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“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Mastering yourself is about keeping promises you make to yourself. I wanted to address this early in the year because this is the time of year we all begin to pursue all of those things we have established are important to us. You, like anyone else, will suffer if you are lied to—even if you lie to yourself!

When you consistently fail to do what you tell yourself you will do, you begin to lose confidence in yourself. You begin to believe that you cannot achieve anything because you have always failed to achieve what you set out to do. This compounds over time and after while you’ll find that you have lost control of everything. You’ll find that you are always taking the easier route. You cannot and will not do what you need to do.

I know this place because I was there. I love video games. I love them so much that during this dark time I could literally get up in the morning and play those games from morning to midnight and beyond. I was out of control. I couldn’t make myself exercise. I couldn’t make myself eat right. I couldn’t make myself do anything—because I didn’t believe that I could or would. If it was easy, I did it. I pursued anything that followed the path of least resistance.

I knew deep down that this was not the way to live and began to look for some answers to turn this around. I ran across a book called Mini-habits and that was all I needed. I started doing small things each day. Each day I did these small things I began doing more than I was required to do. This is called a bonus activity and this is a natural offshoot of Mini-habits.

I combined my knowledge of Mini-habits with other books and began implementing a ritualistic strategy of tackling the things that are important to a balanced life. I began reading, writing, learning, exercising, socializing, and performing my religious duties each day, even if it was just a little effort, I kept doing a little in each of these areas each day.

After a while, your internal self will begin to believe what you say. You will begin to trust yourself again and realize that what you say is what you will do. When you begin to actually do what you say you will do, the bulk of the battle has been won. Now, you can establish goals, set plans, and execute a little each day. This execution reinforces trust in yourself and edges you ever closer to the goals you set. It is just this simple.

Don’t be the person that goes to the gym in January and stops going in a month.

Don’t be the person who wants to write their book and gives up in a few weeks

Don’t be the person who sets out to lose weight and gives up on their diet within a week.

Be the person who can do anything they set out to do, through deliberate, consistent, and daily action. You can do it, just like I did. Start doing little things that build self-trust and you’ll wake up one day doing more than you thought possible.

I wish all of you well as you pursue this year’s goals. I hope all of you succeed!

Until next time…

Dave

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