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Life Hacks Self-Improvement

How to get (almost) whatever you want: 3 slow and painful steps

So, how many times is it that you have been told that you cannot get whatever you want in life?

Doesn’t matter.

You know why?

Because all of it was a well-framed lie. It was a lie constructed by people who failed and were too afraid to try again. It was a lie told to those who had that light in them which shone so bright that others could see it too.

It was also the lie which was told to people to keep them away from the journey of following their dreams in life because, well, those are not “real”.

Some said “follow your dreams” and others, “you will never get exactly what you want. So you might as well be content with what you have.”

Both these statements are true because you will never get what you want in life if you don’t work for it. Life is difficult.

But you can get (almost) everything you want by following the 3 steps I lay down for you in the article. There's also a caveat that I talk about towards the end of article.

Here goes step #1:

1. Make a plan to change your behavior

For whatever you want in life, you need to make a plan for moving forward and achieving it. I've already shown you in detail how you can create a personal plan for massive change.

The key though is execution. Trust the process and stay grounded. Even under uncertainty, stay patient. 

According to a study published in the European Journal of Social psychology, for an average person to acquire a new habit, it takes 2 months of time, or more (66 days to be exact).

If you are a late sleeper waking up early can feel a real uphill battle. So how about taking it gradually by getting up 10-15 minutes earlier than your usual wake up time? Maybe you can try sleeping in earlier. And say no to digital gadgets an hour before you arrive in bed.

All of the above "generic tips" will work. You've to just find out what works for you and focus on execution. 

According to researchers Neal and Wood, there are three ways you can change your “bad” habits or those which you want to get rid of:

  1. Remove the cues from your life which lead to habit-breaking behaviors. Like, keep junk food in inaccessible places so that you don't see them everyday (if you're trying to eat healthy food).

  2. Eat, sleep, love, repeat. Neal and Wood et al. believe that the key to habit-making is to repeat.

  3. Fit in cues into your life which leads to the behavior. For example, having a cup of herbal tea after lunch where having the meal would be the cue to having tea.

If you fail in implementing your plan (most people do), then don't fret. Analyze what went wrong and see if re-attempting the same plan makes sense. Else, try to set lower behavior changing parameters the next time and retry a different strategy.

2. Take responsibility and keep doing THIS...

It's easy and convenient to shift blame on external factors.

Late for a meeting? Blame traffic. Forgot about the assignment? Blame electricity.

But if you're serious about achieving success, you've to take responsibility for your behavioral slip-ups and all your actions.

You shouldn't blame others when it doesn't work out. You shouldn't blame your fate either.

So what should you do when your plans fail?

You've to bypass the emotional clout. Understand your emotions as they will drive your everyday decisions and thereby govern your progress towards your goals. 

John and Gross researched on how changing the way we look at emotion-provoking incidents in our lives can change our outlook. They found that by only changing our perspectives we can change our attitudes too.

See, you can either make a mess of your life. Else, create a wonderful life with the time you have and the opportunities you get.

The chain of the blame game will keep growing until you cut it. At Amazon, Jeff Bezos has inculcated a culture to "disagree and commit." In a team environment, often all the people aren't on the same page.

As an exemplary leader, it's your duty to disagree and question decisions. But once you commit, you do so wholly.

Similar should be the case with your life decisions. You need not wait to have 100% necessary information before you make a critical life decision. Make a decision at about 70% (like Amazon does) and aggressively move forward with that commitment.

Remember HUSTLE is all you got to do.​ Because that's the sole aspect in your control in the equation of success.

3. Have faith in yourself

It's cliched. And even may sound preachy. But to reach your goals, you've to believe in yourself. You'll receive criticism. Hate. Unknown aspects will spring up in your path.

You can't control the external events. But don't fall for the distractions and negativity around you. Deep down in your heart, you've to believe that you deserve everything that you work for.

No! You're not a fraud.​

Suppose, you wish to lose some pounds. Now, don't get all ambitious and set a hefty target. You don't need a few days or weeks. Set up small objectives and give yourself a pat on your back for achieving them.

Your efforts might fail to achieve desirous results. And your friends might turn their back on you. Now is your real test of character. So don't fall back. Take inspiration from J.K. Rowling. She tasted success only after failed relationships and experiencing grief in her life.

So how can you develop mental resilience to accept failures?

Ellis, Carette et al. found through an extended study that not only are our failures a way to educate ourselves, but our successes are good teachers too. Pointing towards a “systematic” way of learning, they concluded:

  1. Self-explanation (reflecting on our acts and finding why we succeeded or failed)

  2. Data verification (checking and analyzing the other probable ways to have approached the situation)

  3. And feedback (concluding whether the end product was failure or a win, and planning ahead)

Caveat: Prioritize

You cannot dream of achieving it all. Atleast not together. So you've to let go of the activities that deviate you from your main goal (path). Take help from Mr. Pareto when you're facing issues with time management and prioritizing.

