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Episode 82: The Power of Focus and Intention

Video Highlights

- There is no such thing as free time.
- The power of focus and intention.
- Next steps going into 2015.

Hi, Z-Health community. Dr. Cobb; Happy New Year.

This is my first blog of 2015 and what I’m going to do is reference back to the letter I sent you on New Year’s Eve. We’ve been getting a lot of emails about that. It’s been kind of neat. Really good response rate so far, but we’ve also gotten some questions.

The first question and biggest question that keeps coming up is hey, this is a really neat exercise that you sent us. Where did it come from? What I’m going to do is talk about that quickly today and then encourage you to do the exercise if you haven’t done it so far and then talk a little bit about next steps going into the new year.

Scroll Down for the letter and the exercise.

The reason I wanted to focus on this for 2015 is that I am very convinced that, about a saying, and the saying is pretty simple. The saying is there’s no such thing as free time. There’s just time. It’s one of the things I think a lot about. I have a lot of heroes in my life; people that I think have created amazing things and I always wake up wondering how they create all that they create in the same 24-hour day that I have?

I wonder about that a lot, and one of the things I’ve learned is that it’s the power of focus and intentionality toward using your time well that really makes a difference, and that’s one of the reasons that this exercise that I gave you I believe is so important going forward into the year.

Let me now, as I said, talk about the origins of the exercise because it’s kind of neat. Like I said, I’ve had that saying in my head for a long time. There’s no such thing as free time or quality time or anything else. There’s just time, and it depends on how you use it.

Years ago, I heard a story and the story was an older man mentoring a younger man. It basically went something like this. He said, “You know, my first 55 years of my life, I felt like I wasted them. I thought back and I had all these weekends where I sat around and I drank beer and I watched TV and I didn’t wake up until 11:00 o’clock, and he said, “I had this sudden realization at 55 that a lot of my life had already gone away.”

He said, “So what I wanted to do was try and figure out a away to try and take advantage of the rest of my life” and he said, “I looked at the statistics and the averages and I knew that maybe I had 20 more years left, 20 more weekends particularly, 20 more years of Saturdays.”

What he did is he said, “I needed a reminder so I went out and bought a big jar and I bought a marble for every Saturday for the next 20 years. 1,040 marbles. What I would do is every Saturday I would come out and take a marble out of the jar, stick it in my pocket. I’d carry it around all day, and every time I felt that marble in my pocket, it would remind me to take advantage of the day that I had, and at the end of that Saturday, I’d throw it away.”

He said, “It was kind of weird in the beginning because it didn’t look like things were changing that much but over the years, the marble depth in that jar kept going down and down and down and down.”

It’s a story that was told supposedly. They were having this conversation after he had thrown away the last marble, and he was looking at the fact that his last 20 years were so different than his first 55. The first time I heard that story, I was really moved by it. I thought, “Hey, it’s a really cool idea” and I decided to try it and I failed miserably. For some reason, like I said, I knew it was important but I couldn’t connect to it.

One of the cool things that happened about a decade ago is I started looking into the science around behavioral change from a brain-based perspective, brain-based training. It really became evident that what was missing for me was that it’s really cool to have that reminder that I want to take advantage of my life but my habitual way of speaking to myself, my habitual way of asking questions, really got in the way because my typical response to time is geez, why haven’t I accomplished more, rather than why haven’t I accomplished less?

Whenever you actually look at the exercise that I sent you, you can follow the link that we’re going to give you if you haven’t read it yet. I’m going to really encourage you to take the seven minutes out of your life and do the exercise. Keep it time-limited. You can go for hours on this thing but if you keep it time-limited, it actually fits into your day.

One of the things I think will come out of it for you is number one, a renewed decision to really take advantage of your time this year, and number one, a renewed confidence that you can, because what’s happen is you start to see, wow, I’m the kind of person that’s created the life that I have. These are the behaviors and these are the drivers. With a lot of clarity, you can now decide if those are the things that are going to serve you going forward or if you need to make some course corrections going into 2015.

That’s the origin of the exercise. I hope that you’ve done it. If you haven’t done it, please take the time. Like I said, it’s set up to take you about seven minutes. Go through it as a thinking exercise and then the next steps that I recommended in the letter were now that you have your ideas written, go back and revisit them everyday. Jot down notes.

