I’m deeply inspired by the caliber of people in the military community, and the quality of the work they do. A friend of mine named Chad Jackman, who was in the Army, told me about one of their protocols called PACE Plans.
In life things hardly ever go according to plan. And when things start to go off plan it creates a very pivotal moment. We get flustered and momentarily emotional, yet we need to continue thinking rationally (especially troops in a war zone). That’s why it’s extremely helpful to have a a number of different plans in place so that you can rely on your preparation to quickly and effectively respond.
These are PACE Plans, and PACE is just an acronym for primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency.
First, the primary plan is exactly what you’d expect. It’s the ideal. It’s how you’d like things to go when there are no obstacles or challenges.
The alternate plan is the back up to the primary. It helps you to have a new ideal established in the event that something goes wrong. But specifically, something that’s foreseeable or predictable. This means that it’s not too foreign of an environment and properly accommodates the new context.
Next is the contingency plan. This is utilized when the objective has changed. When something significant enough happens that make the original outcome no longer possible or realistic, you need to have a different acceptable result in mind. A B- isn’t an A+ but it’s better than outright failure, and when you have clarity on what that different acceptable result is, you can more effectively achieve it should you need to.
And last is ‘emergency’. This is exactly what you think it is. It’s what you do when everything goes wrong and all you want to do is cut your losses or limit damage. With an advanced understanding of how you’d go about doing that you have a better chance to spare whatever you can.
I think one of the main reasons people don’t succeed with their goals is because they don’t have any plan to achieve it, let alone four. And if anything, the emphasis here is to not underestimate the power of having a high-quality, clear, and optimized plan. No matter what battlefield you enter, you’re more likely to get a better results when you’re prepared with a plan of attack.
Did You Think It Was Going To Mean More?
This is a tough reality for a lot of people to admit. After dedicating so much of their life to attaining a professional goal, putting in so many hours and spending so many long nights to sacrifice for what they want, oftentimes people don’t feel the sense of satisfaction that they expected once they achieved it.
Something so life-consuming that it dominates their lifestyle and becomes their identity, only for success to feel underwhelming and disappointing...
Have you ever put your heart into something and you thought that once you got there it would mean more?
At the end of all of it, what we ultimately want is fulfillment. We want to feel a deep sense of pride and accomplishment, and a genuine contentment that what we did mattered.
But instead of feeling fulfilled, we feel the opposite of full. We feel empty.
There are a few reasons why this might be the case, and whether you identify with what I’ve shared already or not, there are some really useful insights in this.
First is maybe you were doing it for the wrong reasons - For fame or fortune. To prove that person wrong. To meet your needs of the ego rather than the calling of your soul. When you build around something that’s more superficial it leaves you feeling unsatisfied.
Another reason might be unworthiness. If you don’t feel like you’re enough then everything you do will never be enough. It’s like having all of life pass through a filter that dilutes it. Instead of feeling the high joy of an achievement, it gets watered down to something that feels insignificant strictly because your unworthiness discredits it.
And last, maybe whatever it was didn’t help others. Climbing the mountain alone is lonely at the top. And if your effort did nothing to make anyone else’s life better, the accomplishment lacks the depth and dimension needed to meet core needs. This is the same reason why when we feel helpless, the best thing for us to do is get helpful. There’s nothing that will transform your sense of purpose like being of service.
If you’re only a few steps in on your journey, and you want to avoid pouring yourself into something that ultimately feels less significant than you thought it would, keep these things in mind.
And if you want your life to mean more, it’s not just about doing bigger things. It’s just as much (if not more) about who you’re showing up as while you do those things, and the virtues you choose to express along the way no matter the size of the opportunity.
One of the primary things we’re chasing in our self-improvement is personal transformation. We know that on the other side of some growth and development lies a version of ourselves that shows up more fully for life.
But what does it mean to transform?
To break down the literal etymology, the prefix ‘trans’ means ‘across’ or ‘beyond’. So to "transform" is to "move beyond your current form". This is true for a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, but also for ourselves as we become someone entirely new.
To do this thought justice, let me add in an important detail about self-worth. Some people have an aversion to self-improvement because they feel it is acknowledgement that who you are right now isn’t good enough, which leads to the interest to improve it. I fully agree with that. We don’t need to be fixed, but we’re also not meant to stay the same either.
So understanding that we’re going to be evolving no matter what, it serves us to be intentional about our growth. To choose the direction and trajectory of it. And that’s where self-improvement comes in to guide that - To make sure that your personal transformation is positive.
Because again, going back to the basic definition, that’s what transformation is. It’s just a shift from one form to another, and it’s happening either way. Our mission as individuals with a big ambition for who we can be in this world is to massively transform ourselves and let that express itself into the world.
