Monthly Archives: December 2018

How To Not Quit On Your Goals?

In this post you’ll find a few strategies on how to not quit on your goals.

We live in a time in which goal setting has become the mantra in virtually all self-help and business advising circles. The idea is in essence that one can always achieve its wildest dreams, but only if one turns that “dream” into something more than just an aspiration. The idea is to turn that brig dream we all have into a concrete goal, since when a dream is a concrete goal we not only get to break it down into smaller and attainable steps, but we also get to reduce/eliminate the biggest  problem humanity faces: procrastination.

So when a dream becomes a goal we have a different attitude towards it, and this increases the odds that we’ll get what we want. The big problem here is that most of us take a solution whose sole purpose is to get us closer to our goals, as the kind of solution which will get us to our goal. This is the kind of “one size fits all” approaches to life, where when we first find out the existence of a hammer, we assume that not only all problems can be fixed with that hammer, but also that there are no other tools for which different problems are better suited.

When we turn a dream into a concrete goal we are more likely to achieve it due to the fact that procrastination in the starting phase is less likely to occur, but there are other problems way down the road that cannot be solved by just “goalifying” a dream, and giving up after we’ve started in our journey is the one of them.

How to not quit on your goals?

So, How do we not quit on our goals? Well, this is one of those difficult problems in life for which there is no concrete solution. It’s more an art than a science, though some of the strategies here involve science, but still not the kind of problem we should just give up on, first because finding the answer matters more than anything in the world, and second because it’s certainly possible to succeed in our “not giving up efforts” more often than not, and that’s more than good enough for the things we aspire to achieve in life.

1.Make working on your goal pleasurable (Pavlov’s Dogs)

The first idea to contemplate, and possibly even to add to our “not quiting” strategies comes from the old psychology text book. If you’ve not taken a psychology class the name Pavlov might ring no bell, and even sound intimidating, as anything academic usually does, but it’s not only worth reading about but also quite easy to understand.

Here is a short clip on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG2SwE_6uVM  , but the essence of it is that the brain works in by association. If we take action A for example, and something good happens, the most intuitive association the mind can make is that doing action A is good, and so it’s motivated to repeat behaviour A more often. It’s the old idea of action followed by reward you’ve probably heard about at some point, and here you’re the one deciding where and when to place the rewards.

The more often a given action is paired with a reward, soon the action is “tagged” as a new source of pleasure, and as you know, we are seekers of pleasure, and avoiders of pain.

                So, the idea here is to make sure that after a day’s of hard work to reward ourselves with a meaningful enough reward that will not slow us down on neither our micro nor big picture goals. This means that if your goal is to lose weight, it might or might not be a good idea to reward yourself with a weight gaining meal after a day of a workout.

Another point within the same point is to make sure we look forward to the reward during the hard moments, especially when we feel like giving up, and to make it all even more powerful to also look forward to the big picture goal. This is assuming of course that both the short and long term rewards are powerful enough to make you so emotional that for a second, or a minute, you’re willing to endure the pain or the low self-confidence of the moment, and so second by second, and then minute by minute, the urge to give up on or goals is conquered, since if you have resisted that urge at least once you’ve probably noticed that it works in waves, first feeling unbearable, and after resisting for long enough, making us feel like “we got it”, repeating then that cycle of doubt and confidence until we’re done, and we are thankful we stayed on our track.

Eventually the way to our goal becomes pleasurable, and when the way becomes just as if not more pleasurable than the big picture goal, you gain nothing but the kind of certainty of victory only the ones who deem themselves destined for whatever they deem themselves destined to have.

2.The 1000 reps/tries experiment

The second strategy is one I learned not long ago through trial and error and that is to  put the 1000 tries/experiments to play. When we start on our journey to achieve our goals there are two expected time durations for achieving the goal we hold within ourselves. The first is the one we tell to ourselves and others out loud, and the second is the one the inner us in us tells to itself, and sometimes even us, though we tend to try to often ignore that second voice’s opinion.

