Intuitive Planning

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Effective Planning For Sensitive People
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Intuitive Planning.
How to plan if you are a sensitive person in a willpower world

How often have you heard about the importance of planning or power of manifestation? Have you ever wondered if everyone talks SO MUCH about planning, why it doesn’t really work for you? You probably thought (I definitely did) What’s wrong with me?! Don’t I have enough will power for that…? Am I lazy?? (yes, this scary question…) NO. It is just you are a different type of a person. Yes, planning is important, manifestation is possible and even ordinary for people who mastered a skill of it, but we can choose the way we plan that works for your personality, aligns with your Soul and makes your heart beats calmly, not crazy when you are in a panic, thinking “HOW can I do it all?

Man in Brown Long-sleeved Button-up Shirt Standing While Using Gray Laptop Computer on Brown Wooden Table Beside Woman in Gray Long-sleeved Shirt Sitting

 

Is there a way of planning and manifesting that fits you?  And how can we use our sensitivity not to be worried or overwhelmed, but manifest and plan what we want more effectively?

 

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Here where the spiritual ideas and (surprisingly)) physics come handy. Everything is energy. In this perspective, we have to consider feeling and emotions as solid parts of energy we use for realization and preparation.

 

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We realize a maximum of our potential when we plan with our feelings and sense, using our mind. Not vice versa, when we mostly try to think what is good, but don’t feel passion about it or even don’t believe it’s even necessary.  What does this mean? The core here is very simple. The Universe realize what we FEEL, our emotions are the impulses to the actualization. Planning and dreaming are good, but what we really FEEL and BELIEVE deep inside of us, this is what really come true.

 

 

“You manifest what you believe in” (Oprah Winfrey) 

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The effective planning is all about adjustment with your plan. Any successful coach or powerful book have never said: “Write it down and do it”. They all repeat the same thing: “BELIEVE in your plan and do it.”

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“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” (Napoleon Hill) 

 

 

 

Write it down with the main purpose – to believe in it. Structure your belief so you can act more effectively.

 

 

It leads us to important realization that we need to pay attention to our assumptions. As they are the main reason why we can’t believe with our heart in what we see in our minds. Any technique or boost of willpower can’t help in a battle with your own negative views.

 

 

This truth is even more powerful for women. For us everything is based on the perception, on the intensity of our emotions and feelings, on our belief in the capacity to transform a dream into reality. All of the greatest achievements started from the vision and strong emotion of faith. When we believe with all our hearts we start to see steps in the darkness. We program our subconsciousness to look for the answers and find them. We follow deep feeling of belief that in other words, I like to call intuition. 

 

 

Intuition is the core for many successful businesses, for greatest of books and pieces of art.

 

 

Believe in yourself+ believe in the idea + intuitive planning+ action = success. 

 

 

When you follow your intuition in planning or manifesting you first open doors in your mind and then in your life. Yes, it is easy to mistaken intuition with somethings else. I hear this concern very often and still repeatedly have it my mind. So here I want to give a very important hint:

 

 

When you try to distinguish whether it is an intuitive feeling or not, ask yourself: Am I feeling it from a place of fear or from a place of trust? What am I afraid of in this situation? Do I try to run away from something I am afraid of with this feeling? If your answer is yes, it’s probably not intuition. As our intuitive feelings always create, not destroy.

 

 

 

 

 

The laws of the Universe makes it clear: The manifestation and planning are more effective when you are a sensitive person! All we need to do is switch from our fears to best beliefs. 

 

Typical Life Problems And How To Solve Them

15 Typical Life Problems And How To Solve Them.

Photo © Angelika Platen (Walter De Maria)

All of our problems are the same. This is the 156th time I’ve written this fact (for those of you counting).

Problems are forever and we can’t avoid them. You’ll wake up tomorrow and have problems for breakfast. You’ll jump on the train and read a problem in your email inbox.

You’ll get to the office and get a problem smack bang in your pretty face!

The typical problems we face can be solved.

Here are 15 typical life problems and how to solve them:


You didn’t reach your goal.

Just because you set a goal, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. Many of life’s toughest goals take lots of attempts. Some of the goals I missed are:

• Dream careers

• Girls I wanted to date

• Saving enough money to build a school in Laos

• Reaching 100k followers on LinkedIn

People who talk about success and personal development (and even write for a site called Addicted2Success like me) also don’t reach their goals.

The best feeling about reaching a goal is the journey it took to get there. If all your goals were easy, then you’d feel nothing at the end of the process.

Image Credit: Manly Caves

Solution:

Take the goal you didn’t achieve and try a different approach. Doing the same thing over and over to achieve your goal is the definition of insanity.

Your heroes miss their goals too. What makes them stand out is that they don’t give up. The fun of goal-setting is knowing that you’ll fail.


Someone criticized you.

If you want to make a dent in this world, then the critics will come out of the closet. The bigger your aspirations are, the more you’ll be criticized.

The number of critics you have is in direct proportion to your success.

“I had an entire blog post written about me saying how stupid I was. It felt like crap on day one. By day seven I’d made peace with the criticism and kept writing”

Solution:

You can’t please everybody that you meet in life.

When you speak on a stage, for example, 25% of people will like you, 25% won’t know who you are and 50% of people will think you’re an asshole even though you’ve probably done nothing wrong.

Critics are not all bad. You can learn things about yourself from them too. The solution is to learn from criticism, not be afraid of it.


Your career got messed up.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a happy-go-lucky office worker, your career is going to get messed up at some point.

The definition of business is this: Moving from one problem to another and making money in the meantime to fuel your mission. Business is really just problem-solving.

  • Redundancy could right hook you in the face.
  • The business you founded could go backwards and even bankrupt.
  • Your career skills could become outdated.
  • You could get fired for making a mistake.

Your career is going to get messed up. Things you can never predict in your career are going to happen.

Solution:

See career challenges for what they are: an opportunity to try something different. If your career never got messed up, then you’d probably stay in your comfort-zone for your entire life and never try something different.

The solution is to see your career getting messed up as a chance to grow. Getting made redundant could be the one reality that makes you want to create your own startup.

Having a customer leave could decrease your workload and create space for clients who won’t drain your time and make you no money.


You have financial troubles.

That crazy little thing called money will let you down at some point.

“I’ve personally been rich and poor multiple times”

Upon reflection, the time I’ve been the happiest has been when I’ve had the least amount of money.

