2 Practical Ways to Build the Mental Toughness You Need in Business — and in Life.

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If I had to pick just one quality and characteristic I was able to take away from the game of football that greatly impacted my life as an entrepreneur, it would be mental toughness, without a doubt. Playing the game of football since I was a little kid and then eventually getting the wonderful opportunity to play at the highest level in the NFL has transformed my mindset more than anything else.

Of course I learned the incredible importance of teamwork, culture, leadership and other important qualities, but the resilience that was instilled in me from the game of football is what I am most grateful for.

If you think that football players or other professional athletes are born with a special kind of mental toughness and that it becomes second nature for them right away, you are wrong. Mental toughness is something that you can strengthen and develop over time regardless of what you do for a living.

recent study by University of Miami neuroscientist Amishi Jha found that mental toughness and resilience are skills that can be learned by and trained for by collegiate football players. The results showed that just like physical training, practice and repetition are key for mental training. Even though this particular study was limited to collegiate football players, its results were great news for everyone because they apply not just to football players, but to many different industries and occupations.

Why mental toughness is so important.

If you feel mentally defeated, chances are small that you will ever get to where you want to go. Whether we are talking about athletics or business, winning, first and foremost, will be absolutely everything. There is nothing that you can’t do or become when you have a phenomenally strong mindset.

A big part of having that focused mindset is being able to keep pressing forward when the going gets extremely tough, staying positive when negativity attacks and persisting over and over again until you finally reach your destination. That’s the true definition of mental toughness: displaying an enormous amount of belief, fight and dedication toward a goal that you are passionately pursuing. If you take a look at any category of high achievers regardless of industry, you will quickly realize that they have displayed an extraordinary level of mental toughness to get to where they are.

How to build mental toughness.

The University of Miami study showed that one of the best ways to build mental toughness is through practicing mindfulness on a consistent basis. Mindfulness is all about directing your energy and thoughts on the present moment without any judgment. I was first introduced to the power of mindfulness training when I was in college playing football for Indiana University.

Once a week, we would have a sports psychologist come in and lead the team in practicing different breathing exercises and body scans.(guided meditation focusing on different parts of the body). When we first started these routines, I was skeptical, to say the least. I thought there was no way all of these weird-looking exercises and the act of focusing on my breathing could impact the way I played on the field.

But I was so wrong. Not only did my focus on the field increase, but my anxiety and stress decreased after a few weeks of really giving these practices a try.

Based on my own experiences, I can offer two practical ways that may help you — as they did me — build mental toughness and resilience, starting today.

1. Practice mindfulness daily.

Practicing mindfulness daily is a game-changer. Not only are studies showing the importance of mindfulness and detailing the amazing benefits that it provides, but people like me are extoling it based on personal experience.

Mindfulness calms your mind down from the noisy and chaotic world that we live in; and that calm, in turn, equips you with the strength and peace of mind to keep moving forward even in the face of extreme difficulty. Being in tune with the present moment and living fully right where you currently are helps diminish the fear that holds many people back and provides them with the clarity to focus on what’s most important.

I use the Calm app, which has worked wonders for me. It has a variety of different breathing exercises and body scans that the app walks you through step by step. Practicing mindfulness daily doesn’t just help you build mental toughness, it can change your life in so many different ways such as decreasing daily anxiety and drastically increasing your overall well-being.

2. Step out of your comfort zone daily.

This one may be a lot more difficult than practicing mindfulness, but making it a daily habit to step out of your comfort zone builds an incredible amount of strength.

Just as you would go to the gym to get stronger physically and strive to make your muscles grow, stepping out of your comfort zone daily is what helps you expand your capacity for mental toughness.

The more I seek to step out of my own comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the time, the stronger and better I feel. When I plan my day the night before, one of the first things I do is ask myself how can I step out of my comfort zone for that particular day. You can’t build mental toughness and become resilient by always playing it safe and operating only out of the confines of your comfort zone.

In short, being resilient and mentally tough is a non-negotiable if you want to step into your greatness and become the best version of yourself. Give these two practices a try. They may well help you get there.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

This is the Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make

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One of the most important decisions you can ever make is to become your own CEO. I’m talking about taking complete responsibility for your life and not blaming others or your circumstances for past results or where you are right now.

It’s mindboggling to me how someone can go year after year, month after month, day after day complaining about their laundry list of misfortunes but do absolutely nothing about it? I hear so many people say they want to be great, achieve more success and make more money. But they never do anything about it. The main thing that most of these individuals do is whine and complain about their sorry lot in life. They sit back and let others make their decisions.

