Success, Goals and Achievement

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How do you know you are successful without any metric, a goal?

Goals matter, because they put us to think. We need two kinds of goals: goals that push for incremental improvement as well as stretch goals, which push us to think in entirely new ways.

Goals do not need to be set in stone. In fact, when and once your understanding deepens the goals get more accurate and you start to realize what you really need to do.

Common denominator for your goal and the “success”, is you. You are always there, you are the vehicle that goes from being something, to being something else. This is why the ancient wisdom to ‘know thyself’ works so well.

Greatest achievement you can achieve, is that of self. Then you can go where ever you want.

All the goals you pursue teach you valuable skills on the way to self-mastery.

Self-mastery is abundant state, you are able to give more out of yourself than you have to take. Because of this abundant state, it means you are able to generate more good karma than bad. You reach a state of sustainable fulfilment. You understand that it is your actions that have causality and you choose to take action that have more positive causalities than negativities.

Thus the highest form of achievement, is that of self.

Ask yourself: what kind of goals you have set for yourself? Why? And what you will learn on the way towards these goals.

What would be your ideal life? What are you lacking? How can you practice virtues?

Power of Positive Visions and Language

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There are some unskillful words in business, productivity and self-help books. I.e. uncomfort zone is such word. I’ve been using it, but to stop and contemplate it’s not really helpful word at all. Why would anyone spend time in their uncomfort zone? The intention to face the uncomfort and grow through that experience is good, however the word when detachment from the context is awful. Perhaps a better word could be curiosity zone or perhaps growth zone?

Words somatize, meaning they affect our thinking, then our speaking, then our physical and emotional states and that does not turn out very well.

After realizing the somatizing effect that the words have, I’ve decided to refrain from as many unskillful words as possible. Such words are for example swearing, words that are directly borrowed from war such as deadline.

It’s good to be mindful about the words we choose. The people who we are with, determine much of the language we use. It’s the surrounding culture that determines what words we do use, however by being mindful we can reduce the effects and bring more skillful practices into use.

Overall, mentioned words: uncomfort zone, deadline are good examples that the language has interesting words that are charged with kind of bad karma, although the intentions are good. Why cannot we have the growth zone and completion date? These kind of words carry more positive, uplifting tone about the whole thing.

When this kind of positive vision thinking is applied a little bit more broadly, you start to see that much of our stories we believe in are stories of loss or fear of loss. We are not taking action from the positive stories: what we all could gain if we succeed for example.

It all starts with the tiny word choices, and makes up the more positive and uplifting vision that energizes us all.

Daily Practice

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Accumulative advantage comes through small actions each day. What are the virtues that you would like to one day posses?

How could you train that virtue everyday?

It’s through the daily practice that we grow wiser and are prepared for the day that we need such virtue.

It’s through meditation that we develop mindfulness.

It’s through reading and discussion that we learn to think.

It’s through practice that we learn to speak.

What are you practicing daily?

Personally I picked up this habit of contemplating on virtues through Daily Stoic. It’s addition to my journaling routine. I’ve noticed that it’s much more effective to recall and remember these virtues in cycles, rather than always seek new things.

Wired for Fast

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Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky enlightened the world with their book “Thinking Fast and Slow” which explores the common human errors that arise from heuristics and biases.

Fast thinking brain is fast and energy efficient and error prone . Slow thinking is conscious, energy conscious and error prone as well. What could go wrong with systems like this?

To be honest I am surprised that anything goes right. A program called evolution has weed out the most obvious bugs for at least long enough for our ancestors to be able to reproduce and raise some offspring. Real trouble gets when we get older I guess?

What’s funny about our operating system is that although we have these two systems, our brain still prefers by automatic the fast system. Fast system is so energy efficient in comparison to the slow system that if it can be solved quick and easy, we would very much prefer that.

This tendency and bias towards fast system creates challenges such as our mind jumping to conclusions about things we don’t know, but know that we have jumped to a conclusion we know to be right.

Wiring for fast doesn’t stop with jumping to conclusions, fast mind is constantly looking for something familiar, something easy way to solve this thing and get to the next. We are living in societies where we want more and faster. Fast feels good.

