Why I Make My Bed Every Morning

By Brennen Lukas

For the longest time in my life, I never made my bed. When I’d wake up, I’d leave the sheets and blankets all crumpled up and strewn about, and I didn’t think much of it. Who cares, I’d think. It’s just going to get messed up again anyway. Why bother.

Maybe five years ago, I started to see things differently. I saw some articles crop up about the power of making your bed. I decided to drop my cynicism and try it out.

Now, I always make my bed. And I love it.

But why?

It’s something that I control every day. Do not underestimate this. Even if nothing goes right all day, when I enter the bedroom for rest at night, I’m greeted by well-made bed. It’s almost like an act of self-care: recent-past Brennen loved me enough to make the bed for me. I love myself enough to make the bed.

Meanwhile, I swear I sleep better in a bed that’s been properly made. The sheets are tucked in, everything is even and smooth. It feels secure and safe to turn down the covers and climb in. It seems to reduce any stress and anxiety that I’m carrying from my day.

Finally, I found that the act of tidying my bed gradually spread to my entire home and I began naturally straightening rooms and putting things away after using them. For the first time in my life, I began to tell a new story: I keep a neat and tidy house. Once the habit of making my bed was established, the satisfaction of straightening made it easy to extend the habit to the rest of my home.

How to Start Making Your Bed

If you’d like to pick up this wonderful habit, I recommend attaching it to a habit that you already have. For example, do it right after you brush and floss your teeth (you do floss, right?). When you attached your new habit to an old, strong one, it’s much easier to be consistent.

Once you’re done making your bed, make sure you take a moment and admire your handiwork. Pat yourself on the back! If you enjoy the outcome, you’re more likely to keep doing the activity.

Making my bed is an important part of the morning habit chain that grounds me in success each and every day. If you’d like to learn more about my morning habits, you can get my free guide here.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy making your bed from now on!

It's Time to Stop the Zombie Scrolling

By Brennen Lukas

Just Another Zombie

They see me scrollin’

They see me scrollin’

Have you ever found yourself staring at your phone, scrolling through endless pictures and videos on Instagram or Facebook or Youtube... or whatever... and then at a certain point, you realize that an indeterminate amount of time has passed, and your eyes are glazed over, your mouth fixed in a perpetual half-smile and you don't really know what you were so fixated by on your phone, or even why? 

You feel like a zombie with a weird hangover. Meanwhile, a familiar fog of self-loathing and vague sadness settles over you as your brain attempts to re-adjust to the world of the living. You remember that you are alive, that people are depending on you, that you have things to do and a whole gorgeous life to live.

You turn off your phone determined to do something productive, gosh darn it, but soon the phone is in your hand again, almost as if by magic (ooh a notification!) and like a horror movie where the attractive but hapless protagonist never learns from their encounters with a predictable monster, it's all happening again. 

And again. And again.

I know I have. And I know it has to stop. 

It's Not Our Fault

App designers have deliberately created their apps to exploit how the human mind works, manipulating our dopamine responses and conditioning our behavior to keep us engaged and scrolling. There's a reason these companies refer to people as "users" in a sense not dissimilar to drug addicts (even if they would never put it like this). Our brains have been hacked, and it’s scary.

At this point in human history, if you're addicted to an app, you're pretty much just a normal person. There's no need to feel bad or guilty about phone addiction, but we do need to recognize there's a problem.

So What Can We Do About It?

For most of us, especially entrepreneurs and those of us in sales and marketing, it's not realistic to completely part ways with social media. Even if we can consider giving up Facebook's personal connections to family and friends, sites like Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter have become indispensable for personal branding and industry networking. These social networks provide the digital platforms through which we can spread our messages and reach the people who need to hear them. 

What has worked for me is to approach social media mindfully. To be mindful means to be present and purposeful in what you’re doing. It's the polar opposite of mindless scrolling. 

Using social media mindfully means setting boundaries and rules for how I engage on the networks.

Here are the guidelines that I try to apply to my social media usage. I am going to use Instagram as my example, but you could apply these to your social network of choice:

  1. When I do not want to be distracted, I keep my phone at a distance from me. I’ve been known to purposefully leave my iPhone in the car outside, or lock it in the floor safe at Whipped Bakeshop. Seriously. Just the little bit of effort for me to remember the combo and turn the safe’s dial is usually enough to keep me distraction-free for me to get important work done.

  2. Before I open Instagram, I have to be able to state to myself WHY I am doing it. If the reason turns out to be that I just want to entertain myself or fill time, then I do not open the app.

  3. I prioritize contributing, connecting and sharing rather than aimlessly browsing the content that other people have posted. This means posting my own original content, writing meaningful (or at least positive) comments and supporting the people I care about. If I’m not contributing, connecting and sharing, then it’s just… you guessed it… scrolling.

  4. I try to be mindful about who I am following. They should either be someone close to me, a brand or person I want to influence, or someone I want to be positively influenced by. If I have consistently have negative feelings after viewing posts from a certain person or brand, It’s a definite unfollow. I also try to keep my following list pretty compact. I suspect that following more than say 100 accounts is probably counter-productive.

  5. I use Instagram strategically and actively engage with potential partners, podcast guests and collaborators. In other words, I try to use social networks to actually network. I’ll do a whole separate post about this, I promise!

  6. I try to pay attention to how I’m feeling when I’m using social media. Are my eyes glazed over? Am I slipping into zombie mode? It’s time to STOP.

You’re In Charge

The final thought that I want to leave you with is that you run your own show. If you feel like the way you’re using social media is effective for you, then by all means carry on. But if you feel like it’s become a problem and you sometimes feel like the zombie I described at the beginning of this post, then maybe it’s time to put your foot down and set some boundaries of your own. Feel free to modify my suggested guidelines to meet your own needs. Any boundaries are better than no boundaries.

