Do the Next Best Thing

Imagine that you wake up and want to go to the gym, but you either can’t bring yourself to go or the gym is closed.

In this critical moment of how you start your day, you tend to either will yourself out of bed, put on your workout gear and go to the gym – or you don’t go at all. You rarely consider other options.

But, instead of seeing this as a binary choice, you can explore other options of modifying your original approach. You could go to the gym and do half a workout instead of a full workout. You could do a couple of your favorite exercises or go for a run on the treadmill. Instead of going to the gym you could also exercise by going for a run outside or at least by taking a walk outside.

You could do the next best thing.

To do the next best thing reliably, you should think about viable alternatives in advance. If you can’t come up with the next best thing during the critical moment of hesitation, chances are high that you take the easiest way – which almost always means to not do something. So, think about different ways in which you can achieve the same goal – which in this case is to exercise. When the moment of hesitation inevitably happens, remind yourself that you have multiple options to do the next best thing and pick one.

This approach guarantees that you do something rather than nothing. Decide to do something instead of nothing often enough and watch the benefits of consistency compound.

Make it Inviting

If you make what you want to do inviting, you will do it more often.

Instead of working against the friction of certain tasks, you can reduce it, by making every task easy, inviting, and rewarding.

You can make something easy by preparing everything in advance. When the time to start comes, you have no friction. You can make it inviting by making the task as enjoyable as possible. Use high-quality gear, work in a beautiful environment and dress comfortably. You can make it rewarding by deciding how you will reward yourself after you have completed your task.

Let’s take a look at how you can make going to the gym inviting:

To make it easy, prepare your workout-gear in advance, so all you have to do is take your gym bag and go to the gym. To make it inviting, choose comfortable clothes, listen to your favorite music and do the exercises which you enjoy the most. To make it rewarding, decide beforehand to listen to your favorite podcast or read your favorite book when you are back.

By making what you do inviting, you not only increase the chance of doing a certain task but also increase the likelihood of doing this task again and forming a habit.

When a Decision is Made a Path Emerges

When you decide to do something – when you commit to it – you can make progress.

A decision lifts that fog of uncertainty that keeps you in stasis – unable to act. By making a decision and committing to something, you cut through the fog. Instead of thinking about which decision to make, you can take action towards your goals. This allows you to gather valuable feedback and adjust your approach along the way. While your initial path might change, every decision will open up a new path towards your goals.

While it is tempting to try to figure out the optimal way to approach a problem, no path will emerge until you commit to a decision and take your first step into the unknown.

Whatever decisions you are contemplating, decide and take your first step on the path in front of you.

Practice Common Sense

“Our wealth of common sense fails to become common practice.”

Eric Greitens, Resilience

It has never been easier to acquire knowledge. Yet, this knowledge rarely becomes wisdom.

While knowledge means knowing, wisdom means doing – maybe even living.

We have unprecedented abilities and opportunities to learn. We can learn from the wise philosophers of Rome, the great rulers of centuries and the present. But learning is often confused with acquiring and reproducing knowledge. This isn’t learning.

Learning has to lead to action. If we truly learn something, it affects our behavior, not just our thinking. But all too often learning starts in the brain and stops in the brain. We fail to apply our knowledge to life.

To apply it to life, we need conscious practice of whatever we want to learn. We need to stop gathering information and start applying knowledge. We need to start living what we know.

Our common sense has to become common practice.

Better or Worse – You Decide

“The diminutive chain of habit is scarcely heavy enough to be felt, till it is too strong to be broken.”

Samuel Johnson, The Vision of Theodore (Modified)

Every day we make countless decisions.

Every decision is the result of a conscious or subconscious internal argument. These internal arguments do not need to only be about doing something. They can also be about not doing something. Whatever we let win these arguments, becomes more likely to win again in the future. Whatever wins our internal argument grows stronger – whatever loses shrinks.

This knowledge helps us realize, that every decision matters. They stack up over time and are likely to become habitual. In this way, every decision influences our future in a very subtle way.

If you don’t take conscious control of your everyday decisions, you will develop detrimental habits.

If you do take conscious control of your everyday decisions, you will develop beneficial habits.

Every single day:

You decide!

On Mentors

When we think of mentors we think of wise sages or highly successful people.

But mentors don’t have to be people, nor do we need to talk to them.

We can learn from people who are where we want to be. We can find personal mentors. But we can also learn from our idols and seek guidance through reading and listening.

If I have a question, I look up what Jocko Willink, Gary Vee or Jordan Peterson have to say about it.
If I look for solutions, I consult books, podcasts, and blogs.
If I feel stuck, I talk to people who I feel close to.

I think of all of these as mentors.

This opens up many different sources of learning, some of which are more than 2000 years old. I can enter a critical dialogue with Socrates, understand my mind better by listening to a lecture by Jordan Peterson or bounce ideas off of people who are close to me.

If you shift your perspective, you can find mentors in unsuspecting places.