How you value your time is how you value your life

 

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Pretend Your Time is Worth $1,000/Hour and You’ll Become 100x More Productive

How you value your time is how you value your life

“Pretend your time is worth $1,000/hr. Would you spend five of them doing extra work for free? Would you waste one on being angry?” –Niklas Göke

You have very few hours here on on this earth.

Still, many people waste much of their time on pointless, low-quality activities that don’t help them reach their true goals — their mission.

The truth is, most people value their time at far, far less than it’s worth.

They say yes to things they have no business doing. They give away their talents, attention, and effort to others who take, take, take.

They spend hours watching low-quality television and social media when they should be productive and effective.

See, many people could be making a fortune (if they used their time well)…but instead, they give away their time in unproductive ways that leave them broke, unhappy, and stuck.

But what if you placed a high value on your time?

How would that change you? Your life? Your family? Your future?

Imagine that an hour of your time is worth $1,000.

What would your life look like?

What people would you stop putting up with?

What problems would you stop wasting time on?

What things would you stop — and start — doing?

Your results would be incredible. You’d become exponentially more productive, focused, and effective.

“Most people have no clue what they are doing with their time but still complain that they don’t have enough.” -Grant Cardone, NYT best-selling author

“Busyness” Isn’t a Badge of Honor; It’s a Sign of Weakness

“Being busy is a form of mental laziness.” -Tim Ferriss

It takes discipline to not become “busy.”

If you let it, your world and the people around you will take all your time. Your time is not unlike your paycheck; if you don’t budget for things, you’ll have nothing left over by the end of the month.

This is how lives are wasted — by doing thankless work for ungrateful takers that didn’t deserve your time in the first place.

We’re all busy — with work, our families, our friends. It’s not bad to be “busy.” But in the words of best-selling author Jeff Goins:

The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.

Are you focused, making tangible action steps towards what truly matters?

…Or are you just “busy?”

When you’re busy, you are on autopilot. You can’t see the hours slipping away, time you’ll never get back.

Wrote the ancient philosopher Seneca:

“Indeed the state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations…If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect how small a portion is their own.”

Who’s in charge of your time?

You?

Or everyone else?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Busyness and Stress Are the Enemy

“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.” -William Irvine

Most people prize “being busy.” They proclaim it with pride, as if it’s a badge of honor.

But for most people, this “busyness” is nothing more than distraction and procrastination from what really matters. They just like feeling busy.

Said author Benjamin Hardy, “Most people lack the confidence to go big. They prefer the dopamine boost of getting lots done, even if they aren’t making any progress.

For world-class performers, busyness and stress are the enemy. They’re a sign you’re off-track. It means you’ve been lazy and undisciplined, and have let too many unimportant tasks take you away from what really matters.

“Being busy is a form of mental laziness.” -Tim Ferriss

Bestselling author Jeff Goins once wrote, “The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.” Extremely successful people don’t tolerate busywork or distraction. They have crystal clear vision on their goals, and do what they need to do to get there, every single day.

In his landmark book Deep Work, Cal Newport recounts some choice insights on how to develop insanely productive results through removing all distraction and entering flow states:

“Busyness and exhaustion should be your enemy. If you’re chronically stressed and up late working, you’re doing something wrong. Do less. But do what you do with complete, hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of your day.”

Deep work means absolutely not tolerating distractions and producing monumental quality and quantity in a very short time. This is how you can complete far more with focused efforts than unfocused efforts with far more time.

Do you want incredible productivity?

Then cultivate extreme focus with whatever you do.

If you don’t manage your time, it will manage you.

“When you have less time available for work, you have to make better choices about what to work on (and what not to).” -Tim Metz

As You Think, So You Are

“As a man thinketh, so is he. As he continues to think, so he remains.” -James Allen

You teach people how to treat you.

If you let people know your time is free and low-valued, people will treat it as such.

But if you teach people that your time is expensive, important, and valuable, then people will respond in kind.

What you think is what you become. If you think your time is worth a few bucks an hour, that you’ll begin to act like it. You’ll find yourself saying “yes” to meaningless, pointless obligations.

But if, in your heart, you know your time is valuable…

People will recognize that.

People will respect that.

People will treat you differently.

Wrote author William Irvine:

“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If you don’t treat yourself and your time with respect, you will become unhappy, resentful, and tired. Your body and mind long for mastery and freedom; you can’t have those things if your time is cheap and easily taken.

You become what you are.

You attract what you look for.

Back in my early days of writing, I didn’t think I was much of a writer. So I spent a lot of time on low-quality activities, like begging other low-tier/no-name bloggers to let me write guest posts.

No one responded to me. I rarely was invited to write. I think people could see how little I valued myself, and didn’t want to promote my message. I don’t even blame them.

Years later, I finally began seeing my time as very important. I began saying “no” to almost everything. I had a mission, and I became unwilling to fill my valuable time with things that wouldn’t help me achieve my goal.

I turned down high-paying, exciting, interesting opportunities…because they weren’t the right fit. In the end, they were all wasting time I needed to focus on my mission.

As you think, so you are.

Treat your time as a valuable commodity, and people will begin to treat it like that, too.

You Can Do Amazing Things, But Only If You Have Time to Do Them

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” -Warren Buffet

You probably need to say “no” more.

Every time you say yes to something, it means you’re saying “no” to a dozen other opportunities. The world’s most successful and extraordinary people say no to almost everything, but yes to a few things.

Those few things determine their career, legacy, and livelihood.

Warren Buffet, investor extraordinaire and a net worth of over $70 billion dollars, has said that for every hundred opportunities he is given, he might say yes to 1–2 of them.

Really successful people say no to most things, because most things won’t get them to where they truly want to be.

Steve Jobs also shared this mentality. Decades ago, Jobs was quoted:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

This process of weeding out the merely “good” for the truly great opportunities is easier when you value your time at $1,000/hour. Anything you can honestly justify doing for $1,000/hour is probably a good thing.

In Conclusion

“Living in frenzy is a sign we’ve squandered too much.” -Niklas Goke

In reality, a lot of people are living a frenzied, busy life. They wear their business as a badge of honor, and brag about their full schedules.