And that’s what goals are for. Goals serve as a future vision that orients our daily choices and actions in pursuit of achieving it. Goals change the makeup of our lives and further, guide our personal evolution. And we must be really thoughtful about what we commit to because the wrong goals can transform us in the wrong ways. That’s why John Assaraf says “When you set a goal you must be willing to trade your life for it.”
To make this tangible, I want you to take some time to connect a few dots. First is full awareness of where you are right now in your current form. The health, relationships, career, and impact that you have. Then, think about the level of health, relationships, career, and impact you want to have. Identifying the gap between the two, now you get to set the right goals that help you to bridge that gap and usher in the next evolution of your transformation.
You're Only Jealous Of The Things You Want
We’ve been taught for years that it’s not good to be jealous. The idea is that when we’re jealous it’s a reflection of our insecurities, feelings of not being good enough, or not being grateful for what we have.
For that reason, we try not to be jealous people and reject that feeling. We try to coach ourselves out of feelings of jealousy because that’s not the type of person we want to be. But this is short-sighted and it comes at an unexpected cost.
And that’s because you’re only jealous of the things you want.
What if jealousy actually gives us an insight into something about ourselves we weren’t aware of? What if jealousy served us in showing us what we really care about and we didn't even realize it?
The thing about jealousy is it isn't a dominating emotion. You can be proud for someone, and jealous of them at the same time. You can be ecstatic that someone else accomplished something you’ve always wanted to do, and still feel the sting of having not done it yourself yet.
We feel jealous for a reason. Kind of like pain is a signal that redirects us away from something we don’t like, jealousy is a subtle suggestion that we would enjoy moving toward something.
The problem with jealousy is how it can make us become insensitive, caddy, or rude. It might cause us to do things outside of our values that we later regret…
But that’s the same for any feeling we’ve ever had. Our mind is constantly being influenced by our emotional environment. Just like happiness causes us to be kinder and sadness causes us to be shorter with people, feelings of jealousy bias our thoughts and actions.
So the key is to be aware of moments where you’re feeling jealousy and reroute that energy into better understanding what you want rather than behaving out of turn.
"Little by little becomes a lot."
It’s really easy for us to discredit the little things in our life. Does picking a side salad instead of fries really do that much for our health? When we read 10 pages a week does it really help us get smarter? Does walking to the grocery store instead of driving really decrease our carbon footprint?
When you look through a short-term lens, our daily choices seem insignificant. And with our natural desire to seek immediate gratification for our choices, we’re pulled to do the easier or pleasurable thing because we don’t see the payoff of the inconvenience.
But through a long-term view you start to see the meaningful outcome of your positive choices. Eating a salad instead of fries can save you hundreds of thousands of calories. 10 pages a week is about 4 books a year and 20 books in 5 years. Decreasing your personal carbon emissions adds up faster than you realize!
When you make small positive choices consistently, little by little becomes a lot.
And that’s what we want right? A lot of health, a lot of wisdom, a lot of impact. But how do you expect to get there?
Put it this way, what if I told you to walk across the world. Do you think you could do it? You’d probably say it’s impossible. That’s 49.8 million steps and 24,901 miles...
But let’s say the average person walks 5000 steps a day. That means it would take 9,960 days or 27.28 years to walk across the world. That’s not a short amount of time by any stretch, but it’s also proof that we walk across the globe just by living our normal lives. And not only that, but we do it 2 or 3 times!
Now this is taking a linear approach, but what’s often more realistic is an exponential approach. This is what Darren Hardy calls “the compound effect”. Not only does daily action add to your total, but when done consistently it becomes a multiplier! So while you might not see the results of your actions in the short-term, stick with it long enough and the same amount of effort begins to yield disproportionate returns!
Ben Franklin is known for having said “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays it.” You’re on the right side of understanding it. Now let it work it’s magic by staying disciplined to the small and seemingly insignificant actions you need to take on a daily basis, and without question the results will pile up!
The Only Rule In Life
As complicated and complex as life is, there’s really only one rule that no one is above. And that rule is: You are accountable.
You might come back and say "No Brian, there are a lot of rules. There are laws, morals, and systems in place that you have to abide by to be a productive member of society."
While that's all true, they're not rules of life.
The real (and only) rule of life is that you need to accept the consequences of the decisions you make.
You can choose to break the laws, live with poor morals, or violate established systems. You have the free will to do any of those things. But there are consequences. You are accountable.
