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Tools you can put to use to write a better life-story, today.

Writing a better life story is the most important thing in your life. And it won't come easy. A better life story won't come from one secret, spectacular formula. A better life story is not written from a single moment of epiphany or a sudden bout of motivation. really thinking through what you want to 

01  Planning the life story you want to write

Determining what areas you want your life story to be about, and finding out more. 

Quotes to think about
 

"You Don’t “Find” Your Passion in Life, You Actively Develop It"
Carol Dweck ("Growth Mindset" theorist, author, psychologist)

"Don't let the impossible best be in the way of all the possible betters"
Bill Burnett (
Executive Director, Stanford's "Design Your Life" program)

“Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening. Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare."
Angela Duckworth (psychologist, author of "Grit")

Useful Tools
 

Check out:

- The "Learning from Others" page for more ideas

- Stanford's design your life course (video, exercises)

- Developing a Life Resume, Jesse Itzler 
 

Read:
- Article on how we choose our careers

 

Watch:
- Commencement address, Angela Duckworth (also read her excellent book, Grit)

  • We know the secret to a good life.  "Find your passion and pursue it!! Find your Ikigai". Sounds great.
    But as it turns out, for most people, this is terribly misleading advice. 

     

  • Finding your passion assumes that you already know what you want, and that there is only one correct answer. Neither is likely to be true. Research from Stanford shows that 80% of people do not know what their passion is. "Finding" your passion could also lead to simply seeking something we find easy, rather than what we find meaningful. Moreover, most of us haven't tried that many things in our lives.
     

  • Instead of trying to define your mythical passion, get curious and find out more about the areas you have an interest in. There must be people who are doing what you want to do. Reach out and talk to them. Find out what life is like for them, both the good and bad aspects. What do they enjoy and what do they find challenging or boring. No matter how much an area interests or matters to you, there will be periods of difficulty and boredom. Are you able to accept these?
     

  • Even an Olympic swimmer didn't become passionate after 2 visits to the pool. Don't mistake enthusiasm and interest for what you are willing to commit to. Prototype an experience in interesting areas to develop some expertise. It is only in the process of gaining expertise, and only having gained an understanding of the expertise required, that you can truly decide if something is for you. If you want to be a travel blogger, write and share some stories. If you want to start a business, you could experiment with a small sideline or offer to work for free at a company for a short period of time. If you want to be a sumo wrestler, well start eating my friend. 

02  Committing to writing your story
Most of us can accept trying out or learning about new areas of interests. But getting to the next step of choosing and committing to a new area will bring waves of fear, anxiety, and doubt. We have to address these.

Quotes to think about

"What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. Yet, most of us end up choosing unhappiness over uncertainty"

Tim Ferriss

“You must keep a vigilant watch for your self-limiting assumptions. We are prone to awfulising:  to make something its most awful in your mind.” 

Isaac Lidsky

"The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur. I wouldn't say I have a lack of fear. In fact, I'd like my fear emotion to be less because it's distracting and fries my nervous system."

Elon Musk

Useful Tools
 

Check out:

- The 5 major characteristics of the brain and how it affects your behaviour

- How you can scientifically re-wire your brain re-wire
 

Watch and Do:
- Fear-Setting talk (and the accompanying Fear-Setting worksheet) Tim Ferriss

  • The human mind is biological wired for survival. We even have a specific part of our brain - the Amygdala -  dedicated just to warn us when our survival seems under threat. 
     

  • Doing something new feels threatening to the amygdala: there is uncertainty, not knowing what will happen next. There is a chance for failure. And there is no precedence, many others seem to be doing something else. 
     

  • When there is uncertainty, your amygdala jumps into overdrive and generates emotions: fear, worry, and anxiety. You begin to imagine the worst possible scenario, or as psychologists term -  "awfulising", and you start to believe your self-generated negativity. Your brain, more sensitive to the negative (potential pain of failure, hard work, and judgement), dims the positive (potential gain of doing something you truly find meaningful) and starts finding reasons and excuses to not take action.
     

  • While the amygdala does it job to warn us about possible threats, it is up to us to analyse if these emotions are justified:

    • What is it that I'm uncertain about? Can I find out more?

    • What's the worst thing that can happen? What's the chances of this happening?

    • So what if the worst happens? Can I do something to lower the chances of the worst happening? Can I do something to lower the negative consequences if the worst happens?

    • Perhaps there is a risk of you trying something new. But what is the cost of not doing it? What will your life story look like if you didn't try?
       

  • We are prone to being misled by the powerful and often exaggerated first impression that fear brings. It is only by confronting and defining our fears that we can decide if there is truly a reason to be fearful. And our fear evaluation allows us to answer the most important question in pursuing an area of interest. Most of the time, we know the positives an area of interest will ring to our lives. "But are we willing to struggle past the challenges and fears we have in pursuing this area?" If your answer is yes, congratulations, you've found a promising plot to write your life story. 

03  How to keep writing even when you get stuck

You'll face many challenges and resistance as you write your story. To get through these and keep writing, you'll need strategies and systems of.  Motivation is overrated. 

Quotes to think about

“Habits shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.” “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” 

Charles Duhigg 

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.

Useful Tools
 

Check out:

- Stephen Duneier's brilliant Ted Talk on how to accomplish big tasks


 

Watch:
- "Principles", Ray Dalio's terrific book on the principles he has for decision making and life, or watch this 28 minute summary

- "Learning how to Learn", Barbara Oakley, or watch her presentation at Google

 

Read: 

- "The Power of Habit", Charles Duhigg

- "Can't Hurt Me", David Goggins

  • Have you ever gone for a run and stopped, thinking this is it. This is the max I can go. I’ve given it everything. I've gone as far as I can. 
     

