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The Craftsman’s Mentality

The Craftsman’s Mentality

There is just something undeniably awesome about someone who is incredibly good at what they do. That shit is attractive.

In a fast-paced world like ours, the pressure is always on to deliver with speed and move on to the next. We can quickly become spread across too many things, too many deliverables to be able to spend real amounts of time working on, building and refining a thing. We lose the art of craftsmanship.

At the same time, there are still many instances of craftsmanship around us, and at various scales. The products handmade with love, you know, the craft beer, the artisanal coffee, the quirky furniture. There are also the ubiquitous, mass produced products that are just simply made to a high standard – the iPhone, the Boeing engine, etc. It is craftsmanship applied at scale.

On the road to getting what you want, you would have identified who you are, what makes you come alive, as well as what you want to accomplish. You would count the cost, cultivate burning desire, set your goals and build your systems. You would hone in on the one thing that is most important and you would go deep on that, giving it the time, energy, and attention, it deserves. In those moments of work, executing and building, you must hold the craftsman’s mentality in mind.

The craftsman’s mentality is that of love, exacting standards and insatiable drive. The craftsman loves what she does and will go to great lengths to do it the very best she can. Good enough isn’t good enough. It must be absolutely incredible.

Sure, there are many people and companies who come out with ‘just good enough’ products and services. You can cash out quickly by going to market with something that ‘just works’, promote the hell out of it and make your money. But there is a special pantheon for things of beauty, and high-quality attention to detail. The things that are made with love, with a high level of conscientiousness. It is just a different experience when you interact with the work of craftsmen. You can tell that the people behind this actually gave a damn.

Consider the mentality of the craftsman as a precursor to excellence. It will improve your quality of life and be an invaluable resource on the road to getting what you want. The craftsman enjoys the pleasure of doing a thing well for its sake. Becoming a craftsman means taking responsibility for your work and making sure it is executed with care and due diligence.

The craftsman takes pride in his work and sees it as an extension of himself. The thrill for him is in the pursuit of excellence. He loves working on the thing, making it better and better every time. He loves learning, he is prolific, weaving in exploration and practice in to the process as he executes and delivers. He digs in and puts in the time.

The craftsman mentality is more than just making excellent products or work, it is a mindset you bring to life, to daily tasks and daily actions. It is the spirit of doing the best you can and making sure your thing is dope.

When you have the mindset of a craftsman, you ignite passion. The deeper you dig, the deeper you understand it, the more you enjoy it, the more it propels you, and the more it fulfils you. And as your passion grows, the people who work with you or are served by your skill will clearly see that you deeply care for what you do.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. Proverbs 22:29 (KJV)

People love an excellent product or service. If you have the craftsman mentality, you make things so awesome that they speak for themselves. Word of mouth travels faster and you get exposed to more and more opportunity. There is just something undeniably awesome about someone who is incredibly good at what they do. That shit is attractive.

Adopting the craftsman mentality might be frustrating sometimes, pushing to excellence can be hard work but it leads to a deeply satisfying life. There is a place for ‘work well done’ as a source of happiness on a soul or spiritual level. True happiness comes from purpose. And there are few purposes more noble than working and crafting excellence from our passions and our gifts.


The art of letting bad things happen

The art of letting bad things happen

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. – Henry Ford

There are many true facts about life, but there is one that is particularly uncomfortable to look at and deal with – bad things happen. Sometimes they happen as consequences of our actions, sometimes they just happen. If this is a fact of life, is there a way to embrace and navigate it? Can we learn how to handle misfortune in our pursuit of our success and happiness?

It’s easy enough to look at the bad things that happen as a result of our actions, especially the actions that we are not too proud of. We understand the harm that comes from selfish actions that break trust or damage relationships. We understand the misfortune of failing an exam when we know we really didn’t put in the work required to succeed. There we have a clear set mandate. Stop doing stupid shit.

It’s trickier when bad things happen because of the good things we are trying to do. Embracing the philosophies of the One Thing and Deep Work comes with its own set of trade-offs. Every day, there are demands on our time, things we need to get done, people depending on us or needing us. Choosing to stay the course and go deep on the one thing can mean saying no to all those other things.

The trade-off, another fact of life is inevitable. Going down one path, means forgoing many others. It is never an easy decision choosing between two great things. We do not like disappointing or inconveniencing people. But if you have identified what you want, and have set your course, there is only one thing to really do. Sometimes you have to let bad things happen, so that you get the main thing done. It might mean delaying responding to the other things for a while or it may mean forgoing the other option completely. Many times, the fall-out isn’t so bad that it cannot be managed. A few hours or days delay won’t make the world stop spinning.

Knowing what you are all about and what is most important allows you to make the tough choices and go all-in on the things that will move you forward to your intended destination.

But what happens when bad things happen for seemingly no reason. Sometimes suffering exists and there is nothing you can do about it. The deal falls through, you are involved in a freak accident, other people disappoint you. Shit just happens. It is easy enough when it happens every now and again, it is much harder when it happens regularly or in a long stretch. Life can start to feel like a long series of unfortunate events.

It is tempting then to fold, to cross your arms and sit back. Especially when you have been trying really hard. It is very possible to do everything right and still fail. Sometimes it’s just bad luck, other times it is things completely outside your control. What do you do?

These times call for an exercise in character. Will you fold, or will you hold on? Will you let the emotion, the frustration, the anger, the despair, will you let it all sweep you away? Or will you pause, catch your breath, grit your teeth and continue?

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records. – William Arthur Ward

You may need to take a step back to reconsider things. Are things going bad because a wrong assumption, or a mistake? Or is this just the equivalent of bad weather? Something completely outside your control? If it is just a bad time, and you are on the right path, doing the things you know you should be doing and investing in, keep pressing on.

It’s hard. I’ve blogged earlier about suffering. Writing about it is one thing, going through it is another. The past two months have sometimes felt like a real-life exercise in eating shit. I don’t have any answers on how to fix it. You just endure it and keep doing your job as best as you can. At first, it’s easy-ish to do it. Wake up every day and press on. After a while, it gets harder to stay upbeat. Eventually it just feels easier to not even try and slip into depression.

So, then you just lay down on the floor and try numbing yourself with your drug of choice. But then you have to get back up and try again. We rest, catch our breath, do some self-care, bandage ourselves up and get back in the ring.

It is easy to freak out, but in the midst of the storm, keep the one thing in mind, keep the prize front and center. Focus on the most important thing and get that done, then move your attention to the next pressing crises and do what you can to fix it. It is never easy, but you get better at it. You get stronger at remaining calm under pressure, you better at coming up with creative solutions on the clutch. You learn how to plan better and anticipate the bumps. You become more resilient.

And then you start to invert and turn the problems on themselves.

There is a book called ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ by Ryan Holiday that gives some insight on how to handle adversity. It goes beyond just dealing with the crises to using the problem as a stepping stone. Is there any way you can turn this shit show into something useful? Can you turn this turd into fertilizer? Maybe you use this problem as a cautionary tale on how to prepare better. Maybe it becomes the chip on your shoulder that you harness as energy to fuel and drive you forward. Maybe you use the time to train some more, to get better. Perhaps you just use it to grow more grit, to become mentally tough. Find the gain in your pain. Find your diamond in the dirt.

It all boils down to a three-part approach to dealing with adversity. Have the discipline of perception. It is easy to get emotional about shit when it goes down. It rips away from our routine and safe bubble. It gives us something new and unexpected to deal with. Fight the urge to react, settle back return to your calm. There is only one thing you can really control, and that is how you react to the things that happen. Strip away the emotion and look at the situation clearly. What is really happening? What caused it? Can I prepare better? Can I handle this, so it never comes up again?

Cultivate the discipline of action. You have steadied your nerves, you have observed the situation clearly and gained your insight. Now take strong consistent action. Do what you must do, keep moving forward. In the midst of this storm, until the sun breaks through the clouds and until the next storm, keep on moving.


Airplane Mode, the greatest productivity hack

Airplane Mode, the greatest productivity hack

When you absolutely must get things done.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, two books I read in 2016 really changed my approach to life, and my work. They represent two concepts that work together to provide a powerful one – two punch combo that supercharges your ability to get things done.

The first book was “The One Thing” which I have written about. The One Thing offers the idea that only one thing really matters above all. On the macro level, there is the One thing you choose to make your life all about. In the day to day, there is the One Thing you could do that would make other things easier or unnecessary. It’s all about defining your vision and lining up your dominoes and whacking away at the first one until it falls and topples the next one with topples the next one and so on.

The second book is Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Deep work is the ability to focus on a hard task, to really concentrate for a long enough period of time. According to Newport, it is a skill that is becoming increasingly rare in a world filled with easy to access distraction. It is also a skill that is becoming incredibly important and useful in a networked world that needs you to learn skills quickly to thrive, and that allows you to affect millions with just your phone. We are too distracted at our work or at our businesses to give the right amount of effort and focus on the key tasks or projects that would make a definite difference. Doubly so for creatives or knowledge workers who need to expend considerable mental effort to produce good work.

There is a feature of the iPhone (and most other phones I would imagine, I’m hopelessly lost to the Apple hype train) that is irrefutably the best feature of the phone. It is not the above average camera (Samsung kicks its ass in my opinion), it’s not the design and how sleek it looks, it’s not the fact that it makes me look cool when I whip it out. It is the airplane mode function. With a swipe and a tap, I can turn the device from a portal to the infinite distraction machine that is the internet into a shiny paperweight.

Deep Work is the reason my phone is on airplane mode at least 50% of the time. This book is the reason I am many times unreachable, much to the chagrin of my friends and clients (I am so sorry guys but let me explain). It is also the reason I have been able to work on my business and my brand consistently over the past 18 months. It is the reason my design work has gotten stronger, the reason I’m learning faster and the reason my general productivity (the ability to get things done) has doubled or maybe even tripled.

It is also the reason I am less stressed and haven’t tried to hug a kitchen knife.

You see, regardless of how urgent and pressing everything feels, ultimately only a few things really matter. Out of the 100 or so different things you do or get asked to do today, probably none of them actually move you forward in any meaningful way towards a better life or better experience in 5 years. But if we know where we want to go, we can focus on the things that matter and move intentionally towards our BHAGs.

When you combine those two ideas, you are able to focus on what is most important and devote the kind of time and attention that it deserves. It is doing Deep Work on your One Thing.

In the midst of life’s noise, you can take the time to figure out what you want, count the cost, define the key activities and line up the dominoes. Now is the time to cultivate empty space, to block out some time that you can pay attention to the things that really matter. To learn the new skill, to work on the new business idea, to make some art, or simply to give back or build relationships. This is the time for Deep Work.

If I get anything done, and get it done well, or even quickly, my first step is always to switch the phone off. None of that ‘I’ll just put it face down’, that doesn’t work. Psychically I’m still attached, I’m still wondering about who’s trying to get in touch with me. It has to be off, and then finally I feel shut off from the world enough to allow my ideas and creative energy to bubble up to the surface.

Give it a try. If it’s too hard, put your phone in the drawer or the laundry basket or wherever. Just practice being cut off from your phone. See what that does for what you are working on.

When last did you give your full attention to a task? It feels very tempting to multitask. The pleasure of scrolling through our Instagram feeds, or losing hours of time to YouTube is very compelling and addictive. But if you are to get things done, if you are to move steadily to that BHAG, its very useful to learn how to switch off.

