Beware the Mind Fuck 2

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The universal belief system

Some people perceive what marketers do everyday to be magic. How do you get people who seemed initially disinterested in a product so psyched about it all of a sudden? Some may say it comes with practice. You often hear the term, “I’ve learnt how to read people.” Its true, some people do have  knack for that. What it is you do after that is what matters. Offering something as an affirmation, because people are always hungry for something to believe in. Its what keeps us going as humans. So, our human nature is designed to encourage dream makers  – people who keep us believing. When you read someone, you see what it is exactly they want. You find the cradle of their values and you pleasure it with bait. And just like a fish, the person can easily get trapped in the bait because subconsciously its what they want. I’m not here to give a one on one on marketing, seduction or mind play but the system is pretty clear. It rides on one core principle. Anything is believable. We are value driven creatures. Everything we do is done to satisfy some value, mainly happiness. Seth Godin once wrote all about in All Marketers are Liars.

We alter reality through our beliefs


Paying for value

Ultimately, we choose what we believe and whatever it is does not make it true just because we believe in it. We just believe in it to place some value on it which when found will give us satisfaction. Any action starts off with a definition of the value attached to it. If you are going to spend 5000 dollars to buy a car it’s because that is the best  amount that matches you value for the car but value is only measured by belief. If something or someone gets you to believe that the car sucks and its going to depreciate quickly, you will easily also depreciate your attachment to it… even without proof. You must believe in the greatness of the value to take whichever action you will take. So, generally speaking there would not be any right or wrong price to pay for something if a steadfast value system is adopted for our actions. There is no set limit for everyone as to how much effort you can put to get a relationship going, how many times you can forgive someone or how much you can sacrifice to keep a client so long as we believe it.

Likewise, as individuals we set our own limits. But we set our limits based on who we have limited ourselves to be. The limits are our principles and it is literally sinful to change them… or so we believe.

Who we are

In this day and age constant character is something that is hailed and exalted in all sectors of society. What it means for other people is that they can find ways of working with you or working around you. Dealing with criminals is easy because it is assumed that their principles are stuck on being evil and non-submissive to law and order. We do not want to assume the best of them. This could easily change our resolve to punish them which is the way we know how to deal with them. So it is assumed that they deserve the punishments they get because of this chosen way of life, this image they maintain. Along the course of his sentence, if a prisoner changes his behavior again in a consistent manner, another conclusion is made to their character and it is assumed that they have finally become morally upright. It is easy to achieve a lot from this kind of human reasoning. Creating an impression of consistency of character by acting in accordance to a set of principles can get you a lot in life. It can get you parole, a spouse, a job, a promotion, intimacy and most of all trust. Again, I am not saying this to advocate for pretentious behavior. It goes simply to prove a point. Even who we are can be altered.

If you simply choose a different set of values for yourself, it instantly changes your decisions and consequently your actions. Accepting one version of yourself is good and bad at the same time. For the self beneficial values that your current persona carries, staying constant can maintain behavior that earns you positive outcomes. But what about the negative sides of us? Or what we call our weaknesses.

Abilities and shortcomings

We often find ourselves desiring things that we do not believe we can achieve. The excuse is usually that we are not good enough. This immediately sets the standards that we are one constant rock that cannot grow. What should however be left as the constant is the goal we seek. Anything else can be changed including our selves and the even the value we attribute to the goal. Sometimes people give up on things because they think they are not attracted to them anymore. This is the very idea of a mind fuck. The thought stream goes somewhat like this.. “Maybe I wont even win the competition, in fact I’m just not feeling it anymore. I don’t want to win.” One thought leads to another and you are soon bowing out in surrender. It is a portrayal of reality that is not sufficiently provable. Believing in something is essentially where value comes from. Anyone can convince themselves that they want something just by thinking more about having it. Even a skill. Think of yourself driving a race car and the thrill that comes with it. You know a part of you wants it. Its motivation 101.  With the motivation to achieve something, the desire to learn how to do it becomes automatically roused. All these factors are thus changeable both subconsciously or consciously. Recognizing how conscious control can be used to defeat the subconscious mind (or what I like to call reactive mind) is key to taking a leap forward. The greatest people often know this and have used it to their best advantage.

