The Single Sentence That Changed My Life
by Marcelo Lazaroni
A hundred times a day, seven days a week, all the weeks of the month and all the months I go through. That’s the frequency at which I think about success and failure.
I was home alone. My parents had gone to Brazil for three weeks and it was July, so I was on holiday. I moved the computer to the living room, by the fireplace, and when I wasn’t there I was in the kitchen, because you just can’t live without eating. If I was awake I was either playing an MMORPG or eating something, just so I don’t die. No supervision, no rules, no tasks, no time-tables. At the time that was my definition of YOLO. Every day I went to sleep a little later, until the day I woke up at 6pm. The sun was setting. It gave me a feeling of depression, a sensation that the day went away and I did nothing out of it. There was I, scruffy and unkempt, waking up when the day was almost over while millions of people had done an unimaginable number of great things with their day. The day wasn’t over yet, in the end there was still 6 hours to go, but at this time I couldn’t do nearly as much as I would be able to had I woken up at 6am.
Then, I decided I didn’t want my life to be like this day. I don’t want to wake up and notice I spent my life sleeping and accomplished nothing. I was unsatisfied, I wanted to change and I wanted to change immediately! Well, that didn’t happened, I still spent some of my days doing nothing, but an attitude towards change is the beginning of the change itself. I already longed for the change, and that’s the first step. If you really want to change you’ve got to be mad at what you are. Then you will take action.
But how can you accomplish something that looks just so big that it s overwhelming? Well, elementary my dear Watson (Sherlock Holmes never really said that). As it is always said, and well said, you do it the same way you eat an elephant! A bite at a time.
I know it can look tedious and slow, but big things just can’t be build overnight. Else everyone would be successful. But if you are indeed passionate about it, it will be worth it.
The single sentence that changed my life, was a sentence that blew my mind and changed the speed at which I move towards my goals — that otherwise would never even be achieved.
It’s a calm and normal day. I’m watching one of Dr. Mike Murdock’s videos on the computer when suddenly he says:
“You are one daily habit away from every future you want”
My head went like “BOOOOM”. It’s just so true! To do something big you have got to do it little by little. Then, why not make it a daily habit to advance a little bit? Do you want to write better? Write every day! Do you want to get in shape? Exercise 40 minutes every day! Do you want to be an expert on something? Study about it every single day, and don’t you dare to miss a day. You do what is possible, and do it every day, then, when you realize, the impossible will be happening.
But a daily habit implies discipline. There is no way around it. If you can’t manage a day you can’t manage your life. You either suffer the pains of discipline or suffer the pains of regret. And if you choose not to be disciplined you will certainly regret it. Because nowadays we live in a world where opportunities are everywhere. If you can come here and read this, it means you have access to an unlimited amount of opportunities. The problem is that you are probably not ready for them. I like a definition of luck that says: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. The opportunities are out there, but you must be prepared and preparation requires discipline.
What are your goals? What are you doing daily to move closer to achieving them?
I want to accomplish big things. I have my list of goals. I want to build great stuff. Build my company, build relationships, build a network of people. My goals are all written down and placed in a place where I see them daily. Every single day I look at them, read them, and think “that’s where I want to go, I’ve got to do something about it today”.
Your goals must be clear and easily understandable. If you set a clear and specific goal, your mind thinks of a way to reach this goal. If you say “I want to get richer” you are just not being specific. I give you ten pounds and Tchanan! You are richer than before, but I don’t think ten pounds richer was what you had in mind when you set the goal. Do you want a car? What car? What year? What colour? Is it a trip? To where? For how many days? A University degree? On what? … And critically important: When do you want it? Remember this: Goals are dreams with deadlines. If you don’t set a time to accomplish your goal, then it is not a goal — and also, you will probably never really do it.
You must write down the goal, and how you want to achieve this goal. If you say “I want to leave a seven digit patrimony to my kids”, you should also say something like “I want to accumulate this amount selling lollipops”. Well, you will have to be a hell of a lollipop salesman, but at least you can build a plan upon that. The lollipop example can sound funny, but that’s exactly how you accomplish things. You decide what and how, then you go for it! “I want to get rich selling greasy chicken!”, sounded silly some years ago, I don’t think it sounds silly anymore.
