I had a dream last night. In this dream I was…average. I had 2.5 kids (so yes, half a kid). I had a nice car, but I couldn’t really afford it — I just could make the payments. I went into a decent job with a decent office and did okay work. Nothing earth-shattering, but nothing amazing. I came home to my wife and 2.5 kids and had dinner then went to bed after watching some TV.

While this may sound idyllic it terrifies me.

Who wakes up in the morning and wants to be ‘average’? You want to spend money on things you can’t afford, on things you don’t care about, to impress people you don’t like?

Because that’s normal!

You want to live paycheck to paycheck?

Because most of the people around you are doing that.

You want to barely see your kids and have a marriage that’s always huge amounts of work?

That’s what average is, because most business owners put success first and let their family suffer on their path to ‘winning’.

When I put it like that, I hope you don’t want to be normal or average. I know I don’t, and here are some steps I use to make sure I don’t fall into the average trap.

Do the hard work others aren’t doing

Earlier this month I wrote about how I read books to maximize what I get out of them. Unfortunately I know that many of you don’t even read books, let alone take the time to write and think deeply about them.

If you want to break from the average then do the work others aren’t willing to do. Send your clients a physical card to say thanks for the business.

Almost no online business will do that and you’ll stand out from the crowd by leaps and bounds.

Fix your mindset

How we think about our work contributes to our success. Did you lose that contract because the prospect was actually a jerk? Or did you lose it because you didn’t show how much value you can provide?

If you choose the jerk prospect option, you have a fixed mindset. That means you can’t do much to affect things. I mean, how do you fix a jerk? You avoid them, right?

If you fall into the second camp, then you realize when that next sales call comes in, you need to dig deeper into the value you provide. You know you need to ask better questions and then show the prospect how you can bring them value.

The control is in your hands.

The ride of entrepreneurship is a rocky one — and one that you have much control over. Knowing that your actions contribute directly to the outcomes you get means that you’re in the driver’s seat.

Thinking problems are always someone else’s fault means you’re at the whim of others in your success.

Adopt a growth mindset and start to take actions to build the life you want.

Kill the distractions

It’s ‘normal’ to have Slack open, and maybe Twitter, and possibly even Facebook. Most people expect you to get notifications of emails or text messages on your phone.

But that normal sucks. As I write I have Byword open and Trello, which manages my content calendar. My phone is in Do Not Disturb mode (which is where it almost always is) and I don’t get notifications for Messages on my laptop.

To stop myself from checking on social media or other distractions I use SelfControl to block them.

By taking these steps I craft space in my life so that I can do the work of writing. By not having these distractions around I’ve edited and posted one blog post, written 800 words for another, and I’m 600 words deep into this one.

That took 40 minutes of focus because all I had to do was concentrate on writing.

If you want to get an abnormal amount of work done in a day, cut out the distractions you allow. Don’t schedule meetings outside of one day a week. Don’t instantly answer email, but schedule it into a single 30-minute block a day and leave it there.

[Tweet “If you want to get an abnormal amount of work done in a day, cut out the distractions you allow.”]

If you want to break from the average, you have to be willing to do the things others aren’t willing to do. You have to be willing to say no to distractions. You have to be willing to do the hard work of analyzing your ideas. You have to be willing to adopt a growth mindset.

If you can start to do these things, you’re going to be on a path towards breaking from the average.

Photo by: 69802578@N00