Rock bottom.  Where it feels like nothing is working out.  It sure isn't the happy place you want to be living.

But the lessons to be learned there are invaluable.  If you're open to learning them.

How do I know?  

Well, does sick, exhausted, depressed, broke and unemployed count as rock bottom?  That was certainly my rock bottom.  

But looking back (and thankfully waaaay back), I'm grateful I went through that tough time.  Because the lessons I learned stay with me to this day.

They helped me to build a better life and they keep me from sliding back.

And now, I'd like to pass them on to you. 

So, are you ready to learn five lessons from rock bottom from a tried and true veteran?  

Good, let's get to it.  

<Warning:  Tough love ahead>

Lesson #1 – The World Doesn't Owe You Anything

We don't really deserve to have the good things in life.  We're not owed anything.  

And when I realized I was silently blaming the world for my ills, and felt entitled to the success I saw other people enjoying, I began to regain my personal power.

I decided to focus on what what life was trying to teach me, and expected nothing but the fruits of my own labor.  

Sure, there may be larger forces working against you (looking at you, banks), but they work against us all.  The point is, if you focus on that and blame the world for your problems, you'll remain a victim... powerless and helpless.

The opposite approach is to assume full responsibility for everything in your life...everything you think, say and do.  

This puts you back in the driver's seat and it's here where things begin to change.

Lesson #2 – Clarity is Power

When I was there, lingering on the bottom, I wasn't really clear on what I wanted in my life.  

If you had asked me, I probably would have said, “More money and a good job.”  But that's just too vague.  I couldn't make a real action plan on that. 

I was just left with hopes and wishes.

But when I sat and thought about what I really wanted and made clear and precise goals, my mind started to organize the steps I would need to take to reach those goals.

It's really a miraculous process how the brain works on your behalf when you give it clarity.

Let's use financial goals for a quick example.  Let's say you want to earn a modest $50,000 a year.  That's a clear number.  (You should also be clear on what you want your money for, by the way)

Now you know you need a little over 4 grand a month or 1 grand a week or about $165 bucks a day, working six days a week. 

Those are your targets. 

Now you can start asking yourself, “How can I earn that?  What skills will I need? What changes will I have to make in my lifestyle?” and other similar questions.

The point is...Be very clear about what you want, and then ask yourself, “How?”

Lesson #3 – Energy is Everything

The night can be the hardest time when nothing is working out.  Because that's when you're alone with your thoughts.  

I struggled with insomnia because my worrisome thoughts wouldn't let me sleep.  I'd toss and turn and eventually fall asleep... from exhaustion.

This didn't leave me energized the next morning, which made it more difficult... to do anything at all.

A friend suggested meditation, and this really helped.  Meditation lowers your stress hormones and helps you to quiet the mind at night.

I also started to exercise daily which helped me to "shake off" any stress from the day, plus it made me more physically tired and ready for sleep.

Trust me, when you're energized, everything is a little bit easier. Get a sleep strategy.

Lesson #4 – Drop the Bad Habits... or Suffer

There's an old saying, “You will have as many masters as you do vices.”

And this was certainly true in my case.

Were those beers helping me?  Nope.  Will your vices help you?  Nope.

Simply put... The vices in my life held me back.  I would easily justify them to myself, but I knew I would have to give them up if I ever wanted to get out of my rut.

And when I did, it freed up so much more bandwidth and energy and time for the things that I needed to do each day to build a better life.

I was more confident and felt in control of myself.

It's obvious really... If you're not your own master, how can you expect to thrive?  

So, you (and only you) know what it is you have to let go.  

Lesson #5Nobody's Coming to the Rescue

Simply put, no one's coming to save you.  Nobody else can do it for you.  It's got to be you.  

That doesn't mean you can't find help along the way, but don't expect anyone else to do the work for you.  

You're going to have to be the one to push yourself to do the things you don't want to do.  

You can't wait until you “feel like it.”  You're never going to feel like doing half the things you have to do.  

But that's what separates the successful from the rest.  We do what is hard to do.

Are you up for it?

Bonus Lesson:  Motivation is a Limited Resource. You Need Systems and Strategies for the Long Haul

My life didn't change overnight, and your isn't going to either.  It's going to take some time. 

What I learned is that I couldn't just rely on my own motivation.  That was limited, and it also ebbed and flowed.

What helped was to get doses of motivation from external sources.  And I also used systems and processes to keep me on track towards my goals.

That's beyond the scope of this particular article, but if you want a little taste, sign up for the free Lifeline Email Course below.  

This short but very useful course will provide you with some of the building blocks you need to build your own successful life.

Just put in your email and I'll send you the details.

That's it for today...

Got a question or comment? Just reply in the comments section below.

Keep going for your goals,

Nigel

It’s Nigel here again, with some tips to hold your feet to the fire so you can keep creating the best life possible.

Over the last 5 weeks, I took care of a 1-year old dog who was rescued off the streets by a friend of mine here in Mexico.

Zola is a cute dog, but she’s mostly a wild beast.

Nigel Cook, accountability coach
Do you have better impulse control than Zola?

On many of our walks, she would constantly pull on the leash because she just wanted to go where she wanted to go. “Nigel who?” “What leash?”

She would try to drink nasty puddle water that is most likely full of contaminants (gas, oil, antifreeze, dog and cat poop, mystery grease, etc…). The streets outside the tourist areas in Puerto Vallarta can be quite dirty.

Zola would lunge at every cat she saw and aggressively bark at dogs three times her size.

One time, I found her chewing my sunglasses and when I went to grab them from her, she immediately peed on the couch where she had been sitting and munching on my sunglasses.

As you can imagine, taking her for a walk and having her in my house was often a frustrating and unenjoyable experience for me.

