You may be a true fan of him. Maybe you’ve just heard of him. Or maybe you’ve never heard this name before.
In any case, here’s a quick introduction to get started.
Tim Ferriss is the host of his famous podcast — The Tim Ferriss Show where he interviews success people from different fields. He asks them great questions and breaks down their success into bite size chunks which we can take away into our lives.
He is also the author of the books — 4-hour Workweek, 4-hour Chef, 4-hour Body, Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors.
Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors have a different theme. They are about getting advice, tips, tools, tactics, routine or inspiration from successful people in different fields.
Tim Ferriss is a self-proclaimed “human guinea pig” which means he believes in self-experimentation to test out assumptions and find out what most people could never imagine.
He has inspired millions of people to pursue their dreams and become lifelong learners. He continues to grow as he teaches us to be healthy, wealthy and wise.
His mission is to create an army of thinkers who can become better than him. If the student becomes better than the master, the master becomes successful.
Two of his major guiding principles are:
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek.
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.
Hard Choices + Good Questions = Good Life
Making Hard Choices
What if making hard choices were easy? That’s a type of question he would ask himself.
So, let’s consider it.
Hard choices are not hard by nature. They look hard to us because of fear, uncertainty, doubt or lack of clarity.
The antidote is a simple exercise which he refers to as “Fear-setting”.
In the exercise, he asks us to take a sheet of paper and make three columns titled “Define”, “Prevent” and “Repair”.
In the first column, you list out every fear you have that stops you from living the life you want. In the next column, write everything you can do to prevent the situation from happening. In the last column, write everything you can do to mitigate the damage if the worst-case scenario came true.
On the next page, switch sides and write everything good that can come out from taking the risk.
The last step is the most important step of the exercise. On the third page, determine the cost of inaction. How would your life look like in the next months or years if you didn’t take the action?
Consider every aspect such as emotional, physical and financial when you think about the cost of inaction.
The purpose of the exercise is to take a microscopic view of the situation. Most people don’t make the hard choices because they are paralyzed by fear.
When we define fear and capture it on a piece of paper, it doesn’t look that intimidating anymore. Many times, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Courage comes from clarity. The exercise helps us to switch from thefear mindset to the possibility mindset.
Most of our thoughts are fear based:
What if I go broke?
What if I’m not good enough?
What if I miss the opportunity?
What if I lose my girlfriend or boyfriend?
What if I get rejected?
When you define your fears on a paper, you don’t dwell on them any longer. Now, your mind is free to think about your untapped capabilities and the new possibilities. You ask bigger questions:
What if I change the rules?
What if I develop a new skill?
What if there’s a better opportunity coming my way?
What if I’m meant to do something greater?
What if I just start?
Asking Good Questions
You are only limited by the questions you ask yourself. Poor quality questions give poor results. Good questions can change your life.
The purpose of asking good questions is not to get an answer every time. But, it’s to explore the possibilities and expand your imagination.
By asking good questions, you train your mind to think in the ways that others might not have considered before.
So how do you ask good questions, you may ask?
The answer — question assumptions and be specific if you can.
Tim questions the status quo and the norms that society assumes as rules to live by.
Most people work 9–5 jobs, hate their lives and wait for the retirement to enjoy their lives. But he read Vagabonding, questioned assumptions and created a guide for a regular person who is stuck in a traditional lifestyle. That book became The New York Times Bestseller — The 4-Hour Workweek.
Look everything with skepticism and be open-minded. As a bonus, you can add specificity to your questions. Being specific gives you the context and constraints which sparks creativity and helps you form a plan of action. It also helps to deconstruct the answer which may lead you to find alternative solutions.
Here are some questions he asked himself that changed Tim’s life with my remarks in the brackets:
What if I did the opposite(questioning assumption)for 48 hours?(being specific)
What would I do/have/be if I had $10 million(being specific)? What’s my real Target Monthly Income?(questioning assumption)
If I could only work 2 hours per week(being specific)on my business, what would I do?
What if I couldn’t pitch my product directly?(questioning assumption)
Do I need to make it back the way I lost it?(questioning assumption)
What if I could only subtract to solve problems?(questioning assumption)
Asking good questions is not an easy task. It comes with practice. To get better, increase the number of questions you ask yourself and identify how much you’re questioning assumptions or being specific.
Quantity brings quality. And to further improve the quality of your questions, reflect to make constant improvement.
Asking good questions is about thinking and making hard choices is about doing. Both are essential ingredients to live the life you want.
If you keep thinking, there will be no progress. And if you keep taking action without thinking, you’ll end up in the middle of nowhere.
Keep the cycle of ‘making hard choices’ and ‘asking good questions’ running.