Frankly, most people prefer the little dopamine boost of checking boxes on a to-do list than actually getting important work done.

How do you value your time?

Take stock of the things you did this week. How many of them were worthy of $1,000/hour?

How many activities were a true waste of time?

Value your time at what it deserves to be. The higher the value, the more important and productive work you’ll do — and the less trivial and mindless tasks you’ll get caught in.

Tips for Learning Anything Faster

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Some Tips for Learning Anything Faster

It’s great when we finally learn something new. It’s wonderful to finally have grasped a new topic or have mastered a new skill such as a foreign language.

Yet, the task of actually sitting down and putting in all that nasty work to learn seems overwhelming. It seems like learning anything new will take years, and you have an insanely busy life to lead.

Of course, like anything else in life that is worth doing and requires work, the first thing is to get your mind right. You have to really want to do it. It has to actually mean something to you. It has to hit you on an emotional level.

Until you truly commit to doing something you are likely to fall short of your goal. Here are some tips that will convince you to commit, but also help you reach your goals faster:

  1. Practice and Repetition: Doing the same thing over and over again eventually hammers it home. The more your mind is exposed to something the quicker it learns it. Use flash, i.e. note, cards to practice any material you are trying to learn. Writing something down over and over again is also foolproof. No, it’s not sexy, and it’s not exactly fun. It just works.
  2. Listening to Music: Listening to music has been shown in studies to stimulate learning. Listening to Megadeth at full blast probably ain’t gonna do it, but listening to classical music has been shown to boost performance on tests when taken immediately after learning while listening to music. It also helps to listen to ambient electronic music as well as listening to the same song on repeat many times. You fall into a groove and focus harder.
  3. Visualization: Picture yourself actually working on what you will learn. See yourself sitting down with a book, or using flash cards, having the music on, what you are wearing, the time of day, the whole nine yards. And most importantly, picture yourself enjoying it and being successful at it. This way you’ve taken some of the dread out of it, and gotten used to the idea of putting in that work.
  4. Overviews: If you are learning from a book or an online course, take a look at the table of contents and skim the topics. Then go to each chapter and get a brief overview of what it is about. Again, this can take away some of the dread you may feel, and it may even make you look forward to it. It will also demystify the subject and ease you into it.
  5. Learn by Dreaming: Say what? Stop laughing! This sounds hokey as hell and I don’t blame you for rolling your eyes but I can assure you I have had so many good ideas come to me in the middle of the night. The key is to think about what you are learning right before you go to bed. The best thing to think about is something you are confused about. Our minds actually do process information in our sleep. It might not work every time but it does work.
  6. Discuss with Others: Working on just about anything with other people usually leads to quicker results. Talk over hard material with other people. They can give you tips, but just explaining it to them is a new and different way of learning material that you may have struggled with locked away alone trying to learn. Albert Einstein had his most important breakthrough in formulating his Theory of Relativity when discussing it with a friend. He had been close to giving up before that conversation.
  7. Know Why You Are Learning: Learning about history is easy for me because I enjoy history. Learning about constitutional law was not easy for me, but I did it because it was necessary to become a lawyer. Figure out why you are learning and that will aid you in actually getting it done. There has to be something in it for you; figure out what it is.
  8. Engage Your Senses: When I was studying for a 19th century American history final in college I went out and saw a movie called Dances with Wolves. Yes, I sort of rationalized going to see a movie to get out of studying but it actually helped synthesize what I had been studying. Seeing how Indians lived and how they interacted with whites gave me a better appreciation of that history. So if you are learning about a subject don’t just read about it, watch a show on TV or Youtube on it or listen to an audiobook.
  9. Take Some Well-Time Breaks: Cramming for an exam can help you learn a lot of material in a short amount of time, but you only retain it for a short amount of time as well. To really learn something you need to take your time. Work intensely for short bursts, and then take a break. You avoid burnout this way, but your mind also needs this time to refresh itself. Your mind also subconsciously continues to work while you take a break.

I hope that takes some of the stress out of learning for you. To have learned something is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but putting in that work is not always pleasant. Follow these tips and I know you will find learning easier and faster than you previously imagined.

Why You Can’t Break Your Bad Habits

bad habits

I’ve tried many different ways to break my bad habits. But none of the conventional tips and tricks brought me lasting success.

We try the weirdest things to get rid of our bad habits. And we blindly believe every single person who gives us advice on the topic.

The most popular advice is this: “Replace a bad habit with a good one.”

It’s wrong. It doesn’t work.

I’ve discovered a much more effective way of changing our lives by changing our habits. I’d love to share it with you. But first, let’s ask ourselves a question.

What’s A Bad Habit?

To me, everything we do that doesn’t have a positive return is a bad habit. Sometimes, it’s what we don’t do that’s the bad habit. For example, I consider laziness as a bad habit.

If you’re too lazy to get out of bed in the morning, clean your house, or go to the gym; you’re not a worthless person—you simply have a bad habit that you need to get rid of.

That’s how I look at most unproductive behavior. I’m not saying that everyone has the same ideas about the meaning of life. But if you, like me, believe that the purpose of life is to be useful, you need the right habits to back that up.

Simply put, anything that prevents you from being useful is a bad habit. We all know that a lot of our behavior is bad. It doesn’t require a genius to understand that eating junk food, smoking, drinking alcohol, complaining, watching the news, browsing social media, lashing out to people, and sitting on your ass all day are bad things.

They have no positive return. No one feels good after doing those things. And yet, we keep sticking to our bad habits because we can’t break them.

Advice About Habits Is Misunderstood

What’s the best way to form a habit? I’ve been researching that question for more than a decade. And I’ve tried every piece of advice that I’ve read about.

I’ve learned that you’re more likely to actually form a habit when you focus on ONE habit at a time. To be honest, that’s not a groundbreaking finding. Every single person who writes about habits will tell you that.

But as humans often do, we’ll blindly assume that the same is true for BREAKING habits.

However, it doesn’t work that way. I only discovered that recently. I will tell you more about that in a minute.

Here’s something else that I’ve learned recently. We have the ability to form more than one habit at a time.

