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Force Yourself to be Productive with Conditional Events

Force Yourself to be Productive with Conditional Events
    Photo credit: gayle_n (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    I’ll be the first to admit it; doing stuff is difficult. By “stuff”, I don’t mean eating, or playing video games, or doing easy things – nope, I’m talking about the things in life we decide we’ll do because they’re good for us or will help us improve.

    Every day, I find things that I’d like to in order to live a better life, such as doing a certain exercise every day, drinking enough water, or writing morning pages. These are all things that I know will make me feel better or learn more.

    So why are they so friggin’ hard to do consistently?

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    My theory as to why these things are hard stems from Isaac Newton’s first law of motion: a body at rest tends to stay at rest. We humans operate kind of like lightening; we naturally want to take the path of least resistance. Most of us live a in a country prosperous enough to afford us a comfortable living in exchange for work that is oftentimes sedentary and mentally easy after the initial learning period. Because we can get along fine doing this kind of work, we’re content to spend the rest of our time diverting attention to TV, video games, and other things that are easy to consume.

    Still, we all have goals and know we could be doing more to reach them. Maybe it’s being leaner. Maybe it’s learning a new skill. Maybe it’s a big goal like writing a novel. Whatever our goals may be, the steps we need to take to achieve them are usually right in front of our faces. The hard part is getting up off our butts and doing them.

    Today I’m going to detail a technique I use to make myself do the things I know are necessary for reaching my goals. This technique involves removing the need to internally motivate yourself by setting up conditional events that make doing things necessary, or at least very, very easy.

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    So, What Are Conditional Events?

    The way I think of conditional events is in the context of computer programming. In a computer program, a conditional event describes something that will be done once a certain condition is met. Most programming languages use “if” statements or “while” statements to accomplish this. Here’s a small example that anyone should be able to understand:

    if (user logs in) {

    display welcome message

    }

    This is pseudocode, meaning it’s not written in any particular language, but it should still illustrate the concept well. Basically, a conditional statement makes something happen every time something else happens.

    How Can I Apply This To My Life?

    Applying the logic of conditional events is quite easy, actually. I have a four-step process for incorporating a conditional statement into my own life that you can follow:

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    1. Pick a specific goal you have
    2. Isolate one action that needs to be taken to work towards achieving the goal
    3. Tie this action to another action you already do (we’ll call this the parent action), making sure the pairing makes sense
    4. Make sure you do the conditional action every time you do the parent action

    Building conditional actions into your life in this manner has a very powerful effect: it eliminates much of the preparation involved in doing the desired action, thus removing any reason you could use to justify not doing it. Essentially, it makes working towards your goals a part of your daily routine. This is a really important fact, as something that’s part of your routine will take a lot less of your mental energy to do than something that’s been added on.

    Now that you know how to build conditional statements into your daily life, as well as why doing so is beneficial, let me provide you with a few examples of conditional statements I use in my own life. I’m sure you’ll be able to use at least one of them!

    • Goal: Drink at least a gallon of water a day. Conditional: Every time I use the bathroom, I down a 20 ounce bottle of water and refill it. This essentially creates a loop that keeps me well hydrated.
    • Goal: Be able to do at least 15 pullups. Conditional: I put a pullup bar in my dorm room. Every time I come in, I do five pullups. This is a conditional I took from the Army; many basic training camps will make cadets do a few pullups before entering the mess hall for meals.
    • Goal: Write down my thoughts every morning in a journal. Conditional: I made my computer be my alarm. Every morning, it wakes me up and I have to turn on my monitors to disable it. At this point, I’m already at my computer, so I sit down and write.

    These are just a few ideas; there are literally endless possibilities for conditional statements you can build into your own life. Come up with some of your own, and start making headway on your goals! If you like, you can also share the ones you create in the comments to give inspiration to others.

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset

    How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset

    Are you an innovator? Do you have revolutionary and radical ways of thinking? Do you have zero tolerance for ignorant people? If you answered yes to these three questions then you are most likely a Maverick.

