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3 Powerful Steps to Your Success

3 Powerful Steps to Your Success

You know those people who have the “God Is My Driver” bumper sticker on their cars? I’m always scared when I see that bumper sticker. I can imagine those people letting go of the wheel of their cars and just trusting in The Lord Above to steer them right.

This sticker is indicative of a broader attitude in life, of letting things take their own course by believing they are all predetermined anyway (also known as fatalism). Now, it’s not only the deeply pious who take this attitude. I often see even the most committed secular folks say they’re leaving their lives in the hands of fate, the universe, or whatever else.

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I think we can do better. Let’s build Heaven on Earth for ourselves and make sure we get what we want out of life and achieve true success.

How do you achieve that success? All it takes is 3 steps, as this video describes:

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1. Evaluating reality clearly, to
2. Make effective decisions, that
3. Achieve our short and long-term goals.
Now, these steps may sound simple in theory, but they are not so simple in practice at all. Our mental patterns of thinking and feeling make it quite challenging to enact these 3 steps in the most effective manner. Let’s unpack these steps to see exactly what each of them means.

1. Evaluate reality clearly.

What does it mean to evaluate your reality clearly? It 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.

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Four factors obstruct our ability in evaluating reality clearly, including:
Social prescriptions about appropriate ways of perceiving reality;
Internalized preconceptions based on our previous experiences;
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.

2. Make effective decisions.

Next, you want to make effective decisions about how to reach your goals. Consider your options, based on your knowledge of your outer and inner environment. 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. Evaluate the various paths available to you, and 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.

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3. Reach your goals and find success.

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.

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 such as through resources 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.

I will leave you with some questions that will help you aim toward success:
• What kind of benefits, if any, do you think you might gain from living intentionally?
• What kind of challenges do you anticipate you might face to living intentionally? How can you overcome these challenges?
• What are specific next steps you will take to live more intentionally?

Featured photo credit: Successful via flickr.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 July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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