Now, It’s your turn.
What hard choices will you make? It could be a big life decision or small daily actions.
What questions can you ask yourself that will make the biggest impact on your life?
I wasn’t an avid reader or a fan of writing since childhood. Self improvement is how I got into both — reading and writing.
Learning is fun. It can even be addictive. There was a time when I spent my entire day learning about self improvement.
But then, I realized…
Self improvement doesn’t happen in front of a device or a book.
You can spend your entire life learning, forming principles, and adopting mindsets but it’s of no use if you don’t use the knowledge to improve yourself, your life or others.
I have hundreds of articles, books, podcasts, courses, and videos to consume in my ‘saved for later’ list.
I will not consume all the items on the list. Who am I kidding? I can use any learning hack or principle to learn faster and better but I will never check off every item on the ever-expanding list.
So, I am letting it go knowing that many of the saved material will die with me. But it doesn’t mean I will ever stop learning. I love to learn.
Learning is part of living a good life but so is actually living it. You must give equal importance to practicing and training if you want to change your life.
If you keep learning more without training, it can hurt your progress because when you learn too much in a day, your brain can’t process the information. It loses focus, and it tricks you into thinking that you’re improving your life.
Turning Knowledge Into Wisdom
When it comes to self improvement, I see so many overlaps. A few key principles are repeated over and over again. It’s not actually bad to remind yourself of the principles from different perspectives but you must also spend time training yourself if you really want to improve.
You don’t always need big life experiences to train yourself. Every day is an opportunity for you to train. The daily small actions and choices you make define how well you’re implementing your learnings.
This is how you learn concepts of self improvement by heart:
We are good at saving articles and taking notes. But we need to spend equal (if not more) time practicing and training.
Learning is easy. It’s comfortable. You get the instant gratification of thinking about improving your life. But in reality, your life doesn’t improve unless you do something about it.
To practice, you need focus. You can’t practice anything without concentrated effort. And to get focused, you need intention and tracking in place.
For instance, if you want to improve your mental stability, you must track your emotions, mood, thoughts and your reactions at least for a few days or weeks.
At the time of tracking, don’t judge yourself. You are human and you will make mistakes even after studying those huge books about the same topic.
Training Is Where The Magic Happens
Once you’re more aware of your results through tracking them, take out time to reflect on it. List all the reasons why you fail, why you succeed, what you could do better next time, and what new obstacles can come your way.
After you’ve practiced enough times, you will notice a difference in you. But then, the real training happens in the discomfort zone when life throws unexpected and more difficult tests at you.
When you’re not tracking your behavior and you didn’t plan for a conscious effort, you know if you’ve learned a key principle or not.
The cycle never ends. You can always improve and there always be more things to learn. So you decide what you want to focus on now and what you can schedule for later.
Here’s what to do next.
Take a concept you’ve already learned but you still struggle with. (You can pick one from my mental training post)
Keep practicing and tracking it until you see a difference.
Life will do the rest by training you when you least expect it. Reflect on it and you will see a tremendous change in you.
It doesn’t mean it’s made of plastic. What I mean is that it can change throughout your entire life.
Neuroplasticity is how we learn new things and train our brain to think or act in a way. Whenever you learn something new, the brain forms new connections between neurons (the brain cells).
Each time you practice or revisit your learnings, the connection becomes stronger as it becomes part of your thought process. The information then transfers into your subconscious mind which works even when you’re sleeping.
“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” — Earl Nightingale
Like we practice skills and train our muscles, we must constantly train our brain to perform at an optimal level.
1. Stress Tolerance
Keeping calm under pressure is a skill which can be developed. Most people can’t handle stress and when they face high-stress situations, they burn out and make poor decisions.
If you develop stress tolerance, you not only stay relaxed under such situations, you can use the stress for high performance.
Not all stress is bad. The good stress, called as eustress is often acute. It helps you grow and achieve life satisfaction. Distress, on the other hand, makes you worry or anxious. Chronic distress can lead to a wide range of health problems.
Another difference between eustress and distress is how we perceive the stressor. With eustress, we associate the cause of stress to be helpful. Distress makes us feel terrible, and it leads to burn out.
Yerkes and Dodson created a curve and stated that we need the right amount of arousal for optimal performance.
The amount of arousal depends on an individual so you must find your own balance. Try to stay within your range and if you have to go outside your comfort zone, use your superpower of stress tolerance followed by a period of recovery. Don’t fear stress. Visit the discomfort zone and face stress when it can help you grow.
To increase your stress tolerance, perform High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), take cold showers, speak in front of public or take challenges outside your comfort zone.
