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Success Advice

What Mothers, Musicians & Marshmallows Have to Do With The Science of Success for Extreme Athletes

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extreme athletes

Over the past century, the science of expert performance has gotten rigorous and codified. Thousands and thousands of experiments have been run; plenty of conclusions reached. Three dominate.

Call them: Mothers, musicians, and marshmallows.

This famed trilogy represent our best ideas about the path to mastery. Yet there’s a wrench in these works: Most action and adventure athletes took a radically different path.

These athletes haven’t just redefined the limits of human potential; they’ve redefined those limits by doing the opposite of what the experts say they should have done. It’s peculiar, alright. Their stratospheric success suggests that we may have completely misjudged the path towards stratospheric success. In fact, it suggests something far more radical: that if we really want to be our best, we don’t just have to rethink the path towards mastery; we need to reconsider the way we live our lives.

 

But first, the mothers.

In the early 1980s, University of Chicago educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom launched the Talent Project, one of the larger and more thorough “retrospective” studies of expert performance ever undertaken. The Project examined the lives of 120 people, all under the age of thirty-five, all of whom had demonstrated the highest levels of accomplishment in one of six fields: swimming, tennis, sculpture, piano, mathematics, and research neuroscience. The question at the center of the study was: Where does prodigious talent come from, special individuals or special circumstances?

Few of Bloom’s research subjects showed any great promise as children. Instead, the one commonality was encouragement, a lot of encouragement. In each case, there was a parent or close relative who rewarded any display of talent, and ignored or punished the opposite. Prodigies, it seemed, were made, not born. As Bloom later told reporters: “We were looking for exceptional kids, but what we found were exceptional conditions.”

The idea settled an uneasy corner of the nature/nurture debate: It democratized expertise. Provided the right environment and the proper encouragement, it meant that everyone had a shot at perfection.

But many of the athletes involved in action and adventure sports came up the hard way. The wrong environment, little encouragement. “A lot of us were from broken homes,” skateboard pioneer Duane Peters once told the LA Times. We were freaks and misfits.” And if home life wasn’t rosy, the outside world even less supportive. Twenty-five years ago, skateboarding was a crime; snowboarding was banned at most resorts; and surfing, to quote the always relevant Point Break, was “for little rubber people who don’t shave yet.

Certainly, there are plenty of action and adventure athletes who came from incredibly supportive backgrounds. Bloom wasn’t wrong — “mothers” matter—but too many of these super athletes came up sideways, backward and feral for this to be the single deciding factor. Something else is going on. And that something else is where the mu- sicians come into play.

 

Next, the musicians.

In the early 1990s, Florida State psychologist Anders Ericsson performed one of the more famous studies of expertise in recent history. By surveying elite violinists at Berlin’s Academy of Music, Ericsson found that while one’s early environment was helpful, what truly distinguished excellent players from good players from average players was hours of practice. By the time they were twenty years old, expert violinists had put in 10,000 hours of “deliberate, well-structured practice.” The others had not. As Malcolm Gladwell famously explained in Outliers:

[The] research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

But another wrench. If 10,000 hours of “deliberate, well-structured practice” is the secret sauce, consider Shane McConkey’s goals while skiing:

“What I love to do on the hill is find an interesting way to do something fun.”   

Put differently, deliberate well-structure practice is a rigorous, compliance-based approach to mastery. It means you crawl before you walk. It doesn’t mean Laird Hamilton surfing Pipeline at age four, or Danny Way in the deep end of the pool at the Del Mar Skate Ranch by seven. In broader terms, deliberate practice is also how we train genius these days. It’s factory athletics. It’s Kumon math tutoring, Baby Einstein, Suzuki violin, et al. But it’s also the world McConkey walked away from. He turned his back on the factory, yet somehow, still went on to become Superman.

 

Finally, the trouble with marshmallows.

In 1972, Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel, performed a fairly straightforward study in delayed gratification: he offered four-year-old children a marshmallow. Either the kids could eat it immediately or, if they waited for him to return from running a short errand, they would get two marshmallows as a reward. Most kids couldn’t wait. They ate the marshmallow the moment Mischel left the room.

When interviewed fourteen years later, the kids who could wait were more self-confident, hardworking, and self-reliant. Those who resisted at four ended up scoring 210 points higher on their SAT’s at sixteen. This may not sound like that much, but, as fellow Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo explains:

“[That] is as large as the average difference recorded between the abilities of economically advantaged and disadvantaged children. It is larger than the difference between the abilities of children from families who parents have graduate degrees and children whose parents did not finish high school. The ability to delay gratification at four is twice as good a predictor of later SAT scores as IQ. Poor impulse control is also a better predictor of juvenile delinquency than IQ.” 