Granted, I understand there are situations and issues in peoples’ lives that may prevent them from achieving their dreams. There can be circumstances that are beyond their control. Certain family issues, disabilities, and extreme illnesses to name a few. I’m not judging people when I see them living in undesirable situations. It’s possible life has dealt them a bad hand and they can’t navigate their way out. I get it, and I do not mean to sound preachy.

On the flip side, I see others who could do something about their lives if they just tried a little harder.

Throw away the excuses.

“I don’t have any talent.”

“I can’t ever seem to get a good job. Someone better always gets the job.”

“I can’t make enough money to pay my bills.”

“I don’t have any luck at all.”

“I feel like the world is out to get me.”

“I am worried about what others will think.”

Does this sound like anyone you know? They make you want to kick them in the butt and say, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You can change your destiny! You can change your life!”

The list of examples can go on and on, but you get the point. Making excuses has never crowned anyone a champion. The day that you decide to throw away all excuses once and for all will be the day that changes your life forever. A simple but extremely powerful transformation begins to take place.

Just do it!

Nike’s slogan “Just Do It!” is one of the best in advertising. Getting up off your butt and going out there to make things happen is the way you become the leader of your life.

Sure, I know. I agree with you. I’ve been through it, so I’m speaking from experience. One of the hardest things to do is take full charge of your life and be the leader of your destiny. But when you do, you force yourself to look at your life and say, “I am not where I want to be because of myself and the choices and decisions that I have made.” Your next comment may be, “I am going to do something about it and make a positive change.”

When you do this, you take ownership of where you are and where you are headed. That’s not an easy thing to do, trust me. One of the hardest things I ever do is force myself to look within when times are not the best. Heck, when I was 16-years old and a full blown drug addict throwing my life away I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was so despicable. Things began to change when I finally had had enough. That is when I developed the courage to truly look within myself. Slowly but surely, I became the CEO of my life — the leader of my destiny.

Becoming my own leader redefined my philosophy of life. It will redefine yours, as well. There is absolutely nothing you can’t do or overcome when you choose to be the CEO of your life. Being the leader of your destiny is rejecting the easy road and opting for what’s worth it in the long run.

Think about it. It will be a shame if you get to the final stages of your life with nothing but your excuses for why you didn’t follow a passion or a dream. It breaks my heart to even think about this, but it happens all the time.

Maximize opportunities.

Becoming the leader of your destiny opens the floodgates of opportunity, and life seems to become a bit easier, because others will join in and help when they can.

For example, let’s say there are two young men named John and Chris. John is the leader of his destiny. When something goes wrong, he doesn’t make excuses or place the blame on someone else. John doesn’t focus on the negative. He constantly searches for ways to better himself and elevate his position in life.

Chris is a totally different story. He has a long track record of letting his failures define him. Every chance he gets, he makes excuses or blames someone else for his misfortunes and lack of success. It truly is a negative, energy-draining experience for anyone who comes in contact with him.

Out of the two men, who do you think is more likely to receive more opportunities to get back on the right track and have others want to help in any way they can? The answer to that question is obvious. People gravitate toward positive people. They’re attractive and make you feel good. On the other hand, it’s difficult to be around negative people because they’re a liability to your happiness.

Make the decision.

One of the most rewarding decisions you can ever make is to become the leader of your destiny, your own CEO, and take complete responsibility for everything that happens. Once you do, it won’t be long before your opportunities begin to expand. And others will go out of their way to help you, even if it’s something simple. Being the leader of your destiny is a trait that all champions possess.

This piece is adapted from Matt Mayberry’s book Winning Plays, published by Hachette/Center Street.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Questions That You Should Regularly Ask Yourself That Can Transform Your Life

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Asking great questions regularly can drastically transform your life in many amazing ways. Doing this also encourages you to pause and think more deeply. What’s more, asking the right questions stimulates creative thinking that can inch you that much closer to experiencing a major breakthrough.

Such questioning has been monumental in my own personal and professional growth over the years.

I truly believe that the best of the best, those excelling at a very high level in all that they do, have formed the habit of asking better questions on a regular basis than everyone else. Tony Robbins once said, “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” I couldn’t agree more.

To get you started on the right track, here are three questions that I regularly ask myself that have provided a tremendous amount of value in my life.

1. “Where am I?”

Taking the time to ask yourself where you currently are in life is incredibly important. A huge majority of the population never even stops to analyze where they are right this moment and if that’s where they truly want to be. They just continue going through the motions and living life way beneath their full potential.

