A 5-Point Plan for Achieving Anything

It’s that time of year again. The time when many of us think about what we’ve accomplished over the past year and what we might want to accomplish next year.

I’ve made huge changes over the past two years and I’ve watched many of my friends and peers transform their lives. Some people seem to be able to do just about anything.

And yet most people will set goals for the new year with good intentions only to abandon them just days or weeks later.

Why is that? Why is it so hard to achieve what we know we need to do?

I’m not talking about trite little goals here. I know many of you reading this have big things you want to do or change. Maybe you’re dangerously unhealthy or overweight. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you have a habit that’s killing you slowly.

Maybe you know that you’re not serving your life’s purpose and that you’re not doing anything to change that. Every day you’re not radiantly alive and pursuing your life’s purpose is a day wasted.

This isn’t a dress rehearsal, people. I don’t care how cliche it sounds. You only get one life. In that life, the feeling of time accelerates dramatically as you get older. Don’t fool yourself by thinking you have plenty of time to make the important changes later. That attitude can easily consume a decade or more.

In fact, I have something to say that some of you might not like. Maybe some of you will unsubscribe from my blog after reading this. That’s fine with me, so listen up. I know some of you read everything you can about changing your life or living exceptionally. Maybe you follow my blog or Chris Guillebeau or Leo Babauta or Jonathan Mead and enjoy what you read.

I’m glad you enjoy what you read, but honestly this isn’t about entertainment. This is about your life and your future. It’s about living to the fullest for yourself, not just reading about what other people are doing like it’s some kind of surrogate TV show.

I don’t write just to be read. I write to help you get your ass in gear so you can start pursuing your life’s purpose with every fiber of your being.

I don’t care if you’re 22 or 35 or 60. You owe it to yourself to live the life you know deep down you were meant to fulfill. You know it’s there. Making it happens all starts with admitting to yourself what you want.

I think it was Tim Ferriss who I recently read saying 99% of people don’t think exceptional things are possible. That makes it surprisingly easy for the other 1% of people to achieve the exceptional.

This is about joining that 1%. It’s about being unrealistic. Start by committing to yourself that you want to be exceptional. Then, work to put a plan in place to achieve it.

From watching dozens of people become hugely successful online over the past two years, I’ve noticed 5 core principles all of them have followed. These aren’t just casual outside observations. These are deep insights from hours of conversation with these people who I consider both friends and peers.

If you’re serious about joining the 1%, let this 5-point plan be your guide to achieving anything.

  1. Stop looking for a shortcuts.
  2. I would revise Tim Ferriss’ statement about the 99% above slightly. In my experience, 90% of people don’t think exceptional things are possible, 1% actually make the exceptional possible and the other 9% constantly spin their wheels in a never-ending quest for a golden shortcut.

    You see this all the time in interviews and whenever people get to ask their mentors a question. Maybe you’ve heard this question before (or thought of asking it yourself): “what’s the ONE thing that led to your success?”

    The question is unanswerable as far as I’m concerned. There are no secret shortcuts to success. If the only way you’re willing to achieve your goal is through miraculous luck (like winning the lottery), then I say your goal isn’t something you really want. If you really wanted the goal, you’d stop fucking around playing the lottery and commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve it.

    Get-rich-quick mentality is a disease, just like drinking or gambling. It can ruin your life if you don’t stop it, and you won’t make any real progress towards your goal until you give it up.

    Wanting “passive income” or a 4-hour workweek or whatever can be a worthy goal, but only if you’re willing to work your ass off to achieve it. If you aren’t willing to work hard, you may as well give up now.

  3. Learn from the best.
  4. Virtually anything you want to achieve has already been achieved in some form by other people. Your job is to seek out those people and learn from them, whether through books or the Internet or in person.

    And when I say learn from “the best,” I mean it. The best people in any field are 100x more successful than the average person. Plenty of average people are willing to give advice to anyone who will listen. Don’t listen to average. Ignore the armchair quarterbacks.

    The only exception here are people who are going to be exceptional. I’m talking about the rising stars in your field. It’s good to pay attention to them for perspective and inspiration. Just be careful about who you predict will become a big success. If you don’t have a good sense for that, you’re better off sticking with the proven experts.

