Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals. – Jim Rohn

If you’re to succeed with any personal challenge in life you have to be able to measure your progress and the outcomes of your behaviors. One of the strongest indicators of success in any avenue of life is your level of consistent practice.

  • How many diets have you started and bailed on in a week or two?
  • How many exercise programs have you begun only to find a few weeks later those 30 minute sessions 5 days per week have now turned into a few minutes here and there?
  • How many times have you committed to saving money only to run out and purchase that bag, pair of shoes, or sporting event tickets?

For me I always would complain about two things:

  1. Not having enough money: It felt like I was always trying to save but then “something” was always coming up where I couldn’t.
  2. Not meeting that special someone: No matter what I did it felt like I could never meet anyone to spend some quality time with.

I remember sitting down at a coffee shop (you’ll see this as a theme here. Coffee shops and conversation is all I seem to do now :D) with a traveler from Australia I met while I was in Paris a few years back.

We were talking about why we were traveling at the time and specific life struggles we were going through. I just so happened to mention the two above.

He asked me what I was doing to achieve those goals and I told him I was trying to save, trying to go out and mingle.

“Trying,” he said to me. “Either you’re doing it or you’re not.” He then asked me how consistent I was in my efforts.

As I thought about it I really wasn’t that consistent at all. I’d save a little here and there, spend it on something, or simply stop the automatic process from my checking to savings account because “I needed” the money for something else.

I’d go out and meet people here and there but I’d stop because “other stuff came up.”

I realized that there will always be something. Some excuse, some reason, some lack of motivation that I could call upon as to why I wasn’t achieving the things I wanted to achieve but the real reason would always be that I wasn’t consistently practicing enough of the behaviors that would lead to the outcomes I wanted to see.

This is something that I’ve taken with me in my coaching practice as well. Especially those that I work with who are trying to achieve health and wellness goals.

  • I workout a lot but I can’t seem to lose any weight. What can I do?
  • I eat really well but I still have this layer of fat I want to lose. What can I do?

After getting down to it with them it typically always comes down to one thing. CONSISTENCY. They just are not doing the things that will lead to the results that they want consistently enough.

Todd Smith over at little things matter reminds us that there will always be an excuse:

  • There are a million other things I have to deal with. It’s impossible for me to focus on just one. (It’s too difficult.)
  • It’s hard for me to be consistent because I’m just so busy. (I’m overwhelmed.)
  • Sure, __________ was important last week, but my priorities are constantly changing.” (I’m not in control.)

If you’re consistent with your workouts and nutrition you will make progress. If you are consistent in your relationships you will make meaningful connections and they will grow. If you are consistent with your finances you will be financially more independent and secure.

So how can you be more consistent in your life to accomplish some of those big goals on your life list?


Sedjule Penny Bradford via Compfight

Consistency becomes like a form of human gravity. It holds everything down and together. It helps us to understand the world and our place in it. (1)

Dissonance is the cognitive, emotional, psychological, and even behavioral state where certain things do not happen as we expect them to – missed, incorrect, surprising, etc… In music this may be a lack of harmony amongst musical notes and in our lives this may be a state of mental conflict.

To help understand this a little better we can look to psychology.

I love psychology. Psychology, psychology, psychology. Here it goes down… down into my belly…

In the psychology circle there is a theory know as the cognitive consistency theory or cognitive dissonance theory.

  • Cognitive dissonance theory: Both positive and negative outcomes help us to reduce stressful decisions in our lives that may lead to unpleasant, uncomfortable, or emotional, physical, spiritual, etc… tension and discomfort. A conflict between your behaviors and outcomes.

One of the more popular examples that is used to describe CDT is when people smoke (behavior) they know it causes cancer (outcome) yet they do it anyway.

Another example might be when a woman or man says that financial security is a priority for them but they are in a relationship with someone who is financially unstable.

Yet another example is that you know what to do to get healthier (exercise and nutrition wise) yet you are not doing it. This one specifically be known as counter-attitudinal behavior (behaving in a way that is counter to our true attitudes, values, and beliefs.)

We typically make decisions in our lives to reduce unpleasantness. Like if you are hungry… starving in fact you know you feel that the fastest way to reduce this unpleasantness is to eat or drink something. You know that there are healthy options that can fill this need for you but if the unpleasantness is too much you are more often than not influenced to reduce that tension as quickly and conveniently as possible… hence vending machine syndrome so to speak.

However, there is a shining light here. When you see inconsistencies in your life you are at a heightened state to make changes. This is because as humans it is in our nature to expect consistency, we like it, we love it in fact because it makes us feel safe and secure and those are two very primitive instincts for us.

Inconsistencies in our lives create unwanted tension and this tension motivates us to create change. I remember a client and now friend of mine that received some unwanted news from a doctors visit. It was inconsistent with previous visits and this is the motivation he needed to start making some lifestyle changes.

However, you may often struggle with these inconsistencies and it’s time you start getting better with them. After all, circumstances will arise that will be uncomfortable, confusing, and unexpected.

That’s life for ya.

By understanding that it is our attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors within these events that often cause these inconsistencies in our life we can better learn how to find more consistency to avoid them.


Here’s the one big kicker when trying to create change in our lives… it creates inconsistencies. This creates tensions and uncomfortable feelings and that’s one reason change is so damn hard!

Pow! Right in the kisser. I just hit you with a right hand filled with inconsistency in your life. What do you do?

Typically there are 4 things that happen:

  1. Deny it: Pretend it didn’t happen
  2. Eat it (not literally): By consuming/referring to as many good feelings as we can remember to outweigh the bad ones.
  3. Change expectations: Hypothesize new outcomes from certain behaviors
  4. Change interpretation/perception: If you have a negative experience, the ability to spin it to a positive one through your thoughts and actions.

We desire consistency in all areas of our lives:

  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviors
  • Opinions
  • Values
  • Habits
  • Education
  • Relationships
  • Finances
  • Truth/Honesty

Once you decide something in any given area of life you most likely try hard to make all future behaviors and decisions consistent with that decision. This is one reason why good habit development is so important.

A great example I found online the other day discussing this is how as consumers we stick with certain brands regardless of price, quality, or customer service, etc… Once we’ve decided that we like that brand and have chosen it we try very hard to stay consistent with it. Often, if we change we’ll complain about how we don’t like this “new” brand.

Like if you were to go from the Apple iPhone to a Galaxy. You’re so use to the consistency and familiarity of the iPhone that if you do change you don’t like it simply because it’s different. It’s not familiar, you have to learn the new interface.

Maybe this is a reason we stay in particular relationships for much longer than we should, or struggle when we try to change our nutritional approach, or jobs for that matter. The new ones are just unfamiliar.

We stay with things like this because they act as short cuts for us to making decisions and that’s how our brains like it. Short, simple, and sweet – as little work to be done as possible. Once you’ve made a decision you never have to come back to it again because you can simply refer to the previous decision to avoid the unpleasantness and tension that may come with making a new decision.

What’s making this even more difficult for us is the wealth of information that is out there to be learned and understood. There are so many opportunities for us to gain wisdom and knowledge now that it can be easy for us to fall into the “Amazon effect.”

These opportunities are a blessing and a curse. Because we can get out hands on so many different theories, ideas, and thoughts we create more tension, questions, and inconsistencies in our lives.


First thing for more consistency is establishing the ability to commit. Commitment is usually achieved through personal and/or interpersonal pressures.

I remember when I first thought about starting this website (now business, how cool!!). I contacted a few writers that I really respected for some advice. I wanted to know what it took to create a successful blog.

One response I got back stuck with me. It was from Chris Guillebeau, he simply told me to create a writing/publishing schedule for myself each week and to never miss a day no matter what. Then any lack of progress in my writing would entirely be my fault for not being compliant with my schedule (cough) not being consistent (cough) (cough).

Reading has also become such a big influence in my life these last few years and one book in particular that I have found helpful in building more consistency in my life is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

In order to find more commitment in life you need a few things:

1. Social Proof: You need to know this is possible. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Anything… anything is possible. Everything is this world once started out as a dream The microwave, your refrigerator, your car, a simple tooth-brush. They all started out as someone’s dream – and those dreams eventually came to fruition.

What are you trying to achieve? Do you have examples from your past, friends, mentors, heroes, videos, anything really to remind you that this can be done?

How about these examples if you’re looking to get fit or improve some other are of your wellness.

2. Announce that MOFO!: Out loud (shout it from the roof tops is you have to), in writing, verbally, just make sure to refer to it often. I use a commitment journal as a way to keep me in check day in and day out.

3. Use the power of scarcity: We want what we can’t have or at least what we tell ourselves we can’t have, plan and simple. Love, food, the body, money, you name it. There are two ways you can deal with this.

One is to embrace it and to naturally allow it to motivate you. However, if you don’t respond well to this strategy you can reframe it and change the way you talk to yourself. Instead of using words like I can’t eat pizza you would start saying I don’t eat pizza. You’re essentially creating a new identity for yourself. This framing effect is very powerful.

4. Approval: Feedback and approval from others is very important to us. Whether it is actually important or not can be argued but the facts show that we care what other people think and when approval for our actions is shown we get extremely motivated (1). But how about seeking approval from yourself every once in a while. Check yourself out in the mirror and give yourself a  “damn, I’m looking fine today.” Or let yourself know what a great job you did today. Be proud!

5. Create evidence to refer to: “What gets measured gets managed.” You can’t make any changes if you’re not aware as to what changes you need to make. One way I do this with clients is by using a food log to see what’s really going on nutritionally.

Most often what happens is this. “Oh shit!” I didn’t even know I was eating like that. You can use a log for just about anything going on in for life. Take notes of time you spend with certain people. Are those relationships toxic to your well-being or are you both contributing positively to one anthers personal growth? Track you spending using awesome resources like Mint or simple excel/google docs like this from my boy J-Money.

6. Focus on your behaviors rather than outcomes: You’ll never be able to control what the scale tells you, if someone will love you, or if you’ll be able to get a certain job. But you can control the behaviors that lead to those outcomes.

You can show up and commit to taking action and responsibility for your life. You can choose to get a 10 minute workout in at home if you had a busy day, you can show gratitude to someone, and you can choose to work on a side hustle.

What are some small, regular, and manageable action steps you can take right NOW towards a goal of yours?

7. Use multiple measures of progress: For example the scale is not the only way to measure weight loss success. Are your clothes fitting looser? Did your body fat percentage drop? Do you have more energy? Are you in a better mood?


Check in today, do you actually want to be HONEST with yourself. Do you really want to commit to consistency and to making big changes. Look, if you don’t then you don’t and that’s fine but at least be honest about it.

Ask yourself questions… tons of them? Hell, I talk to myself all the time (not in a crazy creepy sorta way but more like an awesome self-awareness sorta way.)

Are you satisfied with where you’re at? If not, how close are you?

You don’t need inspiration, motivation, or experts to tell you what to do. Do those things help? Absolutely! But you won’t wake up everyday inspired, every so often you’ll lack motivation, and experts don’t always get it right. But you can control whether or not you show up everyday and do the work.

Just get started on whatever it is you want to do. Just a few short weeks ago I noticed our front and back yards at the house needed a complete overhaul (looked like a tornado hit them) I committed to just pulling the weeds out from some of the bushes in the front. What would have been a 15 minute job turned into a five-hour job in which I completely cleaned up the entire front lawn.

BOOM! The power of simply getting started. More often than not once you just get started you’ll find your mojo rolling and you won’t want to stop.

So let me here it. What do you need to practice more consistency with in your life? What are you planning to do about it today?

Live limitless,


Did any of this not make sense? Need help getting started? Holler at-cha boy!



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Editors Note: This is a guest post from my homegirl Ali Vanputten of Createapreneur. #herndonvirginia :)

I’m having a 20% problem.  Not to be confused with a 1% problem, like why the Whole Foods salad bar is currently out of roasted butternut squash or how someone could dare to put agave in a raw chocolate mousse and completely ruin my chances of having a bite, no, this problem is something else entirely.

See, the other week I had what I would call a stellar week.  I’d put the call out there to the world, to the Universe, for several projects that were really important to me, took some risks by letting go of some mediocre assignments I had worked on, and opportunities had started to align.

I hate to be all scientific about it, but it was definitely magic at work.

