BETA

Motivation

 

-There are two locusts of control: internal and external.

--Internal implies that your results are based on your own actions.

--External implies that the results were outside your control.

---External locust of control can reduce motivation to take on challenges.

 

-When you link something difficult to a choice you care about (the “Why”), self motivation emerges naturally

 

-Apathy and laziness are not issues with the capacity to develop self-motivation. They are issues with emotional numbness.

 

-The necessary components to improving self motivation is to answer “Why?”. Each action you take is part of a larger plan.

 

-Make a choice into a meaningful decision, and self motivation will emerge.

 

Teams

 

-The interactions between the members of the team are actually more important than the makeup of the team itself.

 

-The best performing teams encouraged members to speak up about errors.

 

-Average performers with the right interactions can consistently outperform a team of superstars.

 

Focus

 

-When emergencies happen, “cognitive tunneling can cause people to become overly focused on whatever is directly front of their eyes”. This is called “reactive thinking”.

--In an emergency, people will tend to fall back on their habits. This is why consistently is necessary for success.

--When practice, your reactive thinking becomes refined. You have essentially “outsorced the choices” that you need to make.

 

-Create a habit of mentally narrating your life, and creating mental models to visualize your expectations.

--To become genuinely productive we must take control of our attention, we must build mental models that put us firmly in charge.

 

Goal setting

 

-Smart

-Measurable

-Achievable

-Realistic

-Timeline-based

 

-SMART goal will never be overly lofty, since they are meant to be “Realistic”.

--Creativity requires believing in something which is not achievable right away. They are called “stretch goals”

--List your biggest ambitions, and then break them down to SMART steps.

 

Managing others

 

-Types of company cultures that yield the most success

--Star: Elite employees who are driven, competitive and have educations. Venture capitalists love them.

--Engineering: Epitomized by engineers debating the best way to solve a problem (Silicon Valley)

--Bureaucratic: Extensive rulebooks, organization charts and systems.

--Autocratic: Single leader.

–Commitment: Loyalty above all else.

 

Decision making

 

-We naturally analyze the costs and benefits of each choice prior to deciding. Most of us do this subconciously

 

-We cant predict the future. Yet by considering possible futures, both good and bad, we can improve our decision making ability.

 

-Practical improvements:

--Expose yourself to both successes and disappointments. Only with a variety of knowledge can you get a clear picture of reality.

--Start with an initial guess for how an interaction with a person may go. Prejudices occur when you start with an initial guess, but then fail to change that guess as new knowledge comes in

--Envision various futures and make predictions as to their likelihoods.

--Seek to gain a wide spectrum of knowledge.

 

Innovation

 

-90% of the concepts in the “creative” manuscripts already existed elsewhere. It was the combinations that were new.

 

-Creativity is connecting existing ideas to make something new, which then seems obvious.

 

-The panic and stress during the creative process is not a sign that things are falling apart but rather part of the process.

 

Absorbing Data

 

-In modern times, information blindness can happen when there is too much to absorb.

 

-When we are overloaded with information, we stop making good choices.

 

-We can only absorb information if we can mentally break it down into digestible chunks.

 

-To organize information, we tend to reduce things to two or three option.

 

-Writing is better than reading. It requires us to break our natural flow and engage with the content due to the slow pace of writing.

 

-Take and engineering approach to problems working through each problem step by step:

--Define problem

--Gather data

--Creatively list potential solutions

--Debate on which solution to attempt.

--Experiment by trying the solution out.

– Repeat

 

Habits

 

-Your habits are involuntary and you often have no idea how they are affecting you.

 

-You can compensate for a lack of natural talent with hard work, good habits and consistency.

 

-While we claim to be rational creatures our immediate gratification pushes us slowly into bad habits.

 

-The mind has trouble seeing the long term consequences of little habits which nibble away at our success.

 

-The compound effect is always working, you simply decide on which direction, positive or negative. You need to have clear goals to focus your brain on so that the compound effect works in your favor.

--Its important that you write down your goals.

--Writing them down will help you clarify them.

 

-Specific tips include:

 

--Triggers: Think through triggers for your habits. When you feel emotional, what habits get triggered?

--Cleanup: Clean up your environment of temptations for bad habits (Alcohol, junk food….)

--Purging: Practice removing a bad habit for 30 days

--Convenience: Make sure the good habits are convenient (Nearby gym)

--Replacement: Fill up on healthy food first so there is less room for junk food

--Compete: Create friendly competition.

--Patience: The result wont appear for several months

 

Influences

 

-Take full responsibility for any success or failure.

--For your body to be at peak performance you must be particular with the nutrients you ingest.

--For your mind to be at peak performance you must also be careful what goes into it.

 

-The fear mongering news is negative junk food for your brain. Don’t fill your precious one of a kind mind with useless news articles.

--Negative news results in high ratings and advertising dollars because our prehistoric brains are fearful, aiming for self preservation and advertisers know this.

 

-People will pull you down to their level of poor choices and lack of discipline if you let them.

--Find a partner who is also committed to peak performance to help you stay consistent, but also to get honest feedback.

 

-Do not tolerate any disrespect.

 

-Do not tolerate tardiness unless you want people yo be consistently late when meeting you.

 

Acceleration

 

-Small moments of pushing through the pain will separate you from everyone else.

--For every wall you face in your career, recognize that your competitors are also facing a similar wall, success will be decided by which of you has the strength to push through that wall.

 

The practising mind

 

-Shift your perspective from focusing on some future, far off, delusional, perfect goal, and start focusing on the process of getting there.

--Your goals are meant as a guide to give you direction.

--Overly focusing on the future creates stress and anxiety in the present.

 

-Life itself is nothing more than one longer practice session.

 

The learning begins

 

-Life is all about practising, whether dealing with a child’s emotions, or your work schedule.

 

-With such distracted minds, we wonder why we are always tired, never questioning the absurdity of it

--The practising mind is laser focused on the present task, and results in a calm feeling free from anxiety.

 

Process, not product

 

-Practice is about awareness, focus, and intention.

--This is contrast to learning, which is something you can passively absorb.

 

-Product:

– We tend to think mostly about the goal, which is in the future and creates pressure in the present.

--You get anxiety with every little mistake, fearing you are moving away from the goal. The mistakes then become barriers.

--Focusing on the product creates impatience and anxiety, and makes tou see the process as simply drudgery, a nuisance on the path towards the goal.

 

-Process:

--When you focus on what you are doing now, you feel refreshed since you can sense yourself moving closed to the goal.

–The mistakes becomes just little adjustments to the process. You don’t feel such negative emotions.

--Focusing on the process yields patience and brings with it a sense of mastery and self confidence.

 

-Focus on the process in order increase the odds of actually achieving the product. Realize that when looking back on what you have achieved you likely remember the feelings on self discipline and mastery.

 

-We classify unenjoyable activities as “work”. We like to prejudge each activity as either work or recreation.

-Anything you classify as “work” is something which probably requires many hundreds of little subtle decisions that you are concerned about getting incorrect. You will daydream about your “non work” activities later in the day, thus leaving the present.

 

Creating the habits we desire

 

-Habits are things we do naturally, intuitively and efficiently, and you must be intentional with your habits. To improve your habits, first decide that actions you want to take, unemotionally, and then perform them repeatedly.

