Become A Hero: Russian Folktales Can Teach You How To Be A Man

640px-Die_drei_Bogatyr

If you want to live in a country and understand its people, you need to have an understanding of the stories that they grew up with. Whether these are folk tales, fairy tales, or movies, they leave an impact on the psyche of the individual person. They serve as a reminder of the traditions, as well as the moral values that the majority of the population holds dear.

Russia, and the surrounding countries of eastern Europe like the Ukraine or Belarus have a rich history of different folk traditions, among which the telling of folk tales and heroic epics is preeminent. Many of these traditions are shared between the three countries, while others exist only in some particular regions. These stories have been recounted from one generation to another. Many a grandson spent his nights sitting on his grandfather’s knee, listening to these wonderful tales, sparking his imagination with messages of courage and valor.

Russian folklore is based on old pagan Slavic mythology, mixed with newer Christian beliefs and historical events. Together with stories about princes, giants, and Baba Yagas (witches), you catch glimpses of mythical cities, powerful enemies, and old wise men with magic powers. These stories not only reflect the beliefs and history of the various peoples who tell them, but also serve as a way to impart moral lessons to the succeeding generations.

Old Heroes Could Kick Ass

One of the most well-known characters of the old heroic tales is Ilya Muromets. Ilya was a big guy, who however suffered from various illnesses as a kid, which left him unable to walk. So until the age of 33, he spent most of his life sleeping on an oven. Then one day, he is miraculously cured by two old wise men. From that day forward, he turns into a powerful warrior and goes on to perform many outstanding deeds, including saving the city of Kiev from invaders.

His story takes place in the era of the Kievan Rus, but mixes in various different time periods. Some parts of the tale recount historical events that happened in the 9th century, while others deal with events that happened in the 12th century. So just like a medieval James Bond, Ilya Muromets always stays the same age through various eras, battling enemies and slaying dragons.

His story can also serve as an inspiration for young men growing up, since Ilya transformed himself from being an incapacitated cripple to a bogatyr, a fighter and the savior of a nation. His courage, strength and willpower were meant to be an example to help instill these qualities in the younger generation.
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Insights On Leadership From Chimp Alpha Male Behavior

Many aspects of today’s world are often referred to as “jungles”. We have the concrete jungle in reference to large cities full of tall concrete buildings with hardly a patch of green in sight. We also have the corporate jungle, which many of us have to face daily in our jobs. While modern man has evolved from his former state of nature, it seems as if the laws of the jungle still apply in the modern world.

In order to survive in the modern jungle, it might be worthwhile to take some lessons from the real jungle. The chimpanzees (together with the bonobos) are our closest relatives and share about 97% of the same DNA with humans. They live in societies led by alpha males. These alpha males dominate all the other members of the group and use different types of strategies in order to attain and keep their rank. These strategies could be quite illuminating for the potential human alpha males as well.

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The Rise of Mike

In 1960, Jane Goodall started studying a small group of chimpanzees living in the Gombe National Park near Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. At the time, the alpha male of the group was Goliath, a huge chimpanzee who could intimidate other chimps with his size.

However in 1964, a remarkable thing happened. Goliath was deposed from his position by Mike, a physically much smaller chimpanzee, who until then was probably one of the lowest ranking males in the community, usually spending his time on the outskirts of the group, and often getting physically attacked by other males. He was usually the last one to get access to food, eating only after all the other males have eaten.

This changed almost from one day to the next. On one of those hot, sultry days that often happen in the African jungle, Mike walked over to the camp of the researchers and took two empty kerosene cans by their handles. Then, while carrying those two cans, he walked over to the place at which he was sitting previously, close to the other chimps.

He started to rock back and forth, at first only slightly, but then more and more vigorously. The other chimps noticed this and started to watch him intently. Mike began to make hooting sounds and then suddenly charged towards the place where the other males were sitting, running fast and hitting the two cans in front of him. When he approached them, the other males ran out of his way.

Mike ran a bit into the jungle and disappeared from sight, but in a few minutes he was back again, making a lot of noise and hitting the cans. He once again charged the other males. They once again ran away from him.

Then at that moment, he made a fateful decision. Goliath was sitting a bit away from the group, but Mike decided to charge him as well. He ran towards him, hitting the cans and hooting so loud, that even Goliath got out of his way.