Lifestyle Design

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What are you living for? Have you ever met someone who asked you, “What do you want in life?” I have never really liked that question. Before, I hated it because I always thought it needed one carry-it-all answer but later on it came to bother me because I realized it rides on the assumption that you haven’t yet found that one thing you want in life. Would you ask someone who already has a Ferrari if he wants a Ferrari? I’d rather you ask me. Have you found everything you want in your life? Are you satisfied? Then if I say no, you can then try and figure out what else it is I want. Some people keep stumbling into wants instead of discovering them. Wouldn’t you want to reach out for what you want regardless of what other people say you should or should not want.  Its what we have been trained to do. We have been trained to ask ourselves how to stay focused on what people expect us to stay focused on.

You have to want a good grade because you were made to believe its what you should want. You want to be someone’s employee because its what you were made to believe makes a normal member of society. But is it what you really want. If you step back, step to the side and step forth, you will find an amazing different side of you beckoning with things you really want – freedom, connecting with people, new experiences, following new passions, sharing etc.

Personally, I have always wanted to help the needy (in sustainable ways) and people with talent (not to sound like a Dalai Lama of sorts). Many a times its the thought that there is something else I ‘need more’ that gets in the way of me seeking these wants – the Scarcity Syndrome. But what if I chose to structure my life so that other competing values become less important? The result is what I call lifestyle design or LD. And there are several brands of lifestyle design you can pick from.

The serial entrepreneur

This is one of the most common LD brands I know of. A serial entrepreneur simply invests in projects he likes. He is not limited to one type of project. As soon as nay business project is up and running well on its own, the mission’s accomplished and we are on to the next one. It’s a lifestyle that has been there from time immemorial. Before it had seemed like a preserve of the rich and wealthy. When old school serial entrepreneurship is discussed names like Warren Buffet and George Soros come to mind. These guys have milked cash through a variety of ventures since the days of yesteryear.

Tim Ferriss of 4 Hour Work Week

Tim Ferriss

Nowadays, serial entrepreneurs are everywhere and most are also bloggers and writers who keep documenting what their entrepreneurial lifestyles are like each day. Some of my favorite serial entrepreneurs are Mike Michalowicz of the Toilet Entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss (advisor and investor in over 20 start ups including Stumble upon and About.me) and Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. These guys are all digital serial entrepreneurs which means that they leverage a huge part of their businesses through the internet. Nowadays, the online enterprise culture is being extensively evangelized everywhere on the web and it could just be your next big ship to successful LD.

Serial entrepreneurs simply start off by buying off a business or creating one from the ground up and trying to make it successful in the best way possible. Warren has invested in hundreds of companies to date and its a day to day kind of thing where he tries to elicit particular values out of these companies. The money is like a mark of his effect on the companies but that’s not where the real motivation lies. The real motivation is in the growth. Maybe that’s the kind of person you are; the gardener – someone who likes to nurture stuff and create a remarkable entity or a creative of sorts. Your serial enterprise doesn’t have to be a bank or anything like that. It could even be an open air magazine stand.

Digital nomads

A digital nomad is someone who spends their entire life on the move; a full time traveler in short. These guys basically believe that experiencing the world and becoming global citizens is the epitome of the human experience. Then the question always springs up. How do they afford it? And a digital nomad would ask you. How do you afford your rent and transport costs? You work for it. To be able to make ends meet everyday we toil at our offices all day to make enough to pay those monthly bills. The digital nomad works just as hard to make money for travel. The interesting thing is that its actually quite affordable. The only thing one needs to understand is what routes to take and what services to look for. A digital nomad is consistently budgeting his trips so that he knows how much he needs to make for this time and for the next time he wants to travels. It’s pretty adventurous – kind of life you normally see in the movies.

With the nomadic life you gain all the freedom you need to go to the places you like and to meet new people. Your time is yours. That way, as soon as the needed money for travel is acquired work can end and play can begin. You instantly switch from office bug to Indiana Jones here.

