Displaying episodes 1 - 30 of 55 in total
Your ability to focus on deep work is key to being productive. Your power to connect ideas is vital to being creative. Whether you’re focusing or mind wandering, you need to direct your attention to perform at your peak.
Digital technology has its benefits and is not all bad. But tech-overuse and tech addiction cause problems, too. To break our tech addiction and master our tech use, we need Digital Minimalism: “A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else," says author Cal Newport.
Memento Mori is a powerful practice to create a meaningful, productive and fulfilling life. Roughly translated to English, it means, "Remember you must die." Reflecting on your own death might seem like a dark and depressing way to live. But it offers three unique gifts that help you live with intention.
When we hear the term work-life balance, we tend to think of it as a good thing. It’s doing great work, without overworking. It’s getting enough rest, without staying idle. But if we want to have a meaningful and productive life, striving for perfect workl-life balance is not often the right path. What we really want to aim for is Intentional Imbalance.
Habits help you automate positive behavior and actions on a daily basis. But they are not enough to perform at your peak. There will be times when you will have to do boring or hard things that take uphill effort. If you can make boring, hard work easier to do, that’s more than half the battle in making the impossible possible.
If you feel stuck, bored or just plain lazy, you might be waiting for inspiration to strike. But what if it doesn’t? You might think you need more discipline or willpower. But even the most disciplined people procrastinate on the things they need to do. And willpower is finite. The more you use it, the less you have on a given day. So what can you do reset and start fresh?
Habit stacking is a quick way to build good habits, which have a lasting, massive impact in your life. Habits are automatic behaviors that reduce decision fatigue, make time your ally, and save your energy for the hardest things.
Goals are the results and outcomes you want to achieve. They are the direction you want to head in, at least for the time being. But systems are what create the desired results and outcomes. Your daily habits make up your system. What you do day in and day out compounds over time to determine your level of success, mastery and contentment.
When you hear the term Time Blocking, you might picture color-coded calendars filled up with specific activities for the week. Digital apps to block time might also come to mind. But you really don't need an app or even a planner to time block.
Patience and persistence are essential for success. If you give up whenever you face a challenge or an obstacle, you’re bound to fail. But you also need to know when to quit and cut your losses.
At the time of this recording, it’s the last week in December 2021. What a year it’s been. In some ways, it was a lot easier than 2020 and, in other ways, it was a lot harder. We might have gained clarity on what we control and what we don’t control, and what to hold on to and what to let go of. And we might have wanted certain things to snap back, but they didn’t and probably won’t, at least for now.
At the end of the year and the start of a new one, we tend to reflect on accomplishments and think about aspirations. There’s nothing wrong with keeping the status quo if it works for you. Constantly striving for the next big thing is no better than leading a simple, satisfying life. But like all human beings, you probably have a wish or a dream that has yet to come true. A wish or a dream is not a goal until you have a plan of action. And a plan of action is not made until you define the next steps. And the next steps are not done until you actually complete them.
We have all experienced anxiety on some level at various points in our lives. COVID 19 and the global response to it have brought massive changes and deep uncertainty since the start of 2020. Before then, 90% of Americans in the room raised their hands when asked if they had experienced daily anxiety. Wendy Suzuki, a neural science and psychology professor at NYU, says that number has gone way up. But she reminds us that at its core, anxiety is really a protective mechanism. Like all emotions, it serves an evolutionary purpose and is key to survival.
There are news stories and articles on how we have the attention span of a goldfish. You might have heard that with the Internet, we can now only focus for 8 seconds at a time. The good news is there are no studies to back this up. There is also a common belief that we use only 10% of our brain. The entire brain is being used, but some parts are more activated than others. Having a peak mind is more about knowing where your attention is than whether or not you are hyper-focused or hyper-vigilant.
Is boredom a negative emotion? It is defined as a feeling of discontent with something that is dull, repetitive, tiresome or tedious. We prefer to stay away from anything that is boring to us. But boredom is largely a complex emotion that can have a very positive impact. It can make us more creative and productive.
Some of the wealthiest people are the most depressed and saddest in the world. Having too much stuff can be distracting and overwhelming. Less stuff brings more clarity, more space, and more freedom. Still, there's nothing wrong with having shiny, new things. You don’t want to depend on things to make you happy or to define you. But you also don’t want to feel guilty when you buy something you really want or will enrich your life somehow.
Small wins make you more productive, creative, committed, collegial, and focused. When you track the progress you’ve made, no matter how small, you gain confidence that builds on the momentum. With an incremental approach, you take daily actions that move you in the right direction, instead of take big leaps that are more likely to steer you off course.
