Year 2017 Expectations, Outcomes and Summary

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Life is ongoing change project, whatever we want it or not. Consciously we might have several ideas what to change, yet consciously we can only live a moment by moment, doing one thing at a time.

To reflect this, I took a peek into my journals and now offer the same chance to you to see how the expectations turned out.

My 2017 expectations and outcomes:

  • Keep writing and publishing every day. I later adjusted to 330 published posts. With this I’ve been successful and happy with. Important lesson right of the bat: do not be afraid to adjust your goals because the long run matters.

    As I wrote in habit combinations recently, writing somehow links so many important habits for me. Although I’ve recognized that it’s not writing per se what drives me, it’s more about the clarifying thinking, learning and then to be able to share that. Writing is medium for that, however the daily habit of writing ensures all these habits do progress to the currently desired direction.

    Outcome: 337 posts published in my English blog. In addition I started writing in Finnish to Posinkautta blog where I published five a bit more invested posts. To reflect back even further back in 2016 the growth from 261 posts to 337 or 29%! Next year the gains in publishing quantity are marginal, so therefore I’ve to write even better quality 🙂

  • Read 40 books. This I exceed by 42 as of present, audiobooks banzai! As a side note on 2016 I struggled with my reading goal of 36 books, however then I didn’t listen any audiobooks compared to this year 20.
  • Meditate at least 5 minutes every day. Meditation is my refuge even if it’s just as short while. However, especially when I am feeling upbeat I tend to forget about this which is sad. I still have to remind me that meditating does lead to my ultimate goal which is the good karma.
  • Exercise at least 5 minutes per day. While this may sound silly and little on a week level, my idea was more to kick start my morning routine or the jog, my logic went like this: if I’ve minimum standard for starting, keeping going is more interesting and many times I would indeed.

    Exercise goal has changed dramatically during the 2017. In the second half of the year I started Salsa, which I enjoy a lot and I’ve to make time to practice this in the upcoming year.

    Another thing that changed was my birthday gift, a polar watch which allows me to track my activity levels more accurately. Now I’ve daily goal of 10 000 steps which I try to keep on 7000 minimum. This has become rather attainable everyday if I just keep on moving right from the morning. Starting the exercise still feels like a chore so I’ve to work on to make it perhaps more social and through that meaningful.

  • Travel 2-3 times. I’ve tried to follow Dalai Lama’s advice to travel twice a year. During 2017 I felt I succeeded in this especially since I spent most of my summer traveling in Croatia, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. From my previous travels I had also noted that I should allow more freedom during the travel so I decided to try with no fixed come back date and went to solo travel with only one way ticket. That worked wonders! #learning
  • Form a mastermind group around investing. This idea I didn’t manage to further. On the positive side I did meet and befriend several people who are into different forms of investing and I’ve had great conversations about the topic. My network around the topic grew. Actually now looking at this idea, I think it would be more rewarding to over line the investing part of the mastermind group and just to have a group who has ambitious life goals and then to work on attainment of those. Finances are big part of the life, however there is much more as well. I’ll keep this idea in mind.

    Mastermind requires commitment because it’s a regular meeting format around once a month would be ideal. It’s more purposeful and intentional than just the interesting conversations I am at the moment having.

Summary

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Planning is preparing and preparing is everything in succeeding. Yet once the moment is at hand, we must be prepared to discard the plan, because something greater is at hand. Life is constant prioritization if I were to do similar reflection on the other past 29 years of my life, I would be proud and say that the 2017 has been the greatest experience of my life.

Past can be either a prison or a library, source of learning. Therefore we shouldn’t attach too much ourselves to the past. We should learn from our past and then keep on going. Greatest experiences today come when you understand your mistakes before and decide to find or create a new path today.

I started the year with a piece of wisdom from Mark Manson: “Focus to what truly fucking matters.” By now, at the end of the year I’ve forgotten this advice, a failure? My suffering for example yesterday was cured by simply remembering this phrase. Letters and words put together create what we call magic. As a writer I am a wizard.