 

-You can replace an old habit with a new one by choosing a trigger (such as an emotion you feel, or a specific physical action to perform).

--Use that trigger to begin your pre practiced routine.

– The trigger is simply meant to tell you when to begin your pre defined unemotional routine,

 

Perception change creates patience

 - Patience creates a sense of calmness and is born from being in the present moment.

 -Step back and become the observer viewing your thoughts.

--Step 1 on changing your perspective is to shift into the present moment.

--Step 2 is realizing that “perfection” is a moving target.

 -The real joy is found in the ability to learn and to experience growth moment by moment.

 

The 4 “S” words

 

-Simplify: Create realistic goals so that when you achieve them, you build mental momentum.

-Small: Break your goal into small sub goals so you can focus on each part separately.

-Short: Only spend 45 minutes on the goal at once

-Slow: going slowly forces you to pay attention.

 

Equanimity and DOC

 

-DOC stands for “Do, Observe, Correct” and is how you should handle every process.

 

-Equanimity is a sense of “even temperates and calmness”. You need to cultivate a sense of non-judgement to embody this.

--You likely immediately begin judging, the moment you wake up, thinking about how you slept compared to some ideal sleep. You filter everything through your past experiences and future expectations. And yet this perfect ideal is always evolving.

 

-We tend to thing that “good” and “correct” behaviour yields happiness and “bad” and “wrong” behaviour yields unhappiness.

--Instead simply observe yourself.

--The observer is the one who is listening as your ego speaks.

--Align yourself with the observer, your true self, and view your internal chatty mental dialog as your ego.

--Notice the chatter in your head about financial, strsses, deadline and emotions.

--Work on being the observer, behind it, and thus becoming unaffected by it.

--The ego is subjectively judging everything while the observer is objectively observing.

--Meditation is the method to naturally cultivate the observer in yourself.

 

-The benefits of meditation cannot be described, they must be experienced.

 

Teach and learn from children

 

-Children have and unfamiliar perspective on life , and we are not above learning from them. Times moves slowly for children. Going somewhere special next week seems like “forever” away for them, while we desperately wish next week was further away with our urgent deadlines. Time seems to move faster as we get older, your 30s seemingly gone in 3 years instead of 10.

 

-Children don’t feel the urgency that adults do, they focus on the present day. This is good that it is present minded but bad because they can’t see the value of sticking with a skill for many years, and so they become impatience. Adults on the other hand can see how discipline connects to long term success but this creates its own form of impatience.

 

-Children are always watching you and you will notice both your positive and negative traits reflected in your children. Today children are learning much more than we did at their age, and so we can potentially learn a lot from their perspective.

 

The 5 steps on mastering workflow.

 

1. Capture: Gather all possible open loops together.

 

2. Clarify: Decide if the loop is actionable, if there is a clear next step towards achieving the goal.

-2.1. If it is not actionable, it is either:

--Trash: Keep or toss at will.

--Action Later: Place in a mental file system or a “someday” list.

--Reference: File as potentially valuable information for another project.

-2.2. If it is actionable, ask these questions:

--It is doable in under 2 minutes? If so, do it.

--Are you the person to do it? If not, delegate.

--Is this action going to take longer than 2 minutes? If so, defer it to a “next actions” list.

 

3. Organize: To do this you must collect.

-A list of projects, which can be acomplished in 1 year and require more than 1 action step.

-A calendar, which has time specific actions.

-A list of reminders of next actions, for actions that take more than 2 minutes and cannot be delegated

-A list of things one is waiting for.

 

4. Reflect. Check the lists you have created and view your calendar and action lists daily. Update the lists regularly and ensure you have a clear, complete view of what currently needs to be done.

 

5. Engage: Use one of the following models

-The 4 criteria model can root out limitations for a project: (1) your capability, (2) your availability (3) your energy (4) your priorities.

-The 3 fold model helps define work for what it is. (1) Predefine work already on your calendar or next actions lists. (2) Unexpected work (3) Clearing up old messages or meeting notes.

-The horizons model looks at different horizons.

(1) Ground horizon, the current actions

(2) Current project horizon (your current projects)

(3) Goals horizon, both personal and work experiences one want to have in 2 years.

(4) Vision horizon, things one wants yo achieve in 3 to 5 years

(5) Purpose & principles horizons, the bigger picture of ones life.

 

The 5 phases of project planning

 

1.Define purpose, one’s desires and boundaries.

-Purpose: One defines success, aligns resources, motivates, clarifies and expand options

2.Envision outcomes, where one wants to end up

-Principles: Envision success for each person to ensure everyone has the same values

3.Brainstorm, ask questions about specifics

-Brainstorming: Capture any idea. Do not judge, challenge or criticize ideas. Aim for quantity not quality.

4.Organize, figure out details and clear up anything left over from brainstorming.

-Organizing: Connect ideas via natural relationships.

5.Act, identify next actions to solidify the path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willpower

 

-Under the Microscope (UTM) exercises examine how specific ideas shape our lives and willpower utilization.

 

-Willpower Experiments (WE) strategize self-control improvements.

 

What Willpower Is And Why It Matters

Willpower can be separated into three distinct powers:

  1. I won’t”: Rejecting undesirable consequences

  2. I will”: Forcing to act regardless of motivation

  3. I want”: Remembering your long-term desires

-As humans evolved, willpower’s importance in not offending tribe members and selectively picking mates increased. Once distinguishing humans from animals, levels of willpower now differentiate humans amongst each other.

 

-Having more willpower typically coincides with greater happiness, health, and success. Humans’ prefrontal cortexes, the central controller of our actions, expanded and connected to other brain regions.

 

-Researcher Robert Sapolsky argues that the cortex’s primary function is biasing our brains toward doing “the harder thing,” thus providing a neuroscientific basis for delayed gratification and long-term planning.

UTM


-What is the most difficult thing for you to resist? Evolution left the brain’s more primal (and potentially outdated) instincts underneath newer additions like willpower.

 

-Some neuroscientists describe this as humans having one brain but two minds. Willpower challenges arise from these minds’ conflicting desires.

UTM


-What do your brain’s primal parts want? What do the most controlled parts want? Naming each part can help identify their influences over your decisions.

 

-Self-control requires self-awareness, understand what seems irresistible and how this makes you act. 

WE: Track Your Willpower Choices


Seemingly insignificant decisions may be surprisingly influential. Resist small temptations or try meditating. One study found improved attentiveness and self-control after only three hours of meditating.

WE: Five Minute Meditation

Slowly inhale and exhale for five minutes, focusing solely on your breath. Once comfortable, extend this to 15 minutes. Expect wandering thoughts to arise; just refocus on your breathing.

 

The Willpower Instinct

Your Body Was Born To Resist Cheesecake

-Alongside mental components, willpower involves physiological patterns such as a racing heart or shortness of breath. Self-control temporarily calms us enough to overcome such impulses.

 

-The fight-or-flight response, triggered by the brain’s amygdala as we decide between escaping or fighting threats, releases stress hormones into our blood and rational prefrontal cortex.

 

-Stress, therefore, evolved to oppose willpower. When tempted, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that convinces our prefrontal cortex to give in to the temptation.