Male chimpanzees show their submission to more powerful members of the group by grunting and reaching out their hands. The display persuaded all the other members of the group of Mike’s superiority. At that moment, all the other chimp males came up to Mike, grunting and reaching out their hands, and then grooming him. The last male chimp to come to him was David Greybeard, until then Goliath’s staunchest ally in the group. Only Goliath remained apart.

Mike vs. Goliath: The Showdown

The match was now set for a showdown: Mike vs. Goliath. Whoever would win this epic showdown would become the alpha male of the group.

The final showdown came one time after Goliath returned from a two week patrol in the southern parts of the group’s territory. One of the main roles of the alpha and the other males, was to protect their group’s territory and so they would often go off on patrols.

This day was the culmination of a period of fierce displays between Goliath, the incumbent alpha male and Mike, the challenger. Their displays grew more and more fierce, with both Goliath and Mike trying to outdo each other. Mike managed to learn how to keep three empty kerosene cans in motion and so his charging displays were very noisy and messy. Goliath would often charge and beat up some of the young chimps in order to show who the boss around there was.

That day, as he was returning from his patrol, Goliath grabbed a huge branch and dragged it towards Mike. Mike was sitting in a tree, ready for what was to come next.

Goliath, then leapt into a tree that was very close to the tree in which Mike was sitting. At first they starred at each other intently, motionless. Then Mike started his display. He started swinging wildly on the branches, jumped down to the ground and started hurling rocks at Goliath. Then he leapt into Goliath’s tree and started swinging the branches there.

Goliath reciprocated by doing a display very similar to Mike’s, swinging around and leaping to the ground in order to throw rocks at Mike. Then Mike came down again as well and they continued their charging displays on the ground. However they never even touched each other. Each tried to overcome the other just through a sheer display of intimidation.

Then the final moment came. They both stopped, and nervously eyed each other sitting down. Then suddenly Goliath ran up to Mike, and doing the chimpanzee sign of submission, began grunting and grooming Mike. Mike savored this for a moment, but then turned around and reciprocated. He was now the undisputed alpha male of the group.

This entire story, which was described in vivid detail in Jane Goodall’s book “In the Shadow of Man”, makes for a riveting and illuminating reading.

3 Strategies

There are 3 main strategies that the male chimps use to gain alpha status.
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How To Motivate Yourself To Do Things When The Going Gets Tough

When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren’t the people who are motivated, but have consistency in their motivation.” Arsene Wenger

When I was a kid, my motivation was really on and off. I remember in first grade, there was a tryout for some karate class. They had us do all kinds of tests like running, push ups, sit ups…etc. and then they selected the best people to get into the class. I did not make it.

I got pissed and made my mom go beg the instructor of another karate class to let me in, even though the class had already started. Finally, after a lot of begging, they let me into the class. Let’s just say that at that time, I was really physically untalented.

The good thing about the class was that it wasn’t just about karate, but also about developing overall physical fitness for little kids. At the beginning, I was pretty bad. However I started practicing at home, doing all kinds of exercises and very fast I got my act together, got faster, stronger and more coordinated and made it to the top of the class.

Then I lost motivation and gave up. This type of thing would repeat itself all throughout my school years. I would go for short burst of intense effort (both mental and physical), and then I would just give up. After a while, I was begging my mom to unsubscribe me from the class.

One factor in this was the fact that I was young and when you are young you don’t realize that you only have a limited amount of time. I felt like I had a lot of time to spare and would act like it. Part of my lack of motivation also had to do with laziness, part of it with the fact that we moved around all the time (I went to 6 schools in 12 years), and part of it had to do with the fact that I just didn’t like to put out too much effort, instead coasting on my talent.

All in all, I just didn’t like doing things that made me feel uncomfortable. If I could avoid doing them, then I would.

The race

One moment that still haunts me happened in my senior year of high school. I was on the track team, ran sprints (100m, 200m, 400m) and was pretty fast. We were running the divisional finals. I was pretty mad. All year, I had been posting solid times, but the local newspaper had labelled two other guys as the favorites to win the sprints and stated that there was nobody even close to them.

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I beat one of those guys last year and the other one I never faced. I posted similar times as them and I should have been one of the favorites. So I arrived at the track meet, a man on a mission. Or at least I thought.

