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famiyThat’s a photo of my family celebrating my dad’s 73rd birthday.

When I made reservations at his favorite restaurant, I mentioned to the host that we’d be celebrating this momentous occasion.

When the host greeted us he whispered to me that he had been expecting an “old man” to show up and my dad, with all his youthful vitality, really surprised him.

Of course, I hope to take after my dad and mom in the “vital longevity” department – look at the book on the dinner table for what’s giving me more ideas of how to do that (I gave it to my mom that evening).

But since no one ever knows how long they will live, I’m very glad I know I got something else from my Dad – what I call “purposeful perseverance” (he would probably call it commitment and not giving up).

Here’s the thing: I’ve never met a single person, man or woman, who hasn’t struggled to get clear on their dreams, or hasn’t had those crippling thoughts of “Who do you think you are?!”, or “Why does it have to be so hard?” or “No one will listen or care about what I offer anyway.”

Yes, even successful people. Especially successful people.

Everyone has these fears. When you find your heart-centered, purpose-driven work, it can feel like a long slog until you feel truly successful.

It’s how quickly you move through your fear that can make or break your dreams and success.

You’ve heard me talk before about purposeful perseverance. But here’s the thing: If all you need to do to succeed is not quit, then why do organizations or people less motivated, less talented, and less tested succeed while you struggle?

And what if that thing you so much wanted or loved to do just doesn’t have the same pulling power it once did?

It used to make you tingle with anticipation, and now it’s about as exciting as an old sweater, and serves you about as well. Sure, it still fits, but it’s also moth-eaten and smells a bit of mildew. So why do you keep it around, anyway?

Often we cling to the old because it seems safe and secure. But I think Helen Keller put it best: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”

I’ve been thinking about that quote a lot. I’ve also been thinking a lot about Seth Godin’s The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (And When To Stick).

They both have a lot to say on what it means to live your life as a daring adventure.

successAlmost everything worth doing involves a lot of time and effort. Ask any concert pianist. Excelling means doing your best and whatever else is required. There’s usually a long slog between starting and mastery.

In fact, in his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field – that’s the equivalent of 5 years of 40-hour weeks (with 2 weeks off a year).

We’re talking about a long time of doing the work before you have any real chance of success. And if the dream or goal truly matters to you, you need to be okay with that.

Think of anything you’re proficient at now that you once tried as a novice: You wanted to speak Spanish fluently, write a novel, play a chord progression – and it took a lot of time and effort. Most of us understand that.

Where it gets tricky, though, is when we can’t tell if we’re just going through a particularly challenging patch on our way to the final goal or beating our heads against a brick wall. In other words, is this just a temporary dry spell, or is it a sign that you’re heading in the wrong direction and should just give up?

In his book The Dip, Seth Godin describes two curves that you can use to classify all the challenging stretches you might meet as you try to accomplish something.

Understanding and addressing these two types of situations – one that might make you want to quit, and one that’s telling you that you should quit – is the first step toward figuring out whether or not to keep working.

I’ll mention Seth Godin’s second curve first, just to get it out of the way. That’s the curve that is simply a Dead End, the one where you work and work and nothing changes.

You’ll know you’re at The Dead End when even apart from the hassles and challenges that everyone faces, your love of doing whatever it is you’re doing – writing, helping people, building houses – has evaporated, and you’ve reached the point where you don’t love what you’re doing, you get no pleasure from it, and you don’t even know why you’re doing it anymore.

If that’s where you are, stop now. That Dead End is keeping you from what you’re really supposed to do. Your life energy is too precious to invest in a dead-end anything. I understand perfectly well that staying “secure” in a dead-end job is considered responsible and mature in our culture (and if that’s your take on your situation, you can stop reading).

But there really is not a lot to say about The Dead End, except that when you spot it, turn around and get out of there.

So let’s talk about the first of Seth Godin’s two curves, the one he calls The Dip.

Simply put, The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s interest and real mastery. It’s the distance between “hey, this is new and interesting and fun!” and “I am 100% certain I can now make a living doing what I love.”

Most people who undertake something bail during The Dip, and that’s why society puts such a high value on real accomplishment.

After all, if there’s anything anyone values it’s something that’s scarce – and The Dip is what makes real accomplishment scarce.

It’s easy to be Oprah – now. What’s hard is achieving her status. After all, Oprah endured a ton of obstacles and quite a few less-than-desirable jobs for almost 20 years before she landed her current gig. And society rewarded her big time.

Even in small things – learning to play an instrument, say – so few people make it through The Dip that even if you’ve just managed to learn how to play with confidence and consistency in front of other people, you’ll find yourself heaped with accolades.

So even when you know you’re doing work you love, work you feel you were meant, no, destined, to do – there may come a time when it gets hard and you’re not seeing the results, the accolades or the paycheck you’d like to have associated with it.

When that time comes, you’re in The Dip.

Keep going and you’ll get everything you want – the impact, influence and income commensurate with your efforts, the rewards that come from being one of those rare people who have gone through The Dip and have mastered the work they love – who can approach their day-to-day life with both passion and experience.

Of course, if you need a little extra support and guidance to navigate the slog, I hope you will check out my End Your Next 6 Months Strong program that has helped so many people already.

