Whether your POV is business, evolution, sales, society or relationships:
Being liked is worth a lot. It’s good to be ‘good people’.
Opportunities, connections, sales, mentors and helpers: we tend to give a lot to those we like.
In addition, helpfulness, altruism and a giving attitude are fantastic ways to raise your own state of satisfaction and well-being. Researchers can literally see the brain get happier, when test subject do favours for others.
What makes zero sense though, is sacrificing your own well-being and productivity to the god of likeability.
Yet we fall into the trap with ease: a little yes here, a bit of help there, an urgent thing they need your support for… and before you know it, you spend your days putting out other people’s (usually small) fires, and are left feeling depleted, with hardly anything checked off your own todo list.
When that happens, you’ve entered the land of people-pleasing, where everyone likes you, but nobody respects your time.
The obvious solution is to say no. A bit of healthy self-care (not selfishness), making sure you put your own oxygen mask on first etc.
But what if you can’t? What if helping others is one of your core values, and – for better or worse – you’re not able or willing to start saying no… does that mean you’ll spend your life depleted and helping others while your own results suffer?
There’s a third option, between the default ‘yes’ or the decisive ‘no’.
It’s called ‘later’.
See, helping people is good. Society needs it, and you need it.
The trick is to say no to dropping everything the moment a request shows up, because that instant switching from ‘working on my own stuff’ to ‘something for someone else’ – that is the big problem.
Helping someone is fine, but not if you let it cut short your own plans or progress.
(When that happens, there’s a good chance you’re using your value of charitability as a way to procrastinate. Ruminate on that…)
You don’t need to do more less of being helpful… just make sure you chunk it.
There’s research that suggests people feel better about themselves by spending a block of time (a morning a week, for example) being charitable, instead of constantly sprinkling helpfulness on others.
So you can stay true to your values, keep being helpful and supportive, but without the constant drain on your energy, with just one word: later.
Set aside a few hours a week for being helpful, and chunk all the requests that reach you into that block of time.
And when someone asks your help, tell them ‘later’. “Sure! I’ve got some time reserved on Friday for requests like this. I’ll get back to you”.
Not only will you have more peace of mind, knowing that you’re not violating your values, you’ll also gain respect from the other person, for being mindful of your time.
Obviously, some common sense is in order here: there’s a set of requests that should never be honoured, like people asking for free work.
But anything that’s reasonable and not greedy, and something you want to help with?
Chunk it. It’ll even give you the feeling that you have more time in your week (which it literally does, because you won’t lose energy by constantly switching between ‘for you’ and ‘for them’).
When I get excited about an outcome, I imagine what that outcome can do for my life.
And then I remove the actions and attitudes that are required to make that outcome real
Wait, what’s going on there – isn’t Martin the productive, the sensible, the Good Decision Maker?
I suppose I am, but I’m not immune to the human condition.
And that’s why I fall prey to a simple yet destructive mistake that’s part of all of our lives:
We dream too much. Or rather, we dream too much of the wrong things.
See, your brain can’t tell the difference between the experience of an actual reward or outcome, or – hang on to your brain, it might be blown right now: imagining the reward or outcome.
To your brain, an imagined outcome is exactly the same as a real outcome.
This by itself is why things like the law of attraction don’t work: the moment you colourfully imagine and visualise an outcome (be it money, clients, lifestyle or relationships or whatever), you subconscious thinks it’s already there, and goes:
“Nice. Someone bring me some laurels to rest on” and takes off its working clothes.
I never saw this as clearly as in the last few weeks, building up to releasing the CRD webinar.
Months ago, I had a huge plan for launching: personal outreach, ad campaigns, videos before and after the webiner, all designed to create some ruckus and get bums in seats.
But as I got closer to launching, and getting more excited about the outcome (lots of viewers, a new community, buyers etc etc), I gradually started removing elements from my masterplan, reducing it to a minimum viable launch. (it’s kinda the way I do things, it seems)
Which resulted in a good outcome, in terms of viewer number and level of interaction, but it didn’t impact hundreds of viewers, the way I had hoped for. Which is why I built the CRD webinar for in the first place.