 

-Willpower helps us recognize that cheesecakes and tigers pose different threats, thereby requiring different approaches.

UTM


-Identify what unwanted thought or feeling makes you act against your desires. The pause-and-plan response represents a new approach for internal conflicts, somewhat contradicting fight-or-flight.

 

-Pause-and-plan increases the variation between two heartbeats, or heart-rate variability (HRV), and decreases heart rate. Fight-or-flight does the opposite. Individuals’ baseline HRVs differ, but anything that increases physical health while reducing negative emotions (e.g. stress or depression) tends to increase HRV.

WE: Breathe Your Way To Self-Control


-When tempted, slowing your breathing to five breaths per minute (one breath every 12 seconds) to activate your prefrontal cortex and increases HRV.


WE: Exercise In Nature


-Outdoor exercise improves your mood and self-control. It helps practice your willpower muscle.


WE: Zzz


-Even mild sleep deprivation lowers energy, inhibiting self-control and willpower. So get enough sleep.

 

-Sleep a bit extra if you expect some sleep deprivation in the near future, and catch up on sleep debt when possible.

WE: Relaxation


-The physiological relaxation response slows down your body and brain, often recharging willpower capacity. Lie down and try relaxing every muscle one-by-one.


 

UTM

-Track when stress hits. How do stress and sleep deprivation affect your decisions? Over-using willpower can also sap energy and health, increasing exhaustion and susceptibility to illness.


Too Tired To Resist


Why Self-Control Is Like A Muscle

-Willpower can be both strengthened and exhausted with excessive use.

 

-Researchers like Roy Baumeister formulated the muscle model of self-control. Baumeister found that most things require willpower and every task eventually depletes willpower reserves.

UTM


-When is your willpower strongest and weakest? Schedule essential tasks during peak willpower. Low brain energy may cause willpower exhaustion since utilizing self-control decreases the corresponding brain region’s activity.

 

-Moreover, Matthew Galliot studied a task where participants sustained their energy and restored their willpower by consuming sugar.

WE: The Willpower Diet


-Too much sugar can cause diabetes, and a diabetic’s high blood sugar and low energy won’t improve self-control. Instead, most psychologists recommend low-glycemic diets of unprocessed and natural foods like cereals, nuts, and produce. After expending too much energy, the brain halts high-energy activities – including self-control.

 

-This inspired X.T. Wang’s and Robert Dvorak’s “energy budget” model of restraint.

WE: A Willpower Workout

 

  1. Challenge your “I won't” power.

  2. Challenge your “I will” power.

  3. Strengthen self-monitoring by tracking everything.


-While the utmost limits of willpower are unclear, athletes’ experiences suggest that our actual limits far exceed our expectations – most people simply don’t push themselves to their limits.


UTM


-Many researchers agree that the right motivations can extend willpower. Try pushing through exhaustion; you might have underestimated your willpower.

WE: What’s Your “Want” Power?

 

  • Use your “want” power to rejuvenate willpower.

  • Consider how this challenge will benefit you.

  • Imagine improving with practice.

  • Make sure you correctly identify your strongest “wants” to mitigate willpower exhaustion.

-Those who do willpower-depleting work drain their self-control reserves. Being intentional about designing your decisions offers a solution, such as swapping out candy near checkout counters for healthy snacks. (See our summary of Decisive to improve decision-making.)

License To Sin

Why Being Good Gives Us Permission To Be Bad

-We often attribute bad decisions to inadequate self-control. But studies show that we consciously allow ourselves to choose poorly. Instead of weighing decisions carefully, we trust our feelings. If we’re concerned with morality, we’ll likely give in whenever we feel good. Consider if your willpower challenge is a moral challenge, or merely difficult.


UTM


Does exercising willpower generate feelings of being 

good”? Do you consider yourself “bad” for giving in to temptation? Do small acts of good behavior give you permission for bad decisions? We tend to moralize progress as “good.” Instead, reframe progress as a commitment to your goals rather than a way to measure achievement.

WE: To Revoke Your License, Remember The Why


We may permit “bad” actions now, illogically anticipating better future behavior and easier follow-through later. To focus on commitment instead of progress, remember “why” you are undertaking this. 


WE: A Tomorrow Just Like Today

Rather than planning on changing a single behavior, focus on enacting consistency. For instance, if eating a Reese’s means you must eat it daily for a week, you’ll be less likely to eat it. Moral licensing also manifests as the “halo effect” in which we tend to foolishly believe that words like “organic,” or “for charity,” or “gluten-free” mean that something is healthy, even if it’s junk food. A gluten-free donut is still a donut.


UTM


Do you indulge something because of one virtue? What words induce giving in? The Going Green movement exemplifies this halo-effect. People virtue signal and perform some eco-friendly actions to reduce their guilt for their past environmentally-unfriendly decisions. Then they promptly return to their prior wastefulness after feeling good about supporting the movement. However, “green acts,” where good behaviors consistently replace harmful ones, can combat this. 

UTM


Does achieving your willpower challenge mean suppressing your actual desires? Or does it help you achieve your real long-term goals?

The Brain's Big Lie


Why We Mistake Wanting For Happiness

Sometimes, our brains crucially mistake the promise of a reward for the desire for guaranteed long-term happiness. Our brains typically favor “I want” over “I won’t” when the reward center (the brain region that anticipates pleasure) becomes activated. It releases dopamine to incite action, generating desire, alertness, and obsession – not true happiness.


UTM


Identify your dopamine triggers: Facebook? Candy? What provides a surge of pleasurable anticipation? Neuromarketing is a technique used by corporations to increase the likelihood you’ll give in to temptation and indulge in dopamine-inducing purchases. Words like “free!” and free samples of food are all specifically designed to trigger a release of your dopamine and make you open your wallets. (See our summary of Free for marketing techniques utilizing free samples.) Synthetic smells, such as the smell of ice cream outside Ben & Jerry’s, are meticulously manufactured to stimulate your desire and trigger a rush of dopamine in your brain so that the company can profit. Recognizing these techniques utilizes your “I won’t” power.


UTM


Eliminating neuromarketing might be most ethical, albeit implausible and unappealing, goal. But dopamine has plenty of positive uses. In the fishbowl technique, addiction therapy patients who pass drug tests get to pull small financial rewards from a fishbowl. In one study, 83% of participants were motivated to their complete treatment.


WE: Dopaminize Your "I Will" Power Challenge


To increase motivation, you can reward yourself for completing disliked activities. However, because the dopamine system involves a carrot (promise of reward) and a stick (anxious anticipation about the reward), sometimes anticipation increases stress.


UTM


We typically focus on the carrot, not the stick. Does desire or anxiety spur you? Since the dopamine system lacks a stop-signal in the face of powerful-compelling promises of rewards, we sometimes pursue false promises and receive painful rewards.


WE: Test The Promise Of Reward


Mindfully indulge in temptation. Then notice if you needed as much of the temptation as expected. Still, desire is crucial to joy – living without desire breeds anhedonia, a symptom of depression. While promises of rewards don’t guarantee happiness, the certainty of no reward guarantees unhappiness. We must separate our motivating desires from false promises.


