The Magic of Successful Decisions

Watching the ultimate heroes of the recent world in terms of success. such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Grand Cardone or Richard Branson, we tend to think that they are extraordinary, that they are gifted in some way. Now that is correct and incorrect. It is incorrect to assume that they have some sort of ultimate gift, that they were born this way. They had to go through more hardships than most people in the world. That is why they are where they are right now. It is wrong to assume that they have some fixed characteristic we can’t develop. We talk about this kind of mindset more in-depth in our post about The Mindset for Success. On the flip side, we are correct in the sense that they are extraordinary. More specifically, the way they have learned to think, the thought processes they have developed are their ultimate weapon. In this post, we will look at some of these thought processes. We’ll answer the question, how should I make decisions? How do successful people think through their problems?

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The Why

The #1 reason people who you look up to so much succeed is that they have asked themselves the most important question. Why do I want to succeed? You need to identify the reason why you want to succeed. The most successful people on this planet are successful because they have found a solid reason the want to succeed. Let’s think about the next scenario as an example. Imagine 3 birds sitting on a cable. One of them decides to fly away. How many birds are there now? The answer is 3! The bird decided to fly away, he didn’t take action. Now imagine these 3 birds on a cable again. Suddenly, someone shoots one of them. How many birds are there now? The answer is – none! Why? Because the reason has changed. Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” You need to figure out the destination where you’re heading before you look for your way!!

 

Making Complicated Decisions

We tend to think that making the decisions on our way to success must be something very complicated. Successful people must be super smart right? It’s super complicated to succeed right? Is it actually? If you look at one skill that is in the core of progress that leads to your personal growth, it is seeing the effects of every little decision that you make in the long-term. This might look very complicated at first, but if you think about it in simple terms, it also becomes very straight-forward. The only question you need to focus on is – Where does this decision take me? Is it a step towards my goal or is it a step away from it? Let’s take an example. It’s Friday evening 7pm and you still need to finish your daily reading in order to sustain your habit practice you’ve started a few days ago. However, at the same time your friends called you to go out and have some fun with them. What should you do? This absolutely depends on your goals. You set your goal to create that habit of daily reading. This means that you need to read every day without a break. If you go out with your friends, you can start again. If your goal is long-term personal growth through the habit of reading, then this is the decision you need to make. On the other hand, if your goal was to make more friends or socialize and have fun, the other choice would be correct. How come? This kind of thinking is very important, yet fairly simple. You need to look at the choices you have and evaluate, which choice brings you closer to your goal and which choice takes you further away from it. Then, it logically follows that you take the choice that brings you closer to your goals, whatever it is.

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Application

Applying this kind of thinking is nothing complex, but it matters tremendously and most people do not understand that. It is so simple, yet nobody truly applies this method. The good news is that it is applicable on every little thing you can think of. Should I take a shower today? Since I want to become a successful entrepreneur, that requires me to hold my hygiene and health in check. Thus I shall take a shower. I want to save some money on bills, should I take a shower today? Maybe, I should only wash my face and save some water bills today and take a shower tomorrow (a very naughty but a simple instance). Make use of this method in your life and start making the decisions that will bring you closer to your long-term goals. Yes, long-term goals. Focus on the long-term. Short-term gratification is a trap most people fall into, but I’ll leave that for another post.

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24-Hour Days – A Myth or Reality?

There is a fairly well-known quote stating that “We all have the same 24 hours”, which aims to remind us that there is no time for excuses and that the somebody who got further than you simply used his 24 hours better. It is meant to remind us that excuses won’t take us anywhere closer to where we want to be and that we need to put in the work. However, there are philosophies that counter this ideology. They agree on the fact that physical day has 24 hours and that in order to be healthy and capable of productivity, we need to dedicate some times to sleep and other necessary activities that allow us to be productive. However, they argue that the 24-hours days, or in some cases more precisely, the 8-hours work days are just a consequence of the way we are traditionally taught to think. What does this mean? Are there actually more days in my 24 hours than I thought? Let’s make things clearer and learn how to utilize this way of thinking.Výsledek obrázku pro 24 hours suffering comic

The 8-hour work day myth

A typical work day of an average person in our society has 8 hours. Regardless of whether it is a 9-5 or a 10-6, it has about 8 hours. Have you ever thought about why that is? Let’s consider how our productivity works – I am sure you can relate to this. When you come to your job, you have a certain task. Think about it, could you simply finish that task in the first 3-4 hours with some brakes? The answer is usually something among the lines of: “Yeah I probably could, but I would have to really focus…” What does that mean? Would you rather focus for 3 hours with short brakes and finish your work in half the time, or would you rather spend 8 hours in your office slacking off most of the time? Let’s be honest here, even though you have 8 hours to finish you work, do you actually dedicate all of that time to the task?

Human productivity and focus

Most of you went through some kind of education at some point of your lives. Most of you had class schedules or had to memorize some “information” for a test. If you look at your school schedule, did you have 8 hours straight of classes? In your classes, did you actually spent the whole class focused on the materials? I didn’t. When you asked your tutor for revision advice, what was the first thing he told you? Make a schedule, make sure you have the time to rest. What is usually suggested is 30-40 minutes of focused work with 5-10 minute breaks for 90 minutes – try to take a look at your school schedule. Did you have a longer break after every 2nd or 3rd class? There is a reason why the more experienced teachers and tutors allow the students to have such brakes. The reason is the way our brains work! You can’t sustainably focus on a single task for more than 40 minutes without a brake. And if you do, your efficiency, quality of the work you do and the overall productivity starts decreasing!!

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How to handle productivity

So how should we work? What is the best way that allows us to stay focused on our tasks without reducing the amount of work we finish? The answer is fairly simple – spend 40-45 minutes working in a deep focus, take a 10 minute break (go for a walk, close your computer and talk to someone) and make sure you set up your timer so that you can come back exactly after 10 minutes, work for 40-45 minutes in a deep focus mode and then stop and take a longer brake. In order to be fully regenerated, you need to rest for at least an hour or an hour an a half. It is as simple as that! Make the most of your time and stop wasting it, thinking that you’re actually doing something.

 

The 3 days in 1 philosophy

So what does the 24-hour day have to do with anything? It is not the fact that a single day has 24 hours, it is the fact that we tend to think that in 1 day we can finish only a day’s worth of work. What if you learned to think in a way that every day contains 3 more days? What do I mean by that? It is very simple, in order to be as productive as possible and to use your time wisely without burning out, you mentally split your day into 3 days – which can be a metaphor for 3 working periods of time. For instance, when I’m preparing for my exams, I have 3 or sometimes 4 revision lessons in a day. One in the morning (90 minutes), one in the afternoon (90 minutes) and one in the evening (90 minutes). Sometimes, if I have less stuff to do outside of studying (like business meetings, sports activities etc.) I put in another 90 minutes. This gives me 4.5-6 hours of high quality focused work every day. With a proper plan, in these 4-6 hours, I am able to finish what most people do in 2-3 days. Why is that? Focus, planning and understanding how my body works.

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Bottom line

The bottom line is, try to reflect as much as you can and try out different methods. Figure our how your body works and adjust your daily schedule to that. One of the greatest powers a human being can have is understanding himself/herself. There is enough resources out there that can help you in that area, you only need to look. To read further on improving your productivity, check out our 80/20 principle post. To learn about the 10 greatest time wasters, check out our article on this topic.

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Getting In Control of Your Days

Day in, day out we stress about our productivity, about procrastination, we have mood swings, we simply fail to be consistent with our performance. What’s more important, we fail to sustain our growth, sometimes we even regress. Why does that happen? Why are people so inconsistent with their days? Why are we uncapable of keeping it all together and making high quality decisions throughout our day?

The reason is the amount of decisions we make. An average person makes about 40 thousand decisions every day, most of them unconsciously. When you make them unconsciously, how can you control them then? Step number one – habit creation, which we’ve already covered in one of our recent posts.  Step number two, however builds on the first step. Step number two is your morning and evening routine.

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Why are these two routines so important?

As I have mentioned above, the major issue people absolutey fail to cope with is the amount of decisions they have to make every day, which include the morning and the evening as well. How can you focus on what is important for you when you have to think about all the little things like what to eat, when to work out, whether to first take shower or do your reading? These tiny little decisions not only take away your precious time, but also your space for quality decision making. The two routines are crucial, because they allow you to use your time and focus on the things that need it the most.

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Your morning routine

Your mornings ultimately determine how your day looks like. Your mornings determine whether you finish everything you plan to finish, whether you’ll be grumpy or positive, whether you will have enough energy or not. Your mornings are the fundamental stones of your success. You will not make the most of your day, if you won’t make the most of your morning.

Every morning has its value that you need to learn to capture and utilise. I would personally suggest early mornings because of the great feeling of being awake and productive while everyone still sleeps. But that is purely my personal preference. I know loads of people who can never make this work. Thus it is necessary for you to set up your day based on your personal preferences. The time after you wake up is the time when you are the brightest and the most capable of productivity. From my personal experience, it is also the best time to finish the hardest task of the day. Whether it is a workout, a reading, or a report for your boss, getting the toughest thing out of the table first thing in the morning is the best thing you can do for your day. It will take off the pressure and motivate you for the rest of the day.

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The length of your morning routine can range from 10 minutes to 3 or more hours, it is really up to you. What’s important is that you make it a habit – you repeat it consistently. What this does for you is it helps you save some of the decisions you would have to make in the morning, because you will make them unconsciously, based on your habit. You will be able to fully focus on the tasks ahead of you and you won’t feel stressed or rushed.

Your evening routine

Many, many advisors talk about morning routines. But what they forget about is something that precedes our mornings, our evenings. Your “cool-down” routine or an evening routine, as you may, is a very important part of your day without which your morning routine wouldn’t work properly. Why is that? Let’s speak in terms of your common sense. What happens if you go to sleep late? What happens if you go to sleep and you’re still thinking about that stressful report for tomorrow? Or even worse, what happens if you go to sleep drunk? The short answer is, your next morning will be ruined, which is logically followed by the catastrophic day full of nothing. Your evenings decide how your mornings look like.

It is good to decide when your evening starts, so that you are clear on when your evening routine begins. Evening routines are usually shorter than morning routines. They usually take up to 30 minutes (or more if you’re the kind of person who spends an hour in the washroom). For me personally, it includes washing up, visualizing my goals and writing them down, making a note of what I am grateful for that has happened that day and a short meditation. This createts the needed peace of mind when I go to sleep. I don’t overthink anymore, I rarely have late nights when I can’t fall asleep and most importantly, I am ready to hit it in the morning next day.

When my evening routine begins, I don’t need to think about what to do next. It all hapens automatically, subconsciously. It is a habit of mine that I have created and that  allows me to keep my morning routine working precisely and effectively.

Before you start, write it down!

Writing the routines down is at first necessary, because you have not yet programmed your brain in that way. You need the regularity first, which usually takes from 20-30 days to be put in place. After a while (you’ll know when), you won’t have to think about it anymore, you won’t have to read it anymore, it will just happen.

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Just a side-note, it is better to go to sleep early and finish your marking in the early morning than to stay up late. Don’t be like Amanda (or whatever you’d like to name her) above 🙂

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Speaking your dreams into existence

Dreams, vision, faith, goals, all of these concepts are crucial for your growth. All of these concepts are necessary for you to succcessfully change, develop as a person and finally achieve what you desire the most. But having these in your mind alone will not lead to your final victory. It will not help you get there. These are only the partial ingredients to your success cake, but they will never stick together without one simple thing – action. The question loads of people ask then is, well how do I take action? How do I make myself take action? The answer to this question is to be found in the discipline of psychology. You need to understand how your brain works before you can make it change and develop. This is the moment when one of the powers everyone has, but rarely anyone uses properly comes in. That is, the power of the spoken word.

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Welcome to your brain

Before you get to the stage where you can take action without looking back, you need to exercise your most powerful weapon that separates you from everything living on this planet – your brain. The issue here is the way the world around us is set up, which results in a traditional way most kids grow up these days. And that way is unfortunately not very positive. According to Shad Helmsetter, Ph.D. who wrote an excellent book about this topic called What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, more than 70% of the things people hear in their childhood are negative. These are usually in some form of: “You can’t do this” or “You are not good enough to do this”. You might not hear these specific sentences, but these are the general messages the kids’ brains receive. So first, to be able to take action on your dreams, you need to re-programme your brain. This involves a ton of effort and most importantly, habits and repetition.

