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My Incredibly Simple Guide To Stoicism – Learn Practical Wisdom You Can Use

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I’ve been inspired to learn about Stoicism for a while.

The problem I’ve had is that it’s one of those topics that people love to complicate. The reason for the complication is that many of the teachings that come from Stoicism are spoken in English from a long time ago. I personally don’t have the patience to read this type of writing for long periods.

That’s why I’m going to debunk Stoicism for you in stupidly simple terms. The wisdom you get will transform you. You’ll gain a different perspective that will help you in all aspects of life.

“Everyone is preaching advice, but no one is sharing wisdom – that’s what Stoicism is”

 

What is Stoicism?

It’s an ancient form of philosophy. It was made famous in recent years again by Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday from the USA. These two gentleman credit a lot of their success to the wisdom that Stoicism taught them.

Stoicism began on a stoa which means porch to you and I. A stoa is where the early teachings of Stoicism started.

Here is Stoicism broken down into insanely simple dot points:

– Stoicism is focused on uncomplicated theories of life
– Stoicism is so clear that you can take action from the advice immediately
– Study is not required to understand Stoicism
– The most read Stoic is Lucius Seneca. Marcus Aurelius is also very popular

Stoicism doesn’t focus on the negative like modern-day self-help advice does. Stoicism is more a meditative practice that allows us to take the negative feelings we experience, and turn them into thoughts that give us peacefulness and perspective on life.

The most important part of learning Stoicism is having the right state of mind. Just like in life, the right state of mind can help us look at challenges in the best possible way.

At the crux of Stoicism is a list of reminders and words of wisdom that show how to live a good life. It’s not an argument about what is right and what is wrong. The Stoics had no time for this way of thinking.

Okay so now let’s skip ahead to the best lessons you can learn from Stoicism:

 

We don’t control events, but we do control what they mean.

This is a famous teaching from a lot of Tony Robbins work too. Everything that happens in your life can be controlled by your own mind to be good or bad. Once you understand this teaching, you can take back the power. You become less reactive and a lot calmer. You have the upper hand.

 

Disruptions to serenity cannot be avoided.

Tranquillity can never be reached by avoiding or blocking out distractions or horrible events. The way to get to that tranquil place is through your choices and judgment about those events and situations.

 

You must disrupt yourself.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done will lead you to be disrupted by someone or something who changes with the environment. Operating out of habit means you’ve stopped thinking and are mindlessly drifting through life. This means you’re not in control.

“When you lose control, your environment determines your results”

There’s a good chance that you’re going to think these results suck. The lesson here is break your habits, get out of your comfort zone and disrupt yourself like a cool, hip startup from Silicon Valley.

 

In good and bad times we have a choice.

Whether you’re in jail or an entrepreneur running the most successful startup on the planet, you have a choice. We all come from different backgrounds and we’ll all go through major highs, and painstaking lows. Through all of these different circumstances, we have a choice.

It’s having the freedom of choice that will set us free in the long run. It’s that freedom of choice that will ensure you don’t waste your life away thinking about stuff you can’t control. You’ll always feel the power of freedom when you control your choices, no matter what life throws at you.

 

Make it a habit of looking inward.

Stoics are obsessed with taking time to look inward. It’s something they advocate above all of their other teachings. They suggest spending time in the morning to ask yourself questions about your life. As you do this, you’ll find the answers to life’s biggest questions become clearer in the context of your own life.

Looking inward helps you find the answers that you knew all along and thought were hidden inside of someone else, or something else. This practice will only work if you’re honest with yourself. Don’t be too brutal on yourself either. Realize that we all start somewhere and it’s where we can go that is the greatest gift we can enjoy.

 

Being paranoid and fearful will destroy you.

The antidote to fear and paranoia is self-control. Learn to control your impulses. If you become fearful that others will sabotage your success and you don’t remain in control over these fearful thoughts, you’ll lose sight of reality. These fearful thoughts will cause you to project your fears onto other people and they’ll give you exactly what you fear.

In simple terms, fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you put out comes right back at you.

 

Anger will not help you.

The Stoics believe that getting angry never gives you anything in return. Anger wastes your precious energy and resources, and provides no tangible benefit. This is why it’s better to practice non-reactivity rather than being pissed off at something you can’t control anyway.

Anger is like a contagious virus that spreads if you let it. Don’t let anger control you. Projecting anger on people can only result in you projecting anger on yourself. That’s why anger is also another self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Everything takes up space.

Seneca wrote many times that even things you get for free have a cost. That cost is space – space in your garage or even space in your mind.

“Learning to live with less will create space in your life for the things that truly matter to you”

The aim of the game is to look at your material possession and be honest with yourself: do you really need that object? If the answer is no, free some space up in your life. What Seneca says here is the reason I have personally given away and sold most of my possessions. I’ve never been happier.

 

Practice poverty.

Especially during prosperous times in your life, the Stoics believe you should practice poverty. This is how you prepare for hardship and become an expert in dealing with the ups and downs of life. Comfort can become a form of slavery because you consistently start to think that someone could take away what you have.

When you’re familiar with what you fear, it no longer controls you. The worst can happen and you go through it with a sense of calmness and ease. People think you’re resilient but actually, you’ve just practiced the hard times as preparation.

Quick tip: try eating a really cheap meal for a whole week every two months. Eat like you have almost no money. This will teach you to not only appreciate the nice meals but to be okay if you ever face poverty and have to live on very little money for a while. I know a few people that do a beans and rice meal for this week of living it rough. Try it!

 

You protect everything you have, why not your mind?

You don’t give away your wallet to a stranger on the street. You don’t hand the keys to your car over to a budding thief. You wouldn’t let your house be demolished by the council without a fight. So why would you hand over the keys to your mind so easily to any stranger who wants them?

You have to become aware of who you are unconsciously giving your mind over to. You need to realize who is influencing you in a negative way without knowing it.

“Your mind can create all the abundance you could ever imagine, so you need to protect it like it’s the only possession you have”

 

Don’t wreck the purpose of your life by trying to impress others.

The Stoics teach that the opinions of people you seek our to impress are not that great themselves. These people you seek to impress have addictions, their own problems, and are no wiser than the next person. The purpose of your life is not to impress people and doing so will have the opposite effect.

Focus on impressing yourself through personal growth and wisdom from people who serve the greater good. Go beyond yourself and avoid the need to seek approval. Take action and seek forgiveness later if you must.

 

Without proper training, you’re a fool.

If you seek to master a skill, then without proper training you will (by default) rely on ignorance, and you’ll act in a way that lacks discipline and requires chance.

“An investor without discipline is not an investor – he’s a gambler” – Ryan Holiday

 

Your mind becomes what you think consistently.

Whether you think mostly negative thoughts or positive thoughts will determine your default response to any situation. The more we practice negative thinking, the more likely we are to see the world as negative.

If we choose to practice nothing, then we also get the same outcome of an influx of negative thoughts. The only wise choice then is to practice seeing the good in everything. Start with being grateful

 

You don’t know everything.

This is a thought that many people secretly have when they claim they want to learn something new. The harsh reality is that many of us walk around as though we know everything. We know nothing of the infinite knowledge there is to acquire.

That sort of humbleness is where all the best learning starts from. Thinking less of yourself is the ultimate power: it’s where you can grow from and serve others. It’s this way of thinking that births leaders.

 

Think of your problems in relation to the sky.

Marcus Aurelius says that the stars wash away the dust of earthly life. This Stoic concept is a way for you to clear your mind of all the troubles you encounter day-to-day. In comparison, your problems are so small compared to the immense size of the universe.

Your problems don’t matter in the grand scheme of things so don’t fool yourself into believing they do. Look at the stars once in a while. Remember how lucky we are even to experience this planet we call Earth.

 

Forget stereotypes and labels: concentrate on character.

Stoics believe your character should be your most prominent feature. Outward traits such as skin color and clothing should be insignificant. Your character is defined by the work you do on yourself each day and the person you become.

Your character is what sells you as a person better than any other external force. Your character is your legacy. Your character is what you want to be known for.

 

Don’t sit on the sidelines. Do something inspirational yourself.

You can sit here all day and listen to me inspire you. You can watch all the inspirational videos that Youtube has to offer. What would be far better is to go out there and inspire people yourself rather than being inspired.

Take the inspiration you’ve gathered in your life and do something with it so you can allow others to create their own inspirational journey. Be the example rather than only listening to the example and saying “One day I’ll do that.”

 

There is never an end to the personal development journey.

You never reach mastery. The student never stops being a student. Even the teacher is still a student at heart. Stoicism is something you apply consistently, and it never ends. You apply it until the day you die and that’s how you gain the infinite wisdom it offers.

“You’ll never drink all the water in the ocean, just like you’ll never learn everything there is to know about Stoic philosophy and that’s fine too”

 

Work is good for you.

Ever heard that when people retire, they are statistically more likely to die within a few years of achieving this milestone in their life? That’s because work gives us a sense of purpose. Work gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Making progress through doing meaningful work feels good.

Too much idle time and the delusion that you can get rich and sit on a beach is what can cause you to feel empty inside. This feeling can cause you to have self-destructive thoughts that lead to an immense focus on one’s selfish desires and need for significance. In other words, work is good.

 

Don’t make life harder than it is. It’s your choice.

Choices are what stoics believe are the way to take a shortcut in life. They believe we can choose whatever we want including happiness, freedom, respect and feelings of being wealthy. The reoccurring theme here again is that we are in control of everything that happens and how we feel.

 

How you handle disaster is everything.

The way you deal with problematic situations is a true test of your character. Character in stoicism is not formed when everything is going right; character is formed when everything is going wrong. Don’t let problems spoil your mindset. Let optimism guide you in all situations.

 

Seek out obstacles.

Obstacles are a way for you to take a challenge that you may not like and use it as a lesson that can help you for the rest of your life. You learn from hardships above all else. Lessons from hardships make you smarter, stronger and better prepared for when adversity strikes again.

 

You have one job and only one job.

The Stoics have a core belief that all of us have only one job on Planet Earth: to be a good human being. If you learned nothing else about stoicism from this blog post, then I’ve succeeded.

Practice being a good human being and you’ll have one hell of a life.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Meg

    Sep 26, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Wow! This is the best thing that I have read, it is just what I have needed to understand myself more! Thank you so much . I actually shed tears while reading this, again Thank you.

  2. T

    Sep 19, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Nice one. I like Stoicism as a mindset a lot while others prefer the more eastern philosophies.

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Life

The 9 Question Exercise Which Will Help You Prioritize What Matters Most

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You’re busy, I get it. If you’re like me, you’re constantly jumping from one activity to the next. From one commitment to another, you barely have enough time to think, let alone ask yourself the meaningful questions that will help you drive your career forward or lift your business to the next level. Nonetheless, you owe it to yourself and those around you to take the time to clearly define your goals and your aspirations if you are going to make real progress in any direction.

If you’re caught in the race or just trying to keep up with the Joneses, take it upon yourself to ask these questions. Take a few hours to sit down and write out the answers to these questions. If you’re working as part of a team, consider asking these questions as a group and starting a discussion around them.

Here are the 9 questions you need to be asking yourself on a consistent basis:

1. Where will your future growth come from?

This can relate to your business or your personal life. Consider whether you are in a place to grow emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually. Where will you have the greatest opportunity to grow? What form will this growth take?

2. How do you think your current strategy is going to change, based on emerging trends such as… [fill in the blank]?

Everyone experiences change. You are influenced by different things in different ways, and you have to be ready to face those changes by adjusting your goals and aspirations.

3. Why have you been successful so far? How will these reasons for success change in the future?

Consider what you have done which has worked well in the past and look at ways in which this might not work in the future. It is important to realize what has worked in the past may not always work in the future, so consider ways you may have to shift your thinking to address future goals.

“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.” – James Altucher

4. If you had more money, time or resources, how would you invest them to reach your goals more quickly or more effectively?

Sometimes it is valuable to consider what you would do if you had the option to invest more capital or resources into a project or a plan. Think about what you would do if you had all the time and money in the world. How would that affect your decisions and your next steps?

5. Are there things you can stop doing or place less emphasis on?

Consider how you spend your time currently. Are there things you do that don’t provide a return on investment? Are there things that you do which hinder your ability to get more done? Think about the habits you have and the people you spend time with. Where is there room to adjust or shift how you spend your time?  

6. What would you ask for if you were not afraid of getting “no” as an answer?

Most of us avoid taking action or moving towards our goals because we are afraid of being told “no” or rejected in some way. Rejection happens to everyone, and we won’t be able to put it off simply by avoiding action. Most often, the things that you are afraid of doing because you may receive a “no” response are the things you really should do.

7. As you think about the future of your career, your business or the project you’re working on, what are you most excited about?

Too often, we are so caught up in the minutiae of a day-to-day routine that we forget the reason we are doing something in the first place. Think about why you are most excited about something, and why you have started down a certain path.

“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan

8. As you think about the future, what are you most worried about?

It is likely that one thing getting in the way of you accomplishing your goals is the worry that you will fail to meet expectations. Take a closer look at what you are most worried about and try to understand the reasons for those worries. Often, the worries are unfounded, and you may be able to alleviate those worries through sheer force of will.

9. What are your dreams for the future?

This is one of the more challenging questions you will be asked to answer, but it is still incredibly important. Consider your dreams for the future, not just for this project or business or activity, but your long term dreams. What do you want your life to represent? What do you want your mark to be on the world?

The more detail you’re able to put into the responses to these questions, the more you will be able to create a strategy for how to effectively adjust and reach your goals. Take those 2 or 3 hours this month to write out your responses to these questions, and I assure you it will make a tremendous difference in your life and how you think about your aspirations.

Which one of these questions has made the most profound impact on your life? Comment below and let us know!

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Life

5 Ways to Realize Your Authentic Self

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I was a scared kid throughout my younger years. Overly-cautious and wildly unsure were just a few of my characteristics as I headed into adulthood. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t present to many of the decisions I made in my youth in regards to navigating life thus I was blindly going along with it.

Due to this, I forced my hand since I either had to grow or collapse into myself. With the latter not being an option, what ensued was arguably the most difficult yet freeing process of my life. I was to realize my authentic self. While every human being has their own distinct recipe for self-actualization, there are a few things that consistently show up for all of us to be cognisant of.

Let’s look at 5 ways we mask who we are at the core and how to distinguish them:

1. We feel a loss of power when we’re inauthentic

Whenever we feel a loss of power or self-expression within a conversation, it’s due to us not being true to ourselves. What keeps us from freedom is our attachment to a particular view or opinion, and we forget that opinions are not the truth.

We can restore our power by acknowledging where we are being inauthentic and pretending thus taking full ownership and responsibility for where we’re stopping ourselves. As much as owning our shortcomings feels like it looks bad, the humanity of it contributes to much of the contrary.

“Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.” – Coco Chanel

2. Look at what you step over in conversation

Our word is our bond. The language we use tells a much deeper story than what may necessarily appear on the surface. Often times in conversation, we will throw a blanket statement over something we actually have a natural inclination to share more about. Words such as, “anyway,” “nevertheless,” and “regardless” are transitional words which often step over what we were committed to sharing in the previous moment.

Why do we so quickly shift from one part of the conversation to another? What part of acknowledging this area with another person is uncomfortable for us?  Answering some of these questions can shed a lot of light as to who we really are and what we stand for.

3. Acknowledge how many different personas you take on with the people in your life

We go through life like a play at times. It feels like everywhere we go, with whomever we meet, we’re putting on a performance. While the stage can be empowering at times, it’s equally exhausting once the threshold is met.

The reason humans love and cherish their alone time is due to the chance for mental recuperation. There’s no one to look good for, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Looking in the mirror can be tough, but it’s far easier than looking in one with someone standing next to you.

As a result, we wear multiple hats throughout life. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it can be taxing for the human spirit. While it may be difficult at first, challenging yourself to take on a universal way of being with everyone you interact with—one that you yourself are happy with—can upshift your life to the highest degree of fulfillment.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Question why you are the way you are and if it’s aligned with what matters most

I spent my early 20’s identifying as a hyper-driven individual with an unmatched work ethic. The reason for this wasn’t because I was a man of integrity or honor, but because I thought that working hard and getting results in life would grant me the approval and support of others.

What I was actually committed to was connection, yet my behavior—the long hours, the nights reading at home while my friends went out—was hiding the very thing I wanted all along. When I finally realized this, the breakthrough was as powerful as a hurricane. It completely reshaped how I organized my life and moreover, allowed me to finally let go of the suffocating pressure I imposed upon myself.

What you feel is missing in your life is a by-product of your own way of being. Begin to look where your ways of being are keeping you from experiencing what you want the most, at the purest source.

5. Examine your way of being while making requests

No one likes to be told no. What’s more uncomfortable, is requesting something of someone knowing they’re going to say no. But we never really know what they’re going to say—so why do we make this story up? Sure, someone you’ve asked the same thing to three times and received a no each time may have a higher percentage likelihood to decline. However, how the request occurs for them is where the real difference-maker resides.

Whether you realize it or not, when we make a request with an idea they might say no, it effectively shapes and colors our request the same way to the other person. As we make the “said request,” we feel this and overcompensate—attempting to influence the thinking of whom you’re asking, which is never a smart idea.

The other person senses this, feeling the same pressure and discomfort we impose upon ourselves, totally oblivious to what we’re actually committed to. By making every request as if the person were going to say yes, we focus on our commitment and the best possible way to articulate it. When it comes to being authentic, every action must be in correlation with what we stand for.

What do you see in yourself that you might not have noticed before?  What might this open for you now that you’re aware? Let us know in the comments below!

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Life

The Inspiration Imperative: Finding Your Recipe to Inspire the World

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An undeniably beautiful facet of the human condition is the responsibility we all share to make each other’s lives better. Inspiring others can be an incredibly rewarding and efficient means to that end. After all, helping others is the spice of life and inspiration allows us to exponentially increase our output of “help”, residually, long after we move on to something else.

The amazing thing about inspiration is that it isn’t a zero-sum game; we can give as much as we desire and take as much as we desire – or even do both in the same act. Even better, being inspirational and taking in inspiration are both behavioral skills we can work at and develop. But what does it really mean to inspire others?

The one thing all inspirational moments have in common is how they make us feel; not the specifics of what they tell us, show us or even what they teach us. They leave us with a feeling we can’t let go of, and a seed is planted.

The inspiration we as humans impart on one another often comes through sharing our life experience and future vision in a way that catalyzes a change in mindset or behavior in someone else. Sometimes this happens without intention, but this piece focuses on how we can intentionally inspire by way of our vision.   

With that in mind here are some considerations as you embark on your personal journey of inspiration, broken into two sections: Building a deep reservoir of self-belief and Crafting your vision and living it authentically.

Building a deep reservoir of self-belief

The first step to inspiring others is conditioning belief in yourself. Self-belief can be built through habituation of behavior – think of this like working out a muscle. The process of opening yourself up to inspiration, identifying and utilizing your strengths and practicing self-affirmation are fail safe ways to build out self-belief as a resource you can call on as you inspire the world around you.

Here are 3 things you can do to build your self belief to new levels:

1. Put yourself in positions of vulnerability daily

Make it a habit to leave your comfort zone both physically and mentally on a regular basis; doing so will increase your rate of learning and the inspiration you take in, dramatically. As you leave what makes you comfortable, open your mind so that others can feed you with inspiration.

2. Know your strengths and own them  

In his famous book, Strengths Finder 2.0, Tom Rath explains our tendency to focus on our weakness and the power each of us can unlock if we acknowledge and build on our strengths. As you enjoy successes, it is crucial to reflect on how you arrived at them, how they correlate to your strengths, and how you use your strengths to replicate them in the future.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

3. Regularly practice self-affirmation

Practicing self-affirmation goes hand-in-hand with owning your strengths and is an important habit which helps you build a foundation by which to inspire others. Ronald Alexander, PHD, provides some practical ways to make these effective in this Psychology Today article.

Crafting your vision and living it authentically

After you’ve built your foundation of self-belief you must have a vision. Visions come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever your goal may be, the vision must be clear; wavering and being wishy-washy about your goal will have the opposite effect. Remember, inspiring is not about telling people what they must do; it’s about instilling a feeling.

It’s also very important to remember that vision is nothing more than a wish for the future – until you build a narrative around it and make it real. A proven method to get there is by writing down your vision, being authentic in how you communicate it, and repeating it often to yourself and others.

Below are 3 things you should be doing with your vision:

1. Write down your vision and vision actualization statement

The first step to creating and executing on a vision is writing it down somewhere where you can refer to it regularly. All the rest follows. As Benjamin P Hardy notes, “if you read your long term goals every day you will think about them every day. If you think about them every day, and spend your days working toward them, they’ll manifest. Achieving goals is a science. There’s no confusion or ambiguity to it.”

Another great tip is to write a vision actualization statement as your future self (a year out) and then revisit it in a year. This is a description of what has manifested based on the realization of your vision and can be a couple paragraphs or pages. The key is to make it tangible; use numbers and specifics.

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world” – Joel L. Barker

2. Hold yourself accountable to authenticity, as you share your vision  

As you spread your vision you must do so from an authentic place. If you are not authentic through this process, people will quickly see through it and the lost trust can have lasting effects. One way to hold yourself accountable to this is noting every day what you did that day that “wasn’t you.” How many times that day did you compromise or mislead your beliefs?

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat

The greatest key to executing a vision, once built, is repeating its tenets to yourself and those around you as often as you can. This may take the form of morning affirmation, posting your vision to your community, chatting about it on your bus ride, or frequently re-reading what you’ve written down of it. Become known as the [insert your personal vision] gal or guy.

Well that should give you a start. Now get out there and inspire the world!

How do you aim to inspire others? Please comment below and share with us!

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Life

The Power Of Doing Only One Thing.

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This idea of doing only one thing was sparked by an event that happened this week. I decided to delete all podcasts on my phone and only keep the Tim Ferriss Show. In other areas of my life, I’ve done the same.

“I’ve selectively gone into each area and chosen one thing”

All the other things in the same category have been discarded. Here are some examples:

–    I had two pairs of earphones and now I have one

–    I’d read multiple books at the same time – now I do one at a time

–    I had multiple tools to cure stress and now I have one – meditation

I then took this minimalistic approach from how I handled material possessions and applied it to what I do each day.

Here are some examples:

–    I only pursue one passion now instead of many

–    I only execute on one vision instead of many

–    I only use my free time for one activity instead of many

 

Assess what you do and you’ll see one thing.

If you look at each category of your life, you’ll see that you spend a disproportionate amount of time in one area. I’ve normally had a few passions but if I evaluate the last five years, most of my efforts have been put towards blogging.

I had a few other passions but I didn’t spend a lot of time doing them. When I committed to doing one thing, I made a decision to stop pretending I cared about my other passions.

 

I listened to lots of podcasts until recently and I was constantly trying to keep up with the latest episodes. I found many of the podcasts shared similar messages and only one of them was life-changing in my eyes (The Tim Ferriss Podcast).

Now that I only listen to one podcast I can finally enjoy it, quit rushing and even playback episodes I’ve listened to already. Seeing the podcast screen with only one show on there is so refreshing!

Look at your life and you’ll see similar patterns.

 

It creates focus.

Doing one thing gives you extreme focus. This focus can be channelled towards tasks that lead to mastery instead of trying to dabble in lots of unrelated passions.

Focus is how you reach states of flow and achieve results that look impossible.

Doing one thing causes you to focus and practice more. Through this process, you can see your failures, areas of improvement and areas that you’re good at. This form of reflection gives you real-time feedback that can further compound your results.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” – Stephen Covey

 

It avoids overwhelm.

We can’t compute too many things at once. The power of doing one thing is that you avoid overwhelm. We can all manage one thing in each area of our life. The moment we introduce too many choices we end up with decision fatigue.

Overwhelm is selling yourself the false reality that you have to do everything to be successful. I’ve learned it’s the complete opposite.

To be successful, you have to focus and do one thing. Being successful is about not giving up and if you consistently put yourself into a state of overwhelm then you’ll simultaneously increase your negative thought patterns.

This milkshake of negativity will mix together and end up in failure if you let it.

Overwhelm is the enemy of passion and energy. Passion and energy become hyper-focused when you focus on one thing.

One podcast.

One business.

One romantic partner.

One vision.

One passion.

Embrace the power of doing one thing. 

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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The 9 Question Exercise Which Will Help You Prioritize What Matters Most

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prioritize

You’re busy, I get it. If you’re like me, you’re constantly jumping from one activity to the next. From one commitment to another, you barely have enough time to think, let alone ask yourself the meaningful questions that will help you drive your career forward or lift your business to the next level. Nonetheless, you owe it to yourself and those around you to take the time to clearly define your goals and your aspirations if you are going to make real progress in any direction. (more…)

McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Meg

    Sep 26, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Wow! This is the best thing that I have read, it is just what I have needed to understand myself more! Thank you so much . I actually shed tears while reading this, again Thank you.

  2. T

    Sep 19, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Nice one. I like Stoicism as a mindset a lot while others prefer the more eastern philosophies.

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Life

The 9 Question Exercise Which Will Help You Prioritize What Matters Most

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prioritize

You’re busy, I get it. If you’re like me, you’re constantly jumping from one activity to the next. From one commitment to another, you barely have enough time to think, let alone ask yourself the meaningful questions that will help you drive your career forward or lift your business to the next level. Nonetheless, you owe it to yourself and those around you to take the time to clearly define your goals and your aspirations if you are going to make real progress in any direction.

If you’re caught in the race or just trying to keep up with the Joneses, take it upon yourself to ask these questions. Take a few hours to sit down and write out the answers to these questions. If you’re working as part of a team, consider asking these questions as a group and starting a discussion around them.

Here are the 9 questions you need to be asking yourself on a consistent basis:

1. Where will your future growth come from?

This can relate to your business or your personal life. Consider whether you are in a place to grow emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually. Where will you have the greatest opportunity to grow? What form will this growth take?

2. How do you think your current strategy is going to change, based on emerging trends such as… [fill in the blank]?

Everyone experiences change. You are influenced by different things in different ways, and you have to be ready to face those changes by adjusting your goals and aspirations.

3. Why have you been successful so far? How will these reasons for success change in the future?

Consider what you have done which has worked well in the past and look at ways in which this might not work in the future. It is important to realize what has worked in the past may not always work in the future, so consider ways you may have to shift your thinking to address future goals.

“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.” – James Altucher

4. If you had more money, time or resources, how would you invest them to reach your goals more quickly or more effectively?

Sometimes it is valuable to consider what you would do if you had the option to invest more capital or resources into a project or a plan. Think about what you would do if you had all the time and money in the world. How would that affect your decisions and your next steps?

5. Are there things you can stop doing or place less emphasis on?

Consider how you spend your time currently. Are there things you do that don’t provide a return on investment? Are there things that you do which hinder your ability to get more done? Think about the habits you have and the people you spend time with. Where is there room to adjust or shift how you spend your time?  

6. What would you ask for if you were not afraid of getting “no” as an answer?

Most of us avoid taking action or moving towards our goals because we are afraid of being told “no” or rejected in some way. Rejection happens to everyone, and we won’t be able to put it off simply by avoiding action. Most often, the things that you are afraid of doing because you may receive a “no” response are the things you really should do.

7. As you think about the future of your career, your business or the project you’re working on, what are you most excited about?

Too often, we are so caught up in the minutiae of a day-to-day routine that we forget the reason we are doing something in the first place. Think about why you are most excited about something, and why you have started down a certain path.

“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan

8. As you think about the future, what are you most worried about?

It is likely that one thing getting in the way of you accomplishing your goals is the worry that you will fail to meet expectations. Take a closer look at what you are most worried about and try to understand the reasons for those worries. Often, the worries are unfounded, and you may be able to alleviate those worries through sheer force of will.

9. What are your dreams for the future?

This is one of the more challenging questions you will be asked to answer, but it is still incredibly important. Consider your dreams for the future, not just for this project or business or activity, but your long term dreams. What do you want your life to represent? What do you want your mark to be on the world?

The more detail you’re able to put into the responses to these questions, the more you will be able to create a strategy for how to effectively adjust and reach your goals. Take those 2 or 3 hours this month to write out your responses to these questions, and I assure you it will make a tremendous difference in your life and how you think about your aspirations.

Which one of these questions has made the most profound impact on your life? Comment below and let us know!

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Life

5 Ways to Realize Your Authentic Self

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authenticity

I was a scared kid throughout my younger years. Overly-cautious and wildly unsure were just a few of my characteristics as I headed into adulthood. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t present to many of the decisions I made in my youth in regards to navigating life thus I was blindly going along with it.

Due to this, I forced my hand since I either had to grow or collapse into myself. With the latter not being an option, what ensued was arguably the most difficult yet freeing process of my life. I was to realize my authentic self. While every human being has their own distinct recipe for self-actualization, there are a few things that consistently show up for all of us to be cognisant of.

Let’s look at 5 ways we mask who we are at the core and how to distinguish them:

1. We feel a loss of power when we’re inauthentic

Whenever we feel a loss of power or self-expression within a conversation, it’s due to us not being true to ourselves. What keeps us from freedom is our attachment to a particular view or opinion, and we forget that opinions are not the truth.

We can restore our power by acknowledging where we are being inauthentic and pretending thus taking full ownership and responsibility for where we’re stopping ourselves. As much as owning our shortcomings feels like it looks bad, the humanity of it contributes to much of the contrary.

“Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.” – Coco Chanel

2. Look at what you step over in conversation

Our word is our bond. The language we use tells a much deeper story than what may necessarily appear on the surface. Often times in conversation, we will throw a blanket statement over something we actually have a natural inclination to share more about. Words such as, “anyway,” “nevertheless,” and “regardless” are transitional words which often step over what we were committed to sharing in the previous moment.

Why do we so quickly shift from one part of the conversation to another? What part of acknowledging this area with another person is uncomfortable for us?  Answering some of these questions can shed a lot of light as to who we really are and what we stand for.

3. Acknowledge how many different personas you take on with the people in your life

We go through life like a play at times. It feels like everywhere we go, with whomever we meet, we’re putting on a performance. While the stage can be empowering at times, it’s equally exhausting once the threshold is met.

The reason humans love and cherish their alone time is due to the chance for mental recuperation. There’s no one to look good for, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Looking in the mirror can be tough, but it’s far easier than looking in one with someone standing next to you.

As a result, we wear multiple hats throughout life. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it can be taxing for the human spirit. While it may be difficult at first, challenging yourself to take on a universal way of being with everyone you interact with—one that you yourself are happy with—can upshift your life to the highest degree of fulfillment.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Question why you are the way you are and if it’s aligned with what matters most

I spent my early 20’s identifying as a hyper-driven individual with an unmatched work ethic. The reason for this wasn’t because I was a man of integrity or honor, but because I thought that working hard and getting results in life would grant me the approval and support of others.

What I was actually committed to was connection, yet my behavior—the long hours, the nights reading at home while my friends went out—was hiding the very thing I wanted all along. When I finally realized this, the breakthrough was as powerful as a hurricane. It completely reshaped how I organized my life and moreover, allowed me to finally let go of the suffocating pressure I imposed upon myself.

What you feel is missing in your life is a by-product of your own way of being. Begin to look where your ways of being are keeping you from experiencing what you want the most, at the purest source.

5. Examine your way of being while making requests

No one likes to be told no. What’s more uncomfortable, is requesting something of someone knowing they’re going to say no. But we never really know what they’re going to say—so why do we make this story up? Sure, someone you’ve asked the same thing to three times and received a no each time may have a higher percentage likelihood to decline. However, how the request occurs for them is where the real difference-maker resides.

Whether you realize it or not, when we make a request with an idea they might say no, it effectively shapes and colors our request the same way to the other person. As we make the “said request,” we feel this and overcompensate—attempting to influence the thinking of whom you’re asking, which is never a smart idea.

The other person senses this, feeling the same pressure and discomfort we impose upon ourselves, totally oblivious to what we’re actually committed to. By making every request as if the person were going to say yes, we focus on our commitment and the best possible way to articulate it. When it comes to being authentic, every action must be in correlation with what we stand for.

What do you see in yourself that you might not have noticed before?  What might this open for you now that you’re aware? Let us know in the comments below!

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Life

The Inspiration Imperative: Finding Your Recipe to Inspire the World

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inspire the world

An undeniably beautiful facet of the human condition is the responsibility we all share to make each other’s lives better. Inspiring others can be an incredibly rewarding and efficient means to that end. After all, helping others is the spice of life and inspiration allows us to exponentially increase our output of “help”, residually, long after we move on to something else.

The amazing thing about inspiration is that it isn’t a zero-sum game; we can give as much as we desire and take as much as we desire – or even do both in the same act. Even better, being inspirational and taking in inspiration are both behavioral skills we can work at and develop. But what does it really mean to inspire others?

The one thing all inspirational moments have in common is how they make us feel; not the specifics of what they tell us, show us or even what they teach us. They leave us with a feeling we can’t let go of, and a seed is planted.

The inspiration we as humans impart on one another often comes through sharing our life experience and future vision in a way that catalyzes a change in mindset or behavior in someone else. Sometimes this happens without intention, but this piece focuses on how we can intentionally inspire by way of our vision.   

With that in mind here are some considerations as you embark on your personal journey of inspiration, broken into two sections: Building a deep reservoir of self-belief and Crafting your vision and living it authentically.

Building a deep reservoir of self-belief

The first step to inspiring others is conditioning belief in yourself. Self-belief can be built through habituation of behavior – think of this like working out a muscle. The process of opening yourself up to inspiration, identifying and utilizing your strengths and practicing self-affirmation are fail safe ways to build out self-belief as a resource you can call on as you inspire the world around you.

Here are 3 things you can do to build your self belief to new levels:

1. Put yourself in positions of vulnerability daily

Make it a habit to leave your comfort zone both physically and mentally on a regular basis; doing so will increase your rate of learning and the inspiration you take in, dramatically. As you leave what makes you comfortable, open your mind so that others can feed you with inspiration.

2. Know your strengths and own them  

In his famous book, Strengths Finder 2.0, Tom Rath explains our tendency to focus on our weakness and the power each of us can unlock if we acknowledge and build on our strengths. As you enjoy successes, it is crucial to reflect on how you arrived at them, how they correlate to your strengths, and how you use your strengths to replicate them in the future.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

3. Regularly practice self-affirmation

Practicing self-affirmation goes hand-in-hand with owning your strengths and is an important habit which helps you build a foundation by which to inspire others. Ronald Alexander, PHD, provides some practical ways to make these effective in this Psychology Today article.

Crafting your vision and living it authentically

After you’ve built your foundation of self-belief you must have a vision. Visions come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever your goal may be, the vision must be clear; wavering and being wishy-washy about your goal will have the opposite effect. Remember, inspiring is not about telling people what they must do; it’s about instilling a feeling.

It’s also very important to remember that vision is nothing more than a wish for the future – until you build a narrative around it and make it real. A proven method to get there is by writing down your vision, being authentic in how you communicate it, and repeating it often to yourself and others.

Below are 3 things you should be doing with your vision:

1. Write down your vision and vision actualization statement

The first step to creating and executing on a vision is writing it down somewhere where you can refer to it regularly. All the rest follows. As Benjamin P Hardy notes, “if you read your long term goals every day you will think about them every day. If you think about them every day, and spend your days working toward them, they’ll manifest. Achieving goals is a science. There’s no confusion or ambiguity to it.”

Another great tip is to write a vision actualization statement as your future self (a year out) and then revisit it in a year. This is a description of what has manifested based on the realization of your vision and can be a couple paragraphs or pages. The key is to make it tangible; use numbers and specifics.

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world” – Joel L. Barker

2. Hold yourself accountable to authenticity, as you share your vision  

As you spread your vision you must do so from an authentic place. If you are not authentic through this process, people will quickly see through it and the lost trust can have lasting effects. One way to hold yourself accountable to this is noting every day what you did that day that “wasn’t you.” How many times that day did you compromise or mislead your beliefs?

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat

The greatest key to executing a vision, once built, is repeating its tenets to yourself and those around you as often as you can. This may take the form of morning affirmation, posting your vision to your community, chatting about it on your bus ride, or frequently re-reading what you’ve written down of it. Become known as the [insert your personal vision] gal or guy.

Well that should give you a start. Now get out there and inspire the world!

How do you aim to inspire others? Please comment below and share with us!

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Life

The Power Of Doing Only One Thing.

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This idea of doing only one thing was sparked by an event that happened this week. I decided to delete all podcasts on my phone and only keep the Tim Ferriss Show. In other areas of my life, I’ve done the same.

“I’ve selectively gone into each area and chosen one thing”

All the other things in the same category have been discarded. Here are some examples:

–    I had two pairs of earphones and now I have one

–    I’d read multiple books at the same time – now I do one at a time

–    I had multiple tools to cure stress and now I have one – meditation

I then took this minimalistic approach from how I handled material possessions and applied it to what I do each day.

Here are some examples:

–    I only pursue one passion now instead of many

–    I only execute on one vision instead of many

–    I only use my free time for one activity instead of many

 

Assess what you do and you’ll see one thing.

If you look at each category of your life, you’ll see that you spend a disproportionate amount of time in one area. I’ve normally had a few passions but if I evaluate the last five years, most of my efforts have been put towards blogging.

I had a few other passions but I didn’t spend a lot of time doing them. When I committed to doing one thing, I made a decision to stop pretending I cared about my other passions.

 

I listened to lots of podcasts until recently and I was constantly trying to keep up with the latest episodes. I found many of the podcasts shared similar messages and only one of them was life-changing in my eyes (The Tim Ferriss Podcast).

Now that I only listen to one podcast I can finally enjoy it, quit rushing and even playback episodes I’ve listened to already. Seeing the podcast screen with only one show on there is so refreshing!

Look at your life and you’ll see similar patterns.

 

It creates focus.

Doing one thing gives you extreme focus. This focus can be channelled towards tasks that lead to mastery instead of trying to dabble in lots of unrelated passions.

Focus is how you reach states of flow and achieve results that look impossible.

Doing one thing causes you to focus and practice more. Through this process, you can see your failures, areas of improvement and areas that you’re good at. This form of reflection gives you real-time feedback that can further compound your results.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” – Stephen Covey

 

It avoids overwhelm.

We can’t compute too many things at once. The power of doing one thing is that you avoid overwhelm. We can all manage one thing in each area of our life. The moment we introduce too many choices we end up with decision fatigue.

Overwhelm is selling yourself the false reality that you have to do everything to be successful. I’ve learned it’s the complete opposite.

To be successful, you have to focus and do one thing. Being successful is about not giving up and if you consistently put yourself into a state of overwhelm then you’ll simultaneously increase your negative thought patterns.

This milkshake of negativity will mix together and end up in failure if you let it.

Overwhelm is the enemy of passion and energy. Passion and energy become hyper-focused when you focus on one thing.

One podcast.

One business.

One romantic partner.

One vision.

One passion.

Embrace the power of doing one thing. 

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If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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