IMPORTANT NOTE: This article is NOT good advice when dealing with other people or your team. When dealing with others you have to take peoples emotions, social standing and situation in to consideration, which this article does not.

This article is meant for your own personal mastery... and the truth may hit a nerve. PG 13 not for sensitve viewers.

Do not follow your instincts or emotions, because they drive you to seek comfort, happiness, survival and reproduction. All humans share similar drive so it's no surprise that there are common trends in behaviour and thinking.

"AND all the above makes me happy and comfortable. I'll do the right thing tomorrow because today I have good excuses not to."

Your thoughts and logic is what will drive you toward success. Using your conscious mind to battle your emotions and instincts is the only way to stop yourself from watching TV in your underpants and eating doritos all day. It's actually not an uphill battle all the way. You will only need willpower until a habit is formed. Willpower is like a muscle: As you use your willpower it fatigues but over time it becomes stronger.

American Psychological Association: What You Need to Know about Willpower

Here are a list of things which helped me keep me on track:

Prioritize your goals

Often we have many goals we want to achieve and land up doing none of them. This is because we are either overwhelmed by the load or we spend a little bit of time doing everything but get nothing done.

eg get ripped, career promotion, pay off house, reach masters in Star Craft 2

ACTION: Create a list of everything you want to accomplish, and next to it write what you would gain when you accomplished it, as well as the cost of getting there (time and money). When you are done with the whole list, prioritize the items based on the cost to value. Then simply start at the top of your list, if the first item is blocked then move to the next item but try not to move down the list too much, rather try remove those items which are blocked.

my example:

Goal Value Cost Priority
Skill up on software design / architecture I lack this knowledge it will greatly improve my code on all fronts. Is important for more senior positions. - Estimate 6 months 22 hours per week - budget R10 000 on courses. 1
Skill up on devops/infrastructure/general networking minimal career growth as I dont work directly with this but it will help me grasp the bigger picture and be able to put up my own sites. - Estimate 2 months 22 hours per week - budget R1000 on courses. 2
Become proficient in Machine Learning (not just using libraries but writing the code from scratch) How ML works is an interest of mine which may lead to career opportunities. - Estimate 1 year 22 hours per week - budget R10 000 on courses - Unknown level required 3

I prioritized software design / architecture because it has a definite effect on my career and everyday life even though it will take longer and cost more than the devops skill up. The cost of skilling up on machine learning starts high with an unknown ceiling for unknown/unpredicatable value.

Break up your Goal

Once you have prioritzed your long term goal, then create a checklist with many short steps to reach that long term goal.

eg: your goal may be to get ripped. So stick up images of your ideal body. Then create some steps to get there like get a healthy diet plan, get a training routine, get a gym membership, etc.

Make sure these steps are things which are fully in your power to accomplish and not reliant on others. eg If you goal is to earn more money, dont say "get promotion" because getting the promotion is not up to you. Instead focus on things which are up to you that may lead to a promotion like "upskill", "take the lead", "take responsibility", etc.

ACTION: Print out images/text of your actionable checklist, then put it up in a place where you will see it everyday.

my example:

Set a routine and taboos

Add positive things into your life with routines and remove negative things from your life with taboos. Set a routine/taboo for yourself which will keep you on your path. A routine/taboo will form into habits which will lead you to your goal.

It is important that you stick to it no matter what... no excuses. Even if you know you are going to fail still do it, just to prove to yourself that you can stick to your word. (Don't allow yourself to lie to yourself.)

routine eg: every morning exercise, shower, eat. Even if you only do ten push ups because you dont feel well.

taboo eg: I will not drink or smoke.

ACTION: Write your routine and taboos down and put it up in place where you will see it daily.

my example:

Routine

Taboos

Set public commitments

Tell your family and friends about your new lifestyle so that you have some social pressure to stick to it. You dont want to look like a failure and a quitter in front of everybody. So publicly commiting to something is proof that you really want it.

ACTION: Tell your family and friends about your commitments. (or post it on social media)

my example:

Let friends know I won't be drinking when going out. Let collegues know I dont drink coffee, take an alternative drink to stay socially involoved as morning coffee is a social gathering where I work currently.

Take responsibility

Think about why you have not achieved your goals or been successful until now. A failure in your life could be due to outside circustances or it could be because of you. By believing it's an outside circustance then there is nothing you can do now or in the future. You have to wait for those outside circustances to change... you are powerless. To be successful you have to admit that any failures in your life are your fault, regardless if the failure is your fault or not because this means that you can take action to rectify it. If the problem was truly your fault you can find a way to correct it. If it really was an outside circustance but you believe it's your fault you will still take positive action which will drive you forward one way or another.

ACTION: Make a list of all the reasons you have not achieved your goals and what you have to do differently. Update this list monthly.

NOTE: This part is the hardest but the most important as it keeps you agile. Checking up on your progress allows you to be aware of whats holding you back and respond accordingly.

my example;

Surround yourself with a beneficial social circle

Think about the 5 people you spend the most time with, and think about their habits and behviours. You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with, so more than likely you developed similar habits and behviours to your peers. If you don't like what you see then you have to find ways to surround yourself with people who inspire you.

"If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room."

-Confucius

Well done if you are smarter than all your friends, but massaging your ego is not going to get you anywhere. The smartest person in the room can't grow or learn, they also tend to become complacent because they think they have made it.

eg: it becomes very difficult to quit smoking, drinking and to grow your self intellectually, if all your friends meetup every night to watch sport, drink and smoke.

ACTION: Make a list of the 5 people you spend the most time with and their habits. Update this list monthly.

Have role models

Have people to look up to and mimic. Copy their behaviours and learn their mind sets.

ACTION: Print out images and quotes from your role models and stick them up on your wall.

ACTION: Everyday talk to a role model or read/watch content of theirs.

my example: