Day 14 – “There’s no final exam in life.”

evanlaird.com - _There's no final exam in life._

It’s about that time we take a big left turn. After a killer series focusing on confidence and building your achievement mindset, it’s tough to come up with something as tactical. But with Thanksgiving week just starting, I want to jump into something a little less tactical and goal driven. By getting a little more emotional, spiritual, and relational.

When you’re going through a trial, it’s hard to understand why. You start to become less grateful for the cards that you were dealt. You begin to question why you, why now, why this, why that. What you have to realize is that it’s just another test.

“There’s no final exam in life.”

It’s just another test. If you’re still in school right now, you can relate. And if you aren’t I know you can think back to the days.

evanlaird.com - _There's no final exam in life._

Sitting in the library, drowning in PowerPoint notes. Papercuts on the left hand and the smudge of your pencil and pen ink on the right. Stressing thinking to yourself if you don’t at least get that 78 percent on this final exam, you might not end up with that 3.1 GPA. And without a GPA over 3.0, you might end up being a busboy again this summer, or even worse… Selling insurance for the rest of your life!

It matters less in the long run than you think

But no matter you got that 78 percent or not, you didn’t end up selling insurance did you? You didn’t ruin your life, right? Hell no you didn’t!

Looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, that exam didn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. So why were you stressing so much at the moment? Seems silly right?

Now think about what you’re going through right now. Yes, it may be more significant or more traumatic than an exam in school. But just like that exam, life does continue.

Life is test after test

Life has no final exam. Just test after test. And quite frankly it’s not whether you passed or failed, just like the exam in school, it matters like in the grand scheme of things. What matters is what you learned before and during the test. And how you adapt and change after. Your life isn’t over, but it will change.

Your life may not be the same or how you planned, but tomorrow does come. And whether your test is one day or six months, it does end. The strong ones will look back and laugh at the struggle and smile on how it made them better. Others will look at it as a defining moment that crippled their lives.

Which one will you be?

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Push through,

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Evan

Day 13 – “Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

evanlaird.com - _Nothing can be done without hope and confidence._
So how does this step by step help me build confidence? It just seems like a framework for achieving my goals?
And that’s the exact point. 😉
Confidence stems from doing and achieving.

“Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

So the fact that you’re doing something you value and hold highly in your life is what is building your confidence. Stringing together victory after victory each step knowing you’ll achieve it because you reached the last 5-6. Without noticing the momentum, you made towards your goal built up your confidence.
Now when you look at new struggles of goals, you have the confidence to say I made it through that, or I achieved this. So why would this new challenge be any different?
reaching-your-goals
Just like knowledge and skills can be built through repetition, so can confidence. And by taking small actionable steps, you’re doing and did just that!

My personal fitness story of building one step at a time

To give a personal story of how this works, I can take you back four years ago at the start of my life-changing journey. I didn’t know it at the time but the small steps and decisions I made my freshman year of college ultimately shaped where I am today.
Luckily I was naturally a bit more confident than others growing up due to my brother, father, and the values instilled in me when I was young. But 18 and 60 lbs overweight with a girlfriend that cheated on me and broke up with me, my confidence was shattered.

Adding each little step

I made the conscious decision to lose some weight to regain where my standards were. So every day I did more and ate a bit less. I didn’t make dramatic changes as I was already hitting the gym. But I slowly swapped unhealthy meals with healthy ones. Starting with salads for lunch, slowly eating smaller more protein-packed breakfasts throughout six months.
In the gym, I started pushing myself harder and longer. Slowly increasing my workload and benching 145lbs one week and each week adding 2-5lbs hitting a new PR every day in every lift. Letting the snowball and compound effect work naturally.

