Subtract; Don’t Add (Creating Space to Create Change for 2024) | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 075

Subtract; Don’t Add (Creating Space to Create Change for 2024) | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 075

Modern society, social media, and other outside forces convince us that we’re not living up to the best version of ourselves. So, despite already maxing out our willpower, we continue to try to add more and more habits to reach this idealized version of ourselves. 

But here’s the thing… 

The fastest and most effective way to create positive change in your life is by subtracting habits that no longer serve you, instead of just letting them pile up. 


Because we each have a finite amount of willpower, motivation, and discipline. And when we push ourselves too hard or try to do too many things, we sacrifice our self-awareness. And this self-awareness is what leads to true positive change. 

As you prepare for 2024, I’m challenging you to subtract habits and activities that no longer serve your best interest instead of stacking more habits onto your already busy schedule. 

In today’s show (my last solo show of 2023), I’m giving your permission to take things away this month, so you create the change you crave in 2024 (and beyond). 

During this episode, we’ll discuss: 

  • Why subtracting habits and activities creates more rapid (and lasting) change than adding more to your plate 
  • What can you take away this month to make space for the change that you want to create in 2024?
  • How to use 2024 to increase your happiness, fulfillment, and fitness

Listen now.

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Episode 075 Highlights

  • Want to make 2024 better than 2023? Here’s why subtracting things is more effective for change than stacking up even more things (0:53) 
  • The insidious temptation spurred onto you by social media that prevents you from making meaningful change (2:03) 
  • 3 questions to ask yourself to instantly reveal which habits are no longer serving your best interests (5:10) 
  • How your ego feeds on external validation and tricks you into creating new habits that derail your happiness (and how to “spot” this sooner) ( 7:27) 
  • Why scrolling on social media gives you a weird sense of body dysmorphia (even when you’re satisfied with your physique) (10:10) 
  • How adding a few mindfulness activities into your life can help you eat better, exercise more, and live a healthier lifestyle (12:22) 
  • 2 books to add to your 2024 reading list that will boost your overall joy and fulfillment (13:08) 
  • How changing your environment to suit your goals brings faster change than motivation, willpower, and discipline combined (14:45) 
  • 3 Man Flow Yoga programs that will build your self-awareness in a hurry (17:13) 
Episode 075: Subtract; Don’t Add (Creating Space to Create Change for 2024) - Dean Pohlman - Transcript

Hey, guys, it’s Dean. Welcome to the Better Man podcast. This is our last solo episode for 2023. And in this episode, I want to help you get ready for 2024. And instead of telling you what you should add to your life, I’m going to give you some tips on how to create change in your life by taking things away, by creating space.

So for me, this is actually something that I have been focusing on for the last few, actually for the last few weeks. So I’m holding up a note right now that says create space and keep it open. So that’s been a theme in my life. And, you know, as you probably have realized with this podcast, a lot of what I talk about on this podcast are things that are going on in my own life and express in a way that I think could be helpful to you, either because you might be going through the same thing and it’s helpful to know that you’re not the only person going through it.

And also because maybe it’s just, you know, some helpful information. So so yeah, So in this episode, I want to talk about how you can create change by creating space. And there’s this temptation, especially in today’s society, with, you know, social media, with all these unrealistic expectations that we place upon ourself. We have to be financially successful. We have to have great physical fitness.

We have to be emotionally intelligent. We have to be, you know, a jack of all trades, a renaissance man. And there’s a temptation to add, add, add. So instead of looking at our life and trying to figure out what is most important and what we can take away, we tend to want to add more and more and more because that’s what we think will make us happy.

That’s what we think is going to make us fulfilled. We think if I can start doing yoga every day in addition to weight lifting, in addition to running, in addition to, you know, whatever else it is, then my physical fitness will really be where I want it to be. And then I’ll be happy. Or, you know, if it’s with business, maybe it’s I need to make 20% more than what I’m making right now.

And I need to have, you know, 20% more customers and I need to be the authority for my field in my location. And if I don’t do that, then I’m not going to be happy. So when we’re looking at our overall goals of how do we be happier, how do we be more fulfilled, how do we be more content with ourselves?

Usually we go straight to adding things. We add behaviors, we add habits, we add more commitments to ourselves. And the problem with that is that most of us are already operating at 100% capacity. I want you to think about the amount of willpower that it takes for you to get through your average day. And for most of us, we don’t have the willpower to do all the things that we want to do.

And whenever you’re trying to add in something new to your life, you need more willpower for that. And most of us just don’t have it. The other part of that is you also need to have self-awareness to be able to create change. You need to be able to have the awareness to recognize in the moment when it comes time for you to decide whether to do something that you’ve been doing or to do something differently and to start doing something new.