Countless studies have shown that money isn’t what your life’s about. As humans, we seek meaning, love and our own version of happiness.

Money won’t give you any of those human needs.

That doesn’t mean money doesn’t matter; it just means that it shouldn’t be your main focus or something you obsess over.

Image Credit: Andy Warhol

Solution:

Lack of money is a gift. When you don’t have money, you become resourceful and creative at the same time.

Lack of money helps you decide on what matters and what doesn’t.

If things get really bad, then you’ll likely prioritize feeding your family over buying another useless car that will never make you happy. You’ll take joy in the simple things in life.

The solution to financial problems is to see them as a gift and choose a meaning for your life instead.


You’re unhealthy.

Our health has become a real problem. We wonder why we feel tired, sick and get headaches. We’ll all experience health challenges at some point in our life.

How many health challenges we experience in our younger years will come down to food and exercise. The strategies for being healthy haven’t changed.

There’s no mystery around being healthy it’s just that we’ve become lazy.

Convenience powered by apps has overtaken our ability to do basic tasks and not binge watch Netflix every night.

Solution:

Take ownership. Quit feeling sick and do something about it. Have some blood tests. Change your diet to be more plant-based.

Image Credit: Idelle Weber

Drink more water. Get your lazy ass to the gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Stand up from your desk every now and then so you’re not sitting for the whole day and messing your spine/neck up.

Whatever you do, take ownership of your health and quit being ignorant.


A relationship ended.

There’s less than 1% of people who met ‘The One,’ lived happily ever after, and never experience a breakup.

Even that 1% will have that relationship end at some point when either side passes away.

For the majority of us who don’t strike gold the first time around, we’re going to have to deal with breakups and the trials and tribulations of romance.

We’ll probably find ourselves in a toxic relationship for too long.

We’ll probably get cheated on at least once.

We’ll probably have our hearts smashed into a million pieces when we discover that someone ‘No longer loves us anymore.’

These are the realities of the human condition and our need to reproduce and keep our species alive.

Solution:

Finding love is about understanding what love is not. You need relationships to end to find out what love really is. All breakups suck in the beginning until you grow and move on. Then, the solution to this problem is to find yourself.

Once you find yourself, the heart will be ready for love again. How you move forward from there is up to you.

You can try the good old fashion nightclub scene. You could go to Meetups. Or, you could start swiping left and right on a few dating apps.

“Have your heart broken just don’t let it stay that way”


You made a dick of yourself.

Geez, this one is an ugly truth for me.

I’ve made an ass of myself more times than I’ve had protein and veggies for dinner. Here’s a few just for laughs (and your entertainment).

• There was the time I tried to pretend I could be the Wolf of Wall Street and got laughed out of the interview due to not being able to explain derivatives

• There was the time I thought this girl liked me and tried to hug her while we were walking only to have her hate my guts

• There was the time I went out with friends and threw up on my friend’s couch after having a single shot of Tequila

• There was the time I did my first public speaking gig and messed up a speech about my own life which I’d rehearsed over 100 times

We could talk for days about how I’ve embarrassed myself over the years. We could even compare epic fails to see who’s are worse. This is not a game though.

We’re all going to go into situations with the best of intentions or all the experience in the world and still screw up.

Solution:

Making a dick of yourself is a sign of courage. Courage is what is found in leaders and those who are doers.

Making a dick of yourself is an acceptance that you might fail in the short-term.

Those who fail in the short-term will eventually win in the long-term with practice.

“The opposite of making a dick of yourself is perfection.That’s a life where you think your shit doesn’t stink and you spend your entire day trying to impress everybody to eventually impress nobody”

Making an idiot of yourself is perfectly fine. What’s not fine is being perfect.

Image Credit: Romero Britto

Someone messed your *shit* up.

Car, home or insert other material possession that doesn’t matter. None of these material things that got messed up are joining you in the afterlife.

You can’t bury the Bentley with you (although someone tried) so you can drive around with your great, great, great grandpa and do burnouts in the afterlife.

The stuff that is going to get messed up doesn’t matter.

Solution:

What matters is that you don’t get messed up. What matters is that you take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Maybe when your junk gets messed up, you’ll realize that you didn’t need it in the first place.


You feel like your life has no meaning.

These moments where nothing makes sense is where you get to explore. We’re not born with a meaning for our life. Meaning comes from learning who we are and growing as a person.

The meaning for your life when you’re 19 will probably change from when you’re 51 and got three grown-up kids.

The quickest way to destroy your life is to believe that life has no meaning. A lack of meaning leads to depression, carelessness, drug taking and even crime at an extreme level.

Solution:

If you feel like your life has no meaning, then it’s time to experiment. Standing still is not how you find the answer.

“Being intensely focused on one’s self only leads to more suffering”

A short-term solution to this problem is to experiment with helping those who have nothing. Spend time with people who’d kill to be in your position and get some perspective.

I’ve found in my life that the greatest meaning for your life is normally tied to finding something you’d be happy to do for free that helps others.


You feel like you can’t go on.

We’ve all had those days. Those deep and sometimes dark thoughts can lead to a place you’ve never visited.

Some failures in life hurt more than others. Some failures can’t be solved through a listicle post such as this one with a dose of inspiration.

If you truly feel like you can’t go on, then there’s another way.

Solution:

Seek real help. These dark thoughts must be treated and sometimes the best medicine is to seek professional help through counseling, or for an extreme case, by calling Lifeline.

While I’ve never had suicidal thoughts personally, I have dealt with mental illness.

“There is a way to come out the other side, but you have to put aside your pride and seek help”

Please don’t become another victim of suicide by doing nothing.


Every day feels the same.

You wake up. You eat. You go to work. You eat. You come home. You eat. You go to bed.

Life can feel the same if you do nothing. It’s up to you to create variety and shape your habits into something more than a fixed schedule which makes you feel bored.

Days feel the same when there’s no purpose behind anything you’re doing.

Image Credit: Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits

Solution:

You must find joy in the repetition. You do that by taking those reps and making them mean something. Add some variety in by breaking your comfort zone. Set a goal to do something wild during your day every so often.

• Travel to another country

• Talk to someone new

• Try learning a new skill

Even after trying something new, you have to get used to some level of repetition. Let that repetition become habits that serve something which can help others.


Your friends are screwing your life up.

Dump them. Divorce them. Delete their number.

Every relationship you have in your life is a choice. The people around us often hold us back. They fill our minds with limiting beliefs, stories and goals that give us no sense of meaning.

