Tag Archives: Self Development

You Can’t Be Anything You Want

I’m sorry to break the news to you but you cannot be anything you want to be when you grow up. It was a lie. It’s not your fault; society has pushed this idea onto you since your birth. Through television, movies, music, and well intentioned adults you’ve received this message. It was false though and now it’s time you learn the truth.

You have limitations.Father & son

Yes, you have limitations. It seems cruel to tell little children this harsh reality, so many adults don’t. They go on lying to them, filling them with magical hope for the future. The problem is that if you are told a lie long enough you start to believe it. But, you aren’t a little child, and I’m not going to lie. Despite well-meaning intentions, lying to children about their unlimited options can lead to serious confusion and a lack of direction; that and it really isn’t all that helpful.

Little Johnny: “Dad what should I be when I grow up?” 

Johnny’s Dad: “Oh son, you can be anything you want to be…” 

Little Johnny: “Yeah I know Dad, but I mean I really don’t know what I want to do?”  

Johnny’s Dad: “…anything you want, son. You can be anything you want.”

In the real world, to be successful at something requires that you have very specific talents and abilities and more importantly that you know what they are. Rather than telling you that you can be anything you want I’m going to tell you the truth:

You cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be an awesome version of yourself!

You are uniquely wired in certain ways that no one else is. At the risk of sounding like your mom, you are special! You have skills and abilities that make you uniquely valuable. The trick is putting yourself in the right environment; one that will allow you to use those special abilities. So don’t spread the lie.  You can’t be anything you want to be, you wouldn’t want to anyways. You can and should be yourself.

Know your talents, abilities, and passion. Use them for direction and you won’t have to worry about being anything you want to be, you’ll be to busy doing what you were made to do.

Be yourself.

Be awesome.

Live Declared.

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When I Quit TV



Everyone has 24 hours in a day.


Bill Gates has 24 hours in his day. Mark Zuckerberg has 24 hours in his day. The guy taking your order at Taco Bell has 24 hours in his day.

You have 24 hours in your day.

Why is it that some people seem to be able to accomplish superhuman feats? They seem to be able to do so much more than others in the 24 hours given to them each day? What is their trick? What are they doing that the rest of us aren’t?

Sure we could blame it on the fact that the most productive people in the world are often wealthy and can hire people to do the mundane tasks that seem to plague our lives. We could also point out that because they are wealthy; they don’t have the same pressing burdens as the less fortunate. Maybe they are just plain smarter than everybody else. I of course would disagree with all of those points, but what do they do differently? More importantly, what do they do differently that we can do too?

Let me be clear, I’m not talking to you as someone who is an expert in this area. I’m learning daily how to make the most out of my time. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back, but I’m making progress.

There are a lot of books out there about how to improve yourself and make the most of your time; books like Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. These two talk a lot about the habits of successful people.  I highly recommend these books and there are a lot of habits in them I could talk about, but I’m going to focus on one very specific thing.


Last summer I tried an experiment with my time. I decided to take a month off of television. I did it partially just to see if I could, and partially because I had a lot of things to do and I needed to gain some focus in my life. It was hard. Apparently, I had established some bad habits with regards to TV.

Did you know?

  • The average American youth spends over 1000 hours watching TV each year.
    (For comparison, the average American youth spends 900 hours in school each year.)
  • The average American will spend 9 years of their life watching TV.
  • Children ages 2-11 watch an average of 24 hours of TV a week
  • Teens ages 12-17 watch an average of 22 hours of TV a week.
  • Young adults ages 18-24 watch on average 25 hours of TV a week.

I knew TV was a problem for other people, but I didn’t think that I watched too much television. For about an hour or so before bed each night I would turn on Netflix and watch something, on Friday and Saturday night I would sometimes watch a movie with my family, and on Sundays I would also turn on the TV in the afternoon while I laid around the house. I used television as a means by which I could disengage my brain and unplug from the world.

My Triumph:

When I quit, I quit cold turkey. I didn’t try to limit my time watching TV, I just stopped. A lot of times I had avoid the living room altogether. It was just too tempting. The couch would call to me and the remote with its beautiful buttons would scream out to me, but I resisted.

After just one week though, the results were amazing.  I found myself with way more time than I thought I could ever have. I read a book that first week. A real book, no pictures, and not one required for work. In fact, I read a couple books that month. I listened to a ton of podcasts and I got a lot of work done.  It was hands done the most productive month I can ever remember having.

Instead of sitting down to watch TV I would read or write or just plain think. I spent more quality time with my family and had a blast doing it. It was wonderful. After the month was over I kept going. I didn’t consciously decide to keep avoiding TV, but I did. I was way too busy doing meaningful things to watch TV. I kept that up for another month.

My Downfall:

After two months of not watching TV and being the most productive person I have ever been in my life, I started letting my guard down a little. I started allowing myself to sit on the couch more and more and every once in a while I would sit with the kids while they were watching a cartoon. I started watching movies again on the weekends, and eventually after another month I was back into my old TV habits completely.  My productivity plummeted. I found myself less motivated to do anything and I was always strapped for time. So why did I go back? I don’t know.

Call to Action:

Since then I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve limited my TV time and do not turn it on every day. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the amount of TV I watch and my overall productivity. As a result, I’ve made it my resolution to watch less TV this year. Am I going to quit TV again? Probably not, at least not permanently. But I certainly will be limiting it this year.

Interesting facts:

Tom Corley shares some statistics about TV and success at RichHabitsInstitute.com

  • 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.
  • 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.

As a high school student, you have already established some habits in your life, some good and some bad. Do yourself a favor and think about how much TV you watch. Figure out exactly how many hours a day you are watching TV and decide if some of that time could be better used elsewhere.

If you want what the successful have, you’ve got to do what the successful do.  Let’s work on this one together.


Share your thoughts about TV and time management. What do you think is a good amount of TV to watch each day? What would you do if you didn’t have a TV for an extended period of time? I’d love to hear from you.

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New Year’s Resolutions: A Different Approach

New Years:

It’s that time of year again; yes it’s New Year’s resolution time! It’s that time when the gyms are running at maximum capacity and people who are trying to quit smoking are completely unbearable. Prepare yourself for endless posts on Facebook about new diets and healthy recipes. I’m sorry, but your friends will have less time for you due to the fact they are going to be committing themselves to volunteering more and being more involved in the community. It will be tough, but don’t worry; you shouldn’t have to endure all of this for more than 3 or 4 weeks.Weights

I don’t mean to come across as cynical, I find myself in that crowd as well. I usually make New Year’s resolutions; sometimes I blow it, sometimes I follow through. This year, however, I decided to be a little more intentional about how I approach my resolutions. This year I did a little research.

Did you know that:

45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions.
17% of Americans infrequently make New Year’s resolutions.
38% of Americans never make New Year’s resolutions.
8% of those who make resolutions will achieve their goal.
25% of those who make resolutions won’t even make it past the first week.

So what do you do with that information? No really, what do YOU do with it? Does it make you feel depressed and defeated to know that so many people try and fail at reaching their goals. Perhaps you think resolutions are stupid and that you aren’t going to make any this year. The thought crossed my mind.

However, did you know that…

Those who explicitly make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than those who don’t.

Perhaps you look at that information and it excites you. 8% of Americans are setting themselves a goal and are achieving it. How hard does it have to be to put yourself in that 8%? Well it’s simple; you just have to do what the 8% do. What does that look like? What do the 8% do differently?

Making it stick:

Here’s how to make this year’s New Year’s resolutions stick:

1. They should be simple.

Your New Year’s resolutions are not your bucket list. If you set up a list a mile long you will struggle. It’s just too overwhelming for most people to have a hundred different irons in the fire. Your resolutions should be simple and realistic. This doesn’t mean you can’t dream, just be realistic.

2. They should be measurable.


This is probably one of the most important things to remember and the one that will help you the most with reaching your goals. Vague is your enemy. Vague gives you lots of room to make excuses and to weasel out of your resolutions.

Goals like…
“to get healthier”
“to get ready for college”
“to get better grades”
“to read more”

…are all destined to fail. Why? Because how do you know when you’ve reached them? If you don’t have a clear idea of what you are aiming for you’ll never hit your target.

Better options would be…
“to jog at least twice a week, every week ”
“to have all college essays done by … date ”
“to get my chemistry grade to a 90% in the first quarter”
“to read 2 nonfiction and 2 fiction books by summer break”

3. Create accountability.

Tell people about what you’re doing. The more people you tell the more accountable you will feel about having to reach your goal. If all of your friends and family know you are trying to do something, they will ask you about it; of course you’ll want give them a good report.

4. Believe in yourself and in what you’re doing.

Making New Year’s resolutions to impress others or because of outside pressure will rarely work. Resolutions require a lot of willpower and to see them through you have to be genuinely committed.


What do you think? Do you have any tricks for sticking with your New Year’s resolutions? Have you ever made a resolution that you kept? Let me know your thoughts and have a very happy new year.

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Listen to the Voices…

Hating your job is a badge of honor. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re hanging out with some co-workers or friends try complaining about work last night.  You’ll probably get a few nods of agreement or any variety of affirmations – “tell me about it…”, “amen!”, “I know, I hate my job too!”  Now try telling the same group how much you enjoyed work last night. Chances are you’ll get some really odd looks and a lot of silence – crickets, crickets.  People might even avoid you.  Why? Because people don’t like to see someone happy with their job, it’s just weird.

If you are genuinely happy with your job it reminds them that they are not. It also reminds them of that little voice inside their head. The voice that says “you aren’t happy here, this isn’t where you belong.”  People don’t like to hear that voice. In fact, a lot of people spend their lives trying to shut it up. That little voice is dangerous. It often fills your head with ideas of grandeur like starting your own business and making lots of money.  Sometimes it tells you to go and make a difference; become a doctor and save people’s lives. Other times it tells you to quit your job and do something you actually care about.

You see, the problem with that voice is that it’s usually right.

As a senior in high school you probably have already started hearing this voice. For you it may be saying, “why are you majoring in THAT!? You don’t even like that.” Or “what difference are you going to make in that job?” Or maybe it’s saying, “Why aren’t you painting anymore, you love to paint?”

Don’t ignore that voice. It might just be the key to your success. Being successful isn’t about ignoring your hopes and dreams and keeping your nose to the grindstone. Success is about finding out what makes you happy and then figuring out a way to make that profitable.

What do you daydream about when you are in class? What would you rather be doing when you are at work? What is it that you do when you are putting off what you are supposed to be doing? Jessica Hische says it best when she says, “The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

A fulfilling and profitable vocation is made up of three things: passion, talent, and an economic model. Before you even think about applying for a university or taking your next job, you need to have a plan for your future career path that addresses all three of those areas and it all starts with that little voice between your ears.

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Defeat is Not an Option

Victor Fankl Quote

I was talking to someone about finances today, debt to be more specific. I was telling them about a pretty simple plan to get out of debt.

His response:  “I have a plan to get out of debt. It’s called dying. When I die I’ll be out of debt. The end. So anyway…”

Now I can tell a subject change when I see one, I’m pretty smart like that. So I went along with it. I think we went on to talk about the weather or something safe like that. Some issues you just don’t want to press. But I couldn’t help but think about that brief 30 second conversation throughout the day. How many areas of our lives do we take on that defeated mindset? I know I’ve been guilty before.

Ever thought to yourself…

I hate my job but I don’t know how to do anything else. 

Some of my friends are a really bad influence but I’ll hang around different people when I get older.

I’m not eating right and haven’t exercised since the 8th grade gym class, but I’ll start when things settle down.  

I’ve got to catch up on homework but I’ll never get it all done, so why bother?

What areas of your life do you feel defeated in? Are you putting something off because of a lack of time or because you know it is going to be hard? Make a plan. It can be as simple as getting up an hour early three days a week and devoting that time to the area that you need to change. If time is not the issue, pick a date to confront the issue and hold yourself accountable to it. Be bold and be different. Normal is unsatisfied but unwilling to change.  Don’t be normal.

Create your future.

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How Do I Identify My Passion?

Identifying your passion is one of the first and most important steps in creating a plan for your future.

Too many people brush this question aside when planning their future vocation. They think it is trivial. They instead look at “grown-up” things like, what industries are showing the highest growth rate right now, or what do others expect me to do. Some choose careers that are safe, guaranteed, or respectable. Many people even make decisions based solely on what they are good at or what others have told them they are good at.

Most of these are actually pretty smart ideas.Trust Me 2

But passion isn’t all about making smart, logical, and intellectually sound decisions. This is where your heart comes in. For just a moment turn off the logic part of your brain and give your heart some freedom.

You don’t want to wake up every morning, roll out of bed, and have to give yourself a pep talk just to get out the door and go to work. Way too many people do this every morning. They go to work because they have to. They live for the weekends.

This is normal.

But trust me; you don’t want to be normal. Normal is unhappy, unmotivated, unproductive, uninspired, and passionless.

Wouldn’t you rather wake up in the morning and be ready to work because you’ve had a million exciting ideas going through your head all night long? Wouldn’t you rather be in a place where your work and your personal life are not at war with each other but complement each other and blend together like a beautiful watercolor?

Figuring out your passion requires looking inward.

What are the things that you talk about the most with your close friends?

What do you do with an unexpected free day when school is canceled?

What books are you reading that are not required?

What do you think about when you find your mind drifting?

What movies do you enjoy?

What extracurricular activities do you find most enjoyable and why?

What do you look for in new friends and what qualities do you value most in your close friends?

What do your friends and family say you talk about all the time? What can they not get you to shut-up about?

 magazineOne simple trick to discovering your passion is to go to your local book store, walk over to the magazine section, and pick up the first three magazines that you find interesting. Take them to a table or a reading area and glance through them. What is it about those magazines that you like? Is it the artwork, the photography, the articles, the advertisements? Did you grab those magazines so that you can learn something new and share it with your friends? Did you pick something that will help you better yourself? Did you grab them because you want to stay up on the latest trends? Try to spend at least 30 to 45 minutes (or until the staff scowls and tells you “this isn’t a library!”) with these magazines and try to figure out what it is that draws you to them.

Getting an outside perspective can also help. Ask your best friend, a family member, or a mentor what he or she thinks you are passionate about. Sometimes what is obvious to others is difficult for us to see in ourselves.

It’s good to take advice from others but it is so very important to listen to your own voice during this process. A lot of well-meaning family members, guidance counselors, teachers, and mentors have or will try to give good conservative advice to you. They will generally err on the side of caution and discourage any plans that seem to be outside of the norm. They may encourage you to take a career path that is safe and makes sense but just isn’t something that inspires you.

This step takes some time. That’s okay.

A fulfilling and profitable vocation is made up of three things: passion, ability, and an economic model.

Your passion is one part of a three legged stool. If you don’t spend the time needed to figure this one out the other two won’t hold you up.

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Four Benefits of Listening to Podcasts

Head phones

Once you’ve seen something it can’t be unseen. Once you’ve heard something it can’t be unheard. As I write this I’m inadvertently thinking of that song from the 90’s, Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down) by the group Chumbawamba.  It’s one of those songs that I heard in middle school and no matter how hard I try I cannot forget the lyrics and melody. Every so often that song will get in my head and I cringe.  It’s a terrible song, but I heard it once and now it’s in my skull… apparently for life.

Up until fairly recently I was a big time radio listener. I would typically listen to over an hour of radio a day, going to and from work and on the weekends when doing yard work.  I would listen to talk radio 75% of the time and music 25%. I thought that I was engaging in self-development by staying on top of the local and national news. I was well versed on all of the political talking points on basically every issue going on in the media. During commercial breaks I would switch over to a few different music stations and try and see what was new in the world of music.

To be honest the news made me cynical and the music made me dumb. Neither of these activities were causing me to become more productive, more caring, more influential, or more knowledgeable.  Basically they were stealing an hour or more each day of my time and giving me nothing in return.

Then I got turned on to podcasts.

I subscribed to few podcasts that I heard about from friends or authors whose books I have read in the past. What a difference!

I’ve made a list of some reasons that I would encourage you to include listening to podcasts in your daily routine. At the end of this post I’ll share some of my favorites. Here are my top four reasons:

  1. Podcasts put you in control of your influences– Like it or not you are influenced greatly by what you hear. Choose to be influenced by people who are already at the level of success you want to be at. Success is contagious.
  2. Podcasts are free and convenient – I’ve never paid a dime for any of the podcasts I listen to and they are available to me whenever and wherever I want to hear them.
  3. Podcasts can be educational – In college I took several classes that only met an hour or two a week. In those classes I learned a lot of great things in a relatively small amount of time. An hour or two a week over the course of a semester can add up. You see where I’m going with this don’t you. An hour or two driving each day to and from work or school can really add up. Fill that time with educational activities that you are passionate about or interested in. Learn a little Spanish, learn about personal finance, or learn about formal dining etiquette. Learn about whatever you like but use that time to learn.
  4. Podcasts can promote self-development – Similar to reason number 1, a lot of my self-development activities originated with ideas learned through the podcasts I listen to. I love listening to successful people share their tips on how they became successful and how they are continuing in their success.

That’s it. There are many other great reasons to include podcasts in your daily routine but those are my top four reasons. I enjoy music a lot and often have Spotify or Pandora up when I’m writing or working on projects that require my full attention. But when doing monotonous or mind numbing activities I usually have a podcast going.

Like I said earlier, here are some of the podcasts I am currently listening to and would recommend:

  • This is your Life with Michael Hyatt
  • The EntreLeadership Podcast
  • Motley Fool Money
  • The Dave Ramsey Show
  • 48Days Podcast
  • TEDTalks (Audio)

If you do listen to podcasts share some of your favorites and why you listen to them. If you don’t listen to podcasts let me know why not.  I would love to hear from you.

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