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3 Ways to Be the Designer of Your Own Life

3 Ways to Be the Designer of Your Own Life

Blonde lady with a passion for shoes looking at part of her collection trying to decide which ones to wear

    Jake, was my trusted lieutenant. One of the smartest people I knew. He could crunch numbers like no one else can. A wizard of sorts for all practical purposes. But the one quality I respected, the most, in Jake was his attitude. He was content where he was. He took life as it came. Never overly ambitious about achieving that title or the corner office. If life gave him that, he was happy.

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    And then there is KT. Dear friend. Since childhood, he had only one dream. To be the captain of a ship. Life was all about sailing. Collecting pictures of ships. Going to movies that dealt with sea adventures. Playing with ship toys. I could go on and on. Guess what he ended up becoming? A captain. Sailing from port to port. Commanding some of the largest ships in the maritime trade. Knew what he wanted. Got what he wanted.

    Not to forget Manny. The one guy who you would love to meet again. He had the most charming personality among the people I knew. Genuine love for people. He could laugh and cry with you. His single biggest strength was his ability to relate to people. Manny was the proverbial glue in people’s lives. Manny knew he was a people person.  He could rally a team and get them moving in any direction he wanted. Not surprisingly so he now leads one of the largest corporations on Wall Street.

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    Three stories. From completely different backgrounds. Stories of individuals who knew exactly what they wanted.

    Others stand in awe of people who  know what they want. Know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Know their appetite for risk. Some call this “the designer life”. What is the big difference between people like these who have a designer life and the rest of us who are still finding our way?

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    Like Jake, there are folks who have made their peace with the present. Money, career, position, advancement all matter to these folks as well. However, you won’t find them losing their sleep on it. They will go after all these at the pace they decide. At a time and place that they feel won’t disrupt their peace and comfort. The important point here is to be at peace with the design you have chosen for your life. 

    The beauty of life is that the non-Jakes are not evil people. We are just happy enough to put our best foot forward and live life to its fullest. We live life on our terms – much like the Jakes. For those of us non-Jakes, the struggle always, is to figure out, what to do to get that fancy, designer, glitter-filled life that KT and Manny live.

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    Here are three ways how you can get your designer life like the heroes I know:

    1. Start from where you are: Simple? No. Because most often the dilemma is if it is already too late. We worry if we have missed the boat. Whether by way of age, health or wealth the biggest question is did I forever miss the opportunity by not going for it when I was 20 or when I was in optimal health, and more. The secret is, no matter how old you are or healthy, there is always a way to achieve your goal. You have to trust and put your best foot forward. My all time favorite example is the life of Chris Gardner who went from being homeless to becoming a successful entrepreneur, investor, stock broker and many other things. What a transformation! You can start from where you are. 
    2. Know what you want: KT, Manny, and Chris Gardner all knew what they wanted. Chris Gardner’s face-to-face with reality came when he spotted the red Ferrari 308 pull into the parking spot. And the rest is history. The point is, even if you don’t already know what it is you want, its okay. Get cracking. And decide to find that goal, target, purpose, objective today. It’s okay that you did not know it already. But even if you started today, there is every chance you will make it if you know what is it that you want. You are the designer of your life. Design the way you want it.
    3. Give it all you got: If you got past the first two and figured out what it is you want, it ain’t gonna happen by magic. As told by Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. True. Wanting a Ferrari is not the same as having to work for it. Wanting the CEO title is not as easy as wishing it. You have got to burn the midnight oil. And be ready to work weekends.

    Getting a designer life is a lot simpler than getting a designer shoe. Because you have very little control over who or how your shoe is designed. With life – you can design it all by yourself in the way you want it.

    Get yourself a designer life.

    Will you?

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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