  5. Make new friends.
  6. Social norms are some of the most psychologically powerful and controlling forces in our lives. Ask yourself why you do something you regularly do, anything, and the answer will probably involve “because that’s what people do,” or “because so-and-so does it.”

    Why do you commute 45 minutes every day? Why do you put up with working in a cubicle? Why do you accept being chronically out of shape? You probably don’t have a good answer other than, “that’s what everybody else does” or “I didn’t know there was another way to live.”

    Luckily, just as social norms can be powerful in a negative way, they can be equally powerful in a positive way. My wife and I agree that if we had kids (which we’re leaning towards not having), we would want to raise them in a big city. Why? Because people who live in cities tend to be more adventurous, fitter, happier and concerned with learning new things than people who don’t live in cities. We would want to put those social norms to good use in shaping the lives of our kids.

    When you commit to changing something major in your life, you need to establish new social norms for yourself. Find people who are working towards what you want to achieve and make new friends. Spend lots of time with those people (in-person is preferred, but online can work too) and become part of that culture. You can keep your old friends too, but you might need to divorce some of them if they’re particularly negative influences.

  7. Obsessively measure your results.
  8. Did you know the mere act of stepping on a scale every day can cause you to lose weight? If you want to change something you have to start by choosing your measure of success. Then start measuring it obsessively.

    “That which gets measured gets done,” is how Peter Drucker famously put it. Tim Ferriss has a masterful chapter on the importance of measurement in his new book The 4-Hour Body. I bought the Kindle edition of the book yesterday and couldn’t put it down.

    Choose what you measure carefully, however. Measure things you can control and measure that which will lead to the results you want. Measure the result itself as well, but know that you can’t control the result directly.

    For example, if you’re trying to become an incredible investor in the stock market, you have to choose a philosophy. If you’re smart like my friend Scott Dinsmore, you’ll probably choose the Warren Buffet value approach to investing. Once you’ve chosen a method that you know has worked for other people, you should measure your progress against the method itself more than against the results. Measure how well you stuck to the core Buffett investing principles (or your own modified principles) and know the results will follow eventually.

  9. Succeed by helping other people succeed.
  10. I guess I’m all about cliches lately. You’ve probably heard this saying before from Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich: “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”

    Why does helping others lead to your own success? First, when you focus on helping others, you ensure your products or services will have demand. Second, helping others can be a great form of market research, learning what works and what doesn’t work. Third, people you help are likely to reciprocate and help you back.

    If all that isn’t reason enough to help others, it also makes you feel great. And when you feel great about yourself, you’re likely to do more great work.

  11. Bonus tip: don’t give yourself an out.
  12. There is only one way you can guarantee success in anything you do. Make it your goal to do your absolute best on the journey towards your destination instead of making the destination itself your goal. If you commit to doing your best every day, that’s something you can control and achieve without luck or circumstance.

    Once you’ve committed to the journey, it’s time to burn your boats.

    Don’t give yourself the option of failing. Tell people about your plan. Hold yourself accountable, publicly if possible. Make the journey your new reality and know that if you do your best, you’ll succeed no matter what. Failure doesn’t exist if you consider every failure a building-block towards your ultimate success. You’ll win the war even if you don’t win every battle.

If you’ve been reading about how to change your life just for the entertainment value, it’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself.

If you’re ready to commit to pursuing your life’s purpose from this moment forward, subscribe for free updates we’ll be here to hold you accountable.

This isn’t a dress rehearsal. You owe it to yourself to live the life you know deep down you were meant to live. Every day you aren’t radiantly alive and pursuing your life’s purpose is a day wasted.

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  • http://www.journeytopeak.com Jia Jun

    Thanks for the post Corbett. :D
    I don’t looking for shortcut in life, instead, I keep working hard to build a better way to reach the target. Building my momentum, effectiveness and efficiency on doing things. It can be said as shortcut as well, but my shortcut comes from experience and efforts. :)

  • http://11stepwebsite.com Matt

    Corbett,

    This is a spectacular post.

    While I agree completely with the first 5 points, the sixth one may be the most important.

