Decision hack

Pros and cons lists can be helpful when assessing what to do, but they can also lead down a very unhelpful path of over analyzing. One shortcut that can help quickly identify how you really feel is to give multiple scenarios 1-10 ratings, but remove 7 as an option.

This simple hack forces more meaningful choices, because a 6 rating is a step away from a failing grade, while an 8 rating is almost a B+. In a this-or-that scenario the answer will be clear, and in go/no-go scenario, it’s the difference between “hell yes” and “hell no.”

The plight of perfection

Seeing ourselves as perfectionists can lead to a failure to take action out of fear that something won’t turn out ideal.  Aiming for perfection and being attentive to detail is admirable.  But do-ers do. Perfectionists can hold themselves back in a state of non-action and analysis.

There is no perfect time to start a business, lose weight, or commit to learning a new skill. Most often, fortune favors those who boldly take action rather than waiting for the certainty of perfection.

True genius

We think of geniuses as those who can create or invent valuable things because of their intricate knowledge in certain domains. And that’s often true.

But many creative (and wealthy) individuals came up with ideas like the chip clip, the idea for a cameras built into phones, and other creative inventions that didn’t require sophisticated knowledge.

The genius is often the one who exploits the simplest of ideas that are yet unrecognized.

Don’t get lost in the urgent

One attribute of organized, outcome-driven people is a focus on deadlines. This can paradoxically cause you to lose focus on what’s most important and meaningful, as most important things are not deadline-driven.

It’s rarely urgent to improve valuable, income-generating skills, create a backup contingency for your business tools, schedule an annual medical exam, or teach children critical thinking skills, values, or money management.

One solution is to schedule time on the calendar for the things that you recognize as important and meaningful. Many of these things are not urgent. Until they are, when it’s too late.

Persuasion and empathy

Sometimes it’s more valuable (and human) to let persuasion take a back seat to empathy. Instead of trying to persuade someone of your point of view, first try sincere curiosity about how they see things.

As a bonus, seeking to understand before being understood increases the likelihood that we will be able to persuade anyways.

Daily focus

Never underestimate the compounding effect of repeatedly doing small things that push you toward your goals. Ten minutes of daily focus for six months adds up to 30 HOURS. In six months from now you could be near functional fluency in a foreign language, looking and feeling healthier, or free of some annoying habit…

Or you can simply be a half a year older.

Filter failure

It’s possible that we’re not so distracted and overwhelmed because of the sheer amount of stimuli we’re exposed to. There are a million possible uses of attention. Instead, we should consider this a problem of “filter failure.”

The ability to focus on what’s important depends on our ability to disconnect from the 99% of things that don’t deserve our attention, so all that’s left is our priority.