Friends can kill our dreams or make us believe something we never thought was possible.

Solution:

Everyone deserves a second chance. Start by telling your toxic friends how you feel. Give them a chance to change with the new you.

If they refuse, take a break from them for a while. Ask yourself whether you want them in your life long-term.

‘Fitting in’ is what we’re taught to do. What I’d advise you to do is be you instead and that will attract the right people into your life.


You feel stressed.

77% of people in the US alone experience regular stress.

This young, previously blonde blogger has also recently learned about the effects of stress. I had a cortisol test and the doctor found the levels to be twice the normal range.

This stress led to brain fog, tiredness and a lack of mental clarity. Stress is also caused by what you let into your life. Having options can be a bad thing.

Solution:

“We don’t need more; we need less to destress”

• Declutter your home and office

• Say no to more meetings

• Say yes to invites from people that make you feel like saying “Hell Yes!”

• Buy less material things

• Have fewer people in your life

• Listen to one podcast instead of many

• Read fewer books instead of every one that’s recommended on a podcast

• Have less recurring subscriptions

• Invest and save more money so you can stress less about unexpected bills

• Take regular breaks (quarterly has worked for me)


A fear is standing in your way.

There are so many common fears — fear of spiders, flying, public speaking, dying, career change, heights and maybe even a fear of expressing yourself.

Fear is a concept of the mind. Nothing is scary or not scary. Our mind makes that choice for us and provides meaning to everything.

Image Credit: Pop Art Portraits

Fear can be overcome and that’s why we love stories of battling with fear. I’ve famously spoken about creating fear lists and then knocking them off one at a time.

Solution:

Smash the fear into tiny little pieces. Don’t avoid it. Don’t let it stand in your way any longer. Make a decision to overcome each fear you have and you’ll be unstoppable by the end.

Don’t let nerves trick you into thinking you’re fearful. We all get nerves, but we can still keep moving forward with nerves — I’ve even learned to use nerves to my advantage by using them as an extra energy source.

Nerves tell me I’m on the right track.

I’ve overcome my fear of public speaking and my fear of flying — my fear of spiders remains, but I’m working on that one 🙂

Real fear can be overcome through deliberate practice.


Dealing with the concept of death.

Last but not least, the old chestnut of death. Death is the one life problem we all have in common and can’t solve. Sorry for the bad news.

Death is going to take us eventually and it will take people you love through your life too.

“The solution to dealing with death is not to overcome it but to accept it”

Death can be our greatest motivator if we let it. Once you understand what death means in all of its darkness, you’ll understand life.

You’ll see death, not as a problem but a fact. That fact will change the way you see everything going forward. For me, it took several near-death experiences (almost being murdered and a cancer scare) to see death for what it is.

Death is not an easy pill to swallow. No short blog post like this is going to give you all the answers you’re probably wanting to know.

The only way I see of dealing with the reality of death is to go out there and live the best damn life you can, while you can!

Use your life to do something that gives you meaning and then you’ll no longer see death as a problem when it comes upon you.

Peace, love and respect — thanks for reading.

Ideas That Could Change Your Life

25 Ideas That Could Change Your Life

1. KAIZEN

jesus-in-taiwan-372790-unsplash.jpgA Japanese term meaning “improvement”.

I think of Kaizen as ‘continuous improvement’ or ‘continual change for the better, one small step at a time’, as this is how I first heard of the term.

A lot of the successful Japanese manufacturing companies in automobiles and technology have used this exact approach to obtain massive success over time.

What could you achieve if you just focused on taking one small step in the right direction today, and then another one every day after that?

2. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE…

luca-iaconelli-242679-unsplash.jpgGandhi did not say “Be the change you want to see in the world” even though it is often attributed to him. What he actually said was this: 

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

3. BE HERE NOW

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If we are fully present in the moment and aware of what is going on both internally and externally, we have a choice in what we decide to do.

If you do not feel present, meditate, ground yourself, get outside, move and connect with your five senses in the moment and the world around you.

“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” – Deepak Chopra

4. CHOICES DEFINE YOUR LEGACY

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This happens through a lengthy process of choices becoming actions, actions becoming habits, and all of your habits informing your character and ultimate legacy. A quote along these lines has been attributed to a Mr Wiseman in 1856, and it tells us that whatever we sow, we must later reap.

It is therefore essential to engage in as many helpful actions as possible when we still have a choice and before they become habitual. The more engrained something is, the easier it is to do automatically, and the harder it can be to stop.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” – Donald Hebb

5. LIFE WASN’T MEANT TO BE EASY

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We often don’t appreciate things that just fall into our lap, and we tend to value things much more when we put in some hard work to get it. Even people that build their own IKEA furniture rate the furniture as being more valuable than people who see that same furniture complete but haven’t made it themselves.

I know I’d be more proud of the $3million I built up through hard work than the equivalent amount of money won through a lottery. How about you?

Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” – Andrew Carnegie

6. THE MAGIC HAPPENS OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

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Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

So many people want a comfortable life and therefore stick to what feels safe. Unfortunately, if you are not willing to feel uncomfortable, your life will only get smaller over time.

When you first step out of your comfort zone, it will be scary, you will feel awkward, and it may even feel unsafe. But is it really, or does it just feel threatening because it is new? If at this moment, you run back to what you are used to, you won’t grow. However, if you can persist through the initial pain, it will only get more comfortable in time, and your comfort zone will continue to expand and grow.

7. RETHINK WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FREE

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What is real freedom to you?

Doing whatever your parents, school, bosses or government wants you to do? UMM NO. This is called compliance.

Being a rebel and doing the exact opposite of what your parents, school, bosses and government told you to do? STILL NO. This is called counterpliance and is always defined by what you have been shown to do, which means that you are still part of the system. Plus you may end up grounded, expelled, fired or in prison, which doesn’t sound too free to me.

Just living for the moment and indulging in all of your passions and pleasures whenever you want, becauseYOLO, right? NOPE. This is called hedonism, and may feel great for a night, but not for a lifetime. It can have some pretty nasty side-effects too if you aren’t careful, including weight gain, disease, debt, dissatisfaction and even death.

True freedom must come from making the choice that is likely to be the best for you in the long-term, even if it denies you that last alcoholic drink or dessert, or the fun that happens after 2am, or that extra TV episode, or the added snooze time in the mornings. If we can’t get ourselves to do things that are difficult or painful in the short-term but beneficial in the long run, we can never honestly be free in the long-term. As a former NAVY SEAL famously said:

Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink

8. GETTING STARTED IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST PART

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The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain.