Even if it is just to think. From the moment we wake up, notice how we are mentally highjacked by our feeds. My first impulse when I wake up is to check my messages. First Whatsapp, then the Inbox, then Twitter (never Instagram until I’m mentally ready for that kind of mental and emotional assault). And just like that, my day can get highjacked by the needs and demands for others. Live like this enough days in a row and soon you are swept up in a fog of distraction, mediocrity and dissatisfaction. We all need space to think, to connect with ourselves, to heal, to spend some time in reflection or in the quiet pursuit of an interest or a craft.

The ability to go deep, both in your craft, in work and in your life will produce many benefits. It is a required resource in the marathon of pursuing your BHAG and cultivating a happy life. If you can isolate your main thing, and steadily devote time to it, you will stop feeling listless and more focused. And as you get better at it, that momentum of actually doing things will propel you to do some incredible things.


Making the system work for you

Making the system work for you

Last week I wrote about goals, covering the idea that we need Big Hairy Audacious Goals, because they have the potential to help us evolve to greater versions of ourselves. Combining that with smaller ‘checkpoint’ goals keep us on track, steadily stretching and progressing towards the BHAG. But beyond goals as we understand them, systems are an underrated tool and approach that work even better than just goals.

The power of a goal is readily compelling. It is the shining beacon that calls out to us, it is the big thing we want to achieve. And so usually we set it and then we hack away at it every day, or whenever we remember, trying things, failing, learning and trying again until we finally get there. This typical process requires a great deal of willpower, motivation and drive to get started and keep things moving.

Systems make things easier, and I’m going to unpack how. Like I mentioned last week, this is directly inspired by Scott Adam’s idea that “Systems are better than goals’ as expressed in his book. Check it out, it’s a great read and explains the idea in a fantastic way.

The idea of ‘Systems > Goals’ strikes a chord with me because it dovetails nicely with things I have blogged about before like ‘trust the process’, and ‘making time work for you’. It is understanding the incredible power of compound effect and leveraging that in your favor. There is a reason why the most prolific artists and creators of all time swear by some sort of system or routine. Routines free up energy to be creative where it counts, doing the actual work. Systems provide the framework to achieve greatness over time.

Using systems to achieve your goal

Everything we eventually become are the sum of the decisions we make and the actions we take in the day to day. The habits we pick up or develop become stronger every time until they become our default settings. If you can control that process and make sure your habits are the right ones, it becomes that much easier to attain success.

The systems approach works backwards by looking at the thing you want to achieve and reverse engineering the conditions needed to eventually get there. A simple example would be the goal to get to a certain level of fitness, or to get a certain body weight. We can guess that the key things needed for this to happen would be eating right, exercising right, and rest. The systems approach takes these elements and grafts them into your life in such a way that is tailor made to your strengths. You take those steps and turn them into habits by hooking them up to trigger moments in your day.

Quite simply, break down your goals to the actions that would take you there and then make it easy to regularly take those steps.

You could deploy strategies like doing meal prep on the weekends, boxing up each meal for the week separately. Now you don’t have to think about what to eat ever. You decided over the weekend. You simply pick the box you need, warm it up and eat when you need it. You could begin a lunch time or pre-bed ritual, spending 30mins stretching and doing body weight exercises before you go to bed. If you successfully executed these two relatively simple habits daily and weekly, you would be eating right and getting regular exercise. The habits get easier to maintain the more you do them and the effects compound over time. Once the habit is on autopilot you can tweak things to keep them interesting or more efficient. Like tweaking the exact foods you eat or doing more intense training.

If your goal is to read more books let’s say 40 books in the next 12 months. You could approach this goal haphazardly, reading whenever you remembered or had a book handy, or you could bake reading into your day-to-day life. You could simply commit to reading for 30mins every single day first thing in the morning, or you could decide to use your commute to work to listen to audio books. With a daily habit like that it becomes easier to hit that goal.

Systems require a considerable investment upfront to set up. It can be long and arduous work. But once they are running, systems save you time and energy. As they hum along, they make it easy, almost effortless to achieve your goals.

