How to Remember Anything – The Memory Palace Technique

This is article is going to be my second meta-learning article. Click here to read the first article on how to speed read.  This article is going to introduce you to a memory technique that will enable you to basically learn anything. The Technique is called the Memory Palace Technique. And it is one of the simplest and most powerful learning techniques you will ever come across.
For example, Eight-time world memory champion Dominic O’Brien used this technique to remember 54 decks of cards in a row ( that’s 2808 cards)

Why do you write about meta-learning

One of my main goals of this blog is to study high performers of various fields and dissect why they are so good at what they do. I want to decode their excellence and break it down into stealable chunks that you and I can learn. What are the habits, routines, strategies, and techniques, tools of the successful or in this case the ultra smart? I believe those skills and techniques should not only be reserved to the ultra-privileged who went to elite schools but to everybody.
The first Education I received was in my local neighborhood which educationally and socially wise was rather poor. In this kinda ghettoish school, the focus was not to inspire or to thrive but to give us an education at all. The minimal dose of education. In consequence, I inherited dysfunctional learning habits and techniques in that school that caused me major problems in my academic career. It Climaxed when I got kicked out for the first time of my university (It shouldn’t be the last one x).
At a certain Point, I was just tired of fucking up in university and I sat down and really asked myself: Why am I failing academically? Why are my learning efforts so fruitless? What is the difference between me and a straight A scholarship student from Harvard for example?
I took a really, really long honest look at myself and my results. And I took full responsibility for my failures. After all, blaming wouldn’t get me anywhere. I realized that if keep doing the same old approach my life is going to be really painful.
Why was I so bad at learning?
One of the simplest answers that I came up with was a realization: I didn’t know shit about learning! Like How does my brain store memory? How do I take in information? What can I do to accelerate my memory intake? What can I do to become a better learner?
I’m a guy who is very extreme in everything he does. This habit of going down all the way into the rabbit hole has its pros and its cons. A big Contra is that I am very susceptible to self-destructive stuff like alcohol or drugs (or even cake x) for example. If I try something, I will go all the way usually.
The good side of having this extremism about me is that I asked myself a very demanding question regarding the topic of learning. I did not just want to become a better student, I wanted to be an elite, straight A level student.  So I asked myself: How can I transform myself from a college drop out to an elite A level Student? 
In order to answer this question, I began to research books, articles, webinars and tried to learn from the best learners in the world. In order to do that I needed to know where they are actually.
Where are the best learners in the world?
In Harvard? In Oxford? Yale? This is what I thought and I was dead wrong.
Turns out that learning and memorization is actually a sport, and that there are memory competitions worldwide. So my thought was; If I am somehow able to steal the techniques and mental approaches of the memory champions in the world, I would be able to completely rock every University in the world. In this article, I’m going to write about the second meta-learning technique that I have acquired. If you apply this technique completely and invest some practice time in it, you will be able to learn any topic and any language in a fraction of the time.

What is a Memory Palace?

The Memory Palace technique is based on the fact that we are surprisingly good at remembering places we know. A “Memory Palace” is a metaphor for any place that you know super good. A place that is extremely easy for you to visualize would qualify for a memory palace. This can be your Home, or the route you take home, or your way to the gym, or your university.
My first memory Palace was my home. Of course, you can have more than one memory Palaces. The Idea is that you build a route, and on that route, you always visit some locations in the same order. Those locations are called loci, this comes from the Latin locus which means location. Very easy loci could be your front door. The idea is now that you visualize at those loci a mnomic.(2)
A mnemonic is any memory technique that helps you remembering something easier.
For example, you want to learn the word freedom, than you imagine a miniature version of the statue of liberty in front of your front door. Studies have shown that our brain is actually terrible at learning stuff by just reading words over and over again. Since I come from psychological background this seems very plausible to me, because our brain evolved thousands of years before there was any written language. So in order to learn effectively, we have to translate information back into the format that our brain can process.

How do I Build a memory Palace?

 

1. Choose Your Palace

Pick a place you are extremely familiar with. My first Palace was my home.  But you can choose any place you want or you can create a fictive place as well. Any place where you can see visualize yourself to walk around with ease, is fine.

What I did in order to make this easier for me was to take a picture of every loci (the different route stops in your memory palace) in my memory palace and put a number on it. Then you can create a blueprint for your room and draw the route that you are walking. Remember Goal is that you visualize yourself walking through your memory palace from loci to loci.
Tipp for memorization: If you don’t want to draw the route with a pencil, go to tinycards.com.This is a side project from duolingo where you can learn with flashcards. There you can create a flashcard deck of your memory palace. Create a Deck with let’s say 50 Locis in your memory palace and on each flashcard you put a picture of a loci. Now you can combine the flashcard technique with the memory palace technique.