Confidence bleeding over into the rest of my life

Before you know it those good habits lead to great habits in other parts of my life. Slowly drinking less, doing drugs less, studying more, and feeling better about myself. Through time as these achievements compounded my mansion of confidence was being built.
I started looking at every challenge just as that a challenge, not an indestructible wall. Knowing that if I was able to lose 60 lbs, double my strength, and turn my F’s into A’s that with the right amount of confidence and determination I can then achieve anything I put my mind to.
Evan-Laird-2017-Transformation

Being able to look back on the journey

It’s been a long journey of 4-5 years now. And yes I still struggle but not with the same problems as those are long behind me and accomplished. They don’t even cross my mind, because I’m working on bigger and better things.
And that’s where we are getting you to, to understand that it’s a long journey and not a sudden bang of change. But far enough along into it, you’ll be able to look back and smile and laugh about your old challenges. And be able to look forward on a better life with the confidence that you can tackle anything that life throws at you.
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Day 12 – “You can’t put on the roof before laying the foundation.”

"You can't put on the roof before laying the foundation."

Let’s continue with one of the last notes about steady achievement and building your confidence.

“You can’t put on the roof before laying the foundation.”

Take everything you do especially in the process day by day and step by step. We both know that 1 lb. might seem like a small change as does $5. But life, recovery, your road to success and confidence is not a Sprint. It’s a marathon. And each step gets you that much closer.

marathon-not-a-sprint

The beauty of this mindset and framework is twofold: you don’t bite off more than you chew and secondly, you are continually achieving your goals (building confidence and momentum).

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

To address the first, one of the primary underlying reasons for failure and a lack self-confidence is biting off more than we can chew. Trying to rush success and trying to find glory in the achievement, not the process. By keeping steps small and building our mindset of daily progress and achievement, we are in turn sculpting the foundation to your confidence.

But if you get too far ahead of yourself and try to do too much, your building will collapse. You can’t put the roof on before the foundation of even the walls or set. Or your building will be a pile of crumbled rubbish.

That’s what we are avoiding — the burnout of trying to chase a huge goal then giving up one week later because it’s too big of a change. And humans naturally are resistant to change. Our minds are built to survive and revert to the mean.

Constantly hit and celebrate small goals

What we are doing by hitting constant small goals is slowly upping our standards, expectations, and in essence our mind and body’s mean. So that when we subconsciously revert to the mean, it’s higher than the day before.

Stay the course and don’t get ahead of yourself chasing your ultimate goal. Reach your ultimate goal by using this framework to build towards it every day. Watch the snowball effect take place, and you’ll reach your goal without even noticing how much you’ve changed and good you’ve done.

Push through,

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Evan

Day 11 – “Momentum is real. Build it in every step.”

evanlaird.com - _Momentum is real. Build it in every step._

If you haven’t read the last two articles, it’s highly encouraged as this is part of a series of building your confidence.

“Momentum is real. Build it in every step.”

Like we discussed the first step is the hardest. Now that you’ve started you have to decide to halt your progress. And that’s what most do.

evanlaird.com - _Momentum is real. Build it in every step._

Taking the next step

After the first step, they believe they completed their ultimate goal which is far from the truth. You have to set your second, third, and fourth step immediately after completing phase one.

Step one is far from your goal, but it shouldn’t be now from your second goal, and that’s where people get lost. They get the hit of dopamine, that feeling of satisfaction after goal one and decide it’s enough. Then go back to there old ways to try again later, a vicious cycle.

Avoiding your old ways

That’s not going to be you!

Because you’ll set, you’re second, third, fourth, and fifth step towards your goal immediately. Using the same framework as before and taking a small measurable value up from step 1 and setting that goal.

So awesome, you made $5 more this month or lost 2 pounds in a week. You’re a killer! But predators never stay satisfied. So lets up the stakes. Now make $20 more dollars then $50 more than $75 more. Now lose 4 pounds, 5 pounds, 7 pounds.

$0 to $100 is a big jump. But $5 to $20 is a simple step. Make them simple, doable, and building on your day off progress. Take each step and celebrate each step and continuously add another step afterward. That’s your award.

 

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Evan

Day 10 – “A mansion is built one brick at a time.”

"A mansion is built one brick at a time."

If you missed yesterday, I highly suggest refreshing your memory.

We discussed that building confidence starts with a straightforward step – Setting up the achievement for yourself. Now I know what you’re thinking, didn’t we do that with the vivid vision?

And yes of course! But that’s your long-term three-year plan which we need to dissect and put into a 3 hour or 3-minute plan for you to take the first step.

“A mansion is built one brick at a time.”

