2 Doors

When we are faced with a choice—say we have two doors which we could open (typically there are more than two doors to choose from)—we are terrified of opening the wrong door. Fear, complacency, the unknown…countless factors paralyze us from choosing one door over the other. Most of us feel a level of dissatisfaction or cognitive dissonance because rather than open one door or the other, we go for the third option…nothing.

There’s a chance you regret the door you open, but you’ll learn about yourself and about the world. You’ll get moving. And you’ll find a way to carry on and open new doors. If you choose the path of inaction, you provide yourself with no more doors than was presented, and eventually, those doors will close forever.

Choose action. Open a door. You may find it to be the “wrong one” later, but you won’t be standing still. You’ll never be ready, so just start.

Insecurity

Insecurity is one of the most debilitating mindsets the average human can experience. Years ago, when my insecurity and self-consciousness levels were at their peak, I found it difficult to keep conversation going with even my closest of friends. Imagine that! Terrified of whether my best friend thinks I’m the most annoying person in the world simply by speaking to him…

Here’s a simplified guide on how to overcome insecurity. None of these fix it overnight or cure it entirely, for I doubt it ever vanishes completely. But they can help put you in a better place:

1) Realize that no one gives a shit about you. That sounds incredibly mean, but it’s actually quite assuring. Everyone is focused on what they’re doing almost all the time. Nobody’s purpose in life is to have you under the microscope and analyze each and every move you make (every breath you take). It’s analogous to giving a presentation in high school. You’re terrified of going up. Terrified of what the person next to you will think of your speech. Then you go up and that person is thinking, “Holy fuck, I’m next. What’s this person going to think of my speech?!”

”When we are not engaged in thinking about some definite problem, we usually spend about 95 percent of our time thinking about ourselves.”
-Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

2) Fake it ‘till you make it. We’ve all heard this one. If you want to be a confident individual who’s comfortable in their own skin, pretend to be. It doesn’t take long for your environment to adapt to your supposed change of state. You’re a thermostat, not a thermometer.

Back in my heyday of insecurity, my big thing was after I’d said something stupid or foolish, I would end it with some sort of self-deprecation (e.g. “I’ll just stop talking now; But I literally don’t know anything at all; If anyone gives a shit; I could just shut up and go die”). Often times these were merely jokes, but they accurately depicted how I felt about myself and my thoughts. So one day, I decided that no matter how I felt about something silly I had just said, I wouldn’t say anything about it afterward. At first, many of my friends would look my way after I’d said something goofy or wrong, conditioned to hear my own verbal-punishment, but I’d remain silent. After a short while, a tension among my peers and myself lifted and I felt much more free to speak my mind and make mistakes around them…thanks to that little omission.

3) Find something you love to do that’s difficult, do it all the time, and get better at it. This wouldn’t be a Dill-blog-post if I didn’t throw this in here. I only do it because it may be the only thing of which I’m 100% certain.

Find something you enjoy which challenges you, takes consistent practice, requires discipline, and allows for you to look back at the progress you’ve made. It doesn’t have to be anything profound. Become amazing at it. Super simple idea. Super long and arduous process…that’s the point. You’ll never reach the end. You’ll never stop learning. It will show you that you’re capable of growing and becoming better. This understanding is vital for getting out of your head and eliminating the stagnant-mindset.

There are so many intricacies to insecurity and I don’t take it lightly. It held me back for several years, which is why I attempt to show people that there exists an alternative. If you have struggled or continue to struggle with it, let me know.

Things I’m Grateful For

What I’m grateful for today:

• I woke up.
• I have a comfortable bed with warm sheets, a space heater, and a number of clothes which keep me toasty as the weather gets colder…for winter is coming.
• I have countless close friends which I consider my brothers and sisters.
• My mother, father, sister, and grandparents are alive and I am able to have conversation with them.
• I’m not blind. I can watch movies, plays, shows, snowfall, sunsets. I can see my friends smile when they’re excited.
• I’m not deaf. I can hear the laughter of the people I love. I can listen to amazing podcasts (Fancy w/ Dillan Taylor?).
• I can read.
• I live in the United States. As strange as things get here, I don’t have to worry about fleeing the country for a better life, or being shot for voicing my opinion.
• All of my limbs are still attached to my body.
• I don’t have cancer.
• Everyday, I get to write, have lovely conversation with interesting people, learn about myself and the world, and work my ass off in pursuit of the life I want to live.

What are you grateful for today? Let me know.