The principle will help you find the high-value tasks that deserve your attention.

Remember, it's not about sequentially ticking off your to-do lists. Don't let routine take over and the motions of the day run you.

Conclusion

It's slow. Painful. And challenging. But if you're persistent, dedicated and determined, you can achieve almost whatever you set your eyes on. Just stay patient and keep hustling.

​Did you find the 3 steps useful? What is your number one takeaway from reading the article? Let me know in the comments below.



Categories
Life Hacks Self-Improvement

How to Make the Most of your Twenties: Complete Guide to Your Formative Years

The 20s represent an important decade in life. This period gives you a chance to transform your adolescent mindset into adulthood.

However, most things that people did in the 20s are being done in the 30s. People are marrying later, finishing school later, and getting employed later. This has given rise to the notion of 30 being the new 20.

But you would be mistaken to adopt this view. If you see 20 as an extended adolescence, you will spend this whole decade being unproductive and unprogressive. When you are parting with it, you will look back and ask yourself, “What have I been doing in the last decade?” By this time, unfortunately, it will be too late to make amends.

This article is your guide to how you must conduct yourself in your 20s? Without wasting time, let’s get to it.

1. Take Risks...

Teenagers are notorious for indulging in risky behaviors. Some examples include excessive drinking, unsafe sex, and reckless driving. But these are not the kinds of risks you must take. Being in your 20s means you are a grown-up. So your actions, even when risky, must add to your prospects of a better future.

Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.

Risk taking makes you smarter. This was proved in a study by the University of Turk in Finland. The researchers’ associated risk taking with seeking challenges and concluded that challenges exercise the brain.

Another benefit that comes with risk taking is that you learn from mistakes, which are crucial for personal growth. Playing it safe does not put you in new situations, and this means no new lessons.

The biggest problem is that we amplify the dangers of risk taking. Comments like “you will become poor,” “you will have no friends,” or “you will lose your job” scare us. And we hold on to whatever mediocre comforts we have.

Sadly, we never consider the dangers of avoiding risks. These include “failing to progress in life,” “being passed over for promotion,” or “failing to achieve our dreams.”

entrepreneur

The 20s is the best period to take risks. If you fail, you have time on your side to rebound. You will learn important lessons which will increase your chances of success next time. In addition, you will learn to control your fear of failure and increase your confidence.

Jessie Goldenberg is a good example of someone who took a risk to pursue her passion. She left her job at CBS to start her own fashion business named Nomad, a mobile fashion retailer. Luckily, she became so successful that she broke even in the first year.

2. Take Control of Your Life

A mother knows when her baby is hungry. She also knows when the baby wants to play with a toy. However, she cannot know what food the baby will prefer at a certain time. Or what toy it would like to play with.

The same is true for you—you are the only one who knows exactly what you want. While many will give you advice with good intentions, this advice is based on assumptions on what they believe may be best for you. As such, you must not let external influences decide where you should go.

Many people complain of unfulfilling jobs because somebody thought that was the best job.

You should not let your life follow this course. Make an effort to form own opinions. Know your options in any given situation and try to make your own decisions. Or else, you will surely be persuaded by others.

choose-the-right-direction

One study found that participants who had no idea of what they wanted chose inferior products just because that was what everyone was choosing.

Another study by researchers at the University of Exeter had a similar result. It found that we have evolved that our friends hold more influence over us than instinct. This hinders our ability to be responsive to situations. And by “following the herd,” we end up making decisions that deter our dreams and aspirations.

If you have a herd mentality, it may not be easy to let it go. But you must make a conscious effort to.

For a start, think using first principles rather than analogy. With first principles, you try to break down what is true about something and make decisions from that. With analogy, on the contrary, you make decisions based on what people consider to already be true.

For example, many believe that to succeed in life, you have to work long hours. As such, most of us try to do as much as we can everyday.

Using first principles, you will ask yourself about what is true about success. You need to work, you need to minimize distractions, and you need to minimize errors.

With this, you can then ask yourself how can I get work done in less time while minimizing distractions and mistakes? Some of your answers may include hiring experienced people to help you with other tasks.

Here is a video of Elon Musk talking about thinking using first principles.

3. Deal With Issues That Hold You Back

Have you grown up in an abusive environment? And now that you are older have you tried to address this abuse from childhood? If you are like many twenty-somethings, you probably haven’t.

However, research shows that these experiences can affect your adulthood. You are likely to have chronic health conditions, have surgery often, visit doctors often, use drugs, or even attempt suicide.

