Thursday, May 14, 2015

Six Essential Techniques to Guarantee Failure at Anything You Attempt!

Success? Sure, we all want success. Or at least we think we do. But so many people seem afraid of success that they self-sabotage their plans, which inevitably brings about the failure that so consumed their lives with worry.

If you are going to worry about failing, and think only how bad it will feel to not achieve your goals, I guess we need to make sure that you are able to achieve your absolute and abject failure as quickly and painlessly as possible. That way you will have more time to worry about your next doomed plan.

I’ll steal from David Letterman, counting backward from the least likely to bring catastrophic failure to the one that is sure to end your plans, but unlike Mr. Letterman, I was able to refine my list to the top six essential techniques.

(If you want to listen to this instead of reading, you can go to the episode here.)

Number 6 Set a Goal which is Too Aggressive or Based on Fantasy
People who embark on a weight loss journey often want to reach their goal as fast as possible, so they vow to eat only 500 calories a day until they lose their 150 pounds. Or they announce “I will only eat foods that begin with the letter X Y or Z.” Or “I will only eat food that is orange.” That will not work. Trying to lose that aggressively will give you rapid losses—for a few days—and then your feelings of starvation will creep up and urge you to “have just one piece of bread” and soon all your previously controlled dietary needs will crash upon you and you will regain everything that you lost, and then a few more pounds. And you will say to yourself: “See? I know it wouldn’t work.”

Maybe you have a physical goal: I will walk the Appalachian Trail, but I will be the first person to walk the entire 2160 miles backwards so that I can become famous! You’ll be famous. In your own mind, because before you get to the first camp shelter you will have fallen, hit your head on a rock and hopefully knocked some sense into you.  Or your Appalachian Trail goal could be a little more realistic: Hike the entire length but setting a new speed record (hiking it in less than 46 ½ days. Is that doable? Maybe. But I’ll explain more in…

Number 5 Skip the Legwork
So you want to hike the AT fast? If you don’t practice, hiking in all conditions, in all terrains, and have huge mental, physical and emotional stamina, you won’t succeed. You will burn out and fail. And you will realize that everyone who said “It can’t be done” was right all along.

Legwork is all the preparation needed for any endeavor. If you want to start a podcast, you should listen to many different shows for examples of what works and what doesn’t. Then find someone to help you learn the secrets. (Meron Bareket was my teacher with his Podcast Starter Kit.) Can you do it on whim, and completely alone. Yes, certainly. And iTunes has hundreds or thousands of shows where the creator made a couple shows and then quit. They worked themselves into failure.

If you want to lose weight, you actually need literal leg work—get off your butt and move! You can count all the calories you want, and eat all the gluten-free, GMO-free, fat-free food you want, but if you are not burning more calories than you eat—because you are moving more than you used to move—you will do nothing but fail at weight loss.

If your goal is to become CEO of your company and you currently work in the mail room, you need a plan on how to move up. It won’t just happen because you carry the mail to someone in a corner office. You can read all the self-help books you can find, you can combine The Secret with Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People, but if you don’t actually implement any of those strategies, you might as well have simply continued to read your Spiderman comic books. (Maybe a magic spider will bite you and transform you!)

No, without a plan followed by action, you will certainly succeed in finding fast failure. This is very similar to...

Number 4 No Skin in the Game
Part of planning and preparing usually requires a buy-in. A commitment. You may need to take some classes to learn needed skills, which is a commitment of time and effort. And you still have no guarantee of succeeding even if you graduate at the top of your class!

If you want to create podcast, you will need some basic tools and while some are free, some have one time or recurring fees. A website host may want payment for twelve or more months up front. And you still need to build a website. Can you do that on your own? Maybe, if you have the skill to create a good website. But you may need to hire someone to do it for you.

Maybe your goal is to fund your retirement by winning the lottery. You need to buy the ticket first, and you know that almost certainly, you will not win. That money will be gone. Forever.

But you need to have emotional skin in the game, too. You need to be mentally ready for the project, and be prepared for the inevitable assault of negative thinking from friends, relatives, coworkers and yourself. When you make a commitment, you need to tell people about it so that you have some external accountability. And that can be risky and intimidating. I mean, what if you fail? Then that person, or those people, will know that you failed. That will crush you, right?

But you know the old saying “No pain, no gain?” It’s true. Having skin in the game increases your chances of success, but also shows you exactly how much you have to lose when that failure happens.  And when will that failure happen?

Number 3 Never Set a Deadline
This is a really powerful idea. You should give it a try.

Create a goal. Make some plans. But very carefully never commit yourself to a deadline. See, when you do that, you avoid absolute and definitive failure because you can always tell your accountability partners that you are “working on it.” And as long as you are still working on it, there is still a chance—however slim—that you will finish as planned.

Deadlines increase the pressure for you. That pressure can be destructive. We are all trying to have a less complicated life, trying to reduce our stress. Why purposely add self-imposed stress in the form of an artificial deadline? It seems to be counter-productive because we all know that focus and creativity stem from an inner calm, right?