So one would think on Friday night I’d be celebrating, appreciating and relaxing in the power of manifestation and the obvious signs from the higher-ups that step up to support us when we get clear on our priorities.

But instead I was frustrated; I was having a talk with my friend and getting all riled up running through the one situation in my life that still felt out of sync.  I started replaying past conversations, hashing out email drafts to those involved in the scenario and watching my heart rate level increase with each minute that passed.

I needed to fix this, I needed a solution, and all my energy was being channeled in that direction, this felt like a code red, hot off the press, emergency priority.

Except it wasn’t.  And I was giving it that power and letting it take over my life, my mind and my precious Friday night.

I was letting the 20% of my life that was not in an “ideal” spot overpower the other 80% that felt aligned and awesome. 

Why?  The real issue here came down to a belief malfunction.  The idea that the purpose of our lives is to get ourselves to a place of 100% perfection, where every single relationship, project, and ounce of fat/protein (never carbs) is in balance, and believing that this is the spot is where living begins and suffering ends.

Not only does the idea of 100% mean we have to get ourselves to 100%, (which can maybe happen in fleeting moments) but, then, that somehow we have to use our superhuman powers to maintain that, or else we’re some kind of horrible, unspeakable, form of a failure.

And anyone who’s been alive for longer than five minutes, knows that life, like nature, is cyclical, nothing is static, fixed, or permanent.  Which means this searching for 100, or 110% (because I was always the girl to go for the extra credit) is really a waste of my time, energy and is quite possibly the very thing that prevents me from experiencing the contentment and freedom I so desire, in this moment.

And not to mention, really, the message I was telling the Universe was something to the effect of, “I ain’t goin’ to love you till you’re perfect” and if you’ve ever had a partner or friend send you that vibe, well, you remember how motivating that feedback was.  Right?

So what if as creative, fluid, intangible, contradictory beings, our goal isn’t to get to 100% but really to direct our energy towards the 80%, or if we’re not at the 80%, shifting our lives so that the ratio starts to tip in that direction?

What if, focusing on the 80% that is working, fueling us and thriving right now, will actually make our life experience feel like 100% or 1000%, all the time?


Well consider the opposite.  If having 20% of life feel “off” was able to make my Friday night feel completely derailed and consume my whole mind space, then surely if I just redirected my energy towards the opposite, I can just as easily feel “on” again.   Perhaps it’s even plausible that I’ll find that oh-so-coveted peace of mind and spontaneously combust in a bubble of complete contentment, just from a simple perception shift.

And the magical thing about formulas is that once we enter them into the Excel workbook of our mind, we can use that handy little paintbrush icon and drag them over to apply to all other areas of our lives.

80/20 In All Life Situations

80/20 The body and Physical Health

For a long time I wasn’t going to be happy until I had six-pack abs, I constantly focused on that, and was miserable when it came to my appearance. This was absurd.

Waiting for physical perfection was boring, it got old real quick (well ten years kind of quick) and finally, I experimented with changing my outlook.

Whenever my Ego got into a bikini contest with those around me (I always took home the bronze) or I’d go down a rabbit hole googling ridiculous words like ‘cankles’ in a state of panic, I’d force myself to focus on what I actually, god forbid, liked about myself.  Even practicing the exercise of giving myself a compliment, every time a negative thought came into my brainwaves.  It was obnoxious at first, but effective.

I also prioritized activities, like yoga, that made me feel connected with my body and allowed me to see in real-time, how powerful it was.  This immediately got me out of just thinking about the body, as this disconnected entity and forced me to take a joy ride in the experience of having a physical form.  How could I knock this vehicle that would let me balance on my forearms or my head for several minutes? Now that felt hot.

80/20 Our Relationships (especially the romantic ones)

Romantic as in, that person who used to make you swoon but now troubles you because of the wet towels they leave on the floor and the way they are always late (total 20% problem).  Yes, I’ve found that people always show up in the context in which I paint for them (because I’m creative, I like to paint).  When I focus on the qualities of someone who I perceive as negative, that grows, and I start to enjoy their company less and less.

