Advertising
Advertising

The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron Man Self-Esteem

The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron Man Self-Esteem

Iron Man is pretty strong (and generally incredible), so I’ll admit this is a bold statement. But, I’m a bold guy. My self-esteem really is that strong, so why wouldn’t I be that bold? I can only tell you what worked for me. This absolutely, unequivocally worked for me. And if it worked for me, why not you?

I used to want people to like me. Like, I really wanted them to. It felt nice to be liked. I felt like I belonged. I felt like it validated me as a person.  The trouble is, I wanted them to like me (and be happy) so much that much of the time it ended up being at my own expense. I’d do things that maybe I didn’t want to do in order for them to be happy and, hopefully, like me. Be friends with me. And perhaps we would be “friends”, yes… but the whole friendship would be based on me trying to make them happy. The energy would only flow one way. I’m sure you’ll agree this probably isn’t the best recipe for lasting friendship, even though that’s what (I thought) I wanted.

I never used to be able to decide which sock to put on first. OK, maybe that’s not entirely true, but the important decisions always seemed to come down to what someone else said over my own view. I’d sort of know what decision I wanted to make, but I’d talk to other people (my parents, mainly) about it as if I were seeking their permission. And if they didn’t quite agree, then I probably wouldn’t do it. And then I’d get pissed off that I couldn’t do what I really wanted to, because I wasn’t being “allowed’”. Crazy, right? I’m sure you’ve been there too, though.

Advertising

I thought I needed confidence. I thought “if only I were more confident, I could do whatever I wanted!” But it was a bit deeper than that, as these things often are. It was that I thought other people’s decisions were more important and better than my own. Like I somehow wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t deserve to make that decision. That I wasn’t “allowed”. In other words, I lacked self-esteem.

I actually didn’t realize this until I had self-esteem, and I don’t want that to happen to you, so here’s how you build stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem. Let’s do this:

1. Make a list of what’s important to you

Sit down. Turn off the TV. Get some paper and a pen. Or a laptop. Or a tablet. Or carve it into a wooden table. I just want to ask you one question: what’s important to you about life? Now start writing. Write anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it surprises you. Even if you don’t really want it to be on there. If it comes to mind, write it down. There are no rules here. Keep writing. Keep writing some more. Write until there’s nothing else left to write. There’s no time limit on this; take as long as you want.

Advertising

2. Put them in order

What’s the absolute most important thing to you about life? What is so vital that you couldn’t live without it? What else is extremely important? You don’t have to order every single thing that’s written down. Some of them will probably group together anyway, if they’re similar. Write down a top 5 if that will help. Or a top 3. Or a top 10. Remember: there are no rules. These are your values. This is your life. Whatever works for you here, do that. Just make sure they’re in an order that feels absolutely right for you. Stop being embarrassed and stop thinking of anyone else when you’re doing this. Again: these are YOUR values, and this is YOUR life.

When you look at this list, you should feel calm. Confident. Happy. Excited. Intrigued, maybe. Surprised, possibly. But deep down, you know it’s right, and you know this is who you are.

To make this even more powerful, for each thing that’s truly important to you, write down why it’s important to you.

Advertising

3. Act

Now you know what’s important to you. You know what the most important thing in your life is. You know what kind of life you want. You know who you really are. You know what decisions to make because you know what’s important, what’s more important, and what’s most important. You know you have no excuses to not do what you want now. Because now you know when you’re doing something that’s not aligned with who you are, so why are you doing it? Are you scared? Are you trying to impress someone?

The thing that builds lasting, permanent, stronger-than-Iron Man self esteem is acting on what’s important to you. Doing this shows you trust yourself. It shows you listen to yourself. That you want the best for yourself. That you respect yourself. That you love yourself. Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what everyone wants?

What having stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem will do for you

It will give you confidence. It will give you strength. You’ll stand up for yourself. You’ll know what you want. You’ll care less and less about what others think because you know what you think and what you want is the most important thing in the word. You love yourself. You’re proud of yourself. You realise that you – yes, you – are awesome. You don’t let others affect your mood or who you are. You make decisions. The right decisions. You know you’re allowed to have what you want. You know you deserve what you want. And you set an early alarm, you jump out of bed, and you spend every day trying to get it.

Advertising

As always, I’ll leave you with some questions, ‘cause I’m generous like that:

On your list of everything that’s important to you, are you even on it?

When you have stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem, what will you do?

If you lack self-esteem (like I did), will you use this article to help? Or will you, knowing that doing the things I asked will absolutely help, ignore it?

Featured photo credit: JD Hancock via flickr.com

More by this author

24 Questions That Awaken The Real You An Open Letter To the 5 Year Old Me 16 Things I Learned from Taking the #100happydays Challenge 26 Things I’ve Learned Since Entering The Working World 8 Depressing Things That Happen When You Don’t Talk About A Problem, And 3 Uplifting Things That Happen When You Do

Trending in Productivity

1 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits 2 How Your Attitude Determines Your Success 3 How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most 4 How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? 5 Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

Advertising

But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

Advertising

The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

Advertising

I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

Advertising

More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

Read Next