You may want to do it every week. You may want to do it for a month but as you go forward in the year, this little exercise that I gave you to start is worth revisiting because again, having looked at a lot of things in my own life over the years, this is one of the most powerful things that I have done regularly to help remind me to take advantage of the time that I’ve been given.

Going into 2015, that’s my hope for you. If you have any questions about it, please let me know.

More importantly, if the exercise does something for you, if you have some feedback for me, I would love to hear from you.

Guys, thank you so much for being part of our life.

Look forward to seeing you again very soon.


Here’s the letter I refer to above:

Dear Z-Health Community,

First and foremost, Happy New Year!

I have no idea how 2014 has been for you – whether it was the best year of your life or the worst.

For those of us at Z-Health 2014 was amazing AND it was also a year filled with some of the largest personal and professional challenges we have ever faced.

With that in mind, I wanted to share two things with you as we roll forward into 2015:

My simple mantra.
My end of year exercise.

My Simple Mantra

Perhaps you’ve heard or read this before:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

Change comes in many different flavors – some good and some bad. But ultimately, change comes. Regardless of your 2014, please remember this simple mantra: Change is coming.

Failed to meet your weight loss goals in 2014? Change is coming.
Won a World Championship? Change is coming.
Financial worries? Change is coming.
Worried about the political environment? Change is coming.
College tuition to pay for? Change is coming.
Struggling to maintain consistency in your training program? Change is coming.
You get the point. Life is about change, and having an amazing one is about learning to thrive in a constant state of flux.

To help us all prepare for the changes coming in 2015, here’s an exercise that might help…

Doc’s Perspective Exercise

This is an exercise I have been doing privately for the last six years either on New Year’s Eve or January 1. It is a bit of an odd one, but I hope that you’ll take the time to do it as it as I believe that it can be incredibly powerful for you.

Let’s begin…

Step 1

First, visit this website: http://www.howlonghaveibeenalivefor.com/ It’s going to take you to an online calculator that will let you quickly and easily discover how many days, hours, minutes and seconds you’ve been walking the planet. Please go ahead and do it now.

Well, that was fun, huh? As of this morning, here are my numbers:

16,168 Days
388,041 Hours
23,282,491 Minutes
1,396,949,474 Seconds
What was your first reaction to your numbers? Positive? Negative?

The first time I ever did this, my first question to myself was “How have I accomplished so little…”

However, if you’ve watched any of our videos on behavior change, one of the most important things we discuss is how the questions we ask ourselves impact us. This is vitally important because your brain tends to BELIEVE ITSELF! When you ask yourself questions like the one above, the ONLY answers you can come up with are negative ones like:

“I’m lazy.”
“I have no willpower.”
“I can’t commit to anything.”
None of these are very empowering obviously, and many of them viewed from the outside are patently untrue!

So, here’s how we are going to tweak the exercise to our advantage:

Step 2

Please take out a piece of paper and pen and across the top write this question:

“How have I accomplished so MUCH in my time on earth so far?”

Now, set a timer for 7 minutes and answer the question in whatever way makes sense to you: single words, phrases, sentences, quotes, pictures, etc are all fine.

And please, while this may seem a little silly, take it seriously – it’s not a positive thinking exercise – although you’ll get some of that. Instead, it’s going to help you discover something about the kind of person you are.

Step 3

Summarized what you learned about yourself in 2-3 sentences. Maybe yours look something like this:

The primary driver for all I’ve accomplished comes from the love I have for my kids, spouse, family, etc.
I’m incredibly passionate about my job.
I’m incredibly adaptable and always figure out a way to be successful regardless of the circumstances.
The fact is that while you may not “like” everything that you’ve accomplished – you did it and there are REASONS behind that. That’s what you’re after, because you are the kind of person who ACCOMPLISHES WHAT YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR.

I believe that in order to make change, you have to know what your basic drivers have been so that you can either engage and use them more, OR work on developing new reasons to be the kind of person who does the stuff that you WANT to do.

The Next Step

Once you’ve done this exercise, please put your work where you can see it regularly over the next week. Jot down a new thought about it each day and see what happens to your thinking and your life.

Life is about perspective and this exercise offers me a refreshing one every time I do it. I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you see new and better paths to a fantastic 2015.

Happy New Year!


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