What The Hell:

How Feeling Bad Leads To Giving In 

UTM


Where do you turn when you're feeling down? How is your willpower challenge affected? Most people turn to the promises of rewards when feeling bad.


WE: Try A Stress-Relief Strategy That Works


Figure out how to relieve stress non-indulgently. Many popular strategies trigger dopamine releases, actually worsening our moods. Yet healthy methods like exercising and listening to music are truly mood-enhancing, boosting serotonin, GABA, and oxytocin. According to the terror-management theory, pondering death breeds anxiety. (See our summary of The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy for the benefits of meditating on your own demise.) We then indulge in cheap, feel-good remedies such as shopping or disparaging news shows.


UTM


Notice your terror-management triggers and avoid unnecessarily consume media that profits off your fear. The “what-the-hell” effect also weakens resolve. After failing expectations or giving in slightly, we feel ashamed and think, “Might as well cave entirely.” Eating one pizza slice quickly turns into eating the whole pie, generates more guilt in a vicious cycle.


UTM


How do you handle failures of will? Do you self-criticize or feel excessively guilty? Are setbacks excuses to indulge further? Break the cycle by practicing self-forgiveness. Self-criticism drains motivation and self-control. Don’t be so hard on yourself!


WE: Forgiveness When You Fail


Self-forgiveness tactics include:

 

  • Be mindful, not ashamed, of your feelings.

  • Remind yourself that you’re only human.

  • Talk to yourself as if to a friend.

  • Imagine what a supportive friend would tell you.

Vowing to change when we feel bad (“false-hope syndrome”) actually compromises goals. Deciding to change without taking active steps forward is the ultimate gratification, masquerading as self-control. We don’t follow through once we feel better. Reality and practicality must temper the drive for change. Does your motivation stem from shame? Do you fantasize about success to feel good without ever changing?


WE: Optimistic Pessimism For Successful Resolutions


Plan for a willpower failure scenario. Imagine what you’ll tell yourself and how you’ll evade temptation. 


Putting The Future On Sale:

The Economics Of Instant Gratification

UTM

Our overdeveloped brains often rationalize prioritizing immediate gratification over our long-term goals. Ask yourself what future rewards you’re discounting by indulging in immediate gratification. What thoughts and feelings permit this? One cause is delay discounting: the longer a reward takes, the less it’s valued. When imagining decisions, we recognize and expect to choose the rational choice, but are often not rational in reality. This generates bounded rationality (we’re rational until we aren’t) and bounded willpower (we have willpower until it’s needed) since our brains view future and current rewards differently.


WE: Wait Ten Minutes


The next time you are about to give in, wait 10 minutes and create physical distance between you and your vices. The brain will perceive this as a future reward. If you still want to give in after ten minutes, then feel free. People’s delay discounting rates differ, and those who are less affected by immediate rewards statically perform better both socially and academically.


WE: Lower Your Discount Rate:


Our loss-adverse brains typically cling to what we had first, even over something better. Imagine that your long-term reward is already yours. Is the immediate gratification worth giving it up? Precommitment is also essential. Some researchers believe the rational and the tempted selves combat each other. To guarantee the former’s victory, we should acknowledge the latter’s unpredictability and relinquish things holding us back.


WE: Precommit Your Future Self


Create a default set of options such as packing a healthy lunch in advance. Make indulging challenging: shopaholics, leave your credit cards at home! (See our summary of Atomic Habits for how to change your environment to support better decision-making.) Motivate your future self by adding a “tax” to immediate gratification. Also consider asking someone else to hold you accountable. Our brains treat our future selves like strangers who make better decisions. Favoring ourselves (the immediate self) over strangers (your future self) promotes short-sighted behavior.


WE: Meet Your Future Self

 

  • Create a future memory and imagine future-you.

  • Send a message to future-you (e.g. an email).

  • Will your decisions benefit or hurt future-you?

But indulge in immediate gratification occasionally, as always delaying pleasure also causes unhappiness. Consider it an investment, not an expense.


Infected!

Why Willpower Is Contagious

UTM


Our brains developed mirror neurons to facilitate social connections with others. These also influence self-control, “making both willpower and temptation contagious.” Social “infections” incite numerous willpower challenges. Does anyone in your group share your willpower challenge? Who did you pick up your habits from? Do certain people enable your indulging? Notice who you are mirroring, especially regarding your willpower challenge. Do your friends or family influence your likelihood of giving in? Becoming infected by someone else’s goals is easy, so be careful if you’re catching their self-indulgence or their discipline.


WE: Strengthen Your Immune System


Sometimes, watching people indulge activates an immune-like response called “counteractive control,” hardening our brain against temptations. Strengthen this response by spending a few minutes daily meditating upon your goals and obstacles.


WE: Catch Self-Control


Research shows that thinking about someone with good willpower can bolster your own. Who is your willpower role-model? Think of them when you’re struggling against a particularly challenging temptation. What would they do in your shoes?


UTM


Who are you most likely to catch something from, family or friends? One source of infection is social proof: we’re more likely to practice behaviors that we believe our tribe members are also doing. For self-control to prevail, people must believe that discipline is the norm. Consider also that what we think people are doing matters more than what they’re actually doing.


UTM


Social proof hinders change if we believe everyone is indulging in some poor behavior. One solution is joining support groups centered around reducing vices. “Should” power also significantly influences willpower’s sociality. Social emotions like pride and shame (known as “hot” self-control) tend to influence choices faster than rational arguments. While shame can exhaust willpower, thinking about the satisfaction of accomplishing our goals helps combat temptation.


WE: The Power Of Pride


Imagine how proud you will feel after achieving your willpower goals. Allow yourself to share it with someone whose opinion you value, or even on social media. The negative stigma around willpower “failures” often drains willpower, but willpower flourishes from social support and checking in.


Don't Read This Chapter

The Limits Of "I Won't" Power

Controlling our thoughts is difficult. When researchers asked students to not think about white bears, the students then obsessed over them. This demonstrates “ironic rebound”: the more you suppress thoughts, the harder they boomerang back. Researcher Daniel Wegner connects this with how the brain handles “don’t” commands. The “operator” region of the brain, linked to self-control, laboriously draws our focus away from temptations. Meanwhile, the brain’s “monitor” region automatically draws our attention to temptations. Subsequently, the operator must work harder to draw it away from the monitor. Exhaustion also drains the operator’s energy, making it hard to resist temptations.


UTM


Is suppressing your unwanted thoughts helpful or unhelpful? Outside of giving up, ironic rebound is inescapable. Suppressing negative thoughts can generate unhappiness, even in non-depressed subjects. Having thoughts doesn’t equal acting on them, so allow certain thoughts to filter through.


WE: Feel What You Feel, But Don't Believe Everything You Think


Next time a thought upsets you, simply notice it. The thought likely doesn’t reflect actuality. Then, notice its physiological effects. If you’re tense, try to focus on your breathing. Imagine your negative thoughts dissolving like clouds. (See our summary of The Untethered Soul for similar mindfulness techniques.)



Research shows trying not to think about something increases our likelihood of thinking about it. For example, dieters’ control usually weakens when around foods they are trying to suppress thoughts of. Hence, dietary restriction ironically increases cravings.


WE: Accept Those Cravings – Just Don't Act On Them

 

  1. Notice feelings of temptation as they arise.

  2. Accept them with neither judgment nor shame.

  3. Realize you get to choose whether to act on them.

  4. Remember your long-term goals.

New diets tend to emphasize foods you should eat, rather than foods to avoid. This transforms an “I won’t” challenge into an “I will” problem, sidestepping issues.

WE: Turn Your “I Won't” Into “I Will”


Find satisfying substitutes for your “I won’t” behavior.

Focus on what you should be doing instead of focusing on the bad habit. Researchers have also found that if you simply wait a while, your cravings will eventually dissipate. So if you’re tempted to have that piece of cake or carb-heavy beer, wait a half-hour.

WE: Surf The Urge


While waiting it out, focus on what the urge feels like physically instead of the urge itself. Do you feel it in a specific part of your body? Is it hot or cold? Does it feel tense? Do you feel adrenaline coursing through your veins? You may still give in initially, but that’s okay – every skill requires practice. (See our summaries of Peak or Mastery for tips on mastering skills.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagination

-Imagination is the ability to create mental images or constructions using prior sensory information.

 

-Imagination is a superior faculty and far more aligned with reason.

-The ability to imagine underlies every advancement of the human race. It is what separates us from animals; it is our greatest and most fundamental tool.

 

The Imaging Faculties

-A mental image is a representation of information captured by the senses.

 

-Some psychologists maintain that nothing can actually be perceived or experienced by the mind unless it evokes a mental image. 

-Mental representations are created either by Memory or Imagination. These processes have a similar nature and generally flow together; they cannot be fully separated.

 

-Details are often added, removed, or changed by Imagination, which seeks to create variations of original impressions.


-Memories are generated by a 4-part process.

--The mind first retains the image made by sensory stimulation. The image can then be reproduced and connected to the original impression.

--After this association is made, the mind places the image at a specific time and place. Imagination shares with memory the processes of Retention and Reproduction, but differs after that. 

-Imagination can be split into the 2 categories:

 

  • Reproductive Imagination is what we classically consider to be Memory – the passive ponderance of events, experiences, or fantasies.

  • Constructive Imagination represents past images in newly reconstructed, newly rearranged ways. This generates images of new ideas building on existing ideas (such as a new bridge), or things which do not exist (such as mythical creatures).



-Constructive Imagination can be further divided into Passive Construction, which is akin to daydreaming, and Active Construction, which is imagining for a specific purpose.

-Constructive Imagination is to the mind what Will is to the body. It gathers building blocks from reproductive Imagination for a particular end.

-Thus, Passive and Constructive Imagination can be thought of in terms of Involuntary Attention and Voluntary Attention.

--Involuntary Attention is triggered by any passing arousal.

--Voluntary Attention of the trained mind, alternatively, purposely directs thought and holds to something definite in order to achieve a goal. 

Constructive Imagination

-Constructive Imagination uses materials gathered by Reproductive Imagination, elevating, rejecting, and combining these materials into new structures. The stages of this process are known as Dissociation (separating images that previously existed in a united form) and Reconstruction (rearrangement of the previously dissociated materials).

Some common methods of reconstruction are: 

  • Simple portioning, isolating a piece of a reproduced image, such as a disembodied hand writing a letter.

  • Variation in size.

  • Variation of Position, Form, and Color.

  • Recombined images like creating a centaur from the upper half of a man and lower half of a horse.

  • Idealization, or the ability to build picture-perfect shapes or beauty that do not exist in nature.

  • Invention/ innovation.

  • Planning.

  • Induction (i.e. scientific thinking), using seemingly related images to find a unifying law.


-The methods of reconstruction can be Mechanical or Purposive.

-Mechanical construction combines or alters stored images for the sake of associating various subject matters, such as with the Centaur.

-Purposive construction is “true” Constructive Imagination, creating images with purpose for a definitive end.

-The main characteristics of true Constructive Imagination operate through Definite Purpose, selecting material according to perceived value, and using thought and logical reason to arrange these materials towards a purpose.

-Other characteristics include:

  • Emotion: The best images contain not only a fixed idea, but also a fixed feeling. Feeling works to spur on creative activity, coloring the result.

     

  • Attention: Keeping the mind on the purpose and task at hand works to create inspiration and genius. 

     

  • Observation: Includes the raw materials with which constructive Imagination creates, providing context and widening the scope of mental creation.


-Though much of our mental processes are conducted on subconscious levels, participation of the conscious mind is required for complete development.

-The tandem performance of the conscious and subconscious can be described in 3 stages:

  1. The Germ Stage: Activated by “desire-Feeling”, the first thought of a future creation is considered consciously and incubated in the subconscious.

     

  2. The Incubation Stage: This begins when the partially incubated seed is brought back to the conscious level. The mind takes in ideas for adjustment and improvement before returning the creation to the unconscious to grow and shape it.

     

  3. The Delivery Stage: The final stage of constructive Imagination occurs when the evolved germ has all of the necessary ideas logically arranged around it. The nearly completed creation is then brought to the conscious plane for finishing touches and is “born” into the realm of thought.

-The image must instead be exposed to environments that can potentially kill or weaken it so that it may eventually stand on its own. 

The Builder & The Plan

Definite Purpose, the main characteristic of Constructive Imagination, consists of a fixed idea and a fixed feeling corresponding to what you want to accomplish. Even so, a Definite Purpose should evolve and advance along the way.


The 7-part General Rule to follow when using Constructive Imagination is:

  1. Have a clear image of what you want to accomplish or overcome as your Definite Purpose.

  2. Research what is involved in this area. Have a general image of the whole field of operation.

  3. Make a written list of the factors and materials that will be involved in your jourmey..

  4. Arrange these various factors according to logical associations. Create a holistic diagram that allows you to understand the entire picture at once.

  5. Compare the primary, secondary, etc. factors and consider the relative value of each.

  6. Experiment with these factors and ascertain their relationship. Discard combinations that don’t work and experiment with working combinations. 

  7. Once a final plan or idea is reached, divorce yourself from the plan to comprehend it in an impersonal, detached way.


-To help solidify a Definite Purpose, find the fundamental factors of your particular desire. Think using your pencil. Write down the obstacles and difficulties that may be involved.

-Determine your motivation and your ultimate goal. Through this process, you can carve away non-essential ideas and find the hidden Definite Purpose. 

-Honing the Definite Purpose transforms it into a Definite Ideal. The Definite Ideal is the grain of sand that becomes a pearl within the clamshell of your plan. The Ideal attracts what it needs to succeed.

-The success of the Definite Ideal is proportionate to how clearly defined it is. A robust and comprehensive Definite Ideal will cause the subconscious to work toward its end.

-Create a diagram of your field of operation, noting potential obstacles, strengths, weaknesses, and how to progress. Always think with your pencil. Study this map or diagram until you know it by heart.

The Mental Laboratory

-You can arrange your mind such that it works like a complex laboratory of ideas, supplying Constructive Imagination with its requisite materials.

-A Mental Laboratory allows your Imagination to work alongside the principles of natural evolution, new combinations and associations of ideas will be tested, the fittest surviving and the weaker ideas falling to the wayside.

-When creating the initial draft of factors, include everything that may possibly be of use. Make your list exhaustive and trim it later. Remember: Constructive Imagination rearranges, recombines, and builds upon material, nothing comes from nothing.