Then, all of a sudden, they get stopped dead in their tracks and realize how unfulfilling their lives are, and they start feeling sorry for themselves and playing the blame game. Please don’t fall into that trap. Start asking yourself on a continual basis where you currently are in life and answer that question honestly. One of the hardest things to do is to admit that you aren’t where you want to be or that you have been doing it all wrong leading up to this point.

However, do you know what’s even much harder to deal with? Regret. And a lot of the regret that people unfortunately experience comes directly from never taking the time to ask this simple but extremely important question.

2. “Where do I want to be?”

This question is all about digging deep within yourself and discovering what your true passions, goals and dreams really are. In this day and age, it is so easy to get sidetracked by the fast-paced and noisy world we live in, while totally forgetting about what we truly want for our lives, personally and professionally.

One of the best ways to constantly make sure that you are moving in the right direction is to get in the habit of asking yourself where exactly you want to be. Where do you want to be professionally? Where do you want to be financially? Where do you want to be in your personal relationships? Where do you want to be in your health journey?

3. “How am I going to get there?”

All three of these questions are vitally important to ask yourself, but this last question can exponentially change the game for you. This question also happens to be the one that most people end up never asking because it requires a whole lot of work and actually getting up and doing something after you take the time to answer it.

Everything that I have ever been able to accomplish in my life has been a direct result of constantly asking myself this particular question, writing down every possible thing I can think of, and then taking massive action to execute everything that I wrote down.

Asking the above three questions and taking the time to write out the answers on a regular basis has changed my life in so many ways; and I fully believe it can do the same for you. I don’t just challenge you to ask yourself these questions, but to actually think long and hard about your answers and then write them out.

When we set aside time to write everything out, we start to see things we never would have seen before. Asking great questions puts you on the right path to start receiving great answers.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

10 Great Quotes on the Power of Goals

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As January is officially upon us and most people are working on their resolutions and goals for the year ahead, I thought it would be very fitting to compile a list of some of my favorite quotes on goals and share them with you.

I suggest at the end of each week when you have a weekly review and analyze where you are in the process of achieving your goals, that you take a look at some of the below quotes. They will remind you not only the importance of setting goals and then working hard to attain them, but to keep fighting even when the going gets tough.

Here are 10 of my favorite quotes on goals.

1. Never have a lack of goals.  

“If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.” –Lou Holtz

Having goals that we are passionate about gives us something to look forward to each and every morning when we wake up. Not having goals is an excellent recipe for average living.

2. Vision is everything. 

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” –Lawrence J. Peter

Highly successful organizations and individuals all have an extremely clear vision of where they are going.

3. Dream enormously big.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” –Les Brown

Nothing has benefited my life more than shooting for the moon and dreaming enormously big dreams. When you dream big and shoot for the moon, you are forcing yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

4. Persistence makes all the difference.

“Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” –Bear Bryant

If you are passionate about a goal or dream of yours then don’t stop until you achieve it. Do whatever it takes. Persisting in the face of adversity is what builds champions.

5. Goals give our lives meaning. 

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” –Bill Copeland

Setting goals and then working ridiculously hard to achieve them sets you on the path of living a purpose driven life.

6. True success is all about working towards meaningful goals and dreams.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.” –Bruce Lee

Achieving our goals and dreams is fantastic but that’s not the most important thing about setting goals. The most important thing is the type person that we become along the way.

7. Stop playing small. 

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” –Michelangelo

There are no benefits what so ever from playing small and setting your aim too low.

8. Where are you headed? 

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” –Zig Ziglar

If you don’t set goals for your life then it’s almost certain that you will be very disappointed with your results. Aiming at nothing is setting yourself up to achieve nothing.

9. Stay focused at all times.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” –Henry Ford

When we take our eyes off of our goals, anxiety, worry, and doubt immediately begin to take over. Stay focused on what matters most at all times. Picture yourself achieving your goals and what that feels like instead of the obstacles that you will experience along the way.

10. It’s never too late.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” –C.S. Lewis

There is no such thing as being too old to change your life and set new goals and dreams for yourself. Nelson Mandela was 75 years old when he was the oldest elected president of South Africa. Dimitrion Yordandis was 98 years old when he finished a 26 mile marathon on October 10th, 1976. Don’t ever say you are too old.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The 24 Best Podcasts for Entrepreneurs In 2017

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Entrepreneurs and business leaders have turned to podcasts as a great source of inspiration and education. But with more business podcasts launching into the iTunes store to meet the growing demand, it’s getting harder and harder to find the best podcasts for entrepreneurs.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best podcasts for entrepreneurs and executives. You might have heard of more publicized podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show and Entrepreneur on Fire, but this list covers a wider range of podcasts and includes a lot of new and noteworthy examples, like Powderkeg: Igniting Startups and Breaking Into Startups, that you shouldn’t ignore.

