30 days to reaching your potential: The complete series

We all begin with hopes and dreams of becoming someone or achieving something in our lives.

Below the 30 day series on reaching your potential. 

It is designed to give people a myriad of little tasks that they can start to implement in their lives.

Ideally, these would become lifelong habits that will help them reach their potential and feel more on track in their lives.

30 days to reaching your potential BONUS day 31: Sharpening the saw

Ongoing learning is important to one's successes.

Congratulations on finishing the 30 days to reaching your potential. The series has been designed to help you improve various areas of your life, ranging from health and social activities to organisation and stepping out of your comfort zones.

However, the 30 day series is just the beginning...

Learning is a life long process. A lot of people leave school with the intention never to do any study again. I was not one of them. Learning has been one of the most satisfying things I have done with my life. I wake up in the morning looking forward to learning something new everyday.

As part of your commitment to ongoing education (having completed the 30 days series indicates you are looking for knowledge and want to reach your potential), I thought I would point you to some other things on the web I have found useful.

They are as follows:
Actions:
  • Spend a bit of time flicking through these and other online resources, and find some things to help you further develop the areas you got the most results from out of this 30 days series.

30 days to reaching your potential day 30: The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle has been something that has greatly helped me in my life.

For those of you who have not heard of the Pareto Principle, you can find a wikipedia entry about it here. The basic premise is that 80% of our efforts come from 20% of our results. This means that individuals can adjust various areas of their life to ensure they get the maximum results possible with the minimum time invested.

A good example of this came from a personal friend of mine who is a multi-millionaire in his mid-twenties. He runs several businesses and said the following "If I can get 80% of the results from 20% of my time (I.e.: 80% percent of business results from one of the five working days a week), I can then apply the principle to five businesses for a total result of 400%.".

This is an interesting concept and worthy of your attention. It has been a great benefit for me in many aspects of my life. Today we will begin using the Pareto Principle by doing an 80/20 analysis on the 30 days series you have been completing on reaching your potential.

Not every entry will have been a benefit to you. Two of my close friends (one a business consultant, the other a hairdressing apprentice) have been reading this series. One said he preferred the longer posts with several actions while the other liked some of the posts with a quick and simple application. The best thing is that it does not matter because 80% of the learning and benefits from this series for you personally will have most likely come from 20% of the content. Everyone is different and has different areas they need to work on in their lives.

Spend some time looking over the last 30 days and the tasks you have undertaken and determine which ones were of the most benefit for you personally. The idea is that rather than spend time continuing to get acquainted with the other 80% of the content here it is best for you to continue to focus on developing the 20% that has been the most beneficial to you.

Later if you want, you can always come back to the Archives on the site and review the series to improve other things in your life. I personally however would prefer to focus on developing strengths and areas of my life I am interested in learning more about as opposed to trying to do everything.

Actions:
  1. Reflect on the 30 day series.
  2. Research the Pareto Principle.
  3. Analyse the 30 days series based on the results you have had and the posts that have been the most empowering for you personally.
  4. Commit to continuing to improve those areas that have worked for you in some way rather than trying to do it all.
  5. Lastly, refer a friend or two to this series so that they can benefit from it too.

30 days to reaching your potential day 29: The Golden Rule

The old saying 'you reap what you sow' seems to be very profound.

When it comes to human relationships, we tend to get what we give. If we desire to have quality relationships in our lives then we need to live by The Golden Rule.

What is The Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule is a term that has been used for many rules in a variety of different contexts. However, in relation to this 30 day series The Golden Rule is this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Although simple sounding, this rule is actually quite difficult to uphold. We all have a number of times when we are able to listen, care, give, nurture, have patience and more, but what about during the crunch times when things are stressful at work or home, when we have had a bad day or things have not gone the way we initially hoped? That is when we need to apply The Golden Rule the most.

One thing I often notice with people who try to apply The Golden Rule is that they do to others expecting they will do the same to them in return. This is not the way it is designed. The notion behind The Golden Rule is to do to others what you would like them to do to you even when they don't do it. Reciprocation is not the name of the game when it comes to showing love to others.

How can I apply The Golden Rule?

The first step in determining how to apply The Golden Rule in your life is to begin by determining how you would like to be treated by others. All of us have a desire to be loved, to be shown mercy when things go wrong, to have people be honest and truthful with us even if it hurts, to be shown trust, to be happy, etc. Write down a list of the ways you would like to be treated.

The next step is to begin treating others the way in which you want to be treated. Want to be given a pay raise at work? Start by giving more and going the extra mile. Want to be shown more love by your partner? Take them out to dinner, listen to their thoughts and passions and then try to find things to help them in these endeavours. These examples are small but the application of The Golden Rule is limitless.