In a book that I once read (the Willpower Instinct I think), I came across a 10-minute rule that I found surprisingly useful. Basically, if you are not sure if you are up for doing something, give it a go for 10 minutes, and if after 10 minutes you still don’t feel up to it, stop. I tried it a few times with going to the gym, and usually, once I get there and get into it, I’m fine, but my brain often tries to tell me that I am too tired before I go.

The reason the 10-minute strategy seems to work is that it is much easier to get our brain to do something for 10 minutes than it is for a considerable chunk of time. This is because it requires much less energy when we are forecasting our capacity to do the task. Human brains are cognitive misers, which means they are always trying to “help” by conserving energy. If you want to get started or you feel tired, think small. Also…

9. THE FIRST DRAFT OF ANYTHING IS RUBBISH

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Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.” – Ernest Hemingway

This quote is fantastic because too often people think that the need to produce a masterpiece the first time they try or do something. If one of the most famous authors of all time produced crap on their first draft, why should we expect more on ours? The solution is to focus on the process, not the outcome, and just produce work before trying to edit, review or criticise what you have done.

10. DON’T PUT THINGS OFF TIL LATER

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If something takes less than 2 minutes to do, don’t write it down or add it to your to do list – do it now.” – David Allen, Getting Things Done

Most people have so much stuff to do at any one time that it is very difficult to ever get their to-do-list down to zero. This can cause anxiety and stress for some people, but the key is to have an excellent system to manage everything that comes in so that you don’t have to keep worrying and thinking about all of the things you need to do. Getting things done, or GTD is one such system. And the two-minute-rule from GTD says that small tasks should never go on your to-do-list if you can just get them done now. This rule alone means that my email inbox rarely has any unopened or unreplied emails.

11. BE YOURSELF; EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN

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Some believe that Oscar Wilde first said this, but the fascinating quote investigator website said that they could not find it in any of his writings. Keith craft said something similar that I like better, in announcing that we all have a unique fingerprint and that we can, therefore “leave a unique imprint that no one else can leave.”

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

12. WE REGRET THE THINGS WE DON’T DO MORE THAN THE THINGS WE DO

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When making a decision about the future, we tend to think about what we may lose if we take a risk. However, when reflecting on the past, we feel more regret about what we missed by not taking a chance. The question then becomes, do we:

  1. Play it safe, and not put ourselves out there because people may judge us or criticise us for giving something a go and not succeeding? Or
  2. Criticise others for being brave enough to try something that they believe in? Or
  3. Throw caution to the wind and give it our best shot, knowing that we will learn and grow more from mistakes and setbacks than we ever would have by sitting back and criticising others?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

13. FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY!

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Susan Jeffers was my hero back when I read her top-selling self-help book. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have to get rid of the fear before I acted fearlessly.

The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris then further highlighted to me that the action of confidence tends to come before the feeling of confidence, not the other way around.

Fear was designed to keep us safe as a hunter-gatherer but holds us back more in modern day life than it helps us sometimes. We need to instead assess the real level of risk whenever we feel fear, and go for it if the situation feels scary but is actually pretty safe. This could be horror movies, roller coaster rides, plane flights, or public speaking.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – FDR inaugural address, 1932

14. WYSIATI

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What you see is all there is.” – Daniel Kahneman

How you are thinking and feeling in the moment is very much influenced by how you are thinking and feeling at the moment. If you feel on top of the world, you are likely to be feeling happy, thinking positively about yourself, others, the world and the future. Anything may feel possible. Then the next week you have a setback or get sick, and you start to feel depressed and hopeless and think negatively about yourself, others, the world and the future. Both can’t be true, if they are only a week apart, so it’s important to understand the power of WYSIATI.

Don’t think too big picture if you are feeling flat and down, and try not to shop if you’re too hungry. The choices you’ll make once you’ve picked up a bit and have eaten something are likely to be very different.

15. MEMENTO MORI

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Latin: “Remember that you have to die.

In many cultures around the world and through history, the acknowledging of our own mortality through prayer, meditation, reflection, ceremony, or celebration is much more common than it is in atheistic modern-day Western life.

The phrase memento mori helped people to consider the transient nature of earthly life, our goods and our pursuits and enabled them to become humble and clarify what was really important to them.

16. THINGS FADE; ALTERNATIVES EXCLUDE

Two things that are inevitable in life are:

1. no matter what we do, time passes and things erode over time (also known as the second law of thermodynamics), and

2. if we go down one path, we cannot go down another track at the same time.

– “Decisions are difficult for many reasons, some reaching down into the very socket of our being. John Gardner, in his novel Grendel, tells of a wise man who sums up his meditations on life’s mysteries in two simple but terrible postulates: “Things fade: alternatives exclude.” […] Decision invariably involves renunciation: for every yes there must be a no, each decision eliminating or killing other options (the root of the word decide means “slay,” as in homicide or suicide).” – Irvin Yalom (1991). Love’s executioner. p. 10. Penguin Books.

17. PARKINSON’S LAW

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Ever wondered how on some days, when you are super busy, you manage to get way more work done. Then on quiet days, you don’t have much work to do, but struggle to get it all done. The reason for this is Parkinson’s law:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

The Stock–Sanford corollary to Parkinson’s rule is better in my opinion, and it is something I used a lot when studying at uni:

If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.

If productivity is what you are going for, give yourself a closer deadline and someone to hold you accountable if you don’t meet it, and voila, productivity and efficiency improve!

18. THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANING AND PURPOSE

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He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was a nihilist, which meant that he didn’t think the world had any meaning in it. Irvin Yalom said that even if the world is meaningless overall, it is still essential for each of us to find things that are personally meaningful to us, either as an individual or as a group. Viktor Frankl showed that in the concentration camps in WWII, those with some higher purpose beyond the camps were the ones who could manage to survive the horrible atrocities they faced every day.

What’s personally meaningful to you? Where could you find purpose?

19. DON’T LISTEN TO THE DOUBTERS

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Impossibility is not a fact – it’s an opinion.” – Muhammed Ali

Think of anyone who has done something groundbreaking or is still trying to do something pioneering today – Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Bill Gates. I wonder how many of them were told to give up, grow up, stop being deluded or to think realistically? I’d say most of them.

Just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had the massive amount of progression that we have had over the past 200 years.