Here are the 24 best podcasts for entrepreneurs in 2017.

Starting Up Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

1. StartUp

StartUp is one of 10 shows produced by podcasting company Gimlet Media. Co-hosted by Gimlet CEO Alex Blumberg and former FiveThirtyEight editor Lisa Chow, it tells the story of how Blumberg founded Gimlet and everything he learned along the way. It tackles all the issues of starting a company, like naming it, valuing it and bringing on partners through a personal, narrative lens.

2. Mixergy: Startup Stories

What makes Mixergy unique is that host Andrew Warner arranges some of his interviews with world-renowned entrepreneurs into online business courses. The “Starting a Business” course presents six interviews in an order that works as a “how-to” guide for building a company, with each successive interview delving deeper into the topics of product development, customer acquisition and sales.

3. How to Start a Startup

Back in the fall of 2014, Y Combinator president Sam Altman gave a one-semester crash course at Stanford University on how to start a startup. Bringing in 29 other Y Combinator alumni as guest speakers, he put together 20 lectures on running a startup from inception to later-stage concerns. The lectures were recorded and have since been archived under the appropriate title, “How to Start a Startup,” and can be downloaded as video or audio files.

4. Entrepreneur On Fire

EOFire is an award-winning podcast where host John Lee Dumas interviews the most inspiring entrepreneurs seven days a week. Every single day, you can expect to hear incredible stories from highly successful entrepreneurs, actionable ideas that can transform your business, and be inspired to build the life of your dreams.

5. Powderkeg: Igniting Startups

A newcomer to the business podcast lineup, Powderkeg is already turning heads in the industry with a solid lineup of guests, in-depth interviews, and informative content. Focusing on the tech industry, this show reveals how entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley found traction and ultimately, success. Energetic host Matt Hunckler taps into the minds of top-tier entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators to provide insights that will help aspiring founders no matter where they’re located.

Leadership and Productivity Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

6. Jocko Podcast

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL officer who doesn’t beat around the bush and tells it like it is. You are sure to learn key lessons on leadership, work ethic, and discipline that will help you to become the best version of yourself. Apple recently named Jocko Podcast one of the best podcasts of 2016 having this to say about it, “Leadership, fitness, military history — retired Navy SEAL Jocko and his guests turn any topic into a riveting life lesson.”

7. Self Made Man

In a nutshell, Self Made Man is a self-improvement podcast. Investor, entrepreneur and host Mike Dillard, along with each episode’s guest host, offers advice on how to improve yourself so that you can improve the world and achieve true greatness. The show places a special emphasis on business and finance but also covers topics like health and relationships.

8. The Action Catalyst with Rory Vaden

The Action Catalyst podcast will inspire you to start taking action on what matters most in your life and how to take your productivity to the next level. Self-discipline strategist and New York Times bestselling Author Rory Vaden Co-Founded Southwestern Consulting, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 14 countries get extraordinary results.

9. The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss Show is the first business/interview podcast to surpass 100,000,000 downloads and when you listen in, you will be able to see exactly why. Angel investor and #1 New York Times bestlling Author Tim Ferriss interviews world-class performers from all different industries on what helped catapult them to the top and provides actionable advice you can implement into your own routine. Former guests include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, and many more.

10. Youpreneur FM

Lots of modern entrepreneurs are successful because they create a personal brand. Chris Ducker is one such person, and his Youpreneur podcast is aimed at instructing its listeners in all things personal brand entrepreneurship. He and his guests, which include top online business minds, cover everything from building your brand to creating products and marketing yourself in order to teach you how to succeed as a solopreneur.

Innovation Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

11. This Week in Startups

This Week in Startups has a finger on the pulse of the tech industry. As the name implies, host Jason Calacanis brings on a guest entrepreneur each week and talks about what’s happening right now in tech. The podcast is a combination of current events, company profiles and insider gossip, which means there’s so much juicy information packed into each episode that you can’t go wrong by tuning in.

12. The Twenty Minute VC

Have you ever wanted to get into the mind of a venture capitalist? (Here’s a hint: you should.) The Twenty Minute VC does just that. Host Harry Stebbings interviews two prominent VC investors each week, delving into why they do what they do and what they’re looking for in a startup. The show is also notable for being brief and to the point, with most episodes clocking in at around 20-30 minutes.

