A Step-by-Step Guide for Getting To Better

A framework for better

When I’m in the Doom Loop, my problems appear outside my control.

So the first step, is getting myself out of the loop.

Start by reaching out.


Social Connection – absent connection, clarity of thought suffers.

It won’t feel this way from inside the “doom loop”

A useful warning signal is getting caught in negative feedback loops.

I’ve written a fair amount on depression:

  • 2022 ideas for all athletes
  • 2014 ideas for overloaded parents
  • 2013 ideas for high-performance athletes

I won’t rehash here. I will say simply…

When my problems appear to be outside my control, when the normal setbacks of daily living are getting me down, when my mind is caught in a doom loop…

Time to SEEK

  1. New Environments
  2. New Ideas, People and Experiences

Give the mind an opportunity to find a better fixation.

At first, anything is better.

With time, from outside the doom loop, we can curate our attention.

Separate from getting past the doom loop, this technique is how I found my wife!


Are You Sure Your Problem is The Problem?

I work as a fiduciary advising families about risk, ruin, health, life, human capital… you name it. A common concern is concentration and fear of loss.

Whatever is keeping you up at night, split it in half.

Then pay attention.

If you are still worried then it’s not about your worries.

There is something else driving your anxiety.

Anxiety is an interesting emotion – it feels a lot like excitement.

Anxiety can be mapped on to enthusiasm for new experiences and positive fixations (see step one, above).


It is not possible to plan our way out of a doom loop. We must act!

What to do? I have no ideas for you!

All I can offer is questions…

  1. What are you doing when you laugh out loud?
  2. What person makes you feel good when you see them?
  3. What environments make you feel serene?

My list: exercise, solo, trees, water, quiet and a list of five people who “make me feel good”

Use your list – go, act, do…


I’ve been writing about One Thing for 20+ years. The most rewarding periods of my life have been characterized by a quest for One Thing.

My theory of One Thing is simple, but not easy!

  1. decide what will make a difference (see 123 in section above)
  2. do what is required to move towards your thing (this is uncomfortable to start)
  3. give a nice no-thanks to distractions & poor habits (via negativa)

Let’s recap:

  • Offer the mind new things to focus upon
  • Exit the Doom Loop
  • With clarity, decide on your One Thing
  • Map anxiety onto enthusiasm for moving towards your One Thing

Let’s end with a story.

I’m working on getting back in shape. Now, “getting in shape” has a different meaning for me than many. My doctor tells me I was “in shape” already.

…but it wasn’t the kind of shape that lets me live the life I want for my future self

…and it wasn’t working for my mental health (2022 depression link above)

So I changed my approach, and ramped my social connection back up.

Life is better.

That’s it.

Better is the win.


I’ve been using the WayBack Machine to access my old writings
This is a screenshot from my first landing page
I’ve been telling myself to enjoy the journey since 2000

Doing Hard Things

Here’s my thread on Steve’s Book, Do Hard Things. It’s a great read.

Today, I want to share a filter for the “hard things” you might be considering.



The Tour de France just finished up.

Lance and I have different views on a few things but an area where we are in alignment is fatherhood.

You may remember hearing his son defend his lie was a trigger for him (Oprah interview).

My kids trigger me, too.

My kids have clear memories of my mistakes, and they talk about them!

Well before I had my kids, Lance shared an observation along these lines…

Winning the Tour is easy compared to being a good parent

Truth, as deep as you want to take it.


Much of what we define as difficult is a thin-desire for: (a) domination over another person, (b) respect from another person, or (c) deference from other people.

  • Domination
  • Respect
  • Deference

We see it everywhere.

Can you feel it in yourself?

I can.

These desires lead me astray!

My drive for achievement pushes me ever forward – more money, more victory, more conquest…

My drive led me to many difficulties, eventually to a divorce.

I made a choice to leave that former life behind, but the habit of striving came along.

Easier to replace a habit, than transcend it.


Lasting satisfaction, the kind that reduces desire, comes from overcoming ourselves and, ideally, building something with other people.

Perhaps a marriage, or a family, or a business, or a community.

I picked marriage.

In 2005, I made myself a promise, I’d put my marriage first.

My promise wasn’t tested until 2010 when we were living with a 2 yo and my wife was pregnant with our son.

Watching my wife suffer, while I chased external victories, wasn’t compatible with the promise.

I had a choice to make.


Fear & negative motivation are, generally, seen as bad things.

Not so in my life.

As an athlete, I enjoyed “showing” my capacity to do things others found too difficult.

Still do – it drives my writing output and consistency of focus.

As a husband, as a father… I realized I could combine (a) my attraction to difficulty with (b) my fear, of a second divorce.

It worked great.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done was become a good husband and father.


So, remember that your future self might not care about the external victories.