And besides, if the project is based on your idea and goals, it should not matter if you reach your goal in a week or a year or a decade. It is all under your control. When you reach the finish line should not matter. Finishing is more important than meeting an artificial deadline, so why worry about it? It will happen when it happens.

Of course, the much greater likelihood is that without the stress that is induced by a deadline, you will stop working on your project and will never achieve the desired outcome. But that’s okay, with this technique you can still have a crushing defeat and still save face. You are “working on it.” But you could also...

Number 2 Let Someone Else Define Your Success
This is when you let someone—anyone—tell you what success looks like. Maybe you let magazines tell you what success should look like. You compare your body shape to that of the models in those magazines on sale at the grocery store checkouts (because we all know those photos are never photoshopped.) See? Now you know exactly how you must look to be successful in weight loss. Or you can go to your local gym and compare your outrageously absent washboard abs with that guy working on those free weights. You know, that guy who looks like he could bench press your car? Yes. He is showing you what you need to do to be successful.

When you sign up for a marathon, you can research to find the record times posted in the past. You can see who is running in the elite pack. You know that they will set the definition of success. And not only set it, but set it with an objective measurement: time!

If you are starting a blog or podcast, site visits and downloads are the measurement of success. Make sure you know who the leaders in your niche are, and how many people are on their email list and of course, make sure you know their monthly income. Those are objective data points that will help you know when you are successful, because if they can do it, everyone can, right?

When you let other people define your success, you are making it easy to move down the path to failure. So grab those magazines! Look at those models! And get working (but don’t set a deadline).  Or you could…

Number 1 Don’t Even Start
This is by far the easiest technique to guarantee not reaching your life’s goals, and making your dreams into your reality. It is the easiest and most efficient step to take to making your life so much simpler.

Just ignore your dreams. Live the life you have. It is easier. Safer. You will not lose anything. There is no risk. You will not lose face in front of family and friends. You will not miss any deadlines.

If you do not try, you cannot lose! It is the perfect “no lose” situation, and if you really want to make your life simpler and less stressful, just keep everything the way it is. Make “Living the Status Quo Life” your life’s motto.

You can achieve total failure before you even start. Now THAT is being efficient!

There we have it. My six essential techniques that you can immediately use, in every part of your life, to help you maximize the speed of your failure, thus giving you more time to try something else.

Of course, if you want to avoid failure, simply do the opposite!

Some links (but not all) within these show notes may be Affiliate Links, meaning that I may receive a small commission when readers click on them and then purchase something. This does not increase your cost at all, but it does help me cover some of the cost associated with this podcast. Thanks!

Friday, February 13, 2015


The opening segment is from MYST 67 Trevitorial: Are Your Goals Dumb?

NPR and their podcast TED Radio Hour can be found here. The specific show that I referenced in this Trevitorial is from November 26, 2014, and it is entitled "To The Edge". It--and all of the other episodes--are fascinating!

Challenging goals are important. Impossible goals are damaging to the person's spirit. It is a fine balance, but it can be found.

Check out this episode!


Dan, a Varsity Squad member from Palm Beach, Florida asked a question (via the MYST Speakpipe system) about which supplements (protein, vitamins or other) should be used for weight loss.

I have my answers. But please note: my answers are correct for most people, but certainly not all. If you have a condition that would prevent you from following me advice, then please do not use my suggestions. We are all different and have different needs. Just because my "in general" advice is valid does not mean that you are "in general."

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My First Ever Survey!

Who reads my blog? I really don't know. And because I don't know, it is hard to provide the best possible information.

I created a short (10 question) survey, and it will only take a couple minutes to complete. It is totally anonymous.

Please help me out.  I will close the survey on Monday, Feb 2, 2015.

My MakeYourSomedayToday survey.


Monday, November 24, 2014

My Secret Cranberry Relish Recipe

When I was growing up, no Thanksgiving meal was complete without cranberries. Unfortunately, it was canned cranberry sauce. And "sauce" isn't the right word. It was actually more like cranberry gelatin. Yuck. (If you like it, that's fine, you can have my share of it.)

This is real cranberry relish. Fast and easy, healthy and delicious. Give it a try!

Cranberry Relish
Serves 6-8
1 pound fresh cranberries, washed
1 apple, quartered and cored
1 navel orange, peeled
Sweetener, to balance tartness. Depending on the sweetness of the apple and orange, this may not be needed.

Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until evenly chunky. Chill and serve.

Nutritional data (per half-cup serving)0
Calories:        44
Fat:               0.1g
Sat fat:             0g
Chol:                0g
Sodium:     1.1mg
Carbs:         11.6g
Fiber:               3g
Protein:         0.4g

A variation is adding one jalapeno pepper for a nice southwest flavor.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Secret Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

(Photo to be added later.)

Poultry Stuffing
Makes 12 portions (approximately 4 ounces by weight, about 2/3 cup by volume)

This looks like a scary long recipe, but it is really very simple.