Spend a few minutes today applying The Golden Rule in one aspect of your life. Begin to increase the application as you build momentum and you are at a point where you are truly living a life where you do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Actions:
  1. Acknowledge The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  2. Write a list of the way you would like others to treat you.
  3. Begin treating others the same way in which you would like to be treated.
  4. Start small and in one aspect of your life, and build momentum as time goes on.
  5. Consider the costs of not treating others the way you would like to be treated. How will they feel? How will they treat you? Will you destroy relationships rather than build them?

30 days to reaching your potential day 28: start small


There are lots of little things you can do today to begin building momentum in areas of your life.

I am an avid fan of Neil Strauss and his books, and at the start of this month received an email from him about sub-resolutions. These sub-resolutions were a list of little things you could do to ensure that you get a long-term benefit without taking too much time. Some of these included things such as 'Register your full name as a domain name', ' Get or renew your passport', 'Get business cards' and more. I recommend reading the whole list and taking action on them. You can view them here.

No matter where we are currently at we all have a project we would like to accomplish. This might be building our own website, starting a new study course (degree, diploma, etc), buying that engagement ring you want to get your true love, starting a business, etc. Whatever it is, it can usually be started very simply.

Let's look at the above examples. Building your own website takes time but can you can start the journey by finding out how to buy a domain name and purchasing one. Starting a study course begins with finding out what you want to study and making some inquiries. Buying an engagement ring begins with finding a ring and beginning to save for it (and maybe putting it on layby so that no one else grabs it). Starting a new business begins with having an idea and getting an Australian Business Number (ABN). Any accomplishment has lots of little actions that are really simple but need to be accomplished to reach the long term vision.

An example of this from my own life is as follows: I have never been a good swimmer. Although I have had to overcome a lot of fear and apprehension around water I have finally decided to do something about it. The vision is to be able to swim well. It began by making some inquiries and booking some technique improvement lessons at the local pool.

No doubt you have dreams that you want to accomplish. Some of them may have been put down at the start of the series, others may have seemed as though they were not plausible for you this year. If the latter is the case it could be because you are looking at the big picture rather than breaking the journey down into small actionable steps such as making a phone call today that will begin the momentum that will help to achieve the long term goal. Today you can change that.

Actions:
  1. Read the sub-resolutions by Neil Strauss. Have a look at these items and how they fit into the long term picture of goals (health, online presence, travel, etc.).
  2. Acknowledge that each of the days in this 30 days series has been designed to help you take little actions towards bigger character traits (improving your social life, health, savings, organisation, etc.).
  3. Have a look at the big things you would like to achieve in the long term. Is there something you could do to make a start towards them today? I bet there is.
  4. Write down the little actions you can take for the next three days and then start. Any step forward is better than no step at all. Don't put off what is easy to do, as the pain of not making any progress often ends up worse than the pain to begin making progress.

30 days to reaching your potential day 27: On life and death

We all have a purpose to play with our lives.

Yesterday saw a death that was very close to a person in my primary circle of influence. Unfortunately when someone dies there is just nothing that can really be said to ease the pain.

Life is precious and each of us is unique. We all have our own distinct personality and can never be replaced. I firmly believe that we all have a unique purpose to play in life and as long as we are still breathing our purpose for existing is not yet completed.

Death is something we must all face yet no one wants to really experience it. At times we can forget just how short our lives really are and can often get distracted, embarrassed or afraid when it comes to completing our purpose. Unfortunately these are usually only distractions in our lives.

Steve Jobs, Founder and CEO of Apple Computers stated the following which is powerful to remember:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

We may not know our true calling in life but I can guarantee this: it is for the benefit of someone else. Our lives were meant to be lived with others. Often when we die, the greatest impact we have had can be seen in both the way we have lived our lives and the impact our lives have had in helping others to live theirs.

Today is as good a day as any to spend a few minutes reflecting on the value of your life and lives of those around you. Remember that you have a purpose and that any obstacles that could prevent that purpose from being fulfilled are insignificant when compared to death. Lastly, contemplate how best to live your life in a way that can be an example for those whom you spend it with.

Actions:
  1. Reflect on the value of life.
  2. Acknowledge that you have a purpose to play (even if you are unsure what it is).
  3. Remember that your life is the greatest example you have for others, and consider how best to use it for their benefit.

30 days to reaching your potential day 26: Avoid negative talk

We all speak negatively to ourselves and others from time to time. The problem is that during the process we end up doing a lot of damage that can take a really long time to reverse.

