11 Laws That Will Change Your Life

This book (The Big Picture by Tony Horton) covers a wide range of topics: your body, attitude, relationships, doing what you love, finding your purpose, and more.  By connecting all these different aspects in your life, you can start to see the Big Picture.  First and foremost, you have to take a step back and really evaluate your life.  If you want to make some major improvements, you will have to admit your weaknesses and failures and you will also have to be willing to change.  It’s hard to be honest with yourself, but it’s a necessary step.

The big picture starts with finding your true self.  Tony believes in order to do that, you have to follow some basic fundamentals – eat right, exercise, and take the time to relax/sleep.  Without hitting these basics, you won’t be able to hit your true potential.

Law 1 – Do your best and forget the rest!

Always do your best in whatever you do.  If you’re not perfect, then that’s fine.  No one is perfect.  When you strive for perfection, you’ll be overly critical of yourself.  Forget the rest means not letting the same things that used to get in your way, get in your way.  Walk away with the knowledge that you did everything, you prepared, and you gave it everything you had.

Again, do your best and don’t be attached to the outcome.  Stop worrying about failure, stop worrying about what other people think, and stop making excuses.  No one, including yourself, can fault you for trying.

Law 2 – Find your purpose

What is your purpose in life?  This is the most important question you can ask yourself.  Examine your goals and why you want to attain them. As Tony states, “If it has to do with money, vanity, reputation or material stuff, forget about that garbage!”  If you ever want to really reach your goals, you must have an important why behind it. Otherwise you either won’t meet your goal or you will be wasting your time going the wrong direction.

Are you on autopilot or are you pushing yourself every day to fulfill purpose, your priorities, and your mission statement?  Yes, it’s hard and scary to break through your limitations, but it’s worth it.  Are you holding back because you’re worried about failure?  I totally agree with Tony when he stated, “failure should be renamed awesome”.  Remember, failure and success don’t exist without each other.  You can’t have one without the other.


When considering your purpose, think about how it will serve the people around you.  Also, consider how it will impact you 5-10 years down the road.  How will it serve and empower me?  Is it really my purpose or one that someone else has assigned to me?  Tony adds, while on your way to fulfill your purpose, don’t forget to smell the roses and enjoy the journey.

Law 3 – Have a plan

Once you have your purpose, plot a course in a new direction and strategize.  Do you want to continue barely getting by or do you want to do something bigger with your life?  It seems daunting, but it’s easy – Get your life together, decide what you want, and get a plan.

Start with the basics.  Sleep 8 hours, eat right, and exercise.  Cut back on the crappy food and the crappy habits you have.  Start scheduling what’s important to you.  Schedule your workouts.  Start menu planning and food journaling.  Aim to eat clean 90% of the time.  Be fiercely committed to making small improvements every day.  If something isn’t working, adjust your plan as necessary.

Law 4 – Variety is the spice of everything

Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try new things.  Incorporate some spontaneity and creativity into every area of your life – fitness, eating, relationships, work, etc.  Be open minded and again, open to change.  Be curious.  Your tastes and needs will change, so adapt to them.  If something isn’t fun anymore, change it up.

There is a fine line between honoring tradition and holding onto the past – Tony Horton

Examine your habits, hobbies, possessions, thoughts, and actions.  Ask, are they serving you?  If not, try something new.  Focus on small things first.  Make small changes, celebrate wins, and keep making changes.

Law 5 – Consistency reigns supreme

Be consistent with the activities that serve you, especially with your workouts (6 days a week).  If you’re inconsistent or only working out every other day, one day off will likely lead to 2, 3, 4 days off and so on.  Think of working out as a keystone habit because it impacts all your other habits – diet, sleep, stress levels, etc.  Repetition with your healthy activities is key.  If you keep doing the same activity, eventually you will make it into a habit.  So, make a plan, hold yourself accountable, and plug into your purpose.

Improvement and growth occur when you do things repeatedly and often – Tony Horton

It doesn’t have to be perfect, just do it anyway!

Law 6 – Crank up the intensity

Dig deep mentally and emotionally.

There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life less than the one you are capable of living – Nelson Mandela

Focus on how you’re doing things and try to evolve your style, technique, and methods.  Again, small incremental improvements.  Basically, dial it up a notch.  Find that line where you can improve by pushing yourself while at the same time not going too far to where you’re hurting yourself.  We all push too far sometimes, and that is fine.  Just pump the brakes when that happens.  Pause, reassess, and proceed with caution if needed.