This was my first time to be fully responsible for taking care of a dog. I started out with almost no knowledge or experience on how to live with or take care of a dog.

So, I watched a lot of dog training videos and did some training with her every day.

She learned fast and in the last week or two with her, her behaviour improved quite a bit.

Dogs can control their impulses. So can you!

One of the key dog training focuses is all about teaching the dog to control their impulses.

The dog learns, “If I can control my behaviour and impulses, I will get what I want (a food treat, continue the walk, praise/affection, etc…)”.

The best example of this is when I would drop pieces of cubed chicken on the floor and say, “Leave it.”. She knew that if she made any move towards the chicken, I would snatch it away and she wouldn’t get it.

If she didn’t move towards the chicken, I made her wait 4 or 5 seconds and then would give her the chicken.

I could see her fighting herself, really wanting to snap up that tender chicken.

Her mind (and body) was going, “Yes! No. Yes! No, wait a bit. Yes, go for it! No, I’m just going chill a bit so I can get my chicken.”

Zola would actually move away from the chicken so that she was less tempted to eat it. She self-corrected and decided to physically remove herself from the chicken because she couldn’t handle being so close to it while having to ignore it.

That’s impulse control.

This same impulse control can help us humans out immensely.

The mindset to have is: “I’ll get what I want if I control my impulses and delay gratification.”

This type of impulse control is crucially important when working on your business/career goals, personal goals, as well as health and productivity habits.

Examples of giving in to your impulses

How can you control your harmful or negative impulses?

Here are a few ideas for you to experiment with:

1. Practice awareness or mindfulness

Observe your thoughts, habits and behaviour. Become a scientist…of you. A You-ologist.

Notice those moments when you have a sudden impulse to eat sugar, drink alcohol, blurt out some angry criticism, watch youtube videos instead of working on your business and any other potentially negative impulses.

Sometimes just practicing awareness can help “short-circuit” the automatic, impulsive behaviour.

Mindfulness helps you develop self-control.

2. Pre-plan how you will deal with the impulse

Write down a short plan of what you will do when the impulse is calling you.

What activities will you do instead of the impulsive behaviour?

For example:

"When I have the impulse to get angry, I’ll 'sit' with the anger, practicing detached awareness. I’ll take 3 deep breaths, smile and say to myself, 'I can handle this and I will find a solution to deal with the situation that’s provoking me'. I will burn off the anger by doing something physical like going to the gym, going for a walk or playing guitar."

“When I have the impulse to have more than 2 alcoholic drinks, I’ll visualize all the worst-case scenarios of over-indulging (feeling sick, making terrible decisions, not controlling what I say, etc…). I will switch to my favourite non-alcoholic drink of mineral water with fresh lime juice.”

If you don’t pre-plan, you will be much more likely to follow your usual impulse or automatic behaviour and old habits.

The new plan will prepare you to have the new behaviour that you want.

3. Create very strong reasons to avoid your impulse habit

When your conviction is strong, it’s a lot easier to stick with avoiding a negative impulse.

“If I avoid this impulse habit of eating sugar, I’ll have better health, avoid the low-energy crashes, have my ideal weight, sleep better and have stable moods too. I want all those benefits so I will avoid this sugar treat that will rob me of what I really want.”

You need to tell yourself a “good story” about why you’re making habit changes.

Review your story frequently to help lessen the power of your negative impulses and strengthen the power of the new positive habit.

4. Remove yourself from the impulse trigger

Just like Zola had to walk away from the chicken I threw on the ground, physically remove yourself from the impulse triggers that you want to avoid.

Don't keep sugary treats in your house if you're trying to avoid them.

Put your cell phone in a different room if you're trying to focus on work and not waste time on trivial things you're doing on your cell phone.

Limit how often you hang out with people who drink alcohol, if you're trying to minimize drinking.

Gaining mastery over impulses

I hope these ideas help you to gain more self-mastery over any “autopilot” behaviours that you would like to minimize or avoid.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself for your indulgences. Just recognize that you have some impulsive habits, recognize that they cause some level of harm to you and that you’d really like to be free from them.

Then, make a quick action plan to minimize those harmful impulses and make sure your plan includes some form of accountability in it. You can and will change when you direct your mind to it!

Got a question or comment? Just reply in the comments section below.

Keep going for your goals,

Nigel

PS: Want to reach your goals faster? Check out one of the online accountability coaching programs and book a free Coaching Call.

Do you ever feel irritated? It’s not quite anger, but more of a quiet and continual lava flow of irritation, just burbling under your skin.

You struggle to contain it sometimes. 

Someone steps right in front of you while on the sidewalk and you have to abruptly stop walking in order to avoid them but they can’t even be bothered to say a quick, “Sorry”. 

The lava flow increases.

A few minutes later, you try to look up some important time-sensitive info on your cell phone. The page is taking forever to load. Great… Internet connectivity issues.

Add a bit more lava. The heat is intensifying.

You walk just a few minutes down the street and every single dog is aggressively barking at you from their balconies or front yard. Three barking dogs on your right, two on your left. A little further down the gauntlet, more dogs come out. It puts you on edge because you’re not sure if they’re contained or if some of them might attack. 

The lava river is now overflowing and the containment walls are about to break. Look out!

An irritable mess

Each of those scenarios could be considered a small and insignificant event. But when you experience a series of those in your day or throughout your week, it all adds up and creates an irritable mess.

Irritability seems like a small thing. It’s common, and it seems normal and justified.

Irritation is a starting form or micro-form of anger and if we ignore it, it can ignite into full-blown anger. Irritation can manifest through underlying anger that we might be carrying.

Irritation and anger are unpleasant emotions. Notice how you feel when experiencing them:

Muscles are contracted and tight. We feel like we’re ready to fight or physically defend ourselves. We feel “heavier” and it’s harder to find the humor in things. Breathing is restricted and we have tension in our face. Negative thoughts repeat in our heads. 