I mean, if you’ve haven’t been satisfied so far, then it’s probably not going to happen on your current path.

Many paths remain open

Choose Wisely

Sunday Summary 19 June 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. The 1st step is EASY
  2. Bike Session (30/30s and Power Singles)
  3. When you feel you are behind financially
  4. Give your Self something useful to Prove Right
  5. I’m back on Strava // Post_COVID week summary

High Performance Habits

Workouts & Working Out

Life Lessons From Admiral Jonser

RADM Scott “Jonser” Jones

Years ago, I wrote a book about Ironman Triathlon. At the back of the book, I put my email address and invited readers to reach out.

Scott read the book, and sent the email…

I was sitting at my computer and wrote him back five minutes later.

Take the shot, make your own luck

22 years prior to that email, Scott dropped out of high school and joined the Navy.

At 17, he took the shot.

40 years of service

Shot after shot, after shot…

June 10, 1982 (E1) to June 10, 2022 (O8)



Scott was able to live his childhood dream.

What was yours?


One good relationship can change your life

There have been moments in my life when Scott has pointed out faulty thinking.

Based on the turnout at his retirement ceremony, there are hundreds of people who have appreciated a timely dose of Vitamin Josner.

One person can make a huge difference in the world.

Find your tribe, iterate towards better, contribute.


Just Keep Winning !

Just Keep Winning – some time this year, I started saying this (all the time) and passing it along to others

  • People hate you for no reason… just keep winning
  • Feeling imposter syndrome… just keep winning
  • Unsure what’s next… just keep winning

I get to the ceremony and it’s on the cake!

This got me thinking…

I have no memory of where Just Keep Winning came from but, now, I have a hunch.



People influence me, without my awareness

When you come across a positive influence, be willing:

  • to change
  • to go to them
  • to share what they like to do

Last Thursday, I gave you a list:

  1. Do they make me laugh?
  2. Do they help me think better?
  3. Do they set an example for the type of man I want to be?

I’ll add one more filter… The Better Test

What happens when this person arrives on the scene?

Pay attention when you see “better” happening.

Jonser makes things better.


The Admiral at 17 => top right

How To Build An Online Community

I’ll send this out a little differently on Twitter here’s my profile over there.

I’ve built online communities 4x and it gets easier each time. Probably, because some of you have been reading me for 20+ years.

Thank you!


KNOW YOUR WHY – most the advice I see is about ramping up follows and seeking to convert attention to cash.

Pay attention and you might find that cash-for-attention isn’t what you seek.

Know your goal and write it down – if you’re successful then the crowd will nudge you in unexpected ways.

My reasons:

Establish Expert Credentials – doing 100s of case studies in public will let you “get your story straight” and build a network of successful students who’ve applied your best advice.

Where this gets really exciting is when you see someone take your lessons and improve upon them. My current project of getting-back-in-shape is using techniques taught to me by coaches who studied my approach. Cool!

Connect/Engage – I live in a narrow niche and have a set of values outside the norm. Toss me on Twitter and there are a million like-minded folks. I get a kick out of engaging from Finland to Switzerland to Brazil.

Take time to unsubscribe from vibes you don’t want.

My feed is positive and WAY better than reading the news.


MUTE AND MOVE ON

A fact of the internet => Yahoo-encounters scale faster than reach

I recommend a one strike and you’re out policy.

It’s never been easier to mute and move on.

My “why” does not require helping everyone, being universally liked or getting wrapped up in drama.


PICK A TOPIC YOU KNOW WELL

Lots of people know more than me, nobody knows my story better than me

…and it’s an interesting story because I…


DO INTERESTING STUFF THEN WRITE ABOUT IT

  • Taking a leave of absence, qualifying for World Champs and winning Ultraman Hawaii…
  • Being absolutely miserable then figuring out a way to get better…
  • Handing back a Private Equity partnership because I wanted to live an outdoor life…
  • Changing myself so I could attract a wonderful woman…
  • Learning to be an expert skier, late in life…
  • Write a book, then another…
  • Going from the couch to running a 35-minute 10K…
  • Giving comfort to the dying…

Be willing to fail – failure makes for great copy.

…and if you don’t fail… even better copy!


HELP STRANGERS

Ten years ago, I didn’t know my kids. So glad I made a choice towards family. We only get one chance to know a kid then they’re grown up.

  • Before I had my kids, I had my team.
  • Before my team, my readers.
  • Before my readers, fellow athletes trying to figure out sport.

While you are doing work… leverage yourself. Create systems to capture your best ideas – it might be as simple as a bedside notebook and a Notes App.

Pay attention to everyone who responds positively to your message.

Dial down those with a negative bias – this is very tough with the rich & famous – you do not want to “catch” a negative bias.