13. The Full Ratchet

Angel investor Nick Moran came up with the idea for The Full Ratchetas a result of his own difficulties obtaining clear and actionable information on how to be a good investor. He decided to start recording his chats with industry veterans to help investors and entrepreneurs understand how the whole funding process works. Like The Twenty Minute VC, this podcast teaches you how investors think and what will persuade them to buy into your company.

14. a16z Podcast

According to Silicon Valley-based VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z), “software is eating the world.” Their podcast brings on tech experts and business leaders to talk about the current state of devourment, discussing tech news, industry trends and what the future holds. If you want to hear what industry behemoths have to say about their work and the world, then this is the show for you.

15. Breaking Into Startups

Breaking Into Startups has only aired a few episodes, but it’s off to a very promising start. Created by Artur Meyster, Timur Meyster and Ruben Harris, the program shares the stories of people who broke into the tech industry from nontraditional backgrounds. The goal is to encourage and inspire people who want to get into tech by teaching them how to leverage their unique experiences in other industries.

Sales and Marketing Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

16. Marketing School

Neil Patel and Eric Siu are experts in digital marketing, and they share a bit of their knowledge every day in Marketing School. Each episode provides you with a unique online marketing tip in fewer than 10 minutes. It’s a great podcast for anyone looking to roll up their sleeves and get to work implementing actionable advice on a daily basis.

17. Social Pros

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert and Adam Brown of Salesforce co-host this podcast about how to market your business on social media. Each week, they interview a leading social media strategist from a prominent company (think Dell, IBM and ESPN) to pick their brain and discuss the latest trends in social media marketing.

18. SaaStr Podcast

From software-as-a-service community SaaStr comes the SaaStr podcast, presented by venture capitalist Jason Lemkin and hosted by Harry Stebbings of The Twenty Minute VC. The show focuses on the world of SaaS, bringing on business owners as well as investors to explore what it takes for companies to succeed in their highly competitive market. SaaStr’s trademark area of focus is on advising startups how to go from $0 to $100 million ARR faster.

19. The #AskGaryVee Show

CEO, entrepreneur, angel investor and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk has built his personal brand with social media, and now he’s helping others do the same with his show, #AskGaryVee (available in video and audio). The show follows a simple Q&A format, with Gary answering viewer-submitted questions about marketing, social media and entrepreneurship.

20. The Growth Show

If you’re looking for advice on growing your business (and why shouldn’t you be?), then The Growth Show is just the ticket. It’s produced by HubSpot and features guests who have achieved remarkable growth with their businesses, delving into how they did it and what it was like to go through the transition. It’s sure to give you plenty of ideas and strategies for taking your business to the next level.

Inspirational Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

21. The School of Greatness

The School of Greatnes which is hosted by successful entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author Lewis Howes will without a doubt inspire you to achieve your biggest goals and dreams. Lewis is a phenomenal interviewer who asks great questions. This is one of the most popular podcasts each and every year for a reason. It never disappoints.

22. Smart Passive Income Podcast

Pat Flynn is known in the blogging and podcasting spheres for building an online business almost entirely through passive income channels. On his Smart Passive Income podcast, he shares tons of passive income strategies that work as well as all the ones that don’t. Building passive income streams is all about working hard now so you can sit back and watch the cash flow in later!

23. Eventual Millionaire Podcast

Jaime Masters thought at a young age that she would one day be a millionaire. She still believes this is true, but she hasn’t gotten there yet! In her Eventual Millionaire blog and podcast, Masters interviews businesspeople who have reached that milestone to learn their tactics and advice for growing personal wealth.

24. Unemployable Podcast

If you’ve found yourself drawn to the entrepreneurial life, if might be because you’re “unemployable,” like lawyer-turned-writer-turned-entrepreneur and founder of Copyblogger, Brian Clark. In his weekly podcast, Clark draws from his 18 years of experience to provide advice and encouragement for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to develop their personal businesses.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The Power of Writing Down Your Goals

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Everyone wants to be great and reach achievement milestones, but not everyone is willing to commit to the grueling process that being great requires. Many people give up after one try, one failure. They settle for being average instead of striving and working to be great.

With the New Year right around the corner, and most people starting to think about their resolutions and the goals they want to accomplish in 2017 — and that includes me — I want to share a process I go through at the end of each year, in late December. Some people don’t know how to set goals, and they certainly don’t know how to go about achieving them.

But, for me, nothing has changed my life more than learning how to set goals and then working hard to attain them.