My Aim

In any of the things that I do (podcast, YouTube channel, blog), my aim is not to get the most out of people. My goal is to inspire people to get the most out of themselves.

The risk of any “self-help” or “self-improvement” content (I despise both of those terms), is that it can often sound preachy and elitist. I’m constantly working on my ability to portray the fact that I’m not some perfect, disciplined, sculpted being…everything I preach applies to myself as well. This is a daily process. Each and every day, I struggle with a lack of confidence, fear of what the future holds, and consistent questioning of whether or not I’m doing things correctly. We all face these issues all the time. They never disappear.

When times were at their darkest, when I was at my lowest, I literally tried to kill myself. And I nearly succeeded. I collected a number of pain and anti-depression medication from friends and family over the span of a week, then swallowed a number of them whilst finishing a bottle of Jim Beam (ad?). I woke up two days later utterly confused and was hungover for days after.

This was years ago. And I’ve told no one until now.

Now, I experience levels of confidence and satisfaction of which I literally thought were impossible. What I try to highlight for people is that there was a journey for this transition. There’s an evolution. And you can make it happen. It’s not easy, but it is simple. It’s overwhelming. And when you ask yourself where to start, the answer is, “At the beginning.”

I mention this story because nobody likes to hear from someone who’s ripped at the gym telling someone out of shape, “Get in shape, you’ll feel great!” But that ripped dude (or gal) went through an evolution of work and insecurity and doubt. I’m just some idiot with recording equipment and a laptop. There’s nothing special about me. We’re all just human and if you have a dream, and someone else has done what you want, you can do it too. Just start at the beginning.

My aim is not to push people up the mountain. It’s to inspire people to climb it with me.

”Do you know someone you would like to change and regulate and improve? Good! That is fine. I am all in favor of it. But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others—yes, and a lot less dangerous. ‘Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof,’ said Confucius, ‘when your own doorstep is unclean.’”
– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Reaching People

“If you try to reach everybody, you will reach nobody.”

No matter how good your intentions are, you cannot resonate with everyone…especially if you have a platform, speak a lot, and write a lot. I have written and said things which have fired people up and they have vehemently disagreed with. This is an occupational hazard when you have a lot to say. You may be dead wrong and later regret the things you’ve spouted, and that’s okay. You need to be allowed to make mistakes, so long as you are sticking to your principles and values, and coming from a place of love and respect.

Letting your ideas out and having conversation is the only way to course-correct. It’s how we learn.

Depressed?

Obviously there are people with real depression who require medication to make their lives tolerable. This is an unpopular opinion, but I think most of the “depression” in this country is simply due to people not pursuing the things they’re interested in and not training their minds.

Most of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction could be solved by doing these things:

• Find things you love to do which are difficult, do them all the time, and get better at them.
• Meditate. Recognize thoughts as thoughts. Don’t push away negative thoughts. Be open to them and realize that they simply appear.
• Exercise. Fucking exercise. You just have to. Do something. 3-5 times a week. You can come up with as many excuses as to why you can’t, but your blood sugar and your beer-belly don’t care about your feelings.
• Stop talking and start doing. Taking action is the best way to increase confidence and ability.
• Laugh more. Spend time with the people you love. One day, they’ll all be dead.

You don’t have “seasonal depression,” you’re just not living a fulfilling life…and you happen to be cold at the same time.

Strengthen Your Muscles

We often see our abilities as stagnant. “I’m not musically gifted.” “I could never stick to an exercise routine.” “That’s just not me…” This is (as I seem to begin many of my posts) bullshit.

We are all vastly different with various knacks and talents and brain chemistries. But nothing is set in stone. The only reason people don’t change is because they believe they can’t.

Discipline, trying new and scary things, building habits, being patient, being grateful for the beautiful things you have in your life…these are all skills which can be practiced and improved. Think of them like muscles. One bicep curl doesn’t give you a well-defined arm. However, many biceps curls done consistently and with great form, combined with a number of other arm/back/shoulder workouts, and you’ll start seeing your arms get bigger and more toned.

Don’t get discouraged when you see people pick something up quicker than you are able to. All skills are learnable and all skills are trainable. I literally had to purposely teach myself how to be disciplined. I sucked at it at first. And now, I’m one of the more disciplined people I know. You can do the same.

Action

I’ve said this and will continue to say this in as many ways as humanly possible:

You have to take action.