But there’s another issue. According to psychologists, by definition, action and adventure athletes are “sensation seekers.” They’re impulsive pleasure junkies. Delayed gratification is not their game.

So what gives? How do a bunch of impulsive hedonists raised far from the storied incubators of athletic excellence end up rewriting the rulebook on human potential? The short answer, of course, is flow.

Psychologists describe flow as “autotelic,” from the Greek auto (self) and telos (goal). When something is autotelic — i.e., produces the flow high — it is its own reward. No one has to drag a surfer out of bed for overhead tubes. No one has to motivate a snowboarder on a powder day. These activities are intrinsically motivating, autotelic experiences done for their own sake. The high to end all highs.

When doing what we most love transforms us into the best possible version of ourselves and that version hints at even-greater future possibilities, the urge to explore those possibilities becomes feverish compulsion. Intrinsic motivation goes through the roof. Thus flow becomes an alternative path to mastery, sans the misery. Forget 10,000 hours of delayed gratification. Flow junkies turn instant gratification into their North Star—putting in far more hours of “practice time” by gleefully harnessing their hedonic impulse. In other words, when it comes to time perspectives, flow allows Presents to achieve Future’s results.

Steven Kotler is the author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. As co-founder of the Flow Genome Project, Steven has drawn on more than 10 years of research for this book exploring the frontier science of “flow”  and shows you how to unlock the code of ultimate human performance. 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. pedeveaux

    Mar 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Could it be possible that deliberate practice triggers a flow state? The ideas of goals, immediate feedback, and focus seem to be consistent in both deliberate practice and flow. With the action and adventure athletes, their use of flow may allow them to accelerate the 10,000 process.

  2. Koko

    Mar 19, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I LOVE this article. It explains it all and there is nothing I can add here. Perfect article Steven 10/10 from me 🙂

  3. Leslie

    Mar 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I seemed to have raised my daughters to connect their passion and flow together in a meaningful way. One teaches English in South Korea and she loves teaching her students to find their power and she loves travel. The younger one helps Alzehiemer patients embrace each new day and not worry about what they can’t remember. Which brings her a lot of joy helping them and their families. I help my husband run his dream company. But my husband and my girls always worry that I’ve never connect with my own passion and flow. Your article really got me thinking about how I need to have my own joy. Not just living the joy of others. I need to get busy figuring that out. I think my family would get a lot of pleasure seeing me work that out. I sure get a lot pleasure seeing them work on what they love.

  4. Elyssa

    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    This is a great article – thanks for putting all this together! I worked with a violinist who had all the talent he needed to succeed and had definitely put in his “10,000” hours, but he was so intimidated by the idea of a certain major performance he was preparing for that he had psyched himself out and was unable to play without trembling. I walked him through some exercises, getting back in touch with, as you put it, the “flow.” He needed to remember why he had chosen this career path – because he loved the music and the instrument, and had a story to tell to his audience. Just in time for the day of the performance, he had a breakthrough! When he connected with his original passion for what he did, he was able to see past the scariness of the performance, and push through to connect with the music and his audience. Thanks again for the topic – it’s right on!

  5. Jeremy

    Mar 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Interesting article! Thanks for writing this, worth pondering about.

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Success Advice

Is Fear of Failure Keeping You Stuck in a Lifeless Job? Here Are 5 Things to Do

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stuck in a job you hate

Are you stuck in a job that doesn’t fulfill you and you can’t seem to find a way out? Chances are that your fear of failure is holding you back. You constantly dream of change, but the dream is quickly replaced by worse case scenarios or self-doubt: What if you don’t find a better job? What if you don’t stand out in a competitive market? What will others think if it doesn’t work out?

At the end of this line of reasoning is the conviction that you’re not the only one who’s not satisfied, and that’s just how life goes. After all, bills won’t pay themselves, right? So you keep toiling away, increasing your level of self-dissatisfaction while quietly hoping that things will somehow improve on their own.

Fear becomes the self-imposed obstacle that prevents you from taking the steps that are necessary for the change(s) you long for. I can recall numerous times in my life where I gave in to my fears and compromised with my goals and desires to play it safe. I was stuck and my dream life and career felt so out of reach. The voice of my inner critic showed up every time I attempted change, to convince me I wasn’t ready and I didn’t have enough to shift.

