There are tremendous forces at work with life. They crush and crumble our plans easily. That’s why plans are useless. Planning is useful thought, because it allows us to mentally prepare for things to come and then adjust accordingly.
Visualization has the same effects on our brain as actual exercise. Same I believe to be true with planning. When we plan, we are living potential lives already. That prepares us for the actual reality to come.
With all this chaos and change in life, it might be easy to fall into the trap of victimhood: I do not have control.
While it’s true that the big picture of life gets set, we cannot affect the circumstances or the other people that are in our lives, we have surprisingly a lot of control within our own limited life.
Each day we make hundreds of decisions about our life. What if you started to look at your life the way you want to live it and make more decisions according to that ideal?
Decisions themselves are potent if you follow them up with sacrifice (decision to do means also decision not to do something else until the thing is done) and then action.
We can become that which we learn to be under pressure. By observing our thoughts, we can change our response, we can change our action and we can change our habits. We can change ourselves to take smarter action under pressure.
We can become smarter by taking smarter actions.
Top performers perform better under pressure, because they have more time to choose a better response. So can anyone become better at chosen action is the responses are better and you have more time to respond.
Pressure reveals how prepared we are, and how do we react to the pressure: do we have time to evaluate the best choices or do we mindlessly react like animals do?
More than ourselves, the way we react reflects the culture around us. For those who are in the culture, it is difficult to see. From outside its easier to observe that under pressure our behavior is often based or even copied from those who are close to us.
Pressure therefore not only reveals ourselves, it reveals the culture we are surrounded by.
Of course we do influence and get influenced by culture at the same time. What is in our own control is the respond to each situation and that’s it. Do you breathe for four seconds before reply or do you respond straight away? Do you have multiple choices or do you go with the first one that pop into your heads.
Decision making is energy intensive and energy creating process.
I’ve a few times a year these phases where the existential crisis kicks in. I’ll keep performing habits without much emotion. Then in some actions there is still spark left, while my rest of the mind wanders in deeper questions.
It’s because of this deeply inquisitive mindset that my mind apparently starts to question a little bit of everything. Including my most beloved and hard earned habits as writing itself. In fact today I made the decision not to write.
Until then I found some energy on the decision what to do tomorrow. And when I found the energy to decide on what to do tomorrow, what inspiring thing I will do tomorrow, now I got my inspiration to write about that decision making energy.
Making decisions is really energy intensive, however by doing so it allows us to focus our energy that which truly matters. And we should spend our days doing what truly matters, because other stuff doesn’t matter at all.
So far the very best answer to the meaning of life is to live life so that whole life is an answer to the question. And to do that we should be making smarter decisions on what to do and do those decisions with higher intensity.
The more of these two we have in our lives, the better our life starts to get. Especially if the ownership is paired with action to improve the thing. If the thing cannot be improved, then there is nothing much to worry about.
Today I made interesting association with the ownership. Taking ownership of the time: not complaining about the time, accepting and prioritizing based on that. It feels powerful. The idea once again comes from The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, where he explains the idea of Einstein time. Belief that we are the creators of our time and if we focus to that we will have more time in our hands.
As Seneca put it, we never have time for everything, yet we have time for the important things. This seems to be the golden rule in thinking about the time: what is important and what is not.
Ownership of the thoughts and the words that we let out transforms everything. It’s not irrelevant what we say or how we say it: because that does not only reinforce our own thinking but affects others as well.
Full ownership means having all the control we can have and it is the key in mastering the one time where we can affect things: present.
The dilemma with ‘us’ is our egoes that get into the way.
With ego involvement we can be excellent, without ego involvement we can be godlike geniuses.
Judgement does not further our cause.
Our we have tiny fraction of universes uniqueness inside us, and to live that true would be the purpose of life. Now, I would like to give advice i.e. to actualize that requires skillful action without an attachment to the results or trappings of identity.
Or perhaps that you could practice this or that meditation.
However, life is not that simple: each of our life is a puzzle, a game of a different kind to unlock our godlike nature. Therefore what works for one, may not work for another.
Buddha was careful with the words. Words or thoughts can guide or misguide us.
I realized, that my mission on is not to tell what I know, or communicate what I have learned. My mission is to wake up people to think for themselves. With this autonomy people can start solving their own puzzles of life and unleash the god within for themselves.
Existential crisis takes over every now and then. Despite that the crisis word has negative connotations, it doesn’t have to be. Existential crisis refers merely to the questioning state of being, which at times may be exactly what is needed.
I was just going through my journals and it’s not uncommon to have such crisis during the spring for me. Mostly this is great time for reflection and then taking action based on that reflection.
Victor Frankl suggests the point is not to try to answer the question about meaning of life with words, but with actions: our life is our response.
Another thing about crisis personal or collective is that we should use it to make lasting decisions and changes: to leverage that.
Action is over- and underappreciated word.
Overappreciated as in action without consideration, thought or end in mind.
Underappreciated as in thought without action. Action remains just a word, instead of verb in action.