20. CLARIFY YOUR VALUES AND MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON THESE

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(Some people spend) their lives doing work they detest to make money they don’t want to buy things they don’t need in order to impress people they dislike.” – Emile Gauvreau

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your life has to be a certain way just because everyone else is doing something a certain way and telling you that you should too.

By clarifying your own values first and building your own hierarchy, you can then see if what you are currently doing is consistent with what is really important for you. If not, what changes could you make, that you’d be willing to make, that would help you to start heading in the right direction? The earlier that you make these changes, or at least concrete plans to make them, the higher chance there is that you will be happy with the path that you are on.

21. RELATIONSHIP WARMTH IS THE NUMBER ONE PREDICTOR OF LONG-TERM HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

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“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – The Minimalists

The minimalist movement has really picked up in the last 20 years in response to most of us in the Western world having way too much stuff and realising that it doesn’t make us any happier. If anything, it causes us more stress. Clothing used to be a scarce and valuable thing. Now wardrobes and houses are overflowing, and storage facilities are popping up everywhere to help clear some space.

What if we just bought fewer things, and focused more on what really matters: our connections with the important people in our lives. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard study of Adult Development, found that in the end, close relationships are more critical to our health and happiness than anything else.

22. OCCAM’S RAZOR

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Given several possible explanations about something, the simplest one is probably right.

Is the dog above trying to read, or is it merely sniffing the book?

Occam’s razor is why conspiracy theories are never likely to be true. Think about the moon landing, or 9/11, or the Illuminati, flat earth theories, or any other conspiracy out there. For the plot to be real, there are so many added levels that would have all had to run flawlessly for them to work out, and so many people would have had to keep this a secret for such an extended period of time without turning themselves in or trying to make money out of it in a tell-all. It’s much more likely that there is no conspiracy.

Occam’s razor can also be applied to losing weight, sleeping well, getting stronger, or improving any skill. Some people have complicated theories, but usually, the answer lies in relatively simple explanations. Doing too much, or complicating things beyond what is necessary often backfires.

Reduce things back to the bare essentials, and see what happens.

23. LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS

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The law of diminishing returns says that each time we do something to receive a benefit, the benefit will be less and less.

Let’s say you order this massive stack of pancakes in the picture above. The first pancake may taste amazing, and the pleasure received is a 9 out of 10. Each bite is likely to be slightly less enjoyable than the one before, especially after you become full. If you somehow managed to get through the whole stack, the last bite could be a 1 out of 10 on the pleasure scale. Come back for pancakes again next month, however, and pleasure bounces back up to a 9 out of 10 again.

The solution is to wait for long enough between doing the same thing twice so that you enjoy it just as much the next time.

Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” – William Cowper

24. BE KINDphotography of a man and woman laughing

 

If you’re kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” – Mother Teresa

If you know why you are doing something, try not to worry about what others think. People who do not understand why you are doing what you are doing will choose to see it from their point of view. If they could not do what you are without getting something in return, they will assume the same intention is within you. But being kind is a reward within itself. If you can give just for the sake of it, do it. You can thank me later.

25. DESIGN YOUR OWN LIFE

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When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and (you should) just live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again“. – Steve Jobs

As far as I see the world, we only have one life to live. We can spend it doing what others expect of us, or we can spend it doing what is right for us. We can blame everyone else for how things turn out, or we can go our own way.

Regardless of what you decide, time passes, and eventually, you will either feel that you made the most of what you had, or you will accumulate regrets. I try to live my life with no regrets, and I wish the same for you too.

Choose your own destiny, live life to the fullest, and try to experience and enjoy whatever comes your way.

 

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

LIFE – Laws of Power

My 10 Favourite Laws of Power

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Since the book was first released in 1998, it has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, and has influenced many successful people, from Will Smith to Kanye West, Jay-Z and 50 Cent, who later co-wrote a New York Times’ bestseller with Greene.

It is also the most highly requested book in U.S. prisons, due to the easy to understand synthesis of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and other famous writers key prescriptions for effectively managing power struggles in difficult environments.

Some of the 48 laws do seem contradictory, and others seem a little repetitive, but there are some truly great bits of advice for effectively managing situations where power may play a role. This might be a corporate environment, a difficult but smaller workplace, a large social group, to really anywhere where there is a power imbalance between people or a formal or informal hierarchy.

Here are my 10 favourite laws, including a description of each law from the following website. The parts that I especially like are bolded. Enjoy!

Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control… Powerful people impress by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

Similar to the Danish proverb that says “deep rivers move with silent majesty, shallow brooks are noisy”, law 4 reminds me to only say things that I believe will be of value. It also helps me to try to stay within my circle of competence, and not give advice on things that I do not know much about.

Law 9: Win through your Actions, Never through Argument

Any momentary triumph you think gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate.

A parent who smokes but tells their children not to is unlikely to be successful at persuading their children because “actions speak louder than words”. The better option is to not smoke or quit if you want to set a good example. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Law 13: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude

If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasise it… He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.

As sad as this may appear, most people are self-motivated, and want to do the right thing if it makes them look good. For example, a hybrid car such as a Toyota Prius sells well because it is known as a hybrid car. It screams out “I care about the environment” in a way that the Toyota Camry Hybrid does not, because the hybrid version of the Camry looks almost identical to the regular Camry. The 2014 sales in the US of each car highlights this point:  Prius: 194,000; Toyota Camry Hybrid: 39,500; Toyota Camry (non-hybrid): 428,600. Figure out how what you want will benefit the other person or help them to look good before you ask for a favour, and you are much more likely to get them onboard.

Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous

The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves. A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle.

A lot of people that I see try to protect themselves at the cost of a real sense of connection and belonging with others. This law helps by reminding me of the dangers and costs of not opening up to people who are honest and can be trusted.

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point.You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another – intensity defeats extensiveness every time. 

This reminds me of the quote “jack of all trades; master of none”. If you want to make progress in anything, it is important to prioritise, and put your energy into the activities and thought patterns that are going to give you the best results. Law 23 also helps me to  build upon my strengths rather than worrying too much about my weaknesses.

Law 25: Re-Create Yourself

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you.

I often encourage my clients to clarify their most important values, and to see how these differ from what their family, friends, culture or society may want for them. The idea of working hard and not enjoying life until retirement is not a role that I want to accept, even though this is considered normal in many respects by society. It’s much better to create and live a sustainable life for myself, whatever that may look like. Then it won’t matter if and when I retire, especially if I keep loving what I do for work.