So how do we overcome the fear of failure, so we can propel change? By removing the notion that change is a threat. Our ego thrives on fear. Its sole purpose is to keep us safe and protect us from taking risks. When we perceive a threat we activate the part of our brain called “amygdala” and we go into fight, flight or freeze mode.

Our simple survival mechanism limits our potential by overemphasizing the fear of failure. Fight or Flight takes hold, but growth does not. We survive, but we don’t thrive, and therein lies the problem. We crave meaningful work that doesn’t drain us, but fulfills us and makes us happy. So how do we take the leap?

Here are 5 life hacks that helped me overcome fear and land a meaningful career:

1. Recognize the desire to change

It serves as a clear sign that you should do something about your situation. Don’t fear it, embrace it. It’s an indicator light in your personal console telling you that you urge for more because you can achieve more. Don’t ignore the blinking light, pay attention and start asking why it’s on in the first place. Trust the urge to start exploring what that might be with the initial intent of finding answers.

“You are never too old to reinvent yourself.” – Steve Harvey

2. Examine your fears, then challenge them

Write them down and face each one of them. This will help you really reveal where they come from. Recall that your ego and its survival mechanisms will over inflate these fears. Pop the balloon by grabbing a pen and asking yourself what is there really to be afraid of.

3. Put it in perspective

Seriously, what is the worst that could happen? If you’re not fulfilling your Plan A, then you’re already living out the downside scenario. Focus on what you’re grateful for, and count your blessings – they’ll still be here no matter if you fail or succeed, as well as the people who love you. The opinions of the rest don’t really matter. You’ll find that it is even easier to bounce back from failure than suffering from the inertia caused by fear. But, this takes courage.

“Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it is a part of it.” – Arianna Huffington

4. Be courageous

All you have to do is try. And the best way to try is through practice. Getting over your fears takes self-training, like a muscle that you need to exercise to build strength. Be intentional about putting yourself out of your comfort zone. Commit to challenging yourself and you’ll see that you’ll learn to bounce back quicker than expected. Your fear will lessen, and your confidence will build as will the resilience needed to enact change.

Arianna Huffington has a great quote to remind us that “Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it is a part of it.” Failing is an inevitable part of the process, so you may as well get it out of the way and face it with courage. But there’s failing, and then there’s taking the risk of failure in the pursuit of self-actualization. In other words, be smart about it by…

5. Creating a plan and executing in small steps

I know you might be thinking: “All of this is great, but I can’t just quit my job and design that meaningful new career.” And you probably shouldn’t. You have to strategize and prepare a plan. That way you can start moving forward with confidence (see #4 above). Shift the focus from the worst case scenario to a step-by-step plan. Then go ahead and explore, learn, ask for help, talk to people, save money, consider the bigger picture before you finally take a leap of faith.

Finally, think of what you’re not willing to give up for the change you want. Often these things keeps us stuck. We dread starting over, we’ve come a long way, so we resist breaking up with the person that don’t make us fully happy, with the lifeless job or a toxic friendship. We’ve invested in these things and they’re familiar and easy. Adjusting to the new and parting with the old is difficult.

Shift the perspective to a mindset of learning and growth. In reality no experience is lost or meaningless. You only add to it, and build more from it. That makes you more resilient and brings your personality and skill set to new heights.

Is fear of failure keeping you stuck? Please share with us below!

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Success Advice

It’s So Easy To Find The Negative in Everything. But What’s The Point?

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Last week, I posted a photo on LinkedIn that showed Keanu Reeves and his generosity.

The post went semi-viral, and people really loved it.

Well almost everyone. There were the 1% of haters.

The highlight of the post is that Keanu takes the train to a lot of places with normal people like you and I, and is not into fancy things. He’s donated most of his money to good causes including leukemia.

The haters wanted to tear Keanu down because how dare he own a house in LA (allegedly).

 

Being right is not the answer.

Whether Keanu does or doesn’t still own a house in LA doesn’t matter. Trying to always be right can force you to be negative. You end up adopting the mindset that everybody is wrong, and you’re smart – and the world is just one big lie.

This mindset can slowly create a self-destructive nature to the way you do life.

 

How do you know you’re 100% right?

There are no absolutes in life. Not everything is as black and white as you think. Maybe Keanu had a house and sold it. Maybe the house doesn’t belong to him. Maybe he shares the house with three Air Bnb travelers and so technically the mortgage is shared.

You just don’t know everything.
Google and Wikipedia are often wrong.
Focus on positivity instead of always being right.

Keanu Reeves on the train.

 

This negative way of thinking serves no one. Least of all you.