18 slices Healthy Life bread (or any preferred bread.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2-4 clove garlic, mashed and minced
Spices and herbs (rubbed sage, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, celery salt or anything similar.)
Chicken stock (approximately 2 cups) warmed, but not boiling

1. Preheat oven to 425F
2. Lay bread slices on counter. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
3. Sprinkle lightly with sage, onion, garlic, pepper and celery salt.
4. Lay on cookie sheets in oven, until beginning to brown and are dry (about 30 minutes).
5. When toasted, cut into small cubes. Set aside in a large bowl.
6. In a large non-stick skillet, heat over med-high.
7. Add olive oil. When hot (the oil should shimmer) add onion and celery.
8. Saute until the onion begins to turn translucent (2-4 minutes.)
9. Add garlic. Saute for 1 minute.
10. Add 1 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1/4 teaspoon each celery salt (or powder) and black pepper. Saute for 1 minute.
11. Pour onion-celery mixture over bread cubes.
12. Pour half the chicken stock, gently mixing. Add more stock as needed. Mixture should be evenly moistened, but not soupy. (If you add more stock, and it doesn’t get absorbed, that is too much. Pour it off.)
13. If you still need more liquid, you can use hot water, or any preferred liquid for added flavor: beer, wine, apple juice/cider.
14. Preheat to 350.
15. Put stuffing a 2 quart casserole, sprayed with cooking spray for easy clean up.
16. Bake uncovered until hot (30-45 minutes.)

Nutritional data:
Calories:       80
Fat:              2.4g
Sat fat:         0.3g
Chol:           0mg
Carbs:        14.7g
Fiber:           3.4g
Protein:        3.3g

A few notes:
I use my own homemade chicken stock, which has no added salt. That accounts for the low sodium numbers in this recipe. You can use commercially prepared stock, but it will have more sodium. On the other hand, you can find fat free chicken stock, which will result in even lower calories per serving because mine isn’t fat free. (Everything is a trade-off.)

Use your favorite herbs and spices. Penzey’s Spices makes incredible mixes. Their Sunny Paris is excellent in this.

Instead of Healthy Life bread, use your favorite bread. Whole wheat makes a much more robust version (and needs more liquid). Cornbread is sweeter and more delicate.

Add hot peppers if you like a spicy version.

If you want a sweeter variation, add 2 chopped apples or pears to the onions and celery.

Mushrooms work well in this (I like fresh baby bellas.)

Add meats (bacon, chicken/turkey trimmings, sausage, burger, oysters/clams, chorizo, Andouille, bratwurst or anything) if you want. It will add calories, but also add more flavors.

I don’t like to stuff turkeys. It slows the cooking time on the birds, increasing the risk of dried breasts while you wait for everything to cook. That is why I make it in a casserole separately.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Are You Riding in Back, or Up Front?

Photo by Matthew Clark, via

In the photo above, the person in the back is on a nice ride, but he has no control over where he is going. He doesn't even have an oar in his hands. He is passively along for the ride. If he ends up in a good spot, maybe a sunny bank along the lake, then he chose wisely. 

But if the front person is over-eager, and aggressively tries to paddle through the rapids of a river, the trip will probably end differently.

What does that have to do with weight loss, or any goal achievement? This idea builds on the concept of being your own person. Take charge. When you passively exist, you only receive what others decide for you. In the USA, we are soon going to have national, state and local elections. Vote! Take a stand. Choose a position. Make your choice. If you don't vote, and you don't like the election outcome, you are not in a position to complain.

If you are on a weight loss journey, you really can't do it passively. It takes action, determination and drive to lose weight. Oh, well, actually you can do it passively, in a fashion. If you are using prepackaged meals, that is a relatively passive method of weight loss. But the problem is that it doesn't let you learn how to eat healthy for the rest of your life. If you follow their plans, you will lose weight. Will it stay off? That is the real question. 

When you are in control of what you eat, you make decisions every day. Hopefully most days are good decisions, but even on those days where you choose unwisely, you are still learning about self-control.

In that picture above, what would be the result if the rider in back were to grab an oar? First he could help steer the canoe. He would be able to exert some influence upon the direction he moves. But he could also help propel the canoe faster, and reach their destination quicker. 

But no, he is simply riding. Passive. One could even say "useless." That is never a descriptor of anything good.

What about getting on a railroad? That is a choice you can make, too, and with that choice, you know the end destination. Depending in the railroad and ticket, you have a reasonable assurance that you will disembark where you are planning. No rapids for the engineer to steer through, and if the train derails, it will have nothing to do with your actions.

But once again, you have no control over how fast you arrive and actually, your potential destination choices are also limited. This is like choosing a very restrictive weight loss plan, strictly limiting certain foods. Might that work? Sure. But will it take you exactly where you want to go, in the comfort that you desire? Maybe not.

Clint Eastwood said "Fate pulls you in different directions." He's right. Some things that happen to us are out of our control.

That's why it is so important to take charge of all those parts of your life which are under your control.

If you would like to listen to this blogpost, this was the basis for a recent podcast episode.
Unsplash License:  "All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission."