Thursday, 20 September 2007

Commit to Someone Else for a Change

Have you committed to someone to make the change you really want to make?

If you look back at some of the greater things you have achieved in the past you will probably noticed that they were for one of two reasons.

1. You were so incredibly passionate about it so that you didn't need any encouragement in following through on a daily basis.
2. You somehow felt as though you had made a commitment to someone else to achieve your goal and would feel as though you were letting them down if you did not follow through every day and achieve it.

Being passionate about something is an amazing way to achieve a goal you want. Sometimes, however, you may find yourself passionate about a goal, but not so passionate about how you can get there.

This is an instance where it is great to make a commitment to someone else to follow through everyday.

Say for example you want to massively improve your fitness. In order to do so you will have to start doing some form of exercise on almost a daily basis. Now you may be incredibly passionate about transforming your fitness, but hate getting up early in the morning to go for runs.

The solution to this challenging situation is to make the commitment to someone to go on those runs everyday. For example, make the commitment to your family or partner so that you can have more energy when you are with them.

Making a commitment like this works, because deep down you know that going for a run everyday is good for you, but you just don't like the actual process of running.

Another way of looking at making a commitment is that it tips the balance of your pleasure and pain associations in your favour. Before making the commitment you associate more pain to going on a run than pleasure, so you would probably not follow through with the goal you set yourself. However, after making the commitment you associate more pain to not following through, because by not going you will be letting other people down.

One of the great things about making a commitment to someone is that the pressure gets you started on achieving your goals. After a few weeks or months of following through with your goals it starts to become second nature to do it and you no longer need the commitment. As you become more familiar with the process you will probably begin finding ways of enjoying it too.

Monday, 17 September 2007

The Incongruence of Symbols of Wealth

When is it right to purchase a luxury item or symbol of wealth (e.g. a sports car)? How do we know if the purchase of an item is really helping us or conditioning has attached incorrect associations to it?

One of the things that amazes me is how some people purchase luxury items to make themselves feel wealthy, but by doing so they end up significantly reducing their wealth by using a disproportionately large amount of their wealth to pay for it.

The level of advertising and programming that some of society is under has reached a point where people will increase their debt, i.e. take out a loan, to purchase something to make themselves feel more wealthy.

I think it is fascinating how we can be convinced to believe that doing something will help us achieve our goals, when it is so clearly doing the opposite.

So can we ever really justify purchasing a luxury item that we are conditioned to believe will give us feelings of status, prestige and wealth?

I believe we can, but I believe in order to justify doing so in a conscious way our purchases have to come from a different perspective.

I believe it is good to pay for a luxury item, such as a sports car when you have enough money that the difference between purchasing a sports car or a regular car will have an insignificant affect on your total wealth.

I also believe there can be situations where it is appropriate to spend a disproportionately large amount of your wealth on a luxury item, for example on a nice suit, if doing so will allow you to influence people and grow your wealth where if you had not made that investment in that luxury item then it would not have been possible.

A more generalized way of looking at it is this:

There are three key factors to take into account when making a purchase of a luxury item.

1. The quality of the product relative to the price, i.e. is it good value for money?
2. The proportion of your wealth the luxury item represents
3. The affect the luxury item has on other people

By looking at it this way you can hopefully distinguish between the true value the luxury item will add to your life and the feelings of status advertisers may have associated with it. This should enable you to make a purchasing decisions that will create joy for you in both the short and long term.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Overcoming Fear of Failure

Once you realise that almost anything you want in life is achievable the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome is the fear of failure.

So what is the best way to take on the niggle in the back of your head saying "what if I fail?"

The easiest way I believe to overcome this fear is to look at the situation differently. Once you understand intellectually why facing potential failure is a good thing, it becomes easier to address the more specific fears you have about failure.

I believe the cost of not facing potential failure in some areas of your life is greater than experiencing the actual failure itself.

Take for example the fear of starting your own business and going bankrupt as a result. This is a pretty common fear that keeps most people as employees for all their lives. But what if your worst fears actually came true?

I could not think of many more character building things than overcoming bankruptcy. Furthermore there would be so much to learn about yourself as well as finances by living through the process. Think of some of the great people who have faced bankruptcy and come back, most notably Donald Trump. The people that come back often go on to live lives that are much better than they ever were before. Although bankruptcy destroys all your financial assets it grows your greatest personal asset which is who you are as a person.

