Listening to Ray Dalio on the James Altucher Podcast yesterday and he said something very true. Although he has accomplished a lot, it is not the accomplishments or the work he remembers but rather the people and the relationships that helped deliver it.
When someone leaves a job after working at the same company for a long time, they often say that they will miss the people and the friendships they have made. We often spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our husbands, wives or children, so it is important that we get along with them.
It might be obvious that it is easier to build a relationship face-to-face despite the advances in technology making it easier remotely. So, is it right that we should spend more time with people we did not actively choose to spend our time with rather than loved ones? How can we manage the balance of needing to have face-to-face time with work colleagues to achieve something without resorting to endless meetings becoming a talking shop?
Be mindful of your time. Use a timer; see your time ticking away. Focus on what you want to achieve in a given amount of time and make sure that you achieve it without spilling over. Use future regret-based decision making: am I going to regret leaving this meeting before it is finished (on time) or am I going to regret getting stuck in traffic and missing my kids Birthday before they go to bed? Which would your loved ones regret more?
Plan, do, review. Set time; stick to time; see where you spend time. Repeat.
'Let's move on'. The three greatest word to change. Much better than 'this won't work' or 'tried it before' or 'you're talking rubbish.' Better than 'we're off topic,' 'no I won't,' or 'this isn't working.'
"Let's move on' can replace all of these other three-word phrases and it is charged with positivity rather than negativity. How much will the other phrases actually change anyone's mind?
It is very difficult to change someone's opinion. Why do you need to do it right now? It will take time. Realise this and let go of your position; better to build the relationship.
Let's move on.
Let's move on to a subject we do agree on. Let's move on to a better future. Let's move on to a different option.
Forward progress is all that matters. Everything is in constant flux anyway. Everything on the planet is made from the same materials that build and decompose. We are all in this together, so let's all try to move forward together.
There will be opposing forces, but let's move on. There will be people that want us to fail, but let's move on. We will doubt our own ability, but let's move on.
And keep moving on. What is the smallest step you can do? Do that. Then move on. Keep moving on. Repeat every day.
Let's move on
Let's move on
Let's move on
I recently joined the Best Life Ever Facebook group. They were running a daily challenge at 4.44am and joining made me realise that it is easy to wake up even a little earlier to get more done. Also, that it is illogically satisfying to see all the 4s in a row when you wake up. Tim Ferris says he has lots of phone screenshots of 5.55pm as he has a superstition about that number after finishing his first book at that time of day.
4.44am to me seems the best time to wake up. It still feels like you are part of the 4am club but it is really closer to 5am and you can get still get so much done before anyone else is even awake.
Get up earlier. Go to bed earlier. Nothing good happens at night in the week anyway. What else would you be doing? Would it move you closer to where you want to be?
To sacrifice the morning is to sacrifice the day. To win the morning is to win the day. Try it and see what happens for two weeks.
It is not until you are ill that you value your health. It is not until you are injured that you consider being able to do exercise as a privilege and not a chore. It is not until we run out of time that we value it.
Is there a better way of realising these things ahead of time? Writing in a journal every day helps. A practice of gratitude helps. Meditation helps.
In a world where we can get anything we want at the touch of a button, creating habits that cultivate mindfulness is key to cutting through the bullshit, so you can "see the matrix: of what is actually important to you.
Think about what you would miss if it were gone. Are you doing any actions today that will make the most of it or anything that will prolong it?
If you are likely to regret your health deteriorating, are you going to have the burger or the salad for lunch? Are you going to take the stairs or the lift? Are you running today?
Likely to regret your wealth? How much are you saving? Do you know where your money is going? Have you researched the best passive investments? Could you get a second or third stream of income?
Likely to regret love leaving your life? Have you told your wife or kids that you love them today? Do your actions back up your words? Are you spending enough time with them?
Onto the biggest regret of them all - running out of time. Are you spending your time how you want to spend it today? Are you stuck in a meeting instead of playing with your kids? Did the meeting run over so you cancel your workout and have a fast food lunch?