There is the middle way: thinking, without thinking too much and doing, without doing too much.
My personal fault lies mostly in thinking too much and doing too little. Thus I see this quality in others as well emphasized. And it might be that I am too blind to my own actions that are mindless, so I cannot even name them yet. With a bit of thinking, I think there is indeed also this mindless action in play.
The more I’ve studied about habits and applied what I’ve learned to my life, I am amazed to discover these tiny pockets of time all around me. More efficient actions (=habits) create more time and space. What used require effort, do not any longer. Thus taking action becomes easier.
With habits also the cost of starting doing something (which I feel is immense). Have you tried to start a work out after a long work day? That’s only difficult if you do not already have the neural circuitry in your mind to fire of and start doing it. When you’ve the network however, it will automatically flare up and you will start the work out when you just find the right triggers for that.
The difference between habit and a separate action decision is huge. Habits have little to none starting cost, they trigger automatically. Decisions to do something have tremendous starting cost and when we are tired and hungry we are less likely going to make any good decisions.
Therefore life consists of making these tiny decisions right through the days, these will ensure sufficient energy when we need it the most.
We need tiny action everyday to start building momentum for the bigger decisions and challenges.
Alive time or dead time concepts are in Robert Greene’s books. Most of my life I feel like I’ve lived in dead time. I’m now 30 so 21 years I’ve lived in dead time. Only a bit over 9 years I would qualify as alive time.
Or as in Shawshank Redemption they put it: “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Many talk about learning. Many go to schools. Many talk about doing this or that as well.
Yet few actually do anything. That includes me personally. Every day I have to remind myself to start doing: often we teach what we need to learn ourselves the most.
One mantra that I have is that only learning that matters is a learning that shows in actions.
“Swords, not words” would a character (Minsk) in Baldurs’ Gate 2 say.
It’s not that difficult: only learning is the applied learning.
There is also more to the learning that just that. There is the wisdom that even if we do something today and then let it be like that, we are going to lose that skill.
“Use it or lose it.”
This is one of my biggest fears with writing and prioritization. I fear that if I would prioritize other things, I would lose even my modest ability to get things done.
We only get to keep those virtuous that we sustain and nourish every day. And if we want to get a head we need to learn and apply to it every day as well.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.” – Upanishads
While there is connection between, thinking and talking, sometimes the connection between the talking and doing seems to be far away. In my mind the phrase “there are those who talk and those who do” lives strong. This despite the knowledge that while this may apply, it does not apply hundred percent, and that there are always exceptions to the exceptions.
Action is the only thing that does make thoughts and words visible and concrete. It is through work and action that great things get made.
Action then repeated often becomes a habit. With thinking combined, habit can improve drastically. You will of course improve a little by little over time which is nice. However, at times you are bound to reach also breakthroughs, at times you will reach a completely new level of doing and being.
Key with the actions and habits is that, you need to stick with them a particular amount of time for breakthroughs to happen.
Not only starting an action is the challenge, sticking with it until it becomes a habit and then keeping the small pressure to challenge yourself in order to gain small wins is the key. This is called character: something that becomes part of your identity. If you manage to do this you will reach breakthroughs in the ordinary things you’ve just kept long enough with.
Life is imperfect, we need to accept this right off the bat. Imperfection is not the reason not to get started and going. I am imperfect. So may be you. Yet both of us have the capacity to become something a little bit better, this in fact I feel like is the meaning of life.
To be able to become a little bit better, in order to benefit others more. To love myself so that I could nurture the growth of others as Scott Beck put it.
Whatever it is you are interested in doing, you should find a ways to do it now, or very at least today something towards it. Then just repeat it the next day and you are again a step closer.
Today I for example I calculated that I managed to combine three activities that must be done into a one: exercise, chores and learning. In fact all of these I wanted to do now, because I know that how much I will benefit from all of it. I feel like it is great use of time to batch activities like this.
World won’t be perfect over a day. Sometimes big breakthroughs do happen overnight either by coincidence or by sheer creativity and necessity. Yet most of the improvement happens gradually over time. Breakthroughs are rather unpredictable and what matters most is the crawl: ability to every day proceed towards what is deemed as important.
Now when we are moving, let’s talk about prioritizing your tasks.
Prioritizing is one of the most difficult cognitive task we can set for ourselves. We have to make choices to do and not to do. I recently learned that it’s rather useful to set the morning for prioritization and this is true especially for me who gets interrupted a lot at work during the day in an open office setting.
Of course prioritizing happens through the day and through week. I plan my work week ahead during Sundays. This has been a habit for me since my college years when I liked to dedicate Sunday for quiet study and contemplation without any interruptions. I still do enjoy this Sunday study time a lot and in fact even today I used to prioritize my life board – it’s kind of collection of post it’s full of wisdom that include my goals, daily actions to crawl towards those goals and important tools to keep with me during the journey. Reorganizing and updating this info is one of my favorite things to do during the week – I feel like when I organize my life board my mind gets clearer as well.
Now you know what you want to do during the week and during the day, just get crawling.