So, most digital nomads do online  jobs that pay on project basis or by the hour or they’ll run location independent businesses (mostly online) like one Cody McKibben. The latter has proved to be the best option for funding the digital nomad lifestyle since it frees up as much time as possible. To find out how exactly this works, you can check out Tim Ferriss’s site, buy his book The Four Hour Work Week or check the video below. Some digital nomads of note are Colin Wright, Ev Bogue, Chris Gullibeau, Gustav Andersson and Kate McCulley.

Kate McCulley

Kate McCulley, an adventurous hack-tress of the digital nomad life

Minimalism

I came across minimalism at the start of this year after reading a certain blog post. The idea of minimalism is living with less so as to make what is left truly meaningful to you. If you look around you, where you live and where you work, it’s very evident that there is a lot of stuff you really could do without. If you complain about clutter, then it’s probably because you have so much to arrange yet little value for it. The answer is simple. DUMP IT. Yeah, dump everything you neither use nor need. Dumping could mean donating or lending as well. Trust me you’ll be glad you did it. When I first started on minimalism I was overjoyed at the results. I took it rather critically. For me, it was either you are going to be missed or not. So I got to dump a lot of stuff I knew I wasn’t going to miss.

The cycle became continuous so as to create as much space for productivity as possible. After this, you need to watch out for the accumulation of the unnecessary like junk food, gadgets, clothes and so on. Minimizing on consumption is what got the best of me. It was so hard to pass up stuff I had gotten used to doing like surfing the internet for hours. It’s a hard sacrifice at first but once you do it, it becomes a major eye opener on what’s important and valuable in your life. Your days become crystal clear with purpose. Joshua Millburn Fields and Ryan Nicodemus are like the fathers of minimalism to me over at the minimalists. We also have remarkable solo minimalists like Joshua Becker and Leo Babauta. Many minimalists tend to be digital nomads as well since if you’re going to travel all the time you going to want to travel light.

Joshua (right) and Ryan (left) are The Minimalists

There are thousands of other lifestyle design models you can take up.

For instance

If you’re a person of faith you could become a digital missionary and preach to guys on the web. Online ministry is actually growing steadily and with affiliate programs from other missionaries. It probably would be hard to maintain this sort of lifestyle.

You could also be a digital consumer where you are paid to review stuff you have consumed. That way it becomes a self supporting cycle. Most online marketers may fit that description.

How about a serial worker? If you are really passionate about different types of professions then you could go ahead and make freelance careers doing these kinds of jobs while learning the ropes. It’s a challenging lifestyle but if what you value is becoming good at stuff and not necessarily getting really well paid why not try and add some value to the world?

Digital socialites connect with people and use these connections to find opportunities to make money so that they can maintain themselves and also keep the socialite lifestyle going. The main goal for such a lifestyle is to meet people and build all sorts of valuable relationships. A good example of this would be becoming a media blogger or editor. That way you get to interview and meet guys while making an income.

The first step to lifestyle design is accepting a set of values that are most important to your life. After this, principles built on those values should follow. Principles are like policy. You need to check whether a certain decision or action conforms to your principles – if not, its not going to happen and if it does conform, you back it up one hundred percent. Also, its important is to realize that with lifestyle design what matters is the values you are seeking not the money to be made while seeking them. In fact, if you only intend to make enough to help you achieve what you want to achieve, then you are certainly on the right path. Lifestyle design is about getting out there and playing life by your own rules. It’s not enough to just sit back at an office desk all year round and play minesweepers in between the coffee breaks.

How location independent businesses are engineered

Absolutes

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I have quoted Albert Einstein before for stating that “reality is an illusion albeit a very persistent one.” What this statement implies is that there is no predestined right or wrong, good or bad, left or right… There are no absolutes. Our only “absolutes” in this world are created by the general population or what we refer to as society. Is Justin Beiber the best celebrity because he trends more consistently than any other artists on Twitter? Not really. Is Lady Gaga it because she has the most followers? Not at all. Is it U2 because they’ve packed the most shows in their career? Again, not quite. The answer to who’s the best musician is of course relative to personal taste and personal perceptions.