The worst feeling in the world, the thing that aches the soul, the thing we carry with us if our time is not commandeered…is regret. But our worst regrets are rarely the things we do (mistakes or bad decisions we’ve made, jobs we take, places we go). Our deepest and most harrowing regrets are all the things we didn’t do.

Inaction leads to the vast majority of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life. Three years ago, you may have thought about picking up the saxophone. But then you contemplated the how difficult and time-consuming it would be. Would people judge you for pursuing the skill? Would you even get good, or would you just be blowing awful squeaks and squaws into your walls?…Well guess what…If you just started that miserable process and got going, you’d be pretty damn good at the saxophone right now. Hell, you’ve been playing and practicing for three years!

Acting and theatre combine to create one of my loveliest passions which has totally altered the way I see art (films, shows, music, fine art, etc.). When I auditioned for my first play in college, I was so god damn nervous that I convinced myself about 50 times on the twenty-minute walk to the theatre that I had no business auditioning. “You don’t belong you’ve never done this before they don’t need you or want you you will probably mess up your lines you’re no Matthew Mcconaughey they’ll probably have you hold the prop or you’ll be Tree 2 go the fuck home.” These were my thoughts.

Cut-to: I got a small part in the play. This was my foot in the door to meet the theatre gang, build friendships, and develop my skill as an actor. I later went on to land some bigger roles and work with incredibly talented people. I woke up each and every day grateful and inspired to be able to act and live in that world. None of that would have been possible if I listened to myself and did nothing. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if that was never a part of my life. But I can only imagine the throbbing feeling in my soul if I had never auditioned. That’s regret.

If you’re thinking about pursuing something: No matter your age, regardless of what others may think of you (people make fun of the person who just started playing the cello and sucks, but people love it when a person plays the cello well after practicing for three years), if you’re afraid of failure….understand that not doing the thing you want to do is infinitely worse than any possible short-term discomfort you muster up in your mind.

Do. Take action. Now.

Let me know if there’s a goal/dream/skill you’ve been thinking about pursuing but have been putting off!

Nice Guys Finish Last?

The popular saying refers to the ability to get what you want if you are assertive, pushy, or non-agreeable. I think it’s bullshit. If you want a lasting respect and to get what you desire, the only scalable and sustainable method is by being a kind, respectful, helpful person.

If you are kind to me, I don’t feel the need to walk all over you…I want to get you what you need. As a server in a restaurant, when you have a table who says “please” and “thank you,” and they smile when you are with them, and they are patient, if the server is a good one, they’ll go above and beyond to make sure that table has a phenomenal time.

People who are rude and brash may end up getting what they want, but at the cost of the respect and warmth from whomever is giving it to them. Fear is temporary. Respect and loyalty lasts.

Simple Advice

A simple piece of advice which has improved my quality of life and the quality of what I do is this:

Lower your expectations and raise your standards.

This came from Ryan and Nick, the Minimalists. It can be applied to your work, your relationships, and your actions…

• Be kind to everyone, and know that that kindness will only be reciprocated 50% of the time (if you’re lucky).
• Produce the best work you can (writing, film, teaching, sport) by learning as much as possible and improving your game constantly, while knowing that a lot of it will suck and realizing the process of improvement is slow and arduous.
• Do the things you know will make your life better (meditate, exercise, eat clean, love your friends/family, read, make people laugh), but remain aware that you won’t always have the energy to do them, and occasionally you’ll try to convince yourself that you don’t need to do them at all (which you know is a lie).

Tribal Council

As our lives slowly unfold, the relationships we have evolve as well as everything else. This makes sense because we are constantly changing: our bodies, our minds, our values, our actions…

One of the most vital choices you make for yourself and the wellbeing of your present and future self…is the people who surround you. You may eventually discover that your best friend is actually dragging you down, or someone close to you isn’t doing anything to support you.

Avoid people whom:
• are constantly complaining about the things they can’t control.
• show no interest in learning about the world, improving themselves, or having deep conversation.
• are mean (i.e. shit on people for the sole purpose of hurting them, or even worse, hate something about themselves and attack others in order to feel better).
• glorify laziness (e.g. “I woke up at 2pm, ate a bunch of garbage, played a shit ton of video games…it was lovely!” Everyone needs a cheat day, but living your life like this isn’t cool or laid back, it’s lazy and foolish).
• come up with excuses as to why they aren’t as successful as they could be.
• don’t challenge you in some way to be better.

Do your friends have any of the qualities? Let me know.

PS. There’s a new podcast today (#16 – How Being a Teen Mom Makes You Bulletproof), and I’m fucking thrilled about it! Check it out!