Remember: You can use social media to advance your goals and make the world a better place instead of just sedating and entertaining yourself. It’s up to you!

SOURCES

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201209/why-were-all-addicted-texts-twitter-and-google

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/04/has-dopamine-got-us-hooked-on-tech-facebook-apps-addiction

$3, and a Renewed Mission to Help People Get Unstuck

By Cynthia Spitalny

This story starts like an average day for most. I was running errands, trying to squeeze in some things that needed to get done before my best friend and her family (aka “my extended family”) came by for an afternoon together.

I had run out to get snacks for them when I realized I probably also didn’t have anything for lunch for myself. I stopped at my local taqueria and decided to grab a few tacos.

That stop changed my day.

My $3 that helped a homeless man get his next meal.

My $3 that helped a homeless man get his next meal.

When I walked up the steps and passed by the outdoor tables with sun umbrellas, I noticed a man dressed in all black and looking like he had seen and been through a bit. His clothes were faded, with sweat and from the sun. He was balding a bit and gray haired, with a beard. He was sweating, as it was an usually warm day here in St Petersburg, FL in February. I was pretty sure he was homeless but didn’t want to make any assumptions and offend anyone. I’ll call him the Man in All Black, for now.

My first thought was that I was glad that the taqueria had let him sit there and stop, as I am sure many businesses would have made him move, so as not to discourage patrons. He was not the cleanest of patrons but his demeanor was soft and unobtrusive — in all honesty, he seemed harmless. I swiftly pushed that thought away and headed in to order my tacos since I had thirty minutes to get back to my place before my family arrived.

After I ordered my lunch and was waiting for it to be prepped, I went to sit outside at one of the tables near the Man in All Black. We exchanged a few glances and I tried to smile gently. As I kept looking at him, I was mentally putting together the puzzle of whether this man was homeless. His shoes were weathered and torn and his nails and hands had a layer of grit on them that signaled he had seen some rough times. He had nothing on him besides a bottle of iced tea that he seemed to be savoring with every sip on this unseasonably warm day.

I kept feeling like the Man in All Black was looking at me and something about the energy of situation made me want to make eye contact and smile at him, let him know that he was seen. As a woman though, I feel like I often have to walk a line between being friendly while also maintaining my personal sense of security. I have attracted some scary creeps in my time in trying to be kind and friendly, so when I am alone in a situation like this, it’s an internal battle.

We continued to cross glances for a bit, and then a woman came along, who had parked nearby, and handed him a few dollars with a smile, which he graciously received.

Ok, confirmed. Man in All Black is homeless, I registered. Got it. I continued to wonder what he was doing there, as he wasn’t panhandling for money, just sitting quietly and exchanging glances with me. As I sat and waited for my meal, I started wondering about this Man — he just seemed like he had taken a wrong turn somewhere and got lost. It started to break my heart. Here I am, as with most of us who have a decent-paying job, knowing where we will sleep that night, where our next meal comes from, when our next pay arrives and how much it will be. This man has none of those securities. He is living moment to moment, most likely. Which got me wondering…how did he get so stuck?

I reached into my purse and grabbed the money I had on me, just a few dollars, and knew I wanted to hand this to him as I left. As I sat there waiting for my food, money in hand, the server came out from the taqueria and asked, “Jeff?” calling a patron’s name while holding a tray that had rice and beans on it.

The Man in All Black turned and raised his hand and accepted the food from the server. His name was Jeff. The Man in All Black had a name. Jeff had gotten lost and then stuck along the way in his life, at some point. He had come to this taqueria for some decent food and a hot meal. My heart broke a bit further.

My internal dialogue kicked into high gear — Why hadn’t I just asked Jeff to come sit at my table in the shade, so that he could get some relief from the sun and maybe feel the kindness from a stranger? Why hadn’t I just trusted my instinct that Jeff was just a normal person who probably had gotten lost and stuck in life? Why hadn’t I been kinder to this man, and smiled and looked at him so that he knew I truly saw him, when I am sure so many people just walk by?

THIS, in part, is why I founded Goal Magic (with my amazing business partner!) and am so driven to help people get unstuck. Most of us may never see the extreme that Jeff has in taking that wrong turn, getting stuck, and becoming homeless. But for those of us who are stuck and feel like they can’t move forward, we continue to try to inspire them to know and realize that there are tools to help you change your life, like using a life coach, meditation, yoga, meet-ups, community, and more. We want people to be able to take a baby step towards your small business or brewing idea that has been festering in you, waiting to be planted and grow once it comes forward into the light. We want people to know that there is no other YOU, with all the gifts and magic that you have to offer this world. If you’re feeling stuck, you have to actively choose to get unstuck and find the strength to push forward.

Goal Magic is intended to be that boost of courage for anyone who is stuck.

A few minutes later, the server came out to bring me my lunch to go. I took the money I had in my hand and gave it to Jeff. Good luck, I said to him as I gave him a pat on his back, which was all skin and bones beneath his faded black tee. A few dollars doesn’t mean much to many of us who may read this. But to Jeff, I hope it meant he had some security about his next meal, and could take another step forward for himself. I hope it meant that the kindness of receiving money from strangers gave him a twinkle of hope about getting unstuck in his life, too.

In a couple weeks, we will hit our year anniversary of our podcast! If you have listened and received benefit from it, please, help someone else in some small way to get unstuck, even if it is just letting them know about our [FREE] podcast. If you haven’t yet listened and feel paralyzed or stuck in your life, give us a shot! Maybe that episode could change your day, or your life, too.

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While I don’t know Jeff’s last name, or if Jeff is even really his name, this piece is dedicated to him.