“Something is happening that I think shouldn’t be happening. I do not accept this.”

That’s the base thought that causes that feeling of irritation and on a stronger scale, anger.

“I don’t like this reality. I want a better version of reality. My version.”

As we know, this is impossible. None of us have this level of control over external events and people.

How to Reduce Feeling Irritated

Here are a few ideas to experiment with. Try these out and see how they work for you.

1. Look for the positive

Focus on what’s working well in your life. Actively look for what’s positive, even small things. Change “the story” that runs in your mind and craft a more positive version. Positive thoughts will create positive feelings, and that irritability will start to settle down.

2. Do some short gratitude sessions

Spend at least a couple minutes in the morning to think about a few things that you’re grateful for. You could even write out a short list. Think about these items and notice any positive feelings that come up as a result. Hold on to that positive, “light” feeling and carry it throughout your day.

3. Practice deep, relaxed breathing

When you notice that you’re irritated (or at any point in your day), take a few slow, deep breaths. Most of the in-breath should go into your diaphragm (or belly area) first and then towards the end of the in-breath, you’ll feel it start to fill your chest. On the out-breath, the air leaves the chest first, followed by the belly area. You should feel calmer after doing a few mindful breaths.

4. Do daily movement and/or exercise

Staying active can help you shake off stress and irritation. For some people, exercise can feel meditative and have a calming effect. Even something as simple as a half-hour walk or stretch session can have a positive impact on reducing any feelings of irritability.

5. Stop eating trigger foods

Sugar, alcohol, caffeine and foods that you might be allergic or sensitive to, can all cause irritability. If you often feel irritable and you’re not sure why, it could be linked to what you’re eating or drinking. Identify your trigger foods and do your best to avoid them. You’ll feel much better when you do!

6. Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep makes most people feel irritable. This can last the whole day until you take a nap or head to bed at the end of the evening. If you get a great night’s sleep, you'll wake up feeling good and ready to enjoy the day. 

7. Resolve pending issues

Is there something that’s been bothering you? Are you dealing with too many tasks and responsibilities right now? Have you been struggling for weeks or months to make a difficult decision? These can all cause some internal unrest and a background hum of irritability. When we take action on any challenges or issues that we’re dealing with, this can feel very freeing and like a weight has been lifted off our backs. 

Taking charge of the situation

To start with, you can take just one or two of the above actions to help reduce or even eliminate irritability so that you can start enjoying your days again. More importantly, you won’t be accumulating any further anger and this will have a very positive effect on your work, health and relationships. 

Got a question or comment? Just reply in the comments section below.

Keep going for your goals,

Nigel

PS: Want to reach your goals faster? Check out one of the online accountability coaching programs and book a free Coaching Call.

There is one habit that will help you with all of your other habits that you want to establish.

If you do this habit well, everything else becomes easier.

Prefer to listen to the audio version of this article? Click the "play" button on the podcast player below.

What habit am I talking about?

Sleep.

Specifically, getting enough sleep and getting good-quality sleep.

I've noticed that the sleep habit is often ignored.

Many people stay up too late and wake up too early. They push through the lack of sleep.

Sometimes the continual responsibilities of work, kids and just taking care of daily errands and chores make it seem like we have no choice but to stay up late and sacrifice sleep.

How much sleep should you get?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for people aged 18-64 and 7-8 hours for ages 65 and up.

The clients I've helped to establish a better sleep routine have told me that this is their keystone habit and that everything else in their life becomes easier and/or better when they're consistently getting lots of good-quality sleep.

Why is sleep the keystone habit?

When you've got your sleep habit dialed in, you'll have more energy and clarity for any other habit or goal you might want to work on such as:

When you're sleep-deprived, you can pretty much guarantee that will negatively affect the results of anything you're working on.

Three essential sleep tips

  1. Track your sleep. Use an app, health tracker, spreadsheet or a notebook. Record the time you fall asleep, when you wake up, any sleep-disturbed periods and the total hours of sleep.
  2. Set a consistent bedtime and wake time. Stick to this schedule 90% of the time or higher.
  3. Create a simple "evening sleep routine", designed to help you get better-quality sleep and faster.

There are many other tips that can help you sleep better but those three will get you started.

My current evening sleep routine

It's a simple evening routine. The habit that really puts me to sleep is reading a book.

I used to be online right up until I felt sleepy and this bad habit would push my bed time way too late.

Plus, being online was keeping my mind too active which made it harder to fall asleep.

The one habit to rule them all

Getting enough good-quality sleep can radically improve both how you feel throughout the day and your ability to do well with any other habits or goals you're working on.

I hope these quick ideas help you to cultivate a healthy sleep habit so you can wake up feeling well-rested and ready to take on the day.

Got a question or comment? Just reply in the comments section below.

Keep going for your goals,

Nigel

PS: Want to reach your goals faster? Check out one of the online accountability coaching programs and book a free Coaching Call.

There's a bit of twisted irony to the way this world works.

Have you ever noticed that many things that feel or taste good, aren't actually that great for your health and well being?

Fast food, candy, alcohol, to name a few.

Video games, staying up late to watch movies or watching YouTube when you should be working.

All super fun and delicious, but these can have real consequences when it comes to attaining your goals.

They can slow your productivity, chew up your time and destroy your motivation.

So everything in moderation, right?

Which is easy to say, but is it really that easy?

Can You Delay Your Gratification?

Pleasure and entertainment can be a slippery slope for many, and just calling for moderation doesn't offer any real advice.

“Just once” or “just a taste” can quickly become, “Oh hell, what's one more?”

And before you know it, you've got a habit going, you're procrastinating like a seasoned pro, or you've gained 10 pounds.