We’ve all experienced loss in some shape or form. It could be the loss of a dream job, a friend moving away, a health crisis, or a change in lifestyle that you didn’t plan for. The death of a loved one is a very painful experience. It’s hard to even say the word "death" in this context. The end of a life is so final, so permanent, and so irreversible. We call it a loss to soften the blow, to help ourselves or the other person feel better. The pain of such a loss – when experienced fully instead of being buried with busyness and distractions – is life-changing.
When you’re acquiring and developing a new skill, you need to learn how to learn. Learning is a meta-skill for life and for sustaining peak performance. This continuation of a two-parts episode builds on the foundation principles covered in Episode 36.
When you’re learning and developing any skill, it’s better to have a growth mindset, than a fixed mindset. Talent and natural ability do matter. But your attitude towards failure and setbacks are more critical. There are two modes of learning theories: entity versus incremental theories of intelligence. Entity theorists think, "I am smart at this." Success or failure is based on an ingrained ability. Intelligence or skill is a fixed entity. Incremental theorists think, "I got it because I worked hard.” Success or failure depends on effort. Intelligence or skill can be developed.
Making space between activities can be done solo, without allies. But industry norms and workplace culture might pull you back into chronic busyness. Norms are standards or principles of action that apply to a group. A culture is made up of norms. Effective leadership from the top reduces the burden on individuals who seek to have more margin in their day.
To do creative, high-leverage work, you need to step back and look at the big picture. But when there are fires to put out, demands to meet, and crises to solve, it’s hard to stop and think about what’s really important. When we zoom out though, we find that urgency doesn’t equal a true emergency. Many of the things we did should have waited until another day, or maybe another week. Some required more thought before action. And maybe the problem would have resolved itself. Take strategic pauses to avoid burning yourself out. A pause doesn’t have to be that long.
Industrialization created a clock time mentality. Time is now standardized, visible in the ticking minutes, and outside our existence. Time is a resource to make money, and a thing to be traded, maximized and optimized. So, you end up with busyness, overwhelm, and pressure. And you feel guilty when there’s margin. This is where time management falls short. It doesn’t really answer the existential question of what really matters.
We often get stressed and anxious when the thing we want done is not done. We want what we want now. We don’t like waiting. Patience is sometimes seen as an anti-skill that wastes time, or a sign of indecisiveness or lack of power and autonomy. But in today’s fast paced world where overwhelm is common and immediate gratification is expected, patience is a superpower.
If you want to get to the next level, you need willpower to make creative breakthroughs and steady progress. Don’t you? After all, willpower helps you to beat distractions and delay gratification to make wise choices. But willpower is limited. It gets depleted the more you use it and as the day goes on. While you could do certain things to boost and improve willpower, you could also shape your environment so you don’t need it. Your situation and circumstances either encourage or discourage positive change.
2020 was an especially challenging year. And this year continues to require some extra effort to start and finish things that matter. Even if you’ve built a business for yourself (like I did), you can still have creative exhaustion and feel trapped by your work. Maintaining discipline is more critical than having motivation. Preserve your energy and leave some fuel in the tank. Steady, daily progress through discipline allows you to cultivate long-term motivation. When you have autonomy, discretion, rewards that you value, social support, fair policies, and meaningful work, you feel more engaged and less burnt out.
Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy for discovering your purpose and building self-awareness. Your ikigai is something that gives you a sense of purpose. It sustains you and matches with your heartfelt desires and personal definition of success. It’s not always about goals or accomplishments.
To gain traction and execute better on your goals, start with a 12-week action plan instead of a longer term, annual plan. Rather than wait an entire year to track progress and measure results, you do a formal review every 12 weeks. And in the 13th week, you make a plan for the next 12 weeks. As part of your routine, you score the week, plan the week, and participate in weekly accountability meetings (WAM). Stay accountable by owning your thinking, choices and actions. Keep your commitments by uncovering hidden intentions, internal contradictions and big assumptions that undermine your desired behavior.
If you’re resisting what you need to accomplish, you might have given yourself too much time to execute your plans. New Year’s Resolutions and annual goals rarely get you to where you need to be and create the life you want. Move out of annual thinking and adopt the 12 Week Year. With this planning technique, a year is no longer 12 months; it's 12 weeks. 1 year = 12 weeks, 1 month = 1 week, and 1 week = 1 day. You are no longer focusing on distant annual goals broken into 4 periods or quarters.
Stress is not always bad. It comes with having big goals and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Going off to college, starting a new job, traveling to a foreign country, or launching a business trigger stress. And they also bring feelings of excitement, confidence and achievement. It’s the chronic, persistent, negative stress that you need to watch out for.
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