Absolute art

It is a well known fact that there cannot be an absolute art. When award shows are held every year they feature a variety of artists who hope that they will ultimately be crowned the best in their lines of performance. They won’t be the best that can ever be and we certainly won’t see that in any days to come. The choice of ‘best’ is of course based on a popular vote or decision of consensus. If the aim in art is to be as popular as possible then these artists by all means have achieved their goals. However, that may not be the shared view of their fans. Fans might value the musical structure of an artist’s songs more. What this means is that any work of art can only be valued relative to something else. It could be mass popularity, the change it creates, uniqueness (innovation) or marketability. So how can there be absolute art if there is no one way of judging a piece of art. How can you say “This is a perfect book?” You can’t. Sometimes we try to identify some parameters that we can use to create a summative index of evaluation but still it’s not enough to define perfection. It’s just a selection based on some few favored criteria.

Mona lisa

So what’s important is what is relevant to your values. Create art to serve personal goals. No goal is indubitably better than the other. Making art that is more expensive does not necessarily mean its better than art that is completely unique. Also, there is no limit to what an art can be. If you visit any bookstore today, you’ll be amazed by how many things are referred to as ‘arts’. There is an art of power, art of war. If you hang around the net long enough you will come across other arts such as the art of non conformity and the art of seduction. There are no absolutes to what you can turn into a work of art is there?

Absolute science

Science is essentially assumed to be absolute – the key word here being assumed.  The facts are the facts. But how true is this? A friend of mine in high school once told me that you can’t accurately measure anything. Error is inevitable. Think about a ruler. What exactly makes you so sure that the ruler you are using isn’t off by even 5 mm. Any ruler can be off by some standard. But then again what can you use to prove that the ruler is off? There is a standard 1 metre ruler that lies somewhere in Europe at some display stand but even that ruler experiences changes time and time again – heat based expansion and contraction, corrosion or decay…  it just can’t stay constant in form. And neither can our own assertions of what a measurement unit is. So when you say that girl is 5 feet tall you mean 5 feet tall relative to your ruler and your perception of the 5 foot mark.

And even when these margins of error as very slight we still need to consider that even notions don’t hold perfectly. We say that for every action there is a reaction but that is only with relevance to time. If you can look at a whole event with disregard to time then it is all one big action inclusive of the reactions. Once we define what time is then we can accept what a reaction is. It’s what happens at a different time unit if something else happens before it. But then if we consider the butterfly effect doesn’t it mean that for every action there are infinite reactions and not just one? Scientific fact is only fact in as far as we set the limits of its context and define its elements.

Absolute religion

Generally, what is the perfect religion? Very good question if you are only familiar with one religion. We normally judge other religions based on the values of our own. It’s not a very good way of going about things. It simply does not bring a common agreement to who/what is and is not the right diety. At least science is indisputable as long as our human faculties collectively present the same picture of the universe. Religion is built entirely on the abstract (information) and depends on our faith in matters spiritual. Atheists have abandoned the possibilities of such entities and they might be right in doing so for their own reasons. Theists have stuck by their beliefs and they may be right in doing so as well. None of these stances are absolute but they are useful if they fulfill certain values for either party. There have been several scientific arguments to disprove the existence of God but then what right can a human school of thought have to sufficiently prove the illusion of supernatural beings? Not much.

Absolute limits

Limits are basically made by humans. A word is a word because it evolved and got chartered into its language’s dictionary. If you want to prove a word exists you simply check the dictionary. That’s the standard. Whoever makes dictionaries decides whether a word is a word. Do we get to vote on that? No. But we simply accept it so. Does that make it absolute? No. So the limits set for defining a new word are dependent on a few factors that are picked out by a small group of people.

House of Commons

Laws are limits created by members of parliament. The reason as to why they are always amended is because they were not absolute to begin with. They did not capture every possible interest they were meant to cater for. Who decided how many numbers there should be for single digit figures – 1 to 9? I don’t even know but now we can see how much of a better job the binary digit system is doing for technological progress through modern computerized systems.