In this era of “work until you get what you want” wanna be mindseters, saying we’ll quit on our goals earlier than after we accomplish them has become  just like sex before marriage not long ago, a form of sin. Try to tell that out lout, and the people around you will either look at you as weak, or try to bring out up with whatever positive thinking message happens to be hot at the moment. So, we are “coerced” into saying we’ll never quit on our goals, until the day we do, and we feel the urge to come up with an well-crafted explanation of why the goal wasn’t what we really wanted, or how someone more powerful who’s out to get us made us fail.

The truth is that deep down we tend to know how many times we’ll quit before we get into something, even if we say out loud we’ll never quit, and you know you got to that number, or at least close to it when you feel the urge to quit.

One quick hack or way around this is to consciously pre-define that quitting number, even if you think you’ll never quit, and the twist here is to make that number ridiculously high, so high that the moment you hit it, and you don’t achieve your goal, there will be no doubt you left your all  in the table.

If your goal is to get in shape, one way to apply this is by going to the gym for 500 or 1000 days, if its getting good at math, to practice for the same amount, and so on, and only when you hit that mark you give yourself the right to put your hands down. The beauty of this approach is that more often than not our goals tend to give in for that kind of insanely repetitive acts of effort, and  as for the rest that doesn’t, one of two things might be the problem:

  • 1)Either the approach your taking is incorrect/ineffective
  • 2)Or the level of effort required to achieve it is much much higher, which means that this is the point at which you ponder whether there isn’t something else that matters more, and that would be unachievable if you do decide to try 1000 more times or 2000 more times.

3.Make it painful (The principle of pain aversion)

In the same way we are attracted to that which we deem pleasurable, we are just as repelled if not even more so to that which we deem painful. And it all makes sense, our brains throughout all these centuries of evolution, built generation after generation, a composite of the most basic knowledge of the kinds of things that would make us live or die, and the best way nature found to ensure these knowledge is followed by the letter was to make the things it found to be good to be attractive to us, and the things it found to repel us in pain and all of its most varied forms.

So, as we can take advantage of our tendencies for the pleasurable, we can also take advantage of the painful. The good thing about being born in the time we’ve been born(well.. one of the many good things), is that there is a vast array of knowledge and theories about the things we are averse to, and one of these kinds of pain is the pain/fear of social isolation.

We all need to be around people to some extent, even those of us who deem themselves completely independent people who need no one to be happy. We all need people though in deferent degrees, so much so that losing them in any way, shape or form is often enough to get us to commit suicide. One proof of that is the fact that at our most basic core, all we want is to stay alive, and all we do from eating, mating, and being cordial when we don’t have to can be directly or indirectly thought of as a strategy to fulfil this one goal. Apart from acts of self-sacrifice for a person, or a cause, the ones who take this dark path invariably do so because of the pain they are going through, and the only assumption is that life as it is, is not worth living Social isolation either through bullying or in any of its many forms being one of these things that cause such feats of extreme pain, is not to be ignored.

By taking ownership of our need to be and have people around us, we can take advantage of this weakness/strength in the following way. Instead of falling for depression, or feelings of worthlessness, we can hone this feeling of insecurity we all possess against ourselves by making our goals and dreams as public as possible. There are many reasons why this can be effective and below are a few:

  • 1)Shame

The shame that comes  from quitting on a public commitment is often enough to overpower the voices in our heads that keep telling is to bail out when things get though or it just takes too long for us to get what we want. The truth is that this shame, just like pretty much any other negative emotion we have is based on something concrete, and the concrete thing here is the fact that when we quit on our public commitments, people do make us feel bad regardless of whether they believed in us in the starting line, or whether they were rooting for the opposition since day one.