“What?! So I don’t need to focus on one habit at a time?”

The most common criticism that I’ve heard about the “form one habit at a time” idea is that it takes “forever” to change your life. I think there’s some truth in that. Given that it sometimes takes months to form a habit, it can take years to build a foundation of good habits that support your goals.

To be honest, that’s not my biggest concern. Like the cliché says, patience is a virtue. And I think we all need to be more patient. Good things come in time.

But that’s not the problem most people face with habits. Most of us give up before we actually have formed a habit. And if we quit a good habit, we often fall back to our old (bad) behavior before the season changes.

You Need A More Extreme Approach

Look, I’m not saying that replacing bad habits with good habits is bad advice. The problem is that most of us only apply that advice to one habit at a time.

And yes, that does not work.

Think about it. If you drink alcohol every day and eat unhealthy food, what will happen if you quit drinking? If you continue to eat candy bars, salted nuts, potato chips, burgers, pizza, it will not take long before you think “a beer would sure taste nice with this burger.”

If you’re addicted to consuming content on social media and watching tv shows, you can’t “just” get rid of your social media apps on your phone. If you have a tv, you’ll simply binge watch some crap on Netflix. And before you know it, you’ll reinstall those apps with one click. Most of the time, you can pick up right where you left off. You don’t even have to sign in again.

Don’t go down that road. Instead, be committed to change. If you truly want to break your bad habits, go extreme on yourself. Yes, I’m actually saying you should take it seriously. Why? Because your life is a serious matter.

Remember this: If you want to break your bad habits, BREAK THEM ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Go all in. Or don’t go at all.

What We Need Is A Different Lifestyle

It all comes down to one question. How serious are you about living a purposeful life?

I’ve asked myself that question many times in the past. And every now and then, I still have to ask myself that. Falling back on bad habits happens for a reason.

Life is hard. We experience setbacks, stress, and hurt all the time. And our natural reaction is to escape our challenges. Every time we say things like “I need to relax with a glass of wine on the couch,” we’re fooling ourselves.

We’re trying to escape the desperation of life. Inside, we feel lonely and empty. And we try to fill it with bullshit. Now, that bullshit is different for every person.

I might crack open a bag of potato chips and watch a movie, you might be on the phone all night with your friends, another person might hit the nightclub to pop pills, and another one might buy the latest gadget.

But if you want to make a contribution and make yourself useful during the little time you’ve been granted on this planet, you and I both need a different lifestyle.

We need to take care of our body and mind. We need to sleep well, eat healthy, work out, read books, reflect on our lives, and most importantly: Be someone others can count on. You can’t do that with bad habits.

What’s Next?

Think about how serious you are about living a meaningful life. Then, identify the habits that are holding you back. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’ve created a list of 11 unproductive habits that I’ve quit in the past.

Once you’ve identified your bad habits, decide to quit them ALL. And decide that RIGHT NOW.

Now, all of a sudden, you’re a new man or woman. You’ve been given a clean slate. You can form new habits. This article with a few practical tips to form habits might help.

Remember earlier, when I said that you don’t have to form only one habit at a time? What I meant was that if you quit ALL your bad habits, you have the mental ability to form more than one habit at a time.

There’s only one limitation: Focus on one habit per area of your life. To me, the areas are career, health, learning, money, and relationships.

For your career, you might want to show up earlier every day. For your health, you can run every day. For learning, you can spend an hour a day on learning a new skill. For your relationships, you can practice kindness. For your money, you can save 20% of your income.

And yes, you can do all those things. Why not? But remember, your chance of success decreases when you try to take on too much. Can you learn multiple skills at the same time? Can you save money for your retirement and buy a new car? Maybe, but you’ll be much more successful if you do just one thing at a time.

We can achieve many great things in life. We only need the right habits to support us.

 

LIFE – How to Break a Bad Habit and Replace It With a Good One

How to Break a Bad Habit and Replace It With a Good One

Woman Drinking Using Mug

by James Clear
Read this on JamesClear.com
Bad habits interrupt your life and prevent you from accomplishing your goals. They jeopardize your health — both mentally and physically. And they waste your time and energy.

So why do we still do them? And most importantly, is there anything you can do about it?

I’ve previously written about the science of how habits start, so now let’s focus on the practice of making changes in the real world. How can you delete your bad behaviors and stick to good ones instead?

I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but keep reading and I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to break a bad habit.

What causes bad habits?

Most of your bad habits are caused by two things…

Stress and boredom.

Most of the time, bad habits are simply a way of dealing with stress and boredom. Everything from biting your nails to overspending on a shopping spree to drinking every weekend to wasting time on the internet can be a simple response to stress and boredom. [1]

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can teach yourself new and healthy ways to deal with stress and boredom, which you can then substitute in place of your bad habits.

Of course, sometimes the stress or boredom that is on the surface is actually caused by deeper issues. These issues can be tough to think about, but if you’re serious about making changes then you have to be honest with yourself.

Are there certain beliefs or reasons that are behind the bad habit? Is there something deeper — a fear, an event, or a limiting belief — that is causing you to hold on to something that is bad for you?

Recognizing the causes of your bad habits is crucial to overcoming them.

You don’t eliminate a bad habit, you replace it.

All of the habits that you have right now — good or bad — are in your life for a reason. In some way, these behaviors provide a benefit to you, even if they are bad for you in other ways.

Sometimes the benefit is biological like it is with smoking or drugs. Sometimes it’s emotional like it is when you stay in a relationship that is bad for you. And in many cases, your bad habit is a simple way to cope with stress. For example, biting your nails, pulling your hair, tapping your foot, or clenching your jaw.

These “benefits” or reasons extend to smaller bad habits as well.

For example, opening your email inbox as soon as you turn on your computer might make you feel connected. At the same time looking at all of those emails destroys your productivity, divides your attention, and overwhelms you with stress. But, it prevents you from feeling like you’re “missing out” … and so you do it again.

Because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it’s very difficult to simply eliminate them. (This is why simplistic advice like “just stop doing it” rarely works.)

Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit.

