In his book Meditations, Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

It is not meant to be morbid, but a reminder to live each moment as if it is a gift because it is. It is easy to take for granted the life we have been given and the time we expect to have in the future. However, the truth is it can all end in a heartbeat.

This isn’t meant to be an alarmist thought, but a wake up call to cherish the moments you have in life to be your best, do what you are made to do while on this earth and love generously the people you care about most.

Most people fail to achieve their goals because they are focused on the result they are after more than the amount of effort they are putting in to achieve it. To create anything worthwhile in your life there is a certain amount of effort you must give. Rather than allowing your success or failure determine your happiness, let your happiness at the end of the day be determined by the amount of heart and spirit you put into what you did.

There is a great book called Grit by Angela Duckworth which talks about how outstanding achievement is not talent but a combination of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” People who become masters of their craft put in an intense amount of effort day in and day out to attain the success they have. They are more focused on the process than the glory.

“The purpose of a goal is what you become as a person while you are achieving it.” – Billy Cox

I attended Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within Event this past weekend in Miami with friends and had an incredible time. There were 13,000+ people in attendance and it was like a rock concert while you get to improve your life with like-minded people. I learned many things over the four day event. The one that made the biggest impact on me was the idea of your body being an antenna for what you want to create and attract in your life.

It all starts with the emotional state you are in. If you are in a lousy emotional state trying to achieve your goals you won’t get very far. You won’t do very well building a business, creating a loving passionate intimate relationship or getting a six pack if you are in a low energy state. Sometimes it seems like an impossible challenge if you’ve tried many times and nothing has worked for a long time.

The quickest way to change the results you are getting is to shift your physiology. Most people try to change their focus or think positive which is great also. However, if your body is in a low energy state your mind is not as effective as making the shift as your body is. Emotion is created by motion. A quicker more direct approach is to move your body or just engage your body. Here’s a few things you can do:

  • Jump up and down a few times
  • Do push ups
  • Do a sprint
  • Smile or laugh
  • Take deep breaths
  • Squeeze your muscles tightly and then let them go

There is no right way to do this. The right way is the way that gets you in the emotional state you need to be in to create the result you are looking to produce. Even as I write this blog post I notice my emotional state shifting when I get stuck about what to say and I’ve trained myself to do a little body shake and breathe deep to get back into a powerful state to create a great blog post.

You can use this in any area of your life! Here are some areas it can be useful:

  • On a date
  • At the gym
  • In a business meeting
  • On a job interview
  • At a social gathering
  • Public speaking

So whenever you are having trouble creating a result, before focusing on what strategy or behavior to do, focus on what state you need to be in. You can ask yourself this exact question, “What state do I need to be in right now to produce this result?” Train your body to lead the way and the results will tune in to the antenna signals you are putting out through your emotional state.

To be great at anything in life requires consistent practice. To get to a level of mastery requires consistent practice at the edge. When I say the edge I mean focusing at your peak intensity. There’s a big difference between going through the motions and pouring your heart and soul into your craft.

When Michael Jordan would train each day he would make sure to make (not just take) 1,000 shots every day. It was a measurable result that took effort, focus and repetition at the edge. He wouldn’t stop until he hit his target. There was no debate whether or not he did it because the task was defined: make 1,000 shots.

Most people have trouble being great at something because they are more focused on the result (the glory) than they are on the process of what it takes to create it. What is the one thing that you must do over and over on a daily basis that will lead you to the result you desire to produce? That is your 1,000 shots.

What do you need to do day in and day out, over and over until you rise up above everyone else. Not because you’re a genius, but because you put in the work and you didn’t give up like everyone else. Your genius is that you put in the hard work, didn’t give up and built yourself into a skilled person that is better than anyone else.

“The genius thing that we did was, we didn’t give up.” – Jay Z

Go for the quick wins. Not to be lazy but to get momentum in your favor. Success builds on success. So the more positive reinforcement you can give yourself the more certainty you will have to go for bigger wins.

Have you ever noticed a basketball player who is not in the zone get back in the zone? What does she do? She goes for the easy baskets to get back in the zone.

Layup.

Two free throws.

Steal.

Dunk!

Rebound.

Assist.

Short jump shot.