The reason a lot of people overlook this one universal rule is because violating the other things they claim to be “rules” are unfathomable. Like committing a crime, walking out on your family, or dodging taxes. There are many people that do all of those things…
But remember, the only rule is that you are accountable. This means that you understand the relationship between cause and effect. If you do one thing you understand that it may lead to another.
The exciting part is, while this is more obvious for the bad things to do, the same principle is true for the good things. You get married and have a beautiful family - You did that! You get a promotion and raise at work - That’s all you!
Being accountable helps you take complete ownership for everything that happens in your life. If you want to change your life’s trajectory, you need to change the way you show up for it. This is where making better choices, being more focused, enforcing stronger boundaries, and taking on calculated risk are all a way to play the game of life.
But know that when you play a certain way, you’re accountable to the results that come from it.
Understanding that this is the one and only rule of life, what do you want to do differently? Where are some of your problems popping up? What are some of the emerging opportunities you see? Because when you change the input you change the output. If you want to change the fruits, you’ve gotta change the roots.
The Communication Model
This is a verbal communication framework I’ve been studying for a year and it really simplifies our basic interactions. In knowing this model, you’ll be better prepared to understand the factors and intentions of why people say what they say. I can’t take credit for it, this model comes from my mentor Jim Bunch.
The communication model breaks down the content of our statements into 4 categories: Facts, opinions, feelings, and wants. The idea is that when you directly address all 4 of these things in communication, it makes your message clear and fully understood.
First are the facts. This is what actually happened with no emotional connection, and no assumptions. You know something is a fact when it’s impossible to disagree with. When you start by stating the facts, it creates a neutral ground and firm foundation.
Next comes opinions. This is when you state your perspective or frame of reference. This is an elaboration on the facts and how you’re interpreting it. Note that your interpretation is not factual itself, it’s simply your biased judgment of the facts. When you express your opinions with that level of awareness, people are more likely to listen and see where you’re coming from.
Then we get to feelings. This is the specific emotion that your opinion, interpretation, or judgment caused within you. When you communicate how you’re feeling about everything, it removes any blame or fault. This reduces the threat and allows people into your world so that they know how you have been impacted.
And last, we get to ‘wants’. This is your opportunity to talk about what you’d like to happen next. When teed up correctly, your ‘wants’ don’t come off as so selfish because you’ve explained the context, and your request is more reasonable.
In a practical example, this is how a manager might speak to an employee:
Fact - The deadline was yesterday and I did not receive the completed project
Opinion - To me this means that either you have too much on your plate, or you’re not being efficient with your work
Feelings - This makes me worried because we have a lot riding on servicing this client
Wants - In the future, I want you to meet your deadlines but if you know you’re going to miss it, give me 24 hours notice so that I can plan accordingly.
Doesn’t that feel effective, fair, and solution oriented? The next time you find yourself miscommunicating with someone else, take a step back and make sure all 4 elements of the communications model are being addressed! It will make things clear, smooth, and understandable.
Identifying And Conquering Distractions
The main thing that keeps us from getting more done in a day, or doing what we needed to do in a day, is distraction. It’s crazy how easily we can get pulled off task and how often it happens without us even realizing it.
The reason is because getting distracted is a form of self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is an unconscious force that prevents us from doing the things we consciously want to do. It’s our mind’s way of keeping things how they are by diverting us away from doing something new.
So rather than staying on task and focused on what’s in front of us... Especially if it’s something that threatens our current belief system... We get pulled into something else that is more psychologically safer.
As with anything, defeat distraction starts with awareness. That’s why I love the way that Nir Eyal, a prolific author, behavioral design expert, and friend thinks about how to deal with this. He says “you cannot call something a distraction unless you know what you’re being distracted from.”
We must be clear on what we intend to be doing so that we know when we’re not doing it. And when we’re off task, we can confidently label it as a distraction.
So let’s marry these two concepts of understanding distraction as an avoidance tactic and how our first step to conquering it is awareness. Is there something we can do to defeat distractions, get more of the right things done, and open up time guilt-free for the other things we enjoy in life?
We absolutely can, and in fact, one of the 9 Super Habits addresses this directly It only takes 30 seconds to do. And when you get consistent with it, you start breezing through the hard things that you’ve been procrastinating on or getting distracted from.
If you want to install this Super Habit, alongside the 8 others that help you improve your health, multiply your productivity, and make you effortlessly self-disciplined to crush every single day, today (February 5th) we just started another round of the 21 Day Challenge to install your Super Habits System.
If you have a big vision for the impact you want to create in the world but feel like you’re too easily distracted, too inconsistent, or too unstructured to make it happen, in 21 days we will change that and you’ll become unstoppable!
And remember, today's the last day to sign up so make your decision right now!