But there you are, maybe sitting in chair with a hand on your face thinking “yeah, sounds like a good idea, I hope he can make it”. Come on, I’m here opening my heart and telling you one of the greatest insights I ever heard, is that the best you can do? What I’m telling you is the real deal! Nobody ever told you this before, did they? So, listen! If you do this it will work, and when it works you will be happy, and then you send me an email and make me happy too.
I learnt that if there is something I should try to be good at, it is at making people improve (see How To Be Smarter Than Anyone Else). The other day I woke up and went to check my email. There I found an email of a friend of mine saying he read something in my blog and liked it, and that it was useful to him. I didn’t even know people read my blog! And there was I, seeing a friend saying that what I wrote was of some use to him! It was mindblowing and you just can’t imagine how happy I was.
So, back to the subject: Do it! Think of what you want to accomplish, think of a plan and do something about it. You have to prepare yourself. You are not ready for your future, else you would be there already. Is it hard? Everything of value is, get used to it. Do you know what’s the great insight of physical exercise? It’s summarised in a small sentence “No pain, no gain”. While doing exercises you improve when your body starts to hurt. When your arms can’t lift the weight any more, or your belly aches and you feel like it’s hard to keep running, that’s the moment in which you are expanding your physical capacity. Because if your exercises don’t make you sweat, then they are doing nothing. It is something that is true not only for your body, it is true for life. While you stay in your comfort zone you will not improve at all. I know it hurts to think, and people would do anything to think less. But if you don’t think, you will not advance. You have to become a thinking machine! Every time you see you are just repeating stuff, or that you are not advancing, change something! Because when we do new stuff our brain ignites again. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
I will tell you some of my daily habits, and how they are making me a better me. Perhaps this can make you move your lazy bum to stand up and do something. You don’t have to read this text to the end, if you know your goals and how to get there, stop reading right now and go plan your daily habits! And if you don’t know your goals that’s an even better reason to stop and go think about some targets. And don’t you dare to forget to write them down.
So, these are some of the things I do every day:
Write: I fell in love with the most wonderful person I ever met. There was just one problem: She kind of lived in London and I in Buenos Aires. I just had to go there. But I was studying, I couldn’t leave it all behind and go to live like a hippie there — I won’t say I didn’t think about it, but I’m just too bad with handicrafts. So, one day I woke up, went to take a shower, and, while in the shower, I fell and from above shone a light that came as a train and suddenly I saw it… The Flux Capacitor!!!.. no! But without having to actually fall in the bathroom I had an Idea: Why not study in London? I started a long and dull process to do my application. To apply for UK universities you have to write a Personal Statement — which is nothing more nothing less than a text in which you explain to the universities why you are just the perfect candidate, and you basically have to convince them that it would be folly not to accept you instead of the other better qualified students.
No need to say that I totally panicked. Although I firmly believe I was gifted with a good mind, my teachers often times disagreed with this belief of mine. Hence, given the fact that they would assess me based on my college history and my Personal Statement, if I ever wanted to see my beloved girlfriend’s face again I should better write a hell of a good text. I studied Information Systems Engineering, all my subjects where almost pure mathematics. I wasn’t used to writing words, I was good at writing numbers. I hardly ever wrote a text, much less in English. It hit me as a huge challenge, I had absolutely no idea of where to begin.
After drafts and more drafts, writing and rewriting, wording and rewording, I finally finished it. In the end it was a very edifying experience. All went well and I was accepted by the universities I wanted (YEAHHH). I had put my brain to do some workout. It had to sweat but after all done I look back and see the great value this exercise provided me. It taught me a whole lot of things. One of them was that I didn’t know how to write at all. So, a month ago I decided to do something about it. Now I write every single day on this blog. Some days I write more than others, but I always write a little bit. Sometimes I have no idea of what to write, then I just write whatever is in my mind. I discovered why I should put the title only after I have finished. It is because given that I don’t know what to write, I can change subjects in the middle of the post, and if I put a title that relates to how the post ends you readers don’t even notice that I had no clue where to go in the first paragraph. See, practice leads to perfection.
