It is not coincidence that all successful people set up goals. Many do it in writing and others picture it. Any good leader knows how important goal setting is.
When we have a goal, we have a clear destination, we prioritize important tasks, we control our future, we get motivated, we effectively manage our time, we live an effective life, and we accomplish our dreams more quickly, achieving better results.
When I did not know about goal setting, I had goals, but they were useless or vague. For example, some of my goals were to make more money, make my car faster, pay my bills, go party over the weekend, and become a waiter (because I was a busboy). I never really accomplished anything except for getting speeding tickets, getting drunk, and wasting the money I made. But yes, I paid my bills.
Now my life is different. I have accomplished a couple of goals that contribute to my happiness, to the world and to my freedom.
For example, I opened Custom Body Fitness Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, founded Canine Outreach Care and Rescue, wrote two books, and own two pieces of real estate. I know many others have achieved more than this, but the point is that goal setting has helped me to achieve my goals. I could never have accomplished these without the help of goal setting. Therefore, I know goal setting works.
Let’s clarify how goal setting helps…
For example, if you know you are losing 30 pounds because you want to improve your health and defeat diabetes, to fit in your wedding dress, or to increase your self-confidence, most likely you are going to be investing your time doing the right things because of your clear destination. We can compare this to going to the supermarket — when we know we are missing tomatoes to make a delicious sauce for our dinner, we go straight to get tomatoes. However, if we don’t know why we are going to the supermarket, we can end up buying potato chips, a pastry, canned food, candy or anything else that may not help us with our sauce.
We prioritize important tasks…
If the goal is losing those 30 pounds, we know that we need to eat on schedule, eat whole foods, stop eating junk food, exercise at least 30 minutes every day and stop drinking alcohol, among other things. Since we have a clear goal, all our energy is focused on achieving it, and even if we relapse, we get up and continue moving towards your goal.
Because our goal is important, instead of wasting time watching TV, surfing the web, or going out at night with friends, we invest the time in the priorities that will get us closer to our goal. Instead of going out, we cook; instead of waking up late, we wake up early and exercise.
Controlling our future…
Many of us lose our temper when we lose control of a situation. Having control of the future helps us be more secure and gives us the self-confidence that everything will be okay. While we are not certain about our future, goal setting is the best way to know what can happen in our future based on what we have control over. For example, if you don’t want to develop diabetes or be overweight, we can control that part of our lives by setting goals. On the other hand, if we have no goals and just make bad choices, the chances of us developing diabetes or gaining weight is greater.
It help us get motivated…
When we predict the future and we know that the future seems promising, we get motivated to practice the right habits. We get extremely inspired because the future seems great. For example, when things happen that were not supposed to happen and demoralize me, I continue practicing the right habits because my future motivates me. This happens to me when I project my future and set my goals. If there are no goals or promising future and we only live for what life brings us, we lose motivation when things become hard.
There are only 24 hours in one complete day. When we don’t have goals we do whatever we feel like depending on our mood. If we feel like sleeping long hours, we do; if we feel lazy and want to watch TV, we do; if we feel like eating junk food, we do because there is no goal at which to aim. This can be compared to shooting. If we don’t have a target we can shoot at the sky, the tree, the car, the other tree and anything that we can think about. Like I mentioned before, when we have goals we invest our time meticulously towards our goals instead of just doing what we feel like because of the mood we are in.
Living an effective life…
Many of you already know that being in shape helps in many ways, from increasing self-esteem, having a better appearance, losing weight, having more energy, being independent, avoiding diseases to setting an example for our family. When we set goals and achieve them, we have conquered only part of our real purpose. We become more knowledgeable, resilient, and a better person over all. That gives us the courage to continue moving forward and live our purpose, leaving a legacy as we do it. This not only improves our lives and our families but improves the whole world.
Setting goals is the fastest way to get to our destination, realizing our dreams.
When I set my goals, I keep in mind a couple of things:
Goals should not be vague. For example, “I want to lose weight.” If you said that, you could get rid of an arm and lose weight, dehydrate yourself or even lose one pound and you’ve achieved that goal. So it should be clear: How much fat do you want to lose per month? Is fat the only thing you want to lose? Do you want to add muscle? Or do you only want to fit in your wedding dress? Or do you want a toned back to show when wearing your dress?
Setting goals should have a purpose, and the purpose should give you a positive sustainable result. For example, my goal was to make my car fast to feel cool and to win street races, but how would that contribute to my future and fulfillment?
Losing weight for the sake of losing weight does not give you enough motivation. If you focus on losing weight, it does not mean anything until you attach it to your emotions. When your emotions are involved your motivation increases. For example, losing 20 pounds to fit into your wedding dress sounds better than just losing 20 pounds. Or losing 30 pounds because I am tired of not enjoying life and doing what I love to do such as hiking, running or anything with my friends because I am embarrassed when they have to wait for me. If your mom died of a heart attack and you don’ t want to die the same way, that is also attached to your emotions.
Set a time limit…
If you don’t set a specific time, you could take all your life trying to achieve your goal. For example, when I bought my first apartment I wanted the freedom not to pay a mortgage, and that helped me to create a specific goal to know how much the apartment should cost and when I wanted to pay it off. Even though I asked for a five-year loan, I ended up paying it in two and a half years. So this goal has a purpose: I don’t want to pay rent, and I want to have my freedom. The time I gave myself to pay off the loan was 5 years; it is very specific. If I hadn’t done that, I might have gotten distracted with fancy cars and wasted my money on one of them when I can’t afford it and have it take 30 years or longer to pay my mortgage.
