AlexShalman.com Practical Personal Development Podcast #3
This week I’m honored to have interviewed Steve Pavlina, a person that I greatly admire. Steve Pavlina has had a lot of influence on my life and personal growth, so I couldn’t think of asked for a better person to interview. Steve Pavlina is the author of the best selling book Personal Development for Smart People, and the most popular personal development blogger in the world.
The stats say that Steve Pavlina’s website sees over 2 million visitors per month. The real power, however, is in the affect that Steve Pavlina has on an individual’s life, and the way his ideas of Truth, Love, and Power spread virally throughout the world.
For over 10 years Steve Pavlina has been passionate about learning personal development, applying it to his life in a variety of wacky growth experiments, and then sharing his findings with the world via his popular blog StevePavlina.com. In this interview we’ll touch base on some of these experiments, and go into a wide variety of topics.
Steve Pavlina: Mission in Life
“To explore consciousness, and raise consciousness.”
Steve Pavlina is very passionate about the principles of Truth, Love, and Power. You can’t make apple pie from scratch, unless you reinvent the universe, and in this way Steve Pavlina didn’t “invent” these principles. He did, however, meditate on them and put them into a very practical format that can be applied to anyone, and any area of life.
Truth is helping people become more aware, knowledgeable, and honest. Love is helping people connect with what they want, be happier and more joyful, while escaping from what they don’t want. Power is helping people take action, become more disciplined, and create the reality that they want to experience and get things done.
Steve Pavlina’s goals are to align everyone with these three principles, which he gets into in great detail in his book. The Steve Pavlina blog, and resources are all aligned with helping people achieve consciousness and improve various areas of their lives.
Steve Pavlina on Measuring Success
The way Steve Pavlina used to go about goal-setting is by setting “smart goals,” meaning goals that are specific, measurable, and action oriented. After much experience with this, Steve Pavlina now takes a different route in setting goals, based purely on that which most inspires him. Instead of thinking of a goal as a place to reach in the future, Steve Pavlina thinks about how a goal will affect him in the present moment.
For example, if setting a goal of becoming a millionaire at a future date does not inspire you right this moment and get you taking some sort of action then it’s a “lousy goal.” My example of the opposite of this would be setting a goal to run a marathon a year from now, and then going right outside for a run, and subsequent training sessions in order to prepare for this. It must create a mental shift, in the now.
Trying to be aligned with Truth, Love, and Power can be disempowering for Steve Pavlina when forced into a specific and measurable box. However, what does work for Steve Pavlina is when he thinks of the goal in terms of “what can I do right now to move people in this direction,” which is when he starts generating ideas and taking action on them.
Even for financial goals Steve Pavlina claims that he doesn’t pay much attention to how much money he makes because it doesn’t inspire him. He focuses more on the present moment, asking himself, “what am I doing right now?” and “what kind of vision can I create that will inspire me right now in this moment?”
A trap that Steve Pavlina used to fall into was setting goals too often. He would fill up pages worth of goals, only to file them away and not look at them. Taking a glance back after six months or so would reveal that no progress has been made in these areas. These were the specific and measurable goals that Steve Pavlina tries to steer clear from these days.
Steve Pavlina on Day to Day and Motivation
Steve Pavlina gets his motivation from the focus on each and every day. The focus in each day, combined with being able to keep yourself free from things that bring you down is what works for Steve Pavlina. With the advantage of being self-employed, Steve Pavlina gets to have control over the way that his day will turn out to a much larger degree than if he was employed for someone else.
Steve Pavlina’s website brings in enough income that he has the privilage to live this way and pay all his bills. The specifics of Steve Pavlina’s daily schedule often vary to some degree. The typical day gets Steve Pavlina out of bed at 5am, and straight into the gym. After this he gets back home for breakfast, at which point he starts to either catch up on communication such as e-mail or phone calls, or just focused in on content creation such as writing and podcasting.