After only a couple of small wins she is back on track and can shift the entire momentum of the game. While most players try to get the big shots in, like 3 pointers or tough jump shots, and fall further behind…she is right back in it. By doing so she now has the momentum to take and make those big shots as well!

How can you apply this to what you do?

Whatever you’re EFFORTING on and you become stuck or don’t know what to do next, ask yourself what’s the simplest thing you can do now? Do that! You don’t always need to make big hits and the truth is they don’t come along that often. The deeper truth is that the big hits come from the accumulation of the small hits.

Go for the low hanging fruit. Build momentum. That’s how you crush it!

The best way to create value and get more of what you want is to elevate the people around you. Most people try to tear people who are succeeding around them down because they feel insignificant. The best way to combat this is to cheer them on because that same capability is within you. And by celebrating it, rather than repressing it, you build it more in yourself.

Another key moment to uplift people around you is when you are with people who could use some uplifting. If you can be that person that gives energy and strength to others when they need it most you become a true leader. It sounds easier said than done. Charismatic people create value and love wherever they are. Be the change.

Repetition is the mother of skill. To become great at anything you have to put in the EFFORT day in and day out. Even if you could magically get the outcome without doing anything – that’s not what you want. What you want is to grow and become a bigger and better person. We all do, it’s part of being human. That’s why no matter how successful you become you will always want to continue to expand. The universe is always expanding and so are you if you put in the work.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

So whatever it is you are working on, make sure to remember there are steps you need to build upon over time. Nothing happens over night. And you are building in all the different areas of your life all the time. Your health, relationships, business, finances, fun, hobbies, contribution back to the world.

There’s no need to get overwhelmed by this. It should be refreshing to know that all you have to do is show up every day, be patient, put in your best effort and have faith. Whenever you start anything you are going to be bad. Even if you are a natural you are still worse than you will be in one, two, five years into it. Bad isn’t bad. Bad means you are making new connections in your brain and body to develop a new skill set. And as long as you keep on growing you will repeat the cycle of being bad to being great to being bad again.

Why? Imagine you are exploring new lands on the Earth or somewhere in outer space. You will find new frontiers, adapt to them and become great at living there. Then if you are looking to grow more you will venture to new ones and become unsure of what’s going on and have to learn the new environment until you adapt again. Same thing with a new relationship, workout or hobby.

Just like you condition your muscles when you go to the gym. You want to condition the muscles in your brain and nervous system to get stronger and better each day. The cool part is the compounding effect over time. After a while you will be immensely stronger and better at it. In the beginning it may take all your effort and you do a terrible job. Then over time you don’t even have to think about it because you have mastered it and can do what very few can do.

Train yourself to enjoy the process of conditioning whatever habits you need to implement into your life. Your life is a reflection of your rituals so go out and condition the ones that you need to create the life you desire and deserve.

The health and fitness industry is tricky to navigate. On any given topic you can find multiple experts saying completely different things. It can make you feel helpless and think there is no point in even trying. How is this possible?

A big reason for this is because people (experts included) don’t clarify their outcomes and they don’t state their underlying beliefs/assumptions behind what they are saying which absolutely has a HUGE bias on what they are saying.

When it comes to the best time of day to workout it is the same. Some experts say first thing in the morning while in a fasted state and others say at the end of the day is great. Which one is it?

If your outcomes are:

To feel great.

Have energy throughout the day.

Look great.

AND

If you’re not a professional athlete or training for a specific sport / activity …

The best time is in the MORNING!

Why is that?

Because….

You get the benefit of compounding throughout your day from your workout. Compounding works in EVERY area of your life; not just investing your money! It also works in good ways and bad ways.

Just like with ANY important habit you want to do it right away! Syntax is super important and underrated by people. If you are making your grandma’s special homemade cake though it is critical to do things in the right order. What would happen if you waited until you baked the cake and then cracked the eggs on put them on top?!

Same with fitness, your body and your mindset. It’s a super important ingredient you want to get in as soon as possible in your day. Train your brain and nervous system to do what’s most important (especially if it’s hard) NOW!

If you’ve ever worked out early in the morning you know how great it feels to go through the rest of your day with the natural high that comes with it. The hormones are pumping through your body and your metabolism is up throughout the day. Not to mention the mental, emotional and psychological benefits of feeling like a champion athlete after crushing a solid workout.

