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Improve your decisions with one simple mind trick

We make decisions in everything we do. In the way we brush our teeth in the morning, when we decide to buy coffee, or where to sit on the train. Every single one of these decisions impacts our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Each decision moves us towards a destination we may, or may not, have set for ourselves. We need to make our decisions count.

So often, I see myself and others faltering on their decision making. Some folk make rash decisions (I’m guilty of this), while others find it difficult to make a decision on much of anything. We go about our lives rueing the decisions we’ve made – or not made.

So how do we change this? How do we become better decision makers? Well, there isn’t much we can do, really. Yes, there are a plethora of options available, ranging from gut feeling to the Kepner Tregoe Decision Making process, but the trouble is we can’t go about performing a problem analysis for every decision we make – especially if it a subconscious, sub-second one made in the spur of the moment. Neither can we simply go on gut feeling when the decision requires more thought. The trick is to find balance between the two.

One method that has worked for me is to focus only on the object of the decision. For example, I’m trying to make better decisions when I’m thirsty, specifically drinking water instead of Coca-Cola. I focus only on the area I want to change – drink water. I consciously bring that decision to the front of my mind when I’m thirsty, or every time it crosses my mind. I replace the thought with the object, like ‘Water, water, water‘, ‘drink 2 litres of water a day‘, or ‘drink water now before you want something else, you lazy bastard!‘. I find the next time I am thirsty, I choose water instead of Coca-Cola.

This method has worked for me in other things too, such as;
– exercising each morning (saying ‘Drop and give me 20!‘, instead of ‘I’m tired‘),
– focussing on tasks (saying ‘Another one knocked off‘, instead of ‘I have so much to do!‘),
– and even showing my family appreciation (saying ‘These people are my foundation‘, instead of ‘Where is my time going?‘).

Many decisions we make are due to habits we instil in ourselves. We’ve made these habits consistent enough to move to our sub-conscious. Once there, most of the decisions we make are automatic. Because we’ve made similar decisions before, our brains move the mental processing out of the way so that we can make these decisions quicker.

Changing these auto-decisions requires you to fuse new thought patterns and habits into your sub-conscious. No easy feat, but certainly possible. And it is easier than you think. It all starts with a little focus, and some habit forming.

What will you change about your decision making process today?

[Featured image Ashley Batz via unsplash.com]

Decide to make a difference

Do you feel like you can’t make a difference in the world today? The world is so noisy and filled with so many voices that it is near impossible for you to hear or say anything of value. I feel like that sometimes. But the truth is, you can (and you do) make a difference.

I used to be anonymous (I still am to some degree). I had thoughts, dreams, and things I wanted to say. I thought they were only applicable to me and believed no-one would care to support my thoughts, let alone look forward to what I had to say. So I said nothing. I kept my mouth shut, accepted what I received, and didn’t ask for anything more.

As time went on I shared my thoughts and dreams. I began to question the world around me. Is this mediocre life worth it? Is the financial burden worth the daily commute? What do I need to do in order to spend more time with my family? I started a blog to journal the journey I was travelling.

A strange thing began to happen. People responded. Not just friends and colleagues, but strangers from around the world. They were going through similar experiences or seeking guidance, and I was helping them through it. This really took me by surprise. How could I, an average Joe, be helping people around the world? What could I possibly offer to the people around me that they couldn’t get from a self-help book of some kind?

I now truly believe that ‘anybody’ is a ‘somebody’ in someone’s life. For example, Richard Branson can tell you a lot about business, but your entrepreneur friend, Jack, will teach you more. Dr. Phil can tell you a lot about psychology, but your therapist cousin, Francine, will teach you more. Why? Because they’re local, they’re personal, they have a direct link to you. They can directly influence you, your skills, and your experiences through life. So, too, do you make a difference to others around you. You might not see it, but people are being influenced by you all the time. It’s the little things where you can notice it first, like which movie to watch or which book to read.

You are just as important to someone else.
You have knowledge that nobody else has.
You have your own spin on the world that is unique to you.