    You can’t give yourself a way out or somewhere down the road you’re going to take it and get sidetracked. No way out forces you to stay focus and accomplish your goal(s) no matter what comes your way.

    Thanks for the boost man.

  • http://www.elevatedsimpicity.com Eric

    Corbett, this hits home for me as I’m a chronic 9%’er working my ass off to break free.

    Everyday is a new day where I have failures of my old self trying to pull me back into the box of comfort battling with my new self attempting to break free from it’s grasp.

    Most days the new self wins out so I stay true to my “long term” course.

    Way to reenergize me today!

    Eric

    • http://www.Sensophy.com Jacob Sokol

      If you stopped with that chronic dude, you’d probably be able to escape the 9% ;)… I feel Corbett is money when it comes to these types of articles.

      One thing i didn’t hear mentioned, although the article is not specifically about it, is the WHY.

      For me, the WHY is the biggest ball in the barrel – you have to start with this question first.

      Why do i want do swap saliva with a super model’s molars? Why do i want to be a physical cross bread of Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Why do i want to inspire 8 million people?

      Then follow the jewels Corbett dropped above and make it happen.

  • http://artofminimalism.com/ Mike Donghia

    Wow Corbett!

    This might be the first post I’ve ever read about achieving your dreams that just doesn’t run through a load of crap.

    My dream this year is to grow my blog and turn it into a full time endeavor. I’ve learned an incredible amount from watching you succeed and I’m applying many of those lessons to my life and my blog.

    Rock on!

    Mike Donghia

    • Corbett

      Glad I passed the “load of crap” bar. Thanks Mike ;)

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  • http://www.eco-cleaningservices.com/betterbusinessbetterworld Euri Giles

    Wow Corbett!

    This post is awesome! Thanks for laying it all out like that. I like #4 the best; obsessively measure your results – I have just recently began setting (writing down) goals to track progress and milestones.

    Thanks again for the motivation!

    Euri

  • http://www.seanogle.com Sean

    It seems like there are so many people out there who work there ass off trying to find the shortcut. If they put the same amount of energy into building something great, they’d be able to. Our culture is just so ingrained in the “get rich quick” mentality, that they fail to see whats actually possible with a little hard work.

    • Corbett

      Absolutely Sean, and it’s painful to watch friends who get stuck in the trap.

  • http://fourfourmedia.com/ Amber Goodenough

    Thank you Corbett!

    I needed that kick in the ass to get started. I love #3 about making new friends and forgetting old norms. I agree that you need to “divorce” friends who are negative and don’t share your desire to buck tradition.

    I think so many of us get stuck in life doing what everyone else does. Like buying a house and having kids. And then start to feel trapped by the choices they’ve made. I don’t want that for my life and I want to surround myself with people who want to do life differently too.

    Inspiration comes from inspiration. So thanks!

  • Brian

    Corbett,

    I just recently subscribed to your blog and so glad I did. Outstanding post man.

    I have recently been getting into IM and strongly consider myself a 9%’er. I’m in that no-man’s land of trying to decide which direction is for me. Starting to feel drained because I’m working my ass off while being fully aware of time going by ever so much faster.

    Anyway, I dig your philosophy and am looking forward to reading more.

    • Corbett

      Cheers Brian, good luck with figuring out your direction. Hang in there.

  • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

    This is a great post. I especially relate to #6. I’ve recently just got super serious about growing my business (and blog). It needs to work because my safety net is gone. I eliminated it. My back is against the wall. There is NO option, but to succeed. I’m gonna be unrealistic and shoot for the moon.

    Cheers.

    • http://www.Sensophy.com Jacob Sokol

      Jenny – after yesterday’s chat with you – there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re gonna’ make it happen.

      I love #6 as well – it’s like these are the only two options: it works or it works… Maybe not in the exact way we imagined, but it will work. 4sho sis!

  • http://www.howtomingle.com/blog/ Parker Lee

    personally, i was never a fan of “4 hour work week.”

    to sum it up, “enjoy what you love and it won’t seem like work” the end of the book.

    i understand, marketing n’ all that . . .

    i just don’t like the message it’s sending, because the reality is, even if you enjoy something you’re gonna have to bust your ass off.

    when starting anything up, there will be countless “80 hour” weeks, weekends where everyone’s going out, and you gotta stay home and do what you gotta do.

    i’m just not a fan of the over all message, even though it’s a good message. at least have some truth in the book, imo.