Once you get your sweat deposits in – you walk differently, you talk differently, you show up differently.

The more you do it the more it stacks in your favor and you will become an athlete. That is what you are if you want to be successful in anything. You need to treat yourself like a world class athlete and you need ENERGY to live an epic life.

Everyone wants all the amazing things that come with a great life. Family, business success, impact, financial freedom, health and vitality, contribution, etc. but few are willing to put in the sweat deposits to create the ENERGY that is required to do all these things. Having kids alone is a huge investment of energy, let alone running a business and having a social life.

The best part is you don’t have to train every morning. You can be flexible and work out whenever you want to. Just having the intention, awareness and discipline to get your workout in early in the morning (75% of the time) is going to have a HUGE impact on your day and your life.

So my suggestion would be to make it a top priority for the next 60 days to get some sort of exercise in early in the morning before 10am. It doesn’t have to be more than 15 minutes. Go for a jog, do yoga, lift weights. The cool part is once you get going you’ll feel great and can keep going if you want or stop and get on with your day in a great state!

Go get it champion!

Thank you for reading and please share with anyone you believe will find value from this!

Also, please give me feedback on Twitter.  What did you enjoy or take away from this? What do you suggest I improve upon?  Let me know! Just send a tweet to @naeemmahmood

Make today your masterpiece!

Naeem Mahmood

Meditation can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be.

Most people don’t even get started with it because they think there is a right way of meditating (there isn’t – anything can be meditation: walking, eating, talking, working out, having sex, playing the guitar).

I was one of these people. I heard about how great it was and all the amazing benefits successful people were getting from their meditation practice. I would even sit down and try it every now and then. But I would always stop because I had thoughts during my meditation such as:

  • “Am I doing this right?”
  • “Should I be thinking?”
  • “This is hard!”
  • “How do I stop thinking?”
  • “What should I eat after this?”
  • “Am I going to become enlightened like the Buddha?”
  • “This is boring.”
  • “I can’t believe I am doing this.”
  • “Is someone watching me and laughing?”

Even if I completed the session I wasn’t consistent with it on a regular basis because I didn’t think I was doing it right and it wasn’t working. I would meditate once every few days or every now and then when I felt like it. Low and behold I was a wannabe meditator.

Then one day I decided I would keep it as simple as possible. After all Einstein said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

I made an agreement with myself that I would set a timer on my phone for 5 minutes, sit down, close my eyes and think whatever thoughts I wanted.

I could do it whenever I wanted to during the day but the goal was to do it once per day. However, if I missed a day it wasn’t a big deal either. I kept it as loose and flexible as possible so I could build the habit. From there I knew if I got consistent with it and started receiving benefits I couldn’t help but want to do more and stick with it.

And that’s what happened. I have been meditating virtually every day for the past 6+ years. Not because I forced myself to do it but because my body and mind have become accustomed to the benefits they gained from my meditation practice (the same as if you have developed the habit of working out and now can’t go more than a couple of days without exercise).

Some of them are:

  • Relaxed focus
  • Calmness
  • Presence
  • Clarity
  • Energy
  • Better decision making
  • Happier state of being

Now after building my practice for over six years I’ve come to realize three simple keys that I like to use to make my meditations fun, simple and easy.

Here they are:

  1. Smile
  2. Focus on your breath
  3. Set a timer for five minutes or less.

You can think whatever thoughts come into your head and even do a terrible job – there is no standard here, set the bar as low as possible. If you just focus on doing these three things you will do great. And if you don’t you will still do great because these are just guidelines, not rules.

The reason they are helpful is because smiling will keep you playful and happy. Focusing on your breath will keep you in your body and out of your head. And setting a timer for five minutes or less will give you an intended goal and keep it short so you can get small wins to build on your success.

That’s it. Those are three simple guidelines I offer to you. You can use them or use some of them. They aren’t the answer to meditation. No guru has the answer. All gurus started off right where you are. The only thing that makes them a ‘guru’ is they stuck with it.

I hope this helps you in your meditation journey.

Please share with anyone you believe will find value from this.

Thank you for reading!

Also, please give me feedback on Twitter.  What did you enjoy or take away from this? What do you suggest I improve upon?  Let me know! Just send a tweet to @naeemmahmood

Make it an epic day!

Naeem