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honours the timid.

Law 28 reminds me to not doubt myself once I have settled on a course of action, and to fully commit myself to it for a set period of time instead of continuing to remain uncertain or indecisive. Once a decision is made, it is much better to give it 100% until the next decision needs to be made. Uncertainty only leads to more stress and anxiety, and less satisfaction in the long run.

Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End

The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work… By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.

This reminds me of the benefits of thinking into the future, and clarifying how I would want my life to look. If I had a 50th birthday and someone close to me stood up and spoke about the person I had been for the past 18 years, what would I want to hear them say? Based on my response to this, it is then important to see if my 1-, 5- or 10-year plan is helping me to head in that direction. If not, more planning and some big changes may be required, as long as my plans are also flexible enough to change as I continue to grow with time.

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing

Never be in a hurry – hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always (be) patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

Patience is a massively underrated value, especially in today’s society. How often do you see people multitasking, or telling you how busy they are? I know I sometimes do. But slowing things down, and really making sure that my attention is 100% on what is most important in any given moment is a great recipe for long-term happiness and well-being. While it is important to “strike while the iron is hot”, I think it is also important to not be too reactive, and make sure that the decisions you make are really consistent with your values and long-term plans. Knowing how to say no to the wrong things in life is also a crucial element of success.

Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once

Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it a gentle improvement on the past.

Trying to change my eating habits has taught me this law better than anything else recently. As soon as I try to be too restrictive, I do rebel against any prescriptions. Long-term sustainable changes are again much better than short-term dramatic changes. The 20-minute walk that you manage to do is also better than the 10km run that you do not, so start small, and try to build up slowly. If you can do this, changes are much more likely to stick.

Curve in the road

If you want to see the remaining 38 laws, please click here or purchase the book. Some of the laws do seem pretty ruthless, but pretending that they don’t exist in power dynamics is much more dangerous than learning how they work.

I also recommend checking out my dealing with toxic people article for more information on how to successfully manage and survive difficult interactions.

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

Life – Steps to upgrade your life

Photo by Vinicius Wiesehofer on Unsplash

These 4 Mindset Shifts Will Give You Unprecedented Personal Growth By 2019

4 steps to upgrade your life

“Most people drift through life without devoting much conscious energy to figuring out specifically what they want and what they need to do to get themselves there.” -Darren Hardy

Your level of talent and “potential” is irrelevant if it’s trapped in a mediocre mindset.

Most people don’t put much energy into their fame of mind and how they see the world. As a result, most people are left with subpar mindsets that severely limit their ability to build wealth, develop relationships, and achieve far more than their peers.

But you have the power to choose. If you put in the work, you can change your frame of mind to allow yourself to accomplish incredible victories, very quickly. Sometimes, big changes come in small packages.

Mental visualization precedes physical achievement. Before you can accomplish anything significant, your mind must believe you can first. This is why most people won’t build wealth, won’t have great relationships, and won’t achieve their highest goals.

Here are 4 mindset shifts that will give you unprecedented growth this year if you start developing them today.

A Wealth Mentality (Not a Poverty Mindset)

“Look upon your own mind as a garden. You are a gardener, and you are planting seeds (or thoughts) in your subconscious mind all day long, based on your habitual thinking. As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment.” -Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

Growing up, I saw my family go through financial ruin. The family business went under, and we lost the cars and the house. My dad had to leave the country to find work when I was 17 because there was no work during the recession. The rest of us had to move in to my grandpa’s cramped 3-bedroom house.

This experience taught me a few things. First, I believed money would always run out in the end. Second, the best I could hope for was a guaranteed salary with benefits, protection from the imminent financial disaster waiting to strike.

This is a poverty mindset, and I had it for many years. I worried excessively about not spending a few extra dollars if I didn’t need to. I focused more on hoarding pennies than I did on earning more income.

The Poverty Mindset believes:

  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees”
  • You’ll never be rich
  • Job security is more important than career freedom
  • Disaster is imminent, you need to be ready
  • Rich people are selfish and oppressive
  • Money is precious and you need to grab what you can
  • Worry about today’s bills, not your legacy
  • Government aid is more important than developing personal financial literacy

In the words of Robert Kiyosaki from his book Rich Dad Poor Dad:

“Most people live their lives chasing paychecks, pay raises, and job security because of the emotions of desire and fear, not really questioning where these emotions-driven thoughts are taking them.”

The poverty mindset is shared by more people than not. There’s an old saying that says if you took all the money in the world and divided it up equally, five years later the rich would be rich again, the middle class would return to the middle class, and the poor would become poor again. The statement obviously a big generalization, but the principle is extremely important:

Most people will remain in their current status as long as they don’t have a fundamental mindset shift.

If you want enormous success in 2019, you need to start this mindset shift now. If you continue to embrace the poverty mindset — “money doesn’t grow on trees” and are more focused on getting enough government aid than developing your own financial skills — you’ll always stay where you are.

The abundance mindset shifts from the statement “I can’t afford that” to the question, “How can I afford that?

A wealth mentality enables you to think in 100x and 1000x magnitude. Most people are more concerned with getting their next 3% raise; having a wealth mentality opens your creativity and imagination to allow you to discover ways to make 100x your usual income.

What you truly believe about yourself is what you become. If you truly believe in your ability to create wealth, your mind will figure out a means how.

“Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figure out ways and means how to.” -Dr. David Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Be Open to Correction and Feedback (Most People Aren’t)

“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” -Sheryl Sandberg

You don’t have to love it. You don’t have to smile or enjoy it.

But if you want enormous personal growth, you need to open yourself up to correction.

Getting negative feedback about yourself almost always sucks. At best, it’s uncomfortable. It’s exhausting to manage your emotions and instinct to defend yourself and hear how you weren’t good enough.

Back at my old corporate job, I remember insisting to my boss that I was totally open to feedback, and wanted to hear all about my shortcomings so I could address them and make them better. In her wisdom, she graciously responded that every time she had brought up feedback for me, I’d get defensive and sulky and bitter.

I could’ve sworn I was happy and cool about it.

I wasn’t. Most people aren’t. That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. But this mindset shift is one of the most important skills you can develop before 2019. If you want to see enormous improvement in any area of your life — from presentation skills to meditation to communicating with your partner — you need to be open to correction and feedback.

This is the core of Deliberate Practice. In his book Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson wrote:

“Once a person reaches an ‘acceptable’ level of performances and automaticity, more years of practice don’t lead to improvement.”

