“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When faced with misfortune, most people are quick to lash out at others. Yet, high achievers know that it’s not laying blame that leads to success—it’s proudly taking ownership of every aspect of your life.

These 10 questions will empower you to rise in almost any situation, allowing you to reset your energy, prepare actionable plans, and advance with stronger resilience than ever before.

1. What’s the gift in this? 

Understanding this has been one of the most profound turning points in my life. Incredible stories of Janine Shepherd and Jim Stovall prove that there’s a gift in every adversity … you just have to find it. While a challenging skill to master in the moment, dig deep and you’ll find a little comfort in even the most difficult hardship. Mastery of resilience is the foundation of the growth mindset and what keeps high performers focused when others give up.

2. What am I grateful for?

Numerous studies, including this one from UC Berkeley, have shown that people who use a regular gratitude practice are happier. When you’re focused on positive energy, it shifts your focus from resentment and envy to abundance, improving everything from personal relationships to career success. If you’re new to gratitude, grab a copy of The 5 Minute Journal—it’s what I use personally and is truly lifechanging. Also, schedule a weekly calendar reminder to send good vibes—whether a message, phone call or email—to someone whose efforts and support you appreciate. 

3. What do I truly want?

If you’re working a job you hate, or spending too much time helping someone else achieve their goals, perhaps it’s time you restored balance into the equation and thought about what you wanted. Readers of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy might recall the greatest turning point in Sandy Gallagher’s career was when she realized her entire life had been about making someone else—her father—happy. As she transitioned toward forging her own path, Sandy found that she was not only happier and more fulfilled in her new career, she was able to positively impact far more people, too.

4. Why am I doing this?

As Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When you’re clear on why you do what you do, whether an individual or a company, it allows you to persist through adversity, attract a tribe of people excited in your mission, and remain constantly alert for resources that will help you on your journey—the ultimate pathway to finding your how. 

5. What am I willing to sacrifice each day? 

In a world of instant gratification, buck the trend of demanding it now and, instead, proudly put in the work. This is a fundamental step emphasized repeatedly in Think and Grow Rich and the process of autosuggestion. With your most important goals, write down the specific actions you’ll take—the price you’re willing to pay—to make them a reality. You’ll find that the level of success you achieve is in direct proportion to the consistent effort you take. 

6. What three biggest distractors can I eliminate? 

Audit your time each day for one week so you can easily pinpoint where you’re knocked off course. (Even simple things such as deleting time-wasting apps, switching your phone to airplane mode for regular blocks, and removing clutter, can all make a massive difference to your daily productivity.) Next, look around your living and working environments. If they don’t motivate you to go the extra mile each day, make some changes. In my office, I have a huge print that says “ACTION: The difference between having and wanting” reminding me of the importance of sustained effort. Surround yourself with inspiration. 

7. Who am I spending the most time with? 

Your energy source is the most important part of your life and should be insulated from sabotage at all costs. Surround yourself with people who think positive, dream big, and align with your values—those demonstrated in the top-right corner of the Friendship-Success Quadrant (below). You’ll find your energy levels increase tenfold as a result. This is the power of the mastermind and the one attribute that has made the most significant difference in my own life. Once you’ve found the right people, use this to turbocharge your success.

8. What mental health practices have I got scheduled?

Paradoxically, we often reserve our love and kindness for others, and then engage in negative self-talk when we’re alone—it’s certainly a weakness of mine. Rob Dyrdek introduced me to Dr George Pratt, the clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist who Rob credits as changing his life. George helped me to be more aware of negative self-talk and gave me some exercises that I now have scheduled in my calendar every week to keep focused, relaxed and happy. Here’s a short one you can try. Don’t just make time for your mental health, schedule it. 

9. What would it look like if it were easy? 

As part of human nature, and only enhanced in the digital age, we often massively overthink and overcomplicate situations. Sometimes, taking a step back and giving ourselves a mental reset to ponder “What would this look like if it were easy?” can be the quickest way to an acceptable solution, saving valuable time and energy in the process. 

10. In December 2019, reflecting on the year just gone, what 3-5 things happened that made me the happiest?

The end of the calendar year is a good reference point for how your life is progressing. If you’re unable to answer this question quickly, fill out the Success Plan (template). Feel the emotions of having already attained those 3-5 things, then make sure you’ve got a detailed plan—with regular action items scheduled—built into your weekly calendar so imagination becomes reality. High performers all have systems to optimize their success.

Through a calm demeanor and an inquisitive mind, the best way forward is always revealed. Remember, you are the only problem you will ever have and YOU are the only solution.