2)The enemy

As we discussed in the point above, as open minded as the world as a whole seems to be, in the subjects of dreams, and pretty much anywhere else, there will always be the kind of people who don’t believe you’ll achieve what you set out to achieve. Some of them will tell you openly, even before you start, but others, usually the majority, will hold their lack of belief until the moment you quit. For these people the strategy is only to label them as the enemy, and the more you buy into the idea the better. The reason for this is that as any kind of enemy, our tendency is to do everything in our power to not make them win/make them lose, and in the field dreams, that one thing is just not giving up, so when you do feel like giving up, all you have to do is to remember that just like a countryman in battle helping the enemy, you’re betraying your own side, and the enemy is laughing at it.

4.Put yourself through the difficult more often

There is one thing about regular exercising most regular exercisers don’t talk about, and that is that comfort they build over time to that feeling of almost wanting to quit. The first instinct we have when we get on that journey is to give in, and take a rest, and more often than not we do. As long as we don’t come up with a clever reason for why exercising is not for us, this then becomes the first step towards a life time change, and eventually, we gain pleasure when we notice the urge to quit on anything, and pushing through it becomes a part of who we are.

So, another way to reduce, and probably even eliminating the quitting tendency is to expose yourself to more quitting prone situations, and time after time taking control over your mind, in the same way you would conquer a country in war time, piece by piece, battle by battle.

Summary

The thing about the quitting tendency as we discussed is that it’s one of those you can only control over time, by becoming more and more aware of the second voice that lives in you. I like to think of it as two opponents fighting over the real estate of our lives, each with it’s own agenda, and where more often than not these two agendas collide. Paying more attention to the moments where an emotion doesn’t make logical sense, or when our attitude doesn’t match our goals, is definitely one of the most important steps towards the change we all seek but fail to have, and the goals we’ve always dreamed by fail to achieve.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Become a Valuable Team Player?

In this post you’ll find a few tips on how to become a more
valuable team player.

 

We live in a time in which virtually no one can get away
with lack of value. From our own relatives, to the politicians that run our
countries, their ability to deliver value is the one thing that can more
accurately tell if they get to stay in the position they occupy in our lives or
not.

The same applies to us too. We get too caught up judging the
value others add to our lives and deciding whether we should fight for the
relationship or not, that we forget that the people around us also do the same,
and in these moments we are the ones at the spot light.

So, as important as it is to judge the value of the people
around us, so it is to make sure that just in case we are the ones being
judged, the judgement is positive, and this often happens in teams, where
performance can be more easily measured, and uncertainty of any kind, if exists
at all is minimal.

 

How to become a valuable team player

 

1. Outwork everybody

The first and probably most difficult thing
to do in a team is to get past the urge to do only the bear minimum, like only
doing only the tasks we are assigned to. The reason for this is that as the
Ex-Navy Seal David Goggins often says, the mind tends prefer the path of least
resistance as opposed to the path of most resistance.

 

The idea here is to get past that, and be
willing to work more than everybody, and even more important, to also resist
the urge to tell the team about it, since any act of effort loses its meaning
to our eyes when the person “forces” us to recognize it. Acts of extreme effort
are better when the people around you recognize it by themselves, since when
this happens, the hate that could possibly emerge from such acts is mostly
replaced by appreciation and/or admiration.

 

Another effect of exerting the most effort
in the team is that it also serves as a potent strategy to send a message in
the cases when the team as a whole is underperforming. Outworking everybody
causes admiration in the eye of the beholder, while making him/her look at
him/herself.

 

2.  Eliminate the complaining habit

When we change our attitude from doing only
the bare minimum to get by, to becoming the hardest working team member, it’s
easy to fall for the temptation of judging or even bully the other team members.
The problem with this is as you might be aware of gets you to have team members
as enemies as opposed to partners. Here the most common excuse is that what we
want is to get the team to improve its performance, which might be true, but a
part of it is due to the fact that when we do the right thing such as working
hard or some moral behaviour, we have the urge to want to make everybody know
about it, and by complaining about someone else’s weak work ethic we kind of
let everybody know we’re working hard. It is a form of bragging, which more
often than not drives our team partners into resentment and the open desire to
hurt us, which is the exact opposite of what we want.