For example, if you smoke when you get stressed, then it’s a bad plan to “just stop smoking” when that happens. Instead, you should come up with a different way to deal with stress and insert that new behavior instead of having a cigarette.

In other words, bad habits address certain needs in your life. And for that reason, it’s better to replace your bad habits with a healthier behavior that addresses that same need. If you expect yourself to simply cut out bad habits without replacing them, then you’ll have certain needs that will be unmet and it’s going to be hard to stick to a routine of “just don’t do it” for very long.

How to break a bad habit

Here are some additional ideas for breaking your bad habits and thinking about the process in a new way.

Choose a substitute for your bad habit. You need to have a plan ahead of time for how you will respond when you face the stress or boredom that prompts your bad habit. What are you going to do when you get the urge to smoke? (Example: breathing exercises instead.) What are you going to do when Facebook is calling to you to procrastinate? (Example: write one sentence for work.) Whatever it is and whatever you’re dealing with, you need to have a plan for what you will do instead of your bad habit.

Cut out as many triggers as possible. If you smoke when you drink, then don’t go to the bar. If you eat cookies when they are in the house, then throw them all away. If the first thing you do when you sit on the couch is pick up the TV remote, then hide the remote in a closet in a different room. Make it easier on yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.

Right now, your environment makes your bad habit easier and good habits harder. Change your environment and you can change the outcome.

Join forces with somebody. How often do you try to diet in private? Or maybe you “quit smoking” … but you kept it to yourself? (That way no one will see you fail, right?)

Instead, pair up with someone and quit together. The two of you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your victories together. Knowing that someone else expects you to be better is a powerful motivator.

Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live.You don’t need to ditch your old friends, but don’t underestimate the power of finding some new ones.

Visualize yourself succeeding. See yourself throwing away the cigarettes or buying healthy food or waking up early. Whatever the bad habit is that you are looking to break, visualize yourself crushing it, smiling, and enjoying your success. See yourself building a new identity.

You don’t need to be someone else, you just need to return to the old you. So often we think that to break our bad habits, we need to become an entirely new person. The truth is that you already have it in you to be someone without your bad habits. In fact, it’s very unlikely that you had these bad habits all of your life. You don’t need to quit smoking, you just need to return to being a non–smoker. You don’t need to transform into a healthy person, you just need to return to being healthy. Even if it was years ago, you have already lived without this bad habit, which means you can most definitely do it again.

Use the word “but” to overcome negative self–talk. One thing about battling bad habits is that it’s easy to judge yourself for not acting better. Every time you slip up or make a mistake, it’s easy to tell yourself how much you suck. [2]

Whenever that happens, finish the sentence with “but”…

  • “I’m fat and out of shape, but I could be in shape a few months from now.”
  • “I’m stupid and nobody respects me, but I’m working to develop a valuable skill.”
  • “I’m a failure, but everybody fails sometimes.”

Plan for failure. We all slip up every now and then.

As my main man Steve Kamb says, “When you screw up, skip a workout, eat bad foods, or sleep in, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human. Welcome to the club.”

So rather than beating yourself up over a mistake, plan for it. We all get off track, what separates top performers from everyone else is that they get back on track very quickly. For a handful of strategies that can help you bounce back when you make a mistake, read this article.

Where to go from here

If you’re looking for the first step to breaking your bad habits, I’d suggest starting with awareness.

It’s easy to get caught up in how you feel about your bad habits. You can make yourself feel guilty or spend your time dreaming about how you wish things were … but these thoughts take you away from what’s actually happening.

Instead, it’s awareness that will show you how to actually make change.

  • When does your bad habit actually happen?
  • How many times do you do it each day?
  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • What triggers the behavior and causes it to start?

Simply tracking these issues will make you more aware of the behavior and give you dozens of ideas for stopping it.

Here’s a simple way to start: just track how many times per day your bad habit happens. Put a piece of paper in your pocket and a pen. Each time your bad habit happens, mark it down on your paper. At the end of the day, count up all of the tally marks and see what your total is.

In the beginning your goal isn’t to judge yourself or feel guilty about doing something unhealthy or unproductive. The only goal is to be aware of when it happens and how often it happens. Wrap your head around the problem by being aware of it. Then, you can start to implement the ideas in this article and break your bad habit.

Breaking bad habits takes time and effort, but mostly it takes perseverance. Most people who end up breaking their bad habits try and fail multiple times before they make it work. You might not have success right away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it at all.

LIFE – This Is How to Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously

This Is How to Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously

Just follow rule number 6

“The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” — Frank Zappa

If you follow just one rule in life, choose rule Number Six.

Two prime ministers were having a casual conversation. One was intrigued about this rule that seemed so simple. The other man has just recommended it on two occasions with an immediate positive outcome.

First, a subordinate came to see him. He was upset, banging his fist on the desk. Then, a hysterical woman who was gesticulating wildly. After their boss reminded them of rule number 6, they both left the room in a positive mood.

The other prime minister was intrigued, “What is rule number 6?”

“Rule number 6 is don’t take yourself so damn seriously.”

The first prime minister laughed. He wanted to learn more, “So, what are the other rules?”

“There are no other rules,” was the answer.

The secret of life requires following one single rule. If you want to succeed and be happy, don’t take yourself too seriously.

The Center of the Universe

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” — Mark Twain

When we take ourselves too seriously, we believe everything revolves around us. That’s why we fear being ridiculed — we don’t want to face we are not so special.

The fear of shame kills our drive — we censor our desires to avoid being laughed at.

The paradox of shame is that, by looking for approval, we turn others into our judges. The fear of rejection makes us desperate for pleasing others. We become prisoners of other people’s judgment.

The fear of ridicule is anticipation — we worry about something that mighthappen.

As Brené Brown explains in his book Daring Greatly, seeking approval disconnect us from our desires. Women are expected to be naturally perfect. Men live under the pressure of not being perceived as weak. The author captures the need for worthiness in the sequence “pleasing, performing, and perfecting.”

External expectations are a moving target, as I wrote in this column. By trying to please everyone, we end pleasing no one — ourselves included.

Our self-worth is tied to how our audience receives our performance. If they love it, we are worth it. If they don’t, we feel worthless. Living our lives as an endless performance is exhausting — we are always playing a part.