What’s important here is the difference between goal-setting and goal achievement. Both are important, but setting goals alone isn’t enough. If you write them down on a piece of paper, then put that paper away and never do anything more, you’ve wasted your time. Instead, you have to take massive action to achieve your goals.

Everywhere I go to speak in the world, I share the following exact same goal-setting process that has shaped my life year after year. This process has helped me achieve almost every major goal that I ever set.

The process

Start by setting a stopwatch or the timer on your phone, for three minutes. This will force you to write your goals down quickly and not dawdle. The point is to eliminate the tendency to start worrying. When we consider the goals we want to achieve, we immediately start thinking about reasons we can’t reach those goals.

There will be roadblocks to consider, a lack of money and a million-and-one other obstacles. But don’t worry about those things; if you set a stopwatch for three minutes, that short time span will force you to focus and write down what’s really in your heart instead of to waste time on the challenges down the road.

The next part of the process is to write down eight to ten goals you want to achieve this time next year. It’s good to include some balance on that list with health, fitness, family, leisure and financial and business goals, to name some important considerations. Then circle the one goal that has the potential to completely change the course of your life and serve as a domino effect for every other goal on the list.

The “game-changer” goal

Next, identify what I call the game-changer goal. When I first adopted this same process into my life, I was 16 years old and a recovering drug addict. My major goal at the time was to get a Division I college scholarship for football. I knew that achieving that major goal would help me reach every other goal on my list and drastically change my entire life.

After you circle your own game-changer goal, you’ll find that the next part of the process is what separates the best of the best from everyone else. Write down 20 to 50 things you need to do to achieve that major goal of yours.

Most people never even think about what they need to do in order to achieve their goals. So, if you are thinking about this, you’ll be putting yourself in the small percentage of high achievers and be significantly increasing your odds of success.

After you have completed your action plan of all the things that must happen in order to achieve your game-changer, you should start transferring one to two tasks a day onto your daily task list. Once you have your game plan ready to go, your overall task is all about taking massive action and being relentless each and every day until you get to where you want to go.

Goal-setting has completely changed my life, and it can do the same for you. Want more detail on this process? See my book, Winning Plays.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Questions That Helped Me Discover My True Purpose

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Discovering your why, the real reason as to why you do what you do, that special thing that tugs at your heart and gives you complete satisfaction, very well could be one of the most important tasks that you will ever be faced with.

Finding out your why means that if you identify a dream or a major goal you want to pursue, ask yourself why. Is it because it will put the music in your heart? Will it fulfill the creative stirring that’s welling up inside you? Or do you want this goal because it will make you rich? I remember in college some friends talking about wanting to become physicians.

When I asked why, a couple of them said, “Because I’ll get rich.” I couldn’t help but think that was the wrong answer. I would never want to go to a physician who was in it for the money. I believe that to be truly fulfilled and happy, you must follow and live your bliss.

You must embrace a purpose-driven life and serve mankind in some way. For me, it was simple. I wanted to change peoples’ lives through my speaking and writing. I wanted to share everything I had learned with everyone else. And, yes, friends and family were shocked when they learned that I didn’t want to play professional football anymore. But my mind was made up. I wanted to live my purpose. That’s what tugged at my heart. I strongly believe that each and every one of us was put here to fulfill a specific purpose.

When you find out what that purpose is, I can promise you that your life will never be the same again. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” If you haven’t yet found out what your why is or discovered your true purpose, answer the following questions. They may help steer you in the right direction.

1. What keeps you up with excitement at night?

I loved football tremendously, but it never tugged at my heart and kept me up with so much excitement at night that I couldn’t sleep. On the other hand, speaking and impacting the lives of others absolutely did and still does to this day.

2. What makes you cry?

Best-selling author John C. Maxwell says, “Finding our purpose requires us to seek to discover two things: our passion and our giftedness. What is the deep desire set in your heart, the thing that sets your soul on fire? What makes you cry? What do you get most excited about? And what are you good at? No one else in the world has exactly the same gifts, talents, background, or future that you do.” When you identify what makes you cry, and what sets your soul on fire, and you tap into those, you begin to understand your why.

3. What would you do if your days were numbered?

If you went to the doctor for a routine checkup and received unexpected news that you were terminally ill and had a very short time left to live, what would you do? I asked myself this before I told my agent that I would no longer be playing football. I thought of many things I wanted to do, but football wasn’t one of them. Speaking and making a difference in the lives of others was at the forefront of everything I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Answering these three questions helped me discover my true purpose and I strongly believe that they can point you in the right direction of doing just the same.

