What Are You Doing That’s Different?

doing different

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.” — E.M. Gray

I write this having just returned from an early morning run. The local neighborhood looked beautiful covered in a thin layer of snow, but as you would expect I had the streets to myself at 5.30am.

Waking early has come to symbolize my personal development journey. I have gone from a person who would continually hit the snooze button to one who happily wakes at 5am most days. Some mornings are harder than others but, yes, I honestly do enjoy waking at 5am (although it took some adjusting to). Why? Because the morning is my time. It is the time I get to work on myself, write for this blog and visualize the path I want my life to take.

As I ran the lonely streets this morning, I had an inner feeling that I am doing things right. Part of the reason why relates to the fact that I am following a path most people choose not to take – the “road less traveled” as it is often called. I want to squeeze as much out of each and every day as possible.

I know waking early isn’t for everyone, but there are endless ways in which you can be different from the majority of people, and in doing so break away from the pack. Some ideas include:

  • Watch little to no television
  • Exercise regularly and eat incredibly well
  • Be devoted to excellence in everything you do
  • Have a strong bias towards taking action
  • Create something unique
  • Be a positive and passionate person
  • Chase your dreams
  • Take the time to build and nurture relationships
  • Be masterful at managing your time
  • Continually focus on adding value to the lives of other people

So then, my question for today is: what are you doing that’s different from the majority of people that has you on the path to success?

Photo by Nadine Heidrich

26 thoughts on “What Are You Doing That’s Different?”

  1. Yes, I love that poem! Here it is for anyone who hasn’t read it:

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth.

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same.

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

  2. My answer? Two words: personal responsibility. Although it is proving to be difficult, I do my best every day to stop making excuses and take responsibility for my role in my own life.

    Thankfully, I’ve never had the experience of having someone hold a gun to my head and force me to do something. Which means that everything I do I choose to do. Maybe not consciously, but it is my choice.

    Every day, I make the effort to choose to do something positive for myself, instead of living the old patterns of making excuses.

  3. Peter– love this article, and you have motivated me to really, really try and do habituate the “waking up at 5am” part. Thanks again,
    Todd, We The Change

  4. Great post. I’m working toward becoming more consistent with rising early. Currently I’m doing this twice a week. I have to say those are more productive days than the others.

    My question is, why don’t we do this anyway? It’s perfectly logical to rise earlier in order to accomplish work, vocation, etc. Why does it seem like a bigger deal than what it is? The purpose of this question is I want to know how do I teach my kids these behaviors, so they don’t have to go through some sort of “life change” in order to know how much certain behaviors can enhance one’s life?

  5. I really enjoyed the article and can see that we have many of the same thoughts. I really like the idea:

    “Have a strong bias toward taking action”

    So many people talk about changing or improving themselves, but very few ever do anything about it. I am a big advocate of taking action and try to set myself apart from others by being a doer!


  6. Thank you for another great article. I truly appreciate the clarity it bring to personal growth and improvement. My current focus: developing a “strong bias towards taking action”.

  7. I really liked this post. And Frost’s The Road Not Taken is such a favorite of mine…

    yes, we must take the one less traveled by…and that will make all the difference!

  8. Hi Peter
    I really liked your post. This is our year of chasing dreams. My husband and I both took leaves of absence from our jobs (although we won’t return to them), we sold our house, and now we’re in the middle of a 10-month adventure in France and Europe with our two kids. We had gotten in such a rut in our old lives that we decided to step out and do something totally different! It will give us memories to treasure for a lifetime.

  9. I’m trying to wake up earlier and earlier each day…it gives me time to read and get started on my day. Reading is what relaxes me and sometimes pumps me up for the day.
    Then there’s exercise! I wouldn’t have the energy to get through my day if I didn’t exercise. At first it’s tough getting used to the hard work-out schedule but once you get used to it, it’s easy. And it sure is better than drinking up caffeine to try and get through the day!

  10. It is amazing to me how much people waste time sitting in front of the television, doing absolutely nothing and coming away with nothing!

    While other people are watching the telly, I am spending time learning new things. Over the past year, I have been reading up on personal finance and taking steps to improve my finances — that is the key, as you can read personal finance books until the cows come home, but you won’t accomplish a single thing until you start putting what you have learned into action! I am also learning about small business bookkeeping. Once I am up to speed on finance and bookkeeping, I will be starting a journey of self-discovery, to find something that I would love to do with my life and possibly start my own business.

    Getting up 30 minutes earlier has helped me to establish an exercise routine (I use a rebounder) and practice yoga. I love the quiet time in the morning, too, and I often use it to do a bit of reading and writing. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful labrador-aussie dog who will remind me when it’s time to take a break and play or come for a walk with her.

  11. Hi Peter,

    You ask: “what are you doing that’s different from the majority of people that has you on the path to success?”

    I answer: Consistency. I am working on the art of being consistent. From my experience most people do the things you listed. They just don’t do them consistently. The key, I believe, to separating yourself from the pack is best captured in this quote by Henry David Thoreau I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

  12. Kristian,

    Consistency is a great answer. Often success simply comes down to consistency around a set of fundamentals. And great quote – any regular reader of this site should know I’m a big Thoreau fan!

  13. What I am going different in 2008 is writing my autobiography. I picked up a book at Barns & Noble this weekend called Writing My Life, The Step-by-Step Autobiiography By Alison Bing. I have been dreaming and have started writing several times over the past 15 years but i needed help. This is a great “get started” book for the new writer.

  14. Very inspiring, I would love to try to get up that early and start my day with a few hours to myself before I hurry off to a busy day. I don’t know about 5am but I am really going to attempt to start my day a little earlier and positive.

  15. Peter,

    I like your point about the morning being your time. When I was an athlete in college, I used to wake up at 5 to go to the batting cages. It was a place where I could find peace and really concentrate on what I was doing. It was very relaxing for me to just be there in that moment, doing what I loved to do most.

  16. great article, i’m one of those who have a very hard time getting up early at morning, even though i wish i could be up at 5Am and enjoy that lovely time, but still i can’t help but stay up all night, its like my favorite time in the day, i tried thousands of time to put the alarm on 8 or 9 AM but i failed over and over, but anyway, this article is like a push up to me, thank you :)

  17. I am learning to step away and be with myself. I spent so many years living to make a diference in other peoples lives but somewhere I lost my balance. I became fearful of people and their wants and unable to set boundaries so I have decided to turn over the leaf and let the inner me have some time. It’s been nearly two years now since I left my job and packed up my house, travelled for a while and now settled in to a new city. I’m still in the woods at the moment but i’m hopeful.

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