 

So, the solution here is to as we discussed
previously to let the work speak for you, and if you feel the need to get
others do improve the team productivity, you can do so by talking to your
colleagues  which an inspiring attitude,
not criticism.

 

3.Learn to motivate

The ability to motivate oneself and the
ones around us is one of the most valuable skills anyone can have. This is why
often the ones we tend to choose as our leaders are not necessarily the ones
who know the most, but the ones who can, through words, or attitude, get us to
do things we don’t believe we are capable of. When we learn to motivate
ourselves, we gain control over our own life to some sense, due to the fact
that as quickly as we can feel inspired by an idea, that same inspiration
dissipates, which tends to be a problem when consistent action is what’s called
for.

 

When we become that person who can not only
motivate itself but also the ones around him/her on call, the team becomes more
and more dependent on us over time, and in case your goal is to become the
leader, this becomes more likely the moment your presence and absence make a
difference in the team’s morale. So, the first step here is to master your own
ability to self-motivate, and this can be done, as taught in the book Can’t
Hurt me by David Goggins, by putting yourself in situations in which your will
is likely to be put to test, and “flexing” that Will muscle to get you to
complete the task at hand. An example of this would be running a marathon and
not giving yourself an out  until you’re
finished, and so eventually the self-talk moment will arise where the things
you tell to yourself can literally be the deciding factor on whether you quit
and give yourself an excuse for why you quit, or  whether you’ll finish the race and add that
accomplishment to your now growing list of accomplishments, while gaining an
increasing sense of self mastery, of the kind that you can only obtain by
putting yourself through challenges.

 

I’m sure you’ve been in the presence of a
person who has lived a difficult life and survived it, and one thing that makes
these people good at bringing inspiration feelings in us is the fact that what
we call difficulty is a relative concept. When we are used to lifting heavy
weights, say … 100 lbs, lifting 50 is not much of a problem, but if we never
lift weights, even something as little as 20 lbs can be a nightmare for your
muscles. A challenging life, be that self-imposed, or brought by fate, works on
the mind, in the same way weights in the gym work in our muscles. It’s the
level of resistance we deal with in a regular basis that tells whether we are
likely to break before the next hardship life throws at us.

 

So, by self-imposed hardship we better deal
with any kind of hardship, and with that comes a sense of calmness that radiates
from us, which is observed and appreciated by our peers.

 

4.Turn your self- improvement
juices

The ability to self-improve over time is one
of the most preached ideas that come from the self-help industry. We think of
it as probably the best way to guarantee we get to have the life we want by
becoming our better selves over time, but we forget that we are not the only
ones who benefit from this self-imposed self-improvement demand. The people
around us do too, and this is in part what makes a library of finished books
such an appealing demonstration of the value in a prospective lover, employee,
or team member.

 

With more skills and more knowledge, the urge
to believe one knows it all, or can do it all, is just like pulling a rock up a
mountain ,the kind of thing that becomes more and more difficult over time. The
solution for this kind of problem is to take the complete opposite approach.
Instead of seeing ourselves as masters, to instead see ourselves as eternal
students, who learn and learn, and just like a bottomless bag never get
completely filled. The thing about this approach is that the more you take it
the more surprised you’ll learn how much you don’t know,  which will in turn make you better at what
you do, and like an infinite loop repeat the cycle, where you first think you
know, then you resist the urge to believe in it and then you find out how wrong
you were, and over time you become an improved version of yourself even though
seeing it as such might be difficult when all you can see is 3 feet ahead of
you.

