How to Make Better Habits

Mr. Mullet

Self-Help Books Are Worthless

Real change is about dosage and self-awareness — with Lori Gottlieb on Impact Theory

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“The costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.” — James Clear

9:00 am: What is the point of self-help or self-improvement books?

I mean, isn’t this self-help crap all the same?

I listen to self-help or self-improvement podcasts, read self-help books and self-improvement blogs, and always try to keep learning about leadership, personal growth, and the growth mindset, but why?

Why do I need to do any of this worthless crap?

While reading self-help and self-improvement books are typically about personal growth, the term self-help should really be called personal change. Most people want to change, but don't know how or why.

Reading self-improvement or self-help books is only one percent of the work needed to get anything done. That's why these books are crap. That's why these gurus are crap. They just keep rewriting what we already truly know. Reading is not where you should stay in your learning or want of personal change.

Reading isn’t personal growth nor change.

It's just knowledge and until you apply knowledge, and put what you learn into action, you are wasting your time.

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“Why focus on the process when the world is outcome driven? Don’t results matter? Yes, results do matter. But if you optimize for the outcome, you win one time. If you optimize for a process that leads to great outcomes, you can win again and again.” — James Clear

I believe there are better ways to grow than just reading self-improvement or self-help books:

Like Nike says, "Just Do It."

I bet you’d learn more about what being a triathlete is if you sign up for a triathlon race.

I bet you’d learn more about being a startup founder if you started building your small business (like now).

I bet if you wanted to be a better parent, you could sit down for family dinner tonight, turn off your phone, and be present.

No personal growth coach or self-improvement author can do the work for you — and that’s the point — do the hard work and if you fall off the bandwagon, get back on as soon as you can.

11:00 am: Success is optimizing your process, not achieving a result.

In the world of pro and collegiate sports (which is where I lived and worked for 20 years), coaches and players want to win a title, but at what cost?

I realized the art of success is in mastering (and enjoying) the process of being the best you can be.

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11:45 am: We marry the partner that will help (or not help) us unpack our baggage.

I forget this— that our baggage is always in there, waiting for our partners, closest business (or basketball) teammates, and kids to bring it out of us. They are the mirrors for the crap we don’t want to see about our subconscious self.

Why do we react negatively to situations?

Look inside yourself and ask yourself: what about this situation can’t I control my reaction to?

1:00 pm: Do the narratives we tell ourselves hold us back, or push us forward?

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I’m too old to work out twice today.

I’m too old to climb that mountain.

I’m too tired to write.

I’m too weird to find a partner that will love me completely.

I’m too much of a jock to build a successful startup.

Yada- yada-yada — the monkey thoughts keep coming.

The best of the best learn how to do something about these negative thoughts and experiences in a positive way.

Winners don't make excuses. They turn lemons into lemonade.

Day after day after day — and it’s never perfect. No, quite the contrary, it’s messy at times and that’s because mastery takes time.

“Major life changes — moving to a new city, starting a new job, ending a relationship, getting married, having kids, etc. — will often make life harder for the first 100 days before improving. This is not always true, but it’s a nice reminder that experiencing early struggle doesn’t mean it was a bad choice.” — James Clear

3:00 pm: Intentional practice (action) is the key to behavior change self-improvement, self-help, and self-awareness.

Take a look at your five closest friends, peers, or mentors. What are they like? What do they do? How do they act, behave, and talk about their own lives? Do they take responsibility for their dreams, their baggage, or their lifestyle?

If you don’t intend to be fit, free, loving, wise, enlightened, or present, is it because you don’t care if you are?

Masterful adulting takes intention. If there is a gap between intention and action, you may be one of those people that read self-help books without any real change.

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5:00 pm: Does growth or change take place outside our comfort zone?

Most of the time, change happens in small micro ways we can’t see — in both positive and negative growth. This is why White people get so angry or impatient about BLM or constantly hearing about minority and equality and redlining and women's suffrage--because makes them uncomfortable. It makes them angry that the world, the world they perceive isn't fair like they think it is.

One cigarette can feel good and lead to another, and another, and another. After a few months, you may be smoking a box a day. This type of negative growth is comfortable. Easy. Invisible. And a few years later, your lungs may be working at half capacity, nails jaundiced, and your health diminishing.

The other kind of positive growth doesn’t usually feel good on the front end — like getting fit, or being healthy, which happens by consistently working out, meditating, practicing self-care, eating real nutritious food, and yet, we all know that but still every New Year’s, gym memberships shoot up and adults don’t stay consistent in going. Most adults don’t understand that most human bodies lose around .25 percent of body fat per week. To see any true results, it would take months of consistent action to see any results.

James Clear said, “Every small action is a vote for who you wish to become tomorrow.”

(Yes, set down that garlic breadstick and buy the Peloton.)

I’ve found attempting to change in positive and negative ways is like a mullet. Positive change can suck on the front end and negative change feels good on the front end. Like I love eating bad, but hate how I feel (and look six months later) when I consistently do.

I hate eating well, but love how I feel (and look six months later) when I consistently do.

The dichotomy of healthy and unhealthy change is ironic, isn’t it?

I wonder if the tallest and mightiest of oak trees struggle to leave their roots further and further away as saplings.

We’ve all made excuses:

“I’ll start this diet, this workout, I’ll do something about my life after this self-help book, I’ll change my mindset, this habit, no wait, I’ll get this $2,500 Peloton bike and lose 20 pounds!” we say, and then whampf, change hits us in the nose because we outside our comfort zone when it comes to time to pay the piper…

11:00 pm: If you want to positive change, make sure your dosage of change is right.

Fitness is a simple example of behavior change.

My friends say, “I want to get fit, I’m going to do a marathon.”

Okay, why a marathon?

“Because I need something big to motivate me.”

And many runners (and people) may want that big change or marathon to motivate them to change, but the truth is, it’s the small changes every day that add up.

It’s the next step that adds up to 10,000.

It’s the consistent mile day after day that gets you that marathon.

Best-selling author, James Clear says small habits become big changes over time as the habits compound. Albert Einstein calls compounding gains the Eighth Wonder of the World. So regardless of the self-help books you read, or the self-improvement you try to implement, remember dosage (start small and often) and self-awareness are key.

We can all practice small habits (both good and bad) that are life-changing over time. So if you eat some cake, or party too hard, or miss a workout, or forget to stick to your New Year’s resolution, goal, habit, routine, or fall off the wagon, just get back on as soon as you can.

And remember, change is hard, so be kind to yourself.

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Mr. Mullet tells us European how pro sports, love to life lessons, wild travel experiences, and awakening the dreams of those stuck in the American Matrix are connected. Most importantly, Mr. Mullet lives his life like a mullet.

Chicago, IL
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