You have to be able to have the awareness in that moment to make that decision. Most of us are living on autopilot and we don’t really have the ability to have that awareness. And instead of burdening ourselves with more habits to start and more activities to do on our day, the best way for us to get ready to create change is to create space, to take things away.

And there’s a few things that you can do to start that process and get the ball rolling on that. I can tell you what I’ve done personally in my life, but for me, a few questions that I ask myself what is good that’s in the way of great. And there’s a whole book on this called Good to Great.

That is primarily a business book, but the concept can be applied to, you know, any aspect of life. But what are the things that you’re doing in your life that are just so-so and recognizing that those things are getting in the way of the things that you really want to do, the things that are going to really make you happy and really make you fulfilled and really help you feel good about yourself.

So a good question to ask yourself is what is good or what is so-so? What is average? And that’s those are the things that are getting in the way of great. Another good question to ask yourself is what are you doing that’s really not serving you? So what are you doing in your day to day life? That’s really not worth the time.

It might be something that’s already an established habit, but it’s just not getting you the best kind of bang for your buck, so to speak, in terms of how you feel after you do it. So that’s another good question to ask is what are you doing on a regular basis? That is just not getting you what you want out of it?

And maybe you’ve been doing it for a long time and you just haven’t seen the results. Maybe it’s something that you’re very comfortable and familiar with doing, but you’ve kind of maxed it out or you’ve plateaued. So it’s a good idea to ask yourself what are some things that you do, especially things that you kind of do without thinking things that are automatic behaviors, and maybe it’s time to stop doing those things.

Another good question. Ask yourself, what are you doing right now that’s driven by ego or driven by outside influences and not things that you authentically want to do yourself. I’ll give you an example of this from my own life. So when I was a kid and when I was in college, I played lacrosse and I was really good.

I was a really good lacrosse player. I was really athletic. I was super strong. I had incredible endurance and I loved being on the lacrosse field. I felt like Superman when I was playing lacrosse. And as I got older, I continued to play in some men’s leagues and I was really competitive for the few first few years. And then in my mid and late twenties, I got to this point where I wasn’t able to sustain the same level of play that I had, and I wouldn’t chalk that up to being older.

I think it was because I was just working out differently. I was doing a lot of yoga. I wasn’t doing a ton of endurance training or lacrosse training or or athletic training at the time, and so I just wasn’t as strong as I wanted to be. I just wasn’t as skilled as I wanted to be. And when I was on the field, that was the reminder to me, Oh, man, I really want to I really want to train more.

I really want to I really want to feel more skilled, more powerful on the field. And the problem with that was I just didn’t have the time and I could I would say I didn’t have the time. I’d like to say I could not make it a priority given my other obligations, giving my other responses is to be able to put in the time to train, to be where I really wanted to be on the cross field.

And so eventually I decided that because I wasn’t at the level that I wanted to be and I couldn’t get as much fulfillment as I wanted to on the lacrosse field, I was just going to stop playing. And that was a decision that I made because I realized that I was putting myself in certain situations where I really wanted to be a very powerful, very skilled lacrosse player.

But outside of that environment, it really wasn’t that important to me. So I remove myself from that environment. I kind of remove myself from that from that activity because it wasn’t something that I really, really wanted. It wasn’t something that I wasn’t that it wasn’t something I was willing to dedicate myself to. Another good example is in this might be a more relatable example, but scrolling on social media and I don’t know if you follow, you know, a lot of fitness people or not, but for me there are people that I follow that are much stronger than me.

They’re in much better shape than me. Maybe they’re more flexible than me, they’re more they’re stronger than me. They have a they have more endurance. They are a lot more muscular. And so when I watch those people, I feel bad about myself. You know, I’m like, I really want to work out more. I really want to make this a priority.

And then I find when I’m not looking at those people, I’m actually pretty content with my overall fitness. I feel strong enough to do the things that I want to do. When I do my workouts. I feel really capable. I feel really strong during the day. I my body feels good. I don’t feel like I have to, you know, spend an hour working on recovery every day.

I don’t have to do a ton of extra things in order to maintain my fitness. So I’m actually at a very good place in my fitness as long as I’m not exposing myself to other outside influences, because that’s when I start. That’s when ego starts to get in the way. That’s when I start to do things that I really don’t authentically want to do.

But because I’m being influenced by other media, then, then I do feel like I need to do it. So it’s a good idea for you to figure out, are these are there things that you that you’re doing that you really, really want to be doing that are self-driven, or are they things that are being that you’re feeling pressured or feeling that you should do something because you’re trying to measure up to somebody else’s level?