I'm not trying to glorify bankruptcy, I am trying to emphasize that our greatest fears are not as bad as they seem. Very often it is worth taking on something where we fear failure, because the real reward comes in who you become as a person by taking on the challenge, not necessarily just the end result.

To summarize all this: You have a choice. You can take on the challenge of achieving what you want most in life, e.g. financial independence, the perfect relationship for you, great health, etc. or you can play it safe and not achieve those things, but not risk losing what you already have. The cost of not taking on the challenge is not only that you will never live to experience the things you truly deserve in life, but you become less of a person, because you will live a life that has been bound by fear.

When you remember that in life all you really have is who you are as a person the choice becomes somewhat easier to make.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Deciding Whether to Listen to Criticism

How do we know whether someone's criticism is helpful or not? When is it in our best interest to listen to someone's criticism?

When receiving criticism always remember the following fact - sharing someone's beliefs comes at the cost of producing the same results as them.

A really common form of criticism in society is the criticism of status. If you obtain status in any area of life, be it through sports, health, finances, contribution, etc. then there will always be some form of criticism.

More often than not, this criticism will come from someone who is producing results that are not as good as yours (often resulting in lower status) or is threatened by the results you are producing.

When you receive a criticism like this you can either carry on whatever it is you are doing or you can do what those who are criticizing you say you should do. However, as was said earlier, if you do what others of lower status say you should do then you will eventually produce the same results as them.

Another way of looking at the choice you have is this: You can either carry on producing the results you do, e.g. healthy body, improving your finances, etc. or you can reduce the quality of results you are producing, e.g. eat less healthily or reduce you financial wellbeing, etc.

You can also look at this situation from the opposite perspective. Say someone who is producing better results than you gives you advice or criticizes you then again you have two choices, but the choices are flipped. You can choose to try out their advice and potentially produce better results like they are or you can ignore the criticism and continue to produce the results that you always have done.

When you look at criticism in this way it makes it much easier to choose whether to listen to it or not. When you have more experience at dealing with criticism the real question you will want to answer becomes "what is the best way to handle the situation when I decide not to listen to someone's criticism?"


Thanks to the following for including this article in
-The Live the Power Unlimited Carnival located at Live the Power

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Should We Adopt Pseudoscientific Beliefs?

By definition a scientific belief is a belief that could potentially be falsified. This means that it must through observation or physical experimentation be possible for the belief to be disproved. For more on this see here.

A term used to describe something that is not disprovable is pseudoscience.

Technically the law of attraction is pseudoscience.

This is because no matter what results are produced in the world the law of attraction can justify it. For example if someone says the law of attraction does not work, because they tried it and they did not become rich, then someone who believes in the LoA can say that that person failed because of their lack of belief in the LoA. No matter what result happens someone can just say that it occurred because the law of attraction was in action, but not used properly. This means there can never be a situation where the law of attraction can be disproved.

Does this mean the LoA is a belief system that we should not adopt?

Not necessarily.

I personally have not yet figured out if the LoA is a belief system that works for me. I believe we have a very direct influence over the results we produce in life and these are directly linked to what we focus on and think about most in life. However, there are part of the LoA that I am less certain about, such as manifesting results over which I have no physical influence.

Having said that, I do not believe that the LoA should not be adopted as a belief just because it is not scientific. I believe this, because although the LoA cannot be falsified, it could still be a useful model for explaining our reality and producing results.

Ultimately I believe what really matters is the affect a belief system has on your life. If you want to live a life full of joy, success and love then I believe it is more important that you choose beliefs that will help you achieve these goals in the long term, than choose beliefs because they have strong scientific backing.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

A Model for Successful Living

Having taken the time to study what successful living is all about I have tried to come up with a very simple model for how the process works.

How one lives successfully is very subjective, but I believe this model is flexible enough to incorporate anyone's opinion of success and the path one must take to achieve it.

The model

1. Assume responsibility for your life

You are the only person responsible for your life in the long-run. It is ultimately how you act and are as a person that causes everything in your life to be how it is. Understanding this concept means you acknowledge that no one else but you has the full potential to take control of your life.

2. Recognize unlimited choice in possibilities and potential

As you accept that you are responsible for everything in your life, e.g. your health, finances, relationships, etc. you realize that you have created all the results you have up until now. This also means that you can create any result you want in the future. When you understand this you understand that you have complete choice over what any area of your life will be like in the future.