DO IT EVERY DAY

Pick one format/platform: blog, Twitter, forum, FB/IG, video… set yourself a schedule and do it every day.

13 cycles of my Content Week was enough to add 1,000 people to my network.

Further, by staying positive, I like ALL these people!

Make sure you like the world you create


ANALYTICS ON

Why?

Most simply, because the author doesn’t get to choose what interests the reader.

  • Capture what interests people (One Page PDFs)
  • Reinforce your best ideas (Copy & Paste Links)
  • Spend time improving your best stuff

Finally, there is no goal

The reward is in the work, improve the world one interaction at a time.

Live Like A Billionaire – Risk Preference and Life Lessons

This series has been about learning from those without financial limits:

  • Who do they share their best moments with?
  • What are those moments?
  • Are we missing out?

Once I’m on the inside of the team, I notice that my risk preference is the lowest in the group. Frankly, not surprising when you are rolling alongside extreme skiers and mountaineers.

Here’s something about risk. Group risk rises to the level of the MOST risk tolerant member.

It’s why my investment committee has the rule “most conservative carries the decision.”

Anyhow, with two young kids and a pregnant wife, I had learned what I could and wanted to put more time into my young family.

So I opted out.

My boss…

>You firing me?

>>No, most definitely not. There is no way I will be able to repay you for what you taught me.

…and off I went for a decade.

Once again on the road less travelled.

Not over, yet – most of them took up Skimo.

😉


Let’s recap:

Best Days are defined by shared outdoor experiences with a small number of close friends – building memories that last

Peers & Teachers have a mix of kindness and competitiveness => notice this combination when you see it. These are people who tell us the truth, push us to do better and keep us grounded.

There’s nowhere to get to => I realized that between my wife, and my kids, I could create my own inner circle. A circle where we share Best Days and reduce our collective risk of ruin.

I remain grateful for the opportunity for a look behind the curtain.

Live Like A Billionaire – From The Inside

A question I raised on Brad’s podcast, who’s your reference set?
Who am I trying to impress?

Last week, I wrote about my introduction to the well-adjusted rich.


Roll forward, I’m on the “special projects” team.

I have a look around.

  • World-class skier
  • World-class ultramarathoner
  • World-class mountaineer
  • Younger version of, said, WC Mountaineer
  • Biz partner: former D1 athlete

Every person a mix of kind and competitive.

A limited number of close relationships, the collective sum being who the boss wanted to become.

This insight does not require assets.

It requires:

  • enough space in your life to think strategically (control your schedule)
  • the knowledge of where you want to go (choose wisely)
  • access to the people you want to become (last week)

What wasn’t there.

I saw: spouse, kids, PA, pilot and the rest of the team.

No Posse.

The world has an incentive to tell us what we want to hear, if you’re rich then even more so.

Close relationships, who share truth.


How was the team used?

Short trips, shared experiences, having fun together.

Doing fun things with world class people.


Assets are no barrier to this life.

Go get it.

Live Like A Billionaire – Student to Teacher

Unexpected mid-week power day.
It’s hard to put a value on the ability to “drop everything”.

What does the title of this piece bring to mind?

  • Jet?
  • Multiple properties?
  • Luxury yacht charters?
  • Seven-figure burn rate?
  • Handing out favors to friends and strangers?
  • Being hailed and feted?

One of the best parts of my coaching journey was getting to know “the well adjusted rich.”

I’m going to spend a few Thursdays running through the lessons I learned from watching people who have a different set of limits.


The Best Teachers You Can Find

My journey started ten years before I got the job.

First, I was a student…

Meeting Joe Friel: Joe is the founder of triathlon coaching in the United States. I had the chance to spend a weekend with him in the Spring of 2000.

By the way, this is how you might get a mentor interested in you…

  • I went to him
  • I showed him how he’d helped me
  • I listened to his advice
  • I went away and did it

Something he said stuck with me, “I’d never met someone who understood my teaching as well as you.” I didn’t just study his philosophy, I tried to embody it.

Joe started me as a coach, helped me win races and wrote a book with me.

Great deal for both of us.

The strategy worked once, so I repeated…

John Hellemans, Scott Molina, Dave Scott, Mark Allen => I was able to learn from the best.

I shared what I learned, for free, widely.


Eventually, I was a teacher…

A decade later, I turn up in Oceanside, on a road bike, in March, and crush most everyone over 40 in a 70.3 race.

Two guys, I’d never heard of, reach out for a call and I accept. I didn’t know they were friends and checking me out, separately.

I get hired and have the chance to look under the hood of the well-adjusted rich.

Turns out my client was a successful finance-guy, who stayed in the game.

His life was, and remains, the best-case scenario of a life I decided not to lead.

Becoming world-class, publicly, creates unexpected opportunities.


