I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of guy. Either I’m all-in or I can’t be bothered.
Sometimes, this is great. I tend to be knowledgeable about a lot of things, because the moment something catches my interest, I’m 5 hours deep into researching the subject. I tend to be relatively successful at anything I try, because I prepare, plan, and work hard to make it happen the right way.
But sometimes, this all-or-nothing approach leaves me neglecting important things when the circumstances aren’t right.
I once had a very successful season bodybuilding. I put on 30 pounds of (mostly) muscle in 3 months and skyrocketed my max reps in every core lift. I planned it out, in the both the gym and kitchen, and I put the work in to make it happen.
But now, as I sit here typing, I haven’t lifted in 8 months. I’m weak. I’m out of shape. And as each week passes by, I’m no closer to where I’d like to be physically.
Because I can’t go all-in during this season of my life.
I don’t have the time to eat enough food to see gains quickly.
I don’t have a gym close enough to my house to be able to go the preferred 4 days per week.
I know exactly what it takes to get where I was before, AND I know I cannot align all the variables in place to make it happen.
I can’t go all-in, so I’m out.
And that’s a big problem. Because while sure, there’s no way for me to gain 30 pounds in the next three months, I’m completely ignoring what I CAN do.
I CAN start increasing my strength each week.
I CAN get back in cardiovascular shape.
I CAN eat more protein.
I CAN DO SOMETHING.
There’s no convenient time to become a better man.
We all want to be better. We all want to improve ourselves in multiple ways.
But we have to accept that there will never be a convenient time to begin that process. If we don’t take a step forward today, we never will, because you can’t take action tomorrow.
So the question becomes, what can we do today to become better men?
Well, the possibilities are endless, but here are 10 great “no excuses” options to get things rolling.
1. Spend at least 30 minutes giving your undivided attention to someone you care about.
If you’re a half-decent fellow, you don’t ignore the people in your life. You might even be generous with your time. But in today’s world of connectivity, undivided attention comes at a premium.
Spend at least 30 minutes investing your undivided attention in a loved one. Turn off the TV. Leave your phone in the other room. Close the laptop.
It’s called “quality time” and you always need more!
2. Spend 20 minutes cleaning/organizing that one area you keep “meaning to get to”.
We all have that one desk/closet/room/basement-corner that is just a mess. We keep “meaning to get to it” but let’s face it, it’s just not a priority.
While fixing that crazy closet isn’t going to significantly improve your standard of living, we are really only as stable as the most insecure areas in our lives.
You can spare 1/3 of a single hour to tie up loose ends in your life!
3. Take care of one responsibility today that doesn’t HAVE to get done today.
There’s a really good saying (supposedly by Benjamin Franklin) that I completely agree with but rarely follow:
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Procrastination is the DEATH PENALTY of productivity. Don’t flirt with it!
Whatever “it” is, get it done today.
4. Spend 7 minutes working out.
If you’ve ever worked out and eaten well on a consistent basis, you know how much better you feel.
You literally feel more alive when you’re treating your body right.
And now there’s no excuse to not work out (I’m looking at you author). Here’s a 7 Minute Workout scientifically proven to get exceptional results.
All you have to do is make yourself really uncomfortable for 7 minutes. You can handle that!
5. Invest 30 minutes in your dream.
Personally, I think everyone should be pursuing their dreams from the opening stages of life/career/family.
I think everyone should be working in a career they LOVE. Here’s how I made that happen.
But for one reason or another, we don’t always find ourselves able to pursue our dreams. Sometimes bills have to be paid and responsibilities have to be fulfilled. That’s part of being a man.
But even if you can’t spend 12 hours of your day investing in your dream, you CAN spend 30 minutes.
Want a different career? Spend 30 minutes today learning a new skill.
Want to play an instrument? Practice 30 minutes at a time.
Want to publish a book? Spend 30 minutes writing a frickin’ book!
The whole “follow your dreams” thing is a lot more manageable 30 minutes at a time.
6. Put a “memory moment” on the calendar.
“Making memories”, however cliché, is an important part of life. You really should be doing memorable things from time to time.
In all honesty, you probably don’t have time to go out and make a significant memory today, but you do have time at some point this month.
The key is to get something on the calendar, because if you don’t, this week becomes the next week becomes next month… and pretty soon, you find yourself looking back on the year thinking, “Did I do anything interesting this year?”
Don’t worry about making it big. Just make it special, and remember it’s really more about who you’re with than what you’re doing. Something as simple as taking your family on a hike might just fit the bill. Or for the singles among you, jumping into a new social scene outside your usual crowd might be what you need.