The first race I ran was the 100m final. I got in the blocks next to one of the guys labelled as the favorites. I was never good at starting out of the blocks, but I was ready. Then something happened. The favorite next to me jumped the gun by a milisecond and so did the other favorite. I was expecting them to go for a repeat start, but they didn’t. The gun went off a few miliseconds after, but that is an eternity in the 100m sprint. That cost me the race. The race should have been restarted, but wasn’t. Nothing I could do about it.

I came in third, a bit disappointed, but then a few minutes later I found out that I ran my personal record (11.1 seconds) and my time was fast enough to qualify me into the big all-divisions final. There, I would end up racing against the fastest high school sprinters in the world (but that is another story).

The moment

However it was not this moment that haunts me. I did feel a bit cheated that I lost due to someone else doing a false start, but I still had the 200m to look forward to. One of the supposed favorites pulled out, which left me with only one other contender. I beat this guy last year by a pretty good margin. I was sure I was going to win.

We went down into the blocks, got ready, the gun blasted and we were off. I was leading the race. I was running fast in first place, but a little by little I was starting to feel tired, the lactic acid was starting to make my legs feel heavy. I was in the final straight, a few meters before the finish…

At that moment, instead of gritting my teeth and giving my best effort and going for the last push, I did the opposite. I was in the lead, felt tired and gave up. I slowed down a bit, coasting towards the finish.

Then I saw the other guy speed past me. He had done the opposite of me, he had mustered the last amount of strength and raced past me, collapsing just behind the finish line, totally winded and out of power. I came in second, happy that I gave it my “best” and that I got a medal. I was happy with second place.

However that came back to haunt me. Even now, entering my early thirties, I still look at that moment with despair. I had victory at my fingertips and I let it slip away. The other guy had more heart. He was more motivated to win and mustered the last amounts of willpower and strength in order to do that. I didn’t.

I just wasn’t motivated enough. That lack of motivation defined my early life. I now look back at this and want to beat my head against the wall. Sure, the circumstances were against me (especially the fact that we moved around all the time), but I still could have done more with what I had.
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Happiness Doesn’t Depend On Having Goals, But On Having The Right Goals

Monkey-typing

Work hard, cut the BS

Many guys spend most of their time trying to be flashy. When working out, they only train their “show” muscles like the chest and biceps, neglecting their other muscles. They are focused on making as much money as possible, without realizing that it’s not about the money, but instead what you can do with it. It’s all about the flash and the bling, bling for them.

What usually happens is that these guys end up really unhappy, sometimes even ending up turning to drugs in order to get their kicks. Instead of having real valid experiences, they try to substitute them with the quick hits that drugs provide.

On the outside they seem to be doing everything right. They set goals and work in order to achieve them. They have a plan and often they end up completing that plan. So what’s the problem?

Problem is a lack of values

The problem is that they lack values and therefore their goals are outcome oriented, instead of being benefits oriented. What do I mean by outcome oriented versus benefits oriented?

By outcome, I mean they focus on getting material things like a fast car and money, instead of focusing on the benefits that these things can provide. Their goal is to make a million dollars, instead of focusing on the things that being rich can provide for you like independence and the ability to pursue your other dreams.

Things like money should not be the end goal, rather your goals should be structured around benefits. The money is just a means to an end. With money you can do a lot of wonderful things, like travelling the world, seeing many wonderful things, learning about different cultures and meeting new people.

Your motivation should be intrinsic

Your motivation should be intrinsic and not extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation has to do with your own internal desire to seek out new challenges, explore new things and enjoy the activities that you are doing. Extrinsic motivation is largely dependent on external factors and material things.

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When you are intrinsically motivated, you end up focusing on things that make you happy. You are not bothered by things that you cannot control. This is the basis behind Stoic philosophy. Work on things that you can change and don’t worry about things that are outside of your influence.

You should work on challenging yourself, finding balance and working on your own internal self-improvement, instead of going for the flash. When you focus on that, you will most likely end up getting the flash as well, however the flash won’t be the end goal, but just the by-product.

What matters at the end is the depth of your personality and not the flash around it. Flash is fleeting, but depth stays around forever. You need to work on improving all aspect of your personality, your mind and your body.

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What Makes A Renaissance Man?

renaissance man, vitruvian man, leonardo da vinci,

renaissance man, vitruvian man, leonardo da vinci,

When you hear the word “Renaissance Man”, the first name that usually pops up in a person’s head is that of Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci is the epitome of the Renaissance humanist ideal. He was not only an outstanding painter, but also an engineer, inventor, scientist, and philosopher.

Leonardo was born the illegitimate son of a wealthy legal notary in Florence. His father kept on changing women, usually marrying women way younger than himself (including a 16 year old and a 20 year old), however he did take care of his little son as well.

At 14, Leonardo became an apprentice in the studio of the painter Verrocchio. This apprenticeship is one of the main reasons why da Vinci became the man that he became. It set him on the path to becoming the ideal Renaissance Man. When thinking of a painter’s studio, most people will picture some brushes and a canvas, but a Renaissance painting studio was much more than that. It was in fact a mini-incubator for people who could do a variety of things.

Verrocchio encouraged his students to study anatomy in order to be able to correctly draw the human body. So the young Leonardo spent countless hours studying the body and all its features, even performing dissections. Painters of that period also had to be skilled in chemistry, as they kept on experimenting with new materials in order to try to create the best colors possible.

Being skilled in anatomy and chemistry were just a fraction of the things that Renaissance artists had to know in order to be able to create their works. This made them very different from modern artists. The artists of that period had to be jacks of all trades and in many ways resembled scientists, always experimenting and trying to come up with new ways of doing things.

The fact that he started off as a painter, gave Leonardo a very special tilt to his scientific explorations. His way of examining the world was very different from that of other scientists. His theorizing heavily integrated the arts and painting. Through paintings and sketches, he tried to capture what is really happening in order to study it better, and this was at the center of his method of analysis.

Another word for Renaissance Man is “polymath”. A polymath is a person who is an expert in a wide range of different subjects and areas of knowledge. Leonardo fit this description perfectly, not only did he draw the Mona Lisa, but he also worked as an engineer, for example coming up with a system of moveable barricades to protect the city of Venice, drew various very accurate maps, came up with many inventions (including specifications for a primitive tank and helicopter), and performed numerous scientific experiments.

An important aspect of his work is that he kept very detailed notes and journals, which included many sketches of various ideas. What is interesting is that many of his writings were written in a mirror-script. This attempt at secrecy could hint at an internal fear that some people might steal his ideas. However he never left an explanation of why he used this mirror-script and so that will most likely forever remain a mystery.

Twenty years after his death, the King of France said this about Leonardo: “There had never been another man born in the world who knew as much as Leonardo, not so much about painting, sculpture and architecture, as that he was a very great philosopher.

Bringing Back Ideas From Antiquity

Renaissance humanism tried to bring back the knowledge passed down from Antiquity. The humanists of that era searched through libraries and read widely in order to try to find as much ancient knowledge as possible and try to learn from it. They then applied these ancient ideas to their own world.

One of humanism’s main tenets was that humans are limitless in their capacity for development. The Renaissance ideal was to try to embrace all knowledge and develop yourself as fully as possible. A man should be skilled in different areas: intellectual, artistic, social, physical.

There are some general prerequisites that a man has to fulfill in order to be able to function to his fullest potential in society. A man should be able to speak and write with eloquence, describe things clearly, and be persuasive. He should also be physically fit and have a deep knowledge of various subjects. Having all these abilities would result in the perfect gentleman who is able not only to talk about any subject, but also contribute to advancing several of these domains.

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The idea was that the Renaissance Man ought to do all this with effortless ease. This was described in a book by Baldassare Castiglione called “The Book of the Courtier”. In the book, he advances the notion of “sprezzatura”, or doing things as if they took no effort. The courtier should be able to display “an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them.

Modern movies try to show this easy nonchalance in their main characters all the time. Just think of all the movies where the hero does seemingly impossible things as if they were easy. The hero easily breaks into a high-security installation, runs effortlessly through the desert, dispatches ten enemies at the same time, constructs powerful bombs out of a soap on a rope and some sticks, or solves puzzles through powerful deductive skills.

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Which Nutrients Are Important For Your Brain Health?

According to recent statistics, over 1/4th of all Americans suffer from some sort of a mental disorder. Furthermore, around 6% of the US population has been diagnosed with what could be termed as a serious mental illness and that percentage is on the rise. There are similar trends in other countries around the world. A huge epidemic of people with mental diseases seems to be taking over society and many people are becoming sick in the brain.

What is the reason? There are several things that are behind this, but one culprit seems to be the diet. Recent scientific studies point to improper nutrition as one of the main explanations of why there has been such an abrupt rise in mental illnesses among the population in the past few decades.

Nutrients are not only important for growing a big and healthy body, but also promote healthy brain functions, which allows you to do all your mental activities better. Healthy eating is a prerequisite for maintaining a healthy body and is also an important prerequisite for maintaining a healthy and functioning mind.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get their required amount of nutrients for proper brain functioning. In the modern era, the diet of many people has become very unbalanced and does not include many of the important elements that it should. This imbalance can become quite critical for the brain, since it demands around 20% of the total nutrient intake of the body in order to function properly.

Coupled with instant gratification behavior (which is growing stronger partially due to changes in technology) and a loss of values, the lack of a proper diet is another one of the culprits of the decline of mental health, a rise in different mental disorders and also the rise of depression.

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Your New Self: Step 1 In The Renaissance Man Construction Project – Creating A Vision

Most people in this world drift aimlessly through life. They have no vision, no purpose and sometimes do not even know what they value the most. It is no wonder that they never achieve anything and are never happy. Instead of working on improving themselves, they spend most of their time complaining. That’s no way to go through life.

If you want to be a success, if you want to be happy, then you need a clear direction in life. You need to have a vision of yourself and a clear plan on how to achieve that vision. This includes setting clear goals and then working hard in order to achieve them.

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The first thing to do in any process of self-improvement is drafting a vision of where you want to be. The purpose of this vision is to give you a clear direction on where you are going.

Preliminary Brainstorming

In order to draft a good vision, you need to do some preliminary work beforehand. This involves a lot of visualizing and brainstorming. This initial exercise should result in a collection of different elements that will serve as input for your final vision statement. The better you do your preparatory work, the better your final vision statement will be.

Below I outline some preliminary work that you can do in order to better refine your vision. Feel free to pick which of this you do and which you don’t do. If you already have a good idea of where you want to be, you can skip many of the preliminary steps and just focus on a few key steps to help you hammer down the key elements you want to cover.

In any process of change, it is good practice to start by analyzing the present situation. Take a good, hard look at yourself and ask yourself these questions: What do you do, why do you do those things, what is your internal make-up? A good tool to use in order to get a deeper understanding of your internal makeup are NLP meta-programs. These are often at the root of your behavior and drive the choices that you make. Therefore you can use them to understand yourself on a more profound level.

Your behavior often also depends on a particular situation. You might behave differently at home or at work and each of these situations usually has a different need. Thereby your goals might differ based on the role you play. You should create a list of the roles that you play in life (for example individually, at home or in your job). This list will then serve as input later on when you are looking at your future self.

Before writing down your vision statement, you need to have a clear idea of where you are at the present moment. To help you out with this, you can create three further short lists: one listing your values, one listing your strengths and one listing your weaknesses. These can give you a better idea on what things are important to you and what things you can and cannot do.

Once you have this present state down, then you can move onto defining where you want to be and your ideal future state.

To help with the visualization of your future self, you should ask yourself some basic questions. If all things turned out perfectly, who do you want to be, what to you want to be able to do, what do you want to look like? You need to ruminate long and hard on what you really want out of life.

What things do you want to change about yourself? Why do you want to change them? You can use the list of roles that you created before and link them with specific needs that you have in each role. These needs then can serve as an indication of the things that you can change about yourself in order to perform the role better.
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How Perception Can Make Or Break Your Training

Objective factors are not the only ones that have an impact on your training results. Recent scientific studies show that subjective factors, such as perception, can have an important physiological impact as well. We have all heard the mantra of needing to eat big and lift big in order to gain weight and muscles, but for example what happens when you drink a milkshake that contains 400 calories, but you think it only contains 150?

Is there a difference between drinking a 400 calorie milkshake and thinking it contains less calories, or drinking the same milkshake and being aware of the fact that it contains 400 calories?

A study from 2011, set out to measure exactly that. The participants were divided into two groups and given milkshakes of 380 calories. One group was told that their milkshake was 620 calories and “indulgent”, while the other group was told that their milkshake contained 140 calories and was “sensible”.

After they had drunk the milkshakes, the ghrelin levels of the participants were periodically monitored. Ghrelin is sometimes called the “hunger hormone”, as it is secreted when the stomach is empty. Its secretion stimulates the feeling of hunger, so the more of it is released, the hungrier you feel.

The results of the monitoring were pretty interesting. The ghrelin levels of the people who drank the supposed 620 calorie milkshake dropped and they reportedly felt more full, while the ones who drank the 140 calories reported feeling hungrier and had higher levels of ghrelin.

The only difference here was perception. Both groups drank exactly the same milkshake, but the physiological reactions in their bodies were different.

How can this be? “Mind over matter”. The brain is a powerful organ in your body and can do many incredible things. What is happening here is akin to the placebo effect.

The placebo effect has been reported in certain clinical trials, where the test subjects were given a placebo, but their body reacted as if it had been given a real medicine. One possible explanation of this is based on expectations. Possibly, if the patient is expecting something to happen, he can subconsciously will his body to produce similar effects as that of a medication. The mind can produce its own cure.

The brain can also play other little neat tricks, which result in actual physiological processes. Some people actually experience the feel of being touched, when they see others being touched. This is called mirror touch synesthesia and is due to the activity of mirror neurons. Not all people experience this, but many do and maybe you are one of them. 🙂

What about the placebo effect directly in working out? Another study was carried out with a group of power lifters. Each member of the group was given placebos (saccharine) and told that they were getting steroids.

After a period of training, these lifters were told to try to do a one rep max test. All of them lifted heavier than ever before and created new personal records in all the lifts tested.

After that the group was divided into two, with one group being told that they had in fact been given placebos, while the other group continued on believing that they were taking steroids. The results were interesting. The group that was told they were given placebos, lost all their gains and returned to their pre-placebo levels, while the group that continued on believing that they were taking steroids kept their gains or created even better personal records.

The only difference here was mental.
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Time To Get Big: How To Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution

new year resolution, how to gain weight

new year resolution, how to gain weight

Did you have a New Year’s Resolution? How is that proceeding? If you are like most people, then you probably gave up already. According to recent research, around 92% of the people who set a New Year’s resolution, fail. That means only 8% of the people actually achieve what they set out to achieve. That is a pretty pitiful statistic.

What is the reason behind the fact that most resolutions fail? You probably gave up because you didn’t have a system. Having a proper system will address many of the common mistakes that occur when people make resolutions and will serve as a way to keep you on track.

There are some common mistakes in resolution setting that keep reoccurring:

1) The goals set out in resolutions don’t follow the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related) criteria. The goals themselves are vague and there are no milestones or even dates set.

Most people when they set goals, come up with very broad goals like “gain weight” or “lose weight”. That’s only the first step. You need to refine these goals into more specific and actionable items. You should be clear about how much weight you want to gain and by what time, or at what level you want to be able to speak a foreign language by what date. Your goals need to be specific and measurable.

2) You set up too many resolutions and don’t prioritize.

People often set too many goals for themselves and try to achieve them at the same time. Unless you have vast amounts of willpower and self-discipline, you are not going to be able to achieve all those goals. In fact, you might get so overwhelmed, that you might just drop everything and not achieve anything.

Instead, start by setting a list of priorities and work on one or two goals at a time. You can put all the other goals in your long term vision, but it is better to work on a few goals per time period. Once you have achieved these goals, or they become a routine habit, then you can start working on your other goals.

3) The resolutions are often unrealistic.

Many resolutions are extremely unrealistic. People think they can change from one day to the other, or overestimate their willpower and self-discipline. They set up goals that are too restrictive or too big of a change. Most of these people end up sliding back to their old habits.

Your goals need to be realistic. You are not going to be a muscle bound hunk overnight, but after a few months of working hard you might end up gaining some weight and muscles. People sometimes also start off by setting up diets that are too rigid and end up giving up on it, instead of starting off slowly and including cheat days.

I don’t want to discourage you from setting ambitious goals, but just for you to keep in mind that it will take a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve those goals.

Also always keep in mind what is in your control and what is outside your control. If you are 35 and short, you are not going to grow taller, so don’t set “growing taller” as your goal, but instead something more realistic.

4) Not describing the reasons of why you want to achieve those specific goals (benefits).

If you set up a goal, you need to be clear about why you want to achieve that specific goal and what benefits it will bring you. If you are not clear about the “why”, your motivation might end up wavering. Having clearly defined reasons and visualizing the potential benefits, will keep you motivated.

5) There is no plan set up on how to achieve your goals.

Even if people set realistic goals, oftentimes they don’t come up with a concrete plan on how to achieve those goals. If you want to achieve something, then you need a plan on how to go about it. Winging it ain’t gonna cut it.

6) The plan doesn’t take into account that there might be obstacles on the way.

You set up the perfect plan, but you need to keep in mind that there will be obstacles along the way. You might get injured, you might have too much work at your job. There could be myriads of other things happening. Your plan needs to be flexible enough to accommodate all these potential challenges. If you get injured, you need to take some time to heal, but then be ready to come back strong.

You need to allow for these potential long-term obstacles, but also keep in mind potential short term obstacles. When setting up a plan, you also need to include room for flexibility in it. It will be impossible to stick to your plan 100% every day and so you need to take this into account.

For example, you might have planned that every Monday after work, you will go to the gym for an hour and a half. However one Monday, you need to stay longer at work and cannot go to the gym. You should be flexible enough to move your gym session to Tuesday or some other day, or have some other contingency plan.

7) The plan is not set up in such a way as to be able to change it up quickly and continuously improve the process.

If something doesn’t work then change it. I often see guys at the gym doing their own little shitty routine, and even if they have been regularly going to the gym for years, they still remain their own little puny selves. They don’t tweak their routine, they don’t learn from mistakes, they don’t acquire any experience. The process of achieving your goal needs to be agile and you always need to be working on improving the process.

8) There is no sense of accountability for the goals.

Oftentimes, a good way to keep yourself motivated is to let other people know that you are trying to achieve a goal. They will motivate you and cheer you on. If you find other people that are working on the same goal, that’s even better. However just getting your goal out there among other people is a good way to keep yourself accountable.

9) Not tracking your progress.

You should always be tracking your progress. Studies show that people who track their progress are more likely to achieve their goals. Whether it is by keeping a journal or having an elaborate app, tracking your progress can be a good way to see the results you have gotten and also to keep in mind what else you need to do.

10) Not having the willpower and self-discipline to carry things through.

We live in an instant gratification society, and most people lack the willpower and self-discipline to carry things through. They have no willpower to persevere and not give up. Willpower is like a muscle and needs to be trained. The good news is that the more you train your willpower, the bigger your reserve gets, which will help you achieve more and more things.

You should always be striving to change routines into positive habits. That way you will use up less willpower and instead conserve it for other things. You will then have it ready whenever you need an extra push and be able to pull through when you need it most.

11) Not setting up a proper environment.

In order to keep yourself from straying, you need to set up a proper environment around you. If your diet is important, stock up your fridge with healthy things like fish, milk and vegetables, instead of ice cream and frozen pizza. So then whenever you get a craving and open up your fridge, you will always be forced to grab something healthy.

Also work on creating triggers for your habits. For example, if you want to go to the gym after work, bring your gym clothes to work and go to the gym straight after work, instead of going home. Oftentimes if you make it home, you won’t want to go out again.

A big part of the environment around you are the people you surround yourself with. If they are negative people who like to complain and don’t actually try to do anything about their problems, then that can have a negative impact on you. On the other hand, if you hang out with positive people, then that can have a positive impact on you and your mindset.

12) Not charting out which other factors might have an effect on your wellbeing.

You also need to chart out some potential long-term problems that might affect your well-being, for example depression or problems at work. These are constant drains on your willpower, but if you take them into account when setting up your plan, you can figure out ways to work around them.

You see why it is so easy not to achieve your goal and why most people fail? Any of these reasons could be behind your failure. The list is also regressive, with the top one being the most important reason, while the other ones follow the reasons on top.

If you don’t set up SMART goals, then you are likely to fail right off the bat. Even if you set up SMART goals, but set up unrealistic goals, you are likely to fail. And even if you set up realistic goals, but don’t have a plan, you will also likely fail at some point.

Reflect on how you usually set up your goals and how often you succeed and fail. Then try to examine which types of mistakes you made, and which ones caused you to fail.

These common mistakes can be rectified by having a proper system in place that will help you set goals and carry out everything necessary to achieve them.
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