I had ZERO skills.
Now I travel internationally anytime I want and I’m a professional photographer.
This is a photo I took with my girlfriend close to my home in Bali. Hanson (@hansonchengg) • Instagram photos and videos
In under 6 months, I taught myself photography, lost 30 pounds, learned to ride a motorcycle and set up home base in Bali. My girlfriend is beautiful, funny and just as ambitious about personal growth as me.
How did I do it so quickly?
Here are the Top 4 things I did to permanently level up my life.
- Replace / Remove influences
- Get through the first 20 hours
How do you feel when you wake up?
Do you jump out of bed?
Are you excited to tackle the day?
Do you hit the snooze button a few times?
Does your body feel like a sack of blah, lacking any trace of excitement or energy?
How we feel when we wake up is the best indicator of what our general state is.
If you feel like you are dragging ass every morning, where do you get the energy to make lasting life changes?
I tried for years to motivate myself by drinking coffee and adding more things to my to do list.
My goal was to crush 12 hour days and EVERY day to improve my life as fast as possible.
What really happened was I’d burn out after a days of lack of sleep, fun, and interest.
Getting into a positive state EVERY MORNING is the only goal I focused on when I started my hockey stick chart of personal growth.
I realized that if I didn’t have the gas in the tank to go, I would be puttering around not getting anywhere.
I found the best way to get me in the right mental state to tackle the day and make the most of it.
Want to know what it is?
It’s called priming.
Tony Robbins does it every morning.
Here is a youtube video of the exact exercise I did (and still do ) that gets me ready for the day.
Priming does three things for me:
- Gets oxygen into my blood
- Clears out the negative energy in my body
- Focuses my energy towards gratitude and where I’m going. Not where I am
When I first started priming, I didn’t see much of a difference for the first couple days. It will make you feel good for a little bit, but you will quickly fall back into old habits (which keep you from growing personally) if you don’t keep up with it.
The KEY is to prime every day ( would sometimes prime a few times a day) until you are feeling the good mojo consistently throughout the day.
Priming helps you start of the day in the right mindset while ALSO reprogramming your brain to where it needs to be for personal growth.
1% Every Day
Kaizen. Ever heard of it?
I didn’t either until about a year ago.
This was my breakthrough.
You ever think about what you want your life to be and feel it’s SO impossible you don’t even want to try?
Next time you feel intimidated, think KAIZEN.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “change for better”.
This process for change teaches continuous improvement.
Your goal EACH DAY is to improve by 1% than you did yesterday.
You’re not trying to smash it out of the park every day.
This is massively important because it builds momentum and compounds.
Small wins make you keep coming back every day.
This was the method I used to change my mindset to a growth mindset.
I focused on reading a little bit more about the obstacles I was facing each day.
At first, I learned and began practicing what thoughts I allowed myself to have.
If I got into a rut, I’d time myself to see how long it would take me to stop thinking negatively.
Thoughts like, “I’m such a loser, I will never be successful”
slowly turned into
“I have failed a lot. What have I learned”
which slowly turned into
“I haven’t figured it out, but I can learn”
which turned into
“I can learn anything I want. What kind of life do I want to create”.
This was also the method I used to lose 30 pounds in a few months.
At the time, I hadn’t gone to the gym in over a year and a half and I was eating McDonald’s
almost every other meal.
One day, I looked at the tire around my waste and just had ENOUGH.
I had tried hitting the gym FAST and HARD before, but I’d alway get too sore after the first 3 or 4 sessions, I’d let a week go by before I’d think about going back to the gym.
Needless to say, I never made any lasting changes.
This time, I decided to just do 1% better than the day before.
I started with 10 pushups a day.
The next day I did 11.
The next day I did 11 and 10 air squats.
In a month I was enrolling in crossfit.
In 3 months I was down 30 pounds.
It didn’t happen overnight.
But it happened more quickly than I imagined it would.
Especially after a few years trying to do it the “normal” way.
Replace / Remove Bad Influences
I got drunk at least once every week for over 10 years.
I had a drinking problem.
And I thought it was normal.
How did I quit drinking basically overnight?
I decided to travel around the world indefinitely.
When I removed the temptation to drink every weekend (hanging out with friends), I realized I didn’t even enjoy alcohol.
Drinking isn’t bad.
It was just bad for me.
I couldn’t control myself.
I made a LOT of bad decisions.
And the best thing I did was for drinking (and all my other bad habits) was to remove them from my life.
Not saying you need to move across the world, but you need to make changes (some people call them sacrifices) to grow.
Remember how I lost 30 pounds in 3 months?
You can’t do that just by working out.
I removed all the things in my house that weren’t part of my new life.
No more bread, cookies, pasta, and mint chocolate chip ice cream.
I stocked my cupboard with almonds, cashews, vegetables and tuna.
I also quit drinking so no more late night binge sessions at McDonald’s which probably helped.
But the best thing about cutting out the things in your life that hold you back is discovering and
replacing them with things that move you forward.
I cut out drinking, so I picked up photography.
I cut out wasting time on Netflix and I picked up learning on Youtube.
I cut out watching sports so I could focus on growing Saturdays and Sundays during football season, too!
These changes all didn’t happen at once.
Did you know you can use the Kaizen method for REMOVING things in your life, too?
When I discovered this, mind blown.
Get through the first 20 hours
The most important thing I learned about personal growth?
Rapid skill acquisition.
I read a book called: “The First 20 hours” by Josh Kaufman.
As you can guess from the title, the first 20 hours are CRUCIAL if you want to learn something quickly.
The checklist he provides to acquire any skill quickly is:
- Choose a lovable project
- Focus your energy on one skill at a time
- Deconstruct the skill into subskills
- Obtain critical tools
- Eliminate barriers to practice
- Make dedicated time for practice
- Create fast feedback loops
- Emphasize Quantity and speed
Using this method I learned photography, photoshop, and videography in just an average of 30 days each.
I wanted to try learning it all at the same time, but focusing on one skill at a time for just 20 well planned out hours allowed me to pick up these skills quickly and permanently.
Knowing this method works allows me to BELIEVE I can learn anything.
What YOU can do to START today
Looking at ALL your problems or how FAR away you are from your ideal life doesn’t help you progress and grow at all.
I applied these four frameworks repeatedly to one thing at a time to create a cascading positive effect in my life.
Find THE ONE THING that you improved would make most or all of your other problems irrelevant or easier and focus on applying these methods to improving that area in your life.
Once that ONE THING is permanently changed, move on to the next ONE THING.
That is the fastest way I know for efficient personal growth.