A Letter to a Hero

Wordsmith prompt #2: Write a letter to someone who has impacted your life.

Dear Joe Rogan,

Sometimes I get flack for being just another dude who talks about your podcast but I’m an enormous fan and you’ve changed my life. Roughly two years ago, I got kicked out of school and the woman I was prepared to marry left me. This was the darkest time of my life and I considered ending things. I had no job, didn’t exercise, didn’t eat well, had ideas and aspirations but wasn’t taking action on any of them, and simply had no direction, values, or principles.

Two things got me out of this mental prison: the practice of meditation, and listening to you rant about discipline and happiness. Both of these kicked my ass into gear by forcing me to realize that any outside forces which were blocking me were actually just in my own head. The world wasn’t out to get me…Shit just happens and you are either mentally and physically prepared for the storm when it comes, or you’re not. You taught me how to prepare for and conquer the storm.

It doesn’t work for everybody, but a lot of people (especially men) just need a jacked, bald, tatted comedian to shake them by the shoulders and say “Get your fucking shit together!” By following your basic formulas for developing meaning and satisfaction in life, mine turned from a pit of nothingness to being excited to live each and every day. The formulas include:

-Find something you love to do, do it all the time, get better at it.
-Write down the things you want in your life.
-Be a great person, even to the people who don’t deserve it.
-Have conversations with people, it’s okay if you’re not a genius who knows everything about everything.
-Realize that if other humans are doing it, you can do it too.
-When you’re feeling stressed, remember that you’re just one of 7 billion monkeys on a giant floating rock in space.

You’re an incredibly humble man, who has dedicated his life to solely doing what you want—bow-hunting, MMA commentating, podcasting, traveling, loving your family. You’ve worked your ass off and continue to work your ass off so that you may live the life you want to live. Thank you for showing me that all this was possible. Life will take the wheel if you allow it. I am working each day to ensure that life takes the back seat, so I can throw on my shades, turn up the music (or your podcast), and drive myself down the road I choose.

Thanks again brother,

Dill

Tell me about a person who has impacted your life.

Check out BestSelf’s array of productivity tools to get you taking action, writing clearly, and trying new things!

Your Eulogy

To piggy-back off of my latest podcast (#15 – Expressing Gratitude) and yesterday’s blog on death:

An incredibly eye-opening and inspiring exercise is writing your own eulogy. If you were to die today, how would you want to be remembered? What kind of person do your friends, family, and the world see you as? What impact or mark would you like to have left on the planet? Whatever that answer is, you should be working night and day to get as close to that result as you can.

Here’s mine:

”Whilst Dillan had many flaws—douchiness, selfishness at times, stubbornness—he was a good person. He dedicated his life to aiding and inspiring people to be the best versions of themselves, though he was not always successful. By taking care of his mind and body, he inspired others to do the same. He showed others that it was possible to set goals, take steps to accomplish those goals, and fulfill them. He made people laugh. He made people think. He asked for many favors, but was always willing to help someone in need. He was firm, but he was loving. He was open, but he was secure. He was confident, but was aware of his flaws. He tried new things, but worshiped routine and discipline…

Because of his existence, the world is a better place than it was before.”

This can be quite personal, but if you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear your eulogy.

Memento Mori

Memento mori – Remember that you will die.

As I discussed in my last podcast (#15 – Expressing Gratitude), I believe we think about death in an incredibly unproductive way. Instead of ignoring the idea because it’s too painful, we should remind ourselves each and every day that everything that you cherish and are able to do right now…it will all be dust one day. This realization allows you to truly appreciate what you have in front of you at this moment, for this is the only moment that currently exists.

Yesterday, I got short with my mother because she kept pestering me to find a day in which I could paint her bathroom. All I was thinking about was my schedule and how time-consuming that would be. Then I stopped and thought about what it will be like when she’s gone…I won’t be able to apologize to her. I won’t be able to make it up to her by painting anything of hers…But I can make it up to her right now, by swallowing my damn pride and painting her fucking bathroom and having lunch with her while I still can.

Time Travel

From Andrew Kirby (one of my favorite YouTubers):

”I have a challenge for you. Do you accept?
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Journal on the following two questions for 5 minutes each. Start a timer. Take more time if you need.

Question 1: If you could travel back 5 years, what would you tell yourself? What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on?

Question 2: Imagine your 10 year “future self” has just been given the above task. He comes back and talks to you. What do you think he’d say?