If this agitation with someone occurs over and over to us, then this could be a red flag, but if deep down we are aligned to how much we love or care about this person, than really it’s up to us to gear ourselves towards the 80% again.  Asking ourselves, are we letting the 20%, the standard quirks and nuisances that come with the package of being human, keep us from loving a brilliant and amazing person?

80/20 The Diet

How we eat is such great feedback for how we feel about ourselves.  If we want our diet to be 100% clean and perfect 24/7 (hand raised), then that is usually because we want to be 100% perfect as a human with no room for cracks or flaws.  Now we’re conveniently back in that controlling, fixating and changing state.

If we look at our diet holistically and 80% of the time, feed ourselves in a way that feels sustainable (to us and Earth), using nourishing whole foods and in a way that makes our body feel good, than we’re doing a pretty damn good job.

And then maybe we’re able to let ourselves off the hook and veer energy away from that 20% of the time when one might, let’s just say hypothetically, find themselves drowning in their fifth bowl of chia seed pudding topped with raw almond butter and cocoa nibs.

Why 80/20 Works

When I was studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, one of the class modules was on the Red Cape/Green Cape theory.  It’s an experiment on positive psychology that was intensely studied by someone besides me, who knows how to measure things and quantify them, like a doctor or a scientist.  I, on the other hand, just know how to feel, observe and hyper over analyze to the point of obsession, so I leave the expert work, to the experts.

His name is Dr. James Pawelski, PhD, from the Positive Psychology Center at University of  Pennsylvania and here is what he found through his research.

These results were summarized by the nice folks over at Profound Conversations:

Imagine you have been charged with making the biggest possible difference for the world and the seven billion of us on it, quite the challenge. But you are in luck, because there is a magic genie that can grant you one wish. You can receive a RED cape, which will let you stop “bad” things. Or a GREEN cape which will let you grow “good” things. Which cape would you choose?

Red Cape: Want to stop Famine? How about ridding the world of all disease? Simply put on the red cape and wish them away. But what do we get if you stop famine? People who are no longer starving. But is it enough? What happens if we stop disease? Does the absence of sickness imply health? No. Simply ending the problem is insufficient.

Green Cape: If we want to end famine, what would we grow instead using green cape? How about something like “well-nourished” people.  If we wanted to end disease, what about growing “healthy” people? Notice how focusing on what we want more of, versus what we want less of can actually have a much bigger impact in actually dealing with the problem.

When we focus on what’s working and more of it will come, the 20% will start to drop away and in this moment, like right freakin’ now, we can release ourselves from the need to fix, change or perfect anything in order to feel happy, free and at peace.

How to practice 80/20

This is no new concept.  Ancient yogi’s, great leaders like Gandhi, Mother T and His Holiness have made this practice their life’s work and tree huggers and hippies alike have been popularizing or polarizing this idea every time they say the G word, gratitude.

So really, gratitude is not just some esoteric practice for chakra tuning retreats and raw foodies, it’s a tool, like a hammer than can get us from point A to point A. Or move us away from 20% and into 80%.

If we need to hang a picture, we find a hammer and a nail and we use these tools to get the picture hung on the wall.

When we find ourselves down a waterslide of negativity, obsessing over the 20% wrong or a problem in our lives we want to fix, we can pick up gratitude, and use this tool to redirect our energy back towards the 80% to expand that area.

If you’re done with equations and math for today and have enough to soak up, read no further.  But if you’re an addict like me, who finds one sip of pleasure or positivity and wants to dive headfirst until I’m literally suffocating myself with it, then no fear, there is more.

80/20 applied to Work, Time and More of Life

This rule of 80/20, with a slightly different twist can also be very effective, with regards to our work, life, business, and that terrible T word, time.

Tim Ferriss, the life hacking guru, uses this as his answer to time management forever.  Forever ever? Forever ever.  Basically when we use this, we don’t need to manage time anymore (I mean really, does anyone like to be managed, no wonder time reacts so poorly), but instead we can co-pilot and co-create with time.

Now I like Tim, and his hacking approach to time and life, I think him and I would be good lovers friends, so I was open to the two questions he proposed:

1. What 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?

Identify them.  Some of them are projects; some of them are situations at work, while others could be social obligations.  They can show up as other people or toxic relationships that we let into our realm and allow to hijack our lives.