Repetition and Habit Creation

Our lives are mostly run on habits and on subconscious, repetitive actions. Why is that? Aren’t we all supposed to have a free will of our own? I definitely do everything on purpose, my actions are all conscious – is what you might be thinking. But, do you really? It is said that an average person makes about 40 thousand decisions every day. Do you really make all these decisions consciously? (clue – no!) Our lives are run on habits. In other words, our lives are, from the greatest part, run by our subconscious mind. The most successful people realise that and make use of it. Jeff Bezos makes approximately 3-4 major decisions every day and the rest is delegated or subconscious (such as his morning and his evening routine). Check out our post on how to create and utilise a habit  to learn more about this specific area. Now to the point. Since our subconscious mind runs our lives, it is crucial for us to know how to control it (a.k.a. how to programme out brains). Doing this is definitely a matter of habit and repetition, as I’ve already mentioned above. Changing the way you think, changing the way you feel and the way other things affect you is completely in your power. You only need to change one enormous part of your life that you might not even be aware of.

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Watch how you speak… to yourself!!

The number one thing that affects your subconscious mind incredibely, which nobody really realises, is your mouth (inside your head). All day, it runs and runs and never stops. Everytime you think about something, it goes off. Why is it so important to control it? Because, as it is mentioned earlier, the only kind of things it can speak now is negativity. This is too boring, this is too salty, this is too cold, this is such a terrible day, this will never work.. Why do I look so weird today? I bet she/he thinks I’m stupid! Who am I to even try? You might not realise this, but this is what happens in your head all the time. And it’s not even your fault, it is the way you’ve grown up, the media you’ve consumed, the people that influenced you – the world you live in. This is all done subconsciously, it is a habit. Now what should we do about it? Your main concern is not getting rid of the negativity, but outnumbering it with positivity.

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Speak your dreams into existence

How do I outnumber negativity if it’s already there though? Instead of thinking negative stuff, you think positive. You specifically need to focus on the good things around yourself. In every adversity lies a seed of an equal or a greater opportunity. Speak what you want in life. Read the next few lines out loud (if possible shout them, it feels much better then):

I am me, nobody can put me down. I am grateful for what I have in my life. I am grateful for (fill in what you’re grateful for). I am grateful for (fill in what you’re grateful for). I am in the process of succeeding. I am growing every day. I am developing every day. I am making it happen. I am (fill in your aspiration). I am (your aspiration). I am (your aspiration).

I bet it felt great, didn’t it? Do you know why? Because you yourself said it, you yourself brought positivity into that moment. Imagine that this is how you would think every day, every moment, every second. Make this a habit, do it every morning and every evening. Whenever you think about a negative thing, speak out two positive things to outnumber it. You are in control of that. You can take the charge. You can start looking for positivity to outnumber the negativity that has grown in you. You can do it. Make this a habit, make your subconscious mind accept that your life is wonderful, full of positive things.

Now back to the start. As you start seeing the positivity in your life, watch your actions change. Your actions will change as a result of the way you think. You will feel better and you will do better. This is the power of the spoken word.

 

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Escape stagnation in 10 minutes

Why am I not growing anymore?!

I reckon we’ve all been there before. Maybe you are in this situation right now. To be fair, everyone reaches this point and has to deal with the same issue. You are in the process of learning something and you feel like you’ve been stuck at the same level for age. In other words you’ve hit the plateau. You don’t feel like you are progressing well. You are frustrated because you’ve suddenly stopped growing. Your stagnation makes it much harder for you to actually get up and work towards your dreams every single day. Don’t worry, I’ve successfully gone through many similar situations.

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“What great performers have achieved is the ability to avoid doing it automatically.”

Geoff Colvin

I have stopped making progress… why?