The answer to this will give you some powerful shit.”

You Don’t Know

Last night, a friend and I went to a local bar for some wine and dessert. I had been suffering a severe migraine for most of the day, but wanted to stick to the plan with the hopes that human interaction and bread pudding would resurrect me. It didn’t. I was a vegetable.

The server came to our table and I said, “We’ll have edamame, bread pudding, fried oreos, and seared tuna please…Oh and two glasses of Cabernet.” That’s not how you order that shit. He looked at me like I was an idiot, and offered to start us with the tuna and edamame, then bring out the dessert. “Sounds great,” I said.

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for a long time. When people order like that it can be frustrating. You question if they’ve ever been to a restaurant before. But I felt like I was dying last night. I was in no condition to put together cohesive thoughts and speech. And that’s the point of this post:

You don’t know what’s going on with other people.

You don’t know what their day has been like. You don’t know if it’s the anniversary of their father’s death. You don’t know if their kid told them to ‘fuck off’ today. You don’t know, man.

Who knows? Maybe that person is just being rude and inconsiderate…but you have no way of being certain. It can be incredibly difficult at times, but a fantastic rule of thumb is to treat people with respect and patience as if they had a terrible migraine. Because you don’t know if they have one or not.

Do You Need It?

There’s this idea floated around by artists which says that they need their vices in order to produce great work. Journalists need Adderall in order to write their articles; musicians need marijuana in order to write creative melodies; comedians need alcohol and depression in order to write funnier, more relatable material.

This is bullshit. And most of us do this, too.

I did a podcast [#12 – Sober October] about developing your “sober skills.” I’m not a proponent of abstaining from drugs/alcohol. I think if done in a responsible and creative way, experimentation and dabbling can be fun and can provide you insights of consciousness which you didn’t know were possible.

The summer after graduating high school, my best friend and I dropped acid and went to a small show with a phenomenal local band. Not only was it one of the most amazing musical performances I’ve ever experienced, but it was then when one of the simplest, most transformative revelations hit my 18-year old tripping mind…I want to be a kinder person.

Drugs n’ stuff can be useful and pleasurable, but if you’re doing them with no aim or appreciation, then they’re just holding you back. You don’t need anything like that to be a more creative and fun individual. They’re simply tools which you can add (responsibly) to your belt.

Other than that, the most affective, sustainable, and evergreen tools for creativity, enjoyment, action, love, all that jazz…are: a consistent good night’s sleep; drinking plenty of water; exercising regularly, eating well; spending time with people who push you to be better; setting goals for yourself and working hard to accomplish them; and writing things down/checking in with yourself on paper.

Finally, a word on people who made their success on the backs of vices such as drugs and alcohol (e.g. Edgar Allen Poe, James Whitcomb Riley, Robert Burns, Hunter S. Thompson):

”But let it be remembered that many such people have destroyed themselves in the end. Nature has prepared her own potions with which people may safely stimulate their minds so they vibrate on a plane that enables them to tune in to fine and rare thoughts from “the great unknown!” No satisfactory substitute for Nature’s stimulants has ever been found.”
-Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Your Friends’ Shit

Keep a little notebook or write down in the notes on your phone all the best recommendations for friends give you (e.g. podcasts, articles, books, shows, movies, shops, parks…).

Set a day aside once a week or once every two weeks where your free time is spent attacking all these things your friends, the people who know you best, have dubbed worthy of your time.

If you can’t decide because there are simply so many, pick one at random from a jar to take the choice away from you.

Listening/watching/reading/doing what your friends recommend is a lovely thing to do because it gets you moving and trying new things…and nothing feels better than when you suggest a book to someone, they read it, and you both compare thoughts on it.

Home

BestSelf is a neat little company which sells decks of cards to get you moving and creating. There’s a deck full of activities to do to get you out of your comfort zone (e.g. bake cookies for your neighbor, throw out something in your room each day for 7 days, create a 60 second short film of you doing something, etc.) which I think is awesome. But they also have a Wordsmith deck, which is designed to get you writing when you feel blockage.

Not that I experience much blockage when it comes to writing in this blog, but I thought it would be a cute change of pace to include the occasional prompt in order to a) put this deck I purchased to good use, and b) take a break from the self-help lecturing I’ve grown so accustomed to, and get personal.

Wordsmith prompt #1: Write about the place you call home.

I despise the saying, “home is where the heart is,” but I must say home has never been a physical location for me. It has typically been wherever the most organized collection of my loved ones is.