Make time for the important, not the urgent. This is a keystone to all other areas of your life. Regret nothing, use every minute.
It is okay to not have an opinion. Why busy yourself with trivia? There is someone in my extended family that knows lots of general knowledge and has appeared on and won a number of particularly difficult TV quiz shows. But even to look at him, it is clear that knowledge is not helping him. He is massively overweight. How can someone "intelligent" that has the ability to retain knowledge let himself get that way?
Is he actually intelligent at all? A conversation with this man is, at its most benign, a bore and, at its most frustrating, a series of one-upmanship about a random subject of his choosing. Who cares? Just ask Siri, Alexa, Google. How much longer are humans going to be praised for just remembering things and regurgitating them in computer like fashion?
Hint, in the real world - not long. In school, probably much longer than is useful or necessary.
The only way to be able to accumulate value (wealth) is to give value. If your main source for income is solely predicated on how much you know, how much you remember, on which rules people should be following, then you will soon lose your income to a cheaper human or ultimately to a computer.
With globalisation and the internet, it is easy and much cheaper to employ a version of you in Eastern Europe, India or Thailand (currently). The countries will change, but the trend will not. Work will move country by country and what will you do? Soon anything that is "unskilled" enough will be done by computers and systems entirely. And unskilled is not factory workers, they have already gone. This will be accountants, lawyers, admin assistants. Why do we need humans for these jobs? Just feed in the right stuff and the right stuff will come out the other end.
I need to be mindful today. Mindful of distractions both from myself and others that will divert me from my path. I need coping strategies; replacement habits for each type of distraction.
The best solution is to not get distracted in the first place. Turn off notifications, put your phone in airplane mode or do not disturb. Put iMac in the same mode. Turn off email.
Focus on the things that will make the biggest difference, even if those can only be partially done because they are so big. These are the ones to get done. These will move your life forward.
Why am I spending time on the minutiae?
Proactive in the morning. Reactive in the afternoon.
If I do get distracted, or find myself about to get distracted, I need a replacement habit. If I am about to get distracted, I may as well do something else productive instead. I could tidy clothes away, put a wash on, do some meditation or some quick yoga. These are good ideas but I need to be strong of will not to allow these themselves to be the distraction - only to help worse distraction.
Think back to revising at school how you used to tidy everything or make revision timetable or other planning in order to not start doing something important. Do not use coping mechanisms as a proactive excuse not to start the hard work. But also know when ten minutes of doing these will save hours from not doing some other distraction. Know when to choose the right path.
"Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now." This got stuck in my head after listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. I'm sure it means lucky to be alive rather than dead on a battlefield - it is relatively hard to follow having not seen the show, as well as competing with a five-month-old finding his own voice whilst driving in the car - but I do love this quote.
It is amazing to be living right now. So many things we take for granted growing up and so many more things the next generation will take for granted. How many hours of our teen years were wasted feeling sorry for ourselves despite having more than most humans in history before us? It is amazing that we have electricity, that we can make light at the flick of a switch, let alone that we carry around a pocket-sized device every day that can instantly connect us to anyone else in the world in any format we want: text, voice, video. We can talk to computers and they understand some of what we are saying - that is amazing.
But how easy is it to take for granted? Cursing when the lightbulb goes pop or when there is a power cut for a few hours. Cursing at Siri when she thinks you said "plum" rather than "mom." Cursing the crappy Wi-Fi when a Skype call drops for work.
Look around - how lucky we are to be alive right now. Right now, in this age, before all the dead dinosaur juice is depleted and there is a massive power shift in global politics and monetary policy. Before the water levels rise and we live on smaller and smaller islands. Before our food loses all nutrition from people chasing short-term profit targets.
This is the best time to be alive right now. We do not know if it is going to get better than this. Do you really want to be the person that did not try to follow their dreams during the best time to be alive? Take action today.
If you do not love what you do, you are not likely to stick with it long enough to be able to make it successful. You need to love the process. And when you love the process it does not really matter if you are successful as you are getting to do what you love.
