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How to Finish what you start with Jon Acuff – Episode 211 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Jon Acuff is the New York Times Bestselling author of five books including Do Over: Make today the first day of your new career,and his newest book, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done.

For 20 years he’s helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their story, including The Home Depot, Bose, Staples, and the Dave Ramsey Team. Most recently he’s spoken to hundreds of thousands of people at conferences, colleges, companies and churches. Featured regularly on national media, Jon has been seen on CNN, Fox News, Good Day LA and several other key outlets.

In addition, Jon is also a big proponent of social media with blogs that have been read by 4 million people and more than 290,000 twitter followers. In 2010 he used his influence with his tribe to build two kindergartens in Vietnam. Jon lives with his wife Jenny and two daughters in Franklin, TN.

Show Highlights:

Which lessons about goals work and which are causing damage? @JonAcuff

“Shoot for the moon so you’ll land with the stars” doesn’t actually work. @JonAcuff

Most people judge goals on a pass/fail scale. @JonAcuff

You can have a big goal, but you should have steps along the way. @JonAcuff

Most goal advice is given as if you are a robot without emotions. @JonAcuff

As a leader, if you consistently set the wrong goal you create a culture of distrust. @JonAcuff

The breakroom tells the truth, the boardroom doesn’t. @JonAcuff

We live in a world with limitless distractions and bottomless opportunities. @JonAcuff

Most people tell their goals to their friends the wrong way. @JonAcuff

When you have a goal, you can choose shame or strategy. @JonAcuff

Often, we want complicated solutions, in part, because we don’t have to do them. @JonAcuff

Rory shares how to immediately increase your self-discipline. @rory_vaden

Finishing is a habit. @rory_vaden

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

Don’t just work hard. Do the hard work.


Working hard is not the key to success; it’s merely the price of admission. 

Hard work alone isn’t enough to bring you everything you want. 

Because if you’re working hard at the wrong things then they won’t take you to where you want to go. 

You have to work hard at the right things if you want to achieve your desired destination. 

Which introduces a second element to the equation. 

Because not only do you have to work hard, you also have to work hard at the right things. 

So what are the right things?

 Actually it’s usually pretty simple to identify them. 

Typically the right things, the best things, the most significant things you can do to achieve your goal are often the things you know need to be done but you most don’t want to do. 

They are the things that nobody likes to do. 

If you’re trying to build muscle, it means doing pull ups or leg day. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, it means cutting your alcohol, carbs, or sugar intake. 

If you’re in sales, it is prospecting. 

If you’re trying to get out of debt, it’s making and following a budget.  

In other words, it’s not enough to just work hard.  

You have to do the hard work. 

You have to do the things you don’t want to do. 

You have to do the things that other people aren’t willing to do. 

You have to do the things that you know are good for you, but they are hard. 

You don’t do them because the goal is to make life as hard as possible. 

Quite the contrary, you do them because they ultimately make life easier.

But that path is predicated on the unpopular truth that the shortest most guaranteed path to a more productive life is to do the hardest parts of things as soon as possible!

You don’t just work hard. You do the hard work. 

And if you that… 

If you work hard…

And you also do the hard work…

Then you will start to find that eventually things get easier and easier. 

My Morning Routine

morning routine

How you start each day has huge implications for the success of each day and thereby the eventual success of your life.

Today I was asked by someone what my morning routine is and I thought to share it here. It is something I’m very disciplined about and that I’ve compiled from learning from lots of different people.

1. Gratitude – The very second the alarm goes off I hit snooze once and stay in bed and immediately start thinking about all that I am grateful for. Don’t fall back asleep, but I spend the first few minutes each day snuggling wifey and thinking of all I’m grateful for. I learned this from Darren Hardy.

2. Scripture – The next time the alarm goes off I get up immediately and go sit down and read scripture. My goal is to have the first words that pass my eyeballs and enter my mind each day be scripture. My friend and partner Steve Reiner once taught me that I want to sew scripture deep into every fabric of my soul. I usually read one passage but I read it slowly, one word at a time, which Tim Keller talks about in his book on prayer. Then I pray.

3. Affirmations – On my phone notes I keep several different lists of affirmations. I rotate each day on which ones I read. Most frequently for the past 7 years I’ve read my “Millionaire Mind” affirmations that I got from T Harv Eker. I also rotate reading through our Southwestern Consulting company Creed, Partners Pact, and Manifesto

4. Wifey Goals – Randomly I started reading AJ’s goals each morning and it became such a powerful way to reinforce and remind me to serve and support her. It is very intentional that I read hers before I read mine. This is a very similar reason why I read our company credos as well.

5. My Goals – I have a list of personal goals (targets I’m pursuing), a list of personal visions (moments I want to experience in the future), and a list of visions for the company. I usually rotate reading through these next.  

6. Social Media Post – Each morning I write a custom post that has one unique lesson that I’ve typically recently learned. My goal is to write something that inspires people for their day like a shot of motivational espresso. Even on days I don’t feel like it, I find something to say because as my friend Jay Baer taught me, “media companies don’t publish on inspiration but perspiration.”

7. Exercise – Then I get up and go workout. As my friend and new SWC Partner, Dana Potthoff once taught me, “I try to get to the gym before my body has time to wake up and convince me otherwise.”

Many of these habits were taught to me and ingrained during my summers with Southwestern Advantage, and as you can see are also made up from other people I’ve learned from.

You can check out Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning on this for more about morning routines.

So, how do you start your mornings?

How to Solve Your Competing Priorities Problem


The first action step for becoming more productive is to write out your vision.

Write out in specific detail what you want your life or business to look like in 5 years.

The clearer you see your vision, the more obvious you will see your priorities.