Yes, I said mansion, not a house because that’s not what you’re building. You’re creating a masterpiece, a work of art with your vivid vision, not a standard Joe Schmoe house.

mansion is built

Read your vivid vision

Let’s take a look at your vivid vision. Read it aloud again.

Selecting your domino

Now select the section that means the most to you. The part of life that if this all goes correctly, all the rest will fall in place. For me, that’s my career. If my career goes as planned it will free me up to open relationships, give more time to learning, family, and leisure.

One thing to make sure is you can directly impact this outcome. For instance, you can’t make someone fall in love with you, but you can work smarter, put more effort into existing relationships, or lose a couple of pounds.

Select your domino.

domino-effect

Finding goal number one

Take the section and find your first goal or stepping stone in there. Now let’s dissect that goal and work backward.

So if your goal is to lose 30 pounds or make $200k a year, you know what you have to do before that?

You have to lose 25, 20, 10, or even just 1 pound first. You have to make $10k, $5k, $1k, or even just $1 more a month.

And that’s your first step to building the confidence that will eventually snowball.

Break your first goal in your domino category into the smallest numeric measurable unit. And achieve it. Celebrate it because the start is the hardest part.

"A mansion is built one brick at a time."

Push through,

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Evan

Day 9 – “Find your confidence… Not just in your good but your struggle.”

"Find your confidence... Not just in your good but your struggle."

I’ve decided to cut my journal out of each post. At least on regular days where big things and life lessons were few and far between.

For a few different reasons:

  1. My life’s boring and I don’t want to bore you with that. Ride my bike, work, PT, eat some chicken, fall asleep. Repeat. So I’m saving you from that!
  2. To focus more on the quotes and positivity. To give you actionable tasks and thought processes to help you make it through a trial in your life. Or just everyday life because I know sometimes it’s not easy and your back feels against the wall in all realms of life.

One topic I have yet to discuss that I genuinely believe is at the core of living your best life is confidence.

“Find your confidence… Not just in your good but your struggle.”

Being self-confident is the number 1 determinate towards success. If you can see it, believe it, and have faith in it as we talked about you can ultimately do anything. When you realize that, that’s pure confidence.

Confidence doesn’t come overnight, and it’s not just a mindset. It’s your lifestyle; it’s how you’re wired. And like a house, no matter how tangled the wires are, with enough help or training you can rewire your thought process.

Confidence through achievement

I feel the first step to gaining confidence is achievement. And no I’m not talking about winning an award or bring praised at work. I’m talking about small personal achievement. Something that after your done your mind will release dopamine and you’ll feel better about yourself than the first time your Instagram picture got more than 100 likes.

But how do I do that??

We’ll discuss tomorrow so tune in!

"Find your confidence... Not just in your good but your struggle."

Push through,

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Evan

Day 8 – “True faith is believing in what you can’t see or touch, no matter the circumstance.”

"True faith is believing in what you can't see or touch, no matter the circumstance."

Officially one week of starting writing. I’ve realized that I get my best work done and best thinking when I get my blood flowing — the main reason why the gym has been so therapeutic for me. So without it has been tough but like everything else, I found my workaround.

I was told no strenuous exercise for three weeks, so leg exercises or hard cardio was out of the question. But I was cleared to sit on a stationary bike and pedal my little ass like seven years old who just learned how to ride. Lame yes? But better than nothing?? Fuck yes! It’s become the highlight of my day now.

stationary bike

So I write to you from my comfy little stationary seated bike looking over a bright Miami morning. Being in this bright part of my day, I think it’s good to discuss faith finally.

“True faith is believing in what you can’t see or touch, no matter the circumstance.”

This isn’t just about religion and faith in that sense. But faith in the future, yourself, others, and a great being if that’s what you choose to believe.

Faith in your dream and yourself

You created your vivid vision, but you can’t see it or touch it correct? Same with your standards right? No matter how detailed you got and descriptive your words are, it’s still an abstract noun. But what makes it real? Your hard work, yes. But your faith must come first.

You have to believe it to be true and have faith in yourself and that your standards and vision can be achieved. You have to have faith in your vision enough to make it through the bad days and fuel you farther on your good days.

Again I’m not forcing you to believe a particular religion but leaning and having faith that Jesus Christ came down to save us, and that God is an almighty being has changed my life and fueled me to achieve great things in my early life.

faith-with-goals

Making it through a trial with faith

The Bible has a substantial amount of advice, philosophical and religious on how you can make it through struggle and life. One parable being the disciples on the boat in the dead sea.

A massive storm approached nearly sinking the ship of the disciples. Jesus lay asleep in the cabin after a hard Day’s work (we’ve all been there!). Frightened of death the disciples woke Jesus asking if he cared about them enough to save them. In a moment Jesus proclaimed silence and ceased the winds and waves. Afterword he asked begged the question, do you not have faith?

Reminding the disciples and us during tough times, there is no need to be afraid if you have faith. Through every challenge, if you trust that the destination will be better than the starting line and that there is something amazing on the other end of this road, you will make it through. Whether that’s faith in the Lord, in your plan, or yourself, it’s a necessary component to powering through your struggle.

Nothing trumps faith

Motivation is great, but nothing trump’s faith. Start believing in something higher than your circumstance, than yourself, and your vision will start to unfold before you.

"True faith is believing in what you can't see or touch, no matter the circumstance."

Push Through,

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Evan

Day 7 – “No one’s done anything great by setting low standards.”

"No one's done anything great by setting low standards."

As the week starts, it can be stressful to look ahead — five more straight days of one-handed work and trying to live up to the expectations I’ve set for myself this week. Expectations are the wrong word, as it’s more like standards.

I’ve set a standard for myself to get shit done. To not let anyone down and to be that team player that others or a company can put their weight on and carry them to the finish line. So every day the struggle isn’t getting past my limitations, it’s the ability some days not to meet those high standards. And I refuse to lower them and believe you shouldn’t either.

accomplishment-standards on a mountian

“No one’s done anything great by setting low standards.”

Standards are something you set within yourself that define your ability and the lowest you will go. By placing your standards high, you raise your confidence, drive, and motivation to do everything you can to reach those standards.

Somedays you may not live up to those standards, and that’s okay. But as long as you’ve strived towards them, you won the day.

Thinking bigger

By setting them high, you’ve forced yourself to think bigger and work hard. And even on the days when it’s not reached, you’ll still end up farther along than if you set your standards low and achieved them. I can guarantee you the pain of not reaching your standards if set high is much less than realizing you’re living a life of mediocrity and complacency by being okay with low standards.

Why is that? Because even if you fail, you’ll know you gave it everything you had. That feeling is much greater than the destination of hitting your standards and goals.

Set your standards high this week and watch your work and mentality follow.

"No one's done anything great by setting low standards."

Push Through,

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Evan

Day 6 – “Going through life without setting goals is like going on a road trip without a map.”

"Going through life without setting goals is like going on a road trip without a map.”

It’s officially been a week since the accident. And five days since surgery. As I reflect on the week, I’d be lying to myself if I said this wasn’t the toughest week of my life

Stress, anxiety, sadness, and the feeling of utter defeat have never consumed me for that long of a sustained period. But as I reflect I can also look up and say the hardest part is behind me. With anything in life, the first week is always the hardest. It forces you to change your habits, adds in extra stress where there wasn’t before, and can become frustrating. But like changes of diet, exercise routine, career, etc. the ones who win, push through that week to make their lives exponentially better.

top of mountain

Why does this happen? Because they know their why and where they’re going. In essence, they have a goal and standard they want to live up to and push through the tough times to reach those. And through this process that’s what you and I have to have.

“Going through life without setting goals is like going on a road trip without a map.”

Yes, you may make it to the destination without the map, but it’s going to take you twice as long and be a bumpier road. Create your route and get moving on your goal.

Find What You Want Your Destination to Be

I feel lucky in the sense. Although like many of us, I have ambitions, dreams, and goals but they were scattered. I knew my destination but didn’t know how to get there. I was lost on the road.

But 3 hours before my accident, I sat down for a few hours and wrote my exact path for the next three years. How exactly I see my life from 22 to 25 playing out and the exact steps I’ll take along the way. This process was called a Vivid Vision.

Rightfully so, you vividly create what the future looks like and how you will get there. This is your fucking map. I was lucky to have the chance to write this before my accident, but it’s not too late for you to create yours.

