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3 Steps To Success for Intelligent People

3 Steps To Success for Intelligent People

Are you completely successful? Have you achieved all of your goals? Are you living a fully intentional life? If you are, I salute you, and you probably don’t need to read this article. I can’t make the same claim. I do aspire to live more intentionally, though, and reach my goals the smart way. I want to share with you some research-based strategies that smart people use to reach their goals, achieve success, and gain personal agency by taking charge over their life, in 3 steps. To learn more, check out this video, and read about the 3 steps below.

Step 1: Evaluate Reality Clearly

What does it mean to evaluate your reality clearly? That means gaining a deep understanding of your external environment — your immediate surroundings, your social circle, your career, and anything else of relevance. That also means your own internal environment — your patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. Four factors obstruct our ability to evaluate reality clearly:

Social prescriptions about appropriate ways of perceiving reality;

Cached thoughts based on our previous experiences that lead us astray;

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Thinking errors that our brain makes due to faulty wiring;

• Finally, an emotional reluctance to face the truth of reality when that requires changing our minds and updating our beliefs based on new information.

Learning about and watching for these challenges in a systematic manner improves our decision-making.

Step 2: Make Effective Decisions

Next, you want to make effective decisions about how to reach your goals.

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Consider your options, based on your knowledge of your outer and inner environment. Remember, the only things in life you can control are your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. And that’s great news, since your success is under your own control! You can always reinterpret your success based on what you decide is important to you at any time in your life. Be aware that you can change both your external surroundings, and your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, to help you to get what you want in life. Take the time to listen to advice, but make sure to adapt this advice to yourself and your own needs.

Evaluate the various paths available to you, assess the probability that each path will get you to your goals. Then make a plan for how to proceed, and take the path that seems best suited to go where you want.

Step 3: Achieve Your Goals

Finally, implement the decisions you made and travel along the path. Remember, you will usually encounter some unknown obstacles on your road to what you want. Be excited about getting feedback from your environment and learning about better paths forward.

Take the opportunity to change your path if a new one opens up that seems better suited to help you meet your goals. Be open to changing your very goals themselves based on what you learn. You are the only one who gets to decide what goals you pursue, so make sure to be very intentional about the goals you set and the methods you choose to pursue these goals.

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As you can imagine, these things are easy to say, but hard to do. It’s very helpful to get support along the way, through learning about strategies oriented toward this purpose. However, above all, it takes your own commitment to the goal of gaining greater agency over your life and living intentionally.

Here are some final thoughts to consider:

• What personal experiences did you have that illustrate the benefits of gaining agency and living intentionally?

• What have you gained from reading this article?

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• What specific steps can you take to implement the strategies described here into your life?

Featured photo credit: Smart Brain via pinterest.com

More by this author

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

Cognitive neuroscientist and behavioral economist; CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts; multiple best-selling author

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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