Growing up as an only child for most of my childhood, making friends became a necessity. Not only have I always cherished the process of developing a friendship, but once solidified, I consider that person a brother or a sister. Hence, growing up, home to me was where all my brothers and sisters mostly were. This is what leads to a foggy life I think: when someone stays in the same area but all their friends move away. Is that place still home?

My mother though will forever be the centerpiece. She could move to Siberia and somewhere in my mind I’ll think, “damn, I kind of live in Siberia.” Anything good about me is because of my mother’s teachings or love, so it only makes sense that wherever she goes, a piece of me goes with her.

On a final, unrelated note: It’s insane to me how the majority of my dreams of me at home are my childhood home. There must be something cemented into our youthful, developing minds…something ingrained in our long-term memories. I never think about that house (which I spent my elementary school years), yet when I have dreams about home, I see each room clear as day.

Tell me about the place you call home.

Check out BestSelf’s array of productivity tools to get you taking action, writing clearly, and trying new things!

Always Go

Last night, every inch of my being was telling me not to go to Muay Thai (kickboxing). I was physically and mentally exhausted. I hadn’t been in almost two weeks. My knee was aching. Our gym moved and is now slightly further away. Blah blah blah.

Despite the wishes of the devil on my shoulder, I went, and it was amazing. We had a dynamic and thrilling class (which we usually do), everyone was in a great mood (excited about moving to a bigger and better gym), and the class size was smaller (more intimate time with your training partner and coaches).

Whether it’s working out, going to class (school, training, lessons), meditating, doing something with/for a friend or loved one, playing with your younger sibling, whatever

Percentage of time I’ve regretted going: 0%

Percentage of time I’ve regretted not going: 100%

Always go. You’ll get something out of it. And you won’t spend any time wondering what it would’ve been like.

What is a Habit?

Here’s my definition of a habit:

Doing something—not liking it—over and over again, until you like it.

The two biggest problems everyone faces when trying to create strong habits in their lives are:

1) The “not liking it” part. This is resistance. Your brain and your body are uncomfortable doing this thing, and try to use this discomfort to make you believe it is impossible. The cure for this is taking action. Just do the fucking thing.

and

2) The fact that this doesn’t happen overnight. Building powerful habits to make you successful take time. The same goes with destroying shitty habits (though you may expedite this quicker by simply changing your environment). Going to the gym doesn’t put you in shape. But it does make it easier to go the next time. It plants it in your mind that you are a person who goes to the gym. Repeat, until in shape and enjoying the gym. Again, this will take a good bit of time, but it will happen.

I’ve found that writing down the habits you want in your life is a great way to maintain your willpower to build them. I made a video on that a while back. Make sure to not overload yourself with too many desired habits, because you’ll likely overwhelm yourself and burnout, give up, and feel like a garbage person.

Start with something simple. I really enjoyed creating the habit of getting up early because it ended up being a keystone habit: a habit you build which then breathes life to other awesome habits. It allowed me to read more, have more time to exercise, focus more brainpower on my content, and be more tired in the evening so I could fall asleep at an earlier time.

There’s a lot to say about the science of habits, but being mindful of what it actually is makes it easier to develop in your life. When you start out, you may feel good with all the motivation you feel, but soon, it’ll suck, and you’ll want to give up. That’s resistance. Don’t let it win. Keep going, and it’ll go away.

Do Something Alone

This week (today, if you can), do something on your own. Leave your phone. Do something where you are not distracted and are forced to soak in the present. It’s just you and your thoughts. No phone. Go on a trip. Go to an event. Go to dinner. Go for a long walk. Don’t bring your phone. Go somewhere you’ve been wanting to go. Be alone without being alone.

And no phone…

When You Fall

For many of us, our darkest moments—when we make the worst decisions and give in to the worst habits—are not when we make that first mistake, but the period of time following that mistake.

If you are trying to eat clean, and one night you and your friends are having dinner and you treat yourself and get some pie, there’s nothing wrong with that. Enjoy it. But what many of us do is shame ourselves, and then the next day or the next few days, we eat more garbage because we think, “Well, I’m already a piece of shit for breaking diet, so why stop now?” But you are perfectly capable of waking up the next day and declaring, “Well, that pie was delicious. But time to get back at it.”

I had a rough night this weekend. After a month of no drugs or alcohol, I went to a Halloween party and drank way too much and ate way too little. I had to be taken care of, a ton of my coworkers were there, and I threw up on my friend who was nursing me back to life. Not my finest hour. The following morning, I was a vegetable. I laid in bed all day, watched hours of shows and movies, and Door Dashed food to my house (I hate Door Dash).