I did not spend money on unnecessary things, I worked hard to make that money; I could see myself owning the place so I wouldn’t have to pay rent. That gave me the motivation to continue working and improving myself even when I didn’t feel like it. I managed my time and invested it into working and saving money instead of spending it. My life was more effective thinking about the future, and I am living my dream. Same goes to your weight loss, if you have it clear why you want to lose weight and set a time limit, you may even get faster to your desired weight.
Keep track of goals:
The fact that I could see how much money I was paying and how fast I was saving it gave me the motivation to pay the apartment off even faster. When you take measurements and see real results, you know where all the effort of eating healthily and exercising is going, giving you the endorphins that you need to continue moving forward, motivating you even more to get there.
Now that I mentioned chemicals, let me mention how the following two special chemicals work…
Is a happy chemical that we release when we achieve goals. This is one of the reasons visioning our dreams and writing down our goals is so important. If you remember when you were a child and thought about Santa Claus, you thought about the presents. Those goals were so exciting that we even behaved and did what our parents told us to do to achieve the goals. When we went on a trip or passed the exam or anything like that, we got excited because dopamine is what we release when we achieve our goals.
Is what keeps us focused with no pain to get to the goal. When a runner experiences the “runners high” or a weight lifter feels the best in a weight lifting session and don’t really feel pain, the reason is they are releasing endorphins, which helps mask the pain. This is what endorphin does: covers the pain until they reach their goal. However, after hours or days they feel sore because the endorphin levels are lower.
This is why it is important to set goals for success…
Let’s recollect everything we talked about today.
Goals are important because we have a clear destination, we do the needed work to get there, we prioritize important tasks, we control our future, we get motivated, we effectively manage our time, we live an effective life, and we accomplish our dreams more quickly, therefore achieving better and faster results.
When we set goals, we should make sure we take into consideration:
Be specific, know your purpose, set a time scale and keep track of your progress.
If we set goals and follow the plan, it helps us to be high every day, and we won’t need cocaine, antidepressants or any other drug because we naturally get dopamine and endorphins.
I have heard stories about people from other cultures who moved to the U.S. and started gaining weight. That generation and the ones that followed starting suffering from overweight problems including some of its diseases. Keep in mind that these immigrants had no overweight issues before moving. They adapt to the American life as they incorporate. After they move, it takes a couple of years before they start to gain weight.
The food they eat and the sedentary lifestyle they adopt are part of the problem…
We live in a first world country, and we are dealing with overweight issues even with all the resources we have to stay healthy. This leads me to think about other issues.
We live in a country with a lot of opportunities. The U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world. This is the land of opportunity. This makes me wonder: With so much opportunity, why do people still commit suicide? We have the highest rate of suicide, and we consume at least 80 percent of the cocaine in the world. This means that many people are not happy here, and they need to kill themselves or do some kind of drug to escape from reality.
Now, not everyone who comes to the U.S. or lives in the U.S. has overweight problems or kills themselves or does drugs. There are also many happy people. For example, my dad came to visit the U.S., and he was overweight. After 5 months he was in his best shape ever, losing 30 pounds.
When I moved to the U.S., I was lost. I was not happy. I was starting to get affected by the superficial messages television sends, society, and the lifestyle that many desire. I became jealous and found myself trying to fit into society. I started to buy things I could not afford such as brand-name clothes and went to restaurants that were out of my budget. The more I tried to copy other people’s lives, the more unhappy I became. To this add the lack of self-empathy and emotions from others. No wonder why people think about killing themselves and doing drugs. We feel unaccepted and out of place like there is something wrong with us.
There are many theories about what exactly the term “genetic” means…
While I believe that many of our behaviors, diseases and traits may be genetic, I also believe that all these are also affected by environment.
Genetic is a term that many of us misunderstand. The term has become dangerous. We think that genetic means that we are predetermined to a certain disease, behavior or even destiny because of our genes. There are many studies done now that show that genetic is something different than what we believe. To those who study genes it usually is a biological term to define how life is being affected. In other words, environment affects a gene at all times. So genes can be altered by environment, and to some degree environment affects our lives.
My point is that many people come with healthy genes to a different environment and start developing health and behavior issues. But not only that, our environment also affects the decisions we make. For example, acceptance is a human need, and for us to be accepted, we are willing to do anything it takes. This is one of the reasons why gangs exist, teens start drinking, we spend a lot of money on cars and clothes, we give up to sexual pressure and we make many decisions that go against our beliefs.
While it is true that many people who are affected by environment are predisposed to diseases or behaviors, it is also true that some are not. But that is another story.
The truth is that environment plays a big role in people’s lives…
and you can notice this if you have had the opportunity to observe how all cultures behave differently throughout the world and throughout time. They have different beliefs and problems to deal with.
I used to be very egocentric thinking only about my own benefit. My life has changed, and I now think about others. I think about the generations to come such as your children, animals, and whoever and whatever is going to inhabit this place. My goal does not have to be your goal, of course. But if you care about the health of others, it is very important to start thinking about each decision we make and understand that these decisions do affect the environment, which in turn will affect others’ lives.
I could tell you that I do this only for everyone else and our earth, but I would be lying. Even though I am not as egocentric as I used to be, I still think about me. Each time I help someone else, I feel better, I help my business and my health improves. In addition, each time I have problems the solutions come to me very easily because I think about everyone.
I am not sure if the psychology of it is real, but I have proven that the law of do unto others like you want to be done unto you is true. When I was egocentric and never helped with money or my time, it seemed like negative things were always happening. My car would break down when I needed it the most, and I had no money. I was broke most of the time. I did not like my job, and I was not happy. I never had a sense of progress.