3. Decide - what you want/your goals/your future, etc

After realizing that you can choose exactly how to live your life and choose all the results you experience in life then you have to decide exactly what results and experiences you want.

4. Act

You must take action in order to produce the results you want.

5. Measure your results

After producing results from taking action you can now see whether or not you produced the results that you wanted. If you did then you can celebrate and set new goals to challenge yourself. If you did not produce the results you wanted then you need to take action again but in a different way. This process is cyclical until you finally produce the results you want.

The simplicity of this model leaves it open to much interpretation. I therefore believe it is a useful guide, but not a comprehensive answer to successful living. I do, however, believe that the answer to a question like "how do I live successfully?" is easier to figure out when you have some idea of what the answer looks like.

Friday, 7 September 2007

One Day Trial to Beat Procrastination

If you find that you are good at following through on some challenges you set yourself, but consistently procrastinate in other areas of your life then the following "one day trial" strategy may be very helpful for you.

This simple strategy helps overcome the following challenges.

1. It gets you to follow through on the things you usually procrastinate on.
2. It gets you to try a lot harder at the tasks you usually try half-heartedly because you are tired or don't feel like doing them, etc.

The Strategy

1. Make a list of everything you would like to do tomorrow that will help you create a great future and enjoy the process, e.g. exercise, review goals, research and eat healthy foods, research investment opportunities, etc.
2. Decide how long you want to spend on each task. Set a time that will demand high efficiency to complete it in the alloted time.
3. Order your tasks so that you have to do your least favourite and most likely to procrastinate tasks on first. Doing these tasks first will not only make sure you do them, but will also make the other tasks for the day seem a lot easier and give you great momentum for the day.
4. Add up the hours and check you have set a realistic amount of time for the day, not forgetting you might need to eat.

This plan should only be designed for one day. This has a very important affect on your psychology. If you look at it this way you don't have to worry about spending too much energy or worry about trying and failing, because it's only one day. If at the end of the day you don't like that you followed through on all your challenges then you can scrap having one day plans and at least you know not to spend any time feeling bad about not following through because you don't enjoy it anyway.

And that's only assuming that you do not enjoy following through. Imagine if you do enjoy following through on all those things you normally procrastinate on. Think how much a discovery like that could change your life.

I will leave you with the motivational text I had at the top of my one day plan to help me follow through when I first did it.

"Try it for a day 100% and see how it goes – if it changes your life keep it, if it is rubbish, then don’t, but you will only know if you try 100%. This could massively change how you feel about yourself and your ability to produce results, just DO IT."

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

What We Have to Lose By Not Giving

When we give unconditionally, is there more going on than just a trade of resources?

In life all you truly have is who you are and how you feel about yourself. Anything in your external life, e.g. your finances, your social life and relationships, is a result of who you are, not the other way round, at least in the long-term. A challenge in life is learning to accept this situation, because it is in human nature to identify yourself with your external life and hand your responsibility over to it.

So what this means is that how you feel about your life really comes down to who you are as a person. You will probably have your ups and down as your external life gives you knocks and bruises, such as the loss of a loved one or a financial crisis, but all these things are only temporary. The only thing that is really everlasting is who you are as a person.

Understanding this concept is a key difference between being a selfish person and a contributor.

Say you give something externally to someone, e.g. your time, your money, your expertise, it will cost you those things, which can be hard to deal with if you are heavily identified to your external world. However, if you look at the situation in a different way, you see that in return for giving you gain in who you are as a person and how you can feel about yourself and the world. By looking at it this way giving no longer has to be an act in which you lose out.

If you truly understand this it will open yourself up to being able to give more and enjoy it, because you know by helping someone else you are also helping yourself. This is a great way to overcome the scarcity mentality. This is also a great way to look at things for those that always have to ask "what's in it for me?" If that kind of person looks at giving in this way then a previously selfish person can become highly motivated to give.

Another way to think about this is as follows. If you give nothing the other person suffers and your character suffers. If you give something then the other person gains and your character gains. It's lose-lose or win-win, whichever decision you make.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Being the World's Greatest ...

What kind of mindset does it take to be successful in any field?

If you focus on a number of people involved in any particular area of expertise (e.g. investing, sport, charity work, fitness, etc) there will a rough group structure as follows.