Priorities are not a matter of right and wrong or good and bad. Priorities are simply a matter of relevant and irrelevant.

The reason people have such a hard time prioritizing is because we live and work in a world with unclear vision.

An unclear vision means there either is no vision or there are too many visions.

If there is no clear vision, then everything is a priority. If there are many visions, then you will bump into having conflicting and competing priorities pulling you in different directions.

Either way, you will have frustration, stress, lack of clarity and feel overwhelmed.

The proper selection of your next most significant priority then is 100% dependent on its context as it relates to the vision.

When you clarify the vision, the sequential set of steps that are needed to make it a reality usually become clear.

But if you don’t have a clear vision, then you may find yourself running in a thousand directions just doing everything that shows up as something you can possibly do.

So if you find yourself struggling to balance competing priorities the answer may not be to just work harder and longer, but to stop, take a breath, and clarify what really matters.

Matthew Mayberry: Winning Plays and Game-Changing Goals – Episode 155 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Matthew Mayberry

Matt Mayberry, a former NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears, is currently one of the most read columnists for Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as an acclaimed keynote speaker and peak performance strategist. He also writes for Fortune Magazine. As the CEO of Matt Mayberry Enterprises, a training and consulting company, he specializes in maximizing the performance of individuals and organizations all over the world. His book, Winning Plays, comes out September 6, 2016.

Show Highlights:

  • Set one game-changing goal that is going to drastically take your business and life to the next level. @MaTt_MaYbErRy
  • What are you most passionate about and what will give significance to your life? @MaTt_MaYbErRy
  • Success is fulfillment and significance in doing what we want, when we want, with people we love.  @MaTt_MaYbErRy
  • An organization can only become the best version of itself when it’s people become the best version of themselves. @MaTt_MaYbErRy
  • Developing the people is the first step to developing the organization. @MaTt_MaYbErRy
  • Lack of persistence and focus are the two things keeping people from achieving their goals. @MaTt_MaYbErRy
  • Expand your vision for what is possible for your business and your life. @MaTt_MaYbErRy
  • Having a goal is enough to change a person’s life. @rory_vaden
  • The game-changing goal is the one goal that by accomplishing it, you will accomplish your other goals as a byproduct. @rory_vaden
  • Very often it is the decision to do something that is harder than doing the work. @rory_vaden
  • It only takes one moment to decide that who you were yesterday is not the person you’re going to be tomorrow. @rory_vaden
  • The difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’t. @rory_vaden
  • Improving your situation is much more frequently the byproduct of improving yourself than it is of changing your circumstances. @rory_vaden

To find out more about Matt Mayberry and to pre-order his book, Winning Plays, Visit

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting™ every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

4 Characteristics of Resolutions that Last 365 days

Last weeks New Year’s Eve marked a milestone I had never completed before: I actually kept a resolution for an entire year. I physically exercised every single day for 365 consecutive days in 2015.

It was a commitment I made to my podcast listeners in late 2014 and I followed through on it.

According to our research, my achievement was pretty rare because here is typically how long people follow through on resolutions: are 4 reasons why it actually came true and how yours could too:

1. It was a resolution for every single day. Instead of being something vague I hoped to be better at for the year it was something I had to do every single day. And what you do all the time matters more than what you do some of the time. The value of a daily commitment was I never had to count days, or have an emotional conversation with myself about whether or not I needed to do it on any given day. If it was a new day it needed to get done. Which meant if I was sick, tired, or busy it didn’t matter, it had to be done and I didn’t negotiate with myself.

A great resolution doesn’t allow room for rationalization.

2. It was a realistic daily timeframe. I knew that there are certain days where I’m literally in meetings or on an airplane for 12 consecutive hours. So going to the gym everyday for an hour or even 30 minutes just simply isn’t realistic. Some days I did do that and it counted for my time but my commitment was at least a 10 minute routine (including resting periods between sets) every day consisting of sit-ups (usually around 300), push-ups (usually around 70), weightless squats (usually around 50), pull ups (usually around 30), going on a short run, or some combination of them. Would that regimen prepare me for the olympics or Ironman? Of course not. But it kept me in great shape and most importantly I actually got it done everyday.

A great resolution isn’t one that is big; it’s one that is doable.

3. You have to have the tools necessary to follow through available at all times. This is one of the most overlooked elements of resolutions yet it’s one of the most critical. Many times we set goals and don’t think through the ancillary requirements needed to achieve those goals – like what resources you’ll need to complete the goal. For example, my wife AJ loves to paint but she can’t really set a resolution to paint an hour each week because many times we travel weeks at a time and she won’t have all her tools with her. Another example is that I once set a resolution to not use an ATM for a year (back when there were fees) but it broke down when I was traveling in cities where they didn’t have one of my banks. The beauty about push-ups, sit-ups, weightless squats, and running is that all that is required is earth under your feet! So as long as you’re not in outer space you’re good! And three of those 4 don’t even require tennis shoes. (Pull ups I only did at home).

A great resolution is one where all the necessary resources are always available to you.

4. There were metrics I could track related to my goal. I’ve heard people say “scales are a tool of the devil.” That’s ridiculous. They aren’t manipulative or negative or evil. A scale is simply a scoreboard. Scoreboards are neutral; in fact that’s what makes them valuable or necessary. The value of a scoreboard is it gives an empirical objective measurement rather than an emotional subjective one. You can ask your spouse “do these pants make my butt look big?” but you can never be sure that the answer is both honest and accurate. Which is why I weigh myself every day. It lets me track my progress honestly and objectively.

A great resolution has a scoreboard that is empirical and objective; not emotional and subjective.

Resolutions can be powerful. And changing your life is always possible. Incorporate these things and make 2016 an awesome year!

What are your New Years Resolutions?