The Only Test You Need To Evaluate Your Life

flying bird

If I take a picture of a flying bird, wait 5 minutes, and take another picture of the bird, what’s going to happen?

I’m probably not going to get the second picture because the bird will have moved on 4 minutes and 45 seconds ago. This bird is moving. Almost everything else is moving on planet earth, too – rivers flow, waterfalls fall, the wind blows, and sharks swim up to 50 miles per day. Even the Sloth, with a top speed of .003 miles per hour, moves.

You are in motion.

Two Pictures To Measure Your Life

At the start of a month, take a snapshot of your life – your health, your finances, your progress on goals, your relationships, everything. Write it down in detail. This is your point A.

At the end of the month, do the same thing. This is point B.

What you’ll hopefully see is the magic of movement from A to B. If your life snapshot is practically the same as the first of the month, you’re not doing much! If you’re not a step (or five) closer to your dreams, you’re on pace to NEVER see them happen. That’s a hard truth to accept, but let it sink in. If you don’t make progress each day, week, month, or year, you’re on pace to disappoint yourself. The only way you’re going to achieve your dreams is if you MOVE towards them in the present (not “someday”).

The only time it’s ok to stand still is to briefly consider which direction to go. But even then, you’re actively thinking and planning your next moves.

Every moment of inaction is actually a step backwards because you lose time and are establishing a standard of chronic failure. You’ll consciously or subconsciously think, “if I haven’t really done anything in the last few years, it probably isn’t going to change.” This is something I’ve struggled with and it’s difficult to break through it. I’ve had the best success with “just doing it” when my mind is stubbornly doubtful but I know better.

If your point A and B look eerily similar and you’re afraid you’ll miss out on a better life, what should you do?

Jump Into A New Current

A current is a way of living, so to jump into a new current is to try something you haven’t tried before. As if we’re at a buffet, we can choose which currents to swim with (and which ones to swim against).  There is a kiddie pool with stagnant water, but it’s green and I’d stay away.

An active thinker will recognize a “foreign current” that grinds against his values and swim to a new one. But for a “go with the flow” person, there is a strong risk of living someone else’s life and being miserable for it.

When you do figure out where you want to go, you might be so entrenched in this current that you can’t see changing, and won’t, because it would be uncomfortable.

A great life motto is if it makes you feel uncomfortable, DO IT NOW. Uncomfortable people are the ones jumping in and out of currents, looking for the one they like. They learn faster and gain valuable experiences that enhance their skills and help them decide what they want to do more of. I just went to Kauai, Hawaii for 10 days and I saw a new (simple) kind of life there that I hadn’t seen before.

Everything good I’ve done has involved some amount of discomfort and everything bad I’ve done has been comfortable or easy. If you do what you’ve always done, it’s going to be cushy. Nothing remarkable will happen. Venture outside of the lines you drew many years ago, and you’ll find it very uncomfortable, scary, and absolutely invigorating. Once you master this, go outside the lines that mankind itself has drawn – the invention of the airplane, harnessing electricity, tightrope walking across Niagara Falls, and the people who jump off cliffs wearing a flying squirrel suit are good examples of that.

I’m not asking you to invent teleportation, but if you do, link back to this post.

I am asking you to step outside of your narrow boundaries that are there because you’ve never challenged them. The longer you go without trying something, the more intimidating and off-limits it will seem. I swam competitively from age six to eighteen, so I know swimming is relatively easy to learn and not a big deal, and yet, some people are terrified of the water because they haven’t tried for decades.

Take Action Right Now

Rulebooks have always been about control. They limit behavior to make it predictable. YOUR rulebook does this to you, and it’s making your life a little boring, isn’t it? Look at one of your rules now by thinking of a few things that you “can’t do.” Are you sure about that?  Toss the rule in the trash, and jump into a new current. You can always swim out if it’s not for you. You do know how to swim, dont you?

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Slavko Desik

In nature all things change- nothing stays the same, things either progress or retrograde; there isn’t any status quo. What is seemingly staying still is, for the most part, just being unaware of going back.

We should measure our progress as to get a clear picture where we are headed, and tweak things accordingly. You said that perfectly. In a way, measuring progress assures taking the right direction. No matter how we see it, it buys us a lot of improvement either way. It makes us be aware of our direction of movement, whether we progress or retrograde (remember? there isn’t any status quo.

People are often unaware of the gradual progress they got to keep an eye on. I try to emphasize that on my blog. Even thought about making an application about it, however I’m little shy on the execution part still. Anyway. We ought to move. Constantly. Movement generates progress, ideas, success. My equation is that success loves movement. As simple as that.

Great post Spethen!

Douglas Prater

Stephen,

Your “Only Test” is an absolutely brilliant way to approach life. It’s one of those concepts that’s so deceptively simply that it would be easy to say “Oh yeah, no problem. I’ve got it” and then never think about it again. By suggesting a monthly mental snapshot, you’ve created a very clear exercise to keep people (myself included) moving toward their goals.

By taking a snapshot of your progress each month, you have the opportunity to celebrate the “little victories” that are the stepping stones to progress. One more mile, one more pull-up, one more chapter written (or two, or ten) clearly reflect your hard work and your priorities, and these “little victories” are cause to celebrate.

Throughout reading this article, I was continually reminded of one of my favorite Tony Robbins ideas, which I’ll paraphrase by saying “Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade.”

Thanks for the great article; I’ll definitely be adopting this practice.
And now, I’ve got some work to do.

Stephen Guise

You’re right. If we’re motionless, we’re lifeless! Nothing shows me that I’m alive more than accomplishing something or changing for the better. The movement could be wholly mental, however, and it is just as, if not more, significant.

Stephen Guise

Hey Douglas,

It’s been a while! How’ve you been?

I’m glad you liked it. I’m going to do this as well starting with the month of October. It should be interesting to see what I can (or typically do) accomplish in a month!

Tony Robbins has some excellent ideas, and that is a good one! It gets at the power of “chipping away” at huge mountains instead of trying to move them all at once.

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