I struggle with my thoughts and fears every day, thinking that there are so many people saying the same thing as me. I’m constantly thinking that I’ll just be another whisper in the wind. But I then think of my family, the people I’ve helped so far on my short journey. It gives me hope of making this world a better place for all of us. I’ve seen the impact my words have had at home, with friends, as well as colleagues.

You can make your own difference too – you really can. You directly impact your surroundings. You don’t need to rely on the big players out there. You know what’s right for you, no-one else. The best place to start is at home. Share your thoughts, dreams, and message with your family. Mention it to trusted friends. Try it at the office. You may just be surprised where you will end up.

Why not start right here? Leave a message in the comments below.

[Featured image by Paul Proshin via unsplash.com]

How will you make 2015 better?

The trouble with life is that it just gets in the way of your dreams. It sits there and sniggers when you haven’t achieved a goal you’ve set for yourself. It constantly intervenes to hamper your progress towards bigger and better things. Life laughs in your face, especially when you’re down.

The truth is, it’s not life that gets in the way, it’s us. We are the ones that allow distractions in. We are the ones that lose the momentum when the going gets tough (or too easy for that matter). We are the ones that allow our end goals to slip away.

Last year, I experienced just this. The year started off with a bang. I had started my newsletter, my work was being posted on other blogs. I was gaining exposure in the right places. But then I got lazy. I lost focus, and the year just fizzled out into mediocrity. I was extremely disappointed with myself.

I learnt something important during that time. I learnt my limitations and what I need to do to exceed them. I learnt more about myself and what I want to do with my life. I learnt I am not as awesome I as I think I might be. Finally, I learnt humility.

It seemed to be a recurring theme. I needed to find a way out of this habit. Thanks to my beautiful wife, that path may have been found. During Christmas my wife bought Leonie Dawson’s 2015 workbook, and I found Michael Hyatt’s free introductory videos for his best year ever course. Both are about setting goals and achieving them. They offer a system you can use to effectively and confidently achieve your goals. I am intrigued at how similar these methods are, and I believe there is some common sense in them.

My wife and I worked our way through Leonie Dawson’s workbook. It had us thinking long and hard about what we want to achieve in our lives this year. I’m excited about what opportunities will present themselves – if I can stick to my guns. I’m confident that by using the methods learnt through Leonie Dawson and Michael Hyatt, my work life, home life, and life in general will be changed for the better.

What about you? Have you thought about what you want to achieve this year? How are you going to do it? I highly recommend implementing a system for you to achieve all you can.

20 Quotes that will change your life

We all love quotes. Short, quirky sentences that sum up how we’re feeling today. We smile, we share it on social media, and, most of the time, we forget them after a few minutes. There are a few, though, that stick with you for a lifetime. Those few that you remember while you drive your car, eat your dinner, or watch a movie. Those are the quotes that change your life.

Here are a few quotes that have changed my life. There aren’t powerful pictures, or flashy text. When the message is true, it doesn’t matter what medium it comes through.

I ask a favour of you while you read these. Take a moment to ponder each one – and I mean really think about them. Do they appeal to you? Do they strike a chord? Do you aspire to be like that? If you answered yes to any of these questions, what is stopping you from taking action? Nothing. You can change your world by taking the first step.

Here they are:

Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.

Mother Teresa


He who laughs, lasts.

Unknown


Be the reason someone smiles today.

Bruce van Horn


Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You!

Dr. Seuss


If you haven’t decided to matter, you won’t.

Dan Rockwell


It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.

E.E. Cummings


If you have nothing to say, say nothing.

Mark Twain


Successful people do not complain about the things they have the ability to change, they simply change them.

Unknown


Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Unknown


A comfort zone is a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there.

Unknown


A beautiful thing is never perfect.

Egyptian proverb


Not trying is the only true failure.

Unknown


You will never win if you never begin.

Helen Rowland


There is nothing impossible to him who will try.

Alexander the Great


You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.

Seth Godin


All glory comes from daring to begin.

Eugene F. Ware


If there is no wind, row.

Proverb


Running away from your problems is a race you will never win.

Unknown


The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care.

Unknown


What quotes have you come across that you live by? I’d love to know.

Humility and change

I learnt humility last week. It hit me like a freight train. I am still thinking about it almost a week later. I wasn’t prepared for it. And it has forced me to rethink the way I go about my life.

Ok, not quite that bad, but the feedback I received last week was still pretty shitty – forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and exactly where I needed to be.

About seven months ago, I got the opportunity to lead a new team. I saw it as a challenge as I hadn’t worked with the team before, didn’t understand the tools they used, or technologies they worked with. I was unsure as to how they would accept someone without the relevant technical experience to lead them forward.

Over time I have strived to build strong relationships through mutual trust and respect, both as a team and with each of the individuals. One of the questions I am continuously asking is for honest feedback about me and how I am leading them.

This question often brings out an array of opinions ranging from ‘you are doing great’ to ‘maybe change the time of the team meeting’ or ‘there have been a few misses, but overall it’s great’. These responses are fairly minor, and I can work pretty quickly to adapt and grow. That is until last week.

The discussion I had then hit the core of what I strive to achieve with the team every single day. What I thought I was doing right, was being perceived in a completely different way – a way detrimental to the growth of this team.

I was stricken (in a leadership sort of way).

At first, I wanted to justify myself. I wanted to use all the excuses in the book to explain why this action was taken, how it benefits this person and the team. But then I put myself in their shoes and realised that they are different to me. They are perceiving the situation through their eyes. I realised I simply needed to listen.

After this person had finished, I didn’t retaliate. I didn’t try to justify myself. By then I had realised that in order to grow, one must receive and process all feedback. Because this feedback was core to my leadership style, I needed time to mull it over. I thanked them for being so honest with me. The whole situation made me realise one thing.

If you want honesty from someone, you need to build trust and respect first.

You won’t get honesty right off the bat. It doesn’t come overnight, nor is it easy. A strong relationship needs to be built first, then the true changes begin to happen. When we become comfortable with someone, we open ourselves to vulnerability. We open ourselves to honest criticism. We need to be open to this criticism.

Without being open, we cannot learn anything new. Without learning, there is no growth. Without growth, we can’t be better than yesterday.

The calm before the storm

I’ve been away on a family holiday for the past two weeks. It was a great time away from the office, away from home, away from life in general. There was much needed reflection on where I am today, where we are as a family, and where we want to go.

But as I sit on the train, ricketing its way into the office, I can’t help but feel that this holiday was the calm of the storm. Almost like the slow motion effect you get after ramping off a hill and calmly floating through the air for a few seconds before slamming into the surface to continue racing downhill.

We all need these periods of calm bliss to get away from it all. To take some time to go see and experience some place new. Just something to get out of the daily grind. And when you do have the opportunity to do so, take some time to simply stop and think.

Think deeply about many things.

Think about…

where you are in your life.
Are you where you want to be? Are you happy with the person you have become? Celebrate the successes you have achieved. Reminisce about the past handful of years and see just how much you have gained, lost, or changed.

what you have.
Appreciate the little things you have that make your life easier. Appreciate the people in your life. The abundance of food, clean water, or even a roof over your head. Being able to afford pension fund or medical insurance. Do you really need everything you have? It might be time to let go of some ‘stuff’.

the future.
Where do you want to be in your life? What does success mean to you? How can you get there? Start to formulate a plan of how you can achieve your dream, or become the person you want to be. It doesn’t need to be super detailed. You will know what you want to become by using the first thought that comes into your head when you ask yourself that question.

My reflection

I’m not the type of person to tell you how to do things without doing it myself. I thought a lot about the three things I’ve mentioned in this article. I am more than comfortable in sharing it with you.

Overall, I am happy with the person that I am today. My family and I have achieved a lot over the past few years (the last 7 in particular). I want more of it. A stronger family bond. Success for my wife. More positive impact at my workplace.

More and more do I find myself appreciating what I have in my life. My healthy family, my house, the opportunity to afford the little pleasures in life. I am an extremely lucky person to be able to have all of this around me.

Get away

I encourage you to take a break from your daily grind – whether that be an amazing getaway or staying with family in another city. Holidays can be expensive, but I believe the experience that you or your family will gain will make it well worth your while. Just the act of getting away from monotony of daily life helps the process of reflection, planning, and eventually, the action you need to take to get the life you want.

Where will you be going?

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