Remember, it's the actions that you take day in and day out that will lead to either success or mediocrity.

Life is Full of Temptations

Calling for total abstinence doesn't offer any real advice either.

What you really need to focus on is developing self-control.

You know, that sometimes elusive ability to postpone immediate gratification and control your impulses.

But you've got to do it, because temptations are everywhere and they'll never, ever go away.

How to Develop Self-Control

I can picture you thinking, “Ok, sounds real good.  But how do I do that?”

Well, you build up your resolve and self-control one decision at a time.

It's a little bit like training your muscles to grow.

It doesn't happen overnight, and that first day is always the hardest to drag your ass to the gym.

But once you start seeing results, it gets easier and easier, and soon you can't imagine living any other way.

It's also much easier if you have a process for tackling this issue.

I talk about this in the 'Ending Procrastination' chapter in my book, Master Your Productivity.

Let's look at some of the main points that you can start using right away in your own life.

Be Honest with Yourself

If you can't honestly admit to indulging in behaviour that limits your success and well-being, then you'll never make any changes.

I recommend you actually write out the areas in your life where you're lacking self-control.

Get real with yourself so you can get real with your self-control.

Awareness of the Consequences

We often shut this kind of awareness down, because if we're too aware of what we're doing to ourselves, we'll feel badly and have to make a change.

And believe it or not, humans resist change, even when it's good for us.

More of that twisted irony, right?

So tap into honesty and use this awareness of the consequences to fuel your motivation for bettering yourself.

Develop Mindfulness

Being mindful means to be aware of what you are doing and why.

So ask yourself these kinds of questions throughout the day:

“Is this what I should be doing right now to reach my goals?”
“What would a productive, healthy person be doing right now?”
“If I do this, am I going to suffer consequences later?”
“Will this food build me up or make me feel like crap later?”

Avoid it Like the Plague

One of the simplest ways to increase self-control, is to avoid the places where it's going to be tested.

Don't go to the bar if you're trying to avoid drinking.

Shop at the fresh market if you want to stop the McDonald's gut from growing.

It's simple, right?  But you got to do it.

Use Accountability

Letting somebody else know of your intention to break a bad habit is a powerful technique.

The other person will be able to support you, remind you, and motivate you in your efforts.

Accountability also plays on a number of deeply-seated psychological elements:

These are not ideal forms of motivation, but they do work, so why not take advantage of them.

Be Kind to Yourself

Don't be surprised if making a change is a struggle.

And don't be too hard on yourself either.

If you fall off the wagon, just get back up and keep going, learning all the way.

Master Your Productivity

If you do suffer from self-control issues, you can dive into the solutions in much greater detail in Master Your Productivity.

It's a step-by-step guide to improving your overall life performance so you can attain the dreams and goals that you want in this life.

It's loaded with all the tools, tips and strategies that successful people use.

And don't worry, I made sure to write it in a very easy-to-read and concise style.

So grab your copy here and start living a better life.

Until next time,

Nigel

Nigel Cook
Accountability Coach
Holding Your Feet to the Fire

PS: Want to reach your goals faster? Check out one of the online accountability coaching programs and book a free Coaching Call.

Ah, glorious alcohol. It's everywhere. We not only enjoy it but we celebrate it. We don't just use it to celebrate, we actually celebrate alcohol and drinking culture.

It helps us relax and "take the edge off" as one of my family members likes to joke. Booze connects people, brings us closer together and gives us permission to feel good and laugh a bit more.

It's actually quite a bit of fun.

Until it isn't.

Alcohol can have a cutting edge to it...We should be acutely aware of this. My intention in this email isn't to lecture you or tell you what you should or shouldn't do (although I am biased towards balance and moderation). This email is an exercise for you to reflect on your consumption of alcohol, what you choose to do with it and how it might be affecting you.

I can think of a few experiences I've had with alcohol where I said or did really foolish things that I would never have done when I was sober. Luckily, it hasn't been anything that's permanently affected me (like getting a large Superman tattoo on my chest, for example)...but if I had been less careful, things could have gone in a bad direction.

If you're serious about growing your business or career, and if you want to have great energy, physical health and clarity, you might want to examine your relationship with alcohol and consider putting some real limitations on it.

What is drinking really costing you? And is it worth the price you're paying?

If you have two glasses of wine once or twice a week and never go beyond that (even on New Year's Eve), then you're probably not at risk. Carry on, you Master of Moderation!

We have to realize that we are dealing with an addictive substance. Respect its power.

I have a friend here in Mexico who used to love drinking beer and he was always a fun guy to be around and share a few drinks with. I never saw him act out of control or act in a negative way when drinking. He told me that several years ago, he started drinking tequila. It started out as a simple little habit but he ended up drinking a large bottle a day...He said that he wasn't stressed, depressed or angry when he first started drinking tequila. He just ended up getting hooked on it. It got so bad that he had to seek treatment for his addiction. He was surprised that he got hooked because he had been drinking for many years and had never had an issue.

Seek professional help if your drinking is causing you significant issues. My thoughts below are for people who binge drink (ie: get drunk at least once a year but not more often than 2 or 3 times a month) or have 2-5 drinks a day, several days a week. I'm talking about your average drinker, in other words, not alcoholics. I don't know much about alcoholism so I'm not qualified to talk about it.

Should you quit drinking alcohol?

Well...maybe.

Moderating: Quitting drinking isn't the only option available, of course. You could moderate your drinking. Some people do that really well and they only have a drink or two on special occasions. You'll never see them drunk.

If you set a goal to have just 2 drinks a week for a maximum of 2 days a week and if you can stick to that plan for at least a couple months, then you're good at moderating and this method is a good option for you.