Perfectionism is the enemy of change. The bar is so high that we never rest to have fun. We want to do everything the right way — one single mistake could ruin everything we’ve built.

When we take ourselves seriously, we take others seriously too — that’s why their opinions hurt us. You let their judgment define your identity — you accept the labels people give you.

The solution lies in finding balance: take life seriously, but not yourself.

As Alan Rickman said: “I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously.”

Goodbye Measurement World

“The notion that leaders need to be in charge and to know all the answers is both dated and distracted.” — Peter Sheahan

I consider myself a serious person — I take life seriously.

However, my peculiar sense of humor has allowed me to cope through turbulent times. A long time ago, I learned to stop looking for other people’s approval. If something goes well, I enjoy it. If it doesn’t, I move on.

I’m not immune to other’s people influence, but I’ve learned to own my actions. I do what feels right and take full ownership — there’s no room for blaming others or myself.

I feel comfortable being uncomfortable — vulnerability is recognizing my perfect imperfections. I learned to take life seriously, but not myself.

In the Art of PossibilityRosamund and Benjamin Zanders share 12 rules for bringing creativity into all human endeavors — rule Number Six is the best. The authors invite us to take a distance from our serious and heavy selves.

Our inner-self has been trained to ‘measure up’ in a competitive world — we look for external references to define our performance.

We live in a measurement world. Everything we do is measured against others. How much money we make. How beautiful our partners are. How happy we are. Our identity is relative to what other people have or do.

“The frames our mind create define and confine what we perceive to be possible. Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves in life, only appear unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view.” — Rosamund and Benjamin Zanders

Change your outlook. Move from measurement to possibilities.

When others laughed at you, they measure you against their expectations. But if you focus on achieving what you wish, regardless of what people think, you will reach your full potential.

Take leaders, for example. Those who feel superior try to suppress other to look even better. Those who feel inferior try to make others suffer too. When you stop measuring yourself against other’s expectations, you are not only free, but you don’t feel the need to change others.

We have two selves, according to the Zanders, our Calculating-Self and our Central-Self.

The Calculating-Self it’s us in survival mode — it sees everything as an attack on us. The Central-Self represents the generative, prolific, and creative nature of ourselves and the world. Instead of putting us at the center of everything, it appraises reality without an agenda.

The Central-Self is a softer, brighter, and lighter version of ourselves — it’s ego-less.

Rule Number 6 is a reminder to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously! It releases us from selfish and self-limiting views — instead of trying to be appreciated we stop giving a damn.

The Power of Humor

“You can’t deny laughter. When it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.” — Stephen King

Do you consider yourself a serious person? Do you find it hard to let go?

There are two types of people. Those who find it easy to laugh at themselves. And those who take themselves too seriously. Laughing at yourself is more than a positive mindset — it improves our health also.

Research links laughing at oneself with having an upbeat personality and good mood. It’s at the foundation of having a sense of humor. However, laughing at oneself is not easy — it represents the most difficult (humor) level.

Those who laugh at themselves regularly are less prone to chronic stress too.

Adaptive humor — cheering people up or seeing the humor in adverse events, is connected to well-being and psychological health. It increases resilience, diminishes the risks of heart attacks, and helps us manage pain better.

Humor gives leaders an edge too. Employees mentioned “sense of humor” and “work ethic” twice as much as any other phrases to define what makes a good leader, according to a study by Bell Leadership Institute.

Taking ourselves with a grain of salt gives us perspective — we can learn from mistakes by observing from a distance.

Tips to Take Yourself Less Seriously

“Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.” — Chinese proverb

1. Confront the fear of being ridiculed:

End the vicious cycle — fear fuels more fear. Face it and get over it. As Seth Godin said, “Dance with fear. As you dance, you realize that fear is, in fact, a compass — it’s giving you a hint that you are onto something.” Use that fear as energy to leap forward.

2. Drop the ball on purpose:

I don’t mean metaphorically, just let something fall through the cracks. This will not only help you realize that one mistake won’t kill you — but it will also help you regain control. If someone complains, smile and tell them you did it on purpose. Erring on purpose prepares you for unexpected mistakes.

3. Change the tone, change the conversation:

The best way to overcome pressure from perfectionists is not taking them too seriously. Perfectionists tend to think in right-or-wrong terms — either you succeed or fail. Use humor to disarm their approach: show them life’s shades of grey.

4. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

This simple question can help you, and others, put things in perspective. I’m not telling you not to aim high, but to find balance. Write everything that comes to your mind. Are you worried about real things? Or are you taking small things too seriously? Reflect and separate worries from facts.

5. Become shame-resilient:

Learn to acknowledge the voice of shame when it’s calling your name. Face that emotion. Brené Brown suggests talking to your shame, “This is disappointing, maybe even devastating. But success and recognition and approval are not values that drive me. My value is courage. You can move on, shame.”

6. Add more humor to your life:

Surround yourself with funny people. Turn off the news and violent shows; watch a comedy instead. Use self-deprecation instead of nasty labels. Smile. Especially, when you feel nervous or upset. Find the humor in something serious. Getting used to laugh at yourself will make you immune to your audience’s laughter.

7. Let go of your reputation:

Your image is not you. It’s just what people perceive. Don’t let your self-worth depend on your audience’s applause. When your self-worth is not on the line, it’s easier to take more risks and be courageous. You stop thinking if you know how to dance or not. You just start swaying.


Life’s too short. Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. I know, it sounds easier said than done, but trying to impress others requires more energy. Learn to see the opportunity hidden within challenges.

Don’t take others too seriously either. Free yourself from the Measurement World. Be okay being vulnerable. Take life seriously, not yourself.

Regain the reins of your life

Life Is What Happens When You Are Not on Autopilot

Regain the reins of your life

Does life just happen to you?

A man is riding a horse that is galloping very quickly. He seems to be in a hurry — probably heading to an important place.

“Where are you going?” a man yells at him.

“I don’t know. Ask the horse,” the rider replies.