Take actions today that your future self will thank you for. After all, the right question could save your life.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: The One Number that Doesn’t Matter’

PS – Join my VIP newsletter AND get a free bonus from Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy (instant download).

“Miss a meal, but don’t miss a book.”

Jim Rohn

This holiday season, rather than squandering money on gifts with little long-term value, consider giving something practical that gets the recipient excited about taking ownership of his/her future.

Aside from allowing us to delve into the minds of the most inspiring and innovative people on the planet, books are a great gift because they sit there staring back at us: providing gentle prompts, imaginative thought and unprecedented motivationwhen we need it most. In fact, many of the people I interviewed for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy noted that, in times of distress, just staring at the cover of Hill’s original classic made them feel better about themselves.

For the time-poor, or those with reading difficulties, audiobooks are the perfect way to consume massive knowledge in a short timeframe. For portability, and to easily retain a summary of your highlighted passages, ebooks can’t be beat. For a well-rated classic, or something you want to revisit time and time again, there’s no substitute for a hardcover, which is also far more personal than gifting a digital product.

Welcome to my first annual recommended reading list of gifts for yourself or a loved one. 

Best for Motivation:

Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy by James Whittaker

Writing this book is the greatest honor of my life and it’s truly humbling to see it continue to resonate with so many people around the world. The theme of the book is that how you respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes is far more important than the adversity itself, and this is demonstrated through a combination of moving stories and practical tips. My hope is that it continues to inspire people of all backgrounds to extraordinary achievement.

Want a signed copy? Signed copies with free worldwide shipping are available for USD $25 or AUD $30 per copy. Remember to email us with at least two weeks’ notice to ensure your order arrives in time. Discounts are available for bulk orders – email for more info. (Unsigned copies are also available on Amazon.)


Best for Resilience:

Defiant by Janine Shepherd

If you’ve read or watched Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with Janine Shepherd. Her remarkable story is the best personification of resilience and tenacity that I’ve ever seen.

Defiant is a comprehensive account of a champion athlete having her entire life ripped away by a freak accident, before summoning the courage to continue and pursue a gold medal in the sport of life. I finished this book in two sittings, then called Janine to tell her how amazing it was! Highly recommended. 


Best for Entrepreneurs:

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I’ve always been a fan of Nike, and Shoe Dog is a warts-and-all account of founding one of the world’s most recognized companies and navigating all the perils along the way. Often, with global brands, we forget that the business all started as a simple thought impulse. Knight traveled around the world looking for inspiration, battling the market leaders (and even the US Government) and setting up distribution channels.

His philanthropic values, entrepreneurial spirit and uncanny resourcefulness make this an excellent gift for aspiring entrepreneurs with lofty goals. 


Best for Gratitude:

The 5 Minute Journal by Intelligent Change

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen how frequently I post these as Daily Stories. A huge percentage of CEOs have spoken about the importance of journaling for mental well-being; yet staring at a blank page each day can be daunting. The 5 Minute Journal provides a useful structure to start and finish the day in the right mindset. To me, it’s been truly lifechanging and is the book I gift the most.

(If you’re on Instagram, I want to follow you too! Just send me a message or email with your username so I can keep track.)


Best for Professionals:

Chief Maker by Greg Layton

This book is written for middle level managers looking to equip themselves with the skills and mindset to not only secure a C-level role but thrive.

In addition to a unique background—think living with Shaolin Monks in China, running ultra-marathons, and coaching world champion athletes—Greg has become a close personal friend. He compiled his firsthand research with true changemakers into his 5-step ‘GREAT Method’ asthe ultimate career progression handbook. Better yet, Chief Maker is FREE as part of a Christmas promotion.


Best for Personal Branding:

Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

We all know the importance of having mentors regardless of what life stage we’re in, but too many people are focused on trying to find one in real life. The most influential people of all time—from Marcus Aurelius to Jeff Bezos—turned to the written word for inspiration, and you can do the same. In 2012, when I lived in Boston and was at a career crossroads, Gary Vee’s books were enormously influential.

Crushing It is his latest book and will help entrepreneurs and professionals, as well as those looking for a profitable side hustle, monetize their passion and package their talents for success in the digital age.


Timeless Classics:

The following three books are timeless classics and will be on my bookshelf forever:

Best Gift (or Accompaniment) for Everyone:

A handwritten card or letter to acknowledge the recipient for all the loving and selfless actions they have taken to brighten the world and illuminate your spirit.

I proudly recommend all these books and know they would be a welcome gift in any stocking. This holiday season give your friends and loved ones the inspiration and ability to help themselves.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: The Path to Greatness’

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Jim Rohn

We ALL have bad days … every single one of us. There are many reasons why we might feel forlorn—whether it’s financial hardship, relationship stress, injury/illness or any number of other possibilities.