Life is full of uncertainty of and consciously unexpected events. In 2017 year biggest this kind of change was in my relationship status back to single life in the summer.

Life is too complicated to comprehend and control, yet we are in control of our fates no matter what happens. We are the captains of our own souls and fates. Plans are the blueprints for our fates, and what we do each day towards those plans are the tiny manifestations of that fate.

Human mind tends to overestimate what we can achieve in short time and underestimate what is possible in a longer time frame. Therefore do not think your life only in terms of year, find a bigger perhaps three year plan! Year is a good measure to see some results, yet do not attach or condemn yourself too much because you did not achieve your goals, life is greater than that! Most important thing is to keep doing, keep doing, keep raising up and doing what you want to become!

On the following days I am going to follow Mark Manson’s advice and focus on what matters. And I am also going to follow the advice that I sometimes do not enough: trust my own judgement on this.

What’s your focus for the upcoming year and for your life? What do you want to achieve? What are you going to do about it today?

Janne

Motivation

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I’ve spent whole day preparing for Tuesday’s speech at work and important component there is motivation. Because it has been all I’ve been thinking today I shall write something about it here as well.

Interesting thing about motivation is that although it is very popular concept, the scientific definition behind motivation tends to be forgotten. Then you can easily find articles which describe motivation or sources of motivation without really defining what the motivation it is.

One particularly satisfying part was for me to deep into the etymylogy of the word and break it down. According to Dictionary.com motivation appeared in English around 1870 consisting of the word motive and suffix –ation, meaning action. So motive for action could be understood. The source for the word was in latin “movere” which means to move.

Makes sense!

Motivation has been theorized and researched a lot, no wonder many businesses are interested what makes us tick in order to make more profit.

To put it in simple terms there is internal world: your interests and strengths. From this internal world you can decide quite a lot, or little depending on your own decision. Those who are conscious and control are strongly driven through these internal worlds.

Then there are people who do not ask themselves these questions such as, why I do this, where I am good at and what else there is I could do to increase the wellbeing of others… Are instead moved by external world’s demands such as having to pay the rent, then they motivate to do that in order to be motivated to pay the rent again in 30 days.

Internal needs are always there. External pressures only add to those.

We all actually can operate from internal world if we come to accept our current situation, what we can control, what we can decide about. Then we should work to clear the urgent external demands out of our needs list and lastly focus to prepare for the important things in life.

This is the nature of motivation. Reasons for action.

Often our basic needs are rather simply taken care of. Then there are loved ones whose basic needs we want to take care of. After that we are not driven so much by needs, we have time to contemplate greater things.

We still could be fooled to be driven by external needs, demands, however we could choose as well not to.

Ask yourself why you are doing what you do five times, find the underlying reason and think if there could be better match for your strengths, interests and the external worlds needs.

Focus to Important, Empty the Excess

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Accept where you are now, it’s the only place to continue the journey. You are not where you want to be, where you once where or where you would like to be. You are only where you are now.

So next what do you think of as important in life? What is this important thing as daily doing?

Make sure to do it every day. Do not focus to the distractions, focus doing what is important. This way you will do the important things first. Then you can do the big things, which are probably nice. Lastly you can do that which are nice, but not so important.

You’ve enough time for everything important.

Happiness, Wealth, Success and Love is in Our Minds

 

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Our minds create meaning. Consciously we can choose what kind of meaning we give to what happens in life.

With the same principle our happiness is in our minds.

Our wealth is created by our mind, creativity, imagination, habits and actions.

Our success is the result of our actions.

Love? Actual love is doing rather than a feeling. Feeling is a mess in brain chemistry, real love is actions. If you do good, you will find eventually that it resonates back to you from people.

We become what we put into our minds. This includes the environment we are in as well as where do we spent our focus: i.e. is it in watching entertainment, pursuit of knowledge, building relationships or doing good deeds.