Negative speech can have more of an affect on people than we notice, and negative self-talk can have a big affect on our self perception. There is a saying I heard a few years ago that said for every negative thing we are told about ourselves we need fifteen positive ones to reverse the damage.

A few years ago when I was facing depression I remembering saying things to myself such as 'What's the point? You'll never get there' and 'I'm depressed' which made me feel worse. The more I repeated these statements, the worse I felt and the unhealthier I became. It took a long time to curb this habit and to restore my self-esteem... but it has been worthwhile changing the behaviour.

Words are truly powerful things. By beginning to focus on changing our speech we can begin to change our results in life.

Today we are going to try a simple exercise that is a modification of something Tim Ferriss suggested on his blog as part of a 30 day no-complaint experiment. Find a rubber band, bracelet or something else to put around one of your wrists. Every time you find yourself swearing, gossiping about someone, telling yourself you are unworthy or thinking something can't be done, swap the bracelet from one side to the other.

By swapping the rubber band, bracelet, etc. from one hand to the other you are making yourself aware of what you are saying. From there, you can begin to take action and begin to replace negative talk with positive speech. for today however, the main thing is to begin to develop an awareness of any negative talk you use. Chances are (if you are like me) you will use more than you initially expected.

Actions:
  1. Acknowledge that words are powerful things.
  2. Realise the effect your words can have on yourself or others.
  3. Use a bracelet, rubber band, etc. as mentioned above to become aware of your negative speech.
  4. Begin to replace negative speech with positive speech over time.
  5. Alternatively, make a commitment to improve one area of speech. Give up swearing, gossiping, etc.
  6. Tell a friend about your commitment and get them to keep you accountable.

30 days to reaching your potential day 25: Find empowering quotes

Quotes are empowering!

I recently had a conversation with someone who told me that they have compiled a Word document full of quotes they have found useful and empowering. When they told me I was sitting their thinking to myself, 'What a great idea!'. Previously I have had a lot of quotes I remembered and quoted to myself and others on various circumstances, but I had never compiled them into a document that I could use to motivate myself during those times when things slump before.

Quotes are powerful things. They inspire us, remind us that others have faced similar situations, that what may seem impossible can be achieved.

I know there are a lot of quotes I reflect on when I am facing various circumstances or find myself thinking certain things. Here is just a handful of quotes I like and refer to regularly:
  • "Our lives should not be diametrically opposed to, but rather better than that of the mob" Seneca
  • "It doesn't matter how many people don't get it. What matters is how many people do. If you have a strong informed opinion, don't keep it to yourself. try and help people and make the world a better place. If you strive to do anything remotely interesting, just expect a small percentage of the population to take it personally. F*** 'em. There are no statues erected to critics" Tim Ferriss
  • "Success comes from doing things differently" Steve McKnight
  • "If you reach for the stars, you might not quite get one, but you won't end up with a handful of mud, either" Leo Burnett
  • "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31
Today is the day to start building yourself a list of empowering quotes. You don't have to have hundreds, just start with one or two. Add more as you find them or feel inclined. When you are feeling you need some help to get out of a motivational slump, look back on these quotes to help empower yourself.

Actions:
  1. Start compiling a page of quotes that mean something to you.
  2. Reflect and review these quotes on a regular basis.
  3. When things seem down, remember that others before you have faced similar circumstances... and overcome them. Use their quotes to empower you forward to reach your potential.

30 days to reaching your potential day 24: hang free today

We all carry a lot of physical baggage with us each day. This baggage does not seem much, but it is a lot more than we need. As we get older, we tend to accumulate more and more of it too.

We have so much baggage that we carry around that we forget what it is like to head out for the day without having to cart it all around. Here are some examples of things we carry around on a regular basis:

Males:
  • Laptop
  • I-Phone or I-Pod
  • Keys
  • Watch and other jewelery
  • Mobile Phone
  • Wallet
  • Sunglasses
  • Compendium or notebook
  • etc.
Females:
  • Foundation, Lipstick and other makeup
  • Notebook
  • Keys
  • Phone
  • Sunglasses
  • Bracelets and other jewelery
  • etc.
I remember when I was a little kid I didn't have to cart anything around. Just the clothes on my back (maybe a helmet if I was riding my bike) and that was it!

Today we are going to try an experiment. We are going to avoid carrying as much and go out with as little as possible. Of course, these days we need a lot of things but if you can live part of the day without it leave it at home. Experiment with what it feels like not having to cart around a bag and hurt your back for a change.