I’ve also found, the more aware we become, the greater disguises these little distractions take on, and they can even be our own habits, neurosis and numbing devices that cause us to feel that our lives are off track, derailed or unfocused.

Identify them all.  Tim’s advice is to drop them, if that is not possible, I believe that just by identifying them, we’ve increased our attention to how/where they show up in our lives and what they cost us.  If one of these areas cannot be immediately fixed, we can then use the approach outlined above to redirect our energy towards what is working.

  • Identify 20% of problems – – > immediately eliminate what we can.
  • Identify 20% of problems – – > if they can’t be immediately eliminated, choose instead to focus energy on other 80%.

This leads us to question number two.  The opposite.

2. What 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes of happiness?

Identify them. I like this a lot because when we lay it all out I think it will surprise us how incredibly simple and straightforward the items and activities that cause us to feel fulfilled are and how over complicated we make our everyday life circumstances.

Than we can take the green cape approach to spend more of our time on this 20% to grow it, get into it and expand what is working.  Make it the 80%.

This is like finding our compass, when we’re clear about what’s actually in the driver’s seat of our income, our happiness, our peace of mind and our overall feeling of physical well-being, than we can prioritize it.  We can let everything that is NOT it, fall away and do so quickly and repeatedly.

The 80/20 concept is a practice, in my experience, this isn’t the pole vault where we have that one shot to nail the landing and finally get a smile from our Ukrainian gymnastics coach who has beaten us, delayed our puberty well into our 20s and told us we’re not good enough our whole lives, no, this is something we have to keep coming back to.

Like maybe we’re able to start practicing it 80% of the time, and well, hopefully now we know what to do with the other 20%.

Shake Something Up.  Take Action:

  • Identify your 80/20s.  Use the questions above and write them out.
  • Practice gratitude to get back on track when you’re in the wrong 20%.

What are some of your 80/20’s? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Live Limitless,


Ali VanputtneHola, I’m Ali, and my vision is to live in a world where all of us creative entrepreneurs are sharing our talents and shifting people’s perception of what’s possible with our businesses and finger painting portraits.Take an adventure and see how to free your creativity, do work you love and feel useful to the world on a daily basis over at my site, Createapreneur.When I’m not writing articles or admiring other’s creative projects, you can find me balancing on my forearms or consuming any drink or desert that involves fresh coconuts.

Photo Credit


A few weeks ago I was sitting down with a friend Vanessa having some tea and she told me brief story. I’m going to title it “Cho Mein and The Homeless Man.” It went a little something like this…

Vanessa was waiting for some friends in front of a Chinese restaurant that they had planned to have dinner at. She noticed a homeless man sitting on a curb in the parking lot. Her friends were running a bit late so she decided to walk back to her car and read a little from a book she’d left in there.

On her walk back the gentlemen on the curb asked if she had a dollar or possibly some change she could spare so he could grab a bite to eat. She only had plastic on her that evening but told the man she would check in her car and be right back.

Read on

How you can CREATE time instead of trying to FIND time to change your life


A few months ago I was going through a stretch where it seemed there just wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that I wanted to.

It seemed like every time I crossed something off my To-Do list I was adding two more things.

I was sacrificing sleep so that I could finish work and respond to email. My early morning workouts turned into lackluster movement sessions where simply getting through them exhausted me. I was constantly eating on the run, overwhelmed, and taking on too much.

I’m sure you’ve felt the same way before or maybe are even feeling it now. Telling yourself if you just had a bit more time in the day to get things done you’d be good to go.

  • You’d be able to fit in those workouts
  • You’d have time to prep your food
  • You’d have time to pursue other interests, hobbies, and experiences
  • You’d have time to invest in a relationships
  • You’d have time to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.

It must have been 2 or 3AM one morning and upon realizing I was going to have to get up in a couple of hours I noticed that I was telling myself these things as I was finishing up some work for clients, answering a couple emails, and editing an article for Limitless.

I then realized that there are so many people doing such great things and none of them have more time then I do. We all have the same 24 hours in a day to work with, it was just that I wasn’t using my time effectively.

I went to bed that night committed to change. I would now be CREATING time instead of trying to FIND time to change my life.

Read on