The progreess curve is very steep at the beginning of each learning process. We make great strides straight to the brightest future and march towards excellence with no doubts in our minds. At least that is how it feels. However, after some time our progress slows down, stops and what is more, very often our curve of progress falls into negative levels. Why is that? And what to do to overcome this state? Let’s look at it together…

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Knowing about the learning curve is essential

This is the classical learning curve of adopting any skill. If you were afraid that you are not growing as much, you are stagnating or even degrading, looking at this graph should calm you down. As you can see above, when learning anything new you must stay persistent at all times! Especially in the third phase. That’s when the biggest crises hits you. Now that you’re aware that if you feel like your progress has stopped you might be actually getting closer to your goals, you need to stop where you are, think and figure out a way to get back on the track! Dedicate your time, energy and willpower to get yourself to the top again. Support it with your passion and don’t ever doubt your abilities again.

Understanding this curve helps you cultivate your patience and understand what it really takes to become better. Use it!

What to focus on?

The key to bringing yourself significantly more success in the future is to focus your mind not on your following year, not on the upcoming weeks, neither on the next few days days, but only on the present. You can not achieve great success without making the necessary small steps towards it. Do not ever try to be revolutionary by risking 100% on something you have not fully understood. That is not bravery, that’s madness. You need to work on the details. You need to be able to fully concentrate on the small particles of your great and fulfilling path. That is the way every single genius is made. Your goals need to be focused on working on every minor thing, which has to be executed in a perfect way. You are able to work hard, but giving it everything  is manageable for a very short time. At least in the beginning. After a while, you will become used to the hard work and struggle it takes to get what you want. You will become comfortable giving it your all. That is called progress.

What does it take to be a master?

Stay present. I do not want to repeat myself, but it’s very important. Be fully concentrated on the moment! If you want to follow this path of reaching your final destination, this is the way to go. Have you ever wondered why does the beautiful word present also have its second meaning as the synonym term to a word gift? Coincidence? Not at all. At least, I believe so. To be present means to be gifted. You are in possession of that magical thing. Use your present time wisely. You never know how much time you have.

Stop looking around, stop looking in the past or trying to predict the future. Be present. You’ll see a big difference. Have you ever seen any of the horse races? Try to recall the horses having their blinkers on their heads forcing them to focus on what is actually important – the very next step! Imagine that you’ve got one and focus only on the activity you are engaged in right now. Employ the so called “Tunnel Vision”.

“If you focus yourself 100% on your minutes, the hours will take care of them.”

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Now you know about  the magic of the so-called deliberate practice!

So that’s it? Is that the thing? Is it that simple? You probably all know that old saying which proclaims that in simplicity there is beauty. It is very true. Deliberate practice is a term denoting the whole process of mastering your skill through the method of consciously concentrating on the smallest details when acquiring a new skill. The method I mentioned above. The term comes from the great American writer Geoff Colvin and is used as the main topic in his best selling book called Talent Is Overrated. I definitely recommend reading it. It will teach you a lot about your big potential to grow in any area. It will also teach you plenty of useful things about the most successful people (like Tiger Woods or W.A. Mozart) using the method of deliberate practice. I just cannot stress enough how great the message of the book is.

“You can not always be doing what you love, but you can always love what you do!”

This is the very last point worth mentioning in this informative article. When you’re going to train anything with the deliberate practice method, you’ll need to stay very patient. You will have to find a lot of willpower, at least at the beginning of your progress. I’m sure you know that even though you might be doing something you really love, constant repetition does get quiet tiring after some time. You might fight it for a long time owing to the fun you’re having. Nevertheless, you’ll get tired. And that’s completely natural. However, life is also about managing to do stuff that you don’t love. Sometimes you even hate it. And these things are the most important in terms of your progress. What exactly? Your attitude towards anything you really don’t enjoy doing. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. If you cannot do what you love, try to love what you do instead. You will feel the difference almost immediately after persuading yourself that you’re absolutely fine doing that!

The lecture of the day…

If you want to master any skill you need to take advantage of your present state. You’ve been gifted with the opportunity to live at the moment, use it wisely. Evenly important is to use it effectively as well. Because the time we can work at our maximum is very limited. And if you want to grow effectively, you need to maximize that time. You need to focus on the small details, small habits. They should be done almost perfectly. Through repeating that process you’ll begin to make an impact. You will be growing more than ever. Concentrate on your present self – doing that, the future is taken care of.

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