Sometimes, life feels like a horse we cannot control. We don’t know where we are heading or why. We are just running as this Zen parable captures. Most of us are living on autopilot — the horse holds the reins, not us.

We Are Sleep-Walking

“The inertia of the mind urges it to slide down the easy slope of imagination, rather than to climb the steep slope of introspection.” ― Marcel Proust

Who holds the reins of your life?

Adults make an average of 35,000 decisions a day. We’ve developed an unconscious decision-making system to manage routines. It prevents us from overloading our brains. However, modern life has hijacked our lives — the mechanism that should protect us is creating social disengagement.

When we live on autopilot, it feels like the horse is riding our lives, not us.

Our minds wander around most of the time. 96% of people admit making most decisions on autopilot, according to research — it has become an epidemic.

Autopilot is becoming our default operating mode — we are sleep-walking into our choices.

39% of respondents say they slip into autopilot while relaxing at home. And two-fifths say they’ve forgotten something while operating on that mode.

“People recognize that the choices they are making don’t add up to the life they want to live. We can all do better at living more purposefully. The opposite of autopilot is purposeful living,” explains Dr Mark Williamson.

Much of our lives are wasted by doing things mindlessly. Most people can’t remember what they watched on TV — research shows that binge-watching diminishes memory and perceived comprehension.

We are living on autopilot in the place where we need to pay the most attention: our home. People make decisions — such as what to eat, what to watch on TV, or what to wear — without putting any thinking, the study concludes.

As Professor Renata Salecl says, “We’re forgetting that, when we are at home, the important things are to interact with family and friends, without being constantly distracted.”

There’s another way to ride.

Autopilot Is Not Your Only Option

“The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.” ― Vilayat Inayat Khan

Living on autopilot disengages us from both our present and future.

One exercise I love facilitating to help people reconnect with their life’s purpose is the future-self meditation.

Participants ‘travel’ to the future to visit themselves 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now. The goal is to help people visualize their dreams and wishes. Each visit, in a different point in time, helps them visualize the progression but, most importantly, to understand how they overcame their fears and constraints.

To my surprise, most people find it hard to project their future — they are so disconnected from the present that they can’t dream.

Living on autopilot means leaning towards the most comfortable thinking mode. But we have two; we must learn to use both.

Though System 1 and System 2 have been around for quite some time, it was Nobel awardee Professor Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, that turned them mainstream.

System 1 is an automatic, fast, and unconscious way of thinking — it’s our autopilot. This system is autonomous and efficient, though deceiving too. It’s more prone to bias and to make the same mistakes.

System 2 is slow, conscious, and effortful — it requires attention and energy. It’s more reliable and can filter the System 1’s misjudgments.

Our brain is lazy, as I wrote here — that’s why it leans towards System 1. Self-awareness helps us train our mind and avoid living on autopilot. It’s not that one is better than the other — we must learn to use those in a balanced way.

System 1 is ideal for quick decisions, based on little information. When you are driving your car or doing the laundry, you don’t need to overthink. However, you wouldn’t use it to make more significant life choices like choosing a career, which home to buy or whom to marry.

System 2 is ideal for handling more complex mental activities, such as logical reasoning, managing interpersonal relationships, learning new things or building habits. It can help you turn off the autopilot.

Take the Reins of Your Life

“If you feel like you don’t fit into the world you inherited it is because you were born to help create a new one.” ― Ross Caligiuri

Your brain has an autopilot mode — it’s called the ‘default mode network.’ This function is perfect for mundane activities such as driving or shopping.

To study this brain network, scientist taught participants how to play a new card game. Brain scans showed how memory regions were activated while participants learned to play the game. Once they familiarized with it, the brain ‘switch-off’ and the autopilot region lit up. Participants started to play better, performing more accurately and quickly.

Your brain autopilot boosts your performance when it comes to repetitive tasks. However, your life is not a card game — to think through a situation, problem or dilemma requires paying attention. Being more mindful is the answer.

But, first, regains the reins of your life.

1. Notice how you ride

Become more aware of your behavior. Are you living on autopilot because you want to or because it just happens? Are you making choices or merely letting your autopilot choose what shows you watch or the food you eat? Write a journal or take notes to increase awareness and challenge your behavior.

Be patient. It takes time to regain the reins of your life.

2. Ride with a purpose

What’s your end destination in life? How do you want to be remembered? As the saying goes, “Choose something worth dying for, and live for it.” Your life’s purpose should guide and inspire your actions. Having a clear destination will help you avoid useless shortcuts.

Keeping your purpose present will bring more intention to your everyday activities.

3. Bring meaning to your routines:

There’s nothing wrong with letting the horse ride freely — the problem is when autopilot becomes your driving system of choice. Habits drive focus and efficiency. However, they must be connected to your life’s purpose and goals.

Don’t let your routines dictate how you live, bring mindfulness to everyday chores.

4. Stop and reflect:

When you squeeze back on the reins, the horse comes to a halt. A pause is more than slowing down — it’s creating space to start paying attention. You can reflect on your life. What do you like? Are you enjoying what you are doing? What’s going on? Are you focused or distracted? Why?

We are prisoners of our busy minds; pausing sets yourself free.

5. Go beyond your comfort zone:

When we live on autopilot, we stop challenging ourselves — you end up bored and repeating yourself. Discomfort is a doorway to personal discovery and growth. Learning happens when you stretch beyond your comfort zone. Test your limits. Try new things.

Build a habit of continually experiencing new things — you don’t need to skydive to feel alive.

6. Make better decisions:

For simple things, follow your gut (System 1). However, if your gut is not certain, think it through. Avoid cognitive biases — challenge the first solution that comes to mind. Remember, your lazy brain will jump into the most comfortable conclusion, not the best one. Lastly, for important decisions, always think them through.

7. Move from FEAR to DARE

Sometimes, choosing to drive on autopilot could be an excuse to not paying attention. When you don’t know what’s wrong, you don’t feel the need to make any changes. FEAR is the acronym for Fighting, Excuses, Avoidance, and Repetition — it’s how resistance manifest. The antidote to FEAR is DARE — Discovery, Autonomy, Reframing, and Experimentation. Here’s how.

Be authentic. Be brave. Dare to change.