If you keep doing things the exact same way, you’ll just keep getting the same average result. Elite practice means getting feedback and learning from your mistakes. But naive practice is doing it over and over expecting repetition alone will help you. You need an outside eye to point out what you can’t see.

Here’s something that helps. Don’t take it personally, because it’s usually not. It’s professional. And if you want more money, more sales, more influence, more progress, more satisfaction, you need to tweak your professional abilities.

A mentor of mine once gave a sales presentation for his company. He boldly asked a peer to watch and give him feedback on his performance. After the presentation was over, his peer had plenty of negative feedback and notes to work on.

Most people would naturally get defensive and perhaps even deny the criticism. But my mentor took it in stride by telling himself, “It’s not personal. It’s business. I want to get better — this is how I do that.

He knew that if he wanted to be a better speaker, he’d need to learn more skills and techniques. The best and most efficient way to do that is getting immediate and detailed feedback.

You don’t have to like it. But if you (truly) open yourself up to hearing corrections about yourself, you set yourself up to improve faster than 99% of your peers.

“The right sort of practice can help pretty much anyone improve in just about any area they choose to focus on.” -Anders Ericsson

Focus on Learning and Creating, Not Entertainment and Distraction

“Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.” -Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comics

Most people are distracted right now.

They’re distracted while they’re at work. They’re distracted when they’re with family and friends. They’re distracted at the gym, on their commute, and even in the shower.

The majority of people will continue going through life this way, never experiencing the fullness of a life filled with deep focus and purpose. They use their sharpest focus on the very things that don’t matter, and waste their potential.

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport explained how people with the ability to do deep work — intense focus on important tasks for long periods of time — are exceedingly rare in society at the same time that the necessity of the skill is increasing. In other words, the best jobs, projects, and opportunities are given more and more to individuals who can focus.

Most people don’t prioritize learning and creating. They don’t care enough about any efforts to invest in their personal development and growth. To them, entertainment is more important. Most people have replaced achieving their life dreams and goals with TV, partying, and social media.

As a result, most don’t have close relationships. They’re stuck in jobs they hate, rarely doing work that truly excites them. Their life is on the fast-track to disappointment, and they don’t know what to do about it.

If you don’t want to end up living a life of mediocrity, focus on learning and education. It’s the fastest way to become extraordinary, wealthy, and successful.

Wrote best-selling author Hal Elrod:

“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.”

If you want enormous personal and professional success in 2019, you need to shift your focus from entertainment to learning and creating. Your level of success in any area of your life — health, finances, career, relationships — is determined by your personal development.

What you focus on is what you get.

“The goal of life is not to relax on the beach, sipping mojitos all day. The purpose is to find something you love that adds value to the world.” -Ben Foley

Treat Your Loved Ones Like You Actually Love Them

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” -Ernest Hemingway

Low-quality relationships have a negative impact on every area of your life.

If you take your relationships for granted and never take the time to develop and nurture them, every part of your life suffers — your health, emotions, potential, even income.

The truth is, the quality of your relationships is totally in your control. Despite this, most people can’t be bothered to learn how to communicate. This is why most people will never have great relationships — they choose the easy way out.

It’s easier to take relationships for granted, even with those closest to you. But if you want enormous satisfaction and fulfillment in the key areas of your life in 2019, you need to develop your relational skills. In the words of Tony Robbins:

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”

You can’t achieve incredible leaps in success without working with other people. I used to think you could go as far as you wanted by yourself; I was wrong. There’s an old African proverb that goes:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Here’s a personal example. I’ve been writing for a long time. Sometimes, I have great months where I reach a ton of people and get dozens of emails from readers who tell me my writing changed their life. I sell my courses and feel great.

But other months, it feels like I didn’t accomplish anything. No one emails me; no one buys my stuff. I feel like a failure. I feel like I’m not good-enough; I feel like the jig is up, and the truth is revealed — I’m a loser who just got lucky.

This is where relationships save my ass. My wife reassures me that the lies I’m believing are just that — lies. My best friends encourage me and tell me to keep writing. It’s not about what I feel, it’s about what I do consistently. I feel a little better. The month ends, and I feel refreshed and self-confident.

If you treat your loved ones like you actually love them, you receive exponentially more in return than you give. That’s how the world works: as best-selling author Derek Sivers once said:

“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.”

This mindset shift is extremely important. If you want to see unprecedented success in 2019, start focusing on this principle now. The quality of your relationships determine the quality of your life.

In Conclusion

“How much you improve is up to you.” -Anders Ericsson

Most people aren’t even preparing for next month’s progress, much less next year’s.

But the truth is, the world’s most successful spend enormous time and energy preparing for their future and improving their mindset. They know this is the difference between making an extra $1,000 this year, or an extra $100,000.

They know their ability to progress and grow is founded on their relationships, and focus their attention on developing and nurturing their relationships.

You need to start planning for the future now, and these 4 mindset shifts are some of the most important ways to do that.

Life-Changing Habits

13 Life-Changing Habits To Try And Do Every Single Day

Why does one day matter? Why does what you do today matter in the scheme of your whole life?

Because our life is made up of days. Days like today.

The poet Heraclitus said that “one day is equal to every day.” By that he meant that every day is the same length, comprised of the same amount of hours, the same sunup and sundown. Yet, he also meant it in the sense that philosophers have always meant that same idea — that if you can get one day right, you have a shot at getting your life right (and that you should try to get todayright, because tomorrow is no guarantee). Or as my friend Aubrey Marcus put it wonderfully in the title of his new bookown the day, own your life.

Earlier this year, I published “12 Questions That Will Change Your Life.” In the vein, here are 13 things you should do and think about every day to change your day — and by extension, your life as well.

Some are easier than others, but each one matters.

[*] Prepare For The Hours Ahead — Each morning you should prepare, plan and meditate on how you aim to act that day. Don’t wing it. Don’t be reactionary. Have a plan. Marcus Aurelius rose in the morning and did his journaling — preparing himself for what he was likely to face in the hours ahead. He thought about the people he was likely to face, difficulties he might encounter (premeditatio malorum), and what he knew about how to respond. The morning is the perfect time to journal and to use the pages in that journal to set yourself up for a successful day. Remember: If you do the tough planning in the morning, nothing can happen during the day contrary to your expectation or too tough for you to handle.