5.Feel more

There are essentially two schools
of thought the world tends to adopt. In the first one sees the world as a
battle field in which it’s either eat or be eaten. We have to take what we want
at the expense of others, and the excuse for this is that if we don’t do it, we
will be the ones from whom things are taken from. In the other school of
thought we see the world as a paradise, and we are more inclined to believing
that all people are intrinsically good, and to believe that even behind the
most horrendous evil, lie a good heart that just doesn’t know what to do to put
forward this inner good. Each sees the other as crazy or extreme, and just like
with the battle of the sexes, true understanding of the other side can be
difficult.

The world we live in is one in
which more and more people try to blend both approaches, but most still fall
for the sceptic and negative view of life, and the big problem with this is
context is rarely taken into account when we decide how to behave in front of
others. In an environment in which for the whole to succeed the whole has to
work in synchrony, the most productive approach tends to be to feel for each
member, and try our best to understand their motives and weaknesses the best we
can, since when people fail to meet their responsibilities, our first tendency
is to assume something bad about them as people. This is a well-known cognitive
bias in the field of psychology, which is in essence based on the idea that
when people do anything wrong even when well-meaning, we tend to attribute all
their mistakes to an underlining character flaw like laziness, envy or evil,
but when the tables are reversed, our attitude takes a complete 180. Meaning
that we see ourselves as good and honest people who occasionally do bad things,
whose culprits are not ourselves, but the circumstances surrounding the events
of our mistakes.

We inherently see ourselves as
good and just, and hardworking, then our mistakes make the ones around us see
us as evil, unjust and lazy, and so a negative cycle of lack of empathy begins
because we are also prone to disliking and thinking bad things about people who
openly think bad things about us.

The simplest, and yet most
difficult solution is to as the golden rule goes: “put ourselves in the shoes
of others”.

 

It is all about knowledge and
experience 😉

Leave a comment below

 

 

A few ideas on team and relationship building

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on team and relationship building you can use today to improve your life and business.

In a time in which the social media is a dominant force, we falsely assume that we can build and maintain our relationships just as easy as in the past, until we find that we really can’t.

 

A few ideas on team and relationship building

Anything people related just like our own minds and selves can be a mystery worth thousands and thousands of books on what to do to cultivate new relationships, and keep them alive forever. The thing about relationships is that they don’t take a lot of effort and thinking as we think. Most of it is about applying old and time tested ideas, that most of us tend to overlook just because they are old. Sometimes the problems we face already have  solutions, and this is one of them.

Autonomy

Autonomy is amongst the most powerful motivators us humans possess. We mostly hear about the need to avoid pain and pursue pleasure  as the only things that motivate us to do anything, that this motivator is often forgotten.

The problem with autonomy is that it tends to be one of those things that we all want for ourselves, but that can be difficult for us to allow others to have. Some of us find it more difficult than others to relinquish the power of autonomy to others in a team or in a relationship, and this if left unattended is often the cause of serious relationship problems.

If you find it hard to let people figure things out for themselves with no micromanagement from your part, the first step towards the light is to reflect on how the lack of freedom to do things your way affects you and build from there.

Trust

Another important thing is trust. We live in a world in which giving one’s word has lost its meaning, and expecting the best from others is more and more difficult. The problem with mistrusting people is that it often raises the same feelings in others. We start mistrusting the motives of others because we want to protect ourselves, and the people around us wonder why we are so protective and what we might be hiding.

The reverse attitude often triggers the reverse reaction. When we are open and trusting people feel more compelled to do the same, so much so that openly showing signs of mistrust to a completely open person reflects negatively on us.

So, in a team, this is as simple as assigning tasks and expect each member to complete them in time, and with the best of their abilities. In a relationship of any kind it means believing that the people we relate ourselves with are inherently good, and that even when they do bad things, there is always a reason for it.

 

The thing about the trust issue is that it must be balanced. Often people who are naturally trusting blindly fall for schemes and plots because they over press the trust button. Most of us tend to go the other way, and instead of balancing our mistrusting tendencies we fall for the temptation of overdoing it, with the excuse that everyone is out to get us and likely to have some sort of dark agenda.