The basic idea here is that we as humans should learn to choose our own ‘absolutes’. But this is as long as they conform to our values. Even our chosen values are relative to what we will accept and what we won’t. Like a natural feedback mechanism our very souls will react independently to tell us what we prefer and what we don’t. Would you refuse to pick the last piece of cake at the party because everyone else won’t, seeing as it makes one appear greedy? Maybe picking that last piece is the trait of an absolute pig to them but to you it doesn’t even mean a thing beyond savoring the taste of that morsel. Then go ahead and grab it… In the end, you only need to choose your ‘absolutes’ wisely. They make you who you are and they decide how you think. It can be a cage we create for ourselves or a ship to take us wherever we want.

Focusing on Focusing

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Turning away from social media sites can be a daunting task. Its always a riddle finding out how to stay focused with all the informational distractions. The effort it takes to lift that finger and click on that little x button at the top right corner of your browser or the bottom right corner of your phone’s screen is ginormous. You just cant seem to focus your mental energy on such a small thing. It goes to shows just how powerful mental agility is when compared to physical strength. Most of the time we give the excuse that we are too tired to do something while referring to actual physical energy but truly half the time it isn’t the muscle it’s the nerve that’s involved. The first battle in focusing on a task is always some stubborn idea that works against your intention to start something else. For instance if your glued to Facebook, the reasons to stay on your homepage pour in second after second in the form of status updates. But why do such trivial things become so important at these moments when more realistically urgent matters await to be attended to elsewhere. The reason is simple. They entertain the irrational mind.

The Lizard Brain

This is what Seth Godin refers to as the lizard brain. The lizard brain wont tell you exactly how to stay focused but it works both ways – negative and positive. Negative is when you have a new client to meet and somehow you feel its going to be a bit different this time so you’re really afraid of screwing up. You probably don’t have a solid reason to be scared. Solid meaning, you don’t have evidence of anything that will surely go wrong but still you’ll find yourself fretting your hairs off because the lizard brain tells you so. The lizard brain will keep millions of people from ever taking a chance and starting on big business ideas they come up with ever year. They more they hold back, the more supporting proof they offer the lizard to feed on. It will keep them from trying again when they face challenges that they were at first unable to take on. It could be a marketing deal you couldn’t close that convinced you that every other prospect will turn you down the same way. We are all breeding lizard brains each and every day of our lives because we are afraid of failure and losing control.

Lizard brain trying to figure out how to stay focused

“They more we hold back, the more supporting proof we offer the lizard to feed on.”

Sometimes we are distracted positively from focusing on stuff. What this means is that we always find something else that grabs onto our attention and keeps us locked onto it. The lizard brain always awakens swiftly to the inviting odour of a relatively new and entertaining distraction. “Uuu! its a new friend request on Facebook” or “Wow, a new trend on twitter”, or maybe its your iPod and you’re thinking, “Let this song end then I’ll get down to work.”Personally I’ve been guilty of accommodating such on so many occasions. I tend to get distracted by new ideas and just find myself thrilled with each new development of the idea in my mind that it can take hours to switch back to action mode. The obvious and smart thing to do is to simply write the idea down and carry on with it later when I’m free. These fast hand innovative breakaways can save you an enormous chunk of your most valuable resource- Time.

Procastination

The truth is your goal in finding out how to stay focused is to find out how to keep your time well utilized. The problem we face, in a simple overview, is somewhat like this. We always define some new goals we wish to achieve then we’ll have an idea of how soon we’d want that to happen. We then figure out the stuff we need to do to get there. Problem is we don’t get very specific on how long each small nitty gritty detail will take. Its easy to feel like we’re experts on the subject so compromises on time schedules are easily welcomed. You pick off 5 minutes here and 10 there and you lose 15 in an hour. The importance of keeping time is only best understood once someone really understand what value is lost by compromising those 15 minutes. How much further away from a goal are you when you take time outs to watch random stuff on T.V. Are you in time? If so, you deserve those 15 but if you are lagging it’s good to either know how to make up or just quit and get back to work.The problem with taking your eyes away from the prize for a little harmless distraction is that you make the distraction appear more important and consequently devalue your attraction to your goals. Alternatively you can some of the tricks I’ve utilized myself in the past