Stop what you’re doing and put something interesting on the calendar RIGHT NOW!
7. Cook something you’ve never cooked before.
Not only are cooking skills impressive, but they also have more consistent utility than nearly any other skill set you can acquire.
You never stop eating! And you will never stop reaping the rewards of your food-making abilities.
But too often, we get in a food rut – eating the same stuff over and over and over. Try to cook something new today.
Not tomorrow. TODAY!
If tonight isn’t the best night to try out a new entrée, try a new side. Just do it.
But don’t limit this mindset to food…
8. Say “Yes” to something you wouldn’t normally say “Yes” to.
Virtually all growth in life occurs right outside our comfort zone. You can’t become a better man doing all the same things you’ve always done before.
Try something you wouldn’t normally try. Take a chance on an opportunity you’d normally let pass you by.
If you’re single, ASK HER OUT. If you’re a would-be musician, sign up for that open-mic night. If you’re a different-career-dreamer, sign up for that intro course you’ve always wondered about. Or if you want to get really simple, say “Yes” to your friends when they ask you to hang out instead of spending another night in front of the computer.
If you’re someone who tends to say “No”, say “Yes” for a change. Step out of your comfort zone.
9. Say “No” to something you wouldn’t normally say “No” to.
For some people, saying “Yes” is the biggest hurdle they face in life. For others, it’s saying “No”.
There are two big “No”s you need to learn to say in life.
- “No” to others.
- “No” to yourself.
The first is called boundaries. If you let other people own you, you’ll never have anything left and your life will be miserable.
The second one is called discipline. If you let your short-term desires own you, you’ll never build or accomplish anything meaningful and your life will be miserable.
When your “friend” calls to complain and gossip for the hundredth time this week, so “No” and spend your time doing something that uplifts you.
When you feel like watching a movie instead of spending that 30 minutes investing in your dream today, say “No”, get off the couch, and pursue your dream.
10. Re-evaluate something you’ve always believed.
When it comes to new information, we tend to be open and analytical. After all, we are learning something new. We approach the subject matter with the expectation that we don’t fully understand it.
But some of the most significant revelations you’ll have in life – the biggest “learning moments” – won’t come while you’re evaluating new information; they’ll come when you suddenly realize that something you always believed was completely false (or much different than you had previously understood it).
Because we can’t independently verify every little bit of information that comes our way, we tend to assign merit to ideas based on the sources from which they come. While this system tends to work in our favor on a macro level, it can have seriously negative consequences if we don’t challenge these unverified ideas from time to time.
Just because your pastor says it doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because your favorite politician claimed it doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because you always believed it doesn’t mean it’s true.
As you finish this article, stop and think about some of the ideas you’ve been challenged on and didn’t really have an answer to your satisfaction. Spend a few minutes looking further into it, and then comment about it below.
Become a better man today!
There you have it. 10 ways to start bettering yourself today. If you like this article, go ahead and share it with your friends. And don’t forget to comment below!
Dude this is great! I also read your article about chasing your dreams. I am trying to do that now and this was a great encouragement!
Can I share this article on my website with a link back to yours?
I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with each point. I was expecting something along the lines of “believe in yourself,” “be better about doing stuff you like to do,” etc. Thank you for giving me some things to think about! My favorite are: 4, 8, 9, & 10 – spot on, bro!
Now I’m off to check out that 7 minute workout…I need something like that!
Thanks James! Haha I try to make sure these posts aren’t the typical useless fare.
Btw, that workout is great! I’ve been doing it for awhile now. This website even has the timer built in to do the workout, so you just have to press play and begin!
I’m getting used to your style…and I like it.
What? AWESOME! Can you find a website that will do the exercises for me? Now THAT would really help me out 😉
Great advice Jacob, this is something that I’ve gotten lax with as well, and it’s starting to show in my midsection. I think I’ll print out your post and use it as a daily reminder..
Haha that 7 minute workout is good stuff!
And here’s an easy-to-print checklist: http://i.imgur.com/o7oiF73.jpg
As someone who also captains a “dedicated or completely indifferent” boat, I really relate to where you’re coming from. Your list is a great daily checklist for positive improvement. Well done!
Awesome post, man. I’m an all or nothing kind of guy, and unfortunately that generally leads me down the nothing road. No excuses is the only way to get traction!
Well said Ben!
#5 Is a must for any man who wants to be successful. Great list!
Agreed! Thanks Rick!
Really great list Jacob and excellent post. I’m definitely going to have to incorporate a few of these into my life.
Thanks Rob! Much appreciated!
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