What We Focus on Grows

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What we focus on grows, this is such a powerful thought! Essentially anything that we give our attention to strengthens. Anything we put our conscious thoughts, will grow stronger.

I.e. if we feed our thoughts about tiredness, those thoughts will strengthen. In the same way, if we focus to what has gone well, we positive feelings that come through it amplify and will last longer.

Applying this to the real world: how much positive feedback do you give? Precise actions and numbers please! I noticed some weeks back, how easy it is for us to think the feedback as something mainly negative to give when something goes wrong. I met some other passengers on the bus that only intended to give complaints.

Woken up by the thought I thought I must also try to give more positive feedback on every possible occasion. Positive feedback strengthens and grows that which works. Naturally strengthening what works is a far better approach than nagging about what doesn’t work.

In fact a good tip that I just picked up from the How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Caernegie is to always praise first. Of course the point is to find genuine praise, which is possible by learning to find things that are genuinely praise worthy.

That which we focus on strengthens. We will find more positive if we direct our attention through the positive.

The Limitations of Our Attention and the Cure

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We have limited attention, we can only be at a one place at a given time and we can only focus to one person or a task at a time. In this sense we are rather limited.

Because of our limited nature, we should also be forgiving for those who wrong us and merciful towards ourselves, who cannot always meet our expectations. At very least we can learn at the end of the day and move forward slightly smarter than we were previously on today.

Humans have deep desire for attention and desire. Attention is the currency of power and love. We realize this as children that we are not the center of the world and we are not really omnipotent either. From there on we are seeking for some kind of drought for this deprivation.

A cure that cannot be given, unless we are first willing to give it to others.

How do you treat that who has no power above you? That is the measure of our being. We get that wellbeing which we create to our environment.

It’s not even the ill words that hurt us, it is when we get no attention at all. Yet do not hold grudge to those who ignore you by purpose or without purpose, because most likely they have no purpose they are merely not mindful. And if it was on purpose, who would like to have the attention of such person anyway as it would only mean trouble?

Being present and forgiveness are the cures for our deprivation of attention. We must first administer what we wish to have.

Enthusiasm and Bouncebackability are Ingredients for Greatness

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Enthusiastic person will be successful. The trick is to stay enthusiastic with everything life throws at us. Anyone with daring goals is going to face something unexpected that may be even called failure, although I dislike the word, because failure is only failure if you fail to learn and seize doing anything afterwards.

Winston Churchill said wisely: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Emotions are contagious. So while we may be enthusiastic, someone or something may offset an another, even stronger emotion usually due to a mistake or something unexpected. When we finally meet this emotion we are often struck with either negative or confused emotions: our enthusiasm will be tested.

Not so cool anymore huh? Today I had exactly such scenario. In the morning I was rather tired, yet I was also rather enthusiastic about new work week and possibilities. Eventually on my commute I decided to start reading Frank Bettger’s book “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling” which I had been excited to peek on quite a while. I didn’t get very far, but on the first pages the book discussed about enthusiasm – one of my favorite topics.

Because emotions are contagious, we need to tune into positive emotions. I like the idea that since we are working we can do the work with excellent attitude and enthusiasm. So with these thoughts I started the day and everything went rather well until afternoon, an unexpected error happened and it left me a bit dazed and confused.

Because it was at the end of the work day, I couldn’t quite put my finger on to it. I understood that the ability to recover from setback is crucial and all in all I handled it all okay, yet the feeling wasn’t the same after all.

Something lacked, but I couldn’t quite put my finger to there and then. Now I know: enthusiasm.

Therefore bouncebackability it’s not only about doing what is necessary, it also means finding the enthusiasm quickly 🙂

Enthusiasm is found the way it is always found in the beginning of the day, the same routine we just may need to stop and restart. It’s mostly about directing focus: to the positive and to the things we can control.