  • But think about it. Were you really not able to take 1 more step? And then 1 more step after that?  (it doesn't need to be running - it applies for anything difficult, could you have gone for 1 more minute? 1 more attempt?)
     

  • Whatever goal that you’ve set, you have to brace yourself because it's going to difficult. Just like going on that run, you are going to feel exhausted, perhaps without any immediate benefits. You’ll definitely have setbacks. And at some point, you’ll definitely want to quit. Perhaps even those closest to you might also be dispensing advice -  why put yourself through all this pain? Quit.
     

  • So how can we keep going when it gets tough? How can we take that additional step, and then one more, and one more.  
     

  • Having a worthwhile goal helps. It’s easier to keep running to save the of a loved one. But it'll be hard to keep going just because your boss told you to. 
     

  • But just having a worthwhile goal is obviously not enough. How many of us set New Year's Resolutions, only to set the same ones the year after. After establishing a goal, we need a way to reach it, despite all the difficulties. 
     

  • A very common, but unhelpful answer that we turn to is motivation. We think, "if only we can keep ourselves motivated". If motivation is the answer, weren't you motivated when you set your New Year's Resolution. What happened? How many people changed their lives after watching Goalcast or other motivational videos? Do you think it's motivation that drives an Olympic swimmer to wake at 5 a.m, 300 days a year, for 2 hours of morning training? Willpower and motivation are useful, but they often desert you when you need it the most. 

  • Instead of depending on willpower and motivation, you have to find strategies and systems to help you keep moving forward. This includes:

    • How your brain is wired, the 5 major characteristics of your brain. With this understanding, know 

      • Why it is critical for you to keep learning, how this affects creativity, and how to learn more effectively

      • Why you should break down your goal into micro-tasks

      • Why you should introduce new variables to your life

      • How to think about time management 

    • Why habits and routines can keep you going even when you don't feel like it, and how to develop these habits and routines. 

Fear-Setting

"We suffer more often in imagination than in reality"

- Seneca, Roman philosopher


It's well worth investing 13 minutes to watch this video in full. Fear-setting is every bit as important as goal-setting. Fear is a very natural reaction, but sometimes we are not sure what exactly we fear, if these fears are unfounded and prevents us from achieving our goals. 
 

Designing Your Life

Designing Your Life

"You are where you are. Start from where you are. You’re not late for anything."

Bill Burnett, Executive Director, Stanford "Design you Life" program

Wouldn't it be great if we could really "Design" the life we wanted? But is this really possible? Why haven't some of us been able to design our lives ourselves? And should I do if I wanted to design my life? 

Designing Your Life

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How to tackle big tasks

“What stands between us and achieving even our most ambitious dreams has far less to do with possessing some magical skill or talent, and far more to do with how we approach problems and make decisions to solve them.”

- Stephen Duneier
 

This is the second must-watch video on this page. Why should you believe that this Duneier fellow really knows how to accomplish big goals? Well... it will literally take a page to finish listing all the things he accomplished, all while being a middle-aged dad holding a full-time job. 
 

Designing Your Life

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I don't have the time!

I really want to do A, B, and C. But I am not like others.I simply don't have the time!


Time. We always wished we had more of it. But no matter how rich or how smart or how powerful, we all have the same amount of it. it is the one area that there is true equality across people. Since no one can manipulate time, we can only manipulate how we use it. Laura Van Der Kam and Newt Gingrich share more. 
 

Designing Your Life

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Work on your Life Resume

We place a lot of emphasis on creating a work resume that would be impressive to prospective employers. You can refer to this work resume to describe your skills at work to others, but how would you describe your life to others?

When you look back at your life, have you created enough memories outside of your work to look back and think, this is a part of my life story well written?

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Develop a waking routine

If there's one person who understands how to make practical improvements to their life, it's Jim Kwik. As a young boy, he suffered a brain injury that greatly affected his ability to learn. He couldn't read even at age 8, and had no self-belief. Ironically, today, Jim is a coach at the biggest companies in the world - Virgin, SpaceX, 20th Century Fox, Nike - teaching... how to learn. 

Here he shares about his morning routine, catered to optimise brain performance. Read more about Jim and morning routines below.
(For the record,  I don't think you need a morning routine. There are many folks I know who don't even see the morning. Serena Williams, the tennis star, starts her day around noon. However, while when you wake depends on your work schedule and your sleep cycle, I do think there is value in having a wake schedule (whatever time that is),  because it gets you going for the rest of the day.   

Final thought: I have seen Admiral William McCraven's speech (which Jim also touches on) about making your bed. Frankly, I do think attributing making your bed to a successful life is nonsense. 

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Develop a strong and positive social circle

This is a great place to tell people more about your business, and the services you offer. Want to make this content your own? It’s easy. Just add your images, text and links to this preset, or connect to data from your collection.

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Change your

In this clip, Wendy Suzuki, a neurologist, explains how exercise not only provides physical benefits, but can fundamentally transform your brain:

  • A single workout can increase neurotransmitters, which in turn leads to improvements in our daily actions, for example in focus and reaction times.

  •  Long term exercise can increase the size of your hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that stores memories and helps you learn.

  • Finally, exercise helps protect you brain against neurological decline, resisting the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia.


The brain is super fascinating - the most complex system that we know today. You can learn more about it at the "understanding yourself" page. 

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Improve neurogenesis
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