Quitting: If you have trouble moderating your alcohol (and drinking is a problem for you and you want to reduce your alcohol-consumption), the best option might be to quit completely. Taking breaks hasn't worked for you in the past, neither has trying to moderate, avoid or minimize.

Quitting alcohol is easier said than done, right? Assuming that you're not physically addicted to alcohol (like an alcoholic), then you should be able to quit. Could you quit for a year if someone paid you a $10,000,000 at the end of that year? If yes, then you can definitely quit without that financial incentive.

I went out for a glass of wine with someone I'm close to a few weeks ago. When they're sober, they're smart, funny, active and good to talk with. This person ended up having too many drinks (common for them) and became unintelligible, rude, extremely annoying and they were also a physical liability (because they were completely out of their mind). I had to take care of them that night and I wasn't very happy about that.

They're not an alcoholic, but they binge drink fairly regularly. This is an example of someone who can't moderate alcohol. They should quit before something bad happens to them, like a permanent physical injury.

30-day No-Alcohol Challenge: If you're not in quite as serious of a situation as above, then start with a 30-day no-alcohol challenge. At the end of the 30 days, you can decide if you want to continue. Starting with just 30 days is a great mind-hack because it feels more achievable and it's not something you have to commit to forever.

Quitting alcohol for at least 30 days (or much longer) will be a massive improvement for you. Don't look at it as giving something up but look at all the positive benefits you'll be getting (healthy, energy, clarity, living more in wisdom, becoming more grounded, growing your business and revenue, enhancing your creativity, feeling in control, etc...).

You won't be able to quit or moderate if you don't really want to

If the idea of "being healthier" remains just an externally-imposed intellectual idea and if you don't have that intrinsic motivation, then your habit will continue.

"I really should cut back (but I don't want to)" is what we often think, at least at a sub-conscious level, when trying to minimize a negative habit. "I know I should drink less (but I don't want to give up the payoffs I get)."

Those thoughts destroy any motivation we might have for moderating a negative habit. If we have weak motivation, we will have weak intention and weak action.

Nothing will change.

Try this:

1. Write down all the negatives you've experienced because of drinking. Make that list long and detailed.

2. Think about the negative impact on you personally. Go through those negative experiences in your mind.

3. Use those negative experiences to boost your motivation and reasons for moderating alcohol (or any other negative habit).

4. Review that list frequently to continually remind yourself why it's important to moderate or quit.

A few other quick tips... Note: If you don't really want to quit or moderate drinking, then these tips won't be helpful.

Again, these are my thoughts on how to moderate or quit alcohol for your average drinker, not alcoholics. I do not have the knowledge or experience to talk about alcoholism or make any recommendations. I also don't work with clients who have serious drinking problems, I only support clients who want to moderate certain habits.

No matter what your habits are with alcohol, I fully support your growth and happiness. This is not an easy habit to work on.

Nigel

Nigel Cook
Accountability Coach
Holding Your Feet to the Fire

PS: Want to reach your goals faster? Check out one of the online accountability coaching programs and book a free Coaching Call.

I have wasted an unbelievable amount of time in useless visits to doctors and specialists over the years (mostly when I was younger. I don't go to regular doctors that often anymore.). I’ve also made poor choices in agreeing to go ahead with their recommendations which either didn’t help at all or helped one health issue but caused other issues.

I’ve dealt with apathetic doctors and specialists, many of whom seemed more interested in getting me to leave as soon as possible because we were getting close to the 7-minute maximum allowed appointment time and they had a full waiting room of patients.

"Sometimes this is as good as things get."

Doctors don't like it when you don't respond well to their treatment. It baffles them. They just seem to kind of...give up. I've experienced this again and again and also seen this happen with family members too.

On a follow-up visit with a surgeon, he removed the bandages on my wrist where he had removed a ganglion cyst six weeks previously. My wrist looked horrible. Swollen, black and blue and well...um...pretty damn nasty. At the 6-week mark, I was supposed to have full mobility but in my case, I could hardly move my wrist.

What did this surgeon do? Instead of gently testing the range of motion of my tender wrist, he quickly and abruptly pushed down on my wrist as far as the wrist would go, even though my wrist clearly looked like it belonged to an apocalyptic zombie.

It was incredibly painful and I let him know that. He didn't seem that interested or concerned. He couldn't even be bothered to say a quick "sorry".

Unprofessional and uncaring.

Where was basic human empathy in this interaction? Absolutely vacant. This was a surgeon who had a very good reputation in my city, apparently. I'd hate to see what the attitude of an average-rated surgeon would be.

The surgeon had originally told me this was a minor surgery and low-risk. A year later, I went back to the same surgeon to say I was still having daily pain and restricted mobility in my wrist because of this "low-risk" and "minimally-invasive" surgery. His response? "Sometimes this is as good as things get."

In other words, I was just supposed to live with it. No other solutions were offered. None, whatsoever.  He did not seem to care. After all, he gets paid per patient visit, not for results. At least, that's the system in Canada.

Did that surgeon record the poor results of the surgery that he performed on my wrist? Did those statistics get sent anywhere so that they could have in-field data about the effectiveness and real-world results of these "low-risk" surgeries? I doubt it. And how many other surgery patients has this happened to?

Where is the care in healthcare?

What’s my beef with the medical system? I’ve had numerous diagnostic tests done regarding a chronic heart issue that was making me feel sick, nauseous and physically weak. After many months of testing and visits, doctors and specialists didn't offer a treatment plan and I was told that I would have to live with my irregular heart. I was only 20 when they told me that.

I’ve taken medications that caused difficult side effects. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure if the medications improved anything or whether my body just healed on its own.

I will say this right now: I am very wary of prescription medication, especially long-term usage. Repeat after me: Medication is NOT medicine.

