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Success Advice

10 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Mind

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cultivate a creative mind - creativity

More often than not, success is synonymous with creativity. Thomas Edison is known as successful because he created the lightbulb. Richard Branson’s mega success came from his unique creations and branding of the Virgin company. Jony Ive, who has repeatedly been described as the creative genius behind Apple’s greatest products is indeed notorious due to his creativity. The list goes on and on with the numerous creative minds behind successful products.

If success comes with being creative, the crucial question then, is what does it take to possess a creative mind?

Creativity has been defined by neuroscientists as the ability to take disparate or scattered ideas and bring them together in new and useful combinations. Not surprisingly, the creative process of the mind is similar in bringing together different parts of your brain. Thankfully, much of the research in modern neuroscience has demonstrated that mental capabilities such as creativity are a result of a person’s own intentional activation of different parts of the brain. It is something that can be harnessed through practice, cultivation, and development.

Here are ten ways to spark off your creative mind!

 

 

1. The cloud exercise

You probably had to do this when you were a child, but do not let the simpleness of this cause you to think that it is not effective!

Clouds are notorious for resembling something else. Take a look up at a few different cloud formations and note what some of the shapes resemble. A tree? A Cat?

 

2. Increase your vocabulary

Most online dictionaries will always have a “word of the day” already featured. No need to try and chew up a ton of words in one go, just add one word a day to your vocabulary. Most importantly, find a way to use it during a conversation- that even makes it challenging and fun.

 

3. Pick any object and describe it ten different ways

What is in front of you right now? Most likely your laptop or computer. How many different ways can you describe it? Shiny…sleek…modern…silver…try and come up with ten adjectives for it.

 

4. Pick up a pencil and draw

Studies have shown that drawing activates certain parts of your right brain. You do not need to be the next Da Vinci to reap the creative benefits of trying to draw something you see. Just take a look out the window, or try and draw the coffee mug in front of you.

 

creativity picture quote

 

5. Do something with your non-dominant hand

Doing something unfamiliar will give your brain a kick in the pants and fire off neurons that will support your overall creativity. Whether it is brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or writing your name on a piece of paper, try it with your less dominant hand.

 

6. Learn a few phrases in a different language

Always wanted to throw out a couple of romantic French or Italian phrases? Learning a language activates the left temporal lobe of your brain. You will not only be able to impress someone with your bilingual talents but also do your creative brain a favor! Pick up a little phrase book from a used book store for a couple of dollars.

 

7. Play devil’s advocate to yourself

Come at a conversation or discussion from a different angle. Argue with yourself and force your brain to wrestle with a different side. Stretch your mind into having to reason through a different perspective.

 

8. Experiment

Try something new. If you are a foodie, step out and try a different ingredient or a style of cooking you have never had. If you are into concerts and music, try listening to something different. Uncharted waters gets the brain to lay some new creative networks. Ask yourself, “when was the last time you did something for the first time?

 

9. Learn a musical instrument

Most songs are a repetition or variation of four simple chords which are easy to learn on a guitar or a piano. Music is immensely powerful tool in activating creative parts of your brain as it stimulates multiple areas of your brain.

 

10. Find a different use for an item

A pillow could be used as a chair cushion- you do not have to actually go ahead and use it, unless you really want to, but come up with alternative uses for items in your possession. An empty jar of strawberry jam could be used as a drinking glass.

All these exercises are designed to activate dormant parts of your brain and cause different portions to work together in ways that they usually would not. This unique cooperation of different portions of the brain will create the perfect environment for your mind to be at its creative best.

A refugee from Vietnam, raised in Australia, with a BA from Texas, Thai writes for many publications including The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Addicted2Success. A professional chef, international kickboxer, and spiritual teacher, Thai is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves. Signup for his free weekly Infographics at TheUtopianLife.com | Connect @ThaiWins | On Facebook 

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. rayano

    Oct 28, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Nice articles thank you it even let less stress

  2. Band Grrl

    Mar 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Each week go somewhere new… Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) called it “The Artist’s Date”. Great book by the way.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 14, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Thanks for the recommendation! Will definitely check it out.

  3. Daniel

    Feb 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    The drawing idea is actually interesting. Way back I would sit down and draw my dining room from my point of view. When I finished the replica blew me away. Now that’s creative.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 14, 2014 at 6:07 am

      Hi Daniel, I gave drawing a shot a little while ago and had a similar experience! Worth doing just for that experience.

  4. Thai N

    Feb 5, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Glad you enjoyed it Ankit- hope you are able to start incorporating some of them into your life!

  5. Ankit

    Feb 4, 2014 at 5:52 am

    Hey Thai, the article is awesome. I am completely agree with you.

  6. Ve Dixon

    Jan 31, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Great Article.

  7. Steve

    Jan 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Great article!

    • Thai Nguyen

      Feb 1, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Thanks Steve. Wishing you all the best!

  8. Naomi@quitmyjob

    Jan 31, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Thai,

    Creativity is important for success. A good business can’t survive without it.

    Meditation is also supposed to be very good from improving your creativity.

    I like the idea about musical instruments. I’ve been meaning to start learning how to play guitar for about a year now. Knowing it can help with my business is all a better reason.

    Thanks for the good read

    Naomi

    • Thai Nguyen

      Feb 1, 2014 at 2:03 am

      Yes, meditation! Great addition to the list Naomi! Thanks for your contribution. I taught myself guitar a few years ago and it has been great for giving my brain creative spurts! Wishing you all the best!

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Success Advice

How I Work Smarter: The Practical And Really Dumbed Down Strategies.

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Working Smarter. Productivity Hacks

I’m somewhat of a productivity freak. I like having time.

Time allows me to work smarter, and so I protect it like a rare and beautiful diamond. If you want to steal my time, you better be prepared for one hell of a battle. I’d happily give up money before I would ever give up time.

Here’s how I work smart and how you can do the same:

 

I take the stairs.

While everybody is lining up for the lift or going 1 meter every ten minutes on the escalator, I take the stairs. It keeps me fit and I get where I want to go faster. Nothing in life worth achieving is easy so get used to taking the stairs and doing some physical work.

 

I keep it simple (decision fatigue).

Water instead of wine/soft drink/coffee etc.
One big goal at any point in time instead of a to-do list of goals that lead nowhere.
One email address instead of multiple inboxes.
One computer and one phone instead of a Fitbit, laptop, phone, tablet and Apple Watch.

“Vanilla options are easy and low fuss. Decisions fatigue you”

 

I have lunch before midday.

Lunch can be done in 15 minutes. The trick is to buy or make your lunch before the rush. Standing in lines and getting frustrated is unnecessary. Get some time in your day back by doing lunch earlier. I recommend 11:45. With the extra time you gain back, try adding in 10 minutes of meditation.

 

Leave the car at home.

When I go to the city, I leave the car at home. By the time I get into the car, battle against the seven seas that is traffic and then get parking, I could have already been there by train or equivalent. This transit time also becomes my portable learning time. I use this time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks instead of having to think about driving.

 

One day a week in isolation.

Being alone with your thoughts and complete silence, once a week, makes you mega productive. A few moments of quietness are far more valuable than hours of busyness and noise. In complete isolation, you have no choice but to focus and complete your goals.

 

I use tiredness to do housework.

People hate tiredness. I love it. Tiredness tells me to stop working on my goals and do the things we all have to do like housework. I don’t need any energy or inspiration to do housework so why waste my high energy states on it?

Having said that, I aim to eliminate tiredness. This is a work in progress and requires exercise combined with an excellent diet. Until then, housework I love you!

 

Notifications are turned off except for SMS

That word “notifications” feels like grand larceny. Companies used to steal my time through notifications and now I’ve declared war on them. When you’re powering through a task, the last thing you want is an interruption in the form of a notification.

That small amount of time you spend getting distracted takes you out of the zone and away from the focused state you’re in. Go to settings and turn off notifications – especially Facebook.

 

I don’t play computer games.

As a kid, I loved computer games. That’s why I know to stay away from them as an adult because they are designed to get me to fight someone else’s mission. There’s no such thing as a quick game. Games are designed to keep you engaged and continually challenge you.

 

I get up before everybody else.

Yes, sir! I get up when it’s dark so I can do the big stuff first. Before the rest of the world can wake up and distract me, I’m getting my game on in the early hours of the morning. I really think you should wake up early. If you ignored everything else I said and just woke up early, I’d be proud.

 

I tell myself no before saying yes.

Yes has become a first world disease. You can’t work smart if you say yes to every offer that comes your way. That’s why I tell myself no first, and then try to convince myself of yes. If I can’t convince myself, I say no. Auto responding with yes answers will make you busy.

 

Busy is not smart.

If you think you are busy, and you verbally say so regularly, you’re not working smart. Busy is dumb. Busy will cripple your time and make your mindset go into meltdown. Humans can only focus on a small number of things so stop being busy!

Tell people the truth. Say no more. Guard your time. Avoid the trap of busy.

 

I chunk down big tasks.

If I have to give a big speech then in the same week, I move away any other big goals that might distract me. Too many big goals all in a small space of time can become overwhelming quickly. Stick to one or two big goals at a time and you’ll achieve a lot more. Less is more.

 

I own less stuff.

That way I don’t need to worry about maintaining things, securing things, thinking about objects, spending money on things I can’t afford. Sell, sell, sell yourself out of living the dumb life.

“Stuff does not equal progress; personal growth does and money can’t buy that”

 

I invest in dumb stuff.

With almost no knowledge, anyone can invest in index funds and not have to worry about the burden of trying to predict the next biggest thing. In reality, this strategy will probably beat all of the people who waste their lives away trying to be fortune tellers.

All I do is buy low-cost index funds of major economies like the USA. I invest the same amount each time so I’m not affected by the rise and fall of the stock market. Thank you, Tony Robbins and Warren Buffet for this strategy.

I don’t have video streaming.

Time looking at a screen is better spent reading a book. Fictional TV shows are not teaching me about life. Reading biographies, books about life lessons and the latest research in human psychology does that for me. One up on mediocrity and cancel your subscription.

 

Simplify your subscriptions.

Here’s the thing: Subscriptions equal time.

Companies have moved their business models to subscriptions because it helps keep you engaged and addicted to what they have to sell because you’re paying a recurring fee for it. Delete as many subscriptions as you can. I have one for my meditation app, one for the gym and one for my writing software.

 

Delete apps from your reading device.

Okay, so I do use Kindle which means that there is a temptation to look at apps. Delete apps from your reading device so you can actually read.

 

I take summer holidays when everyone returns to the office.

In Australia, everyone goes away in December and January. I take my holidays when they return to work. This means:

– More time in the office when it’s less busy
– Cheaper flights and accommodation during low peak times
– More chances to step up to leader roles while others are away

Everything is just less busy when you holiday off-peak.

 

I avoid junk food during major goal weeks.

This week I have a public speaking competition. I need all the practice I can get which requires energy. That’s why, in big goal weeks like the one I’m in right now, I cut out junk food. Energy equals time. Do a cheat day to celebrate at the end if you must.

 

I split my resources like this.

– Travel
– Necessities like food, clothes and rent
– Money for family and my girlfriend
– Unplanned indulgences (cheat day)

A balanced life requires resources (money). Splitting your money across these four areas allows you to work smart. You only have to work dumb when you waste your resources and therefore have to work ten times harder than you need to. When in doubt, less is more.

 

Stimulants are neglected.

Coffee only makes us get the jitters and be nervous. I find when I’m on coffee I become more fearful. My relaxed state disappears.

 

I do regular breaks.

We’re not machines. I do regular breaks of trampoline, walking, and eating fresh food in-between hours of writing on the weekend.

 

I outsource stuff I’m bad at.

If I do things I’m horrible at, I do them badly. This stops me from working smart and can cause negativity. That’s why I outsource stuff I’m bad at wherever possible.

 

I get enough sleep.

7 hours works for me. You have to sleep otherwise you’ll get tired which will cause negativity and a poor quality of work. This “sleep when you’re dead” tend is a fallacy.

 

I value you my time.

I’ve placed a very high dollar value on my time. Because I consciously value it, I’m always reconciling how much time I have. By valuing your time, you become aware of it. You can’t focus on something you are not aware of.

 

I do phone first, instead of coffee catch-ups.

LinkedIn sends me multiple requests a day for coffee catch ups. Most of them don’t state any valid reason for the catch-up. Now if you just say no to them all you could be missing out on the gift of socializing, learning new things and meeting people you can do business with.

The hack I use is this: Always do the first conversation via phone. That way you can tell if there is value or a need for a coffee catch up.

Second hack: do a video call instead of an audio-only call. Video lets you see the other person and connect better. It’s more personal and you’ll quickly figure out if you need that coffee after all. I personally don’t drink coffee, so these sort of catch ups take me out of rapport with the other person from the start.

 

Happy partner, happy life.

I spend less time arguing because I do stuff that my partner wants to do even if I don’t. She does the same. This way everybody wins and I don’t need to waste time arguing and lighting a fire under my mindset that causes me to want to evacuate to the world of temptation (coffee, Netflix, games, useless crap).

 

I cheat on my phone regularly.

That’s right! I sleep around with any activity that doesn’t involve looking at my phone.

“The small glass window of my phone feels like such a tiny part of what the world has to offer. I choose to look out of the window of life instead and see limitless possibility”

 

I do exercise to boost my mindset.

Being smart is only possible when you have a positive mindset served on the side. Exercise has helped me relieve stress and get back to feeling good again. Do it.

 

I don’t allow people to steal my time.

People will gladly rob you of your time and waste it. They do this primarily because they have their own selfish goals, or they’re bored with life and wasting your time makes them feel better. Prosecute these time thieves’ by telling them your expectations and referencing your calendar if you have to.

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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Success Advice

7 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own Success

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sabotaging your success

Success is your birthright. It is a mindset, ingrained within your identity. Let’s go in one step further. Success is a choice. When you believe you are worthy of success, you recognize your irrational thoughts, you break them down and replace them with a forward focus positive belief. You move from victimisation to becoming your own hero, your own inspiration. You ditch counterproductive self-critical patterns and undermine your success. You reject familiarity and choose expansion to build your confidence, character and conquer negativity bias.

The biggest obstacle in life you will face is you. Our brain is wired to value negative information more than positive information. Negativity bias affects every human being as you hold on to, ruminate and recall negative experiences more quickly. You undermine your progress, keep yourself stuck in bad habits and set up an unconscious platform for failure. People will default to the “devil you know” when placed under pressure. You create your own worst enemy – YOU.

If you think you have no power over your emotions, it’s time to learn how to manage your state, lead your feelings and choose the story of how you will respond.

Here are 7 ways you’re sabotaging your success:

1. You think mistakes are your failures

We start off with great intentions, confidence booming and iron clad attitude of “we have got this”. We make a mistake and then we squirm in our pants. Self-doubt manifests and within minutes it magnifies. Success feels like it has been ripped away from us.

Mistakes happen, and they happen often. Mistakes have the power to turn us into something better than we were before. When we adopt that failure is feedback, we embrace how mistakes are useful and necessary. Failure is moving forward. As Seth Godin highlights “if l fail more than you do, l win”. To disrupt the status quo in life, you need a gargantuan quantity of failure.

2. You think your past equates to your future

Each person has a past. What comes with past is opportunity for growth and it is your greatest teacher. You invested in taking a risk and have the golden moment to apply the lessons learnt. You get to choose who and how to be at any moment. Stop waiting for someone else to believe or validate you. Become your own hero.

“If you want to succeed in your life, remember this phrase: That past does not equal the future…All that matters is: What are you going to do, right now?” – Tony Robbins

3. You don’t appreciate what you already have

We live in a world where we measure success by the things we gain. We buy things to make us happy and we succeed temporarily. New things are exciting at first and then we adapt. The anticipation of a desired outcome is generally more satisfying than the outcome itself. Once we get what we want, we adapt and excitement fades. How often do you see children demanding a toy or their world will end? What’s crazier is how quickly their joy fades as they want something else. Once you appreciate what you currently have, more won’t make life better.

4. You ignore who you are becoming

To experience any level of success, you must be whatever it is you want to be (ie. Happy, satisfied, inspired), and start doing things from this space to create the things you will have. We attract into our lives what we are. Shawn Achor , Harvard psychologist, explains that science shows that happiness facilitates success.

Often people use affirmations as a basis for creating a mindset shift and to feed the unconscious mind with golden treasure. By writing in the positive and present tense, you create a platform to step into who you are being. This will determine what you need to do to step into who you are becoming.

5. You burn all your bridges

There is nothing more heartbreaking when people create any level of success and espouse that they are solely the driver of their success. People succumb to their environment and forget where they came from along with the sacrifices others made to support them in achieving their level of success. Having a level of humility and gratitude keeps your success in perspective.

6. You have a sense of entitlement

The 21st century is reaping of people feeling entitled. It is playing out throughout all generations whether it be driven by someone’s need for job security or a specific salary amount. Stop complaining and be grateful for your ability to contribute to the bigger picture and make a difference in the world. You need to work a little to earn the credibility and trust from your environment.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

7. You don’t invest in working out the outcome, you wing it

Reverse engineering is where the game is played to create success. Start from the end and work backwards. As Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People outlines “begin with the end in mind”. Once your clear, reverse engineer the Wildly Important Goal for the year and break down to quarterly, monthly and weekly goals. Then identify the 5 actions that you will take weekly to bring you closer to your success.

What are you doing to become successful? Let us know by commenting below!

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Success Advice

Want To Become Twice As Productive? Read This.

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Productivity Hacks. Steve Cutts

Productivity is how you find more time in your day to do what you love, and achieve greater results. It’s time to stop being lazy and make a few small changes that will help you win back extra time.

“Productivity is not about doing more; it’s about doing less”

After you’ve had a productive day, you feel so much better. The difficulty is that doing tasks that are on some never-ending to-do list creates a feeling of emptiness. To-do lists are not enough and they rarely make you more productive.

This is my very short, simple, no-brainer list of how you can become twice as productive:

 

Do the big stuff at the start of the day.

If you follow no other advice than this, then you’re already most of the way there. Start your day with the hardest, most fulfilling tasks. If there’s something you’ve been putting off, then do it when you first wake up the next day.

Save your boring and repetitive tasks like ironing and chasing up bills for late in the day when your energy starts to slump. I do my blogging in the morning and my housework just before I go to bed. This allows me to focus on trying to inspire people during the morning when I have the most energy and feel like I can do anything.

 

Chunk down and delete items off your to-do list.

Many tasks on your to-do list are actually part of the same single task. Chunk these tasks into one task. Next, take the tasks that are really not important and don’t matter to you, and consider deleting them off your to-do list.

Finally, don’t let other people’s tasks dominate the order in which you tackle your list. Do the tasks that serve you first. You’ll feel much better and more productive for doing so.

 

Phone over email for the win.

Never-ending text messages and emails lead nowhere. Instant messaging apps are not much better because the conversation never stops. Things get lost in translation and it’s tiring replying back on a tiny little keyboard while looking at a miniature little screen. Not to mention it makes you anti-social.

Be more productive by picking up the phone. A 5-minute conversation is way better than an endless line of messages that interrupt you from the task you’re focusing on each time a new response is received.

 

Have phone blackouts.

What’s this you ask? It’s blackout periods from your phone. Similar to a trading blackout if you’ve ever worked in a publically listed company. Have times of the day and week where you are banned from your phone. Enable flight mode, put it on silent, lock it in your car.

Escape from your phone so you can be focused and work without distraction for a set period of time. Avoid the temptation that has become your phone. The temptation that has become the destroyer of your success.

 

Don’t check social or email first thing.

Checking email and social media first thing in the morning sends your mind into reactive mode. Start your day with time to think and plan what you’re going to do. Be intentional about your day rather than let technology dictate what you’ll focus your time on and therefore what areas you’ll be productive at.

 

Schedule rest periods.

Always being on is not making you productive. We’re not robots, and we need to rest once in a while. Regular periods of rest, outside of sleep, allow us to be more productive. Chunk your day into blocks and rest in-between productive periods of work.

That rest might be eating a proper lunch, doing 10-minutes of meditation, listening to a podcast, or staring at your office window and doing absolutely nothing.

Give your mind space. It’s in these brief moments of nothingness that you will come up with the ideas, solutions and strategies to win in your career and in life. At the same time, it will make you productive.

 

Don’t lie to yourself.

“Creating a meeting, having a lunch, planning a strategy session and sending an email trick your brain into thinking you’re being productive rather than the truth: you do these things to put off doing the real work”

It allows you to be lazy and not think you’re being lazy. Look for ways to get to the solution or complete the task in the most productive way. If you find yourself not being in the mood for doing the hard work, schedule it for the next day, first thing in the morning.

It’s not that difficult to be productive. We can all do it with a little bit of effort and very focused discipline.

How do you increase your productivity?

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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Success Advice

The Best Way to Accelerate Your Success According to James Altucher

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James Altucher

I recently interviewed author and serial entrepreneur James Altucher and asked him a simple question:  What is the best way to accelerate success in any endeavor? To which James gave me a golden nugget. Or maybe 3 golden nuggets. He gave me what he calls the plus (+), equals (=), and minus (-) process and it blew me away. So simple yet so profound.

The +: Find People who are far ahead of you in your field of endeavor and learn from them

There are 4 kinds of people who fall under this category: Real Mentors, Virtual Mentors, Coaches and stars. We need all of them in order to be able to accelerate our progress.

Real Mentors are people who you personally know, and they help you out in giving you guidance and feedback. Mentors are usually emotionally vested in your success and can be called upon to guide you when you need that help.  

Virtual Mentors are usually people you do not personally know but they still have a huge impact on your lives. They can be historic figures, great current figures, titans of industry or anyone you look up to but do not have any contact with. You can read their books, watch their videos and just absorb any knowledge they put out there.

Coaches are people who have an obligation to guide you in your journey. It could either be that they have been hired by you or your organization to help you move forward. In sports, coaching is a well established phenomenon. In fact, every team and every great sports figure has one or multiple coaches.

Stars are people who are crushing it in your field of endeavor. They are operating at a much higher level than you are. Your job is to find them and associate with them. What you will find is that when you start spending time with them, you will automatically start stepping up your game. When you see that someone else is able to do something, suddenly that becomes possible for you and you are able to break through that barrier.

This is something I also learned from Tony Robbins at one of his live seminars. He kept on saying that he had given us a lot of strategies to accelerate success, but there was one strategy that stood above all else. He called it “compressing decades into days.”  He said in order to compress decades into days, we must find people who are much better than us in that field of endeavor and learn from them.

“Without a mentor in life, one can easily succumb to folly. Without a mentor in life, one can easily become self-centered, capricious and arrogant.”

The =: Find equals in your current field of endeavor and work/grow with them

In order to grow fast, you must find peers who are at similar level to you in the field of endeavor and find ways to:

  • Associate with them
  • Spend time with them
  • Exchange ideas with them
  • Ask for their help
  • Help them
  • Compete with them

The reason this works so well is because your peers are going through similar challenges as you are. What you are struggling with, someone else might have figured out. What someone else is struggling with, you might have figured out.

Napoleon Hill talked about the power of mastermind in one of the greatest personal development books ever written called “Think and Grow Rich.” He defined it as “Coordination of knowledge and effort in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” He goes on to say that masterminds have been the basis of nearly every great fortune.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start a mastermind group with your peers. If you are starting a business, go find people who are at a similar level to you and start a mastermind group with them. A mastermind group can be something as simple as a weekly meeting with 3 of your peers where each of you talk about the progress you made and the challenges you encountered.

The –: Find someone you can teach and help them

You might have often heard the saying that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. When you read something or listen to it or watch it you only absorb less than 50% of it. However, when you start teaching those ideas, your learning goes to a whole new level. That is because, in order to teach something you have to be able to break those ideas down, simplify them, and organize them into coherent structures.

In order to be able to teach, you need to have clarity in your own head about the ideas. Teaching requires a complete understanding of the concept. You can’t just “wing it.” Your student’s questions will force you to think deeper.

Teaching has a multitude of benefits which go beyond learning. Helping others can be incredibly gratifying and can make us feel much more fulfilled in our journey of life. Go find your protege.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama

So, if there is any area of life where you feel that your progress is slower than what you want in to be, examine your +/=/- and make changes accordingly.

How are you making sure you achieve your goals? Comment below and let us know!

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31 Ellen DeGeneres Quotes About Life

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Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most recognized talk show hosts in history and one of the most powerful women in Hollywood. In her lifetime, she has become a stand-up comic, author, actor, talk show host, and entrepreneur. Ellen has won multiple Emmy’s for her talk show, and has been named Humanitarian of the Year. Despite all her success, Ellen has had to overcome the discrimination she faced as a member of the LGBTQ community. Now an active voice for the group, Ellen continues to inspire & make people laugh all over the world. (more…)

Joe Kleckner has a passion for all things motivation & self-development.  From blogs such as Addicted2Success, to the videos of Eric Thomas and Elliott Hulse, to the lectures of legends such as Tony Robbins.  This passion has landed him an internship with Addicted2Success. Follow him on Twitter & Snapchat as he journeys towards greatness, one day at a time.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. rayano

    Oct 28, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Nice articles thank you it even let less stress

  2. Band Grrl

    Mar 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Each week go somewhere new… Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) called it “The Artist’s Date”. Great book by the way.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 14, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Thanks for the recommendation! Will definitely check it out.

  3. Daniel

    Feb 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    The drawing idea is actually interesting. Way back I would sit down and draw my dining room from my point of view. When I finished the replica blew me away. Now that’s creative.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 14, 2014 at 6:07 am

      Hi Daniel, I gave drawing a shot a little while ago and had a similar experience! Worth doing just for that experience.

  4. Thai N

    Feb 5, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Glad you enjoyed it Ankit- hope you are able to start incorporating some of them into your life!

  5. Ankit

    Feb 4, 2014 at 5:52 am

    Hey Thai, the article is awesome. I am completely agree with you.

  6. Ve Dixon

    Jan 31, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Great Article.

  7. Steve

    Jan 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Great article!

    • Thai Nguyen

      Feb 1, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Thanks Steve. Wishing you all the best!

  8. Naomi@quitmyjob

    Jan 31, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Thai,

    Creativity is important for success. A good business can’t survive without it.

    Meditation is also supposed to be very good from improving your creativity.

    I like the idea about musical instruments. I’ve been meaning to start learning how to play guitar for about a year now. Knowing it can help with my business is all a better reason.

    Thanks for the good read

    Naomi

    • Thai Nguyen

      Feb 1, 2014 at 2:03 am

      Yes, meditation! Great addition to the list Naomi! Thanks for your contribution. I taught myself guitar a few years ago and it has been great for giving my brain creative spurts! Wishing you all the best!

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Success Advice

How I Work Smarter: The Practical And Really Dumbed Down Strategies.

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Working Smarter. Productivity Hacks

I’m somewhat of a productivity freak. I like having time.

Time allows me to work smarter, and so I protect it like a rare and beautiful diamond. If you want to steal my time, you better be prepared for one hell of a battle. I’d happily give up money before I would ever give up time.

Here’s how I work smart and how you can do the same:

 

I take the stairs.

While everybody is lining up for the lift or going 1 meter every ten minutes on the escalator, I take the stairs. It keeps me fit and I get where I want to go faster. Nothing in life worth achieving is easy so get used to taking the stairs and doing some physical work.

 

I keep it simple (decision fatigue).

Water instead of wine/soft drink/coffee etc.
One big goal at any point in time instead of a to-do list of goals that lead nowhere.
One email address instead of multiple inboxes.
One computer and one phone instead of a Fitbit, laptop, phone, tablet and Apple Watch.

“Vanilla options are easy and low fuss. Decisions fatigue you”

 

I have lunch before midday.

Lunch can be done in 15 minutes. The trick is to buy or make your lunch before the rush. Standing in lines and getting frustrated is unnecessary. Get some time in your day back by doing lunch earlier. I recommend 11:45. With the extra time you gain back, try adding in 10 minutes of meditation.

 

Leave the car at home.

When I go to the city, I leave the car at home. By the time I get into the car, battle against the seven seas that is traffic and then get parking, I could have already been there by train or equivalent. This transit time also becomes my portable learning time. I use this time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks instead of having to think about driving.

 

One day a week in isolation.

Being alone with your thoughts and complete silence, once a week, makes you mega productive. A few moments of quietness are far more valuable than hours of busyness and noise. In complete isolation, you have no choice but to focus and complete your goals.

 

I use tiredness to do housework.

People hate tiredness. I love it. Tiredness tells me to stop working on my goals and do the things we all have to do like housework. I don’t need any energy or inspiration to do housework so why waste my high energy states on it?

Having said that, I aim to eliminate tiredness. This is a work in progress and requires exercise combined with an excellent diet. Until then, housework I love you!

 

Notifications are turned off except for SMS

That word “notifications” feels like grand larceny. Companies used to steal my time through notifications and now I’ve declared war on them. When you’re powering through a task, the last thing you want is an interruption in the form of a notification.

That small amount of time you spend getting distracted takes you out of the zone and away from the focused state you’re in. Go to settings and turn off notifications – especially Facebook.

 

I don’t play computer games.

As a kid, I loved computer games. That’s why I know to stay away from them as an adult because they are designed to get me to fight someone else’s mission. There’s no such thing as a quick game. Games are designed to keep you engaged and continually challenge you.

 

I get up before everybody else.

Yes, sir! I get up when it’s dark so I can do the big stuff first. Before the rest of the world can wake up and distract me, I’m getting my game on in the early hours of the morning. I really think you should wake up early. If you ignored everything else I said and just woke up early, I’d be proud.

 

I tell myself no before saying yes.

Yes has become a first world disease. You can’t work smart if you say yes to every offer that comes your way. That’s why I tell myself no first, and then try to convince myself of yes. If I can’t convince myself, I say no. Auto responding with yes answers will make you busy.

 

Busy is not smart.

If you think you are busy, and you verbally say so regularly, you’re not working smart. Busy is dumb. Busy will cripple your time and make your mindset go into meltdown. Humans can only focus on a small number of things so stop being busy!

Tell people the truth. Say no more. Guard your time. Avoid the trap of busy.

 

I chunk down big tasks.

If I have to give a big speech then in the same week, I move away any other big goals that might distract me. Too many big goals all in a small space of time can become overwhelming quickly. Stick to one or two big goals at a time and you’ll achieve a lot more. Less is more.

 

I own less stuff.

That way I don’t need to worry about maintaining things, securing things, thinking about objects, spending money on things I can’t afford. Sell, sell, sell yourself out of living the dumb life.

“Stuff does not equal progress; personal growth does and money can’t buy that”

 

I invest in dumb stuff.

With almost no knowledge, anyone can invest in index funds and not have to worry about the burden of trying to predict the next biggest thing. In reality, this strategy will probably beat all of the people who waste their lives away trying to be fortune tellers.

All I do is buy low-cost index funds of major economies like the USA. I invest the same amount each time so I’m not affected by the rise and fall of the stock market. Thank you, Tony Robbins and Warren Buffet for this strategy.

I don’t have video streaming.

Time looking at a screen is better spent reading a book. Fictional TV shows are not teaching me about life. Reading biographies, books about life lessons and the latest research in human psychology does that for me. One up on mediocrity and cancel your subscription.

 

Simplify your subscriptions.

Here’s the thing: Subscriptions equal time.

Companies have moved their business models to subscriptions because it helps keep you engaged and addicted to what they have to sell because you’re paying a recurring fee for it. Delete as many subscriptions as you can. I have one for my meditation app, one for the gym and one for my writing software.

 

Delete apps from your reading device.

Okay, so I do use Kindle which means that there is a temptation to look at apps. Delete apps from your reading device so you can actually read.

 

I take summer holidays when everyone returns to the office.

In Australia, everyone goes away in December and January. I take my holidays when they return to work. This means:

– More time in the office when it’s less busy
– Cheaper flights and accommodation during low peak times
– More chances to step up to leader roles while others are away

Everything is just less busy when you holiday off-peak.

 

I avoid junk food during major goal weeks.

This week I have a public speaking competition. I need all the practice I can get which requires energy. That’s why, in big goal weeks like the one I’m in right now, I cut out junk food. Energy equals time. Do a cheat day to celebrate at the end if you must.

 

I split my resources like this.

– Travel
– Necessities like food, clothes and rent
– Money for family and my girlfriend
– Unplanned indulgences (cheat day)

A balanced life requires resources (money). Splitting your money across these four areas allows you to work smart. You only have to work dumb when you waste your resources and therefore have to work ten times harder than you need to. When in doubt, less is more.

 

Stimulants are neglected.

Coffee only makes us get the jitters and be nervous. I find when I’m on coffee I become more fearful. My relaxed state disappears.

 

I do regular breaks.

We’re not machines. I do regular breaks of trampoline, walking, and eating fresh food in-between hours of writing on the weekend.

 

I outsource stuff I’m bad at.

If I do things I’m horrible at, I do them badly. This stops me from working smart and can cause negativity. That’s why I outsource stuff I’m bad at wherever possible.

 

I get enough sleep.

7 hours works for me. You have to sleep otherwise you’ll get tired which will cause negativity and a poor quality of work. This “sleep when you’re dead” tend is a fallacy.

 

I value you my time.

I’ve placed a very high dollar value on my time. Because I consciously value it, I’m always reconciling how much time I have. By valuing your time, you become aware of it. You can’t focus on something you are not aware of.

 

I do phone first, instead of coffee catch-ups.

LinkedIn sends me multiple requests a day for coffee catch ups. Most of them don’t state any valid reason for the catch-up. Now if you just say no to them all you could be missing out on the gift of socializing, learning new things and meeting people you can do business with.

The hack I use is this: Always do the first conversation via phone. That way you can tell if there is value or a need for a coffee catch up.

Second hack: do a video call instead of an audio-only call. Video lets you see the other person and connect better. It’s more personal and you’ll quickly figure out if you need that coffee after all. I personally don’t drink coffee, so these sort of catch ups take me out of rapport with the other person from the start.

 

Happy partner, happy life.

I spend less time arguing because I do stuff that my partner wants to do even if I don’t. She does the same. This way everybody wins and I don’t need to waste time arguing and lighting a fire under my mindset that causes me to want to evacuate to the world of temptation (coffee, Netflix, games, useless crap).

 

I cheat on my phone regularly.

That’s right! I sleep around with any activity that doesn’t involve looking at my phone.

“The small glass window of my phone feels like such a tiny part of what the world has to offer. I choose to look out of the window of life instead and see limitless possibility”

 

I do exercise to boost my mindset.

Being smart is only possible when you have a positive mindset served on the side. Exercise has helped me relieve stress and get back to feeling good again. Do it.

 

I don’t allow people to steal my time.

People will gladly rob you of your time and waste it. They do this primarily because they have their own selfish goals, or they’re bored with life and wasting your time makes them feel better. Prosecute these time thieves’ by telling them your expectations and referencing your calendar if you have to.

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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Success Advice

7 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own Success

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sabotaging your success

Success is your birthright. It is a mindset, ingrained within your identity. Let’s go in one step further. Success is a choice. When you believe you are worthy of success, you recognize your irrational thoughts, you break them down and replace them with a forward focus positive belief. You move from victimisation to becoming your own hero, your own inspiration. You ditch counterproductive self-critical patterns and undermine your success. You reject familiarity and choose expansion to build your confidence, character and conquer negativity bias.

The biggest obstacle in life you will face is you. Our brain is wired to value negative information more than positive information. Negativity bias affects every human being as you hold on to, ruminate and recall negative experiences more quickly. You undermine your progress, keep yourself stuck in bad habits and set up an unconscious platform for failure. People will default to the “devil you know” when placed under pressure. You create your own worst enemy – YOU.

If you think you have no power over your emotions, it’s time to learn how to manage your state, lead your feelings and choose the story of how you will respond.

Here are 7 ways you’re sabotaging your success:

1. You think mistakes are your failures

We start off with great intentions, confidence booming and iron clad attitude of “we have got this”. We make a mistake and then we squirm in our pants. Self-doubt manifests and within minutes it magnifies. Success feels like it has been ripped away from us.

Mistakes happen, and they happen often. Mistakes have the power to turn us into something better than we were before. When we adopt that failure is feedback, we embrace how mistakes are useful and necessary. Failure is moving forward. As Seth Godin highlights “if l fail more than you do, l win”. To disrupt the status quo in life, you need a gargantuan quantity of failure.

2. You think your past equates to your future

Each person has a past. What comes with past is opportunity for growth and it is your greatest teacher. You invested in taking a risk and have the golden moment to apply the lessons learnt. You get to choose who and how to be at any moment. Stop waiting for someone else to believe or validate you. Become your own hero.

“If you want to succeed in your life, remember this phrase: That past does not equal the future…All that matters is: What are you going to do, right now?” – Tony Robbins

3. You don’t appreciate what you already have

We live in a world where we measure success by the things we gain. We buy things to make us happy and we succeed temporarily. New things are exciting at first and then we adapt. The anticipation of a desired outcome is generally more satisfying than the outcome itself. Once we get what we want, we adapt and excitement fades. How often do you see children demanding a toy or their world will end? What’s crazier is how quickly their joy fades as they want something else. Once you appreciate what you currently have, more won’t make life better.

4. You ignore who you are becoming

To experience any level of success, you must be whatever it is you want to be (ie. Happy, satisfied, inspired), and start doing things from this space to create the things you will have. We attract into our lives what we are. Shawn Achor , Harvard psychologist, explains that science shows that happiness facilitates success.

Often people use affirmations as a basis for creating a mindset shift and to feed the unconscious mind with golden treasure. By writing in the positive and present tense, you create a platform to step into who you are being. This will determine what you need to do to step into who you are becoming.

5. You burn all your bridges

There is nothing more heartbreaking when people create any level of success and espouse that they are solely the driver of their success. People succumb to their environment and forget where they came from along with the sacrifices others made to support them in achieving their level of success. Having a level of humility and gratitude keeps your success in perspective.

6. You have a sense of entitlement

The 21st century is reaping of people feeling entitled. It is playing out throughout all generations whether it be driven by someone’s need for job security or a specific salary amount. Stop complaining and be grateful for your ability to contribute to the bigger picture and make a difference in the world. You need to work a little to earn the credibility and trust from your environment.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

7. You don’t invest in working out the outcome, you wing it

Reverse engineering is where the game is played to create success. Start from the end and work backwards. As Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People outlines “begin with the end in mind”. Once your clear, reverse engineer the Wildly Important Goal for the year and break down to quarterly, monthly and weekly goals. Then identify the 5 actions that you will take weekly to bring you closer to your success.

What are you doing to become successful? Let us know by commenting below!

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Success Advice

Want To Become Twice As Productive? Read This.

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Productivity Hacks. Steve Cutts

Productivity is how you find more time in your day to do what you love, and achieve greater results. It’s time to stop being lazy and make a few small changes that will help you win back extra time.

“Productivity is not about doing more; it’s about doing less”

After you’ve had a productive day, you feel so much better. The difficulty is that doing tasks that are on some never-ending to-do list creates a feeling of emptiness. To-do lists are not enough and they rarely make you more productive.

This is my very short, simple, no-brainer list of how you can become twice as productive:

 

Do the big stuff at the start of the day.

If you follow no other advice than this, then you’re already most of the way there. Start your day with the hardest, most fulfilling tasks. If there’s something you’ve been putting off, then do it when you first wake up the next day.

Save your boring and repetitive tasks like ironing and chasing up bills for late in the day when your energy starts to slump. I do my blogging in the morning and my housework just before I go to bed. This allows me to focus on trying to inspire people during the morning when I have the most energy and feel like I can do anything.

 

Chunk down and delete items off your to-do list.

Many tasks on your to-do list are actually part of the same single task. Chunk these tasks into one task. Next, take the tasks that are really not important and don’t matter to you, and consider deleting them off your to-do list.

Finally, don’t let other people’s tasks dominate the order in which you tackle your list. Do the tasks that serve you first. You’ll feel much better and more productive for doing so.

 

Phone over email for the win.

Never-ending text messages and emails lead nowhere. Instant messaging apps are not much better because the conversation never stops. Things get lost in translation and it’s tiring replying back on a tiny little keyboard while looking at a miniature little screen. Not to mention it makes you anti-social.

Be more productive by picking up the phone. A 5-minute conversation is way better than an endless line of messages that interrupt you from the task you’re focusing on each time a new response is received.

 

Have phone blackouts.

What’s this you ask? It’s blackout periods from your phone. Similar to a trading blackout if you’ve ever worked in a publically listed company. Have times of the day and week where you are banned from your phone. Enable flight mode, put it on silent, lock it in your car.

Escape from your phone so you can be focused and work without distraction for a set period of time. Avoid the temptation that has become your phone. The temptation that has become the destroyer of your success.

 

Don’t check social or email first thing.

Checking email and social media first thing in the morning sends your mind into reactive mode. Start your day with time to think and plan what you’re going to do. Be intentional about your day rather than let technology dictate what you’ll focus your time on and therefore what areas you’ll be productive at.

 

Schedule rest periods.

Always being on is not making you productive. We’re not robots, and we need to rest once in a while. Regular periods of rest, outside of sleep, allow us to be more productive. Chunk your day into blocks and rest in-between productive periods of work.

That rest might be eating a proper lunch, doing 10-minutes of meditation, listening to a podcast, or staring at your office window and doing absolutely nothing.

Give your mind space. It’s in these brief moments of nothingness that you will come up with the ideas, solutions and strategies to win in your career and in life. At the same time, it will make you productive.

 

Don’t lie to yourself.

“Creating a meeting, having a lunch, planning a strategy session and sending an email trick your brain into thinking you’re being productive rather than the truth: you do these things to put off doing the real work”

It allows you to be lazy and not think you’re being lazy. Look for ways to get to the solution or complete the task in the most productive way. If you find yourself not being in the mood for doing the hard work, schedule it for the next day, first thing in the morning.

It’s not that difficult to be productive. We can all do it with a little bit of effort and very focused discipline.

How do you increase your productivity?

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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Success Advice

The Best Way to Accelerate Your Success According to James Altucher

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James Altucher

I recently interviewed author and serial entrepreneur James Altucher and asked him a simple question:  What is the best way to accelerate success in any endeavor? To which James gave me a golden nugget. Or maybe 3 golden nuggets. He gave me what he calls the plus (+), equals (=), and minus (-) process and it blew me away. So simple yet so profound.

The +: Find People who are far ahead of you in your field of endeavor and learn from them

There are 4 kinds of people who fall under this category: Real Mentors, Virtual Mentors, Coaches and stars. We need all of them in order to be able to accelerate our progress.

Real Mentors are people who you personally know, and they help you out in giving you guidance and feedback. Mentors are usually emotionally vested in your success and can be called upon to guide you when you need that help.  

Virtual Mentors are usually people you do not personally know but they still have a huge impact on your lives. They can be historic figures, great current figures, titans of industry or anyone you look up to but do not have any contact with. You can read their books, watch their videos and just absorb any knowledge they put out there.

Coaches are people who have an obligation to guide you in your journey. It could either be that they have been hired by you or your organization to help you move forward. In sports, coaching is a well established phenomenon. In fact, every team and every great sports figure has one or multiple coaches.

Stars are people who are crushing it in your field of endeavor. They are operating at a much higher level than you are. Your job is to find them and associate with them. What you will find is that when you start spending time with them, you will automatically start stepping up your game. When you see that someone else is able to do something, suddenly that becomes possible for you and you are able to break through that barrier.

This is something I also learned from Tony Robbins at one of his live seminars. He kept on saying that he had given us a lot of strategies to accelerate success, but there was one strategy that stood above all else. He called it “compressing decades into days.”  He said in order to compress decades into days, we must find people who are much better than us in that field of endeavor and learn from them.

“Without a mentor in life, one can easily succumb to folly. Without a mentor in life, one can easily become self-centered, capricious and arrogant.”

The =: Find equals in your current field of endeavor and work/grow with them

In order to grow fast, you must find peers who are at similar level to you in the field of endeavor and find ways to:

  • Associate with them
  • Spend time with them
  • Exchange ideas with them
  • Ask for their help
  • Help them
  • Compete with them

The reason this works so well is because your peers are going through similar challenges as you are. What you are struggling with, someone else might have figured out. What someone else is struggling with, you might have figured out.

Napoleon Hill talked about the power of mastermind in one of the greatest personal development books ever written called “Think and Grow Rich.” He defined it as “Coordination of knowledge and effort in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” He goes on to say that masterminds have been the basis of nearly every great fortune.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start a mastermind group with your peers. If you are starting a business, go find people who are at a similar level to you and start a mastermind group with them. A mastermind group can be something as simple as a weekly meeting with 3 of your peers where each of you talk about the progress you made and the challenges you encountered.

The –: Find someone you can teach and help them

You might have often heard the saying that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. When you read something or listen to it or watch it you only absorb less than 50% of it. However, when you start teaching those ideas, your learning goes to a whole new level. That is because, in order to teach something you have to be able to break those ideas down, simplify them, and organize them into coherent structures.

In order to be able to teach, you need to have clarity in your own head about the ideas. Teaching requires a complete understanding of the concept. You can’t just “wing it.” Your student’s questions will force you to think deeper.

Teaching has a multitude of benefits which go beyond learning. Helping others can be incredibly gratifying and can make us feel much more fulfilled in our journey of life. Go find your protege.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama

So, if there is any area of life where you feel that your progress is slower than what you want in to be, examine your +/=/- and make changes accordingly.

How are you making sure you achieve your goals? Comment below and let us know!

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