My conscience is aware about the many decisions I make. I won’t feel successful or at peace if I see people suffering and don’t do anything. I can’t just be a spectator, buying an expensive car just because I want to feed my ego. I am not saying that buying an expensive car is wrong. I think many people deserve it because of the value they have put into this world, and my plan is to get a nice car one day, but I won’t get it until I feel I deserve it for helping so many animals, people and the earth overall.
My goal is to improve the environment where I live to improve other people’s lives…
It will not only help the generation to come, but it will also help me by making me feel great and leaving a legacy.
I come from a very poor family, and I raised myself starting from age 14. I used to sleep in cardboard. I used to make less than 5 dollars a day and survived on that. I wouldn’t think about buying a taco because I was afraid of the money I would have to spend. I had two sets of pants that I wore for more than 2 years. I never really had money. I was poor. But I was happy.
I moved to the U.S. and became rich. I had it all, things I never thought I would have. Back then the CD was the hot trend. I would buy all my favorite CDs, I could buy clothes, as many tacos as I wanted. I even bought a car. I had money. I literally became rich. The problem was that even though I did not have anything before, I still wanted more than what I had. I got a better job, made more money and get more material things, better trips, a better car and I would still feel empty.
No matter how much money I made and how many things I got, I would always want more.
Once I understood that I could decide what to think about the environment, I could take control of my thoughts, my actions and therefore my life. Many times my belief was that cancer could just strike anyone, and I was no exception. I thought that my body would adapt to chemicals and toxins and things that I was not supposed to eat or drink or be around. I was not responsible for my actions and usually blamed someone else for my situation.
One day, it just happened. I started to study human behavior, the environment, psychology, the power of the mind, cultures and I found out that yes, the environment affects everyone, but by the end you decide how you let the environment affect you. I was 28 when I made the realization.
However, it can be difficult for younger people…
who don’t have this knowledge and take adults as authorities — to control their thoughts and understand that the world they live in is not a set reality. Reality is what they decide to think about the environment. This is why so many young people can’t be successful in their lives and feel rejected, commit suicide or do drugs.
The better the environment we create for the next generation, the better our next generation will be, avoiding some suffering along the way and improving this world in general.
Let’s help the next generation to succeed by changing the environment for them and by changing ourselves, we change the environment.
Reading Helped me with my depression…
One of the habits that have completely changed my life and helped me become successful in many areas of my life is reading. When I was in depression, reading gave me the answer to overcome it. When I was failing in my business, reading gave me the answer to make it grow. When I was unsuccessful in my public relations, reading gave me the answer to improve it. When life is not working the way I want it to, reading gives me an explanation to understand or overcome such issues.
If I need an answer or to improve myself, reading is one of the keys. And one of the best books I have ever read and that has the best life instructions is the Bible. It is a difficult book to understand, but many theologists have helped me to understand many of the stories or parables.
I am by no means an expert on the Bible. And I think I will never be even though I’ve almost finished reading it. I am probably going to read the Bible many times before I die and still not understand it 100 percent. It has so many secrets, from the whole Bible story, to the individual books, to verse and parables. However, that does not mean that I am completely ignorant about it.
If you follow me, you probably have read the article Be Prepared For The Unpredictable (you can find it on the Post Independent website or my website, or simply search for it online). It talks about how life is not all happiness or all sadness, yet many of us think that when depression hits in any way or form that is how life will be forever. But that too “shall pass.”
This is what I think Jesus means when he says:
“Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their father treated the false prophets.”
That is important to know to be ready for bad times. I have noticed that many people do not prepare for bad times, and when bad times come, they become worried and irritated. They start getting desperate and make bad decisions.
For example, when someone has a good job and is making good money, they don’t save money for the future or for undesired events, and when the economy collapses, or they lose their jobs, or the car breaks down, their response is to be upset with life and borrow some money or sell their house to get out of debt and get their head above water. I have been there, and I know the feeling.
The same reasoning applies with their health. Many drink, eat junk food and processed foods, don’t exercise and make bad health decisions and years later become ill to the point they are desperate to find a cure for their illness.
Nevertheless the verse continues with this:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.”
That also means that bad times will not be there forever, that the person who cried will also smile. So this is only a cycle. For instance, if you lost your job, you are ill or have family problems or any other issue, it means that is going to pass and you will get to smile again. That does not mean that you should not work to get out of the downside and put effort into it. It means that your life will change for the better soon and your effort will pay off.
The truth is that no one is exempt from these lows and highs — no matter your education, economic status, marital status, nationality, religion, age or anything.
One of the requirements of my career is listening to people and finding out why they have not achieved their goals. And this is one of the reasons: They can’t handle the down side of life. They forget that the moment, weeks, months or even years are only a part of their life, not their whole life, and they stop moving forward.
So if you’re having a storm of bad news…
think about it, and you will find that something similar happened at some point in your past and you overcame it. You will overcome it again, and you will be smiling. Also, when you are smiling, be ready for the downside of life, because it will come. The good news is that you will be ready for it, and it won’t be so painful.
There was a man who came to collect fruit from his fig tree every year…
but each time he came back the tree had no fruit to offer. By the third year the man was upset with the tree and asked his servant to cut it down because all it was doing was taking from the soil. The servant suggested to give the tree another chance and he would work on the soil, and if the tree doesn’t bear fruit by the fourth year, they will take it down.
