Once you realize that “you’ve been fooled,” and start addressing negative knowledge, the next obstacle is negative habits. These are the habits that leave you in a state of atrophy – you are not able to take a number of actions because you have never done them, and have never learned how to do them. In both a physical and mental sense, you are incapable.
Entering into a state of atrophy is easy – it starts from bad habits, which themselves start from mis-placed priorities. If you allow yourself to be too easily distracted by TV or social media, then you don’t spend time reading, exercising, and so on. If you are too “busy” to meet people or clean up, you can wake up one day after 6 months, and all of a sudden your house is a wreck, you are in terrible shape, and you are way behind on things that matter. Do it for a lifetime, and history itself will have left you behind, a terrible position to be in.
Change yourself, Change your family, Change the World
Where I have had the most failure in becoming a free man, and man of action, is in getting the order of change correct. I learned a Chinese parable about a man who first set out to change the world, and filing, then tried to change his family. Failing again, he focused on merely changing himself, and at that moment he understood: “If I first changed myself, I would be able to change my family. And changing my family, then I could have changed the world.” But the parable is a tragedy – when he figured it out, he was too old, and it was too late.
Trying to change the whole world first is a kind of negative knowledge. The TV told us to do it, because they needed us to vote for idiots spouting nice-sounding rhetoric. Not to mention raising funds for charities that give out enormous salaries and benefit packages (“You are changing my pocketbook… er, the world!”). In reality, if you can’t clean your room, do your own laundry and the dishes, and have your own house in order, how on earth are you going to unseat a hundred global corporations? The current elite got there by developing themselves and those around them for years, arguably generations. Simply thrashing around on a street with some signs will not undo that sort of development.
Overcome atrophy with small wins
If you have ever been in a situation where you let yourself get out of shape, and you found your way back, you know what I mean by small wins. Every 5 pounds that come off, and stay off, is a win, and an affirmation to keep going.
In the same way, in the financial space, Dave Ramsey has his 7 baby steps, and every piece of it is structured to give you a small win (a $1000 emergency fund, then paying off small debts) every couple of months at first, until you get to big wins every few years at the end (in his program, becoming totally debt-free including the house in ~10 years and becoming a millionaire after 15-20 years). That’s on purpose – each win is a motivation to get to the next challenge, until it becomes a habit.
Of course, small wins only work when you have a clear vision of the BIG WIN at the end. After this blog, I may write up a post on my own, and in your case, take a moment right now and write down your goals for the next 6 months, year, and 5 years. The last one should be wild, but it forces you to seriously start thinking about the future and how to get there. And from the biggest goal, step back a year, a month, etc. to start seeing the steps, all the way to what has to happen TODAY.
Write down progress
This is for motivation. just like you write down goals, have a way of keeping track of progress. In business, I use Asana to keep a running checklist, and checking off a task daily and working towards milestone tasks is motivating. In the same way, I am using YouVersion for a “Read the Bible in a Year” plan, because it won’t let me forget where I stand. Writing down progress also lets you see when you are stalling, so that you can see what isn’t working.
Do not be afraid of the pain
To close out this blog, I will share that I’m working outside after taking a few months focusing on business, and the first time I started working with the shovel, my hands were in agony afterwards. I was in a state of atrophy, and it was my fault. However, I let myself recover, and each time the amount of work I can do increases, and the time to recovery decreases. In a similar sense, years back when I was a total financial mess, writing up my first budget ever was painful. All of a sudden, even “simple pleasures” had to be denied. But now, saving is so effortless that I barely notice it.
The way you are going to win, and the average NPC is going to lose (esp. without external help), is because you are going to push through the initial pain. I’ve read that breaking a bad habit and starting a new one takes 42 days, or a month and a half. If you are one here because you want to take down Facebook and set the world free, you can spend a month and a half, or few months, whatever it takes, to change yourself.
Once you do, your home habits will stop being a hindrance. Your body will not be fat, disgusting, and a visual argument against everything you say. You will not be so broke and busy that you can’t seize a good opportunity. And your clean house or apartment will silently remind you that you have what it takes.
And best of all, at this point you will truly be free for the next step, where we start taking action.