2. Mental Stability
We are emotional creatures. One nasty comment from a stranger can easily ruin our day. This is where mental stability comes into place.
Everyone has a threshold after which their mood turns down. But, like any other mental skill, mental stability can also be trained.
To increase your mental stability, notice how you react to negative events or thoughts. Keep a mood log if you have to and notice how you allow outside events to ruin your mood.
I know it is hard to stay sane especially when people who are closest to us upset us. It is normal to have a few expectations from close relationships. But, each time you get upset, remember it is your problem that you set the expectations in the first place.
Besides, people are too busy to think about the consequences of what they do or say to you. They often don’t even realize how some actions or words can harm us. In an ideal world, everyone should behave in the best way with each other but we are not perfect. We all make mistakes. Some people realize it and some don’t and it’s okay if they don’t. There is no need to hold grudges.
Maybe someone was going through tough times when they misbehaved with you. Give people the benefit of doubt for your own peace of mind. Be empathetic and look things from their perspective. Most things won’t matter in the long term. You always forgive yourself in the end, so why not forgive others? We all are humans, after all. Be kind, forgive, and move on.
Stop blaming other people and take full responsibility for your expectations. If they don’t meet your expectations, lower them down. And if they do better than expected, be grateful.
The same goes for life. When life is good, be grateful and when it throws unexpected challenges at you, respond with kindness and take it as an opportunity to train your mind. All your life, you’re either at peace or you’re training your mind. Both are necessary and good for you.
There are plenty of reasons why our mood worsens, but the principle remains the same. Identify the cause, adjust your reaction, and choose to look at the brighter side.
Stop judging yourself, other people or your life situation. Choose love and kindness. Love life as it is. Love yourself as you are. Love others as they are.
Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.
3. Passionate Work
Life’s drama steals many people’s vision from them. But the drama is not the enemy, it’s rather your friend. It’s a test you must pass to prove how strongly committed you are. If it were easy, everyone would get what they visualize — like magic.
Law of attraction says you get what you focus on. While it can be true, I don’t agree with it 100%. It’s not a law. We hear the law of attraction success stories only from the people who succeed. Nobody knows how many failed while using the law of attraction.
So, instead of thinking of it as a law, think of it as a principle. It’s a tool. It can be true if you work hard enough to reach your vision. Focus on your number one goal and give your 100% to it.
Practice excellence. Give 10x efforts. Keep commitments. Be on time. Do what you said you’re going to do. Focus.
Remind yourself what success means to you. Set daily intentions and take regular actions even if the steps are small. And most importantly, enjoy your journey by celebrating small wins.
Don’t chase vision as a means to happiness. Escape the rat race. Happiness is now. Reaching your vision will only amplify your sense of fulfilment. Make your journey the reward and you will never waste a day of your life.
Trust that everything is happening for you.
Trust that everything will be okay.
Trust in your ability to figure things out.
Trust in the higher version of yourself. You’re much more capable than you think you are. You can develop any skill you want. You can improve no matter where you are in life.
Trust alone is not enough though. In his book, Good To Great, Jim Collins explains the Stockdale paradox, and it goes like this:
“You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. And at the same time… You must confront the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Be brutally honest with yourself and do whatever it takes to turn your dreams into reality. Work on your strengths, fix your weakness (if you need to), and make the sacrifices you need to make.
Take bold steps and keep moving forward to build self-efficacy. Silence the naysayers (including your stupid mind). Learn skills and get feedback. Never stop growing.
Fear is the enemy of trust. Fear keeps you in a prison and stops you from following your heart. Don’t let that happen. Trust.
The beautiful thing about following your heart is that whether you succeed or you fail, you always become someone you never expected to become in your comfort zone.
By visiting the discomfort zone and failing a million times, you become a different person. Your character transforms. You gain clarity on what you want to do in the future.
Patience is the ability to persevere even when things take longer than expected.
Life has its own way. Sometimes, you’re surprised by your performance and other times, you get disappointed due to unexpected obstacles in your way.
If you stay patient, you can achieve anything you wish because you’ve made a pre-commitment and you can’t back off no matter if it gets dirty, boring, or harder than expected. You’ve burned the bridges and now the only option you have is to stay patient and keep taking action.
You can practice being patient by fasting, performing endurance activity or meditating.
Be resilient, be relentless, be determined, be stubborn, and never give up.
Your purpose in life is to create yourself, become better, and have the courage to be yourself. But, your life mission is different from your purpose.
Your mission is how you serve the humanity. It does not matter how small or big your mission is. It’s your duty to serve to the best of your ability as you can.
So often we make everything about ourselves. We focus on our goals, our growth, and our happiness. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, if you never take out the time to help, support, and serve others; you will feel disconnected from the world.