Steve Pavlina’s afternoons sound amazing to me, because he spends them on personal growth activities, which of course I love, such as reading. Steve Pavlina estimates that 30-40% of his weekly “work hours” are spent soaking up new information and connecting with people. It’s not unusual for Steve Pavlina to spend the afternoons in online communication with people, sharing ideas, getting ideas for new articles, and just generally getting inspired. Steve Pavlina even gets the opportunity to coach some people “on the side,” which I think we all do when we give advice to our family, friends, and co-workers, although, I’d be willing to bet that Steve Pavlina takes this to the next level.
At the time of this interview, Steve Pavlina is on day 26 of an experiment where he eats nothing but juices from fruits and vegetables. This is known as Juice Feasting, not fasting, because he gets more than enough calories. So far the experiment has taken Steve Pavlina through a daily detox of different emotions, which I hear is a wild ride. In order to sustain an experiment such as this Steve Pavlina must do a lot of reading. Steve Pavlina has read 10 books on health just this month alone, which is probably more than most people read in a lifetime.
Steve Pavlina likes to live life emersavely. This means that when he gets one of his ideas, he jumps into them fully and gives them everything he’s got. In the Juice Feasting experiment Steve Pavlina gets to learn about the benefits of all the different fruits and vegatables, their properties, and the different affects that they have on our mind and body. This translates into more reading on juice feasting, juicing, and various raw supplements.
Steve Pavlina on Methods of Generating Creative Ideas
I find Steve Pavlina to be like a fountain of creative ideas. Many of the ideas come about from reading extensively on a wide range of growth topics, as well as communicating with many people. It’s a progressive process. It was during his previous 30 day trial into Raw Foods that Steve Pavlina became aware of Juice Feasting. At the time, Steve Pavlina thought the Juice Feasting was way out there, and now he’s fully emersed himself in it.
Out of the many creative ideas that Steve Pavlina gets, he chooses the ones that most inspire him. Since Steve Pavlina wasn’t born to, and never subscribed to the idea of living an average life, it’s of no consequence to him if the ideas are normal or way out there. The factor that matters is whether the ideas are interesting and a good experience for growth. The ones that are growth experiences provide the added benefit of being a topic to share with the audience on the Steve Pavlina website.
Steve Pavlina: Contributing Factors to Success
Do you consider Steve Pavlina to be successful? I definitely do. The start of the conscious journey to success was when Steve Pavlina thought about the idea that he could improve himself by embracing new experiences. Steve Pavlina realized that it didn’t matter if his attempt at something new would be a success, or a failure, because each one would be a growth experience and thus a contributor to his overall success.
Steve Pavlina doesn’t view success and failure as two opposites. He doesn’t even view one as better than the other. Instead, Steve Pavlina likes to ask himself “what am I here to do, and what would I like to experience.”
It’s of little consequence whether Steve Pavlina’s juice feast works out positively and negatively, because despite the outcome Steve Pavlina will be able to extrapolate a valuable benefit. This is due to Steve Pavlina’s paradigm of success, which states that the worst thing you could do is stand still. What it comes down to isn’t about trying to succeed, but about having interesting experience while we’re here. Virtually any experience can be a growth experience if we choose to learn from it.
Steve Pavlina’s: The Courage to Succeed, and Fail
I asked Steve Pavlina what questions he gets asked the most, and what questions he thinks people would benefit most from if they asked him.
The questions that people ask Steve Pavlina the most are “what is personal development?,” and “what does it mean to grow?” As already mentioned, growth is aligning yourself with Truth, Love, and Power. To increase your awareness, to become more connected in your life to what you want, and less connected to what you don’t want, and to build your self discipline.
The question that Steve Pavlina thinks people should ask, is not one of information, such as “how do I gain clarity about my life,” because we usually already know what it is that we need to do ourselves. The problem real problem here is that what we know to do is usually hidden under a few deep layers of fear, which stops us from acting on the solution. So the real question people should ask is, “how do I build my courage?” “How could I face those fears?” “How could I turn towards what I want?” People get a glimpse of what they want, but are afraid to go after it.