  • http://liveyourfuturenow.wordpress.com Rich McCarthy

    Corbett,

    I recently purchased your Affiliate Marketing Book for Beginners, along with other books, at the 72 hr sale. I’m 55 years old and I can attest to the fact that the longer you wait to try to change your life, the harder it is to break away. After 30 years in the retail management field, I was inspired by you and the others you mentioned in your post to quit my job and pursue a career on line. It has been slow-going and some recent unexpected expenses have made money tight. Because of this situation, I’ve been considering taking an “out”.

    There are 2 retailers who are actively recruiting me to return to the retail management field. The safety and security of a decent, steady income is so tempting. I have not taken this “out” yet, not only because I really do not want to work in retail management anymore, but also because I fear I will never attempt to break away again if I do return,

    Thank you for your timely post. It has strengthened by resolve to work harder to make my dreams come true and has saved me from returning to a life of false security and dissatisfaction.

    • Brian

      Hi Rich,

      Maybe you can do a little of your online gig on the side, until it takes off, but don’t quit man.

      My job and commute keeps me gone and away from home 12 hours a day, so I’m doing what I can with my online gig in the morning, on my commute and on weekends. I would sure get more done if I didn’t have a day job, but that’s just my reality right now.

      Don’t give up. Ever.

      -Brian

    • http://www.elevatedsimplicity.com Eric

      Hey Rich buddy, I second what Brian says!

      I checked out your site and it’s cool, kind of got a hockey feel, but I didn’t see any way to contact you directly.

      Give me a shout if you want to talk and Corbett is a awesome, awesome source too!

      But, don’t quit!

      Eric

      • http://liveyourfuturenow.wordpress.com Rich McCarthy

        Thanks you for the support and feedback Eric. I have been following your blog for a few weeks and appreciate the advice. I put an email contact on my site.

    • Corbett

      Hey Rich, your story sounds so familiar. Most people who want to start an “online career” have to struggle with doing it on the side vs. quitting and going full-time to begin with. I’ve done it both ways and there are serious pros and cons to consider.

      Sometimes when you don’t have a safety net, the stress of not earning and not knowing the future can really derail you. It’s a mental game that not everyone will win. On the other hand, obviously it’s hard to make serious progress when you have a day job.

      To me, the idea scenario is to have a small source of income that doesn’t completely fill your needs. That will give you a combination of motivation to fully quit (and earn enough) with more time to work on your passion project that you’d have with a full-time job.

      Perhaps you could negotiate something part-time?

      In any case, it really depends on you, your resolve and tolerance for uncertainty. Ultimately for me, I had to jump in with both feet and commit to becoming self-sufficient no matter what. The relative comfort and time commitment of a full-time day job was kryptonite to my entrepreneurial plans.

  • http://www.Sensophy.com Jacob Sokol

    Thanx for the link love yo – it looks like we’re on the same page – would love to connect with you on a deeper lever at some point. Chat soon dude…

  • http://www.thesmashedplanet.com Jen

    Not giving yourself an out is a really good tip for achieving something, especially something BIG. Having a blog is a really good way to keep yourself accountable because you’re basically telling the world you are going to do something, which is a hell of a lot more pressure than just mentally making a goal. Nobody wants to be seen as someone who doesn’t follow through with what they say they are going to do, so taking measures to make sure that your plan is not “back-out-able” is an excellent way to operate.

  • shela

    I have been doing #3 (making new friends) and #5 (helping other people), but I feel stymied in the other steps because I don’t have a direction.

    I did equally well in all subjects at school, and have not in 30 years found any work that remotely inspires me. I have taken various jobs to survive and have done well in them, but I could never make a career out of any of them. My biggest fear is running out of time before I can find a field that lights me up, and that I could make a living in doing it.