Let’s call this Chapter One.

If you’ve been watching me on Twitter – you can see I’m following a similar playbook in 2022.

Not towards any specific goal => simply to connect, be engaged and create unexpected opportunities.

1,000 Day Pacing and New Habit Creation

Strength training is the ultimate long game.
Each session moves me further away from what I’d be without it.

I’m going to explain how I qualified for World Champs, won Ultraman Hawaii, found my wife and improved my parenting game.

Big wins – different domains.


Here’s my template…

  1. Create one new habit at a time
  2. Set the bar low (!)
  3. Hit that bar daily (30, 100, 500, 1000)
  4. Remove what causes me to miss the minimum
  5. Sort the specifics after the habit is on autopilot
  6. Access experienced mentors
  7. Surge effort when conditions are favorable

What would happen if you made a choice to…

  • Do a little bit of cardio
  • Do a little bit of strength
  • Help one stranger
  • Share a simple lesson you know well
  • Make one connection
  • Eat a salad at 3pm
  • Eat 2 apples at 11am
  • Write 100 words

…every single day for the next 1,000 days?

Build one small habit.

Repeat.


My 8:29 Ironman performance started when a fat finance guy (me) decided it might make sense to walk to the pub rather than drive.

I can remember that one choice.

I can remember a later choice to do something-every-day.

I’ve done my “1,000 days” many times => writing, investing, wife, kids, sport, connection, strength training

Knowing the power of compounding, I still underestimate the speed of improvement.


What are your deep wants and desires?

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

Why not move a little forward each day?

Why wait to be great

The Choices That Define Your Financial Life

  • Act as if personal finance is a game where you only get ten tickets to play.
  • Invest as if you are holding a checkbook with only a dozen checks inside.
  • Speak as if you’re holding a six-shooter, is it worth one of your bullets to make the point that’s on your mind.

I’ve been hearing versions of the above my entire life. It’s been great advice and encouraged me to:

  • Slow down
  • Resist the urge to interrupt compounding
  • Keep it simple
  • Focus on the big decisions
  • Treat small movements like noise

So, we started your kids with the allowance game.

Then, we moved onto discussing the family’s allocation of capital towards education.

With that, we considered the impact, across generations, of borrowing.

What next?

Teach your kids their financial lives will be about no more than a dozen choices.

Here are mine:

  • Study finance (class of 1990)
  • Save 50% of my take home (1990-2007)
  • Partners investment scheme (late 90s, all in then, equivalent of 1 yr spending now)
  • Work to build a startup (2000)
  • Sell into the frenzy (2005-2007)
  • Move into a low-cost Vanguard portfolio (2008 onwards)
  • Boulder real estate (2010 & 2012))
  • Downsize (2012-2013)
  • Borrow long at 3.25% (2013)
  • Debt free (2007 & 2020)
  • Have kids with a kind woman from a humble background (on going)

Every other choice turned out to be noise. What to do?

Focus on actions, not outcome.

What does that really mean?

Do what moves you forward and have faith. Sport, marriage, money, all things… daily action is the fundamental force moving you towards “better.”

Education matters => I was given a chance in Private Equity because I had high marks in a useful field. Between my high school graduation (1986) and my youngest’s (2031) the nature of “useful” will have changed. However, the need for skilled people to “do” will endure.

The most useful part of my degree wasn’t finance! It was financial accounting, programming and mathematics => I learned fundamental knowledge in college. I learned my profession on-the-job. You learn the valuable part by doing work, for the best people you can find.

This keeps popping up over and over again (professors, partners, coaches, mentors, twitter follows). At 53, I’m learning from people less than half my age! Do work to learn.

Avoid Ruin => studying, then working in, financial accounting helps you learn when a situation doesn’t feel right. Embezzlement is an old game and it’s useful to learn the patterns. Financial fraud happens, and will continue to happen. Take steps to reduce your family’s exposure to ruin.

With the accounting, I learned the most with 9 credits spread across three courses. Financial Accounting 1, 2 and 3. Small investment, huge return. Do it when you’re young. Being forced to rely on others to do your financial math is a disadvantage that will cost you.


Let’s pull it together for you…

Starting your working life (in a useful field, with your financial accounting courses done)…

You are at least a decade away from making the shift to lifestyle sustainable, so you focus on:

  1. Learning by doing with the best people who will hire you
  2. Savingget that first $100K banked, you will be grateful when you’re older
  3. Waiting for the fat pitch – once in a lifetime investment opportunities happen once a decade
  4. Turning yourself into the sort of person you’d like to marry, the friend you’d like to have, the parent you aspire to be => meaningful connection is true wealth

Your mind will try to trick you into thinking it’s the investment choices that matter.

It is not.

It is the four habits I outlined above, and avoiding substance abuse.