Do not blindly accept everything a doctor tells you. Many of them are simply too quick to whip off a prescription or recommend a dangerous medical intervention.

My experience with the western medical system is that if you don't respond to the recommended treatment after 3-4 visits or recommendations, they give up on you.

Medication is not medicine

When there's big money involved, you can forget about objectivity. Your health and well-being are not the concern of profit-seeking pharmaceutical mega-corporations. Do not trust them or their marketing. Their main concern is making money. They are happy to have you as a life-long customer. The unhealthier we are, the better. That means more revenue for them.

Is your doctor thinking about you once you've left their office? No way! They write a prescription and their job is done. There's often no followup visit required and you definitely won't be getting a phone call from your doctor to see how you're making out with the medication. Arrivederci and good luck!

They have too many patients to properly follow up with all of them weekly. Plus, it just isn't common practice. Why not? Shouldn't there be closer follow-up with patients who take anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication? To make sure that...umm...they don't kill themselves? That seems kind of important to me.

You are test rat #3542

How is the medical system following up on side effects of all these meds? Where is the live, real-world testing being done with actual patients, not just in a lab setting?

I know where the testing is being done...On us!

You are the guinea pig. And unfortunately, there's no monitoring and recording being done on live patients who use their drugs. Why do I say that? I've taken medications before, experienced side effects and they've never been recorded by a medical clinic.

There's an utter lack of concern regarding the side effects of drugs and once you start taking a drug, how do we know what you're experiencing is a symptom or a side effect? They can't accurately test for this.

Doctors who prescribe medications should be recording patients’ side effects and reporting this back to the government agencies that regulate the approval of these pharmaceuticals. Who’s documenting what happens to all of these people on medication?

Everyone just shrugs it off…Yes, well…all drugs have some side effects, but they’ve already done testing in their labs and it’s been approved. That means it’s safe, right?

Look at all the harmful or unhealthy substances that government agencies allow on supermarket shelves. Alchohol. Cigarettes. Marshmallows. Spam. Fruit Loops and other high-sugar cereals that turn your milk pink. Pop tarts. Yes, even pop tarts make my list of toxic substances. Sorry, I know you like them. But they're probably slowly killing you.

Those are just the extreme and obvious examples of things being sold that are extremely bad for you, even in small or infrequent doses. All of these products are allowed on supermarket shelves. Is your government really looking out for you? Do they even have a clue what health and nutrition is? Nah, I don’t think so.

We need to be very, very careful about most prescription drugs that we take. Start educating yourself and using your inherent intelligence and intuition on your health issues, and dealing with the western medical system.

As with many professions, information that is currently taught as true or as a best practice is often found decades later to be not true, not the best medical practice or even foolishly dangerous.

What medical practices are happening now that people will consider absolutely ridiculous 50 years from now? Ummm….How about the over-reliance on powerful medications with unknown long-term side effects?

Everything I've written above is why we need to consider other solutions and alternative healthcare, in addition to carefully navigating the western medical system. Medications and surgery are sometimes needed and I'm sure there are also some great western doctors out there, but I just don't have any good examples in my personal experience, unfortunately. Adequate doctors, sure. Get-the-job-done doctors, ok. But not caring, personal, effective and solution-oriented doctors. Haven't met any yet. I do have a good friend who is going to pursue medical studies and I'm sure she's going to easily stand out as being an amazing doctor.

Take medical care into your own hands

Be preventative.
Once your health has been compromised due to years of unhealthy and damaging practices, it can be hard to get healthy again. Start now and keep up those good health habits. It's a continual education process and requires will-power.

Eat well.
Eat natural, whole foods. Food that is in it’s natural state, unaltered. If you shop in the outside aisles of the supermarket, you’ll be fine. Avoid the aisles. Avoid "food" in packages. Remember: The food industry wants to make you addicted to their products.

Buy organic, if you can. It tastes better and has more vitamins and minerals. If not, then locally-grown produce is also a good option.

Exercise.
Your exercise routine doesn’t have to be difficult, especially in the beginning. Start with a light form of exercise every day. This should also include a stretching routine. 80 years ago, you would have been working your ass off all day, all week, doing physical work. You can definitely handle 20 minutes of exercise 3-4 days a week.

Follow mental health best practices.
Retrain your mind to view things positively. Experiment with meditation. Let things go. Cultivate true patience. Choose to spend more time with positive people.

Do your own medical research.
If you’ve been diagnosed with something, read up on it. Question whether the diagnosis is correct. Get a second opinion. When your doctor recommends a prescription, read up on it. Get all the information. You need to protect yourself because your doctor doesn’t have time to explain the details of these prescriptions in those 7 minutes (and they’re usually unconcerned about side effects anyway. After all, the drug has been approved for public use.).

Ask your doctors good questions.
Don't let them try to get rid of you until they've answered ALL of your health concerns. Bring a notepad and pen to make notes when you visit your doctor.

Question the need for prescription drugs and surgery.
If your doctor recommends drugs or surgery, ask if there are other options. Ask what the risks are if you don’t use drugs or surgery. Get a second opinion from another doctor.

Stop relying on your doctors for a quick fix.
Instead, consider natural health solutions. If you’re sick or have chronic illness, the very first thing you need to look at is your diet. Food is medicine. Also, don’t immediately run to your doctor for minor things.

Complementary and Alternative Health Care Works

I went to a naturopathic doctor a few years ago for a few health issues. The first consultation lasted an entire hour. I had never had a doctor's visit that long and in-depth before. He asked me good questions, listened and took notes the entire time. He actually seemed interested in my health situation and in finding solutions.

I was blown away. Totally surprised at this detailed level of patient care. And he could prescribe medications, if needed, as well as order diagnostics, just like regular doctors, although he preferred to prescribe medications only if absolutely necessary.