Using systems to improve your odds.

So far we have looked at simple goals, the kind that fall under the ‘checkpoint’ category. Could a systems approach be beneficial when tackling the BHAG, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

The Big Goals generally do not have a clear roadmap to achieving them. They are the sort of goals that take a long time of work and learning to eventually achieve. They also tend to require a large degree of luck. Being at the right place at the right time, knowing the right people can play a huge role in what manner of success and experience you have. How do we get luckier?

We deploy a system to optimize for the odds. Simply put, we work to make it more likely that we can achieve the goal. That is the general idea behind formal schooling. You go to school, work hard, and get good grades in an area of high demand to increase the odds that you will get a good job.

Take a look at the things you want to get done. If you want to do cool, experimental events and be known for it or even paid for it. Then you have to do research into the area and see who else is doing that sort of thing. Who pays for that kind of stuff? Brands? Maybe look at the few events companies that specialize in out-the-box events and offer to intern with them for free. Make prototype experiences and document them. Choose to do the things that would increase the odds that you would be able to do the work that you want to do.

If you want to create a successful start-up, then you have to work out a system to increase your odds of success. What do you need to succeed? A good product or service, a large and growing customer base, ability to deploy and scale. There are a thousand moving parts and factors that affect your success. But imagine what the long-term outcome would be if you had a system for learning more about business every day. Maybe every weekend, you brainstormed and built a landing page for an idea and put it out there. 52 weeks down the line, one of them catches off and gains incredible traction. The idea is that every day or every week you increased your odds by learning, making stuff, putting it out there at low risk, watching it fail and then improving it the next time.

See how taking a systems approach makes everything easier. Sure, it takes some time to get used to and build new habits, but it’s a worthwhile investment to make. Your key job becomes making the system even better and more effective over time.

Systems thinking is a powerful framework to use in approaching your goals. If you used this way of thinking to go after your checkpoint goals and used it to improve the odds of success on your Big Hairy Audacious Goal, you will be leveraging the power of process and the compound power of time to create something incredibly remarkable.

And eventually you will win.

How to get the BHAG

How to get the BHAG

Set your goals, then build your systems to get there

Let’s talk goal-setting.

If you have been reading my weekly posts this year, you may have noticed that I’ve been harping on about ‘How to get what you want’.

When I started blogging in 2010, I wrote about different ideas as they came to me, going with a free-flow, let the inspiration strike and do its thing kind of way.

For the first few months of this year, I decided I would do something different and put forward a series of ideas I hope could all work together to help whoever read it in the quest to ‘get what they want’. Getting what you want, speaks to success. Which is something we all want.

Tom Bilyeu defines Power as the ability to close your eyes, see a vision of a world that is better than the one you are in now, open your eyes and then create it.

That’s a power I crave. And one I’d imagine you would love to have as well.

Once you have figured out who you are, what you want, considered the cost and decided to jump it, it’s time to let the rubber hit the road. It’s time to get practical. It’s time to set some goals.

Goals set the target, they move the dream from being just a wish to becoming a mission. We all tend to have a vague idea of what we want, setting goals helps us make that desire tangible and specific.

There are two types of goals you must have. There is the big hairy audacious goal (BHAG), and then there are the smaller approximate goals I like to call checkpoints.

Your big, hairy audacious goal has to be huge. It is the north star that sets the tone for your life, so why go small? A goal isn’t that interesting if you know exactly how to achieve it. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not that exciting. The goals that are really interesting are the ones that are so huge that they demand a completely different, evolved YOU. And that is the power of the BHAG – it’s a goal so huge, it pulls you forward on a path of incredible growth. What you eventually get is amazing and mind blowing but it is not as cool as the person you have to become to get it.

You may have no idea how to get to that BHAG, but you can definitely find out ways to orient your present situation in the direction of the BHAG. You have to be patient and play the long game. You may not be able to fly straight to the top of the mountain right now, but at least you can climb a little higher. Looking at where you are now, and where you want to go to, you can figure out the next step to take, the next immediate goal to focus on.

These are the approximate goals, the checkpoints. They are more manageable. They may require a stretch, but they are presently doable. These are the goals we refer to as SMART – They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results focused and Time-bound.

Your approximate goal might be changing your diet, it might be going to school to get a qualification, it might be buying some books or doing some research on the internet. But it must be taken, and this goal must take you to the edge of your present ability. Perhaps you want to be filthy rich, enough to buy an island one day, you can start by setting a goal to double your income in the next 12 months.

Now once you have set your goals, the usual logical step is to take the linear approach to achieving them. Break the goal down to smaller chunks and lay out a sequence of things to do to eventually get there. But life is not that simple, between the inertia of your present situation, your environment and limited willpower, it is very easy to lose focus and burn out on the way.

The problem with the typical advice of goal-setting as a whole was expressed by Scott Adams in his book ‘How to fail at almost everything and still win big”. I touched on it back in 2014…and I will proceed to quote myself verbatim.

The problem with goals is tri-pronged. The first problem is the prediction issue. The assumption when you make a goal is that (a) you think you know what you want and (b) you believe that getting what you want will make you happy. 

The second problem is the usual unconscious assumption that the whole world will remain fairly static in the time it takes you to get there. Your mind also plots the clearest route imaginable to that result and decides that said route is the only way to get there.

The third is the implication of the goal itself. As long as you have not achieved it, you are a failure, or at best in a state of pre-success failure.  

Goals are wonderful, they give us something definite to work towards and a way to evaluate our performance. But in an uncertain and fast paced world, goal-setting comes with its own problems. The better framework to approach getting what you want is to combine goal-setting with a focus on systems.

The reason why you don’t achieve your goals could be because you are trying to take action without considering and adjusting the system that you are presently operating in – your environment, your mind-set, your resources and so on.

Systems are a web of consistent actions, strategies and habits that create a desired effect. A goal is that desired effect. You must be focused on achieving it, but never be disconnected from the actual grit and grind that it takes to getting there. Being system focused roots you in the day to day and moves you towards your intended result.

Always think in systems. When you set goals, ask yourself, how does the person who already has what you want, behave? What did they do on a daily, what was their mind-set? What actions and steps did they take over time that resulted in getting that thing or living that life. Armed with that, you can begin to build the systems in your life that support you in achieving your goal. The pursuit of what you want moves from a frantic chase for a goal – a one-time event and becomes more about the process – a way of life. A systems approach brings a holistic view and allows you to relish the journey for its sake and the work it does on your person.

Systems require a considerable investment upfront to set up. It can be long and arduous work. But once they are running, systems save you time and energy. As they hum along, they make it easy, almost effortless to achieve your goals.

For example, I set a goal this year, to blog at least once a week. Every Monday, some thoughts from my brain will be released from my little corner of the internet. I’ve been blogging for a while already, but like I mentioned earlier, I only blogged when I felt inspired. Which meant that months could go by with nothing happening. I do get busy, things get in the way.

To actually be able to post every Monday for the past 7 weeks, I had to take a step back and design a system that allows me to do so. Deciding to start a series instead of just blogging ad-hoc allows me to outline and plan blog posts a couple weeks at a time. I set a general day to work on posts (usually on the weekend). I draft on some days, and then edit and clean up on others. I have setup ways to capture ideas on the fly and now I have a whole swipe file full of ideas waiting to be developed into blog posts and even books. This is only possible because I have designed and adopted a system that does the heavy lifting and allows me to execute regularly and be creative. My job is to follow the system and keep on working on and optimising the system.

That is essentially the core of entrepreneurship and building businesses. A start-up is a system looking for a sustainable value proposition and business model. A business is a system that predictably creates, distributes and collects value. The entrepreneur’s core job is designing and building that system.

