting and giving.
Not to mention they hold the leverage because they don’t need the deal. If it helps them they’ll take it, but by no means are they getting on their hands and knees to beg for it like a dog.
It’s not hard to figure out that someone who is relaxed and focused performs better than someone who is scatterbrained and under pressure.
This explains precisely why caring less helps you win.
Plus, when you care less, you can’t lose. You either win the deal on your terms or you leave it on the table as a draw.
Caring less is precisely how you ensure you never make a bad deal that takes the shirt off your back. Those deals are the unrecoverable ones that will leave you unable to sleep at night.
Let’s check out how caring less comes to play out in day-to-day scenarios.
Real Life Negotiations
Negotiation happens everywhere, all the time.
You probably just miss it or don’t label them as deal-making.
To open your eyes and get a grip on how this goes down, read these four examples about how negotiating the right way changes the entire landscape.
1. Grad school admissions: Whether a grad school accepts you and how much money they give you comes down to 100% negotiation.
The university is negotiating to get the best students in their class (and fill the seats to make money). You’re negotiating to get into the school and make the best choice for yourself.
If you’re a top candidate with acceptances to all the elite schools, the game is on to negotiate the best offer package. You’ll want to negotiate for a fat scholarship, maybe a stipend, and see if you can get anything else (like a teaching assistant job) to entice you to come.
If you have average grades and admissions test scores, you’re playing a game of negotiating to get into better schools with no scholarship or less reputable ones with scholarship money. Use the acceptances into the better schools as leverage to get more money.
2. Buying a car: This is the classic negotiation scenario used from personal finance bloggers to authors. (Maybe because just about everyone buys a car and has room to negotiate.)
If you’re like most people, you’ll arrive at the lot and make a beeline to the car you want. Then tell the salesman, “I’ve always wanted this car. It’s perfect. How much is it?”
Their signals are telling them you’re an easy sale and to negotiate little. You cost yourself potentially thousands of dollars.
But say you come back another day after reading this article and bring a more tactical approach. Instead of making a straight shot to one car, you tell the salesman, “I don’t have any particular car in mind. I’m not sure I really need a car to be honest. Just had some free time and wanted to look around.”
You ask about a few car prices then “randomly” stumble on the one you actually want to ask the price, without being too excited (care less).
This is how the playing field gets tilted. The salesman is now the desperate one trying to both find you the right car and sell it to you.
And when you negotiate, you have to make an offer and be prepared to walk away with nothing (that’s a draw not a loss). There are plenty of stories where someone walks and the dealer calls them back the next day to drop the price to get the deal done.
This scenario works when buying a house, motorcycle, boat, and all other related-purchases.
3. Job offer and salary package: I feel strongly about this one. You have to negotiate your salary if you like yourself!
There’s free money on the other side if you do this well. That’s why I dedicated an entire section of my money book to salary negotiation, and have written about this multiple times on TYS. (See here and here.)
Let’s break it down (assuming you’ve been offered the job): The company is negotiating to get you on their team at a fair (or cheap) price, and you’re negotiating to get the job at a higher price.
Communicating you have other employment options and while you’d love to work here you know you may have to decline the deal, can often make the employer want you more. Odds are they fork over the extra money and hope you pan off as a long-term investment.
But if you don’t know how to negotiate and say, “I accept this,” the second after they tell you the salary offer, there’s no extra money for you. The reason you have less money is all your fault.
4. Business projects: Business comes down to negotiation across the board. If you’re an employee, freelancer, or small business owner, you need to know how to persuade the other side to get the deal and price you want.
Bad business negotiation means being in a place of desperation where you take contracts even if it’s 10%, 25%, or 50% your normal rate. The desperation will come through in your communication and be the reason you get taken advantage of in broad daylight.
A smart employee should recognize your company’s price is your price, and not care if you lose the deal because the person on the other side only values cheap labor, and not high quality work.
A freelancer should know the value in their work, price it accordingly, and have a take it or leave it mentality with clients. There’s always more work to be won instead of compromising your skill for cheap labor.
A business owner should double their rates to bring in more revenue (assuming they have a solid product, sales, and marketing), while not caring if they lose their smaller clients. That’s the quickest way to bring in more money, and it sure beats getting nickel and dimed on project rates.
Everything is negotiable.
Knowing that, it’s your job to care less by having more options on the other side in case you don’t get what you want.
How do you get more options? The single best way is to work hard and provide value so you become financially well off.
Poor people are often in desperate, emergency-like situations where they can’t afford to shop around for a smart transaction. Where the rich have more time and opportunities to ensure they win the negotiation.
With wealth also comes the freedom to need less and become beholden to no one. This self-reliance empowers you at the negotiation table to only make deals if the numbers make sense to you.
You’re in a position of power when you’re finances are taken care of regardless what happens in these daily negotiations.
As you keep living, keep your eye out for negotiations big and small. Seeing them go down will give you mental reps and prepare you for your day-to-day negotiations.
Caring less about what you want, ironically gives you a better chance of getting it.
Related: Everything Is Negotiable