In Canada, it costs $72/month for medical care and that includes free visits to general practice doctors. I would rather pay $140 for an in-depth consultation with a naturopathic doctor who carefully uses the western medical system and is solution-oriented than go to my family doctor.

Does your doctor understand food nutrition? I’ve never had a doctor talk to me about food or ask me about my diet.

Does your doctor look healthy? If not, then are they in a position to advise you on how to improve your health? I wouldn’t take swimming lessons from someone who can’t swim well and I wouldn’t work with a business coach who’s only experience is one failed business.

I would highly recommend looking into alternative forms of medicine, especially for chronic health issues that your family doctor isn't offering any viable solution for.

By the way, after following my naturopathic doctor’s diet recommendations, I no longer had heart palpitations or a fast heart-rate. My energy was the best it’s been in decades. I didn’t need naps anymore. I didn’t need to sleep as many hours. I woke up feeling clear, alert and my concentration had improved considerably. My mood improved significantly. My wrist pain mostly disappeared and I was able to play guitar again without pain.

Despite numerous disappointing experiences with western medicine, it still can be very effective at helping with some health issues. It’s helpful to know what western doctors are good at and what they’re not good at. Emergency procedures and temporary life-saving medication? Yes. Diagnostics? Sure.

But...I would be very wary of "low-risk" surgeries and "safe" medication. They prescribe medication as though it were as harmless as Flintstone vitamins. After all, it's not their body, right? They don't have to live with the consequences of their treatment.

Take Charge of Your Health

Take your health into your own hands. Start right now. Be careful when agreeing to take medication. Consider visiting a naturopathic doctor or Chinese medical doctor. Do your own research on your health issues and medications. Don’t blindly accept anything that any doctors tell you. Consider their diagnosis and recommendation, but sometimes they just can't offer you the best or safest health solutions.

What's been your experience in dealing with the medical system? Share your story in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this article, share it on social media. Maybe it'll help someone you know take the right steps to get healthy again or help them re-think their approach to their health issue.

I was a patient person. Or so I thought.

Everything that could go wrong was going wrong.

In a short period of time, I was dealing with multiple issues: chronic back and eye problems that were both worsened by the type of work I was doing. I couldn't stop the work because I needed to pay off debt I accumulated despite having low expenses. I put in a lot of energy, time and thought into getting new work, but I hardly gained any traction.

I thought I was doing all the right things. I was trying to stay positive. I kept putting in effort. Why was nothing working?

Chances are, you've also gone through periods where nothing is working out for you. Maybe you're dealing with some tough issues right now.

5 Strategies for When Nothing is Working Out

 Here are some strategies for when it seems that absolutely nothing is going your way. I've used a combo of all of them when I've gotten stuck. They'll work for you too.

1. Regroup and reflect.

2. Practice gratitude.

3. Change direction.

4. Treat yourself really well.

When we get chronically frustrated and stressed, the danger is that anxiety and depression can take over our minds. When we're depressed, we don't take care of ourselves. We eat poorly and we don't bother exercising (because hey, what's the point?).

5. Find a mentor or coach.

When you're at a low point in life, you might need the help of others.  We're meant to lift each other up in times of need.

I've covered some simple strategies here in this article, but turning your life around may require a more hands-on approach.

So, I've got a few questions for you:

Are you often unhappy or do you feel that something is missing in your life? 

Do you wish you had more money and could enjoy a better lifestyle? 

Do you sometimes feel confused or have difficulty making decisions? 

Do you feel anxious or depressed?  

Are you tired of things not working out?  

If you answered, “Yes” to any of the above questions, then the free Lifeline Email Course will mentor and coach you through your current challenges.

Go ahead and pop in your email below and over the next 2 weeks, I’ll send you five easy-to-read email lessons that you can use in your life, starting today.

All you have to do is have a little trust that the methods will work and follow along.  The rest takes care of itself.

Remember:  Every day you hesitate is a day you can't ever get back, so let's go !

Bad habits...We've all got them. And we wish they would... Just. Go. Away.

But we're absolutely stuck.

It seems like we're destined to repeat our same behaviours over and over every single day, caught in a horrible loop like Bill Murray's character in the movie, "Groundhog Day".

If you're keen on personal development, reaching your goals in life and feeling more inspired and confident, then you need to pay close attention to your habits.

What Makes a Habit "Bad"?

We need to get clear on what a bad habit is so that we know exactly what we're dealing with and how we can start making habit changes that will last. Sometimes we're not even aware that some of our habits are limiting us, harming us and blocking us from reaching our goals.

What is a bad habit? A bad habit damages or erodes your health, relationships, finances and happiness.

Any habitual behaviours you have that harm these important areas of your life are bad habits. You gotta chuck 'em ASAFP. You know what the "F" stands for.

Step 1: Identify Your Three Most Problematic Habits

"Only three?", you ask, incredulously. "But I've got dozens of bad habits and I need to get rid of all of them now!"

To get the best results, you need to have laser-like focus and this means concentrating only on the habits that cause you the most pain and problems. If you try to work on too many habits at the same time, it'll be a watered-down effort and you'll get poor results. There's the risk of getting discouraged and distracted if you're working on too many habits at the same time.

When you write down your three most problematic habits, you will be acknowledging and recognizing that you do have unwanted habits that are disruptive in your life, ruining your finances, eating at away at your good health and well-being, and damaging your relationships. Your first step is to recognize that you want to change.

Step 2: List All the Negatives of Your Three Bad Habits

Next to your three bad habits, write down all negatives and all the problems your habit causes you. Take your time with this step and be thorough. The more negatives, the better.

