Stacking the Pebbles

Build Momentum with Tiny Wins

Setting good habits set you up for success. The more that you practice those habits the more momentum you start to build.

I absolutely love how Darren Hardy refers to momentum in The Compound Effect,

I’d like to introduce you to Mo, or “Big Mo,” as I like to call it. Big Mo is, without doubt, one of the most powerful and enigmatic forces of success. You can’t see or feel Mo, but you know when you’ve got it. You can’t count on Mo showing up to every occasion, but when it does—WOW! Big Mo can catapult you into the stratosphere of success. And once you’ve got Mo on your side, there’s almost no way anyone can catch you.

[…]

It takes time and energy to get Big Mo, but with it, success and results compound rapidly.

There are times though, that it feels that no matter what you do, it’s not enough. All that time and energy but where are the results? Why hasn’t Big Mo shown up yet?

That means it is time to adjust your focus and your mindset. Step back, breathe, relax, and look at what is possible.

Motivation When You’re Stuck

It may be tempting once you’ve stepped back and are assessing the situation, being mindful, to just stand still. You may not even realize that is what is happening, however, when you’re stuck, the only thing that will get you unstuck is movement.

Author Shane Snow in the book Smartcuts offers a glimpse into research that has been done supporting this,

Confused man standing at the subway in France

Design Thinking for Life

I was feeling overwhelmed, more accurately so “scatterbrained”, by the many areas of life that I want to work on. As a creative person, I get so excited and want to pursue all the things. Lately, I’ve been feeling the urge to just focus.

Well, how do I know what to focus on?

Ideation

With so much swirling in my head of what I should be doing. It was time to throw it all out there. I started out with yellow sticky notes and put everything that came to mind on my whiteboard.

Organize

Once I put it all out there, I took a step back and let it sit. I started to notice patterns emerging. I grouped those original yellow sticky notes together based on the emerging patterns. Some sticky notes went to the trash as they were tasks that needed to be completed. I’m looking for broad categories here.

From those, I came up with a few categories:

Turbo marquee sign

How to Speed Up WordPress

With just a few adjustments, you can speed up your WordPress experience, these are some of my favorite options.

Hosting

By far, the best option that you have is choosing a great host. There are many options out there. If you can, for speed reasons, try and find SSD hosting. Personally, I’ve tried a few different hosting companies over the years. Two that I highly recommend are:

Amazon Lightsail

For those that like to have a DYI host, this is a great inexpensive option. Linux plans start at $5/mo with a free month to try it out. In my research, I tried another “WordPress” managed host, which had a 4.68 second load time for my website. When I switched to Lightsail load time decreased to 826 milliseconds. Wow!

Amazon Lightsail screenshot

Cost: $5+/mo | Visit Hosting

WPengine

If you want something 100% managed and tailored to WordPress hosting, wpengine is your best bet. They have excellent 24/7 hour support, which is available via live chat or email. They start at $35/mo for one site.

WPengine Screenshot

Cost: $35+/mo | Visit Hosting

Plugins

This is always a mixed recommendation. Too many plugins and you will slow down your website. Find the right plugins and you can improve performance.

I try and balance plugin choice between “usefulness” and “convenience”. Those that save me time as a developer and then there are those that add functionality to the site itself.

Phone with a Gary Vaynerchuck quote on it

Consistency Over Perfection

The phrase “Consistency Over Perfection” is now my mantra.

This post outlines how I went from discouraged about my fitness progress to pushing through and making real progress in many areas of my life.

Fitness Goals

Last year, in December, I maxed out at a weight of 198 lbs. This is the most that I’ve ever weighed. Ever.

Per my usual habit, I set my Fitness Goals and posted them on my underutilized fitness blog, Get Gary Fit.

Insanity - workout - wolf meme

The problem is that I only looked at setting goals to get back in shape. I know what I have to do and I know that I gained a bunch of weight back. Frankly, this felt overwhelming. Year after year, it felt like I was reporting on what I didn’t accomplish the year before and what I wanted to do going forward to “do better.”

Then I just let it sit for a bit. At first was a bit discouraged as this was my ninth year of “trying to get fit.”

Fitness Values

What are values anyway?

In The Confidence Gap, Russ Harris defines values as

Values are “desired qualities of ongoing action.” In other words, your values describe how you want to behave as a human being: how you want to act on an ongoing basis, what you want to stand for in life, the principles you want to live by, the personal qualities and character strengths you want to cultivate.

Values can’t be completed. And as he puts it, “Goals are ‘desired outcomes.’

What changed my perspective was knowing that you can live by your values even if you don’t hit your goals 100% of the time. We aren’t looking for perfection. Consistency is what we strive for.

No matter what your circumstances, living by your values brings fulfillment. That builds momentum, which in turn will fuel achieving your measurable goals. Without defined values, goals are just a to-do list with zero motivation.

My overall fitness value is well-being, which I define as:

To look after one’s own well being, maintain or improve fitness, and mental health.

Instead of focusing on the pounds that I was losing, I decided to focus on my well being. I’m doing this to feel better, live longer, and be able to support those that are in my life for years to come.

When my mood is low and motivation is lacking, I use my fitness value as my North Star. It’s what fuels consistency.

The Results

I started out with a small change, eating Paleo / Keto consistently for 21 days, then a month, and week after week since then.

How am I doing so far? In the last 72 days, I’ve lost 28 lbs.

Once I realigned and focused on my fitness value, I was able to push through and make progress that I haven’t experienced in a long time. The awesome thing is that by setting new habits for myself, it’s affecting other areas of my life for the better. Clear values plus tiny wins have kept the momentum going.

I’m excited to keep pushing, creating my Art, and being consistent. It’s something to strive for, and now my values explain why.

Get the Shirt

Pictured below is Mike Vacanti. He’s a great guy, an on-point fitness coach, and you should definitely buy one of his shirts. Both he and the shirt inspired this blog post.

Mike Vacanti wearing a grey shirt which reads, "Consistency Over Perfection"

Guy Wearing Glasses

How Do You See?

I’ve always disliked the phrase, “Fake it until you make it!”. It just feels so disingenuous.

Dealing with conflict shouldn’t be about denying reality, it should be more about accepting it, for what it is. Then instead of approaching conflict with a position of defense, you open up and look at it from the perspective of finding solutions — discovering opportunities hidden in plain sight.

In The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, the author gives a great example on perception via the “The Add-In Principle”. Montel Williams has multiple sclerosis, which causes him to always be mindful of his diet. He describes the principle as such:

“It’s not so much what you attempt to take out of your diet,” he explained to me. “It’s what you put in instead.” This has become his analogy for life.

Hardy goes on to say,

Instead of focusing on what he has to sacrifice, Montel thinks about what he gets to “add in.” The result is a lot more powerful.

I distilled it into this one phrase that I can repeat to myself:

Focus on what you can add, not what you don’t have.

When challenges come your way, what do you focus on? Resistance? Or embracing yet another opportunity to learn, grow, and perhaps even discover your strengths.