Although our biological wiring is what it is, thankfully we have the slow system that allows as to transcend momentarily it at first and then maybe more permanently if we keep at it as patiently as Buddha for example.

From Hesitation to Hell Yes

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I pondered why I am hesitating in some areas of life. In life I’ve followed the advice Jari Sarasvuo gave during Trainers’ House Growth Academy about prioritization: If it’s hell yes, then do it. If it’s anything less do not.

In order to recognize a hell yes, we need to recognize it from no and regular yes. Hell yes is based on deeper understanding what you want and why do you want it.

Hell yes is difficult to get to in some areas, such as relationships. How do we know a hell yes? And how can we be sure?

At times, it is our thinking that is flawed. Sometimes what we need isn’t at all the thing we want.

It may take to change our understanding before we get to a hell yes.

Ignorance Everywhere

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Ignorance rises every morning when we wake up.

Therefore to we must start our inner work in the morning to be mindful about this ignorance. Simplest way to become mindful about the ignorance is to take a moment to reflect what are the most important events of the day, what virtues you need there and what could go wrong.

Today I began my commute by meditating and I realized it’s good to focus on what can go wrong but also what should go right.

We can only start the journey where we are. And we do not have accurate world views. The difference between what we think we are and how the world is, can be a shock at times. Sometimes it’s not because we were wrong, it’s because something has changed and our world view hasn’’t.

Living by the truth isn’t easy, however it’s the way to live by. Ignorance cannot stand the truth.

When we shed light to our ignorance, only the true understanding remains.

As we become more mindful about our ignorance, we will gain more accurate sense of the world. Yet world is every morning different than it was when we left it as was. Something has changed.

We are all ignorant, that’s the first step to become mindful about.

Use Negative Swing to Create Positive Momentum

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Power of perspectives is so powerful, you can literally turn anything upside down and build upon the momentum. This applies in good and in bad. Usually people would rather have more of the good and less of the bad.

It’s completely within our power to decide how each event will serve us: is it a lesson or a burden. Masters find the lesson in everything and everyone. It’s sure to be there, if you look deep enough.

Then use those lessons to create habits.

Use those habits to create combinations of habits that shape your days.

Use those days to make your dreams reality.

What Does It Mean When You Not Ask Questions?

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Lack of questions signals that there is no interest. When I understood this a few days ago I felt shocked as indeed it’s in many cases easier not to ask anything than it is to ask. Sometimes I’ve also passed asking questions even though I’ve been curious about something, however I still haven’t bothered to open up my mouth.

Often the questions are more valuable than the actual answers.

Questions show that we are thinking.

Questions show that we care.

Questions are essential for learning.

Questions connect people.

When you do not ask questions you are not moving towards people, you are drifting apart.

Asking questions means building understanding, building happiness, building love and all that good stuff.

Full Ownership

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Ownership.

Responsibility.

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.

Quiet Contemplation on Decisions

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On occasion it’s good to have no structure and enjoy the chaotic connections and insights that arise. In order to prioritize we must determine and decide what is important. For that the time to reflect and weigh different options is necessary.

It seems I need to spend at least a day of a week in this kind of quiet and reflective in order to stay operational and to be able to function.

Life is rather easy if we think about it: we just need to prioritize spiritual, social and physical wellbeing and then when the time to do something comes, we are able.

Yet a life of growth is a bit different, because we are not facing the same challenges every day, instead we are facing progressively more difficult challenges.

Stress challenges our mind, body and spirit, and with rest all these grow stronger. Rest is much more than sleep: in physical terms it’s also everything that maintains our body. Our mind also needs healing: thinking practices, social bonding and emotional intimacy. Our spirit needs also nourishing: from social life and spiritual practices.

If we each day and week face increasingly more difficult challenges, how come we spend so little time to prepare for such?

I feel that we have plenty of time to prepare if we do it economically, each day a little bit. To do it economically only thing we really need to do is to keep doing the practices and reinforce the decisions we have made for example to exercise, meditate and socialize with friends and loved ones. Quiet contemplation lets us to appreciate and feel grateful for everything good we have in our lives and to work for those most important things even harder.