Over the last 31 years of my life, I’ve learned a lot of habits.
I’ve studied executives from companies like Cisco, Google, Yahoo, VMware, Box, Optimizely and MTV and read numerous business articles and books ranging from Tony Robbins to Seth Godin. Many of you have searched endlessly for an answer to the question – what can I do on a daily basis that can ensure the right positive mindset?
If I only had to choose one habit that’s made the most dramatic impact on my life, I would choose this one: The 10 years test. This habit has helped me get back on my feet time after time.
Fight or Flight Mode
Whenever I get thrown into a tough situation, my initial reaction is feel negative. I’ll get angry, upset, worried, panicked, frustrated or (insert any other negative emotion you can think of here).
My guess is that 80% of the people in the world have this exact same reaction. The reason?
In the early (and primitive) days of mankind, humans were conditioned to be in a “fight or flight” mode. After all, it was critical for humans to trust their emotions and instinct to survive. Nowadays, we use rational thought a lot more to assess perceived threats, but our emotional response can still be very similar.
For example: when you run into a tough situation, do you notice you have an actual physiological response to a perceived threat? I know I do. My shoulders tense up. My breathing becomes less regular. My eyebrows furrow. My smile turns into a frown. This why humans are so quick to react negatively in rough situations. We panic. We stress. We worry.
It’s only natural.
When I flunked my economics class in college, I was devastated. I thought I would never land my dream job. I was wrong. I studied harder than ever the next quarter. I even went to office hours with the professor. I aced the class. I bounced back. I got 6 job offers shortly, including offers from Cisco and Google. Today I have my dream job as the VP of Partnerships at an incredible company.
When I broke up with the first person I had ever fallen in love with, I was worried that I could never live a life as fun and awesome as the one I had with her. I was wrong. I bounced back. I got into the best shape of my life (I’ve run 406 miles in 65 days), have traveled to places I only dreamed about going to (like Spain, Croatia and Portugal) and am more excited about life than ever before. Next up? Traveling to Hawaii, Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo. I can’t wait for the next adventure. It’s time for a new chapter in life.
When I got a letter in the mail threatening a lawsuit, I was stressed out like never before. Seriously, I could feel my heart drop into my stomach and trust me, that’s a terrible feeling. I remembered lying in bed worrying about the future. I thought it was a huge disaster. I was wrong. I bounced back. I called an attorney and took care of it in less than 2 weeks. Problem solved.
So how did I deal with these situations?
The Secret Habit
Here’s the secret habit:
It’s called the “10 years test.” All you have to do is ask these 3 simple questions:
- Will this matter in 10 days?
- Will this matter in 10 months?
- Will this matter in 10 years?
Every time I do this, I find that the answer to the last question is almost always “no.” And that changes everything.
Give it a try. It could change your life. It changed mine.