A common situation that Steve Pavlina describes is of a person that is working at a job that they are satisfied with, or inspired by. While they know they’re not happy where they are, they don’t have a solid idea as to where they would be happier moving to. This causes them to become stagnant, and not search for a more fulfilling career option. What advice does Steve Pavlina have for people trapped in a job that they don’t want? “Quit!”
Steve Pavlina says that the reason people don’t have the courage to quit is because they over think all the negative consequences of taking action. What are the negative consequences? Not being able to pay your bills, and being homeless come to mind, which is still not the end of your life. Sitting at a job you don’t like, for the rest of your life, is something you don’t like, and so is being homeless, but perhaps it’s not necessary to settle for either of these options and go for what we really want.
It might actually be better to be homeless then trapped in a cubicle cage. At least then you would have more free time, and the ability to rebuild your life from the ground up. Steve Pavlina, although never homeless, used to live in a time when he couldn’t pay his bills and had to scatter to find an apartment of half the size. This taught him that it’s better to consistently question the standard of “get what you want out of life and being able to contribute to people,” instead of beating yourself down and living just to pay your bills.
It’s important to have such reference experiences, many of which are gained from the failures in our life, because they all contribute to our growth. The first business that Steve Pavlina had in the game development business was a failure which sank and went into bankruptcy. Steve Pavlina did the best he knew how to do at the time, but he just wasn’t running a business under a viable business model. The situation was not a disaster, it was a complete catastrophe, and one of the best learning experiences that Steve Pavlina ever had.
Look at people like Walt Disney, and Abraham Lincoln, who failed so many times throughout their life that it was pathetic. When we look back at their life, we all view them as a major success, which was hard earned by lives that were much more full of failures then they were of successes.
Steve Pavlina on Happiness and Suicide Advice
The definition of happiness that Steve Pavlina subscirbes to is that of an emotional feeling of well-being. When it comes to fixing problems, Steve Pavlina believes it is important to realize that it’s not always practical to fix our problems overnight. What works better is to focus on the idea of growth, improvement, and getting better each day, and let that paradigm guide is to success.
At just 19, Steve Pavlina was arrested for felony grand theft. While spending a few days in jail, Steve Pavlina realized that his life was just a train wreck heading in undesirable directions. Thinking of an overnight solution was frustrating, and seemed overwhelming. At that moment Steve Pavlina realized that it doesn’t matter whether he good or couldn’t fix the problems and that regardless of the outcome the truth was that he was the only one responsible for the outcome of his own life.
It was getting that sense of responsibility that really helped Steve Pavlina. He knew that the problems wouldn’t go away on their own, and that no one was going to rescue him, so he had to take action himself. Sometimes this means accepting problems as they are, while other times it means working to fix them. By chipping away at the problems a little bit at a time, Steve Pavlina was able to get his life to a level of normalcy after a few years. He did this by focusing on daily growth, and asking, “how can I make my life a little bit better?”
Chronic pain and depression, as Steve Pavlina learned in his research are often times a factor of our nutritional intake. The emotional “dumps” that Steve Pavlina is experiencing in his Juice Feast are a proof that food can govern how we feel. This means that people who suffer from chronic pain and depression can look into healthier diets, away from unhealthy processed foods, in order to fix their health issues in both the mental and physical capacities.
Relationships are the other major category to work on to promote happiness. It’s important to analyze our lives and see whether the people in our lives are all depressed, and if it’s possible to start spending more hours with people that are positive and uplifting? Steve Pavlina made the decision to change his social relationships in his late teens, and has been evolving his relationships ever since, which had made a huge impact in his life.