Accountability

The next idea is accountability. The idea we tend to form of relationships is one in which we don’t ever get in conflicts with our peers and loved ones. This is in part the reason why some break relationships as quickly as they start them, leaving behind a trail of enemies and resentment. Conflicts will always occur as long as human beings are involved, and trying to avoid them at all costs might do more harm than good.

So, on our attempts to avoid conflict we find ourselves failing to keep the people around us accountable to what they’re supposed to do, making our personal lives miserable if they are our loved ones, or slowing down a project if they are team members.

The idea here is to be ok to keep others accountable no matter how hard, and even, in some cases be fine with the possibility that doing so might cost our relationship with them. This is why it’s important to have a clear idea of how much our goals matter next to our relationships, and when holding a relationship becomes too costly, to be fine with leaving it behind.

Luckily, most people react pretty well when held accountable to their duties and have no problem fixing their behaviour. These are the people you want in your life and network, and as for the rest, the cost of maintaining a relationship with them eventually becomes too high to bear.

 

Apply the golden rule

As you’re probably aware of, the golden rule states that one should never do onto others what one wouldn’t like to have it done onto itself. This is one of those old and timeless life principles which although powerful, most of us still undervalue. In a time in which people are more and more self-absorbed, any display of selflessness towards others is well appreciated. The golden rule is mostly thought of in a forward manner, but if you think about it backwards, the advice is just as if not even more powerful. If you do onto others the things you’d like to have done onto you, you trigger in others the now famous reciprocity bias. You do a favour today, and the person feels the need to do something for you no matter how small your favour was.

Cultivate the old

The thing about our times is that we tend to value now more than ever novelty. The old, no matter how powerful is put down and often chosen over the new. When it comes to team building and relationships, although it’s a good thing to know new people, and build new relationships, the old tends to be more like wine. As time goes, bonds get stronger, and the thing we call loyalty strengthens along with it. Just as we seek new relationships, we are also quick to “give” our loyalty to the new. The truth is that true loyalty as you’re probably aware of doesn’t emerge in a span of hours or days, and anyone who’s quick to swear its loyalty to you should be the target of suspicion, since either they lack self-esteem, or their sole goal is to flatter you, which are more often than not red flags.

So cultivating the old is one of those underrated things all of us would benefit immensely if we did, and if you think about it, it all makes sense. If you were to make research about a new friend, lover, potential business partner or employee, what kind of impression do they make on you when you find that they have left behind a trail of ruined friendships, broken love relationships, regretful business partners, or a trail of hard to explain volume of “past” jobs? More often than not, the feeling that comes from getting that kind of news is not good, and chances are that neither it is for the ones who do the same kind of background search on you and get back the same results. The kind of good first impressions we so desperately try to make to the new, starts by making sure we keep, and do right by the old.

Increase your value

As time goes by and we become more and more liberal in this age of accepting people for who they are, the prevailing attitude any one tends to assume is that in which one is/ feels entitled to admiration even if one doesn’t deserve it. As much as it would be amazing if we lived in a world in which in order to keep and attract great relationships we didn’t have to be valuable to others, the reality we live in is far from that . The first time you realise that, the first instinct is to wish the world were different, but if you think deeply about it, things are fine the way they are. The reason for this is that in a world in which we don’t have to contribute to the life of our peers in order to keep our relationships with them, there is no growth. This point becomes even easier to realize when we change the subject from our peers to ourselves. I’m sure you’ve had at least once a hard time deciding whether to keep a friend/peer or not when you became aware of how little they added to your life. Notice that by value here we don’t just mean material goods, but also the ability to uplift others when they’re down, and giving any kind of advice with only the purest of the intentions. Whenever we have a person who adds little to our lives, and at worst are only the kind of people who take from us, our first instinct is to get away from them, which we often do, unless the person has some sort of psychological grip on our emotions, and that’s what’s often at the root of the long lasting unhappy relationships we are all familiar with.

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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