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One simple secret to success in 2017

One simple secret to success in 2017

Today you will learn what successful people like Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss do instead of making New Year’s resolutions to kickstart their new year.

A lot of people have already failed their New Year’s resolutions by now, and there are many reasons why. Do you know what the best predictor of future behavior in sales marketing is? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not your desires, hobbies, or needs. It’s your past behavior. The interesting part is that this applies to many more areas in life than your consumer habits. For someone that promotes change (like me) that can be a bit demotivating. But does that mean we’re all doomed for rest of our lives like in Groundhog Day? I don’t think so. It simply means that real and lasting change may not occur over night.

I like to look at people that already accomplished what I want to do. Tim Ferriss and Anthony Robbins share one common practice at the end of each year. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, they review their past year. I kind of like the idea of doing the opposite of the mainstream (I’m a rebel, I know), and thought why not give it a try? So, I took a step back and reviewed my 2016. Here’s what happened:

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Enter the fitness world

I started to work part-time as a trainer at a gym called West Side Fitness. After getting my certification as a strength coach back in 2012, I put the project aside. Fear of failure was probably one of the reasons. I was training friends tough during that period. After 3 years I felt the urge to set my foot in the fitness industry. I applied, got hired, and started to train clients. A life changing decision. More on that later.

Moving in with my girlfriend

My parents moved to Italy due to retirement (we were living together in Zurich, Switzerland), and my girlfriend and I moved together. Another life changing decision, and we’re still together (*victory*). I was a very selfish person when Sara and I met more than 3 years ago. Focusing entirely on me was kind of a normal state back then, and unfortunately, the feeling of emptiness, too. Sara taught me many lessons, such as the pleasure of sharing, giving, and basically not being the center of the world (all the time). I’ve learned and matured a lot since then, something I can’t thank her enough for. The good became better and the bad became… well, better too. I’ve still got a lot of work in front of me; but hey, I’m on my way.

My boss fired me

I was working part-time as a secretary at an accounting office (while going to university and working at the gym). I absolutely hated the job. Why did I stay there for 3 years? Because I could print all of my university stuff there (more than 200 pages per month) and ask them about matters regarding admin and taxes. Weak reasons, I know. While being there, I did what I needed to do. Not more, not less. They fired me because of the lack of motivation. My boss did me a HUGE favor. I sleep better now, and have more energy for stuff that matters, such as:

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Graduating in psychology

After 3 years of studying, I got my bachelor’s degree last summer. It was a wonderful time, during which I met amazing people and learned things not only related to my work today, but also for life. The decision not to follow with a master’s degree was a tough one, but also an important one, because it let me to the following:

Being broke and creating Muscle & Mind

Managing money was never one of my fortes. Being fired at the accounting office and not having much time outside finishing my studies and working as a trainer led me to a “financially restrictive phase.” I was broke; some students can probably relate to that. Honestly, I created Muscle & Mind out of anger, frustration, and the wish to conquer the world. At the beginning I had no clue about marketing, sales funnels, and product for prospects. I only knew that I needed a change in my life.

An amazing journey began, and with it an emotional rollercoaster. After a lot of research and procrastination, I got a running website, social media presence, and most importantly, I started to write. Becoming independent was without a doubt the most difficult decision I’ve made for years. I was scared (and still am sometimes), and doubted whether I could pull it off or not. But here I am today. Coaching clients and writing an article for one of the biggest lifestyle and productivity blogs in the world. Something I could never have imagined 7 or 8 months ago.

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“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs

Am I running a million-dollar business? Is my inbox flooded with coaching requests? No, but who knows what is going to happen in the next 7, 12, or 24 months?

Torn pectoral muscle

I torn my pec last November, and it sucks. Any kind of pressing movements are out of sight for a while. But life goes on. I’m seeing a specialist soon, and will go through rehab. Meanwhile, I’ve got more time for Sara, Muscle & Mind, squats, and deadlifts.

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Meeting one of the strongest guys in Switzerland

Daniele Pauli is strong – REALLY strong. He competes in powerlifting. His current total: 760kg (1672 pounds), 270kg (594 pounds) squats, 180kg (396 pounds) bench press, and 310kg (682) deadlift. (Sorry Daniele, if the numbers are outdated). I met him at West Side Fitness, where he occasionally trains and coaches clients. He’s the best personal trainer I know, and simply an amazing human being. He taught me so many things inside, and especially outside, the gym. Thank you, Daniele.

All in all, 2016 has been a hell of a ride for me. Big changes, and most of them were good. Some things stayed the same. I still got a lot of work in front of me, but that doesn’t worry me; actually, I’m really looking forward to it.

Reviewing your last year can be a powerful practice if you want to make 2017 a huge success. Your past doesn’t have to determine your future. And understanding where you’re coming from can be a big help in deciding where you want to go. 2017 is still fresh, but sooner than you might think you will be reviewing this year. So, take a step back, look at what happened, find out what worked and what hasn’t, change strategies where needed, and last but not least, to end with Dan Pena’s words: Just F***ing do it!

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Featured photo credit: Getty Images via huffingtonpost.com

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Roberto Corbacio

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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