    Believe me, if I ever find something out there that I can sink my teeth into, I won’t need to be reminded to work hard, burn the boats, or learn from the best. If I ever find my tribe or my calling, I won’t be giving any less than 100% to it, as I have waited for so long. Frankly, I envy everyone who has found a passion to pursue, and I am baffled as to why anyone would look for a shortcut or take an out once they know what it is. Don’t they realize how fortunate they are?

    • Corbett

      Hey Shela, great point and example. It’s easy to forget that finding your passion can be a long journey itself. I had to start a couple of new ventures and take a six-month sabbatical to finally realize what I was after. It’s something you can’t rush, but you can help by changing scenery, traveling or meeting new people. I also took up sailing, surfing, acting and learning a new language over the course of a couple of years. I think the focus on doing things other than work helped me see myself more clearly as well.

    • http:/www.spanishexamples.com Steve

      Hi Shela,

      your story is very familiar to me. I recommend taking Corbett’s advice of a change of scene, simply to kick yourself out of any rut that you may be in. It may not be possible right now to identify exactly what your goal should be, but any jump away from a negative situation will be a jump roughly in the direction of a better future. Also bear in mind that if you ever are lucky enough to find your passion (hate that phrase), it may not pay you anything at all.

  • http://GlamGirlSays.com Krista Van Veen

    @Corbett – Great post. I will stay a subscriber :-)

    @Shela – I’m in the same boat you are. I know I want to live without debt and to travel. But finding a field that lights me up? Well, that’s another matter!

    #3 would have to be my greatest challenge. Like I said, I want to travel and create a small (tiny) home base but don’t want to do it alone. Feels like life has stalled.

    Time for me to kick it in the @ss and start making some waves! I’ll have all my debt paid off (Started with close to $300k) in the next 12 months. I’m using that as my ticking clock for lift off. The reality is that life is too short to wait around on Mr. Right.

    • Corbett

      Holy crap Krista, congrats on paying off that debt! That’s really inspiring. If you can do that, I’m sure you can do anything else you want to. Best of luck and definitely let us know how things go for you.

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  • http://www.thelifething.com Jonny Gibaud

    Hi Corbett,

    Quick question, if you don’t mind answering. Why are you learning towards not having kids? Any particular reason? Very interested to know.

    • Corbett

      Hey Jonny, for us it’s just a question of would we be happier and more fulfilled ultimately with or without having kids. We know lots of older people who decided not to have kids and are very happy and who have great lives. Most people have kids because of the biological drive or because it’s just what everyone else does. We’re not accepting the default without really considering every option.

      • http://www.financialsamurai.com Financial Samurai

        Corbett, you should write more about this topic. I think many will find it fascinating. HNY! Sam

  • http://www.spanishexamples.com Steve

    Great post. Especially liked the point about not using your self improvement reading as entertainment. I am close to unsubscribing from Everett’s blog, as it seems to have served it’s purpose for me. After all, astronauts don’t take the welding kit used to make the rocket with them when they go to the moon.

    So true about life speeding up as you get older. One technique for slowing things down again is doing a ‘hard reset’ of your life by making a big change. I moved to Spain, and since then things have stopped accelerating so quickly, as all the fresh sensory input needs more brain time to be processed. But it’s a constant process and 4 years later I am looking for a way forward again.

  • http://www.healthmoneysuccess.com Vincent

    Hi Corbett,

    “That which gets mea­sured gets done,”

    This is something that I failed to do so in the past and it came back to haunt me. I found that tracking your results help to keep your eyes glued to your goals. It also set your brain to the goal-searching-mode, which you will keep thinking about strategies to move yourself nearer to your goals.

    I set up excel sheets and do weekly reviews to help me track my goals and numbers this year and the results are amazing. I’m going to do the same thing for 2011 and I’m really excited about it.

    Cheers,
    Vincent

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  • http://www.start-right.com Rolf

    I love it!!

    Especially the first two ones are some principals I live by. I think getting a mentor is key in personal developement. But not just in that field. Even the top athletes have a coach!! So there is actually no way we can find an excuse not to get some mentor or role model.