Read: That’s an easy one. I have to admit some years ago I didn’t have the habit of reading, but when I finally realized the great fountain of knowledge it could be, it became one of the most important and pleasurable parts of my daily routine. It is great the fact that, as opposed to classes and lectures, books can explain any subject at length, and go through all of its nuances with no hurry. I don’t really think that reading by itself has great value, I believe the value is strictly on what you read (see my critic on books in So, What’s The Way To Decide?).
My books allow me to go deep into any subject of my interest. I know what I want to know a lot about, so I study it. If you read about it every day it starts to stick to your brain; you gather knowledge. Now, you don’t want to know about everything. Most of the knowledge on earth is useless to you. It’s great to learn about turtles reproduction, or how candies are packed, but that’s just useless knowledge if what you want to be good at is not related to it. I’m not saying you can’t learn it for fun. I am just saying that without focus it will take much longer to get to the finish line.
The books you read will change you, change your personality, your outlooks; read consciously.
Exercise: It just makes you feel good! I know it can be kind of boring, but you have to do it. I like an allegory Warren Buffet used in one occasion, he said:
“Imagine you get a Cadillac as your 18th birthday present. But there is a little rule, this Cadillac will be the only car you will ever have in your life. You can’t sell it or by another one, you have to use it your whole life. I bet you would treat it very well. Always do the check-ups, and have all the care in the world for it. Well with your body is the same thing, you get just one, and its for your lifetime.”
I will give you some reasons to exercise:
1 – It gives you disposition- When you exercise you have more energy, more disposition. Even your mood gets better.
2 – It is healthy – If you don’t exercise all your chances of having all the diseases in the world raise. It’s scientifically proved by everyone.
3 – You get in shape – Come on, be honest with yourself; it doesn’t matter how detached from society you think you are, it is great to have a healthy body.
4 – It relieves you from the feeling of guilt – You know you should exercise. You know a sedentary lifestyle only does harm to you. And you know that every time you take off your clothes to take a shower you think “it would be good if I did some exercise”. When you actually do them, they take away this feeling of guilt and you feel satisfied, relieved; you feel you accomplished something.
5 – It just feels good! – Is it boring? Go with a friend. Don’t have a friend? Put your ear-buds on and listen to some good music you like and you feel that motivates you, or a funny podcast. I assure you, time will pass and you won’t even notice. And in the end, you will be feeling awesome! Because you did it! At least that’s how I feel.
No money to go to a gym? Run on the street and do some push-ups and sit-ups. No contraindication.
Pray: I am a Christian. I believe there is a God and I believe he listens to us. You can say “but if there was a God, why have he abandoned us? why is there so much hatred, and pain, and suffering around here?”. Well, I believe God does exist, and he hasn’t abandoned us, we have abandoned him. When was the last time you prayed? When was the last time you asked God’s opinion before doing something? If you don’t ask what he thinks about something before you do it, you cannot blame him for the consequences of it later.
But you may say “well but He doesn’t talk to me”. Yeah, maybe He doesn’t, but he talked to some guys about his opinion on things some time ago and said to these guys: “Yo, write it down”. And then, about forty people wrote what He said to them. Some years later, another group of fellows gathered it all together in what we know as the Bible. So, if we want to know God’s opinion on something we can go there and read it. And well, if you read it carefully you will notice that He likes it when we talk to him. He even says we should always do it. So, praying is something I pay a special attention to every day. And if you do it as well, you will see that, in fact, God has very creative ways to answer questions.
Well, I hope this text was of some use for you. I hope you can prepare your daily routine, and don’t give up when it looks hard. If you always choose to endure the pains of discipline and go on, the sky won’t be the limit.
It can be frightful at first, but remember: To change the world start with one step. However small, first step is hardest of all.