As you do this experiment, figure out what you can remove from your regular daily baggage. If you don't use it all the time, chances are you don''t need it. Remove excess cards from your wallet, the laptop if there is a computer at work and you have a smart phone, lipstick you never use, etc. Reducing this extra stuff slowly can help save your back and make you feel more confident that you are not the stuff you own, but rather you are a valued individual.

Actions:
  1. Look at the stuff you carry with you daily. Eliminate anything that is not essential for today.
  2. Experiment with your baggage and remove items that are not essential.
  3. Realise you are not what you own, but rather a valued individual for who you are.

30 days to reaching your potential day 23: Show some gratitude

Setting goals and having ambitions is ideal for reaching your potential. However, if you are like me then you often look forward and forget to look back on the odd occasion and consider just how far you have come. Being grateful for your previous results and current position in life can be a tremendous thing.

Showing gratitude can be a very powerful thing. It helps us to feel content where we are and to reduce our desires for more which can at times become overpowering and consume a lot of our time and energy. Spending a little time each day being thankful can have dramatic results.

Take a few minutes today to show some gratitude. Pray and give thanks or write down your gratitude in your journal. If you have someone that you are grateful for then thank them. This simple but powerful technique can really help you to accept yourself and be glad for what you have accomplished.

Actions:
  1. Take some time and show some gratitude (either to God, to yourself or to a loved one) for where you currently are.

30 days to reaching your potential day 22: The extra mile

One thing that is often overlooked by many people (particularly by my generation) in reaching their potential is the habit of going the extra mile.

Going the extra mile is a habit that is important to cultivate in order to reach your potential. Going the extra mile can improve your results at your job or in your business, with family and friends, with your health and fitness and in your spiritual life.

I remember when I first started working for Pitch Club. I was employed as a Management Assistant. I was in the middle of doing exams and studying and really couldn't make a start before they were finished, however I pushed myself and started working for them. Six weeks later I was no longer referred to as the Management Assistant but now as the Manager. I also got an 11% pay raise. My results continued to improve with the company, but I would not be where I am today if it had not been for doing more than I was paid for and going the extra mile.

Going the extra mile has a number of benefits:
  • Employees who go the extra mile are held onto longer during redundancies
  • Family will notice the extra commitment you put in
  • Friends will start to know you are reliable and trustworthy
  • You will feel more fulfilled in your spiritual life
  • Your chances of success improve greatly.
Going the extra mile can be done very easily, particularly at work. One of my friends (let's call her Bianca) does this by focusing on her job during work hours (as opposed to playing on facebook) and by showing up to work half an hour before she needs to start. This sees her productivity improve while showing her bosses that she is a leader and cares about the business enough to work for half an hour unpaid every day. The benefits to her? Several promotions, pay raises and a staff member to work under her. Not bad for a little bit of extra effort.

There are a number of ways you can get started going the extra mile. They are:

At Work
  • Show up early and/or leave later than everyone else
  • Focus on work tasks instead of being distracted
  • Read relevant material to improve your results out of work hours
  • Spend time building new relationships with clients and coworkers
  • Come up with new ideas and possibilities for the business, and voice them to the right people
  • Show initiative and do what should be done without being told to do it.
At Home
  • Keep the house tidy for the rest of the family
  • Do the dishes for your parents without being asked
  • Embrace minimalism and help declutter the environment
  • Tell family members you love them... or show them by buying them flowers, etc.
With Friends
  • Call and see how your friend is going
  • Take an interest in what they are doing, and help them out where possible
  • Make the effort: take the initiative to build the relationship. Don't wait for them.
In Your Spiritual Life
  • Meditate and/or pray more
  • Spend more time reading relevant material
  • Give to those who need
  • Take a course to learn more
  • Teach what you know, and learn from others.
With Fitness/Health
  • Do one extra rep
  • Drink an extra glass of water
  • Find a workout buddy
  • Take a class
  • Join a gym.
By starting small and increasing your results gradually you can begin to build your momentum over time in relation to going the extra mile. Also, as you continue to give more than you receive and expect you may even find that your happiness and other benefits (remuneration, love, fulfillment, etc.) come along too.

Actions:
  1. Determine an area of life where you can start to go the extra mile today.
  2. Take the first small step in going the extra mile.
  3. Build momentum gradually.

30 days to reaching your potential day 21: Start to declutter

In the second half of 2009 I moved houses with my family twice. Although we haven't eliminated everything could, we have definitely started to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, and there have been several benefits in doing so.

Minimalism has many advantages. These vary from things such as taking less time to find a t-shirt to wear and the ability to move houses more easily all the way through to having less mental clutter.