    And never ever look for shurtcuts. There are none! The greatest people are at the top because they put in the work and the time needed. I bet you have heared of the 10.000 hour rule and it is so true. There is no overnight success. Behind ever great achievement there is a long story of a hard journey!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.bigredtomatocompany.co.uk Matthew Needham

    One of my favourite quotes is from Chairman Mao which goes something like this “even the journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step”. Which for me taking action and repeating is the only sure way to achieve the results you desire.

    Great KITA post, Matthew

  • http://www.lifesgreatescape.net Alyx Falkner

    Great Post Corbett,

    I agree with everything you wrote but I would have to expound upon one piece of advice. Point number 2: Learn From the Best.

    I know, for sure, there are average people that if taken advice from can actually harm you more than benefit. But I personally believe that people make people “the best.” By our talking, support, and damn there worshiping of someone we create this untouchable, great beyond belief persona some people have. Just like sports players or actors, when they make a mistake they get so much flak because they were suppose to be these “great role models.” But in essence that’s not what they signed up to be, they just wanted to do what they loved or had a passion for.
    Our praising of people can actually take that love of their passion away, because they may start to feel like they have to uphold an image. If we all saw the greatness in each person I think we’d be better off. Oppose to surrogating the best from the not so best, we should begin to foster an approach like everyone has greatness to offer even if they don’t see it yet.
    But of course that can be cliche in a way.

    I really enjoyed reading it got my creative juices following for the day.

    Thanks Alyx
    Discover You Discover Life and Enjoy the Journey

  • http://followmeeverywhere.com Ryan Martin

    I really enjoyed reading this post. And it’s sooo true!

    It’s time to get our ass in gear cause well, there is no time like the present. My buddy Sean Ogle referred me to your site. Love it!

    I’m starting a blog of my own after a year traveling abroad and hope to keep it going. Your post was inspirational. Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.happenchance.net Seth M. Baker

    Hey Corbett,
    You have no idea how right you are about number 3 (get new friends). I spent several years working a lucrative service industry job in one of the poorest states in the U.S. I stayed because it allowed me time off to travel.

    While I was there, I didn’t realize how much the attitudes of my coworkers affected my outlook on
    -work (something to be avoided),
    -the present (something which must be endured until something better comes along),
    -and life (something that happens to us, over which we have no control).

    Leaving that milieu was quite simply one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

    • Corbett

      Totally, Seth. I think the deterministic attitude is the #1 thing that separates happy people from miserable people. It’s contagious as hell too. Thanks for sharing and congrats for getting away from it.

  • http://www.creativeguidetolife.com Susan

    Rock on! I love this – “Get-rich-quick men­tal­ity is a dis­ease, just like drink­ing or gambling.”

    I totally agree. And I would say of the 1% who has the miraculous luck of winning the lottery, probably only 1% of THAT group lives the life they say they always wanted. Instead, they have no idea how to live with that much money, get into trouble, go into debt, blow it all on crap they always thought they wanted, and die pennyless. That’s why so many lotto winners end up miserable in life.

    I’m glad you gave props to Napoleon Hill too. Despite being motivated by my own needs (more money for more freedom and doing what I love), I find so little satisfaction or motivation in doing it just for me. If I’m not actually contributing or helping someone else… well, it’s just kind of blah. There’s no passion, no excitement, no thrill in watching someone else have an ‘aha’ moment at what you’ve just written.

    And from a more clinical standpoint, hell yeah, if you’re helping someone then your services are needed and valued and convert to sales.

  • http://www.joeguerilla.com Joe Ramos

    Nice One, Corbett. This is a good list, I especially connect with the part about seeking expert advice from the best. I have recently made the jump to work for myself, and everybody+their grandma has an opinion on what my next step should be. Most of it is “find another 9-5″.
    I don’t think so :)

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  • http://livingthebalancedlife.com Living the Balanced Life

    This is a great list Corbett. I think I will have to print it out. I really like number 6. I left corporate America and have no desire whatsoever to go back. So I have no out. I have to make what I am doing work. That doesn’t mean I won’t tweak or adjust as I learn things and the environment I do business in changes, but I won’t give up. There is no other option.
    Bernice
    The world really IS at our fingertips!

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  • NeilJJ

    Awesome stuff.
    Definitely made me want to get up and do something! =P

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