It’s HALF-OFF through June! NOTE: My be-happy, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee makes this a no-brainer.

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

Ready to give up? Read this first.

Griffin and BFFsThat’s Griffin with some of his BFF’s at the pool celebrating after they passed the deep-water test!

As you may know, I’m a big fan of celebrating accomplishments – big and small – and I believe it’s one of the keys to being happy and successful.

Too often people just rush from completing one task or goal to another, and that’s a recipe for overwhelm and burnout.

You see, most people never get what they want for a simple reason – they give up when the going gets tough.

And I understand. I really do. I get the pain of wanting and not getting, and then not wanting that pain anymore so you think it’s better to give up…

If that’s been you in the past, I want you to understand that you’re not alone.

Many, many people stop themselves right at the point when they would have had success if they had just carried on a little bit farther.

If your last six months have been super challenging or just a bit disappointing, we need to figure out what went wrong so we can fix it for your NEXT six months.

We need to focus on fixing weak points and building up some base routines and habits which will support your success going forward.

First, you need to ask yourself what is it about YOU and your behavior that has contributed to you not getting the results you want.

Has the problem been that you’ve been sitting in front of a blank page biting your fingernails?

Have you been letting passive-aggressive comments from your partner halt your productivity?

Do you actually know what you COULD be doing to make a measurable impact on your goals but you feel like you can’t for some reason?

Are you starting things but not following through?

If you’re facing any of these situations, or any other challenge, then chances are good that you’re just two questions away from a solution.

Don’t believe me? Well, wait until you hear the two questions.

The first question you need to ask yourself when facing a challenge is: “What do OTHER people do when they are trying to fix this problem?”

You’ll probably come up with a few ideas, and each one of them will probably trigger a little voice in your head that says “But my situation is different, and that won’t work for me.”

That’s completely understandable, because we all think we are unique and special snowflakes who have unsolvable problems because our issues are somehow different than anyone else’s.

But let’s pretend – just for a tiny little moment – that your situation really isn’t that different.

Chances are hovering at about 100% that there are a few of the seven billion people on this planet who have a situation that’s close to the one you have. Nobody’s situation is truly unique.

Maybe the total collection of each of your particular circumstances is unique, but take any one circumstance and there will be a hundred different people solving the same problem in a hundred different ways.

successWhatever obstacle you’re facing, someone has found a solution to it – one that will work for you as soon as you stop telling yourself it won’t.

That means that if you have a problem that is getting in the way of you feeling happy and successful, the solution is out there.

The only thing in question is your willingness to find the solution and then your willingness to work the solution until completion.

So ask yourself how other people have solved the issues you’re facing. Then do that.

If you don’t think it will work, then ask the question a little deeper this time, and look for an answer with the assumption that there is one.

No matter how disorganized you are, no matter how much you procrastinate, no matter how much you feel like you don’t have the support or the time or the courage or the confidence or the skill to make it happen, there are a hundred people out there – most of whom probably have it way worse than you – who have already found a way.

Your job is to become that kind of person.

I’m not saying this is remotely easy, but there is generally no reason a problem has to stay a problem.

Thanks to the power of Google, the solutions you need are there for the finding. Thanks to the power of Grit, you can make achieving your goals inevitable.

So figure out what it is about you and your behaviors that’s messing you up, if that’s what’s happening, and work on fixing that or it will mess up your next six months.

The second question you want to ask yourself is what SPECIFICALLY isn’t working for you right now, from a strategy and tactics perspective?

Is your scale not going down? Are you not getting words on a page? Are your friends and family not offering support? Are you finding it impossible to ask for what you want and need?

Most people try something, find it’s not working and abandon it. Or, they triple their efforts and hope brute force will take care of the problem.

But chances are pretty high that it’s not simply the strategy, but something about the way you’re executing it that’s causing the problem.

If you can identify specifically what’s not working and devote some time to figuring out the why behind it, you can probably fix it.

The simplest way to do this is to imagine you’re sending an email to a coach or consultant that says “I’m trying to achieve X result. This is exactly what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.” Write out the current thing that’s not working down on paper and describe (again, in writing) how you’re executing it.

Then look at what you’ve written down and ask yourself what MIGHT be wrong with your strategy or execution. See if you can poke some holes in it yourself. You’ll probably find some things popping out at you right away.

What you can do after that is take what you’ve written to someone you trust to give you some educated feedback and ask them if they see any reasons why that might not be working. You’ll get a lot of valuable insights that way.

Very often getting the perspective of someone on “the outside” can show you where your blinders are.

That little exercise alone could save you from some pretty major issues moving forward. Take the time to do that if things aren’t going well.

And, of course, if you want a really big breakthrough, so you can be sure you are happy with how the next 6 months unfold and truly celebrate the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, I hope you will check out my End Your Next 6 Months Strong program that has changed the lives of so many people already.

It’s HALF-OFF through June! NOTE: My be-happy, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee makes this a no-brainer.

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

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May 12, 2015

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That's a photo of Griffin (behind his friend Freddy) and a group of his classmates during a Creek Cleanup. Griffin and I take a walk every week down to the river a mile from our home and we always go past this creek. A few weeks ago Griffin expressed dismay that the creek was so

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