I remember when I first started to embrace minimalism and began with rearranging my bedroom. There was piles of clothes everywhere, things all over the tops of benches, the top of my bookshelf, stuff all over my desk (and papers falling out of it), bits of random junk lying on the floor and more. To top it off, a lot of my stuff that should have been in my bedroom was flowing through into other rooms, taking up the wardrobe space of other family members.

Now things are different. My room contains a bookshelf, a photo, a bed, two bedside tables and a nicely organised wardrobe. Although there are still things that could be changed I feel pretty happy with where things are at (although I might put up a nice piece of art soon above my bed).

Although I don't believe in Feng Shui, the notion (according to this article anyway) is that your outer world (I.e.: your environment) represents your inner world (I.e.: your mental bandwidth). Feng Shui takes the notion that by making changes in the outer world you can begin to see changes in your inner world. I still remember the first night I put my head on the pillow after making a lot of adjustments... tings just felt a little more right and I slept like a baby.

Decluttering is not something that has to be done over night, but there is a lot of information out there that can help you to make a start. The Zen Habits blog, created by Leo Babauta has a lot of information that helped me get started on this path. A lot of his useful posts on minimalism and decluttering can be found at http://zenhabits.net/2008/06/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-simplifying-your-life-and-way-more/.

Actions:
  1. Read the information available (courtesy of Leo Babauta) on decluttering and minimalism.
  2. Determine to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle.
  3. Start by agreeing not to buy anything new today. The first step to embracing minimalism is to buy less stuff and either save the money or spend it doing activities (such as travel, exercise or socialising outdoors with friends).
  4. Start by making a small change now. This could be simply putting your clothes in the wardrobe instead of keeping them on the floor, clearing a bench top or clearing a drawer in your desk.
  5. Continue to build momentum: none of the things in this series is meant to be a once only attempt. They are the beginning actions for developing habits that will help you to reach your potential.

30 days to reaching your potential day 20: Organise your communications

We are constantly being bombarded with information from a variety of sources.

With the average person using email, phone calls, sms, Facebook, Twitter and more, our networking can end up taking a lot of time and can reduce our productivity. Today we are going to change that.

There are a lot of different opinions on how this should be done, and personally I am experimenting with the process myself at the moment. I am still a fan of keeping the tools I use to a minimum,, but am now reviewing methods for combining tools.

Here are a few things I am trying right now:

1. Using a Smartphone: After being a fan of the Tim Ferriss philosophy of avoiding smartphones for years I have finally embraced them. The reason? I have become tired of having to fire up a computer and log into several different account profiles to be able to do the few things I regularly do: read and reply to email, comments, etc. I have found that I can do approximately 40% of my main communications work on my blackberry via email, facebook, phone calls and sms. Having all of these come to the one device without having to login to several accounts saves me time. Sure it may be addicting but one thing Tim forgot to mention is that you can turn the phone off and avoid comms from all channels at once!

2. Using the computer only when work has to be done: Now that my comms are off the pc, my time on computers has been reduced to only the essential (document creation, invoicing, Skype calls, etc.). If I could write my blog posts and send attachments via email (still looking into this), I could probably reduce my time on the pc even more thanks to the blackberry. My business partner uses an I-phone and says he can do about 60% of business activities through that, so that could be an option for the next phone I purchase. This also means I'm not wasting time online but rather jumping on the computer only when it is really necessary.

3. Sticking to facebook as opposed to sms: with more people getting facebook mobile, this is cutting down my costs big time. Usually I don't require an instant reply anyway and if I do I call the person.

4. Using tips and techniques learned from others: There is a plethora of information out there for tinkering with your email, twitter, etc. Also there are lots of ways of updating multiple profiles at one time. Rather than re-write the content, here are some links to some of the content I have found useful over the last year or so:
Actions:
  1. Review how you are using your communications.
  2. Try to make some adjustments for more efficiency.
  3. Reduce the amount of information you read (blogs, papers, magazines, etc.) to focus on quality vs quantity.
  4. Consider buying a smart phone if you don't already have one.
  5. You don't have to be perfect overnight, but any improvement to how you use your communications is a good start.

30 days to reaching your potential day nineteen: Try something new

We all like to remain in our comfort zones.

Once we begin to get settled in life, things become easier and we begin to become comfortable. We tend to be more reluctant to try new things and can become fearful. Unfortunately this situation leaves us missing out on some of the best experiences that life has to offer us.

One way to begin to reach our potential and discover all that life has to offer us is to try something new. Here is a personal example: For years, I have never been a good swimmer and have not had the courage to take action to improve. Luckily however, I changed my mindset and decided I wanted to learn to swim. My mother decided to finally buy me some swimming lessons as a Christmas present (as well as access to a pool) as a result. Once I book them in and start I'll be trying something that is new to me while at the same time I'll be overcoming a fear I've met face to face a few times over the years.

Today is the day to try something new. You don't have to go and book swimming lessons (although you might). You could drive a new way to work, have a meal at that restaurant you have always wanted to check out but have never gone to or you could do a short course in something that interests you (speaking of which, I also enrolled in a short course in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which should be exciting). The idea is to expand your context over your usual routine so that you begin to gradually step outside your comfort zones and into reaching your potential.

Actions:
  1. Try something new. Small steps and new changes lead the way to big results over time. Begin today and watch the changes in your life as you continue to try new things over time.

30 days to reaching your potential day eighteen: Stay away from the TV

Most of the most successful people I have met over the years advocate eliminating or reducing the time you spend watching TV (also known as the Time Vanisher).

The TV has become a way for us to kill our time. If you want to reach your potential then you need to stop killing time. Author John C. Maxwell wrote in relation to leadership "Leaders don't kill time, they execute it.". Reaching your potential begins with taking a leadership role over your own life and your own time.

Most of us have spent a lot of time over the years watching television. I remember hearing years ago that the average person spends 20 hours a week watching TV. That is nearly three hours a day! Think of all the other useful things you could be doing with an extra two-three hours a day if you reduced your time spent watching TV.

Today it is time to fast from watching TV. Spend the time reflecting on this challenge and doing some of the activities from this 30 day challenge.

Actions:
  1. Don’t watch TV today.
  2. Use the time normally spent watching TV doing something else, whether it be exercising, journaling, reading, cooking, seeing friends or anything else.

30 days to reaching your potential day seventeen: Have a rest

The average person needs approximately seven-eight hours a night sleep. Often we don’t get the amount of sleep that we need. This could be because we are out partying, watching movies, drinking, etc. Although we may enjoy these activities, not getting enough sleep can cause us to be less energetic, impatient, tired and more.

Today’s exercise is an easy one. Rather than having a big night, go to bed a little earlier than usual. Have a good night’s rest and try to get the recommended seven-eight hours sleep. See how you feel in the next day after a good nights sleep and determine if you feel any different from nights where you don't get the recommended amount.

We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping. As much as we try to avoid it, we still have to do it. So make sure it is time well spent, so that you are at your peak potential during the day rather than lacking energy throughout your days.

As a side interest, I found some facts on the ABC website from the National Sleep Research Project. You can find them here: http://www.abc.net.au/science/sleep/facts.htm

Actions:
  1. Get the recommended amount of sleep tonight.

30 days to reaching your potential day sixteen: eat breakfast

I don’t know about you, but for years I have skipped breakfast. At the time of writing this I have had breakfast for the last five days in a row and I feel fantastic! Even though what I've been eating for breakfast is not the healthiest food in the world, eating in the morning is definitely making a difference towards the way I feel when approaching a new day.


Many of you are probably not eating breakfast at this point in time (hey, it's okay... I'm not perfect either). If you are, then congratulations! Keep up the good work! But if you do not, it’s time to start changing the pattern.

Today is the day to start eating breakfast. The body goes without food for the entire time you are asleep, which is usually the longest period the body goes without food in a normal day. Failing to eat breakfast in the morning increases this time which is not good for the body. Breakfast helps prevent the body from going any longer than it needs to without food.

You don’t have to start with anything majorly healthy. Just begin by eating some toast, cereal or something else you feel like. Try and begin to establish a routine that will see you eating breakfast (even if it is small) every day.

Actions:
  1. Eat breakfast today.
  2. If you don't normally eat breakfast, try to increase your regularity until eventually you are eating breakfast every day.

30 days to reaching your potential day fifteen: show some love

We are all human and all need to feel loved at times. More often than not, we receive negative feelings, words and emotions from others in our lives. These can leave people feeling bad about themselves and feeling extremely hurt, which can create tension in aspects of their lives.

It is said that for every wrong thing someone is told they need five or more compliments to undo the damage. How much more would then be needed to help them truly reach their potential? If you want to live a better life, then part of your goal in the process should be to help others to better their lives.

Today we are going to start to show love to others. Today you need to find three people and compliment them. Whether you do this in person, via phone, sms, email or facebook does not matter. 

The main thing is to give someone a positive reinforcement that they are valued and appreciated in your life. Continue to do this daily for the rest of this series and observe any changes.