Simon Sinek is a marketing expert, and he talks about an experiment he performed. He persuaded a homeless woman to change her sign that said something like, “I am homeless,” to, “If you only give once a month, think of me next time.” She made more money in two hours than she used to make all day. I saw a video with the same effect. There was a blind guy asking for money, and the sign said, “Help me. I am blind.” A lady stopped and changed his sign to, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” Then this guy made more money, too.
In the past I remember working only for money. I wanted everyone to look at me and focus on my car and my clothes and to give me more, and I was not genuinely thankful for people’s services. I learned to say thank you, but it was from my teeth out.
Many of us think about our needs only and what others can do for us…
but never think about how we can contribute to others’ lives. This is what made the difference in the signs of the homeless people. While many of the homeless people focus on “help me” by writing “I am homeless,” “I have 5 children,” “I am a veteran” and so on, the new message in the signs focuses on others instead of themselves. Now the homeless person is doing a legitimate transaction. He or she is offering “feeling good for giving,” and we are giving the person money.
It feels good to help. I have stopped to help people move their broken-down cars from the middle of traffic. I have helped people change their flat tire by the highway or load up their trucks when they lost equipment on the highway, I contribute monthly to different charities, and I look forward to see how I can help people who want and need help.
We always want something in exchange when we do something, and oftentimes the exchange for helping others is just the feeling we get from it. I am not only helping others because I want to be the nice guy and I want recognition. I am doing it because it makes me feel good. Not too long ago I went to the pool and I saw two guys struggling with the lockers. They lost their two quarters, and I had two extra ones. One guy was going to run downstairs and change his bill. I just told him that I had two extra quarters and gave them to him. The other guy told him to give me his one dollar bill. I know we’re talking about just two quarters. I told the guy to keep his bill. I almost wanted to tell him, “Don’t take my joy away. I prefer my joy than the extra 50 cents.” No matter if we do it with time, physical effort or money, we always end up buying the feeling of helping.
I learned that we release oxytocin when we help others…
This hormone contributes to our happiness. The best thing about helping others is that not only the person who is helping releases more oxytocin but so does the person who is being helped and the people watching the charitable event.
I can say that part of my success in life is thanks to practicing the act of helping others without expecting something in exchange. Our members at Custom Body Fitness can perceive my intentions, and therefore they trust us with their health.
When I was focusing only on me, I was miserable. I thought I was happy because I did not know better or how to improve my happiness. All I knew was taking from people. It was very hard to drop $2 in the church basket. Can you imagine giving $5? I was stuck. And no matter how hard I tried, I was always broke, and I felt unloved. I had three jobs where I was being paid well. But I spent my money either on partying, on material things that lose value, or fixing my car. I was like the fig tree. I was not giving fruit. Thank God He gave me another year to show that I can provide fruit.
Now, I don’t have these problems. Helping others not only makes me happy, it also helps me with the law of “what you sow is what you reap.” I can see myself progressing in life. In addition, many people accept me because they know I care about them, and being accepted is a human need.
I don’t think anymore about others serving me only. I think about how I can improve people’s lives. What can I do extra? What do I need to learn? How I can contribute to positively improve the community? Now it is mostly about others and not much about me.
When people are serving me in a restaurant, retail store or anywhere else, I appreciate their job, and I understand that what they do is not easy, and thanks to them I am getting the service or product that I need. We are all here to serve, and when we understand this, life is fulfilling.
When we don’t give fruit we end up like the fig tree, ready to be taken down. When we give fruit everyone likes us and they are ready to come to us and take our fruit to use it. This is the reason fruit trees exist and we exist: to provide for others.
I have being paying close attention to how our body and our life transforms about every 7 years. For example, our cells are replaced every 7 years, our bones are replaced every 7 years and we are programmed for life in our first 7 years. I remember reading in a book by Carlos Cuauhtémoc Sanchez where he mentions that if we go back and check our pictures from seven years ago we will have changed our way of dressing, our facial futures, our hair style and other features.
What really caught my attention was a video of Bruce Lipton explaining how what we experience in our first 7 years influences how we are going to behave for our rest of our life (unless we do something about it). He further explains that our genes do not have any control over our future.
For example, if in his first 7 years of life a child has been taught to live in fear and he has been overprotected, he will behave like that for the rest of his life. If the child was abused or was taught violence for those 7 years, the child will become a violent adult. This will become his blueprint for life.
This is why it is so difficult to help people change their ways when they’re adults. They’re already programmed to be the way they are. This is the subconscious program that kicks in every time. Many people blame their behavior on their genes, but really it was the behavior that they were taught starting at birth, and because our parents are the ones with such behavior, we think it’s genetic.
It is like a machine that is controlled by a program. It will do only what the software or the program is commanding. To help the machine behave differently, a different program needs to be downloaded.
People who want to change their life do have an option to be happy instead of negative or to be in shape instead of overweight. People who don’t have a successful relationship can have one. People who are alcoholic can become sober. This is a matter of choice, and I will disclose what I have discovered in a moment.
Let’s go back to the 7 year period. Like I said in the beginning, every 7 years we are a completely different person depending on our environment, food, beliefs, acts and other things.
For example, let’s say that all you eat is junk food the first 7 years. By the time you’re 7 you have already developed a disease, or you are overweight. Or let’s say that your parents are negative and that is what you learned in your first 7 years. By age 7 you are already negative about your life.
To begin with, junk food is tasty and addicting (or if all you know is being negative) and you believe that is who you are and you don’t see your behavior, it will be very difficult to change the way you are eating (or your thought pattern).