There will be always setbacks, it’s up to us to face them with smile.

Power of Full Focus

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Yesterday I was lagging three books behind my reading goal for this year and now I am lagging two books behind. I am really proud that I was able to read and study both of the books in such focused manner.

Both of the books had to do with personal development, one book was by Lauri Järvilehto, a Finnish philosopher and his book Tee itsestäsi mestariajattelija (“Make yourself a master thinker”) and the second one was Sisäinen sankari (Inner hero) by Jari Sarasvuo.

Some topics can feel rather intimidating as the Lauri’s book did for me. I had browsed and glanced through it several times, however never quite got there to read it deeper. Not until on Friday I happened to see what the book description promised “a stress free life.” On conscious level I didn’t particularly feel like I am stressed however, that promise seemed so good that I decided I’ve to read the book. So on the Saturday I decided what’s important: my reading goal and to read the book.

I am amazed what this kind of decision to focus does: I made quite a bit progress and by lunch time I had finished 60% of the book. Next I took fresh air and ate lunch outside. After lunch had a rather long nap, after which I was able to continue reading and finished the book in timely manner.

From the book I actually also learned about human mind and focus as well. Unlike my earlier understanding that came from Mihaly Chikzenmihalyi it appears human consciousness appears to be more limited than I’ve thought. Instead of 110 bits of conscious capacity, according to Ap Dijksterhuis and Loran Nordgren have estimated our conscious capacity varies between 10 – 60 bits per second. If one unit of information is about 8 bits it would be about 1 – 7 units depending on how tired, hungry and what else we are.

We are more unconscious than we know. This is interesting topic that I’ve been pondering a lot. Most of our seemingly conscious actions become so automatic that they are being done unconsciously. In fact if you look at drunk and tired people, they may be unconscious and not register much what is going on at all, yet they somehow find their ways to operate in the world.

Key take away here is that the conscious is more limited than we know. We should use the limited consciousness to harness the capabilities of habits, which is essentially outsourcing the important things to our unconscious which is far more powerful than we could hope our conscious to be.

We can learn all the important skills and habits, most important decision is what to prioritize and finish right now?

Life is What We Think

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Life is what we think it is: it’s the sensory input and then however we interpret that.

Much of our suffering is caused by ourselves, because if we would have thinking skills we would focus to what is best at each present moment, instead of thinking too much of the past or worrying about the future.

Our life is a construct of our thoughts and these feelings that follow. And yes through conscious thought intervention (called stopping and thinking) we can actually affect how we feel in the long term. Actions lead to results, which come back to us as feedback which causes feelings.

What is in our control is our attitude towards life.

If we think like is cool, then it is cool. What we focus on grows stronger and we will find the strength to live.

If on the other hand we do not see life as an opportunity, then we the negative begins to strengthen and grow, which then in turn causes more negative intended and unintended consequences.

What we focus on, grows and determines how our life is. We have the choice.

Synthesis from Science of Money and Some Other Books

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So I just finished Science of Money by Brian Tracy and I was thinking to write summary. However, just writing a summary isn’t right, because there are so many interesting things from other sources as well which I thought to throw in the mix.

Science of Money gets a big recommendation from me, if you are interested about money. On the measure of how much Kindle highlights I’ve made, this was a great book with a lots of learning as I exceeded the 10% with over five percentage points. The fact that I cannot even highlight and remember everything, is a very good sign that if you are interested, get the book.

Book starts by verbalizing what I have been thinking and experiencing a in my professional life: “Money remains one of the most thought – provoking , emotional , and polarizing subjects in the world.”

Whenever we start to talk about money with people we do not know well, it is a topic that does easily cause strong emotions and polarizes. Conversations can end or light up quickly.

What is money? Money is medium of exchange, the medium to exchange value. Things themselves do not have any value, only when there is someone to pay.

As Yuval Noah Harari put in Sapiens “money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.” Money is medium of exchange, and it’s based on trust and belief that you can exchange it tomorrow too.