Waking up this morning, all I feel like doing is continuing that train of laziness. But I know I don’t have to. So instead I trudged myself through my morning routine, sat down at my desk and began typing this blog post.

An event such as this would’ve embarrassed and paralyzed me in the past. But I apologized for my sloppiness, thanked my guardian angel, cleaned my room, and continued the process of getting my shit together.

When you fall, don’t dwell on the fact that you’re on the ground. Get the hell up and keep moving.

It’s Not Yours

Last night, I was leaving the gym, and when I pulled out of my spot in the parking lot, another car pulled right into the spot I was leaving. It was then that I was reminded: It wasn’t my spot.

Our possessions: our clothing, space, friends, pets, technology, knowledge…We believe in some strange way that these are things we own. Almost as though we are entitled to them. We’ve all seen busy mall parking lots where two cars are screaming at one another because they both declare that the spot they’re fighting over is theirs. But it’s just an area of concrete marked by rectangular paint which is slightly larger than the size of a car.

Now, obviously a parking spot should be less intimate to us than your favorite pet. But what I’m saying is that ownership is totally arbitrary. My cat is my cat because I found her roaming the streets of Salisbury and I took her home so she wouldn’t freeze and starve. Before that day, she was someone else’s cat. If a guy busted down my door and stole my TV. My precious TV, where I watch my HBO, my standup specials, and my sports. If he took that and brought it to his house and started watching whatever robbers watch (the Cooking channel?), then it’d be his TV.

Everything from your phone to the air you breathe…it’s not yours. You’re just borrowing it. So take care of it while it’s in your care. Take care of your friends. Take care of your stuff. Because you won’t have them forever.

Confidence

Confidence is not thinking you’re the shit. It is clearly defining your values and principles and sticking to them and maintaining them every day, week, month, and year.

Confidence is not believing you know everything. It is understanding what you know and having the curiosity and wherewithal to learn and seek answers.

Confidence is not going into a job interview and being certain you’re going to ‘nail it.’ It is working your ass off to prepare yourself, figuring out how that company is a good fit for you, and being the best possible self in the interview chair you can be.

The key word above is yourself. Confidence doesn’t come from pretending to be more talented than you are. This causes insecurity. Most of us are insecure because in some way, shape, or form, we are putting on a performance. We are lying about what our abilities and interests are. And when you lie, you can’t help but be insecure because there is always the possibility of being discovered a liar.

If you are unwelcome, judged, laughed at, in the interview…confidence will tell you that those guys are assholes, not that you suck. If you went in prepared, curious, aware, ready to ask questions, then that’s all you could’ve done. And if you’re judged for being the best ‘you’ possible, then there’s something wrong with the judges, not with you.

Leadership

Leadership isn’t something interesting until you’ve seen it done well first-hand. Leaders are not the same as managers or bosses. Leaders inspire action. Simon Sinek has written a multitude of amazing books on what it takes to be a leader in the real world.

The most effective leader I’ve ever known (and the sole reason great leadership is one of my life goals) is Mark Milecki. Mark was my General Manager at the Cheesecake Factory. And although we were just working with burgers and fries, he taught me how to take care of people, solve problems, and lead by creating leaders. We did an amazing podcast (#13 – Leadership, Done Right) on his climb of the ladder from busser to top-level GM. We also discuss his son’s battle against a rare form of leukemia.

In a nutshell, a leader must:

• listen to everyone, learn about everyone
• make everyone feel valued, but hold everyone accountable
• take responsibility for their own actions as well as their followers actions
• be willing to do the work that they request of their followers
• inspire others to be independent

This blog post is dedicated to the Mileckis.

Success

What is success to you? It has to be subjective. Success is not having this amount of money, or this amount of followers. You have to define what you want and what will make you successful.

My dream is to create content (podcasts, short films, writing, other posts) that reaches people and inspires them to climb the mountain of life. As of right now:

• I have around 100 podcast listeners
• I have 39 YouTube subscribers
• My last video currently has 33 views
• This blog has fewer than 10 consistent readers
• Only 4 people have subscribed to my weekly newsletter

In terms of reaching people, none of this is even close to the kind of numbers I’m dreaming of. But a few days ago, one of my closest friends reached out to me and told me everything he loved about my stuff, as well as the things that didn’t click with him. That’s success to me. People I care about consuming what I create and being inspired to think about it and how they can implement it in their lives.