Nevertheless, you may become aware of the harm junk food is doing to you and understand that to succeed in life and be happy what you need to do is be optimistic and that you have a choice about it. When you decide you would like to change your way, it’s the first step and the most important one you need to make. Now, I am only saying you have done this for 7 years. There are people who have done it for their whole life — 25, 40 or 60 years. The faster you find the behavior the easier it is to change. The longer you practice the behavior the harder it will be to change it.
In the past I was a mentally lazy person, an impulsive shopper, an alcoholic, addicted to cigarettes and destructive relationships, and quick to get angry or emotional in general. I did not know better. I honestly thought I was that way and I could never change my personality. I did not change for 28 years until I understood that I could be better, and if I wanted to be happy I needed to change my life. There is when I made the change. Even though I was changing every 7 years before my real change, the previous changes didn’t amount to much because I was continuing practicing many of the same behaviors.
It was not until I started reading, being conscious of my actions, listening to people who are more capable than me, meditating, eating healthily, setting goals, planning, saving money, forgetting about materialism and caring about others that I started to change, and my life reflects the change compared to 7 years ago (Many people don’t believe who I used to be when I tell them, and people who know me from my past don’t believe the change I’ve made).
Do this experiment: Go back to your picture collection and compare your pictures every 7 years, and you will notice the difference. If you compare pictures that are 2 or 3 years apart there will not be a big difference.
Here is the key to changing your life. You need to be aware and make an effort to do the things that are difficult for you. For example, if you never exercise and you quit a week after you start every time, you need to understand that you will be quitting every time unless you make a conscious effort not to; it will be difficult to exercise unless you decide to do it no matter what stands in your way. When your subconscious takes over, you will quit again, but when you consciously think you need to start exercising again, you will. This will be a fight until your new behavior gets recorded in your subconscious, and then you won’t have to fight any longer because it is a new habit.
If you have a negative thinking pattern, you can start recording your thoughts, or you can ask people around you to tell you when you are negative and you need to change one of those thoughts to a positive one or focus on the positive. For sure, you will relapse and think negatively again, but you need to consciously think positively again. It will take time before you change your thinking, but once again, once you have done it long enough, the fight you had in the beginning will be there no more.
All your fights will be difficult at first, but after a while you will need no effort once your subconscious has recorded the new program. It will take a lot of repetition and persistence to do it, but it will happen.
So if you want to change your way and be a better person, lose weight, have a successful relationship, have a job that you love or open your own business, be healthy, stop living paycheck to paycheck, be optimistic, and be successful in all areas of your life, you need to start practicing new habits. You need to start now; you will relapse many times, but you will be on your way to being a different person in 7 years.
I personally can tell you I am so happy I have changed my life for a better one even though it was difficult in the beginning. The only thing I regret is that I did not do it 7 or 14 years earlier; I would be in a better place now.
It is never too late to start enjoying your life, but don’t waste any more time living a life that you don’t truly enjoy. Stop blaming it on your genes and take responsibility for your happiness. When you’re 7 years older you will be glad you did.
I travel to Mexico every year, and people usually ask me days before my trip if I am excited about the trip, and my answer is no. I also remember when I was about to get my knee surgery I got asked the day before if I was nervous. And hours before my seminar presentation, I was asked if I get nervous about being on stage. The answers are no.
I have learned to live the moment and not think about the future…
However, many times I forget. For example, many times I start to meditate, and I am thinking about reading because I have not read; or I am reading and I am thinking about how poor my meditation was; or I want to go back to meditate while I am writing my next column. Even though I have learned to live the moment, many times I need to be reminded about how important it is to be in the moment.
When I live the moment I enjoy my time, and everything is happening within the moment. Not only that, but I am more efficient by listening to people, not forgetting things, getting my ideas clear and putting all my energy into what I am doing.
This is why I don’t get excited before traveling or while traveling or nervous about my knee surgery or my speech. I start to get excited when the airplane lands or nervous when I am getting the anesthesia or when I am stepping on stage.
I have seen many people wasting their time with their loved ones when they are having dinner together and texting on their phone…
These people are not living the moment and are lost in their phone. Have you had a conversation with someone who is not present? While you are focused on the conversation the other person is thinking about something else. How beneficial do you think this conversation can be?
Where there is focus, energy flows. I heard this somewhere. The truth is that whatever we focus on we put energy into, and many people put energy into the “not real world.”
In this same way many people live in fear…
Many people worry so much about the future and things that have not happened yet. They worry about cancer, losing their jobs, losing a loved one, getting into an accident, getting injured, about many things that can happen. They aren’t living in the present. Other people are stuck in the past suffering for what happened and want to bring the past to the present to fix the mistakes. While it’s true that it’s okay to visit our past to learn not to make the same mistakes, it is painful and a waste of time trying to change the past.
Can you imagine how much time people spend in their past or future?
With this I am not saying that we should ignore reality and not be ready for any of the negative situations that can happen in the future, but instead of worrying, it is important to take action to prevent them. To take action to protect our future is very smart. However, to worry about something that may not happen does not make sense. One suffers more in the anticipation of the pain that something can bring than from the event itself.
On the other hand, many people get very excited about things that are supposed to happen:
a wedding, a new car, a new house, a new job, an event — and when these don’t come to fruition, they get upset and distressed. Once again, I am not saying not to have faith and stop working to make your dream or event come true. What I am saying is it’s important to live the moment and enjoy the present, let the future manifest and the past rest. The past is not real anymore, and the future does not exist yet.