Self-discipline is another important factor that Steve Pavlina recommends to work on. It’s important to embrace this principle, instead of giving into wallowing in depression and entertaining suicidal feelings. Being in this state is disempowering, which in my opinion leads to a negative cycle that reinforces itself, and takes discipline to break out of. Our ability to take action is like a muscle, which grows with proper exercise. Unfortunately the opposite is true, and remaining apathetic will make the discipline muscle weak, and make it easier for these negative thoughts to take over your mind.
Another solution is to emerse yourself in positive positive information. Steve Pavlina recommends reading lots of books by positive successful people. Not only will this put you into a positive frame of mind, but you’ll also learn lots of new ideas that you can apply to improve your life. It’s important to note that these changes won’t be instant, but over a period of years we’ll be able to drastically improve the quality of our lives.
Steve Pavlina on Taking Responsibility
Steve Pavlina equates building our personal responsibility to working out with dumbbells. While looking at a set of 40 lb dumbbells might seem like a heavy weight to lift to us, a body builder might think those weights are too light to even bother with.
Therefore, our personal responsibility is more a matter of degree than it is of essence. You can take responsibility for a tiny piece of your life, a larger piece, or you can take responsibility for the whole thing. This is a sliding scale of how much responsibility you’re willing to take, deny, or just blame away on people and situations.
Of course, taking full responsibility is the best option, but a very difficult one if you’re just starting out. A better place to start is with our own bodies, because it’s easier to control what we put into our mouths and how we exercise, and much harder to blame away on other people and circumstances. There may also be addictions, to nicotine, caffeine, etc. which we can take responsibility and gradually increase our control over. The more we practice personal responsibility, the more we increase our capacity for it, and the more capable and competent we’ll feel in our lives overall.
Steve Pavlina on Relationships
The key to the wonderful relationship between Steve Pavlina and his lovely wife Erin Pavlina is their honest communication. They take a lot of time to communicate and have conversations about the state of their relationship itself. They use the principle of truth to address issues that really matter, along with addressing the needs that are, or aren’t being met. After having such honest conversations, their relationship always comes out on top.
The nature of all human relationships is that they’re temporary. Without considering the spiritual afterlife, it’s a given that all physical relationships end by either a breakup or the natural course of death. When recognizing this truth, Steve Pavlina is able to look at his relationship not as a burden, but as a privilege, and the temporary time with Erin Pavlina becomes much more precious.
One advantage to the Relationship between Steve and Erin Pavlina is that they’re able to spend a lot of time together, due to their work at home arrangement. They have a lot more opportunity to work on the principles of Truth, Love, and Power by asking by consistently asking themselves, “how can we increase the level of truth in the relationship and be more honest with each other?” It’s not uncommon for them to sit down for a couple of hours at a time, and talk about how they’re feeling about the relationship.
I had to ask what this picture perfect couple actually fights about, and it turns out it’s compatibility and unreasonable demands that are sometimes made of each other. Sometimes they’ll ask their partner to meet the needs that the other person is either incapable of, or unwilling to meet. What gets them through this issue is to realize that their relationship isn’t their only means of getting fulfillment of their needs, and that they can have other relationships to meet these specific needs.
Steve Pavlina is a bigger fan of physical outdoor activities than Erina Pavlina. After trying to get her to participate in these activities, which she’s not a fan of, Steve Pavlina realized that it’s much better to get other people that do like these activities to participate with him. For one of his favorite activities, Frisbee Golf, Steve Pavlina enjoys the company of friends, instead of expecting Erin Pavlina to fulfill this pleasure.
Instead of just looking at the need, and asking how can he get it from her, Steve Pavlina asks, “how else can I fulfill this?” He can go off and do things with other people, and this opens the relationship up to not being so exclusive. Steve and Erin Pavlina started out as friends, and shortly thereafter this lead to dating. Their mentality has always been to go to each other to fulfill their “best friend needs”, but it’s difficult for one person to meet all of those, and it’s completely impossible to meet ALL of a persons needs.