Even after reaching big accomplishments and titles, you will remain unfulfilled. So be part of a mission and contribute. Give, give, give and when you’ve nothing else left to give, give more.
Giving involves donating your time, money, attention or energy. And when you’re giving, don’t keep a score of how much or how many times you’ve served.
Practice being in giving mode. When you give, give with all your heart with zero expectations of getting anything in return (not even praise, love, attention or affirmation).
Self-awareness is one of the top skills you need to live a complete life and mindfulness is the essence of awareness.
Being aware requires practice. Take notice of what you’re thinking. Observe how you think, feel, and act in response to different circumstances.
What biases do you hold?
What logical fallacies do you fall for?
When do you misbehave?
What triggers negative thinking in you?
Mindfulness not only helps you to become aware, it also builds your focus. You get better at concentrating on the task at hand. As you get better, you identify when you get lost in thoughts and you direct your attention back to the task.
The best way to practice mindfulness is meditation. You can also practice it during short periods of mundane tasks such as washing dishes, cleaning, cooking, eating, drinking or walking.
With mindfulness, you’ll feel, think and see what most people never experience in their lives. It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of life. But, it requires wisdom and a child-like perspective to switch to the beauty filter of life.
Always do the right thing. The ‘right’ thing depends on your principles and values. To develop integrity, the first step is to define your guiding principles and values in life.
Once you’ve done so, act accordingly even when no one’s watching. You can fool other people but you can never trick yourself. Be a hero in your own eyes.
Integrity makes you an authentic man or a woman. Being authentic doesn’t mean you never lie to people. Sometimes, you have to lie for the welfare of others and yourself. But you must never lie to yourself.
Practice integrity every day when you get the opportunity to make a reasoned choice. Examine your actions and ask yourself if you did the right thing. Are you acting on impulses? Or are you acting in alignment with your principles and values?
Who doesn’t hate rejection? We are wired to avoid rejections because we used to live in small tribes and getting rejected from a tribe could be the difference between life and death.
Today, the situation is different. There are plenty of people on Earth and through the internet, we can reach more people than ever before. If we were to seek approval from everyone, we’d end up miserable.
Remind yourself that there are many people just like you. Find your community and stick with them. You don’t need the opinion of people who don’t matter to you.
Besides, every rejection is not about you. Even you can’t accept every request from everyone, right? So, expect to get rejected and be okay with it. With rejection, comes feedback or a lesson. Take it and trust that there are better things waiting for you.
Practice rejection by using your negotiation skills every once in a while. Difficult conversations have high chances of you getting rejected.
People talk about minimalism a lot. Most people associate minimalism with owning less stuff, which is true. But, there’s more to it than that. It also means letting go of emotional attachments.
Letting go is hard. But it’s part of life. The sooner we learn it, the better off our life will be. Things, people, happiness, sadness, pain, love — all come and go. Life gives what we need at the right time. Accept the gifts from life and learn to let them go.
Start by letting go of small physical and digital stuff. As you practice the skill, you’ll be able to let go during the hard times in life. Let go of the people or stuff that no longer serves you. Let go of distractions that stand in the way of your vision.
When you get good at letting go, you don’t rely on things to be happy. You stop dwelling on the past. You become less anxious about the things you can’t control. You’re able to release the toxic thoughts and emotions from your mind. You become independent. You become free.
If you want to work hard, you must learn to relax and recover. If you don’t recover, you will burn out, perform poorly at work, become a workaholic, and cause serious damage to your wellbeing or your relationships.
I see relaxation as an art. It takes skill to quite down and truly enjoy the time without being ‘productive’ for a while.
On the other hand, some people overindulge and lose track of the purpose of relaxation. Then, they crave even more rest because they start getting addicted to it.
You must find the right balance and take the right recovery dosage you need. Find out what relaxing means to you and make sure your method recharges your batteries.
Another important skill to practice for recovery is your humor skill. Don’t take things personally, find silly reasons to laugh, and make others laugh without insulting anyone.
Lastly, some of the best ideas come up when you’re not working. Allow your mind to wander. Take inspiration from different sources. Train your mind to think divergently. Let your mind wander by setting it free.
“Busy your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and good will, and wonders will happen in your life.” — Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
The school never taught us how to train the mind for optimal living. But, now you know what skills you can teach your brain if you keep practicing the skills in your day-to-day life. These skills are:
Be honest with where you are at right now and start making progress. Save this post, set a reminder and revisit it to reflect on your progress. Keep reminding yourself of the skills and live your legendary life.
Even if you skip a day, you’ve got 3 hours in a week to change your life.