[*] Go For a Walk — For centuries, thinkers have walked many miles a day because they had to, because they were bored, because they wanted to escape the putrid cities they lived in, because they wanted to get their blood flowing. In the process they discovered an important side-effect: it cleared their minds and helped them make better work. As Nietzsche would later say: “It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” You should go for a walk every single day not only for exercise but for the philosophical and psychological benefits. Experience nature. Experience the quiet of the world around you. Take a break. If you’re too busy, multitask: Take a walking meeting. Do your phone call on the move around the parking lot. Get out of doors and move.

[*] Do The Deep Work — So much of our day is spent at the surface. Skimming this and that. Vaguely paying attention to this conversation or that one. This is not what we were put here for. You must make time — preferably an hour or more a day — for what Cal Newport calls the “deep work.” The type of intense concentration and cognitive focus where real progress is made — on whatever it is that we happen to do, be it writing or thinking or designing or creating. Elite work takes deep work. The amount of deep work you get done is on you. It starts by closing your browser (after you finish reading me, of course) and getting to it. If you don’t make time for this — if it’s not a box you check every day — it won’t happen.

[*] Do A Kindness — The Boy Scouts motto was to do a good turn every day. Seneca wrote that “Wherever there is a human being, we have an opportunity for kindness.” Yes, even rude people. Even people you’re in competition with. As well as the people you love and are connected to. Your co-workers are a chance for kindness. Your spouse is a chance for kindness. The mailman is a chance for kindness. It will make you feel better to take advantage of that chance. It will make your day better if you do. It will make the world better if you do. Only a saint or a sage can fully meet every opportunity and every encounter with kindness. So don’t whip yourself if you can’t muster that. Start with one. Practice one kindness every day. See what happens.

[*] Read. Read. Read. — Pick up a book every day. Even for just a few pages. As Emerson says, every book is a quotation — of other books, of experience, of the humans and civilizations that came before it. How could you not expose yourself to this? And yes, you do have time! Meals, before bed, on the train, in the waiting room, even on your phone or desktop. Read a few pages, read a whole book, but make a real and unending commitment to reading. Because there is so much out there that you can benefit from: BiographiesLittle-known gemsLife-changersPhilosophy. The classics. Self-improvementBooks about warFiction. Even marketing and business books. All of these will widen your perspective, help you with problems, give you inspiration and let you benefit from the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of the centuries.

[*] Find True Quiet — Every single day you should find a way to disconnect and unplug, even for a few minutes. I try to swim as often as I can, not only for the exercise but because nothing can get to me there. I don’t have my phone. There’s no noise. Just calmness and peace. Ask yourself: How often am I unreachable? The answer is: Not often enough. Build some of this time into your daily practice. You’ll be better for it. And the world will not notice, I promise.

[*] Make Time for Strenuous Exercise — It’s become a cliche to say this but when scientists consider exercise to be the ‘single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits,’ and it’s Richard Branson’s #1 piece of advice to entrepreneurs, it can’t be overstated. We need it — far more than you think. Don’t put it off. Do it. Be in shape and be healthy. And what I personally find is that it is important to have goals with your exercise. Why? So that no matter what happens that day — at work, at home, in the economy — you can have something that went well. You improved your mile time, you swam three more laps than usual, you squatted a new weight.

[*] Think About Death — Shakespeare said that every third thought should be of our grave. Perhaps that’s too much. One thought per day is plenty. The point isn’t to be morbid, but to remember that you are mortal. How much time do we waste on things that don’t matter? And why? Because we think we can afford it! Memento Mori. You will die. Live while you can. Live your life as if you have died and come back and all of this is extra. I keep a coin in my pocket to remind meof this and touch it at least once a day. Death doesn’t make life pointless but rather purposeful. And fortunately, we don’t have to nearly die to tap into this.

[*] Seize the Alive Time — What does every day seem to be comprised of? Too much dicking around. People are just killing time (remember Raymond Chandler’s line “and it dies hard.”) We get to where we were going and walk into the lobby and check our watch. It says we’re a few minutes early, so we reach into our pocket to grab our phones. Is this act not the expression of so much of what’s wrong with modern life? The entitlement. The resignation of it. How much better we would be and the world would be if we never did this again. If we chose alive time over dead time. There’s so much you could do in those few minutes. Face fears. Reach out and connect with someone. Do something you’ve been putting off. Expose ourselves to sunlight and nature. Be still and empty. Prepare for what lies ahead. Or just live because who knows how much time we have left.

[*] Say Thanks — To The Good and Bad — The Stoics saw gratitude as a kind of medicine, that saying “Thank you” for every experience was the key to mental health. “Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods,” was how Marcus Aurelius put it, “that things are good and always will be.” Say thanks to a rude person. Say thanks to a bungled project. Say thanks to a delayed package. Why? Because for starters it may have just saved you from something far worse, but mostly because you have no choice in the matter. Epictetus has said that every situation has two handles: Which are you going to decide to hold onto? The anger or the appreciation? The one of resentment or of thanks?

[*] Put The Day Up For Review — We prepared in the morning, now we reflect in the evening. The best way to improve is to review. So, each evening you should, like Seneca did, examine your day and your actions. As he put it, “When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by.” The question should be: Did I follow my plans for the day? Was I prepared enough? What could I do better? What have I learned that will help me tomorrow?

[*] Find a Way To Connect To Something Big — The worries and anxieties of daily life seem to fall away when we stand next to the ocean or walk through a beautiful park. We shouldn’t wait for our annual vacation to get this kind of relief and perspective. We need to get it every single day. The Stoics had an exercise for doing this. Marcus Aurelius would look up at the stars and imagine himself running alongside them, he’d see them for their timelessness and infiniteness. Try that tonight or early in the morning and try to make it a daily practice. A glance at the beautiful expanse of the sky is an antidote to the nagging pettiness of earthly concerns, of our dreams of immortality or fame. But you can find this connection from many sources: A poem. A view from the top floor. A barefoot walk across the grass. A few minutes in a church pew. Just find something bigger than yourself and get in touch with it every single day.

[*] Get Eight Hours of Sleep — “Sleep when you’re dead,” we say. Like it’s some badge of honor how little time we allot to it. Bullshit. The body needs its rest. Schopenhauer said that sleep is the interest we pay on the loan of life. Be glad to pay it. It’s what keeps us alive. Guard your sleep carefully, it’s an obligation. All the other habits and practices listed here become irrelevant if you don’t have the energy and clarity to do them.

P.S. If you want to get more practical about these things, check out Aubrey’s book Own The Day, Own Your Life.