Steve Pavlina on Living Consciously
In order to promote living consciously, Steve Pavlina recommends journaling. While Steve Pavlina is a PC, and I’m a Mac, we both use our blogs, and journaling software to journal. The added benefit of journaling software over the ol’ pen and paper is that we can type much faster than we can write, and the software provides password protection for our private thoughts. The software is also searchable, and date-oriented, which allows us to easily find certain themes, or find out what we were thinking at a certain time in our life.
Writing down, and then reviewing our thoughts is an excellent aid to living consciously. The usual way that we think thoughts in our head is in a linear pathway, as we jump through one thought to the next in a repeating cycle. In written form, we’re able to go back and track our line of thought in order to get a birds eye perspective.
This look at our thoughts, and thought patterns allows you to see the big picture of what your thinking is and where it’s taking you. You can do exercises where you look at certain thoughts that lead to dead ends, and make a conscious decision to avoid these types of thoughts that just lead you in circles.
It becomes easier to explore new lines of thinking, and to keep track of and see where they will lead you. Some of Steve Pavlina’s thoughts inspire him to write articles, while others lead him to procrastinate. Journaling allows him to choose more thoughts that are productive the next time around. This whole process gives you an awareness of your own mental processes and allows you to examine how they’re affecting you.
Steve Pavlina on Blogging
Narrow niche blog topics are a no-no for Steve Pavlina. He managed to succesfully avoid this when he started the Steve Pavlina blog, which is a general personal development blog. Writing about specifics such as “time management and productivity, fixing your car, and real-estate,” is something that is exhaustible and could lead to boredom.
Once you outgrow a subject in your niche, you become bored, which is easy to do after you’ve written a thousand articles or so on the subject and developed it very well. Such limitation can stun your growth, which is what happened to Steve Pavlina after 10 years of running his games business. He started thinking about another niche site to start, but realized that he didn’t want to be a serial-entrepreneur that consistently picks up and changes projects.
Steve Pavlina wanted to build something permanent, so he decided to start a site about growth itself so he could never outgrow it. Personal development, to Steve Pavlina, is not a niche, rather it is a focus. A way of looking at life that allows the site to follow Steve Pavlina wherever he went. In a way, it became a vehicle of self-expression.
Steve Pavlina: Future Projects
Concentrating on one major project at a time is a great productivity tool, which is why Steve Pavlina aims to finish the Juice Feast before starting anything new. In the future, Steve Pavlina is looking to expand into other media. He’s currently enjoying a lot of professional public speaking, which allows him to be more expressive, so he’s looking into online video to supplement the written content on his website.
In the meantime, Steve Pavlina has been doing some research into the art of video, and palying around with making and editing sample videos. Eventually there will be videos on the Steve Pavlina site, and I would love to see a Steve Pavlina personal growth DVD product in the future as well.
Steve Pavlina: Final Word of Wisdom
Growth is just about the most intelligent thing that we can do in our lives. Instead of focusing on being perfect and living up to some impractical ideal, we can just focus on making our life a little bit better each day. Bring a little more awareness, and get a little more truth injected into our life. Connect a little bit more with what you want, and start disconnecting from what you don’t want in your life. Work on building some of your power and self-discipline.
Each day, take a little bit more action. While perfection is not an attainable ideal, growth is very attainable and accessible to all. Focus on growth, because it makes for a really great life. Working on growth, on a daily basis, will create a major change in your life 5 years from now. So much so that you won’t even recognize who you are today. Your life will be much better then, and the process of getting there will be very enjoyable as well.
More Steve Pavlina
- Personal Development for Smart People Website
- Personal Development for Smart People Book
- Steve Pavlina Happiness Project Interview
- Steve Pavlina on Twitter
Enjoy the podcast and feel free to leave feedback in the comment box below, as well as who you would like to see on future shows.. Next week I have an interview all set to go with John Chow; subscribe so you don’t miss it.