The present is real. Many times we let the best moments pass because we continue thinking about the past and future. This specific present moment will never come back, and when you are into the next moment you will wish you would have enjoyed that specific moment.
Many people are looking forward to not being single anymore, and they want a relationship. When they are in a relationship, they want to get married. Once they are married, they’re thinking about children. Then they want their children to grow up and be free. When they are alone then they realize that they never enjoyed their life and they were so busy living in the future that their past is gone. Now trying to live the past and fix what is done and long gone does not make sense. It makes sense to live in the present, doesn’t it?
I have learned to feel the moment…
to look for the unique things of it, to listen and to watch. Living the moment is to understand the emotions that I am having within the moment. If I am happy in the moment, I think about what’s making me happy or if I am sad I think about why. We all have our moments of sadness, happiness, anger, joy, deception, pride, embarrassments, confidence, etc.
Being present has helped me live fully, make better choices, control my emotions, be a better person, help others, find my mistakes, empathize with others, express myself better, and live my life.
I still make mistakes, of course. I still visit my past and learn from it. I have goals set up and work on them no matter what. Plan and take action, but I continue doing my best to live the moment.
She started crying as she was relieving her stress,
She continued adding more details to the story.
It reminded me of the story of another of our members. She was the opposite…
“Many people compliment me because of the great body I have, and I feel uncomfortable and I tell them I owe a lot to my genes.”
“To your genes? So that means that you just started and soon you look like this?” I asked.
“Not really. I have been active since I was a child. I rode my bike everywhere, I was in sports, and I remember staying active all the time. My family always ate healthily and never gave us sodas or candies. My parents are a very good model to follow, so I am doing the same thing with my children. So I guess I have been active and eat healthily, and that is the reason why I am in shape.”
We have two different stories here:
one person who is coming from a very dysfunctional family and another who has great role models. The first member is in her third marriage, and the second has a very successful marriage. One does not have her emotions under control, and the other one does. One is struggling with her kids, and the other one has children who are adopting good habits.
This is not luck at all. The decisions they took earlier in their lives put them in this current situation. Therefore, for the first person to lose weight, no pill, surgery, shake or easy weight loss program will do it. She needs to undo her habits and replace them with good habits. To become active and stop being lazy, to be sober and stop drinking, to stop overeating and eat because she needs to — to control any problem — first she needs to understand that she has a problem. Then she needs to break the habit by planning, taking small steps and understanding that relapses are normal and they will become less frequent as she strengthen the new good habit.
The second member needs is a good program that she’s comfortable with where the routine is set up for her.
Making wrong decisions is not uncommon…
This is the message Jesus sent when he said, “Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone.” I am very aware of this. I know better, and I still make mistakes. Yet relapses are not as common as they used to be when I made unconscious decisions, but I still suffer from them (sorry, I am still human). It doesn’t feel good when I make a mistake because I know I am going to suffer the consequences and I will lose time and whatever goal is valuable to me.
Everything starts with our parents, their beliefs and the environment where they raised us. For example, in the case of our first member, she made many mistakes when she was raising her first son because she did not have good parental models, and no one taught her how to be a mom. She failed in her first marriage because no one taught her how to look for the right man, and maybe she was not the right woman either. Her beliefs about food and money came from her parents and were reinforced throughout her life by her peers. She did the best she could. Now she is paying the consequences of all the bad decisions she’s made. And not stressing out won’t help, but stressing out won’t help either. To fix her life, she needs to study her past and understand her mistakes, so she won’t make the same mistakes again and again. She needs to start making different decisions to help her son, work on her marriage, lose weight and reverse her diabetes.
I believe many of us have the same problem. We want all our current problems that were created by our past wrong decisions to go away over night…
For many of our members what they are experiencing now are not the results of last night’s decision or a genetic problem but are results of all the decisions they have made throughout their lives. This means that to fix many of our present problems we need to start making better decisions now to expect better results in the future.
I also made many wrong decisions until I turned 28 years of age. This is why I fell into depression, was in debt, failed my family and had subpar health. When I started making better decisions, my life changed — not right away, but it changed. Now I am in a different place. Can you imagine if I had made better decisions since the day I was born? I would be in a better position today. However, I did not know better, just like many of our members. And I still do not know better. I still make mistakes; I still have limited beliefs that are not letting me progress. But it helps me when I understand that many of my present problems are the results of many bad decisions, they are my responsibility, no else’s.
We all are going to continue making mistakes by making the wrong decisions…
However, the more aware we are of the consequence, the less prone to make bad decisions we’ll be. We all have weaknesses, and fighting them takes more than strength. It takes a plan and a Superior Power by our side.
My hope is always for our members to change their ways to a better life and find their happiness and understand that present problems can’t be solved superficially. They need time and effort. I have been in their shoes before.
I am very straightforward with our members at Custom Body Fitness…
This is one of the reasons we can help them get fit. Many times I seem to be rude, and our members know that. But from the bottom of their heart, they know I care, and this is why I tell them the truth about their results.
One of the things I have noticed is that many people don’t know the difference between excuses and reasons. I had a conversation with a new member, and I started the conversation by pointing out what we need to work on first. She is afraid of pain and injury like many people, of course. Who wants pain or being injured?
She told me about a muscle spasm in her upper back she got from separating two dogs during a fight. She started the conversation by saying that it was a poor excuse not to come to session, but it was painful. To which I replied that it is not an excuse but a reason according to her brain.
So let’s figure out what is an excuse, a false reason and a real reason.