Negatively tearing people down all the time is affecting your own mindset which equals your success in the long term. It may seem like an innocent comment that you’ve written on someone’s post, but it shapes the way you think. You can’t help not be affected by trash talking good people like Keanu.

When you stand up and want to work on your goal, you end up being drained of energy from all the negativity you’ve put out.

“If you want to get mad, get mad at your goals and why you haven’t achieved them!”

 

Use your time better.

Don’t you have something else to do other than commenting on social media? Instead of fact-checking the entire world, you’re better off switching off social media and chipping away at your dream. If you love cars, spend your time there. If you love art, create some.

Focus on creating and not consuming.

 

Your network suffers too.

Your habit of being negative and wasting your time worrying about Keanu’s financial stats is repelling good people out of your life. People are watching you shoot your mouth off and are subconsciously thinking “Maybe I’ll leave this person alone. This doesn’t feel good.”

As humans, we want to feel good. Being positive feels good and you attract the right people. Slamming people on social media to make yourself feel good makes everyone else feel like garbage. If you wonder why you have no friends or your current friends suck, this is part of the reason.

The good news is you can change it. Focus on the positive.

 

Remember your EGO.

Finding the negative often occurs when your ego is out of control. Your need to be right is linked to the idea that maybe you think you’re really smart. Your ego being too big contributes to your need to correct people and be negative.

“Your inflated ego and your negative mindset are in love with each other. Break them up – for good!”

 

***Final Thought***

This is not a post about social media and trolling. If you thought that then I’m sorry.

My aim here is to get you to remember why you do what you do. I want you to focus your time on being positive and fighting the raging tsunami that is negativity which we’re all having a daily sword fight with.

Positivity is power. Positivity is success. Publish positivity.

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

10 Things We Can Learn From the Incredible Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs

Steven Paul Jobs was one of the greatest visionaries and pioneers of the 21st century. He wasn’t an engineer, did not completed his college degree, yet he was able to turnaround the near-bankrupt Apple into the most valuable brand in the world. He not only transformed one industry but several others such as mobile phones, computers, and movies.

Here are 10 life lessons which everyone can learn from Steve Jobs and apply to their lives:

1. Always focus on the positive & let go of the negative

Steve Jobs went through many ups and downs in his life. He was given up by his biological parents for adoption. Such an event could have easily pushed him into the negative; however he chose to focus on the positive in life. He loved his adopted father and mother and he also found the things which kept him happy and positive (i.e. computers).

You should also utilize the power of positive thinking. Don’t become the person who always sees the glass half-empty. Just focus all your energy and dedication on the positive things in your life. If something is negative, it will always drain your energy and you would not be able to live your life to the fullest.

2. Travel the world and learn new things

When Steve Jobs was 19 years old he visited India, and he said in multiple interviews that his travels helped him broaden his perspective. The journey to somewhere far away from his land expanded his thoughts, and opened his mind to unlimited possibilities.

We should also travel more in order to experience the various cultures and lifestyle of people living in different corners of the world. You will not only experience new things but it will also broaden your horizons.

3. Always take a calculated risk

Steve Jobs was a risk-taker, and this set him apart from his competitors. Hardly any CEOs would have agreed to develop a new product which would cannibalize/decrease the sale of the company’s top-selling product. But, Steve Jobs took the risk to develop and market the iPhone when the iPod was their top selling product.

The iPhone cannibalized the sales of the iPod but the iPhone made a huge profit by dominating the emerging smartphone market. In order to move forward, we have to take risks in life. But we must make sure that the risk should be calculated.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

4. Be wise in the company you choose to keep

Steve Jobs always hired and surrounded himself with great minds. He hired Steve Wozniak because he knew that he was better than Jobs in building computers. Some of the more prominent people who worked with Jobs were John Lasseter and Tim Cook. These people helped Steve Jobs to achieve massive success in making Apple the most valuable brand in the world.

You should learn to surround yourself with great people in order to achieve success. Don’t let your ego get in the way of who you choose to interact and work with.

5. Learn from the failures and keep moving forward

In 1984, Apple fired Steve Jobs. He could have chosen the option of feeling depressed about it but he took it in a positive way.

At Stanford’s 2005 commencement address, he said;

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

We should also not fear failure because it is not the end of the end. We should treat failure as an opportunity to improve oneself.

6. Do only what you truly love

While addressing the students and faculty members of Stanford University, Steve Jobs said  The only thing which kept him going while facing challenges and obstacles was the fact that he was doing what he loved. He also said to find what you love both in your professional and personal life.

If we do what we truly love then we do that particular work with complete passion. We don’t make any excuses for not giving everything we have.

7. Learn from others

When Steve Jobs was in high school, he attended lectures at Hewlett-Packard. Before the age of 21, he had already worked for HP and Atari. He worked there and learned what these companies were doing and he implemented those strategies at Apple.

You too should learn from others. If you don’t see any results while working towards a certain goal, then you should take advice from the experts in that field. Sometimes, a little help is all you need to achieve success.

8. It is never too early to get started

Steve Jobs was still a teenager when he was working with HP and Atari. At the age of 20, the young enthusiastic entrepreneur had started Apple Inc. He was young daring man open to new ideas thus who he focused all his energy on the company.

If a young entrepreneur starts a venture at a young age, then he doesn’t have much pressure. After a certain age, you are more focused on your family or career at some other company. At a young age, you can take risks professionally as you are are more free to fail and restart.

9. Obstacles are the opportunity to succeed

Steve Jobs and Wozniak were the co-founders of Apple Inc. While they were developing the first Apple computer they ran out of money. They could have given up on their dream of building a computer but instead, they choose to thrive. Steve Jobs sold his van and Wozniak sold his graphing calculator to raise some money.

Learn to see your obstacles as an opportunity to succeed. If you really want to do something, you will always find a way to complete it. Once you have this mindset, then nothing can stop you from overcoming your obstacles.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs

10. Always remember you are not immortal

While addressing the students at Stanford University, Jobs said “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because of almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Whenever you feel depressed, confused, embarrassed or have any negative feelings, only remember one thing; you are not immortal. You will be dead soon, so instead of feeling depressed make sure that you utilize every second of life.

Though Steve Jobs has passed away, his legacy will be with us forever. He was an inspiring human being who was and is respected by many. The way he lived his life both personally and professionally is commendable and if we can learn from his teachings, then it will definitely help us in achieving success in life.

Which one of these 10 qualities of Steve Jobs is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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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

Is Fear of Failure Keeping You Stuck in a Lifeless Job? Here Are 5 Things to Do

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stuck in a job you hate

Are you stuck in a job that doesn’t fulfill you and you can’t seem to find a way out? Chances are that your fear of failure is holding you back. You constantly dream of change, but the dream is quickly replaced by worse case scenarios or self-doubt: What if you don’t find a better job? What if you don’t stand out in a competitive market? What will others think if it doesn’t work out?

At the end of this line of reasoning is the conviction that you’re not the only one who’s not satisfied, and that’s just how life goes. After all, bills won’t pay themselves, right? So you keep toiling away, increasing your level of self-dissatisfaction while quietly hoping that things will somehow improve on their own.

Fear becomes the self-imposed obstacle that prevents you from taking the steps that are necessary for the change(s) you long for. I can recall numerous times in my life where I gave in to my fears and compromised with my goals and desires to play it safe. I was stuck and my dream life and career felt so out of reach. The voice of my inner critic showed up every time I attempted change, to convince me I wasn’t ready and I didn’t have enough to shift.

So how do we overcome the fear of failure, so we can propel change? By removing the notion that change is a threat. Our ego thrives on fear. Its sole purpose is to keep us safe and protect us from taking risks. When we perceive a threat we activate the part of our brain called “amygdala” and we go into fight, flight or freeze mode.

Our simple survival mechanism limits our potential by overemphasizing the fear of failure. Fight or Flight takes hold, but growth does not. We survive, but we don’t thrive, and therein lies the problem. We crave meaningful work that doesn’t drain us, but fulfills us and makes us happy. So how do we take the leap? (more…)

Vanya Lazarova is a certified professional coach, specializing in helping people create their life's work by starting with purpose and authenticity. She loves writing, reading, psychology, philosophy, arts and all forms of self- expression. She co-founded a personal development podcast called "The Coaching Journal", where she offers thought provoking concepts to empower people intentionally design the life they want to have. You can find more about Vanya and the work she does on her website www.LiveAuthentic.net and at her podcast The Coaching Journal.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. pedeveaux

    Mar 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Could it be possible that deliberate practice triggers a flow state? The ideas of goals, immediate feedback, and focus seem to be consistent in both deliberate practice and flow. With the action and adventure athletes, their use of flow may allow them to accelerate the 10,000 process.