1. There are people who are terrible at the skill or expertise who try and fail, but never learn. These kind of people do not often stay in a field for a long period of time.
2. There are people who do it for the fun of it, have some success here and there, but don't contribute massively to the field, except for in their sheer numbers.
3. There are the people that do it for a living, e.g. fund managers, professional athletes, etc. These people contribute the most of the 3 groups so far, but they are often not as pro-active in their contribution and commitment as they could be.
4. There are people who commit and dedicate themselves to excellence. They pro-actively set goals to challenge themselves to expand their current skill level and the level of all others, e.g. Warren Buffet, Michael Jordan, Mother Teresa, Lance Armstrong, etc.

Numbers 1 to 3 will make up the majority of any field of expertise. Often those in group 4 are the ones that set the boundaries and standards of possibility for the other groups.

So what are some of the mindsets that make group 4 different from the others?

In a way the answer to this is partly what my blog is all about, but I will focus on one specific answer here.

People in group 4 are unique, because they share a different mindset to the people in the other groups. The beliefs they have cause them to act differently to the others which causes them to produce different results.

I like to call the mindset they share as intelligent counter-convention.

What I mean by intelligent is that their beliefs are very well thought out, especially in terms of achieving their outcome. When you hear and read about anyone who is the very top of their field they always seem to have beliefs that are entirely congruent with producing top results.

What I mean by counter-convention is that the beliefs shared by group 4 will often run contrary to those of the rest of the group. If they did not then they would produce similar results to groups 1 to 3.

Warren Buffet, the person to generate most wealth through investing in the world, is a great example of this. When you read about him or watch him speak you get to hear how his beliefs are subtly different from the majority of the investing world. These differences from everyone else are what allows him to consistently beat the stock market indexes.

So what can we learn from all this?

1. If you have well developed beliefs about a particular skill and you are largely criticised for them, do not scrap those beliefs straight away. There are countless examples in history where someone has been criticised initially for doing something and later rewarded for having done it. Groups 1 to 3 will want you to share the same beliefs as them, but this will come at the cost of producing the same results as them.
2. If you are going to copy beliefs from someone, pro-actively choose these beliefs. Copy the beliefs from people who are producing the results you want. If you only want to enter a field for a bit of relaxation, e.g. playing a sport in your free time, then copying beliefs from the world's greatest may not be the best strategy for you.
3. Do not forget that you have a choice of which group you can be a part of.

I cannot think of a successful person in the world who does not exhibit some type of intelligent counter-convention. If you can please tell me. I believe it is an essential factor to rise above the majority and contribute your full potential.


Thanks to the following for including this article in
-The Live the Power Unlimited Carnival located at Live the Power
-The Carnival of Money, Growth and Happiness located at Credit Card Lowdown

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Complaining Up = Responsibility Down

Steve Pavlina posted a very interesting article a few weeks ago about complaining.

What this article really challenged me to think about was the link between complaining and responsibility.

When you complain about something it is like acknowledging that someone or something else is responsible for you and how you feel. If you complain you are saying "I have no power over this situation, but I wish it would change". In the real world significant change in your situation only comes about by your direct action, therefore anything you do otherwise is giving up control over your life.

When you say to yourself that something is outside of your control it is a great excuse to make no effort to change. Only when you accept responsibility for something will you feel compelled to take action to change something if you do not like it.

Complaining is the exact opposite of taking control of a situation. The more you do it the less control you have, over that situation and your life.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Get Out of That Rut and Find Inspiration

A major tragedy in life is when you get stuck in a rut. When you keep doing something you really do not enjoy.

I had this experience a while ago while working full-time for a company and it really started to get to me. Eventually I realised I had to get myself out of the situation. It was not an easy decision because of all the commitments I had made to the work, but in the context of my life I knew I had no choice but to leave.

I left to travel the other side of the world for a bit and this was one of the most valuable experiences of my life. Leaving that situation allowed me to clear my mind and get a completely new perspective on life.

After returning I found myself invigorated and travelling down a new path towards my chosen destiny. I urge you to make the same changes if you have not already. The inspiration to make these kind of changes are easy to find, but you have to break your habit.

I was walking around our garden yesterday and I was refreshed with a new perspective of where I am at now and where I want to go. Inspiration really is easy to find. You just have to get the courage to break your current pattern so that you can take a more objective look at how your life really is today.