No problem, but: I could have avoided that very easily, if only I had remembered:
Don’t dream of the outcome…
See, this is the dirty little secret of all personal change:
You only get to change on a personal level, if you (second mind-bomb coming up) instead of dreaming and visualising the outcome, you *visualise you being the person who does the things that will get you the outcome*.
In other words: don’t visualise what you will have – visualise who you will be.
Whether or not you eat the icecream matters far less than whether or not you’re the kind of person who doesn’t buy icecream.
Whether you struggle with procrastination daily matters less than seeing yourself as a person who relentlessly resumes that battle everyday.
Trying to will yourself into not going on social media is far less effective than choosing to be the kind of person whose habit is to put down the phone each time you think ‘Oh, I’m doing it again’.
Dream yourself up an attitude, and a set of habits and behaviours, instead of the enjoyable set of outcomes you can only get if you actually adopt those attitude, habits, and behaviours.
That way, your subconscious will actually fuel the fire you need for taking action, instead of quenching it.
When you find yourself dreaming of a cruise/girlfriend/bank balance/dream job/etc, know that you’re on thing ice.
Shift your inner image to the you that you need to be, quick as can. Otherwise, you’re likely to take your foot off the pedal, and that’s not what you want.
It doesn’t happen every year, but every so often, I enter a phase of pretty intense, lasting euphoria and happiness.
It never lasts of course (as per the Sufi’s: this too shall pass), but while it’s there it’s pretty damn awesome.
And it’s something you can work towards for yourself as well.
Of course you might not have the very helpful 12 years in a monastery and decades of meditating behind you like I do, but I just realised that you do have something in reach that can instantly, dramatically, raise your level of well-being or even happiness.
See, there are things you do that you’re enormously good at.
Things that are in your zone of genius, your unique abilities, things where you just absolutely rock it when you do it.
These are what researchers call your ‘signature strengths’.
And you all know what happens when you get down & dirty, and you go full on into exercising those strengths:
It feels awesome!
Endorphins racing through your system, joy and flow, self-confidence and a sense of joy, a definite notion of being powerful…
How could you ever forget life can feel this good?
So here’s my invitation for you, to bring more well-being and happiness into your life:
Make a habit out of exercising your signature strengths, every day even if it’s only 20 minutes.
And yes, you can find 20 minutes a day for it, especially if you consider how much more focused, balanced, and productive it makes you during the rest of the day.
No matter how much there is on your todo list, no matter how much you tell yourself you just don’t have the time, you have 20 minutes a day.
How do I know?
I know because every one of us procrastinates by doing mindless or pointless things.
If you want the 20 minutes, just steal them back from Instagram, Facebook, or Netflix, or whatever your preferred way of procrastinating might be.
Go on, make yourself happier. You deserve it.
P.s: for attendees of the CRD webinar yesterday: I’m putting together a PDF with some of the journaling questions we discussed. Should be with you today or tomorrow.
Yeah, I thought that would get your attention – and no, I haven’t gone crazy.
Thing is, I’m all about making things fun, easy, effortless – and the best way to do that, is by turning everything in life and business into some form of play.
That’s why the core attitude I live by and teach clients, is Judo, Ballet, and Chess.
Choose one of those attitudes depending on the situation, and you’ll basically become unbeatable.
As for ‘whiney neutered goats fly’: that’s an acronym I learned in Eric Barker’s excellent book ‘Barking up the wrong tree’. Highly recommended. WNGF stands for Winnable, Novel challenges, Goals, and Feedback.
These four elements are what make games fun, and you can turn every job, situation, challenge or task, into a form of play, by setting it up as WNGF.
It’s a simple and powerful creative way to very quickly give you a sense of control over your life (and business).
When something is winnable, it’s easy to stay motivated on trying again, so turn your challenges into smaller, ultra-achievable chunks.