  2. Koko

    Mar 19, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I LOVE this article. It explains it all and there is nothing I can add here. Perfect article Steven 10/10 from me 🙂

  3. Leslie

    Mar 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I seemed to have raised my daughters to connect their passion and flow together in a meaningful way. One teaches English in South Korea and she loves teaching her students to find their power and she loves travel. The younger one helps Alzehiemer patients embrace each new day and not worry about what they can’t remember. Which brings her a lot of joy helping them and their families. I help my husband run his dream company. But my husband and my girls always worry that I’ve never connect with my own passion and flow. Your article really got me thinking about how I need to have my own joy. Not just living the joy of others. I need to get busy figuring that out. I think my family would get a lot of pleasure seeing me work that out. I sure get a lot pleasure seeing them work on what they love.

  4. Elyssa

    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    This is a great article – thanks for putting all this together! I worked with a violinist who had all the talent he needed to succeed and had definitely put in his “10,000” hours, but he was so intimidated by the idea of a certain major performance he was preparing for that he had psyched himself out and was unable to play without trembling. I walked him through some exercises, getting back in touch with, as you put it, the “flow.” He needed to remember why he had chosen this career path – because he loved the music and the instrument, and had a story to tell to his audience. Just in time for the day of the performance, he had a breakthrough! When he connected with his original passion for what he did, he was able to see past the scariness of the performance, and push through to connect with the music and his audience. Thanks again for the topic – it’s right on!

  5. Jeremy

    Mar 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Interesting article! Thanks for writing this, worth pondering about.

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Success Advice

Is Fear of Failure Keeping You Stuck in a Lifeless Job? Here Are 5 Things to Do

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stuck in a job you hate

Are you stuck in a job that doesn’t fulfill you and you can’t seem to find a way out? Chances are that your fear of failure is holding you back. You constantly dream of change, but the dream is quickly replaced by worse case scenarios or self-doubt: What if you don’t find a better job? What if you don’t stand out in a competitive market? What will others think if it doesn’t work out?

At the end of this line of reasoning is the conviction that you’re not the only one who’s not satisfied, and that’s just how life goes. After all, bills won’t pay themselves, right? So you keep toiling away, increasing your level of self-dissatisfaction while quietly hoping that things will somehow improve on their own.

Fear becomes the self-imposed obstacle that prevents you from taking the steps that are necessary for the change(s) you long for. I can recall numerous times in my life where I gave in to my fears and compromised with my goals and desires to play it safe. I was stuck and my dream life and career felt so out of reach. The voice of my inner critic showed up every time I attempted change, to convince me I wasn’t ready and I didn’t have enough to shift.

So how do we overcome the fear of failure, so we can propel change? By removing the notion that change is a threat. Our ego thrives on fear. Its sole purpose is to keep us safe and protect us from taking risks. When we perceive a threat we activate the part of our brain called “amygdala” and we go into fight, flight or freeze mode.

Our simple survival mechanism limits our potential by overemphasizing the fear of failure. Fight or Flight takes hold, but growth does not. We survive, but we don’t thrive, and therein lies the problem. We crave meaningful work that doesn’t drain us, but fulfills us and makes us happy. So how do we take the leap?

Here are 5 life hacks that helped me overcome fear and land a meaningful career:

1. Recognize the desire to change

It serves as a clear sign that you should do something about your situation. Don’t fear it, embrace it. It’s an indicator light in your personal console telling you that you urge for more because you can achieve more. Don’t ignore the blinking light, pay attention and start asking why it’s on in the first place. Trust the urge to start exploring what that might be with the initial intent of finding answers.

“You are never too old to reinvent yourself.” – Steve Harvey

2. Examine your fears, then challenge them

Write them down and face each one of them. This will help you really reveal where they come from. Recall that your ego and its survival mechanisms will over inflate these fears. Pop the balloon by grabbing a pen and asking yourself what is there really to be afraid of.

3. Put it in perspective

Seriously, what is the worst that could happen? If you’re not fulfilling your Plan A, then you’re already living out the downside scenario. Focus on what you’re grateful for, and count your blessings – they’ll still be here no matter if you fail or succeed, as well as the people who love you. The opinions of the rest don’t really matter. You’ll find that it is even easier to bounce back from failure than suffering from the inertia caused by fear. But, this takes courage.

“Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it is a part of it.” – Arianna Huffington

4. Be courageous

All you have to do is try. And the best way to try is through practice. Getting over your fears takes self-training, like a muscle that you need to exercise to build strength. Be intentional about putting yourself out of your comfort zone. Commit to challenging yourself and you’ll see that you’ll learn to bounce back quicker than expected. Your fear will lessen, and your confidence will build as will the resilience needed to enact change.