The benefit of this action is twofold. The first is that by complimenting three people a day, you begin to improve how they feel about themselves. The second is that people will start to appreciate the value you give them and will in turn value you more.

Actions:
  1. Pick three people you know.
  2. Compliment them in some way.
  3. Do the same everyday for the rest of this series and watch the effect on your relationships.
  4. Make sure you read tomorrow’s post first thing in the morning before you do anything else.

30 days to reaching your potential day fourteen: start a journal


We all have thoughts that get stuck in our head that we don’t feel we can express to others. Journaling is a way of letting out our thoughts that would normally not be mentioned to others. It is a private sanctuary meant solely for us whereby we can release our feelings and the expressions of our soul.
Today is the day to start a journal. If you have had a journal before, that’s great! If not, this is not a pressured exercise. Rather, it is an opportunity to begin to express yourself in a new way.

You don’t have to write in it every day. You can write what is on your mind whenever you feel like it. The main thing is to be able to express your thoughts in a private place to yourself while getting them out of your head in the process.

There is a great book called Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Empire who was also a Stoic Philosopher. The book Meditations outlines his reflections/ journal entries to himself to remind him both of his Stoic doctrine and to help him deal with issues on life. It is a great read and gives a good example of just how personal a journal can be and what sort of thoughts others have had in their own private sanctuary. Personally I would recommend the Penguin Classics translation for those starting out, but the penguin classics version is also fantastic.

Journaling can be done in a variety of ways. You can write on a blog, in a notepad or however works for you. The main thing is to return to your journal fairly regularly to express your thoughts and to also reflect on your thought patterns (I.e.: main aspects you continue thinking about, whether positive or negative).

For more information on Journaling and the benefits of it for stress management, check out the article at: http://stress.about.com/od/generaltechniques/p/profilejournal.htm.

Actions:
  • Start a private blog on Blogger.com (or another platform) or buy a journal notebook.
  • Begin recording your thoughts in your journal on a regular basis.
  • Reflect on your journal entries and the patterns in your thoughts.

30 days to reaching your potential day thirteen: start to exercise

Exercise is great for the body.

A few years ago, I was exercising almost every day and building huge momentum both in my output, results and confidence. During this time I felt the healthiest I had ever been. I was disciplined and organised and my results in all aspects of my life were outstanding.

Unfortunately during this time I took up smoking again. This set me back health wise and although I eventually kicked the habit I gave up the exercise in the process. I have since got back into exercise again and each time I do something I feel fantastic.

Most of us know that we don’t exercise as much as we should. We look at ourselves in the mirror and are unhappy with the way we look, but do not feel motivated enough to make a change. Usually we link a lot of pain to doing exercise for the long term pleasure of being healthy. Instead, we prefer to link pleasure to our short term gratification of not exercising and overeating in exchange for the long term pain of being unhealthy.

Today we are going to start building momentum in relation to exercise. Set some SMART goals for yourself in this area. If you currently don’t are not doing any exercise, then perhaps you could start doing 20 push-ups and sit-ups along with 20 minutes of walking three times a week. Then you could add five minutes and five push-ups and sit-ups to your routine each week. The importance here is to get into a habit that will help you to begin building a regular routine that will see you gradually increase your results over time.

Here are two routines that can see you building your health and fitness quickly with a scalable routine:
Actions:

  1. Start exercising today. Go for a walk, add five push-ups to your routine or consider joining a sport team.
  2. Develop a habit. Get into a routine of doing exercise based on your goals and slowly increase your output to help you reach your goals. Take it steady and prepare to enjoy the lifelong journey of exercising.

30 days to reaching your potential day twelve: Cook yourself something

Fast food has become a great cause for obesity.

Australia is the most obese nation in the world. We spend so much of our money buying fast food which is not healthy for us and takes it's toll on our bodies. I know that the more regularly I eat take away the less I remember the joy associated with cooking my own food.

Today we are going to begin breaking the take away or restaurant eating cycle. Spend some time today and cook yourself a meal. It is not so important what exactly you cook, but rather that you spend some time cooking something instead of purchasing a meal. Try to associate the joy of creating with the joy of eating.

Whenever I prepare my own food at home, I find that I feel a lot more confident and healthy. It makes m feel a lot more content in my own abilities. Take away has been a vice for me for years (especially given the traveling nature of my work history) but it is something I am working on cutting back.

If you eat meals away from home regularly, don't feel like you have to give it up entirely. The objective is to reduce the amount of take away meals and meals spent in restaurants that you have. The cash alone that you can save from this exercise should make it worthwhile.