How to stay focused while multitasking

Then there’s the whole twist about multitasking. I once heard somehow say its not really multitasking its shifting back and forth from a host of activities. This is the best recipe for destroying focus. If you really want to gets stuff done and done well its utterly important to keep your focus on one thing at a time for a reasonable span of time. Some things are harder to focus on than others. To be categorical, its much easier to focus on the smaller details than on the big picture. But its the small details that make the big picture. That’s why we have millions of dreamers in society wishing to live like millionaires but only a handful who actually are millionaires. Making millions is the big picture and it comprises of a million tiny little frames of work. What millionaires do is they ensure that they have as many people focusing on the small frames of work in order to build the big ship for him. But for them it all started from that same point and they’re biggest asset eventually became being able to expand their focus zone to accommodate projects and actions on a much larger scale. To do this you need to be able to focus on running all those smaller portions of work as a one single unit which takes skill. A skill that is built over time. Its the skill that makes rich people rich and famous leaders great.

Frames of a Billionaire

Science vs Art

Our minds naturally come with both a scientific and artistic make up. The scientist in us is always out to philosophically reason out stuff before doing anything. It will ask for a million reasons in order to justify any action. Finally it will settle for whichever reasons match their moods. Its a very subconscious process because we normally end up at a conclusion that we believe ws built on very rational judgments. In reality we just stuck to what our mood or conditioned ideas or reality told us to stick to. Quiting a job is really hard because most people assume the worst will come out. The idea that you will end up starved and homeless is what we refer to as solid argument. We obviously don’t have complete proof for that. The best way to take on a task and keep your focus is to accept the reasons that encourage it . Trusting in your reasons is the only absolute you will ever find.

The artistic mind on the other hand is drawn to anything it enjoys doing. It’s the creative part in us and it does not demand any rational thinking, it just flows. Painting, writing, singing, socializing, video games and so on. The problem with the artistic mind is that it gets easily addicted. If your loving it why should you stop. Just because your scientific mind tells you your spending too much time doing stuff that wont get you paid doesn’t mean you want to stop. So there is always that conflict between the artistic mind and the scientific minds. Switching between tasks that need you to exercise either can be a horror of a challenge in your plight to focus. The key however is to include both parts of our minds in each activity.

What if you could put in a bit of critical thought into what you do when you’re acting. The result would be recording yourself so that you can see where to improve on. Science rides on assessment, but art thrives on response. If you want to perfect your art you need to critique it. The artist in you will just want to act on and on until it hears someone clap. But the scientist in you will tell you those claps will come a lot faster if they first come from you. So, in general our mission for greater focus is to:

  • Recognize and contain the lizard brain
  • Be aware of the value of time
  • Build focus from the ground up by starting on the small things one at a time.
  • Involve both the scientific and artistic selves

How to Stay Focused

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If you’re employed staying focused is as easy as pie. It’s not voluntary though, because there’s a system to keep you in ‘the zone’. The system is called Bosses. Yes, any time you wander off for a period of longer than one minute to play Angry Birds on your phone or Solitaire on your P.C you run the risk of getting caught. And if you do get caught you create a reputation that, if consistently nurtured, can lead to your procedural exit from the company. So with this in mind you can easily stay focused through the fear of getting fired. Again, if you do get caught, your boss is there to make you get back on gear by simply howling ‘What are you doing there?’  So you see, it’s pretty easy to stay focused in the workplace. You rarely have to ask yourself how to stay focused. Your boss is even paid a lot more than you because the big man on top knows what’s more valuable – actual work or keeping people focused on doing actual work. But what if someone didn’t go through the pains of hiring someone and paying them a lot more than you to keep you in the game. What would you do then? What would keep you focused?

