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5 Tried, Tested, and True Ways to Level Up Your Life

5 Tried, Tested, and True Ways to Level Up Your Life

If you are reading this post, I know you are interested in hacking your life — but what exactly does that mean?

Every month or so, I get together with a group of like-minded businesspeople in Managua, and we discuss our latest projects, triumphs, failures, and sticky situations. The hours I spend with them are some of the best times of each month. Get a group of go-getters together and the theme of leveling up and achieving/striving/trying will creep in somehow.

Our last meeting, though, was different.

I’ve noticed a shift in my go-getter friends. We all want to do great things and live great lives, but we’re also tired. No longer were we talking about projects and business models. Instead, we discuss running ourselves ragged without creating a worthwhile impact.

The words I heard over and over again were freedom, family, and time. In essence, we all want to level up, and have more freedom, more family, and more time.

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How can we hack our lives to get more of those: freedom, family, and time?

1. Seek Out the “Hell yes!”

There are so many decisions we make each day, but few of them inspire us to throw our hands in the air with excitement. What if we were to use that reasoning to guide us?

  • A fun new client? Hell yes!
  • A useless meeting? No, thanks.
  • Dinner with inspiring peers? Hell yes!
  • Mind-numbing tasks? No, thanks.

Seeking out the “hell yes!” in every decision injects serious energy into every moment.

Noticing exactly how I feel about each incoming opportunity and task helps me navigate my decisions and stay true to what makes me feel awesome.

2. Do more of the good

Each and every day, I know what I should be adding to my life. I love to write when it feels like nobody else is around, no phones are ringing, and emails are blocked off. If I want to add more of that every day, I can choose to schedule it and stick to a writing schedule that feels great.

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Doing more of good stuff will feel like adding extra layers of awesome to your life.

What activities would you do more of if you had the choice? What can you do to achieve that?

    3. Do less of the bad

    Very similar to what I described above, there are activities that I long to partake in much less. Personally, the administration piece of my startup makes me feel drained and worried (even when we’re doing well). I will always have to oversee that activity, but I learned to significantly diminish my involvement by delegating straining tasks.

    Doing less of the bad stuff in your life will feel like avoiding so many traps!

    If you could choose to dump parts of your life, what would they be? Can you take some small steps to achieve that tomorrow or the next day?

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    4. Divide your life in two

    Every single action and activity in our lives falls on either side of a line. I use the line to divide my life into two areas: that which feels liberating and that which feels limiting.

    • Working from home? Liberating.
    • Taking on a picky client due to economic needs? Limiting.
    • Waking up early to write in privacy? Liberating.
    • Doing weights at the gym when I’d rather be running? Limiting.

    Keeping more of my day on the side of “liberating” opens me up to feeling free and joyful.

    What do you find liberating in your life? What do you find limiting? You can use that personal information to judo chop your decisions.

    5. Focus on the process

    I am not going to lie to you. I sit on the fence about goals and striving for better in my life. Setting goals most definitely helps me find direction, but sometimes I stress out way too much about the end result. Lately, I’ve offset that stress by trying to focus more on the actual process of achieving anything. When I’m running, it’s easy for me to start daydreaming about the beach body I want — but why not focus on the actual running instead?

    By focusing on the process, I let go of the stress to achieve something and I have a lot more fun with what’s going on in the actual moment.

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    In the end, improving our lives and living every single day as if it’s a vacation is a long journey of self-development — but it’s incredibly worthwhile.

    When you think of leveling up your life, what do you picture? How can you get there?

    Featured photo credit: Multiple layers of escalators in a shopping center via Shutterstock and inline photo by Alan Levine via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

    How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

    What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

    When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

    In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

    While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

    As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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      Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

      Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

      The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

      But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

      However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

      This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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      Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

      We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

      Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

      Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

      The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

      When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

      When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

      How to Make Decision Effectively

      Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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      1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

      You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

      Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

      Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

      2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

      You don’t have to choose all the time.

      Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

      Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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      3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

      You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

      The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

      Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

      Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

      So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

      More Tips About Decision Making

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

      Reference

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