So that’s a good question to ask yourself. I also want you to consider, you know, moving on from these questions. I want you to consider for yourself how many of you are living on autopilot or maybe what portion of your life is spent on autopilot? I think most of us, most normal people, I think, live on autopilot their entire life.

They don’t stop to ask themselves, why am I doing this thing where they don’t stop to reflect about things? And if you want to create change, if you want to start living a healthier lifestyle, if you want to start eating better, if you want to start exercising more, I think you have to have you have to take yourself on autopilot, off of autopilot and start reflecting, start making decisions in the moment with self-awareness as opposed to just doing as opposed to just doing what you’re used to doing and doing things automatically on autopilot.

There’s a big difference there. And in order to get out of autopilot mode, you have to develop awareness. And to do that, you want to add more mindfulness focused activities to your life, things that you do to train, your ability to think and practice self-awareness. There’s a really good book on this that’s called The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Huyck that in Blasting might be right.

Incorrect. I think it’s Jonathan Haidt, Jonathan Hogg I don’t know, but look up the happiness hypothesis, and this is a really good book that that talks about some some tools for building self-awareness. Meditation is one of those outside of that book. There’s also you can do yoga, you can work on your breathing, you can work on your body awareness, you can practice being present.

And there’s also a book called Flow by Me. Hi Chick sent me by who is a Hungarian psychologist, and he has this came up with this concept to recognize this concept called flow, which is basically the state that we get into when we’re fully present and fully engaged in what we’re doing. And when you can develop your ability to be in flow and develop your mindfulness using things like meditation, yoga, exercise, yoga in particular, because it’s fully immersive, you’re not looking at your phone and checking what’s set to do next.

You’re completely engaged in your body, in your breath and body awareness, and also choosing activities based on trying to get them into this criteria of flow. Then you can start to develop your your mindfulness. And this is ultimately the ability to be more self aware and to make, make and to be able to make decisions in the moment when the opportunity comes.

There’s this, there’s this conception that change happens with discipline and motivation and willpower. And there’s two books in particular that if you haven’t read them, I’m just giving you a bunch of books right now to read, which is great. Two books in particular that are great at helping you understand. This one is called Tiny Habits. One is called Atomic Habits.

Tiny Habits, an Atomic Habits. And ultimately the big takeaway from these books is that motivation and discipline are largely a non-factor. They are a factor, but they’re a very unpredictable and unreliable factor in whether or not you do something consistently or you don’t do something consistently. And ultimately, the best way for you to help yourself with doing behaviors that you want to do and avoiding behaviors that you don’t want to do is by doing work outside of that moment.

So doing things in advance to either one shape the environment around you, to better encourage you to do those behaviors you want to do and to discourage you from the things that you don’t want to do, and to also do the work to get clear on your motivations for wanting to do something or wanting to avoid something. So if we look at exercise as an example, what can you do in your environment to encourage you to want to exercise more?

Can you change your living room? Can you change your your house, your your set up somehow, your physical surroundings that’s going to make you want to exercise more? What can you put around your house that’s going to make you that’s going to change you from someone who doesn’t want to exercise into somebody that does want to exercise externally.

What are the what people can you surround yourself with? What community can you interest in yourself into that are going to encourage you to exercise as opposed to discourage you from doing it? You can also get clear on your motivation for exercise. You can ask yourself why you want to exercise. You can even write down all the reasons why you want to exercise all the benefits, all the things that you’re going to get out of it, and then also write down what you’re giving up or what you won’t get by not exercising.

So getting clear on your motivation for wanting to do something and also on shaping your environment to encourage you to do things that you want to do can be incredibly helpful with creating the change that you want to see. And in order to be able to have the space and the awareness to make those decisions, to do the things that you want to do, that’s where you want to develop mindfulness, and that’s where things like, again, meditation, yoga, with an emphasis on body awareness and breathing, just basically exactly what we do in Man for yoga in particular, the Breath series is a really good one for this.

There’s also a program called Stretch and De-stress that recently came out that’s really good for this. There’s also a program called The Better Days Series, which is really good for this. All of these are in the Man for Yoga app and members area. So those are all really good examples of how to develop mindfulness and meditation is a really good one to meditation is basically the practice of being an observer are one.

One form of this is being an observer to your own thoughts. So sitting in a nice, comfortable position in a chair or on the floor, sitting on a block, whatever’s comfortable for you and being aware of the thoughts that are going through your head. But recognizing that they are not you, they are your brain creating thoughts. They are your brain scanning for threats or going off on tangents and you going with those thoughts.

Meditation is the practice of you being separate from those thoughts, observing the thoughts, but not take not going with them in whatever direction that they’re going. Just kind of like you’re a good example or a good description that I heard recently. Is it be like watching a movie, but instead of watching the story play out, you just be looking at images on the screen.