This column is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s book, “Winning Plays.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

8 Ways to Stay Positive Regardless of What Is Going on Around You

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You probably hear it over and over again how important it is to be positive, think positive and only engage in positive activity. In this day and age, being positive isn’t always an easy task.

Turn on the news and the first thing you will usually see is something negative. Head into work and a negative coworker is already complaining about the boss. Watch the presidential debates and all of the coverage leading up to the upcoming election while the only thing you can do most of the time is shake your head in disbelief while you watch the two potential leaders of this country.

The list goes on and on. The point is that negativity is all around us. No matter where you look, you will always find either a negative situation or a negative person. However, you don’t have to let what happens on the outside interfere with what happens within you.

Being positive each and every day is an inside job that consists of intentional effort even at times when you don’t feel like it. No, being positive won’t guarantee that you will be a success or achieve a major goal of yours, but it will help you a whole lot more than what being negative will do for you.

I recently sat down with Jon Gordon, the bestselling author of the mega bestseller The Energy Bus to discuss eight ways you can become more positive regardless of what is going on around you.

1. Make the choice.

All of life consists of choices. In order to be incredibly successful, stay positive, and reach your full potential, it all starts with a firm choice to do just that. Jon says, “You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can trust that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.”

2. Talk to yourself like a champion.

I have been speaking about the power of talking to yourself for quite awhile now.  Jon Gordon said, “Talk to yourself instead of listen to yourself. Instead of listening to your complaints, fears and doubts, talk to yourself and feed your mind with words of truth and encouragement you need to keep moving forward.”

3. Be strict with energy vampires.

Association is everything. It’s an absolute must that you have zero tolerance for negative energy vampires. Jon says, “Post a sign that says ‘No Energy Vampires Allowed.'” Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

4. Live your purpose.

Nothing helps you to come more alive alive and radiate positive energy like living out your purpose. Gordon said, “Remember why you do what you do. We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.”

5. Change your perception of adversity and failure.

This is what my new book, Winning Plays is all about. Being able to redefine what failure really means and learning how to capitalize off of each and every setback. Jon says, The next time you ‘fail’ remember that you aren’t failing, you are becoming. You aren’t failing, you are growing.”

6. Smile and laugh more.

Very simple things to do, but so many forget the power of just smiling and laughing more. Just as Jon said, “Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.”

7. Protect your inner world.  

It’s important to remember that regardless of how bad or negative a certain situation may be that you don’t have to let it dictate your level of happiness or positivity. Jon said, “Remember that outside circumstances and events have no power over you. You create your world from the inside-out.”

8. Be patient.

A great majority of the negativity that holds many people back is a major lack of patience. Greatness takes an extraordinary amount of time putting in the work behind closed doors before anything blossoms. Jon said, “There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Anything worthwhile takes time to build.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

4 Visualization Techniques That Can Propel Your Success

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I strongly believe in the power of visualization. We must “see that image” in our mind before we ever venture forth to manifest it.

Jim Carrey is one of my favorite examples of this. The famous comedian and actor was once a “wannabe.” I remember seeing a highlight of his appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” back in 1997 and he spoke about his early days trying to make it in the entertainment business. He was broke and had no future. But he took a blank check and wrote out $10 million dollars to himself for acting services rendered and dated it for Thanksgiving 1995.

He said that he carried that check in his wallet at all times and looked at it every morning, visualizing receiving $10 million dollars. Five years after he wrote the check to himself and right before Thanksgiving 1995, he found out that he was going to make $10 million dollars from the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” That’s the power of visualizing your dreams. That’s the power of dreaming. That’s the power of relentlessly believing and working toward your vision every single day.

Here are four ways to help make visualization work for you.

1. Picture yourself victorious.

If you can’t see it, then it’s not going to happen. In order to achieve your biggest goals and dreams, you have to picture yourself victorious. You have to look beyond your current circumstances and past failures. Visualize as many details as you can. If you’re on the beach, feel the warm sun on your body, the wind in your hair, the salty ocean waves spraying on your face. Imagine the environment, the people around you, what you’re wearing, what you’re hearing. Re-create any feelings that are in alignment with your dreams. For me, I visualized myself playing college football. I smelled the locker room and the cut grass on the football field, and I heard the crowds in the bleachers as they shouted for Matt Mayberry. If you make this part of your daily routine, you will be amazed at the improvement in your life and astounded when your dream is realized.

2. Utilize the power of a trigger card.

When I was 16-years-old and after a teenage drug addiction easily could have killed me, my biggest goal and dream at the time was to get a Division I college scholarship for football. I put this incredibly huge goal at the time on a note card which served as my trigger card. From my 3×5 index cards, I read daily: “I will receive a Division I college scholarship for football by next year.”