-Read the best relevant books and encyclopædias until you are completely saturated with the subject. Ask about your subject until all facets are clearly understood and visualized.

-Once an acceptable physical and mental list of these factors and their meanings is created, cross-index them. Classify the factors logically according to their nature, uses, associations, or components. Subdivide classifications until each you reach the “highest general class”.

-Think of it like building a mental filing cabinet. Seek to show all the possible applications to create an exhaustive system of causes and effects. Create a diagram that will allow you to grasp the whole subject. 

-Overall, to have the most success using Constructive Imagination, you must acquire as many mental images concerning your Definite Purpose as possible. Create a “thesaurus of images” and classify them according to a logical, efficient system. 

The Laws of Invention

-The simple idea of one man is improved upon by the next, and at each step, a more perfect invention is created. Just as evolution improves upon a previous version of a creature, man uses his Constructive Imagination to recreate natural weapons and tools of other animals for his own purposes. 

-Sophisticated use of Creative Imagination involves processes of Comparison, Deliberation, Discrimination, Selection, and Judgment. One must treat the image-materials in their mind like a builder choosing the specific bricks with which to build a house. Thus, the processes of Constructive Imagination are interwoven with processes of Reason and Logical Thought.

The Art of Creation

-Whatever else the Supreme Power of the universe may be, it is certainly a Creative Power! Understand this and realize when you are utilizing your Creative Power, you are working alongside the power of the Cosmos. 

-Man is commonly known to create in 3 different ways:

  1. Create material objects through combination.

  2. Create material objects by changing the composition of another material, such as making butter from cream.

  3. Create through cutting out or splicing, as the sculptor creates by carving away stone. 

-Yet there is a fourth way man creates: Mental Creation. Even when merely putting two things together, Mental Creation is paramount in creating an image of the end result – all creations are at some level Mental Creations.

-All things, including the universe itself, must have been a mental construction before it could have any physicality. Some mental force must have called material into existence for it to exist at all. According to the Hermetic axiom, “As above, so below; as within, so without,” we will find signs of nature creating according to mental frameworks the same way man does, although how and why is impossible to know.

Dynamic Idealization

-Strong Creative Ideals catalyze strong Desire Power, Faith Power, Will Power, and Subconscious Power, it all begins from a well-defined image.

-An Ideal can be properly defined by pointing out that it is something that exists in the mind alone, and that it also attempts to reach an imaginary standard of excellence.

-The Ideal is like the seed – its success is defined by its ability to draw to itself the materials, energy, and circumstances it needs to manifest in the material world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Become an Ultralearner

-While all ultralearners' processes are unique, there are core principles. Adapt these principles to your own situation and find what works for you. Ultimately, ultralearning requires ethos – taking responsibility for what and how you learn.

Principle 1: Metalearning

-Metalearning is the practice of learning about your learning, the study of how best to acquire knowledge. It is because of metalearning that bilingual people can pick up a new language faster than monolingual people.

 

-Metalearning forms a “map” to your goal. A good rule of thumb is to invest 10% of the total expected learning time into researching a topic beforehand.

Break down your metalearning into three questions:

 

  1. Why? Understand your motivation for a project. Perhaps it is instrumental in advancing your career or an intrinsically motivating new hobby.

 

  1. What? Brainstorm everything to anticipate obstacles ahead of time. Consider concepts apply, facts to memorize), and procedures to perform.

     

  2. How? Identify the resources, environment, and methods available. Study how other people have learned as a starting point, and then emphasize areas most aligned with your goals.


Principle 2: Focus

People face three problems when it comes to focusing: starting, sustaining, and optimizing

1.Procrastinating: Recognize when you procrastinate so you can enact one of the following “crutches”:

  • 5-Minute Rule: Start, but allow yourself a break after five minutes. You’ll likely continue.

  • The Pomodoro Technique: Work for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break.

  • Never Stop After a Failure: Only stop working after a success so you maintain the right attitude and motivation for starting up again.

  • Scheduling: Set aside time in your calendar so you feel obligated to work.

2. Getting Distracted: Some say flow (i.e., being “in the zone”) is the best way to focus, but this is not a necessity for ultralearning. The ideal learning time is 50-60 minutes long, and you should switch amongst topics. Avoid environmental distractions.

3. Failing to Create the Right Kind of Focus: Arousal (energy or alertness) is ideal for simple tasks but not for complex tasks because it’s too easy to get distracted. Optimize your arousal levels for the task at hand and minimize background noises.

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Recognizing when you’re procrastinating is the first step to avoiding it.

Principle 3: Directness

-Transfering, or learning something in one context and then applying it to another context, is the mark of real understanding. Unfortunately, formal education usually doesn’t result in transfer.

-Ultralearning addresses this by encouraging you to learn a skill in its natural environment, which removes the need to transfer. Real-world challenges contain many minute details and skills that classrooms don’t teach.

Tactics for direct learning include:

  • Project-Based Learning: Produce something tangible (e.g. create a computer game instead of learning how to program).

  • Immersion: Get into an environment that forces you to use the new skills immediately.

  • Flight Simulator: Put yourself in situations that require similar cognitive functions.

  • Overkill Approach: Challenge yourself by entering situations more demanding than the real one.


Principle 4: Drill

-Drills inherently focus on your weaknesses, and thus will be difficult. However, they are essential for mastery, and strenuous tasks provide more learning than easy tasks. Isolate rate-determining steps or particularly challenging tasks, and practice relentlessly.

Effective methods for drilling include:

  • Time Slicing: Break down the skill into slices of time, e.g., as when a musician practices a short yet challenging musical bar until it’s perfect.

  • Cognitive Components: Separate simultaneous actions into constituent components and drill each one separately, such as separate flashcards for grammar and vocabulary when learning a language.

  • The Copycat: Copy pieces of the skill and drill weak areas, such as editing your former writing but only improving sentence structure.

  • Magnifying Glass: Spend more time than usual on one component such as researching a topic.

  • Prerequisite Chaining: Start at a higher difficulty than you can handle to tease out hard prerequisites.

    Principle 5: Retrieval

    -The most effective way to study is “free recall” or trying to recall as much as possible without looking anything up. Testing yourself before you are ready will lead to more effective learning. Struggling to remember something will make the knowledge more deeply ingrained once you finally do recall it.

     

    -Working to recall knowledge reinforces your recall abilities and primes your mind for new information.



    Practice retrieval using these methods:

     

  • Flash Cards: Best for cues and responses.

  • Free Recall: After learning something new, try to write down everything you remember.

  • The Question-Book Method: Take notes as questions instead of statements.

  • Self-Generated Challenges: Create challenges for yourself to apply the concepts you learn.

  • Closed-Book Learning: Do not allow yourself to look things up as you learn.

    Principle 6: Feedback

    -The best feedback is usually uncomfortably aggressive.

     

    -The amount matters less than the type of feedback.

     

    -Good feedback provides specific information and balances positives with negatives.

     

    -Overly negative feedback leads to discouragement, while overly positive feedback leads to complacency.

     

    -Immediate feedback is far better than delayed feedback.