Marshall’s technique on how to stay focused

After I quit my day job last year, I had to face that very problem. I asked myself why on earth it was so hard to stay focused on what I needed to do to get ahead if I wanted it so badly. It was very clear that I wanted to achieve A and B but after some time I found myself wondering into the abyss of personal freedom doing the other things that I had missed doing. And everyone out there who’s ever worked on their own terms faces the same problem every now and again. I remember searching relentlessly on the internet for resources on finding your focus zone and how to stay focused once your in that zone. I ended up coming across a book by Lucy Jo Palladino called ‘Finding your focus zone’. “Perfect!” I thought. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy the book at the time. Afterwards, I came across one Sebastian Marshall’s blog. Marshall is all about the art of self discipline and this is exactly what I needed. I remember reading one particular post where, and I quote, he says,

“99% of people you interact with in life are fucking jokers. You’re used to joker behavior..

What’s a joker? A joker is someone who says they’re going to do something, and then doesn’t.

A joker always has excuses. “Oh well, I tried…”

Did you do it or not?

DID YOU DO WHAT YOU SAID YOU’D DO OR NOT?

If not, you’re a fucking joker and we’ve got problems.”

With those harsh but true words, it dawned on me that I was being a joker and if I had to prove I was right in pursuing my dreams. I had to stop fooling around and accomplish whatever I set out to do.

Marshall’s method of staying effective was based on periodical assessments. He would calculate how much he has accomplished in one day as a percentage of the number of tasks he had written on his to do list for the day. The problem with this method was that it dwelled on maximizing efficiency rather than effectiveness. It may take longer to do some things and one may not really know how long beforehand so in effect failing to complete one of two things in 24 hours doesn’t necessarily constitute a lack of effectiveness. Again some things are more important than others so doing all the less important ones faster doesn’t mean you’re the most effective guy on the planet. Also, this method certainly does not account for quality. Sometimes using more time on something is bound to get you better results.

Task Scheduling

Later  on, I came across a method of scheduling tasks throughout a day (something most people do with their diaries but not me) to accomplish something bigger. So if you have a couple of things you hope to achieve you pick out starting points with small bits for each goal and schedule them out in one day. The advantage of this method over Marshall’s was that it allowed you to level out the importance of stuff when planning on how to do them. If you pick out a very small bit of everything to do each day then every activity seems just as important as the other. For example if you have to work on a web site that takes 2 weeks to build and you still need to send emails, what amount of each will you do in one day? You might want to start by making half of the CSS template for the site and sending one of your emails on day 1. This way they both become equally easy. This method worked for a week till I realized it that it still didn’t get me to my desired focus level. There was still something lacking.

An example of a task list

Dean Jackson’s 50 minute focus finder

That’s when I came across Dean Jackson’s method of finding immediate focus. It’s way too simple. You simply list everything you need to do in terms of single item activities again. For me, I incorporated Jenny Shih’s project management techniques. Simply break down a goal from the general objective to the smallest single tasks. You want to be a millionaire? You need to break it down to the level of making a call to a supplier if you chose to start a business. How much time will that take? 10 minutes? – more or less. So essentially with a rough idea of how much each listed task will take (and you will need a big paper if you are handling loads of tasks in like 7 days), you then proceed to batch them up into blocks of 2 hours. In these two hours you have a bunch of stuff to do and possibly even one task only. You take 50 minutes and start on the first half of your batch. Allow yourself a 20 minute break then finish off the rest within the remaining 50 minutes. Easy as that. I was dubious at first till I tried it. Since then I can only say Dean’s method has been more than superb in helping me maintain focus. The reason why Dean’s method works so well is because it allows you to work for what may seem like a small time frame and get the most value for your time. That way you don’t have to stress about working for too long. With the 24 hour system I hadn’t realized just how valuable 5 minutes of your day can be. Also the 20 minutes of rest seem like an interruption once you get into the zone (the actual zone this time). It’s important that you take the break because it keeps your mind fresh for what’s left. It also keeps you eager to get back and continue working which thus provides extra fuel for staying focused. So Dean’s method gave me what everyone else was lacking; a way of accounting for the time value of everything. I wasn’t looking to be the most efficient guy in terms of finishing nominal tasks. I was looking for the most value for my time so that at the end of the day I can sleep with a sense of actual accomplishment. In fact I’m using the method to write this very blog. There isn’t a simpler procedure for figuring out how to stay focused.