I could feel how awesome the moment was, and I felt happy and alive. Get in the habit of doing this every day like I did. Each morning and each night, read those index cards, close your eyes, and imagine yourself accomplishing and following through on that major goal of yours. Whether you write yourself a check like Jim Carrey did or put your biggest goal and dream on a note card like I did, just make sure to utilize the power of a trigger card. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

3. Create a vision board.

A vision board worked wonders in my life when I believed there was no bigger future in store for me. It gave me the chance to actually see my goals. This vision board can be a poster board, a piece of paper, the back of a cardboard box, or anything you have. You could even use a vision book. On the vision boards and inside the books, put pictures that illustrate what you desire in your life. For me, it was photos of college football players who played their optimal best. I wanted to be one of the best, too. On my vision boards I also posted quotes that embodied what I wanted and I read them every single day.

4. Feed your mind with happy, loving memories.

It’s important to constantly feed your mind with happy, loving memories. I’m not referring to reliving the past, but to recreating those moments that once made you smile. Recall times of happiness in your home, such as a birthday party, a get-together with friends, a special holiday or something encouraging a loved one expressed. Do whatever you have to do to keep the naysayers and negative people out of your life as much as possible. You need all the happiness and love you can surround yourself with if you want to constantly focus and work toward your dreams.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How to Turn Negative Experiences Around and Thrive

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This column is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s book, Winning Plays, out now.

When we experience failure, tragedy, or hardship, I believe we all struggle with envisioning the absolute worst outcome. When I got injured in my very first game in the NFL, I was completely broken and defeated in that moment, but I made it even worse because I chose to feel sorry for myself and refused to take the initiative to improve anything.

In times of despair it’s imperative that we constantly remember to see ourselves beyond our current circumstances. Just like clouds in the sky can temporarily block the sun, the clouds in your life should only be passing through.

I struggled desperately to see my life beyond the football field. I wallowed in disappointment and self-pity over things I could not change at the time. It was my own doing. And it was eye-opening and life-changing when I finally realized this.

I’m sure you must feel this way at times. Do you feel that you struggle with the negative experiences in your life? Can you see yourself beyond them? Do you just want to give up and have part of you die like I did? Or wallow in self-pity? Do you feel ashamed? Angry?

The negative experience could be anything — small or big. Maybe you were fired from your job. Maybe you failed at achieving an important goal. Maybe you’re battling depression over losing a loved one. Maybe you were rejected by a company or a friend. Maybe something has happened in your personal life that’s been difficult for you to come to grips with. Whatever it is, take it from me: there is hope beyond your current state of mind. You just have to think beyond yourself.

If there is one thing that completely derails aspiring business owners, athletes or anyone for that matter, it is the inability to turn failure into a gift and thrive despite negative experiences. It takes a lot of work and practice, and I don’t think that it ever becomes an easy thing to do, but once you learn how to stop overanalyzing and beating yourself up over something that didn’t go as planned, the better off you will be. It’s important to put yourself in a position to grow from that negative experience instead of surrendering to it and remaining stagnant.

Here are two ways to help you come alive again after getting knocked down and turn negative experiences into positive ones.

1. Create your own opportunities.

Create your own opportunities instead of waiting for someone to hand them to you. If something happens where you feel broken, but you know there’s a dream out there waiting for you, then know this: you can create your own opportunities. It’s up to you. If you’re passionate about a goal or anything you want to do, create and design the opportunity in the best way you can.

For example, if you’re interested in a new career but aren’t sure what the culture looks like from a workplace environment, offer to work as a free intern so you can get some hands-on experience. The people who wait for the door of opportunity to swing wide open so they can waltz through will likely be waiting a lifetime. Sometimes you have to walk right up to that locked door and break it down.

2. Power through like a champion.

Champions experience rough times like everyone else. But you know what? They simply power through them. I hadn’t learned how to be a champion yet when I felt broken and desolate about losing my dream as a professional athlete. Since then I’ve learned that champions develop alternate winning plays that will put them on top. Absolutely nothing stops them.

They grow stronger through the challenges. If life is easy for you, then you’re not going to grow. It’s the difficulties that present the opportunities for growth. One of the biggest mistakes most people make when confronted with failure or a negative experience is they don’t look for the “positive” in the negative. There’s value in every experience no matter if it’s a positive or a negative one, and it’s up to you to analyze the situation and create an opportunity to turn that negativity into a gift.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

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