Variety, consistency, and intensity work together.  Let’s sum those 3 up.  Variety will bring improvement to your overall success by preventing plateaus, boredom, and injuries (with exercise).  Consistency is basically practice, and we all know practice makes you better. The more you practice, the more it turns into a habit.  Then you add intensity – dial it up a notch.

Get out there, have a blast, and help friends, family members, co-workers, and your community to make the most out of their lives… life is not about feeding your ego.  Life is about living. – Tony Horton

Law 7 – Love it or leave it

You have to keep fun in the mix if you want any chance at executing your plan, and in turn your goals.  If you’re not having fun, then you’re not going to follow through.  Life is way too short not to explore the things you love.  In short, question if a particular practice is in line with your purpose.  Is the habit serving you?

Want to reduce stress?  Have more fun by doing what you love.  It’s crucial to your survival.  We aren’t meant to sustain periods of chronic stress. So, do more of what you love.  If you have a job you hate, make a plan to change that.

If you’re getting bored in any aspect of life, you’re not loving it.  Find a way to change it up and make it more fun.  You have to love it!  Let out your inner child.  We are all kids at heart, but somewhere along the line we stop having as much fun (probably because we are too stressed thinking about bills, responsibilities, work, obligations, etc.).  We have taken the role of mature human beings to an extreme.  Tap into that joyful part inside and feed your soul!

One caveat – life isn’t always going to be a party.  We do need to put in some hours doing something you may not love for a result that you do love.  These are called trade-offs.  You have to check in with the activities that you may not enjoy so much to see if they are serving you.  Not everyone likes running but the benefits it provides is a good trade-off.  Being aware of the results that an activity provides makes it much more enjoyable.  They become less of a chore and more of an investment.  This is not only true in fitness, but also in finances.  Sure, it might be hard to save and put off impulse buying, but when you think about the goal you are trying to achieve, stopping yourself from impulse buying doesn’t become so difficult.  Take on challenges, but make sure the endgame is worth it.

Bottom line – ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”  Make sure it’s in line with your plan and your purpose!  It’s a balancing act.  If it’s stressing you out too much, you’re taking a big toll on your health.  There is no point in being overly unhappy, anxious, and stressed out no matter what the reward is.

Law 8 – Get real

There are two kinds of people in the world – hiders and seekers.  Seekers have the courage to be honest with themselves, constantly check in, and have the self-awareness to confront their issues.  They are willing to admit where they need to improve, flaws in their judgment, and mistakes they’ve made.  They keep themselves accountable.

The other kind of person, hiders, are afraid of change, afraid to try new things, and they don’t face their problems.  They are not honest with themselves and they take no accountability for errors or mistakes.  For those among us, it’s time to deal with your life, and see the hand you’ve had in it.

Let’s get real about your attitude.  You have complete control over your life.  If you don’t agree with that, then it’s because you don’t realize the power you have.  You DO have complete control.  There are two forces in your life – external forces and internal forces.  External forces, like traffic, bad weather, family obligations, etc. are coming at you whether you like it or not.  Internal forces are how you react and respond to those external forces.  Life is all about how you react and respond to situations.  How will you react when shit hits the fan?

By changing your reactions to what life offers you, you can become someone who chooses what to accept, who creates the life they want to live – Tony Horton

I’ll give it to you straight – no one can change your attitude except for you.  Only you can shift your thinking.  Learn to recognize the things that don’t matter so you can let them go.  It’s all about how you react to situations.  If someone cuts you off, let it go.  It doesn’t really matter that much, does it?  Think about it this way, two people can encounter the same exact situation but react in completely different ways.  Become aware of how you’re responding.

Instead of living in denial and pointing fingers, do what you need to do and get on with fulfilling your purpose – Tony Horton

Roadblocks are a fact of life.  Take ownership of the situation.  Everyone is always trying to pass the buck.  Take on Truman’s motto as your own: “The buck stops here.”  Put aside petty excuses and tackle the problem.  Think rationally and put aside your emotions for a moment.  Don’t just think positive; be proactive.  Focus on the solution and have a strategy.

Avoid negative self-talk.  Instead, embrace having a positive internal dialogue.  Do you talk smack about yourself to yourself?  Remember this, your thoughts become your words and your words also become your thoughts, so make sure that they both serve you.