    Mavericks are essential to top performing organizations. They think differently, act differently, and often times piss people off. Think of some of the most successful people in the world, they are typically Mavericks. Think Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs. However, we will look at three people you might not have thought about when you think of Mavericks. These three completely buck the status quo and disregard traditional ways of thinking.

    Video Summary

    So, let’s take a look at what a Maverick is, how you can embrace a Maverick mindset, and why you should protect the Mavericks in your organization.

    Do What You Can’t!

      “The haters, the doubters are all drinking champagne on the top deck of the Titanic and we are the f***ing Iceberg” – Casey Neistat

      If you have ever been told you can’t do something, then you must do that thing. Casey Neistat is a fascinating person with a strong message. There is no question Neistat possesses a Maverick mindset.

      “Keep your head down, follow the rules, do as you’re told, play it safe, wait your turn, ask permission, learn to compromise… This is Terrible Advice!” [1]

      Neistat suggests we should do what we can’t. A simple rule here is to pay attention to people when they tell you that you can’t do something. The rule… do that thing.

      Mavericks do not play well with others, yet this is not a bad thing. Why should we play well with others? Should you compromise with a person who seeks to hold you back, NO!

      Neistat provides the perfect analogy for Maverick thinking in a short video. Here is a brief description of the video:

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      • Life is like going the wrong way on a moving sidewalk.
      • Walk and you stay put.
      • Stand still and you go backwards.
      • To get ahead… you have to hustle!

      Got Beat? Good!

        “You want to improve your mental toughness? Try this: Be Tougher.” – Jocko Willink

        Former Navy Seal and author of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win is the perfect example of a Maverick. John Eagan nicely sums up an interview between Jocko and Echo Charles during a Q&A in 2015. [2]

        Echo Charles: “How do you deal with setbacks, failures, delays, defeats, or other disasters?”
        Jocko: “Good.”

        What a perfect response! Let’s take a deeper look at what Jocko meant by his simple response—Good.

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        Oh, the mission got cancelled? Good. We can focus on the other one.
        Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better.
        Didn’t get funded? Good. We own more of the company.
        Didn’t get the job you wanted? Good. You can get more experience and build a better resume.
        Got injured? Good. Needed a break from training.
        Got tapped out? Good. It’s better to tap out in training, then tap out on the street.
        Got beat? Good. You learned.
        Unexpected problems? Good. We have the opportunity to figure out a solution.

        “When things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that is going to come from it.”

        Protect Your Mavericks

          “What keeps you awake at night? Nothing… I keep other people awake at night.” – James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, 26th United States Secretary of Defense

          As I mentioned before, Mavericks typically do not play well with others. They create conflict and generally make people feel uncomfortable. Yet, they play a critical role to success in an organization and senior leaders must protect them. [3] Bob and Gregg Vanourek provide the following advice,

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          “Mavericks are essential to innovation. Senior executives play a critical role: leaders must protect the Mavericks in their organizations. They must step up and give Mavericks space to operate, providing organizational cover for Mavericks to work their magic and keep the flame of innovation alight.”

          United States Secretary of Defense James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis is a believer in this credo and is a Maverick himself. Look no further than the following three powerful quotes from the Mad Dog.

          1. “There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.”
          2. “You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”
          3. “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

          Carnivores Eat Herbivores

          So, how can you adopt a Maverick mindset? It’s actually pretty simple. Become a Carnivore. Let’s end with these five simple tips to becoming a Maverick.

          1. Do what you can’t. If someone says you can’t do something, do that exact thing.
          2. Be tougher. If you get beat or fail at something, remember Jocko’s advice. Good.
          3. Become a hunter. Confront the brutal facts of the world and decide to be a hunter.
          4. Don’t be afraid to give people a piece of your mind. Don’t allow yourself or others to be bullied, in essence, bully the bully!
          5. Use sage advice from Cornell Professor and author of Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems Derek Cabrera and ask, “What pisses you off the most?” Your answer will be what you are most passionate about, go after it!

          Finally, remember there is no easy path to success. To become a Maverick, you have to work hard. There is no magic formula or magic pill. People are not born to be a Maverick, they must embrace it and work for it.

          “There’s no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist. We are all equals as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that’s that. I am not talented. I am obsessed.” – Conor McGregor

          Reference

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