More important than money, is however the value. And because we all exchange our services for something, we better be always looking to create more value. Because of this, Brian Tracy puts it well that everybody works on straight commission. To me this was a breakthrough thought that instantly connected with another thought from Daniel Pink’s book to Sell is Human: “selling is moving people”, therefore we are all in sales.  I think this thought by Brian Tracy is really interestingly combined with this thought and creates even greater thought:  we are all in sales with straight commission.

When we begin to internalize this, we start to think more about the value we create in the hours, days and weeks. Brian puts it well that wealthy people work for six days a week. They also keep on investing on themselves to keep on learning new valuable skills.

Earning ability, the skills is important. Even more important is the habit of saving money from what you earn, after that you can scale up.

Parkinson’s Law and How to Use It

More importantly Brian goes through most relevant laws that govern money and earning. They all important, yet in here I would like to focus on Parkinson’s law that says expenses rise to meet the income. Or “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

On contemplating this, I’ve successfully understood why Elon Musk for example divides his time into five minute chunks to get more done. Even bigger chunks such as 30 min or 45 minute will work. Setting a time limit for a task will make sure that it will get done.

Identity and limiting beliefs

Brian goes to length talk about limiting beliefs, self-doubt in particular that as he shares in one story, is the tool of the devil as the metaphor.

As a medicine for self-doubt he recommends the inverse paranoia (believing that world is conspiring to make you succeed) that was practiced for example by W . Clement Stone who was worth 800 million $ at the time he died.

Many of us live with kind of (socially programmed) level of self-worth in money and social as well. This is mostly unconscious, we inherit from our childhood and youth environment and strive for it. If we are below the level of our programmed level of living standard, we are willing to work harder. If we are above, we will find ways to spend and get rid of the money.

Changing your identity about money happens as with any habit: slowly and surely. As with getting anywhere, visualizing the success and using the imagination to be actually already there is the first step to achievement. This is the way for example soccer hero’s are born: young boys watching their childhood heroes on the field. Or for any pop star as well, it all starts with a dream – a visualization and then a long journey with many tiny steps towards that dream.

Money is not the end goal, as said, money is just a metric on how much value you are creating. However, be patient, learn, learn and learn. You will be surprised: this is a more probably road than winning a lottery.

“The most important principle of personal or business success is simply this; you become what you think about most of the time.” – Brian Tracy

Since all money just measures how much value is being created, the value creation is critical. All value is created from nothing. This makes life a wonderful adventure, because it means we there is no limit to the value we can create if we are imaginative.

If your work is profitable then it’s worth of your time and effort, a nature’s way of guiding us.

 

Work and Humility

“When you go to work, work. Put your head down and work.” – Brian Tracy

Brian gives about working and understanding that working is exchanging value and then value should be maximized. With the acknowledgement that we are all humans, I like this kind of thinking. When we work, the focus should be working and creating value for the customers. To create value for customers we need to be finding new ways to serve these people in customer organizations.

Then I might add a different point of view as well, that our focus as human beings is rather limited. There are no such things as 12 hour productive streaks. We need to stay focused and productive during our day, however in between there should be smart breaks, a bit of exercise, and why not some laughter as well.

Overall I really like the idea of recognizing when you should be focusing and working and when you should be having fun is a big difference and I like the humility here as an approach.

Cause and Effect

 “All wealth, all happiness, all prosperity, all success are the direct and indirect effects or results of specific causes or actions” – Brian Tracy

To conclude so much content, I would say that value creation, through work and imagination are the basis. One important thing is what is called secondary consequences. This thought really hit me, that I actually see think about this stuff! Most people think only about what happens next, primary consequence if you do this or that. However, there are also the secondary consequences which will happen eventually from other perspectives.

Whatever you want to achieve in life you can either achieve it by chance or doing something differently. Study the cause and effect, and think of the secondary consequences too.