That’s a lot of time.
The problem is not the time; it’s the lack of intentions.
We have so many options, especially today.
Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp — each app shows you stories of how people are spending their time.
Before you know it, there’s another story telling you what you’re missing out on.
There’s a constant battle of attention. Look at me. Buy this. Do that.
Humans are complex creatures. We don’t go after what we want. We go after what others want.
When we don’t get what others want; we hate, shame or blame our lives. We rarely take the time to set intentions in our lives. Instead, we chase what others go after.
You might have clicked on the article to find out what you should do in 30 minutes to change your life.
I can’t tell you that because I don’t know. But I can help you find out yourself what you must do in those 30 minutes that will change your life.
To discover what you need in life, examine your life and see what’s missing from these productive uses of time:
Working (creative, important)
Learning (reading, listening, watching or doing)
Playing or relaxing
Thinking or reflecting
Meditating or buffering (empty spaces)
Connecting (with right people)
Moving and eating (healthy foods)
Once you identify the number one thing missing from your life, use those 30 minutes to bring balance to your life.
If you don’t work on a creative project or hobby, start.
If you don’t learn something, start.
If you don’t already take out time to relax or play, start.
If you don’t reflect by journalling or thinking, start.
If you don’t meditate or don’t have empty spaces in life, start.
If you don’t connect with like-minded people, start.
If you don’t move your body or make healthy meals for yourself, start.
If you get less than 7 hours of sleep, add 30 minutes to your sleep.
What if you have many things missing from your life?
If that’s the case, cut out excess from your life. Excess or lack of any of the above uses of time may not be good.
Find out what you’re doing too much of and cut some time out of it. There’s always enough hours in the day. It’s a matter of setting your priorities and intentions straight.
What if you still don’t have enough time?
I’ve got a solution for that too.
You can further divide your 3 hours into 1.5 hours and 1.5 hours to add two things in your life. If you want to add 3 things, use 1 hour a week for each activity.
The breakdown depends on your situation and circumstances. Customize how you want to schedule those 30 minutes. Remember, you also have a weekend when you can give more time.
Another solution is to combine activities to kill two (or three) birds with one stone. For example, you can play, move and connect at the same time if you workout with a buddy and turn it into play.
Learn to manage and save your energy for your 30 minutes. Give your full focus and attention no matter what you do. Whether it is deep work, deep learning, deep relaxation, deep thinking, deep meditation, deep connection, deep sleep or a challenging workout.
The best times to carve out your 30 minutes are at the start or the end of the day. Use whatever time suits your lifestyle. But make sure those 30 minutes are distractions free.
When you start something, you will not always love it from the beginning. Sometimes, it takes time for you to realize the importance of an activity. Small actions every day can transform your life.
When you look back at your life, you can only thank yourself for each second of those 30 minutes a day.
So, how are you going to spend your golden 30 minutes?
I’m sure you’ve seen people who have radically changed their life for the better in a matter of months or years.
The simplest example is the transformation pictures we see on the front page of most health and fitness products.
We wonder — How did that person change so fast? Did they take some sort of magic pill?
Then, we appreciate their dedication and move on with our normal lives.
Imagine if you could make that level of transformation every few months or years in your life.
I’m not just talking about the physical looks. I’m speaking of the internal character or attitude, succeeding in different aspects, learning new things, etc.
If you constantly transform yourself, you will live many epic lives in one body. It’s almost as if you will be reborn and keep creating better versions of yourself.
Most people will never experience such transformations in their lives. They will stay in the reactive mode and let life happen to them. They will stay the same all their life.
But you can change because change is good when it’s intentionally used to improve yourself.
Let’s talk about each stage of a transformation.
Stage 1: The Spark
It’s when it hits you — I (seriously) need to change.
For some, the source of the spark is fear while for others, it’s inspiration. For example, looking at your blood profile and deciding to change your lifestyle is fear based. Looking at your heroes and deciding to be like them is inspiration based.
Both are powerful enough to create initial momentum in your life. But none of them are strong enough to keep the momentum running for transformable change.
Sometimes, the spark works against us when we try to skip the journey and want fast results. We start with level 10 habits instead of level 1 because of the initial rush of motivation.
In such cases, we soon burnout and go back to our past lives. To avoid these situations, practice patience. Use the spark to get started but don’t use it to try to skip the process of transformation.
Stage 2: Daily Actions
The spark is the sexy part. It puts you in a peak state and you get a rush of motivation right away.
The small daily actions are the difficult pieces of the puzzle. At first, the spark helps you to do the daily actions. But soon, the spark fades away.
When the spark is gone, the daily actions may feel like hell. At this stage, you can use your willpower reserves.
Keep willpower and energy saved in your reserves for the daily actions you need to create the change in your life. Don’t waste your decision-making power on other useless activities so you can use it later when you need it the most.
But don’t worry, you only need willpower for few days until you reach the next stages. So, keep going even when you don’t feel like it.
Use reminders and triggers to stay on track. But don’t just remind yourself of the actions you must take. Keep reminding yourself of the deep reason you’re doing what you’re doing.
Set the stakes high by giving consequences to your actions using reward or punishment rules. Adjust the difficulty of the tasks if you have to but don’t quit at this point. A beautiful transformation is coming your way.
Stage 3: Environment Shift
This is the stage where most people quit and it’s not their fault. They don’t even know why they fail. They blame themselves for not being strong enough but in reality, they only needed a few tweaks to make it easier for them to sustain new behaviors.
Make it harder for yourself to perform the destructive tasks. Take willpower out of the equation by crossing out your options. For example, if we had the choice between watching Netflix or practicing a new skill, we’d probably choose Netflix because it’s easy and comforting.
There is nothing wrong with watching Netflix but it should not come in the way of your transformation. Your downtime should be intentional and not based on impulse based actions.
To make sure you watch Netflix only when you intend to, log out from the website every time you’re done watching. Keep it blocked (using browser extensions) during the times of performing your daily actions.
In the same way, you can make it easier for yourself to do the new task. Let’s say you want to learn to play an instrument. Keep it in the sight and within your reach. Don’t pack it every time you’re done playing it. This way, you can use any free time to practice for a few minutes.
Next, comes your social environment. People around you change the way you think and live. If the people you see in your life don’t support you, there are high chances of you falling back to your past lifestyle.
Raise the standards of your social environment by keeping strict policy of who you spend your time with. Consciously or unconsciously, they impact your mind in positive or negative ways. If you have to spend time with such people for some reasons, then be cautious of their presence. Try not to let them affect you as much.
It’s a good idea to join a community of like-minded people who are following a similar journey as you. You will get support and hear other’s struggles so you can support them as well. When you get to discuss and express yourself, you feel connected and stay focused to keep going through the change.
The last thing you need to set your environment for success is accountability. Some require personal accountability while others may need social accountability.
Track your behavior and use a journal to do daily and weekly reflections for personal accountability. Or you can keep yourself accountable by sharing your progress with a group or a coach. But either way, you must take full responsibility of your transformation.
Stage 4: Cognitive Dissonance
According to Wikipedia, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.
When you change your identity, you perform your daily actions effortlessly because that’s part of who you are. It’s not about who you want to be any longer. You are already that person and all you’re doing is performing your duty.
If you identify yourself as a healthy person, you will not do the things an unhealthy person does. This is the difference between people who “don’t” do certain activities and people who “can’t” do them.
When you do activities that are not aligned with your identity, beliefs or values; you experience cognitive dissonance. You feel mental discomfort because that’s not what you do.
Changing beliefs and values takes some time. To accelerate the process of change, you can feed your mind with the knowledge you need that supports your values. Get inspiration from top people in the field of your new identity.
Use your leisure time or empty time to read books, watch courses, listen to audiobooks or podcasts related to your desired change in your identity.
Stage 5: Change Of Will
The last stage of transformation is the change of your will. At this stage, you change so much that you no longer need to use willpower to make right decisions. Now, you crave the habits you used to procrastinate on.
You invest so much of your time, effort and energy that going back to your previous lifestyle is not an option anymore. Now, your progress is too precious for you to lose. It’s one of the best use of the behavioral economics theory ‘loss aversion’.
You become intrinsically motivated. You transform. People notice the difference in you. (Warning: You may even get bad dreams of you engaging in destructive past behaviors)
The great philosopher, Aristotle says that an individual’s character development ranges on a spectrum of worst to better:
Vicious character: Taking pleasure in acting wrongly.
Incontinent character: Acting wrongly out of weakness.
Continent character: Acting rightly using willpower. (inclined to act wrongly)
Virtuous character: Acting rightly because of strong will.
When you reach the virtuous character in your transformation, you know the life cycle of a transformation is complete.
At the time of writing, there are 7.6 billion people on Earth.
About 360,000 humans are born every day. And the population will only rise. It has been estimated that by the year 2100, the population will grow to 11.2 billion people.
You are one of the billion people living on this planet right now. Even more people have come before you and will come after you.
Out of all these people, you think you’re special?
Let me tell you the truth.
Truth #1: No, you’re not special.
Sorry to break your heart. Your mommy and daddy lied to you.
Even if you have amazing talents, you’ll find more talented people than you. You’ll find people with better genetics, better upbringing, or better luck.
You are not at the center of the universe. There is no one looking for you. No one cares if you will leave a legacy or die alone.
So, what point do I want to make?
Do I just want to smash reality on your face?
The answer is…
But I’m going to tell you two more truths.
Are you ready to read them?
Are you sure?
Okay, here it is.
Truth #2: You’re not special (And it’s okay to not be special)
You’re not special, but you can make the gift of life special. The gift is given to billions of people but if you choose not to take it for granted, your life will become special on your own terms.
A gift does not have to be special to be appreciated. It just needs to be celebrated to make it worthwhile.
You will end. Your legacy will die. The world will end. But, it does not matter. What matters is what you do with the little time (the gift) you have on earth. You have the mind and body to experience it. It’s not special. But it’s certainly beautiful.
Beauty is in the eye of the watcher. Slow down to experience awe. Appreciate life’s simple gestures. Life gives you everything you need to grow at the right moment.
You can experience most of life when:
a) You do more important (meaningful) work than urgent work.
b) You live in the present, take lessons from the past and plan for the future.
Truth #3: You’re not special (But you can choose to become great)
You can make yourself extraordinary. Let me explain what I mean.
Most people never live a complete life. They never examine their life. They never think about their own greatness because they have been brainwashed by the society.
They think legends are only found in books, magazines or television. They fall down to the expectations of others. They model the behavior of people around them and accept their fate.
It’s not to say an average life is always a bad life. But, most people live an ignorant life. Having just one life to live is too much of a risk to live an ignorant life.
The media portrays people with money and fame as ‘special’ people. And we think there must be some secret sauce to their success.
What we never see is that those people made themselves extraordinary by making sacrifices, achieving mastery, becoming self-aware and they turned their fate around.
Some people become famous and rich due to other reasons but those people don’t become great.
Greatness is a taught skill. You don’t need to become rich or famous to live a great life.
You can choose greatness every day and strive to become extraordinary in the world full of average people.
s) Learning to shift your attitude and perspective.
t) Being a good friend.
u) Having empathy towards others.
v) Forgiving yourself and others.
w) Making a positive impact.
x) Giving back to the world.
y) Being kind and humble.
z) Expressing gratitude.
Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better. — Gordon B. Hinckley
Have faith in yourself and trust the process of life. Believe that everything is happening for you (not to you).
You don’t have to be special or use religion to take advantage of the power of believing. You can be religious if you want to but you don’t need to be.
You need hope. Hope brings peace and makes life worth living no matter where you are in the process of life.
Examine your beliefs and values to create yourself. Don’t blindly follow the crowd. Choose greatness to be special in your own eyes.
You could die at any moment, and you deserve to experience the greatness within you. So don’t waste the gift of life. Return the favor by becoming your best self. Leave the world better than you found it. Choose greatness every day, including today.
Want To Succeed Every Day?
Design your daily success checklist for high performance and success. Click here to download the free PDF file.
Don’t worry. We all have been there. It’s not your fault, it’s just the fault of the human brain.
But today, let’s change that.
If you’ve read articles about goal-setting before, you might have come across SMART goals.
It’s a framework which says we should keep Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) goals to accomplish our goals.
Although the framework is useful, it’s not always helpful for all the goals in life. So, let me share with you another method of goal-setting which works wonders.
So often, when we are all pumped up and inspired to accomplish big goals, we forget about the daily small actions we must take to reach closer to our goals.
Reaching your goals is the result of your habits. So, instead of shooting for a goal, shoot for micro habits and set the criteria for success tiny.
For example, if your goal is to read more books, the big goal is to read a book every week. A “SMART” goal is to read for 30 minutes every day at 8 AM. And a micro habit is to at least read a single page today. Once you finish one page, your next goal is to read another page.
A micro habit reduces the friction of accomplishing big goals, banishes ‘all or nothing’ mentality, and makes the criteria for success small. It lets you take the smallest first step towards your goal in the present moment.
It builds momentum as you build a chain of daily success. It gets you on an upward spiral of feeling good about accomplishing micro habits so you keep the habit streak running.
There are two ways you can track your progress:
a) Based on your behavior
b) Based on the outcome
An example of the outcome-based goal is hitting a number on the weighing scale. An example of the behavior-based goal is eating a healthy meal.
Focus on the things you can control directly. Yes, you can influence the number on the scale indirectly but to reach that result, you can eat healthy meals, which is directly in your hands.
There is nothing wrong with measuring the outcome but before that, measure your actions.
This way, we can’t blame anyone or anything but take full responsibility for our actions to reach our goals.
Aim high, raise the expectations from yourself but lower the expectations from the results. Raising the expectations from yourself is about raising your standards.
It’s important to have self-efficacy (belief in oneself) to reach your goals. But, don’t stretch the difficulty so much that it turns into a false hope syndrome.
Also, don’t rely on results to feel happy. Many times, it takes longer to reach your goals than expected. So, don’t get disappointed. Slow progress is better than no progress. Let the micro habits and behavior-based goals be the source of your pleasure.
It’s good to “shoot for the stars” but so often, we raise the bar of our expectations from result so high only to feel unmotivated if we don’t see the result we want. It may lead to a downward spiral of negative emotions and we may quit altogether.
So, if your goal is to become better at your craft, practice it using a micro habit and track your behavior. Now, repeat that without the need to feel happy with the results. You can aim to be the best but know that it will take time and effort. Have patience and keep performing.
Delay the gratification and don’t expect a good result. As you will perform the daily grind, you will see better results, eventually. But first, you must perform with no expectations.
Sometimes, you don’t know what you really want when you set a goal. You may set a goal to lose the extra pounds and start running. But later, as you train your body more often, you may start enjoying strength training.
Similarly, you may pledge to meditate in the evening but you fail to do so often. Here, you can change the timing and meditate right after waking up when you can make sure to get it done.
So, don’t hesitate to change the direction of your goals or actions. Life is a discovery process. We don’t know who we are and what we want. The only way to find out what you want is to try things out.
It’s also okay to change what you want. You may set a goal to earn more money so you can buy a car. But years after when you have the money, your interest may change and you may no longer want a new car.
So, stay flexible with the approach or the goals. There is no need to be rigid with the goal-setting. But you do need to be resilient, which brings me to the next point.
Being resilient in the age of instant gratification is a tough job.
To become resilient, first, you must have a strong reason for your goals. Do you know the core reason you’re doing what you’re doing?
For example, the core reason to increase your productivity could be because you think there is more to life than work. You may want to spend less time working so you can do other things you want to do in your one and only life.
Another reason could be to do better quality work. You may want to make a greater impact on the world with your work or see better results because you want to thrive in life.
Second, you must practice resiliency in your daily life. Make it a habit to persevere and keep at it until you get what you want.
Take full responsibility for your success. Rethink failure. Take setbacks as opportunities to learn and improve.
Circumstances, obstacles or your environment can’t get in your way because no matter what comes your way, you will never give up.
As much as it’s important to focus on micro habits, it’s also crucial to have a bigger perspective of ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your goals.
Take the time to reflect on a regular basis. Do you short-term goals align with your long-term view? Are you performing the right micro goals? Are you tracking the right behaviors?
Focus on the biggest win by using the Pareto’s 80/20 principle. 80% results come from 20% of your actions. Deconstruct your goal to find out the key habits and the right metrics to measure.
Be intentional with your actions and goals. Don’t do the busy work for the sake of moving in any direction. Educate yourself to move in the right direction.
Your long-term vision doesn’t have to be realistic. A fulfilled life is more about striving than achieving. You will get hedonically adapted to achievements but you will always find meaning in life when you strive for more greatness in life.
Also, don’t worry if you have too many items on your bucket list. Have a long-term vision and think about what you want to do now and what you can do later in life. You don’t need any more tactics to accomplish your goals except the next (and last) one.
Success is not complicated. It’s rare because it takes relentless focus towards the most important thing in life to reach the top.
You have all the distractions in the world. Things like internet, news, social media, people, events, ‘busy’ work, food, shopping, entertainment, etc. try to steal your focus.
Another category of distractions are the ones that look healthy on the surface but can take your focus away from your number one goal. Unlimited information (books, blogs, podcasts, courses), other goals in life, too many ideas are the examples of such distractions.
Lifelong learning is your best friend but you should know what to choose, what to skip, when to fast forward and when to slow down according to your current knowledge.
You may also have other ideas or goals in life you want to accomplish. You can pursue 2–5 goals at the same time if the goals are not difficult or if they lie in different categories. For example, you can lose weight and succeed in your career at the same time.
But for difficult goals, you must choose one at a time in your life. This is where the Follow One Course Until Success (FOCUS) principle comes in.
Goal-setting is much like planting a tree.
First, you want to set the intentions, which represents planting the seeds.
Last, you want to put your energy into the action which represents sunlight. Taking action is not enough. You must put in your focus and effort into the task. This is why it’s so important to manage your energy on purpose so you can give your best when it’s time to take the action.
Over to you. Go, take the first micro step towards your biggest goal now.
Want To Succeed Every Day?
Design your daily success checklist for high performance and success. Click here to download the free PDF file.