When something is novel, it triggers curiosity – and if you’ve ever seen the way a child can completely lose all sense of time and self, you know how powerful curiosity is for reaching states of flow and sticking with the game.
Then, as you get better at winning the ultra-achievable chunks, gradually up the stakes: that way the challenge stays novel, and you’ll be creating goals – which give you something to aspire to and which helps you try harder and longer.
And when you reach the goals, when you do get the little wins, you get feedback: a neurological trigger that releases specific beneficial hormones, making you feel good about your win, wanting you to have another go.
This simple attitude can make a world of difference in how you perceive life and the challenges of being in business. It helps you create more effortless mastery, and will increase your ubeatability.
But there’s one thing you need to add to gamifying stuff, otherwise it won’t work:
Elimination. Like I said the other day: there’s way too much stuff in our lives, and the more we eliminate, the better things get.
And how to eliminate, and what to eliminate, and how to make the right decisions on eliminating, that’s exactly what you’ll learn in today’s Calibrate Reality Webinar.
Live training with Q&A, today at 7PM Europe, 1PM Eastern.
One is the automatic ‘stuck in your head’ kind, where your mind continuously tells you a story that explains your world and your experience to you.
The other is where you deliberately, thoughtfully, logically apply sense.
And while it’s a popular notion that thinking is overrated, that’s not correct.
Mindlessly rehashing stuff, yes: that’s overrated. We all do much too much of it.
But applying logic and common sense? That’s highly underrated.
Like the saying goes: common sense isn’t all that common.
The fun starts when you make it a habit to actually think things through consciously and deliberately, because that’s when you find that you’re ‘stuck in your head’ much less, throughout your days.
You’ll stop overthinking, because actual thinking creates clarity. Your mind won’t need to keep bringing back up the unfinished thoughts, because they’ll be finished, dealt with, and you’ll have clarity and decision.
And how to do that logical thinking, that’s precisely what the Calibrate Reality webinar will show you.
And if you then do the homework as well, you’ll end up with a different approach to your life and biz, and you’ll ‘magically’ find yourself making far better decisions.
With the ultimate result that your decisions will bring you better outcomes, which is kinda the point of decisions in the first place.
The webinar goes live this Thursday, 7PM Europe, 1PM Eastern.
(And if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere: Not to worry. I’ll run the webinar again, at a time more suitable for you).
Meanwhile, my longtime friend and client Paula interviewed me about what the CRD Framework is and does.
Have a listen here: CRD Interview (note: F-bomb at the start, in case you have kids around).
Interesting conversation with my coach yesterday, when I asked him why people sometimes cling to completely illogical or even nonsensical views and beliefs.
His reply: “So have you noticed your bias towards logic & reason? I’d almost be tempted to say you were a head type. :)”
Ah, but there he’s mistaken.
I’m not a head-guy, but an awareness guy.
I know the limitations of thought – after all, the conscious mind is a pretty small box to live in, if you compare it to the subconscious, which is an area that includes emotions, instinct and intuition.
But for better or worse, thinking is something we can’t avoid doing, it’s the human condition.
And that ongoing thought process we live with each day, that’s simply our mind explaining our world to us.
But if you let that run unchecked, you might well be telling yourself all kinds of falsehoods about your world.
That one is a jerk, the other a loser, the economy is screwed, politicians are liars all of them, you’re a failure, your kid is a nuisance, your spouse is selfish…
One opinion, one solitary interpretation, one potentially incorrect view after another.
Can’t be stopped, not even if you’re a monk living in reclusion (I tried).
The mind churns on, that’s what it’s for.
And I’ll be the last to claim that the process of thinking is wrong, or unnecessary, or more important than emotions.
But what I do claim is this:
99% of your thinking is done unawares, but programs you for future interpretation of the world nonetheless.
And the more you become aware of that thinking, and learn how to get better at it as your awareness increases, the happier you become and the better your results get to be (that too, I tried).
When you find life difficult, or business unsatisfying, or relationship troublesome, the place to start is shining a light on your unconscious thought patterns.
And I’ll be happy to lend you my flashlight, if you want some help.