Symptoms of a slump include being irritable, tired or exhausted, low on confidence, feeling frustrated or angry at our situation, and being negative or indifferent to our future. But make no mistake, the response to adversity is what separates extraordinary achievers from the herd.

While there’s no magic pill or quick fix, you have MUCH more power over your future than you think. Here are 14 proven tips to help you level out the bad days and put the spring back in your step.

1. Recognize you’re not alone.

We’re all fighting our own battles and trying to do the best we can based on our life experiences. Often, we shield our greatest vulnerabilities from those closest to us. Rather than sitting a home alone where you can get caught in your own head, reach out to others. As Janine Shepherd says, recognizing we’re not alone removes the isolation and empowers us to take action.

2. Start a daily gratitude practice.

Get into the habit of daily gratitude. Not only does it allow your mind to reset, it helps you identify the multitude of gifts already in your possession and what you need to do in the present. In the last newsletter, you read about how Nelson Mandela was able to do this while being in a South African prison for 27 years. Unsure of where to start? Grab a copy of The 5 Minute Journal.

3. Watch what you’re eating.

Harvard Medical School recently pointed out that “a healthy diet was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing depressive symptoms.” To get the most out of your body, give it the right fuel:

4. Change your environment.

Numerous studies (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) have proven the benefits that getting outdoors and wandering through nature can have on everything from stress and inflammation, to self-esteem and energy levels … even life expectancy. Find a nearby park or forest, do a yoga session, play a team sport or enjoy some outdoor exercise that enables you to connect with nature, be present in the moment, and recharge.

5. Divide and conquer.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with everything on your plate, especially those with young children. Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink recommends coming up with a plan of attack: deconstruct your tasks, sort them by priority, ask for help where you can, and take purposeful action until you’re back on track

6. Volunteer to help those less fortunate.

Helping those less fortunate is one of the most gratifying things we can do: it enables us to share a warm embrace with those we’ve been able to help, while also giving us perspective on the good in our own lives. Whether it’s helping children at a local special needs school, feeding the homeless, teaching military veterans to surf, or providing companionship at an aged care facility or hospice, there are countless ways to give back.

If you’re not in the right mindset for volunteer work, focus on less confronting options, such as giving a cheery “hello” to someone on your walk, picking up litter on the beach or engaging in friendly banter with a shop assistant.

7. Turn notifications off.

Better yet, put your phone on airplane mode or switch it off for a few hours each day. Free of distraction, you’re able to focus on the present.

8. Everyone has their own truth.

You might recall the quote: “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” If you’re dealing with some type of conflict, try and see it from the other person’s perspective—after all, everyone has their own truth. This enables you to keep calm and respond, rather than impulsively react where the situation often ends up much worse.

9. Starve negative situations of oxygen.

Hang out with those who you have a common future with, not a common past. If someone in your life does not reciprocate with positive energy, allocate more time to those who align with your vision and values. Your energy focus is the most important weapon in your arsenal—protect it at all costs.

10. Increase your intake of positive material.

I’m constantly amazed at how much people allow the news to dictate their mood. Rather than let the sensationalist news cycle wear you down, focus on replacing it with inspiring books/audiobooks (e.g. The Obstacle is the Way), uplifting positive music, and informative podcasts like Win the Day with James Whittaker (also available on YouTube).

11. Plot your future.

Often, bad days can stem from a disconnect between where we are now and where think we should be. Get on the front foot and define what success looks like in all areas of your life (download the FREE Success Plan Template). It should be exhilarating to undertake that exercise—it’s literally a wishlist for the universe! You can then focus on recalibrating your routine to make sure you prioritize the most important tasks.

12. Give the best you’ve got on that day.

An essential part of long term success is to focus on giving the best you’ve got on that day. That advice came from Alethea Boon who, in an elite sporting career spanning two decades, has had her fair share of ups and downs. Putting additional pressure on yourself to notch a productivity record each day only increases your chance of burnout, injury or illness.

13. Train yourself to embrace the struggle.

Those who have read Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy will recall the stories of Janine Shepherd and Jim Stovall who overcome enormous adversity on their remarkable journeys. You are much stronger than you know. Make the decision to embrace the struggle and show the world just how great you are.

14. Ask for help.

Be honest and upfront about how you’re feeling, especially if your bad days have lasted for a while. Courage is asking for help and letting others in, not suffering in silence.

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Wishing you a week of action, adventure and laughter!

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

PS – Learn more about how you can use adversity as a stepping stone to greatness.

Ready to win the day, every day? 

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