Letting life happen to you is easy. But, if your autopilot is always on, you are just existing, not living.

Being on autopilot prevents mundane activities from overloading your brain. However, behaving with intentionality and mindfully lets you enjoy life, not just live it.

Regain the reins of your life — you decide when to drive on autopilot and when not. Not the horse.

Start-ups – Techniques to help you make hard decisions

Six science-backed techniques to help you make hard decisions

Originally published on JOTFORM.COM

The typical adult makes 35,000 decisions each day.

If you do the math (and account for seven hours of sleep), that’s about 2,000 decisions every hour — or one choice every two seconds.

Most decisions are actually micro-choices, like clicking a link or taking a sip of coffee. But some choices feel momentous.

An internal tug-of-war indicates that something big is at stake. You sense that the choice could significantly affect your happiness, freedom, pride, or personal fulfillment.

If you’re running a business, there are even more decisions to make — and many are critical to the health of your company.

The good news? Science is continually discovering new and better ways to make tough decisions.

As Lea Heinrich writes in the New York Times, “over the past few decades, a growing multidisciplinary field of research — spanning areas as diverse as cognitive science, management theory and literary studies — have given us a set of tools that we can use to make better choices.”

Unfortunately, none of these tools can actually make the decision for you.

“They are prompts, hacks, nudges,” says Heinrich.

“They’re intended to help you see the current situation from new perspectives, to imagine new possibilities, to weigh your options with more sophistication.

There is no foolproof algorithm for life’s difficult choices. But the research shows that you can get better at making them.”

In the 12 years since I started JotForm, my team and I have faced a lot of tricky choices, and I’ve tried many different decision-making techniques.

Here are six methods that I rely on when I’m losing sleep over a challenging decision.

1. Make a “value-based” pros & cons list

Imagine that you’re considering a move. Will you relocate to another city? Pull out a piece of paper and write a classic pros and cons list for the move.

Now, here’s where science has added a helpful twist.

Assign every list entry a number from 0 to 1, based on your personal values. For example, if being closer to your family is a “pro” that’s extremely high on your list, you might score it at 0.9 or 0.95.

If you listed “near the mountains” as another pro, but you’re more of a culture hound than an alpine hiker, then it might only rate 0.2 or 0.3.

Do the same for the “con” side. Leaving a job you love could score 0.8, for example, if your career is an essential part of your life.

Add up each side, multiply by 100, and see whether the pro or con side wins out. You can also make a separate pro and con list for staying where you are. Compare the final values and see how you feel about the outcome.

Often, confronting a “logical” number (which was actually weighted with emotions) can illuminate subconscious feelings.

If you see the numbers but still feel pulled in the opposite direction, it’s worth doing some deeper exploration.

You can also use this technique for smaller, less personal decisions, like which project or feature to tackle next.

2. Explore future scenarios

Considering the best- and worst-case scenarios is a common way to make tough choices.

What’s the very best future you can imagine? The worst? And how would you feel if that disastrous scenario became reality?

To expand on this technique, psychologist Gary Klein has studied a twist he calls the “premortem.” In a classic Harvard Business Review story, Klein explains why a premortem is the hypothetical opposite of a postmortem.

“A postmortem in a medical setting allows health professionals and the family to learn what caused a patient’s death. Everyone benefits except, of course, the patient. A premortem in a business setting comes at the beginning of a project rather than the end, so that the project can be improved rather than autopsied.”

Imagine that your decision was terrible. The project you chose to tackle was a crash-and-burn disaster. Now, explore every possible reason for the failure.

Once you address this worst-case scenario, you can take steps to prevent it — and make a better decision in the first place.

In fact, research shows that premortems (which are also called prospective hindsight) can increase our ability to identify future outcome causes by 30%.

On the flip side, try to visualize that epic, best-case future scenario and gauge how you feel. If you’re not happy or excited, it’s worth considering why.

Amazon uses a variation of both these techniques. Company developers must draft a hypothetical press release and FAQ announcement before they even write any code.

By working backwards, the team tackles the most difficult decisions upfront and clarifies the product’s value proposition. As reporter Jillian D’Onfro explains, “if the team can’t come up with a compelling press release, the product probably isn’t worth making.”

3. Avoid binary choices

We often get stuck choosing between this or that. Should I go back to school or start a business? Should I move to San Francisco or stay in Houston?

It’s easy to see the world in black-and-white, but there’s typically a grey option in the middle — or several shades of grey.

Maybe you could spend summers in San Francisco (as long as you can embrace Karl the Fog) and winters in Houston. Or, you could live in Houston for another couple years and move to the Bay Area later.

Sometimes the right choice is not one of two opposites. It’s a more creative, nuanced, or flexible solution.

4. Consult with others

Sharing your dilemma with others can justify or reinforce a choice, but more importantly, it’s a valuable way to gather valuable information.

If you can’t decide whether to move, for example, don’t just survey your friends and family (who will also have skin in your game); talk to someone who made the same move. Ask how they feel now about their decision.

For professional or business decisions, try hiring a consultant. Find people who have deep, niche expertise and learn as much from them as you can.

The extra information you gather will almost inevitably help you make better choices in the future.

5. Give yourself enough time

I still remember the day I quit my job. As I climbed the two flights of stairs to my boss’s office, my heart was thumping in my chest. My legs were shaking and my mouth was parched.

I knew it was the right choice, but my mind raced: “Am I making a mistake? Should I turn around? Maybe I should stay another year.”

But, I made it to his office and had the conversation I was dreading.

I had been thinking about this leap for at least two years, and my side products were easily paying the bills. Taking time to choose empowered me to make one of the best decisions of my life.

6. Avoid hidden decisions

For nearly 6,000 years, North America’s First Nations hunted the plains buffalo by chasing them over cliffs and finishing the kill below.

This method enabled tribes to gather and store large quantities of meat, hide and fat for the long winter ahead.

I always wondered why so many bison would just run over the cliff. They were usually pursued by hunters on horseback, for one, but it’s also an example of herd behavior. All the animals are just following the group, letting the flow take them where it will.