Set up your vision right now, don’t wait

Put your struggle, disability behind you for 3 hours. Write as if you’re 100% healthy emotionally, mentally, and physically. Think about the areas of life that mean the most to you and write them down. For instance, I separated mine into:

  • Career/Wealth
  • Spiritual
  • Health
  • Relationship
  • Friends/Family
  • Location
  • Leisure

For each category write your dream story of 1-5 paragraphs of exactly how you want your career to go in the next three years and then again for your family, relationships, etc. Get as detailed about the times, numbers, and specifics as possible. It will only help fuel you more.

It’s about YOU!

When I say dream story I mean it, write what YOU want. Not what you think your friends or family want to hear. This is YOUR map, YOUR life, and YOUR vivid vision, no one else’s.

After your brutally honest with yourself on how you want your next three years to play out, write it all down. Read it aloud, proud and loud and record you confident voice. Now listen to this 5 minute or so recording every damn day. Whether you feel like it or not, turn it on. Sear it into your mind and memory so every time you make a decision, you’ll think back to your vision and make the right choice for your future self.

A map does no good if you use it one day and throw it away from the next. It only becomes useful if you use it through every turn and crevasse in your journey. Sit down today, block out 3 hours, and create your map. Use it every day and get your adventure started. Your dream is waiting for you on the other side of hard work.

"Going through life without setting goals is like going on a road trip without a map.”

 

Push through,

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Evan

Day 5 – “When you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.”

"When you're at the bottom, there's nowhere to go but up."

Last night, I hit cold hard rock bottom. Each waking hour since Wednesday had been slowly beating on me. Like a boxer that’s hung in there till the 12th round taking hit after hit, mouth dripping blood, eyes bruised closed that finally hit the floor. I had crashed down. No will left to move from my couch beside to venture into the kitchen to binge on anything left in my cabinets.

The fall

Feeling sick to my stomach, bloated like a balloon about to pop, I exploded. I was prepared and can deal with the physical pain. But I was not ready for the mental and emotional distress. Evident by the mental breakdown that arrised.

Thinking about how it takes me 2-3 times longer to do the simplest tasks unable to get all the work I need to get done. I feel like a failure, not just to myself, but my company that is counting on me. After hours of pushing through just to get done what’s needed, I still have to face life. Cook, clean, get dressed, fold laundry, do dishes all while struggling to get it done in twice the time and half the quality.

eye of the storm

Finding the eye of the storm

The physical pain is nothing on the inefficiency and mental drain that come with the struggle. It’s not only difficult to deal with these inefficiencies but to find a spark of light to write about today. But there’s always a silver lining even in what may seem like the deepest holes.

“When you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.”

This may seem pessimistic compared to a generally positive outlook on life. But like we discussed yesterday sometimes you have to take the small steps and take the small wins. This is one of them.

hole with light at the end of the tunnel

Floating your way up

If you physically, mentally, or emotionally are as low as you can go, that can only mean one thing. It can’t get worse. Yes if you do nothing and stay in your same remorseful and sorry for yourself course, it can stay the same. And you’ll sit at the bottom of your well as you drown in tears. Or you can take those tears and float your way to the fucking top.

Your mindset switch

By just a simple mindset change of push through and finding your way to recovery, you can go from drowning to floating on top. Keep your end goal and mission in mind and change your mindset of “how can get this get worse?” to “how can I take this situation and make it better?”.

With that simple switch, you can harness the power of being at the bottom and on your way up.

"When you're at the bottom, there's nowhere to go but up."

 

Push through,

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Evan

* I do want to discuss my rant at the beginning and say yes I understand that there is a lot worse in this world. Some of you are going through much greater trials than my temporary or seeming small ones. So although to some this issue may seem small, but to lose every activity that I love and productivity to me is a huge deal. Fitness and being efficient is how I define myself and deal with stress. So for these short 3-6 months, I’ve lost a large part of my identity and ability to do what I love.

* These posts are not to shed light on my struggle or to get you to empathize with me. But for others going through struggles big and small that need help making it through. To know that you’re not alone in this world and people are facing challenges everyday right alongside you.