This will help you build the motivation to get rid of your habits. You'll see how essential and urgent it is for you to change your habits. Over the next few weeks, you can refer to your list of negatives to remind yourself why you need to stop your bad habit (eating an entire carton of Rocky Road ice cream a few times a week, while listening to Celine Dion. Wow... that is a bad habit.)

Step 3: Create Your Success Plan

In your success plan, answer a few questions such as:

How can you make your success inevitable? What actions do you need to take? What do you need to stop doing?

You might need to reduce your time with anyone who is a negative influence on you. You might need to get some help, get a trainer, buy a gym membership, freeze spending on your credit cards, sell possessions to raise cash and lower expenses...Brainstorm all possible ideas you might do to tackle your bad habit.

Keep your answers brief but specific and action-oriented.

Don't make your actions and habit goals too difficult for yourself or there is a good chance you will give up too soon.

Step 4: Track Your Habits

Record your efforts daily in your calendar, notebook or a habit-tracker app. Be accurate and specific. Use consistent metrics, if possible.

Example habit-tracking (of someone who wants to exercise and minimize alcohol):

Monday: -drank two bottles of beer, walked 30 minutes
Tuesday: -ran for 20 minutes, had 1 glass of wine

Tracking your habits also helps you with your next step to saying "hasta la vista" to a bad habit.

Step 5: Get Accountable and Stay Accountable

While we're starting to cultivate more discipline, we need stay accountable to ourselves. Tracking your habits is just one way. Tell a few trusted friends or family members about your habit goals. Seek out any resources you need to increase chances of success (such as books, personal development videos and podcasts, a mentor, get medical help, coaching, etc...).

Accountability works if you use it regularly.

Drop Your Bad Habits Forever

The key to get rid of a bad habit is for you to keep up your motivation (this is what Step 2 is for). You need to have very compelling reasons for why you want to kick your bad habits.

And you need to tell yourself your reasons constantly.

You need to give yourself some urgency around this. Look at all the negative consequences of what might happen to you if you keep giving in to your habits, your vices.

Can you really drop a bad habit forever? Yes, but it's probably going to take some serious mind re-programming and some time. Don't let your habits continue to own you. By applying and reapplying the above steps, you will gain mastery over your habits.

What's your worst bad habit that you're struggling with right now? Leave a comment below or email me personally.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles, from FreeDigitalPhotos.

My Terrible History with Food

I have been addicted to various food. I've overeaten to the point of pain and bloating. I've eaten things way too fast, almost to the point of choking, just because it tasted so good. I've unconsciously thrown food products in my shopping cart, without questioning whether the item is really food or not. (How did those five bags of BBQ potato chips get in there?)

As a teenager, my friends and I would sometimes buy frozen cakes and have competitions to see who could eat the most. These cakes were large, cheap and full of nasty ingredients. I remember feeling disappointed with myself when one of my friends was able to eat a whole cake, but I could only eat 3/4 of mine. We would gorge on donuts, eating 6 to 12 in one session. We would slam thick, doughy slices of cheese-laden pizza down our throats, barely chewing them.

When I was in my early 20s, I remember eating a lot of processed, packaged food and extremely sugary items without really questioning it. They tasted awesome, filled me up, and were quick and easy to prepare. The only fish I ate was neatly pressed into a rectangular shape and came in a frozen box.

Although I didn't drink alcohol frequently, I would usually drink excessively when I did drink. This eventually contributed to my seriously poor physical and emotional health and an irregular heart rate both of which lasted several years. I went from being a fit, healthy athlete in high school to feeling like I was on my death bed.

Unconsciously Choosing Sickness

The biggest cause of our unconscious and addictive behaviour around food is because we believe this:

If it tastes good, it's food. Therefore, it's ok, safe and even desirable for me to eat it.

This snap-reaction is the major cause of our poor health. All of our little choices throughout the day add up: The sugar-laden coffee with the chocolate-covered croissant. A few hours later, we have a smoke. At lunch, we're microwaving our frozen pizza which is laden with chemicals, preservatives and sugar.

How can we be unconscious and unaware about our food choices, but conscious and aware in all other aspects of our lives?

We can't. The issue is our unconsciousness. The automatic, un-thinking reflex of "This tastes awesome, so I'm going to eat it".

Did this food product exist 100 years ago? No? Then it's probably not real food. Marshmallows, anyone? Cans of spam? Chips that practically glow in the dark? Jello?

Don't you want to be free from mood swings? To experience consistently high energy? If you do, then you need to start looking at what you're eating and drinking.

The New Definition of Food

What is the new definition of food?

The new definition is: Food that's in its natural form and promotes health and healing in the body, giving us energy.

In other words, a potato - not a bag of oily, salted, chemically spiced potatoes chips. Fresh, homemade soup - not canned, processed soup, full of additives and questionable seasoning.

Fresh, natural food contains everything we need to nourish our body and mind. And when prepared properly, it tastes great. You won't even miss the sugar-laden, heavily-processed way of eating.

Taking Control of Your Eating Habits

1. Start educating yourself

Why should you eat more healthy? What diseases and other health problems do your eating habits cause? What kind of food can you eat in a natural, healthy diet?

Check out the Food Babe for a good start on learning how you can eat healthier and live healthier.

2. Identify your unhealthy foods. Reduce or eliminate them.

While you're learning about what foods are unhealthy, begin to eliminate them from your diet. The nastier these foods are, the quicker you should get rid of them.

3. Replace unhealthy foods with healthy ones.

Buy fresh, whole foods (food in its natural form). Learn how to make quick, easy, great-tasting meals with them.

Your Mini-Mission

Write down the most common unhealthy foods that you eat. Minimize or eliminate them.
Buy more fresh, whole food. Reduce or eliminate packaged, processed foods.

Nigel Cook

Currently coaching online from Vancouver Island, Canada. 

Originally from Vancouver Island, Canada.

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