Arianna Huffington has a great quote to remind us that “Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it is a part of it.” Failing is an inevitable part of the process, so you may as well get it out of the way and face it with courage. But there’s failing, and then there’s taking the risk of failure in the pursuit of self-actualization. In other words, be smart about it by…

5. Creating a plan and executing in small steps

I know you might be thinking: “All of this is great, but I can’t just quit my job and design that meaningful new career.” And you probably shouldn’t. You have to strategize and prepare a plan. That way you can start moving forward with confidence (see #4 above). Shift the focus from the worst case scenario to a step-by-step plan. Then go ahead and explore, learn, ask for help, talk to people, save money, consider the bigger picture before you finally take a leap of faith.

Finally, think of what you’re not willing to give up for the change you want. Often these things keeps us stuck. We dread starting over, we’ve come a long way, so we resist breaking up with the person that don’t make us fully happy, with the lifeless job or a toxic friendship. We’ve invested in these things and they’re familiar and easy. Adjusting to the new and parting with the old is difficult.

Shift the perspective to a mindset of learning and growth. In reality no experience is lost or meaningless. You only add to it, and build more from it. That makes you more resilient and brings your personality and skill set to new heights.

Is fear of failure keeping you stuck? Please share with us below!

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Success Advice

It’s So Easy To Find The Negative in Everything. But What’s The Point?

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Last week, I posted a photo on LinkedIn that showed Keanu Reeves and his generosity.

The post went semi-viral, and people really loved it.

Well almost everyone. There were the 1% of haters.

The highlight of the post is that Keanu takes the train to a lot of places with normal people like you and I, and is not into fancy things. He’s donated most of his money to good causes including leukemia.

The haters wanted to tear Keanu down because how dare he own a house in LA (allegedly).

 

Being right is not the answer.

Whether Keanu does or doesn’t still own a house in LA doesn’t matter. Trying to always be right can force you to be negative. You end up adopting the mindset that everybody is wrong, and you’re smart – and the world is just one big lie.

This mindset can slowly create a self-destructive nature to the way you do life.

 

How do you know you’re 100% right?

There are no absolutes in life. Not everything is as black and white as you think. Maybe Keanu had a house and sold it. Maybe the house doesn’t belong to him. Maybe he shares the house with three Air Bnb travelers and so technically the mortgage is shared.

You just don’t know everything.
Google and Wikipedia are often wrong.
Focus on positivity instead of always being right.

Keanu Reeves on the train.

 

This negative way of thinking serves no one. Least of all you.

Negatively tearing people down all the time is affecting your own mindset which equals your success in the long term. It may seem like an innocent comment that you’ve written on someone’s post, but it shapes the way you think. You can’t help not be affected by trash talking good people like Keanu.

When you stand up and want to work on your goal, you end up being drained of energy from all the negativity you’ve put out.

“If you want to get mad, get mad at your goals and why you haven’t achieved them!”

 

Use your time better.

Don’t you have something else to do other than commenting on social media? Instead of fact-checking the entire world, you’re better off switching off social media and chipping away at your dream. If you love cars, spend your time there. If you love art, create some.

Focus on creating and not consuming.

 

Your network suffers too.

Your habit of being negative and wasting your time worrying about Keanu’s financial stats is repelling good people out of your life. People are watching you shoot your mouth off and are subconsciously thinking “Maybe I’ll leave this person alone. This doesn’t feel good.”

As humans, we want to feel good. Being positive feels good and you attract the right people. Slamming people on social media to make yourself feel good makes everyone else feel like garbage. If you wonder why you have no friends or your current friends suck, this is part of the reason.

The good news is you can change it. Focus on the positive.

 

Remember your EGO.

Finding the negative often occurs when your ego is out of control. Your need to be right is linked to the idea that maybe you think you’re really smart. Your ego being too big contributes to your need to correct people and be negative.

“Your inflated ego and your negative mindset are in love with each other. Break them up – for good!”

 

***Final Thought***

This is not a post about social media and trolling. If you thought that then I’m sorry.

My aim here is to get you to remember why you do what you do. I want you to focus your time on being positive and fighting the raging tsunami that is negativity which we’re all having a daily sword fight with.

Positivity is power. Positivity is success. Publish positivity.

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

10 Things We Can Learn From the Incredible Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs

Steven Paul Jobs was one of the greatest visionaries and pioneers of the 21st century. He wasn’t an engineer, did not completed his college degree, yet he was able to turnaround the near-bankrupt Apple into the most valuable brand in the world. He not only transformed one industry but several others such as mobile phones, computers, and movies.

Here are 10 life lessons which everyone can learn from Steve Jobs and apply to their lives:

1. Always focus on the positive & let go of the negative

Steve Jobs went through many ups and downs in his life. He was given up by his biological parents for adoption. Such an event could have easily pushed him into the negative; however he chose to focus on the positive in life. He loved his adopted father and mother and he also found the things which kept him happy and positive (i.e. computers).

You should also utilize the power of positive thinking. Don’t become the person who always sees the glass half-empty. Just focus all your energy and dedication on the positive things in your life. If something is negative, it will always drain your energy and you would not be able to live your life to the fullest.

2. Travel the world and learn new things

When Steve Jobs was 19 years old he visited India, and he said in multiple interviews that his travels helped him broaden his perspective. The journey to somewhere far away from his land expanded his thoughts, and opened his mind to unlimited possibilities.

We should also travel more in order to experience the various cultures and lifestyle of people living in different corners of the world. You will not only experience new things but it will also broaden your horizons.

3. Always take a calculated risk

Steve Jobs was a risk-taker, and this set him apart from his competitors. Hardly any CEOs would have agreed to develop a new product which would cannibalize/decrease the sale of the company’s top-selling product. But, Steve Jobs took the risk to develop and market the iPhone when the iPod was their top selling product.

The iPhone cannibalized the sales of the iPod but the iPhone made a huge profit by dominating the emerging smartphone market. In order to move forward, we have to take risks in life. But we must make sure that the risk should be calculated.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

4. Be wise in the company you choose to keep

Steve Jobs always hired and surrounded himself with great minds. He hired Steve Wozniak because he knew that he was better than Jobs in building computers. Some of the more prominent people who worked with Jobs were John Lasseter and Tim Cook. These people helped Steve Jobs to achieve massive success in making Apple the most valuable brand in the world.

You should learn to surround yourself with great people in order to achieve success. Don’t let your ego get in the way of who you choose to interact and work with.

5. Learn from the failures and keep moving forward

In 1984, Apple fired Steve Jobs. He could have chosen the option of feeling depressed about it but he took it in a positive way.

At Stanford’s 2005 commencement address, he said;

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

We should also not fear failure because it is not the end of the end. We should treat failure as an opportunity to improve oneself.

6. Do only what you truly love

While addressing the students and faculty members of Stanford University, Steve Jobs said  The only thing which kept him going while facing challenges and obstacles was the fact that he was doing what he loved. He also said to find what you love both in your professional and personal life.

If we do what we truly love then we do that particular work with complete passion. We don’t make any excuses for not giving everything we have.

7. Learn from others

When Steve Jobs was in high school, he attended lectures at Hewlett-Packard. Before the age of 21, he had already worked for HP and Atari. He worked there and learned what these companies were doing and he implemented those strategies at Apple.

You too should learn from others. If you don’t see any results while working towards a certain goal, then you should take advice from the experts in that field. Sometimes, a little help is all you need to achieve success.

8. It is never too early to get started

Steve Jobs was still a teenager when he was working with HP and Atari. At the age of 20, the young enthusiastic entrepreneur had started Apple Inc. He was young daring man open to new ideas thus who he focused all his energy on the company.

If a young entrepreneur starts a venture at a young age, then he doesn’t have much pressure. After a certain age, you are more focused on your family or career at some other company. At a young age, you can take risks professionally as you are are more free to fail and restart.

9. Obstacles are the opportunity to succeed

Steve Jobs and Wozniak were the co-founders of Apple Inc. While they were developing the first Apple computer they ran out of money. They could have given up on their dream of building a computer but instead, they choose to thrive. Steve Jobs sold his van and Wozniak sold his graphing calculator to raise some money.

Learn to see your obstacles as an opportunity to succeed. If you really want to do something, you will always find a way to complete it. Once you have this mindset, then nothing can stop you from overcoming your obstacles.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs

10. Always remember you are not immortal

While addressing the students at Stanford University, Jobs said “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because of almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Whenever you feel depressed, confused, embarrassed or have any negative feelings, only remember one thing; you are not immortal. You will be dead soon, so instead of feeling depressed make sure that you utilize every second of life.

Though Steve Jobs has passed away, his legacy will be with us forever. He was an inspiring human being who was and is respected by many. The way he lived his life both personally and professionally is commendable and if we can learn from his teachings, then it will definitely help us in achieving success in life.

Which one of these 10 qualities of Steve Jobs is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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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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