    There are three types of feedback:

     

  1. Outcome Feedback: This showcases how you are doing overall (e.g. pass/fail grades) and is a good starting point, but does not identify weaknesses.

     

  2. Informational Feedback: This real-time feedback with the environment points out what you are doing incorrectly but does not say how to fix it.

 

  1. Corrective Feedback: This often stems from a teacher, coach, or mentor, and describes both what you are doing wrong and how to fix it.

Methods to improve your feedback include:

  • Noise Cancellation: Be prudent in which feedback you react to; some feedback is just “noise.”

     

  • Hitting the Difficulty Sweet Spot: Good feedback should be hard to predict; if you knew it at the onset, it would not teach you anything new.

     

  • Meta-Feedback: Evaluate the success of your learning strategies and systems themselves.

     

     

  • Principle 7: Retention

    -If knowledge goes unused for too long, the brain does not keep it available.

 

-Ultralearning addresses this by systematizing review using one of four mechanisms:

 

  1. Spacing: Spreading out your learning over many intervals is best for long-term memory. Even if you’ve mastered a skill, periodically refresh it.

  2. Proceduralization: It’s easier to remember procedures (e.g. riding a bike) than specific facts, so practice until your skills become procedural.

  3. Overlearning: Continuing to practice even after you feel you’ve perfected it, or at a more challenging level, to improve your memory.

  4. Mnemonics: Translate abstract data into vivid picture metaphors or spatial maps in your head.

    Principle 8: Intuition

    -Intuition is developed through experience and considers the full conceptual nature of a problem. Studying is insufficient, as intuition only comes from applied knowledge.

 

To develop intuition:

 

  • Stick with hard problems: When you feel like giving up, force yourself to keep going for a “struggle period” of ten minutes.

  • Prove things to understand things: Try to recreate others’ results yourself.

  • Start with a concrete example: It’s easier to observe a concrete example and extrapolate abstract concepts than to apply an abstract concept to a concrete challenge.

  • Don’t fool yourself: Beware of prematurely thinking you understand it. Ask plenty of questions, even if they seem obvious, to uproot naïveté.

Try to use the 3-step Feynman Technique:

  1. Write down the problem you want to understand.

  2. Explain it in great detail as if to a child.

  3. When you are unable to explain one of the ideas, you have found an area of weakness. Go back and study it. Repeat until you can explain every aspect.

    Principle 9: Experimentation

    -Try a variety of methods, ideas, and resources until you find what “sticks.” As a beginner, it’s okay to follow the experts at first, but eventually you’ll want to carve your own path.

 

-Unlearn ineffective approaches and find creative, original ways to do things; proficiency is simply not enough. Experiment aggressively.

 

There are three examples of experimentation:

 

  1. Experimenting with Learning Resources: Pick a resource, aggressively apply it, then reevaluate.

  2. Experimenting with Technique: As you move past the basics, the possibilities of what you can prioritize expands rapidly. Pick one subtopic, pursue it aggressively, and then reevaluate.

  3. Experimenting with Style: Skills such as writing, music, or art require you to develop your own unique “style”. Find what suits your strengths.

Experimentation tactics include:

  • Copy, then Create: Start by emulating someone else, then make it your own.

  • Compare Methods Side-by-Side: Learn something in two ways that vary in only one variable.

  • Introduce New Constraints: Limiting old options forces you to find new ways of doing things

  • Find Your Superpower in the Hybrid of Unrelated Skills: Combine two seemingly unrelated skills.

  • Explore the Extremes: Playing it safe prevents you from exploring all the available possibilities; push the boundaries to broaden your experience.

    Your First Ultralearning Project

    1. Do Your Research: Ask questions like:

 

  • What’s the topic and its approximate scope?”

  • What primary resources am I going to use (books, videos, coaches, mentors)?”

  • What are benchmarks for how others have successfully learned this skill?”

  • What direct practice activities are available?”

  • What backup materials and drills are there?” 

2. Schedule Your Time: Decide specific hours you can commit to it. Shorter projects are easier to stick with. Try it for a week and then revise.

3. Execute Your Plan: Start taking action and look for room for improvement as you go.

4. Review Your Results: Ask what went right/wrong and what should be changed next time.

5. Maintain or Master What You’ve Learned: Don’t let your skills decay after the project ends. Focus on:

  • Maintenance: Practice regularly and integrate the skill into your life. Start with long practice sessions and then gradually reduce them.

  • Relearning: It’s easy to do a refresher course.

  • Mastery: Dive deeper into the skill than you need to, thereby developing mastery.

Alternatives to ultralearning include:

  • Low-Intensity Habits: Slowly accumulate skills and knowledge instead of going at high-intensity.

  • Formal/Structure Education: This is best when you need credentials or prefer academia. School is not mutually exclusive with ultralearning; it provides teachers, books, peers, and feedback.

    An Unconventional Education

    Although ultralearning is highly individualized, the following techniques will help you teach others:

  • Create an inspiring goal: Look for people’s natural passions and encourage them. Let people create their own goals and choose their own projects.

     

  • Be careful with competition: Comparing yourself to others can be good if you are competitive. But for someone with moderate ability, comparison may enhance feelings of inadequacy and decrease motivation. Make the project unique so you’re your progress can only be compared to your past self.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The Beach Bum and the Millionaire

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The Slight Edge is about small, simple, positive habits that you repeat often enough until they compound into success. It’s about sticking with them even once you’re at the finish line so that your successes don’t flop.

The First Ingredient

-Information is great, but application is key. The secret ingredient is incorporating the information into your philosophy.

Master the Mundane

-What are the 5% of people achieving their goals doing differently than the 95%? It’s not luck, desire, nor feeling like they deserve it. Daily, seemingly insignificant, mundane actions that add up. But if it’s so easy, why don’t more people do it?

-The answer is that it’s also easy to skip the mundane! Skipping a workout once or eating some junk food seems harmless. Sure, it won’t kill you today, but success (and failure) takes a long time to manifest. “What you do today matters.”

-The things that create success in the long run don’t look like they’re having any impact at all in the short run.

Slow Down to Go Fast

-The process of life is: “plant -->cultivate --> harvest” but in our instant gratification society, everyone wants to skip the cultivation stage, which requires time. Success is never traceable to a single action; it’s the culmination of all your actions. Be patient, for the results are coming.

-Position your everyday actions so time works for you, not against you.

Don’t Fall for the Quantum Leap

-The idea of a big break is hypnotizing. But waiting for a big break or some “quantum leap” which propels you to immediate success is not the proper way to think. If you believe that “someday, when I have _____, I’ll be successful”, you’re dooming yourself to a lifetime of disappointment.

-To believe in a “deus ex machina”, some otherworldly force that will come and give you the answers or solve your problems, is a recipe for disaster. Breakthroughs are the result of a long series of little actions over time – miles of success are made in inches.

The Secret of Happiness

-Positive psychology, or the study of happiness, has shown that happiness is not something you pursue, but rather something you
do.

-Happiness does not stem from circumstances, luck, or even achievements; it stems from the little things you do on a daily basis.

-Avoiding negative language, seeing the good in everything, doing kind things, and counting your blessings, are all recipes for happiness. People who are happier tend to be healthier, defter at handling adversity, more successful, cultivate better relationships, are financial stable, and live longer.