The truth is that our new member does not know the difference between an injury and a muscle spasm, so her brain is sending a signal that something wrong is going on in her body, which is true. The muscle spasm is painful, and if she doesn’t know how to decode that, her brain is asking her to stop all activities to not aggravate the muscle spasm.
It is very normal that she is afraid, because all humans run from pain. So the reality is that she is not making an excuse. Her brain is just decoding the pain as a threat, and the only thing she can think is to stop exercising not to aggravate it. This is what I call a false reason, because it is a reason. There is pain, there is fear and there is an impediment. However, she can still workout, but she does not know that.
Here is another example of a false reason. The other day a member tripped and fell and got a bruised knee. She got hit on the knee and there is tissue damage, but it’s nothing that can be aggravated by exercise. You don’t have to be a doctor or have a degree in science to figure this out. Of course, just like the muscle spasm, there will be pain with movement.
However, in either of these examples experts in health and fitness recommend some level of movement and use. The movement and use will allow blood flow and muscle movement, which allows the injury to heal faster.
The truth is that many people are so afraid of any pain or small injury that they stop their activities. Like I said before, I don’t think this is an excuse. It is just that the person is not well-informed, is not used to this type of pain and does what he or she thinks is the best for her or him.
When I was 28 years of age, I dislocated my knee. My tibia completely came out medially, spraining three ligament of the bone, ACL, PCL and MCL. I could not move my knee. The strength of my knee was lost instantly. It was painful, and I could not put any weight on it. That night I went to bed thinking about what could have happened to my knee. It was easy to conclude that, because of the
way my bone was, my ligaments were gone. I think, even though I was in pain, what really kept me awake was being worried about not being able to walk normally again or lift weights.
When there is a broken bone, a sprained ligament, a strained tendon, a funeral to attend, a fever keeping you in bed, a court session, one of your loved ones got into an accident or is in the hospital, delivering a baby … You get the point. Those are real reasons not to exercise and give yourself a break.
We all have excuses for our poor performance. As a matter of fact, if we are not aware of our false thinking, our excuses come automatically. For example, one of my bad habits that I have improved this year was to be late to almost all my appointments. In the morning, I usually start my drive at 4:40 a.m. It takes me 12 minutes to get to my destination. At the time there is no traffic. Sometimes I forget about traffic when I am driving later than 6 a.m. When I am driving, my brain starts to think about all the excuses I can tell my client in case I am late: “There was a lot of traffic,” “All the lights were red,” “The person in front of me did not want to move from the passing lane,” “There was an accident” … But I catch myself thinking all this. When I arrive, if I am late, the only thing I say is I am so sorry. I know your time is valuable and I messed up. It won’t happen again. How can I fix my mistake?
If I remember there is more traffic after 6 a.m, I can leave 10 minutes earlier and arrive on time. I need to wake up 10 minutes earlier or sacrifice some of my early activities. I can stop blaming the traffic lights, the person in front of me, the traffic, the accident, etc. Not giving myself enough time to be on time to my destination is my fault not anyone else’s.
Because I know how important people’s time is (because I value my time) and because I want to become a better person, I stop my excuses and take responsibility. I want results in my life. I want to improve.
However, yes, I won’t lie, many times I do come out with excuses. For example when someone is trying to sell me something I don’t need and I already told the person no and they continue to bug me, then I can make any kind of excuse, but that is because I don’t care. Excuses only show how much you care.
So when people come with stories — and I hear these stories often — such as “I am too busy at work,” “I was too tired to come,” “I did not feel good today,” “I stayed up late last night,” “I have too much to do,” I think all these are excuses. The reality is that their weight loss is not important. They are just looking for excuses to justify their lack of commitment to their health. I am not saying there is something wrong by coming up with excuses, but until the person becomes responsible and clarifies the real reason why he or she did not make it to the session, there will always be something or someone else to blame.
I admit, I need to work at not making excuses, consciously fighting my false thinking and accepting responsibility for what happens to me and determining if I am committed enough to my desires. I recommend you do the same and be aware of making excuses. It will help you a lot to face reality, and you will deliver better results because now you are responsible for your future and the consequences, not your excuses.
Now, it all depends how committed you are to your weight loss program. Yes, I think everyone should be okay with other people’s excuses. However, if you are making excuses, you are not fooling the person who you’re giving the excuses to. You are fooling yourself. You should also know that your excuses will not deliver results on your weight loss program.
So if you have an internal fight and you don’t know if you have false reasons, real reasons or you are making excuses, think again and be true and honest with yourself.
As I mentioned before, many times you have false reasons to avoid the new positive behavior and give yourself a break, but this won’t help with your goal. It is important that you inform yourself and think differently to overcome any false reason that prevents you from reaching your goal.
Also, don’t be so hard on yourself if you really have a reason not to exercise because there are real reasons that are going to stop you from practicing your new positive behavior. Take care of those real reasons and as soon as possible get back on your feet and continue with your weight loss program.
And remember, if you make an excuse, it won’t help you deliver results, and you’re lying to yourself, no one else.
An event is an occurrence happening at a determinable time and place…
(I got the definition online). Events can be negative or positive, and I believe events are always good. It all depends upon our perception of the event. For example, dislocating my knee was good because I learned deeply how the knee works, and I can relate to many others who get the same surgery, and I can help them to overcome such injury. Knee dislocation seems negative, but I turned it positive.
Events can take advancement and time from our lives or add advancement and time to our lives. For instance, paying for my surgery required money that took time from my life to earn. At the same time it paused my goals, and I needed to start my fitness level almost from the beginning. This is not bad, but it took time and advancement from my life.