So meditation is something that you can use to develop mindfulness, to give you the ability to create space, to create change. So here’s the theme here. I want you to, as you move into the rest of December and you start thinking about the changes that you want to create for New Years for 2024, I’m inviting you to create space during this month.

What can you take away this month to make space for the change that you want to create in 2024? How can you use this opportunity to take away things? And what can you how can you educate yourself during this process? What are some books that you can read? What are maybe you can think about? What are the things that you really want to do in 2024?

What are some activities that you really want to do? But then instead of adding those right away, think about what’s getting in the way of those. What can you take away? How can you create space in your life in order to make room for these new things? Because I’m going to bet that most of you listening to this are already maxed out.

You’re already doing everything you can. And so the question for you guys is not what can we add, but what can we take away? And I’ll be doing that as well. That’s my goal for 20. That’s my goal for December this month’s Creating Space, Keeping It Open. So I hope you found this episode useful. This is the last episode of The Better Man Podcast for 2023 and the end of season three.

Season four picks back up in a few weeks to kick off New Years 2024. It’s going to be on Thursday, December 28. And I’ve also got an amazing season ahead of you for season four. The this season the season four. I’ve been a lot more selective with my guests. I’m really interviewing people who I want to interview. I’m reaching out to big names and getting them to join me on the Better Man podcast to have the conversations that I want to have that I know are going to be helpful for you guys who are trying to become better men, who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, who are trying to be more fulfilled, be

more happy, have better connections, have stronger connections, have more loving connections with the people in your life. These are all the things that I’m genuinely interested in as well. And this this coming season, I’m really choosing guests who I want to have conversations with, who I’m excited to have conversations with, and I think you’ll be able to tell that.

So we’ve got Mark Sisson is going to be a guest on the show. I also have Noah Kagan coming on the show. He’s somebody that I followed for a really long time. I’ve asked him to do this podcast four times. He finally said yes, I don’t want to see any other names at the risk that I jinx them.

But yeah, we’ve got a lot of big names coming to the big names coming to the podcast, maybe people you have or haven’t heard of before, but I’m excited for this this coming season and also continue to explore things and these so our podcast formats as well. So guys, thank you for being here. Also big shout out to our lifetime members.

We call her Black Friday. We did a lifetime membership sale. We had a very large percentage of our existing members jump on board for life, for a lifetime membership. For those of you who signed up, I’m excited to be training you for years to come. I’m also incredibly humbled at the trust in which you’ve placed in myself and in the man for yoga team to help you with your fitness goals.

And I’m really excited to keep creating content for you guys, creating workouts, creating programs, and also, you know, doing stuff outside of the fitness world like this with with with things like this podcast, with retreats like be the better you retreat. And yeah, I’m just excited for this period of change And now he’s personally for me and also excited for what it means for all the new things that we’ll be doing with Man for Yoga.

So thank you for listening. If you guys haven’t already, please leave a review for the podcast wherever you listen on Apple Podcasts, on Google or on Spotify if you’re not already part of man for yoga, we do have the Man for Yoga app and members area. You can start a free seven day trial at any time. We have a comprehensive getting started guide that’s going to walk you through a starting program, guide you from beginner all the way up to intermediate and beyond, and make it really easy for you to be consistent with your workouts and to get noticeable results in your first few weeks.

Health Feeling stronger, feeling more flexible and getting rid of pain, helping you feel better in your body and more confident in your long term fitness. Again, you can sign up for that. Learn more at Mansell yoga dot com slash join if you’re not ready for that. We always do have a free seven day challenge. No credit card required at man for yoga Bcom slash 7dc.

Thanks guys. You’re listening to this episode. I’m looking forward to seeing you on many more. Hope you have a great rest of your holiday season and I’ll see you on the next one. Bye.


Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Donate to Movember & support Men’s Health Awareness Month: Every November, I team up with Movember to raise money to support men’s health issues. We’ve raised $13,503 since 2020. Want to help men everywhere by raising awareness for issues they’re battling through? Donate here: https://ManFlowYoga.com/Movember 

Want to improve your sexual wellness, get stronger erections, and last longer in bed? Then join the FREE 7-Day Sexual Wellness Challenge here: https://shrtlnk.co/uA27H 

Want to unlock more flexibility and strength, reduce your risk of injury, and feel your absolute best over the next 7 days? Then join the FREE 7-Day Beginner’s Yoga for Men Challenge here: https://ManFlowYoga.com/7dc

Tired of doing a form of yoga that causes more injuries than it helps prevent? The cold, hard truth is men need yoga specifically designed for them. Well, here’s some good news: You can start your 7-day free trial to Man Flow Yoga by visiting https://ManFlowYoga.com/join.

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