Systems are a superior way to achieving goals, and once you wrap your head around the idea and tackle the pursuit of your dreams in a ‘systematic’ way, you will reach your goals that much faster and have way more fun doing it.

Next week I’ll break down this systems thinking even further with some practical tips.

Cultivating burning desire

Cultivating burning desire

You don’t need a candle, when you are on fire. You don’t need motivation when you have burning desire.

The road to getting what you want can be hard and treacherous. You have done the work of knowing yourself and knowing what you want. You have taken the time out to consider the cost, and what it would take to get there. Now it’s time to formulate the plans and action.

But before we dig into all that, let’s talk about something very important.

One big thing that stops us from getting what we want, is inertia. The law of inertia states that a body in motion will continue in perpetual motion until it is acted upon by another force. We know what it is like to have lived so long in the status quo, that it is difficult to move out of that orbit into a new level of action and being.

Short of a harsh wake-up call or near-death experience, many of us would keep on sleeping, being dead to our potential, and just doing enough to get by. How can you gain the momentum to start moving towards your goals, and the fortitude to withstand the obstacles that are 100% going to be in your way?

You have to cultivate burning desire.

When was the last time you really wanted something? Like wanted it so bad, you were obsessed with it. You spent all day day-dreaming about it. And it still plagued your dreams when you fell asleep. When last were you so excited that you couldn’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning to get started. So eager, that you loathe the fact that you needed to sleep at all.

You need that energy if you are to get what you want.

When you are truly 100% committed to reaching your goals, you move from hoping to knowing. If you want something badly enough, then quitting is simply not an option. You either find a way or make one. You pay the price, whatever it takes. – Steve Pavlina

You have to want what you want so bad, that everything falls away. You have to crave it so much that you will do WHATEVER IT TAKES. It is that fire in your belly that will keep you going long after your mind is tired, and your body is drained. It is that thing that would provide you with a second wind and a third wind. It is that burning desire that will shut your mind to the naysayers and keep you laser focused on your goal.

So how do we cultivate burning passion?

The same way we cultivate anything. By giving it attention. By feeding it.

There is a reason we are encouraged to write down our goals and make vision boards. These exercises give expression to our dreams. They also make them a little more tangible. They burn the images to our subconscious.

What you feed your attention to, will grow in your life. So why not give your desires your attention?

Some tactics to cultivate burning desire

Write it down

Write down what you want. Write your goals. Studies show that just the mere act of writing your goals down vastly increases the chances of you achieving them. Writing encodes the desire into your brain and lets it seep into your subconscious. Even if you take that piece of paper you wrote your goals on, put it in your drawer and only picked it up again a year later, you would be surprised at how much you would have accomplished. It’s quite magical really.

Make a vision board

I know, I know, it sounds corny. One of those ‘The Secret’ things blah blah. But do it. Make a vision board. You can make a cork one or take a large sheet of cardboard and cut up images of what you want and images that inspire you and stick them up there. Put it up somewhere you can see it always. Or make a board on Pinterest, fill it with those images. Go through it as much as you can, add to it, play with it. Let these images feed your desire.

Fantasize about it

Meditate about it. Take the time to map out your desire in your mind’s eye. Imagine yourself having the thing that you want. Feel the emotions and the vibe of having what you want. Walk through your dream house, hold your book in your hand, feel the sea breeze on your skin as you walk the beach with your lover on your honeymoon. Occupy your dreams in your mind.

Immerse yourself in it.

As you cultivate desire, and get more excited about the things you want, go even deeper. Go as close to full immersion as you can get. Surround yourself with the things that pertain to what you want. Associate with like-minded people, read books, watch programs around your interest.  Make a playlist for it. Fill your down time with podcasts and videos that reinforce your desire. Go all in.

Experiment with these tactics and remix them with some of your own. Keep your vision firmly before your eyes and stoke your desire until it grow from glowing embers to a roaring flame that propels you forward. 


Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success. — Swami Vivekananda