If you eat at home on a regular basis then that is fantastic! Keep up the great work and continue again by preparing your own meal at home tonight.

Actions:
  1. Prepare yourself a meal at home. For most people who work this will be dinner, but it could be a nice breakfast or lunch too.

30 days to reaching your potential day eleven: Look people in the eye

Today's task does not require much explanation. Try looking people in the eye whenever you look at them or are speaking to them. This can be more difficult than expected, but try it and see how differently people respond.

Looking people in the eye conveys a lot of things about yourself and the way you feel towards another person. A number of people get intimidated looking at someone in the eye when they speak, so this can help with confidence to an extent also.

Actions:
  • Look people in the eye rather than looking elsewhere when engaging in conversation.
  • Look people on the street in the eye. If they look at you also smile at them and look until they look away. If they ask what you are looking at simply say "Sorry I thought you were a friend of mine".

30 days to reaching your potential day ten: Let us go shopping

For those of you who are fans of shopping today is going to be a good day.

We are going to start along the journey of improving your wardrobe. Most people present themselves in a light that does not portray them appropriately and consequently end up selling themselves short in many aspects of life.

As much as I believe we should all look at the inner beauty, the reality is that most people are shallow and judge people based on their appearance. Therefore it makes sense to do what we can (within reason) to ensure that we make a good first impression. A few simple changes (and a few hundred dollars spent) can make a huge difference.

Some aspects to think about when preparing to add new clothes to your wardrobe:
  • Smart casual: Your new wardrobe should consist of a smart casual attire. No surf brands, no heavy metal black jumpers, etc. A nice cut pair of jeans that are stylish are good, along with some casual t-shirts and button up shirts. Polo shirts are okay but tend to be seasonal so are better to avoid.
  • Nice fit: I know a lot of people who feel overweight. They end up buying bigger clothing to try and prevent people from noticing and from making it look to obvious. Although I do not recommend skin tight clothing (for men especially), buying clothing that fits is paramount. If you feel self conscious then consider ways you can do things to improve your confidence and happiness within yourself. Clothes that fit indicate that you still have style and have a fashion sense, which implies a lot about you.
  • Different colours: For years I have been a fan of black and white. Last night (at the time of writing this) I went out and almost every guy was wearing a white t-shirt. I was wearing a bright orange t-shirt under a button up which made me look different from the crowd. Brighter colours indicate confidence as most people will notice you. Black and whites (IE: neutral colours) tend to help you blend into the crowd. You don't have to have the brightest colour clothes, but try buying colours you don't normally wear and see how your mood is affected.
  • Professionals advice: I have been to a store twice in the last year now and each time spent over $600. Why did I do this? I went in looking for a piece of clothing but the guy in there helps me find a whole outfit or two that looks fantastic. This sales rep has now informed me that they go through a lot of training on how to match clothing, colour and style. I generally think that they have a little more knowledge than me, so I take their advice and buy what suits me.
  • Haircut: Your hair is also important. This is another one I have avoided for a long time, often revoking back to the same old haircut each time. I now go in and try to do something new, to see what I like and what works for me. Sometimes I get a few foils put through, but it is not essential. Get something done that suits you new look. If you are starting to go bald then maybe you could shave your hair off and get your ears pierced, or get some sort of different hairstyle.
  • Grooming: Grooming is another one I see friends hiding behind. I find that when I don't shave that people notice. I personally try to stick to shaving daily as my growth doesn't seem to do much for me. Many of my friends grow beards and hide a lot of their facial features, trying to hide behind the beard. Although they don't have to shave it off, a little styling and elimination of and fluffy parts could make a huge difference.
  • Accessories: Often overlooked by men (except for the wristwatch), accessories can dramatically improve your outfits, appearance and how interesting other people perceive you as being. Items include, rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, a scarf or two, etc.
  • Hygiene: Hygiene is vital. Cleaning your teeth, wearing deodorant and cologne is a must. Don't avoid it.
With these thoughts in mind, spend today heading out to a few shops and get at least one new whole outfit, not based on what you want but what the sales professional recommends. You will then have a brand new look! It might take a little while to feel comfortable in your new style, but overtime you will become more confident and satisfied that you are presenting yourself in a manner that serves you justice.

Actions:
  • Head to a nice clothing shop (specific for your gender).
  • If you don't know of a clothing shop, ask a friend who appears stylish for advice.
  • Be prepared to spend a little (but don't go into debt).
  • Take the advice of the professional and try on a variety of clothes.
  • Ask for their opinion and buy the recommendations.