Sometimes we fail to implement helpful advice only because it seems simple and obvious.
Things that are simple to do are also just as simple not to do. But that’s not a good excuse. There’s a truth here begging to be stated out loud: knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.
Reflecting on important questions is one of the most powerful things we can do to get us through difficult emotional times. The reactive part of us makes us feel like we’ve been the victim of some wrongdoing (and perhaps we have). One great question that forces us to focus on our own accountability is this:
How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want? (quote by Jerry Colona)
This year I will improve the quality of my life by:
- Starting to, or continuing to do more of…
- Stopping, or doing less of…
- Spending 5 minutes each month/quarter assessing how I’ve done
I’m a big fan of simple mental models or thought experiments in the form of a question that immediately put things in perspective. Here’s one with many alternates that can serve to put you on the right path:
“Is what I’m about to do going to move me closer or further away from what’s important?”
Modify any of the words to get to the same version of the question. For example, “Is what I’m about to decide going to move for closer or further away from the person I aspire to be?”
One useful way to prompt intrinsic motivation is to think like an athlete. Set aside time for focused, deep work, either creating something valuable or “sharpening the saw “so that we are better creators.
At the highest level of athletics, professionals train hard in “sprints”, then rest, then reassess based on their performance on the battlefield. In our business lives, we tend to just plug away as though 10 hours of “work” is equal to 10 hours of output or value.
For many of us who are used to trading our time for money, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like our time is intrinsically valuable, but it’s only as valuable as what it enables you to create, become, or deliver on the battlefield.
Dependability is a high-ranking “soft skill” that employers, colleagues and customers desire.
When it comes to your career, there are many worthwhile investments you can make to sharpen the saw of your particular expertise. On top of this, try to cultivate a reputation for being dependable. People want to know that they can count on you, and that your word is reliable.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that so-called soft skills are not trainable. All of them are. For this particular skill, all you have to do is make sure you always do what you say.
It’s healthy to have desires, goals, and hopes for better versions of the future. But so often we fall victim to as-soon-as syndrome, making our desires much like contracts we make with ourselves to be unhappy until we get what we want.
Defining and striving for things in line with our desires is essential. Just be sure you’re not trading a possible future for an unmistakable now.
My music has received over 50 million streams and downloads, hundreds 5-star ratings, and the kindest reviews and compliments. Yet I can recite verbatim the ruthless critique of my voice from an anonymous user 10 years ago. A decade-old review from one person.
This is negativity bias in action. We’re all susceptible to it. We too quickly forget the praise we receive and tend to highlight the cynical people and opinions.
I keep an email folder called “inspiration” where I file the kind words I’ve received from people who clearly value what I do. It helps to keep a reminder that most of the time you’re doing a stellar job.
Life has ups and downs. Where you are right now, and how you feel about it, is much like a balance sheet. It’s just a snapshot of your emotional assets and liabilities for a moment in time.
The most important thing to remember is that where you are right now (physically, financially, emotionally) does not reflect what you are.