Always keep a sense of humor about a situation.  Trust me, some stressful situations can be great sources of humor in the future.  Think about some challenging experiences you’ve encountered and how funny they are to look back on years down the road.  Would you rather laugh or cry at some of the ridiculous situations that life throws your way?

You will get better at overcoming obstacles the more you do it.  Be honest and compassionate with yourself.  Keep going and do the best you can.  No one can ask for anything more.

Law 9 – Find a balance

Find balance between work, rest, and fun.  Learn when to say no and when to say yes.  Tony states, “Don’t say no when it comes from fear or laziness… do say no when it comes from a need to take care of yourself.”  Say yes to opportunities!

The goal of balance is to take advantage of opportunities for growth, to know your abilities and your limits, to protect yourself from harm, and not get in your own way. – Tony Horton

Be in the moment – be in the now.  Most of the time we are worrying about the future or regretting the past.  Instead, focus on the now. Learn the lessons of the past and leave that baggage behind you.

Law 10 – Stay flexible

Plans constantly change and we need to learn how to adapt.  Practice acceptance because it’s the only way to grow and it’s the only way to benefit from traumatic events.  Also, look for meaning during hard times.  We all face hard times, but what’s important is how you react and how you view that event.  When you can find meaning in a difficult situation, you can overcome it more easily.  Read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl for inspiration on that.

Practice functional optimism.  Are you a victim of circumstance?  If you believe you are a victim, then that’s what you’ll be.  If you focus on the negative, then that’s what your world will be.  This negativity becomes a spiral and reinforces those thought patterns.  There is another way though – functional optimism.  When hit with an unexpected obstacle, you have the power to deal with them realistically and with a plan.  It’s not just positive thinking.  It’s a solution minded mentality plus a realistic plan on how you will handle it.

It’s knowing that everything will work out because you’re going to do what you need to do to make it happen – Tony Horton

Be flexible in your perspective.  Tony’s wisdom:

Take in information from other people without judgment, to respect and learn from different perspectives, and to be willing to bend your rules without breaking them. – Tony Horton

You don’t have to agree with someone else’s values, but you can respect them.  As long as you’re not impeding on someone else’s rights, then let people believe what they want to believe.

Law 11 – The three R’s: Recharge, Recover, Relax

We all need quality downtime.

Recharge – Get the sleep you need to repair your body and mind.  Have a sleep sanctuary.  Tony recommends taking the TV out of your bedroom, cutting out caffeine, decompress at the end of the day through reading or meditation instead of watching TV or looking at your phone.  Set a regular bedtime and try holistic sleep aids.

Recover – When injured, give your body the time it needs to heal.  If injured, still find a way to keep the breath and blood moving, but also take care of yourself and give your body the time it needs to heal.  Take the time to fix what’s broken.

Relax – Find ways to reduce stress (mental, emotional, and physical).  Choose patience and curiosity over stress and defeat.

Take a swing and walk away having learned a lesson.  You can panic and freak out all you want, but time will still pass and life will still happen, whether you stress out about it or not. – Tony Horton

Again, we choose how we respond.  Calmly and rationally assess a troublesome situation as it unfolds. Have fear, worry, and anxiety ever solved a problem?  Didn’t think so.  They only make the problem worse.

5 steps to solve any problem:

1 – Stop what you’re doing

2 – Take a few deep breaths and try to clear your mind for a minute

3 – Once calm, reassess the situation rationally.  It’s not about you, it’s about an external problem that you need to solve – keep your ego out of it.

4 – Consider the solutions.  Look for a solution that will help in the short term and the long term.

5 – If you have a solution, great, if not, go back to step 1.

Knowing you’re on your way to resolution gets your mind right.  Being solution minded is half the battle.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons… Don’t spend your life chasing happiness by trying to impress your friends, family, and coworkers.  True happiness happens when your priorities are honest and authentic. – Tony Horton

Do what you love.  Have a purpose and plan.  Attack them with intensity, consistency, and variety.  Get real on reality. Stay balanced and flexible. Do your best and do it now.  The future will sort itself out. – Tony Horton

It may start slow, it may take a while, but keep at it.  Keep going.

His last bit of advice: Eat whole foods – lean proteins, fruits, veggies, raw seeds, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, daily vitamin as a catch all, vitamin D3, and probiotics.  Slow down when you eat and listen to your body. Practice meditation and yoga.  Stay away from refined flour, refined sugar, additives and preservatives, and “conventional” meats like bacon and hotdogs.

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