Happiness precedes success since your attitude is what translates your philosophy into actions. Combined with happy habits, results in success. Some happy habits you should consider adopting include:

  • Write 3 things you are grateful for every morning.

  • Journal for 2 minutes per day about a positive experience you had over the last 24 hours.

  • Meditate for 10 minutes per day.

  • Exercise for 15 minutes per day.

  • Perform 1 random act of kindness per day.


The Ripple Effect

-Everyone wants to make an impact on the world, or at least on the people around them. Both greatness and success come with the responsibility to share it with the world.

-Personal development creates ripples that extend outwards and touch everyone around you. Your Slight Edge will positively impact another person, which then changes them and compels them to do the same – ripples upon ripples upon ripples, expanding outwardly and affecting the world. This applies to both positive and negative actions, so beware of negative actions canceling out the positive.

-The more success we have, the more greatness we step into and the more abundance we experience, the more responsibility we have to the world around us.

But You Have to Start with a Penny

-You can’t create something from nothing; you must find your starting point, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is.

-The penny-doubling effect does not just apply to money; it applies to relationships, skills, knowledge, health, and really any dimension you want to grow. By focusing on increasing a certain percentage every day on innocuous little actions, before you know it exponential growth will take over and your life will look completely different from how you started.

-Little things, things that might seem like they have no power at all, can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes, they can change the course of history.



Two Life Paths

-There are two life paths you can take: the success curve upwards or the failure curve downwards.

-Every single action you take moves you upwards or downwards; there’s no stagnation, for your life is always in motion and time is always flowing on. If you are on the success curve, your state of mind is one of responsibility; if you are on the failure curve, your state of mind is one of blame.

-Taking responsibility for every action gives you complete power and control over your life. It’s not about what happens to you, it’s how you react. People on the failure curve spend more time thinking about the past, stuck in a quagmire of stagnation. People on the success curve think about the future, pulling and propelling themselves forward. Those on the success curve recognize the past as a tool to build their future.

-Life is a curved construction; time is its builder, and choice its master architect.

-Thinking about “what-ifs” of the past or the “whens” of the future is far worse than focusing on controlling the present moment, the only thing in motion.

-Develop a picture of the future to release the hold the past has on you. Take an honest look at your health, happiness, relationships, personal development, career, and positive impact, and honestly evaluate which path you are on.

-Recognize that if you improve just one small aspect of your life, the results will spill into all other aspects since everything is connected holistically.

-If you are unsuccessful in one area, instead of getting frustrated, redirect your attention to improving another area of your life and build some momentum. This will renew your confidence and give you energy to succeed.

Mastering the Slight Edge

-Mastery is not about reaching the end of the path, but rather getting onto the path in the first place! Walking the path is where you’ll refine your skills and eventually win. The gap between where you are today and the dreams of tomorrow can be painful, but use that pain to harness your energy and focus. This tension will help you close the goals. If your dream is strong enough, you’ll be pulled along the path.

-Giving up once will create a habit of giving up, so stay on the path, step by step. It may be uncomfortable now, but any discomfort is better than being a failure later.

Invest in Yourself

-Continuous learning allows you to invest in your own personal development, helps build your philosophy, and maintains 
The Slight Edge. Read, go to seminars, and cultivate your street smarts.

-Learn by doing and continuously apply course-corrections along the way, since bumps in the road are to be expected. Recalibrate your gyroscope (the vision of where you’re going) and make little corrections.

-Most of your life is on autopilot, so train your subconscious by making the smart choices moment by moment.

-The most important force you can harness to accelerate and amplify your path through life is the power of continuous learning.

Use Your Slight Edge Allies

Like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. The optimal pace to do something usually isn’t as fast as possible. Instead, the optimal rate of growth is 
The Slight Edge: small, constant, life-improving actions which add up over time. Small daily actions build up powerful momentum and will keep you on the correct path.

  1. Completion: Close out unfinished projects, unkept promises, or that which has been left unsaid and is gnawing at you. Incompletion drains your energy, blocks your momentum, and keeps you trapped in the past. Break large, daunting tasks into small subcomponents to plow through them more easily.

     

  2. Reflection: It doesn’t matter how many actions you take, but rather taking the right actions. Reflect on your day and check if your actions are leading you to success. Write down any Slight Edge actions at the end of each day and make yourself checklists.

     

  3. Celebration: Acknowledge the steps you’ve taken, no matter how miniscule or insignificant.


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Doing things won’t create your success; doing the right things will.

Cultivate Slight Edge Habits

-Habits form from repeated daily actions which stem from moment by moment choices. To develop good habits, make smart choices until they become automatic. Bring your habits from your subconscious to your conscious mind, evaluate them, and be honest and ruthless with removing ones which are not helping you.

-Your habits are what will propel you up the success curve or down the failure curve

-The 7 habits to help you become successful are:

  1. Show Up: Commit and take action.

  2. Be Consistent: Stay on course and ignore those naysayers who try to drag you off the path.

  3. Have a Positive Outlook: View situations as opportunities, not problems. Practice seeing the best in circumstances and in people.

  4. Be Committed for the Long Haul: Change takes time, so be patient. It will come if you stick with it.

  5. Cultivate a Burning Desire Backed by Faith: Have a deep, passionate dream that burns straight to your core (i.e. desire) and envision yourself actually achieving it (i.e. faith). Become unstoppable.

  6. Be Willing to Pay the Price: Don’t make this anything huge or melodramatic, but just recognize that you’ll have to pay the price here and there such as skipping 10 minutes of sleep for the gym.

  7. Practice Slight Edge Integrity:You may be the only one holding yourself accountable. Ok. “Anything worth having is worth paying the price.”


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Stay on course when everyone else is doing the opposite.

Three Steps to Your Dreams

  1. Write it down: Make your goals specific and concrete, and make sure you include deadlines.

  2. Look at it every day: Reminding yourself of your dream every day will make you focus on actually achieving it by reprogramming your subconscious.

  3. Start with a plan: A plan is necessary to get started. However, don’t expect that your first plan will be the final plan which achieves your dreams. Life changes rapidly and there are an extraordinary number of unexpected confounding variables which will be inevitably be thrown in your way. Revising your plan is unavoidable, and that’s okay. However, you need a seed plan to iterate on in the first place! Avoid the pressure to create a perfect plan – there’s no such thing. You can start with an incredibly simple plan, and allow it to change and grow over time. Relax, revisit, and revise.


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You have to start with a plan, but then plan you start with will not be the plan that gets you there.

Living the Slight Edge

-No matter how large, complex, or grandiose your end goals may be, 
The Slight Edge is always built of small, simple steps. All you have are the moment by moment actions to take, so focus on them.

-Write down your dreams as vivid, specific goals. Create a simple plan and focus on one simple daily discipline to build up some momentum. Remember: everything you do has a ripple effect extending far into the future.

Where to Go from Here

-Focus on a simple daily discipline and review your
Slight Edge activities daily. Spend quality time with those who have achieved similar goals and look at what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.

-Successful people don’t look for shortcuts but instead focus on little actions. They take full responsibility for how their lives end up and don’t dwell in the past. They have a positive outlook and build momentum with positive habits. They are not afraid to fail and understand the power of simple, daily actions.