Death is an event. It is negative for many people but positive for many others. It is painful to lose a family member, but at the same time it can make people be aware or push them to change to a better life. I read the story of a young man who was drinking and driving with his friends. He got into a car accident, killing one of his friends and sending the rest of them to the hospital. Now he is spending years in prison for vehicular homicide.
The event was the car accident…
This can become positive by making families aware of why alcohol is so dangerous. Many other young men and families can turn their lives around by being against alcohol, improving the community and saving lives. The truth is that now this young man has lost time and advancement in his life.
Let’s go back a little bit. Let’s say that this young man made a different decision, and instead of getting into alcohol and partying he put all the energy into studying and being the best he could be. He might have become a heart surgeon, a lawyer, a chemist, a philanthropist, the next star or anything that could add value to the community and his family.
But … he decided to choose a different event delivering different consequences, changing the course of his life and others’ lives completely.
A decision makes an event, this is my point…
Mother Teresa, for example, had it easy after becoming a sister. She was very comfortable as a sister at the Catholic Church. Until one day she suffered so much from seeing the poor die. She was about to take the train to Calcutta when a man yelled, “I am thirsty.” She went back to helped the man lying on the floor, who died in her arms. That was the “moment of change,” the event. She made miracles after that. She could have continued teaching from the church and had a comfortable life.
Bernard Nathason was an abortion doctor. He performed more than 60,000 abortions. He was the director of the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health, the largest freestanding abortion facility in the world. One day Nathason saw a video of his practice that was recorded by a small camera. He saw how his instruments took the arms, legs and head of the fetus, which was alive and fighting for its life. It was vivid and sad. This was the “moment of change,” an event, for Nathason. After this he became prolife and against his career.
Bill Wilson had a rough life. Dad and mom left him when he was young. His loved one died after a surgery, and he could find peace only in alcohol. He lost his career, his reputation and on many occasions his freedom because of alcohol. People around him wanted to help him, but no one knew how. He was destined to either die of alcoholism or live under supervision. It was not until he cried out loud to God that he started to rehab. Allowing himself to cry was the “moment of change,” an event that he took to free himself from alcohol. After this he met another rehab alcoholic named Bob Smith, and they created AA.
There are many people with similar stories, such as Abraham Lincoln, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn and Buddha.
After a tragedy many people find the good in themselves and make the right decisions to be happy…
I also suffered before I changed. An event happened, and the moment of truth revealed itself in my head. I started to make better decisions. Tragedies happen to everyone. You are not the only one. These tragedies are not reserved for you and only you. They happen to everyone. I am one of them. The truth is what you are going to do after it happens…
I just thought of a joke I heard no too long ago: On a rainy day two salesmen look out the window. One of them said, “What a terrible day to make sales. I better stay home.” The other salesman saw the same storm and said, “These are good times to make sales. Everyone stays home, especially the salesmen.”
You see, the truth is not the event but what you do afterwards…
You have the power to change anytime and change at any event. It will always be how you see events. What you believe of events will enslave you or empower you. Losing weight can be part of your change and your decisions; so can your finances, relationship, career, health and happiness. It is your life. You can feel happy by making a change in yourself or you can waste time making the wrong decisions.
It is what you decide to do after the event. Choose wisely.
When I was young I liked to play video games. Back in the day when Nintendo was the new toy I played a game that is called Mega Man. I loved that game. It had different levels and bosses to defeat. This is one of the reasons why I used to wake up in the morning. If I could, I would play all morning, I would take a break to eat and go back to play until dark or until I was tired enough to go to sleep.
Even though the game was fun, I was defeated many times and I needed to repeat a mission and I spend hours doing it. I think the difficulty made it even more fun.
When I learned how to drive, I was the same way. I am from a very poor family. We had no money for shoes, so a car was an unreachable dream. Therefore, I started hanging out with people who work as drivers. I bugged them and get on their nerves until they taught me how to drive.
When I decided to get in shape, I was obsessively exercising until I reached my goal. When I was learning English, I read, wrote and practice until I could communicate. When there is a problem I don’t stop until I find a solution. When I find something I want, I don’t stop until I get it.
This is called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
My level of commitment with myself is to the point that I will succeed or fail. For example, starting a business and signing a commercial lease is either all in or all out. I either sign the lease or walk out, but I don’t do it half way. I get into debt and deliver results to my clients and whether I succeed or I fail and pay the debt. When I know I am going to become obsessive to make something work, all I need to do is commit and take massive action to achieve my goal. I am extreme.
Those who I have seen achieve their dreams, are happy and have changed the world, are those who are OCD and are committed to their dreams because just like the video game, real life will bring difficulties and will defeat us, hurt us and plan something different than we have planned. We are going to fail, suffer, but when we are not willing to give up and continue moving forward with passion, the world has a unique way to make our dreams come true.
This is one of the reasons why only less than 5% of people can lose weight and maintain a healthy body for the rest of their lives. This is the reason why only less than 5% of people love their career. This is why only 5% of people continue progressing in making changes in their lives and other lives.
I have been rejected, mistreated and humiliated. Nobody likes to be rejected, mistreated or humiliated, especially humiliated, but those are the risks I am willing to take to learn and grow and become stronger. I won’t stop until I reach my goal.
I honestly think the biggest reason why many people can’t reach their fitness goals or any other goal is because of life’s difficulties. The key to overcoming life’s difficulties and to becoming fulfilled is to be obsessive compulsive, be extreme and be committed until the end. When I fail I don’t regret because I know I gave it my all and when I succeed I know that I am part of the less than 5%.