Buffalo jumps are a good metaphor for hidden decisions or non-decisions, which we’ve all experienced at times. When you procrastinate or delay an important choice, you’re still making a decision — and it’s rarely a good one.

For example, maybe you need to part ways with an employee, but you put it off to avoid a potential confrontation.

If the employee is negative, unpleasant, or ill-suited to their role, the choice to wait and delay can poison the whole team. Non-decision is a choice with real consequences.

Those 35,000 daily choices can be daunting, but quick action is the enemy of decision fatigue. Choose fast and whenever possible, tackle your choices head-on.

Use as many methods as you need to pick the best solution. Just don’t follow the herd. Choose what’s best for you — and then stand firm in your decisions.

One final note: if you’ve started a business or launched a product and you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions, please know that it does get easier. Once your business is stable, many of the big, foundational choices are done and you will reach equilibrium.

Then it’s time to focus on the constraints. Determine where you can make the most important, impactful decisions, and use them to grow or refine your business.

Remember: decision-making gets easier with practice, and a new choice is always just seconds away.

LIFE – How To Be Successful

How To Be Successful

Simple, though not always easy

Someone once emailed me to ask,

“What belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life? And what two things do you think makes people so successful?”

Bud, I don’t even have to give you two. I only need to give you one. (And actually, you know what? I’ll break that one into two just to humor you and really get down into it. See “how to get” it, below.)

It’s not planning. It’s not passion. It’s not introversion or extroversion. It’s not intelligence.

The number one thing is PERSEVERANCE / GRIT

Taking action, regardless of setbacks, rather than making excuses. Pushing through. Relentlessness. Work ethic — but even in the face of adversity. Hunger.

I read a shit-ton of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs, and one thing I’ve noticed across all of these amazing people? Their response to incredible challenges, situations where most people would fold — but they kept going.

The difference with successful people isn’t that they never experienced setbacks — it’s that they didn’t stop.

I know a lot of readers just skimmed this post for “the one thing” answer and a lot checked out after reading it, like: “yeah yeah yeah okay — I get it!” Which is adorably ironic, because they don’t. Many of us — myself included, often — don’t internalize what perseverance, grit and relentlessness means enough to harness it.

Perseverance is not surface-level.

If you think perseverance means making a show of productivity, or working half-heartedly, without alignment with a deep underlying goal, then you’re wrong.

Perseverance isn’t stand-alone. It’s always rooted in something stronger than itself.

In other words:

Grit and relentlessness may be the number one CAUSE of success, but they themselves are EFFECTS of something deeper.

How to get grit

The two things that make it up:

1.) Knowing with absolute specificity what you want.

2.) Wanting it more than you want anything else.

Get those two things, and the rest resolves itself. You won’t need plans, you won’t have to fall back on or recall your “passion.”

What “want” looks like

It means not having to be told what to do. It means ownership. Most of us slack on this — myself included.

As Tim Grover wrote in Relentless,

“Tell yourself what to do, and stop waiting for others to lay it all out.”

Desire is intrinsic and instinctive, not extrinsic or authority-based. It’s action and ownership over excuses.

It’s not thought. It’s not even emotion, really. It’s energy; certainty; flow.

How do you “know what you want?”

Fam, I don’t know what you want. I can’t tell you that, because I’m not you. You need to work out the details for yourself.

But: you just know. Engage and see where you lean. Whatever is authentic; whatever makes you energized; whatever gives you flow and certainty and power.

What “specificity” looks like

It either has metrics defined in the goal (lose 50 pounds) or parameters are defined by external systems (win a chess tournament.)

But “lose weight” is not a goal. “Start a business” is not a goal. “Be the best basketball player” is a goal, but “play a sport” is not. Be a top chef, yes, “learn to cook” no. “Find a hobby” is not a goal, and neither is “discover my passion.” If you think any of those are, your real goal is “figure out your shit.” And the solution isn’t to sit around daydreaming up a big plan, or “soul-searching,” because that quickly becomes navel-gazing. The solution is to chase what interests you.

What wanting it “more than anything else” looks like

Here’s what people don’t internalize:

Wanting it ‘more than anything else’ means: making sacrifices.

If you are truly “all-in” on one thing, you give up other things. So: what are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want?

This is why I have absolutely zero patience for people who claim to be “100% focused” on things like “finding a spouse by [x age]” — but then immediately cite a checklist of total bullshit.

Fam, no. It’s adorable to hold out for both when you have time. But as you get down to the wire, you have to decide: you either want someone within that timeframe — and you’ll relinquish your lame checklist, or you’re willing to hold out for perfection — and risk never finding them. You are always choosing one of these, whether you actively do so or not.

And it’s the same with any goal.

Perseverance is not inspiration or motivation or “feeling like it”

Serrriously fuck off with this shit.

I say this all the time, but:

‘Inspiration’ and ‘motivation’ are the greatest crocks of the universe.

Too many people think that successful people are more “motivated.” Dawg, I don’t even know what that means, but if you mean “relentless hunger,” then go get it — you have everything you need.

Anything who’s accomplished anything of value does it outside of the hours of feeling “motivated” to do so. Successful people do it regardless. I’m not saying you don’t get inspired — that’s wonderful, Susan — but inspiration is never what carries anyone to the goal line.

Elizabeth Gilbert called it “working like a mule.”

In his book Relentless, Tim Grover wrote, of the hard work required of excellence:

“I’m not telling you to love it. I’m telling you to crave the result so intensely that the work is irrelevant.”

He also wrote,

“You can read clever motivational slogans all day and still have no idea how to get where you want to be. Wanting something won’t get you anywhere. Trying to someone you’re not won’t get you anywhere. Waiting for someone or something to light your fire won’t get you anywhere.”

So what will, you ask? It’s like you didn’t even read, because the answer is:

  1. Knowing with absolute specificity what you want.
  2. Wanting it more than you want anything else.

And how do you know “what you want?” To reiterate:

It’s either screaming in your face, or others are. Sometimes it’s both, but you only need one.

Do the work — even when it’s hard

Be uncomfortable with the uncomfortable.

Keeping going when things get hard. Because they will.

And if you want it badly enough, you will.