I don’t give a shit about the numbers right now as I’m starting out. Perhaps they will remain low until I find my real footing. All I can do is focus my energy on improving my abilities and remain true to my Why. That’s all any of us can do. Don’t get bogged down by “lack of results.” Get better, and stay true to your purpose, and the numbers will eventually follow suit.

Trick Your Mind

It’s stunning how upset people get when you tell them they can do things they don’t think they can do. We like to be the ones who declare our own capabilities and inabilities. Aside from the countless videos I’ve made on YouTube and Instagram about building discipline and habits, here’s a simple mind-hack you can start today in order to make you more disciplined and gritty:

Tell yourself, out loud or in your head, that you are this person.

Practicing kickboxing is really tough at first (as is any new skill). One thing that made the shitty beginning stages fly by was the way I thought about myself doing it. Mentality is 90% of anything you’re doing. I would show up to class not knowing what I was doing, but in my head I was thinking “I’m a fighter.” I would talk about it, practice in and out of the gym, watch fights at home, and consume it. So although my skills were that of a novice, by all accounts, I was a fighter.

If you want to learn sign language, there’s not a legally-defined amount of words one needs to be able to sign in order to declare themselves someone who knows sign language. Practice it. Consume it. Be curious about it. You’re a person who knows sign language.

Don’t compare your skills to those of others unless you are learning from them. I suck at filmmaking. I have no idea how to edit clips together to tell a cohesive story. But guess what? I have a YouTube channel where I’ve made several films all on my own with the help of no one. I’m a filmmaker.

It doesn’t have to be an arrogant way of inviting yourself into every club that exists. Just because I clipped my nails today doesn’t mean I am a stylist. That’s obviously not my point. But when you want to get into something, don’t hold yourself back by focusing on all the things you can’t do. Lose yourself in your own curiosity and declare in your mind that this is the person you are.

I am a fighter.
I am a YouTuber.
I am a podcaster.
I am productive.
I am one who exercises.

Just because I’m not particularly good at any of these, doesn’t mean I can’t live those lives. The next time I don’t feel like working out, I’ll say, “Well, you’re someone who exercises, so you can’t skip the gym.”

You are…?

Left Breathless

One of the most memorable and best uses of my time was the two hours I spent walking through the Holocaust Museum yesterday. This short post is dedicated to the time and dedication it took to collect all the art, photos, artifacts, stories, and data from one of the worst human rights tragedies, which were all collected and displayed in such a horrifying and beautiful way.

Before you begin the exhibit, you take an I.D. card of a Jewish man or woman who lived through the Holocaust. Each card provides information of where they were from and you get their perspective of the beginning, middle, and end of the Nazis’ expansion and destruction. You take the card to be reminded that although we speak of this atrocity in terms of unbelievably large numbers and statistics, each one of those numbers was an individual.

If you are in the DMV area, and have never been, please take an afternoon to spend an hour or two walking through this extraordinarily important place. It is free, and it will leave a mark on you. It left me with a feeling of stillness. Not a calming stillness, but a stillness which left me breathless and unbalanced, physically and mentally.

Discomfort

Sometimes, a lot of the time, you’re going to be be uncomfortable. That’s just a fact. I used to despise the saying, “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” but it’s one of the most useful skills on can build.

Mind – It’s comfortable and easy to focus your mental efforts on entertainment and gossip. Take a second to think about how much time in a day you spend learning (on purpose). The world is constantly changing, and we must learn everyday…about the world, about ourselves, about the people and things around us.

Body – It’s comfortable to eat whatever the fuck we want and to lay on the couch instead of go to the gym. Those things are fantastic as a rare treat, or a celebration of your hard work, but you can’t live your life like that. And for those who respond to that saying, “I sure can! Watch me!” Okay, I’ll watch you live a garbage lifestyle through many years which you’ll probably pass on to your kids to create more garbage people. Suffer in the short term so that you and your genes will thrive in the long term.

Spirit – It’s comfortable to hate things about people. It’s fun to gossip and talk shit about people when they are not around. But this is like a slow-working poison. It’s bad for you, the people close to you, and the people you meet in the future. Kindness is easy when you’re in a great mood, but Jesus does it feel impossible when you feel like nothing. But difficult does not mean impossible. Be a kind person to your loved ones and enemies, without letting people walk all over you.

Don’t shy away from discomfort, welcome it into your home, and it will make you bulletproof.