You know that awesome feeling you get when you learn to master a new skill, accomplish a big goal, or conquer a fear? Well it actually all starts from a place of discomfort.
That’s why when you finally hit a new milestone, it is easy to hang out there for a while and get comfortable. You naturally want to shed those memories of discomfort and coast for a bit in your new found bliss.
Then, before you know it you’ve been comfortable for too long. You may currently be #winning, but you’re not growing. You need to challenge yourself again. You need to level up.
Pictured: Me pushing through the discomfort of a 3,500 ft. vertical climb in Zermatt, Switzerland…At the time of this photo we still had 1,000 ft. to go and I was pretttty comfortable calling it a day right there. Alas, I took the advice of my t-shirt and kept going.
If you are (or ever were) a competitive athlete, then you’re more than familiar with this concept of leveling up. Your strength, speed and skill only improve when you push yourself outside of your comfort zone. (Or when a coach or teammate pushes you…because let’s be honest, waking up for a 6am lift wasn’t happening on my own will.)
It never hurts to get a little push in the right direction, so I’ve put together a simple framework to help focus your efforts the next time you decide to level up your life. Hint hint — Going after that slightly scary (but awesome!) internship opportunity so that you can level up your resume.
According to dictionary.com, an idea is “any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.” We all get lots of ideas. Want to level up? Get out of your head and implement the IDEA. My framework for you is below…
There is a lot of research out there highlighting how your thoughts will ultimately become your reality. And that’s because it’s true. It’s hard to move forward or level up if you continue to tell yourself you’re not good enough, smart enough, skilled enough, etc.
It’s necessary that you create positive intent, and then practice your intentions daily. And if you catch yourself thinking negatively, flip those thoughts on their head. Instead, share a personal win confidently with a friend, or practice gratitude.
I’ll admit, it’s not always easy. We are typically our own toughest critics. I personally hold myself to some pretty high standards, and give myself a hard time over even the smallest things.
Luckily it does become easier with practice, and you can practice intention in both big and small ways.
- My life plan is the way I practice being intentional at the macro level. It helps me keep my big picture in mind. Every time I read my life plan, it’s like hitting the reset button on my thoughts. It reminds me of my goals and brings a fresh dose of inspiration.
- On the micro level, I practice gratitude daily. As an achiever who tends to rush from one milestone to the next, my gratitude journal has been an important tool in helping me pause, celebrate the wins, and be grateful for the journey.
Level up your intention. Change your thoughts, and more productive behaviors will follow.
So now that you’ve worked on setting your intentions, the next step is to practice what you preach and start taking action.
Discipline is twofold. It’s a matter of training yourself by doing what you say you’re going to do and then doing it consistently.
Consistency is key here. Doing something once is not going to affect much change. If you want to truly level up your life, you need to form new productive behaviors.
It’s also necessary to drop any negative behaviors that are holding you back. Learn to say no to the things that are no longer serving you, or are preventing your growth.
I have some pretty big goals to hit this year with The Intern Hustle. And the fear of breaking new ground in my business has me procrastinating a bit. Because I’m my own boss, no one is holding me accountable but me. Implementing some basic discipline is essential in order for me to take The Intern Hustle to the next level.
It’s not easy, but one way I do this is by setting daily targets. Simple measures that help me practice discipline and stay on track to hit my bigger goals.
For example, one of the biggest time suck behaviors feeding my procrastination is the social media black hole. Can you relate? To combat this, I’ve set a target for myself that I aim to hit daily: No social media until 7pm (unless I’m throwing up a post on The Intern Hustle’s accounts).
That simple daily target, along with not checking email until after 10am, has greatly increased my productivity. But it wouldn’t do me any good if I only practiced that discipline 1-2x/week. It’s the consistent discipline, of hitting that daily target, that has brought me productivity gains.
Level up your discipline. Practice the right behaviors consistently, and your focus will shift to bigger and better things.
As a student reading this, you’re probably thinking you can skip over the education step. Because you’re a student, and getting educated is what you do. However, the education I’m referring to here is (in my opinion) the best kind. Self-development education.
Not the lecture you’re forced to sit through in order to meet your graduation requirements, but the material that inspires you to level up your life. The material that backs up your intentions and feeds your desire for discipline.
Education comes in many different forms. You may find yourself inspired by a book, a podcast, an online course or even an in-person event. But it is up to you to expose yourself to new material and approach it with an open mind.
2017 was easily one of my biggest education years, and it’s because I personally made it a priority in my life. I got really intentional about what I wanted to do next and I dove into as many resources as I could find.
I challenged myself to read (a lot) more. I found inspiration in a couple podcasts and absorbed content during my commute time. I invested in a couple online courses to learn from people who have been where I want to go. And I even attended a conference to start surrounding myself with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
I’ve found that once you find something that inspires you, the momentum naturally picks up and you’ll begin to crave more. You’ll crave more education and push past your comfort zone. What a positive side effect, huh?
Level up your education. Discover what inspires you to grow, and then seek out individuals who you can grow with.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard the quote, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” by motivational speaker, Jim Rohn. Tim Ferriss has been known to live by this concept as well. It suggests that even though you may interact with many people, the five closest to you will have the greatest impact on your life…so choose wisely.
While I believe that the net is cast a bit wider than your top five, there is some truth to this for sure. The people you associate with the most are a direct reflection of your current priorities in life.
For example, if you’re looking to level up and walk on to the football team at school, but you spend the majority of your time with your college buddy who plays Fortnite all day, then I’m going to question your priorities. You should be surrounding yourself with people who support your football goals and help to hold you accountable.
The key task with association is to find people that charge you up and support the life buckets you are currently prioritizing. The areas you want to level up. Associate with people who a) have been there before and can mentor you, and b) are walking a similar path and can help hold you accountable.
In my current period of growth, online courses have helped connect me to the right people — both mentors and peers. For those keeping score, online courses check multiple boxes for me as I work to level up my life. It’s one of the primary reasons I decided to create an online course to help you navigate the internship world.
Online courses give me an opportunity to accelerate my growth and learn the ropes from people I respect. They have also given me access to an awesome community of people who have similar goals to mine. A community that is happy to offer up advice when I need some, or celebrate a win when I have one.
Whether virtual community through an online course, or the friends you hold close, take care in whom you choose to spend your time and energy with. Eliminate the dead weight, and you’ll create the necessary space for relationships that serve you.
Level up your association. Build relationships in support of what you want to achieve.
My IDEA framework is a tool you can use the next time you want to level up your life. Let it guide you and remind you to set Intentions, maintain Discipline, seek Education and monitor your Association.
High performers and achievers level up on the regular. Challenge yourself, step outside of your comfort zone and face your fears. Maybe start with that internship that you don’t feel qualified for. It all starts with believing that you are…