Studies show that children raised with attention, love, and care develop an internal Locus of Control (LOC). This means they believe that the keys to the life they want are in their hands. Children who grow in the absence of love, attention, and care tend to grow into adults who have an external Locus of Control. So not only do they not take responsibility for their lives, but they also have low self-esteem and confidence as adults.

The 20s is the best time to clear any bad experiences that hold you back or hurt your confidence.

There are many ways on how you can deal with traumatic events. The nature of the trauma determines the best remedy. However, you can never go wrong by seeking the support of others.

Another thing you want to deal with is your weaknesses, which if left unchecked, will hold you from progressing.

However, there is one important concept you must understand. Do not waste your time fixing weaknesses that are not fatal, even the most successful people are not perfect. Only resolve weaknesses that may keep you from your goals.

Research has shown that 70-80% of leaders and employees benefit from improving their strengths, not fixing flaws. This brings fulfillment and it lets you do what you enjoy.

To get started, make a list of your weaknesses. You may need to ask others as it is difficult to point your flaws. Now think of these weaknesses and if they present challenges to who you want to be.

While in your 20s, you also need to deal with any bad habits. You can, of course, let go of these at any time. But ignoring them throughout your 20s will make them stronger. And you will have a hard time eliminating them later.

For example, most of us like to hit the snooze button, and we find it difficult to break this habit. But did you know that it is unproductive?

bedroom

Snoozing puts your body into a new sleep circle, which, unfortunately, you do not finish. Snoozing also fragments the benefits from the sleep you already had and it changes your sleep cycle. As a result, you end up feeling sluggish and tired for the whole day.

4. Don’t Settle Just Yet

Your parents would swear that it’s best to find a decent job that pays well and keep it until your hair turns gray. But that is not always a smart move. While the pay may be good, you will likely be receiving 50% less after 2 years than if you were a job hopper.

In addition, staying at the same job limits your knowledge. You don’t learn new things by staying in the same organization and doing the same things. A mind that does not seek changes cannot improve.

Changing jobs takes you away from your comfort zone. This keeps you from developing complacency, which is a bad trait for anyone.

Job-hopping will also allow you to discover your true passions.

However, careless job hopping may hurt you. Lots of job changes through the early 20s are associated with lower income at age 32. And men with more fluctuations also have lower status jobs and report lower career satisfaction by age 32. This was proved by Professors Harvey Krahn and Nancy Galambos of the University of Alberta in Canada.

Interestingly, the study said that those who completely switch careers, not just jobs, at least once, more job fluctuations predict high income and career satisfaction at age 32.

For example, before Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson started making movies, he was a famous WWE wrestler. But before even that, he had a football career which he left at 24 to become a wrestler.

Here are some resources you may need as you change jobs:

A mind that does not seek changes cannot improve.

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5. Understand Finance and Productivity

It’s not often that we hear of people making money just by saving. But it can happen. Take the story of Luis Renteria. He saved over $30,000 in 3 years just by using a spreadsheet to track his spending. He used the 50-20-30 rule (50% of his earnings went to essentials, 20% to financial goals and saving, and 30% to flexible spending).

The problem with most of us is that we spend money we don’t have. And this gets us into debt. With this, saving and investing become impossible. So we force ourselves to work more in order to make more.

A 2014 survey by the National Foundation of Credit Counselling found that only 39% of US adults track their spending and have a budget.

woman in office

Most of us see a budget as a punishment. But you must change this mindset and see it as a firewall to protect you from unnecessary expenditures.

While in your 20s, you must learn how to make a budget. You must also learn to invest and save. These financial lessons will be valuable as you age.

Another thing to learn in your 20s is how to be productive. With a constant stream of interruptions, this is not easy to achieve. As a result, most of us work hard, which means working for longer hours.

Paul J. Meyer Author

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

But research shows that this is not effective. Working for 9 hours does not mean you do 2 times more work than someone who works for 4.5 hours. In fact, the amount of the work would be the same. This only results in losing time you would have spent relaxing and looking after your health. (HRB)

A 2015 study showed that working long hours is a cause of mental ill health. And that it raises the risk of suffering from stroke and heart disease. So learn to work smart instead.

6. Take Care Of This Often Overlooked Aspect...

Because you are in the prime of your life, you may believe your body may take any abuse you throw at it. But this is misguided. How you treat your body during the twenties can have a big impact on your future.

So in this decade, make sure you look after your body. You must exercise, eat healthily, meditate, and relax. These activities will lower your stress, boost your confidence, make your smart, and make you feel that you are living a fulfilling life.

Here is a video explaining the psychology behind staying healthy:

Conclusion

The twenties is a fun decade. However, you must keep the balance between fun and productivity. If you follow the tips in this article, you can be confident that this decade will not go to waste. Doing the right things will increase your chances of a better future.

Over to you now, do you believe you have been making the most of your twenties so far?