However, as a side effect, it is more likely that you will be successful BECAUSE you are doing something that you love, and all the positive energy slowly makes an impact.
I was speaking to a server in a cafe whilst getting my lunch. It was 31st Jan after having a dry January and also cutting out caffeine, grains, any white carbs, sugar etc. As I was paying for my salad I joked that I might treat myself to one of everything they sell tomorrow as a treat for being good in January. She said, "if I was as skinny as you, then I would eat everything every day." Clearly, we were both joking, but as I walked away I found it interesting that people do want results without knowing what it takes to get there. If I ate anything every day, then I would not be skinny.
It is strange how our brains do this to us. It is easy to see the muscled man or the toned woman and assume that it is easy for them, they are just fit, rather than thinking that they might have been fat, geeky children for all but 1 year of their life and they have worked really hard every day to keep working out and avoiding the temptation of eating crap in order to look like that.
The same thing happens in business - nothing is an overnight success. People with overnight successes have worked for ten years behind the scenes (and will work hard for at least 10 more years) to make something that you have not heard of one day and that everyone's heard of the next day.
It builds, it does not bang.
People want results without the effort. If you asked someone if they wanted to win the lottery they would, of course, say yes. If you said to them that they could have even more money than a lottery win and all they had to do was work on themselves for 15 years for 15 hours a day without a day off, do you think that they would do it? I think not.
Enjoy the journey - make the results be the side product.
It all depends on what you drive joy from.
The most successful, in monetary terms, and probably achievement, enjoy working, grinding, moving closer towards something meaningful. For the person that achieves longevity, the money is usually a side-effect. They like doing what they are doing and they need to do it to be who they are. On the flip side, you could die crossing the street tomorrow. Is it really worth putting yourself unnecessarily through all that hardships rather than going to that party, buying that car, spending time with your family?
Well, probably not. However, what if you do not die tomorrow? What if you live to be 100 plus? You have a lot of time left AND it is going to go quickly. What are you going to do with it? Why not do it all?
Just like tasks, you can batch things. Why not spend some amount of time, that could be a week, a month or a year, solely focussed on building your business, then take some time off? Or, like eating healthy, focus on being how you want to behave 80% of the time and take one day a week off to do anything that you want.
In the hyper-connected world that we live, the reality is that you can probably do it all. The only thing that will stop you is not doing anything at all or spending too much time on one thing at the expense of the rest.
You can still keep up to date on binge-watching Netflix as long as this is not the only thing you do. You can go travelling and party as long as you are working on something for the future too.
There are examples of success all around you of how different people did it. All with different balances. The common thread? No one did it without hard work. If you love what you do, then you are halfway there.
Time is relative. A year for a one-year-old is her entire life. Asking them to wait a year seems like a lifetime away because it is. Even when you are ten years old, waiting for the next Birthday is ten percent of the time you have ever known. This is why the years fly past faster and faster as we get older. Yet we value time less and less until the very end of life is in sight.
A toddler can barely manage 20 minutes of attention. It is a really long time for them and they do not want to waste it on this one thing when there are so many other possibilities to explore. When we are adults, at work, we flitter away 20 minutes as if it were nothing. We do not even give it a second thought. It goes faster for us than a toddler so logically we should look after our 20 minutes slots as if we were guarding our life against an attacker. But for some reason, the faster time seems to fly by, most people value it less. We have this the wrong way around. We should be valuing it more and more.
And of course, your life is being attacked. By Jean who just wants to "pick your brains for half an hour." By Derek who holds the same meeting every week despite not knowing why and having nothing ever come out of it. By Margaret who never picks up one-to-one with anyone and just invites swathes of people to a half-day workshop without knowing what their jobs are or how they can help (but also copies on everyone's bosses to make her feel important).
Your life is under attack. Your time is under attack.
No one will care when you get to the end of the week, the end of the month or the end of the year and you have not achieved anything because you went to other people's meetings.
Get free. Give the gift of MeeTime.