Consider Yourself Followed

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People I will follow anyday (on twitter or wordpress or otherwise)

Outrageous thinkers such as M_dblogger

Funny peeps like Milonare

Introspective folks like me and Wiselar

The modern day philosophers such as Seth Godin

Any outgoing digital nomad (as if there are any non-outgoing ones) Thinking within the lines of Colin Wright

Minimalists

Ambitious and tech savvy chics,

And last but not least .. hot bloggers like person below. 🙂

Maren Kate

Maren Kate of escapingthe9to5.com

People I will not (meaning never!) follow..

Lady Gaga.

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The Logic of Happiness

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I have heard many a time that happiness is a choice. In my own experience and independent conclusions from the past 20 years of my reliable observation capacity, the goal in life for everyone is to be happy. So logically speaking our ultimate goals in life are supposed to be completely up to us to decide. We choose what will make us happy and if what we know will make us happy is not what we have set out to achieve then we are living pointless lives.Image

As faddy daddy as all this might sound, a lot of incisive reflection went into the above conclusion. It applies with everything. Even that which appears to be a sad activity is empirically performed to provide or sustain some level of joy or contentment. Why do people go to funerals? They want to put to rest the grief that they have been subjected to by the news of someone’s death. Some just want to have some form of contact with people they did not give enough time to while they were alive. Later on, we might go back to the cemetery to enjoy a connection that can only be accessed in the memories of our loved ones. After the funeral, we somehow hope that we will revert to our normal happy selves while searching for the highest form of it, what alternative spiritualists refer to as nirvana. It’s in every aspect of human life; religion, knowledge, business and finance, social life and even health. Some people do find it while others don’t. If our drive for achieving happiness depends on our every action why do we many a time find ourselves doing precisely the opposite?

Assumptions

We make assumptions everyday about what will make us happy. I read some interesting philosophical stuff the other day by John Dewey, the famous early 20th Century scientist. He said that everything we do is an art and an art in itself is done to enjoy the process. The process here means every step of producing a work of art including the final piece. Therefore in our predictive mind sets, we normally envision how something will end up based on our limited experience with them. Because of this, we often create a predefined expectation of what an experience should be like in order for it to be enjoyed. It’s a very misleading way to think things through. Granted, not all experiences are going to be good. New experiences are however not predictable since we have not been there before. How do we justify our hesitation to try them? We can’t. Old experiences can be a bit more predictable but not completely. There are always some changes every time we try something a second time. If our bad experiences are valid enough we have the option of avoiding them or changing them. If they were good, we can always try them again.

Making it happen

You may say all corporate parties suck because the last two you attended weren’t exiciting. Taking this perspective is a passive reaction based habit. You simply react passively to what you are exposed to. Alternatively, if we thought about what we can add to the party to make it fun, corporate parties might not be so dreadful anymore. It need not be something big. It could even mean getting to know certain people better or bringing someone along, or performing. This is the proactive lifestyle that happiness resides in because in reality happiness is a choice. And when it seems that we are forced to choose how to handle bad situations for the least damage, what we are really being offered is a chance to find a way of enjoying them.

Discover it, keep it

The value of life inherently is fueled by our zest to discover what Jonathan Wagner describes as the flow. Any experience we choose or accept is invariably coupled with a value we seek to gain. You buy a car to enjoy the thrill of a fast ride or to have a go at a big-buck kind of image, you take a stroll to feel at peace or to relieve stress and you’ll eat exotic food to enjoy the different elements that appeal to you in a different culture or maybe just to try some new tastes. Ultimately, we become happy when the value is completely achieved. Beyond this we have nothing more to extract from the experience. Insisting on something whose value has already expired is what we refer to as over-consumption. The big problem with over-consumption is that it can eat away at the value gained and lead to common issues like addiction, greed, isolation, emptiness and the likes. We call this process vanity and it’s what minimalists are always seeking to eliminate. If you’re having problems in the quest for happiness it’s probably because you don’t know when to stop and look for new experiences or you’ve given up long before we’ve derived the desired values. It takes a introspective look at which of the two positions you are in to truly find balance and gain happiness.