2. Chose your Locis.

Remember: Locis are the Distinctive route stops in your memory palace. If you visualize yourself walking through your memory Palace, whats the first station you would find noticeable? If you are as creative as me and you have chosen your home as your first memory palace, the first loci is probably going to be your front door.
Now you make a route through your memory palace to the next distinctive loci. Maybe you are the kind of person who takes a dump first thing when you get home, then a good second stop would be your bathroom.

3. Burn the Palace in your Mind

In order for this technique to work, it is essential that you know your memory palace and the route 100%. I would suggest that you really overlearn it until it is really burned into your mind. Physically walk through your memory place over and over in the same route. Put small notes on the locis in your house with numbers on it until you really remember it. I suggest that you take photos of each and every loci and put a number on the photo and learn it via flashcards.
Once you have imprinted the memory palace in your mind you are ready to go!! You have your memory Palace, congratulations! With this palace, you will be able to learn any topic whatsoever for years to come. This may very well be the difference whether you speak 1 language or 5, or if you fail an exam or pass it with flying colors.

4. Now use Visual associations!

The memory palace system works with visual associations. We now know that our brain is not perfectly suited for learning vocabularies for example by just reading them over and over. In fact trying to remember abstract symbols, such as words or numbers printed on a page is extremely unnatural for our brain.
What we want to do is to transform the information into a format that our brain can remember much faster and much easier.  How does our Brain think?

Our Brain thinks in pictures.  Images are the real language of our minds. Let’s say you think of a Pig, what comes to mind? Is it the letters? P-I-G? No, if you are not a cyborg than your brain is going to create a picture of a horse. Want more proof?
What language are your dreams in? You guessed right Sherlock, they are in pictures as well. When I was experimenting with lucid dreaming, I found out first hand that when you dream you cannot see numbers or words. If you ever want to know whether you are dreaming right now or not; watch a clock, if you are dreaming than the numbers are going to be a fucked up mess. I believe that’s the case because it is so hard for our brain to project these unnatural symbols.
So How do you translate numbers and words into visual associations?
Actually, it is fairly simple if you know how. You take a picture you know, this image is called the memory peg and you combine it with the element you want to memorize. (1)
Example: let’s say your first Memory Palace is your home and your first loci is your front door. You want to remember a grocery list and the first Item you want to remember is a Jalapeno.
Now mentally visualize yourself in your memory palace. You stand in front of your Memory Palaces first loci, the front door. Now you have to imagine in a ridiculous, and crazy way a jalapeno in front of your memory Palaces front door. How about a 2-meter tall Jalapeno monster who has a mustache and a squirt gun that is shooting salsa everywhere and is screaming ” anus pain for everybody!!” Is that memorizable enough for you? I bet it is.
There is only one rule: if its boring, it is wrong. The more crazy, offensive, stupid, funny, ridiculous the better. The goal is to make the scene so absurd that it could never happen in real life.
And Unless you are tripping on shrooms and are attending burning man I highly doubt that you will encounter any jalapeno monsters at all.
Now you lets say the second item you want to remember is chicken. Your second loci inside your memory palace is the bathroom. You now walk visually step by step towards the bathroom. The next item is “chicken” and the second feature is ” picture of Colonel Sanders“. You can imagine that Colonel Sanders from Kentucky fried chicken is taking a huge dump inside the bathroom of your memory palace and is eating a bucket of wings while doing so! I think you get the idea, from loci to loci you keep associating images until there are no more items to memorize.

What distinguishes a great mnemonist, I learned, is the ability to create lavish images on the fly, to paint in the mind a scene so unlike any other it cannot be forgotten. And to do it quickly. Many competivie mnemoists argue that their skills are less a feat of memory than of creativity. Joshua Foer

 

5.  Visit your Palace

You are done memorizing the items. If you are like me and you are new to using your technique ( or your brain at all) you will probably need a little rehearsal. Rehearsal means that you repeat to walk through your memory palace and encounter all your crazy associations. When you are ready walking the route, just turn around and walk through your memory palace again.
 
 

Personal Take away

Coming from a psychological background I loved the technique from the start. I often wondered why It was so hard for me and for others to learn in school or in life. I now know that our entire educational system is not taking into account how our brain consumes information! To me, this is crazy, what a waste of time and resources and ultimately a wastage of human potential. I’m a very impatient guy I want to have progress and I want to have it fast. I believe that if we use techniques like the memory palace we will accelerate the process of becoming the best version of us exponentially.
One of the major problems I had with this technique was that it seemed strange to me. It contradicted years and years of classical education. But if you really give it a shot and invest some time and effort into learning techniques you will have incredible returns.If you are a person who has dreams, you should also ask yourself what kind of person do I need to become in order to achieve this dream?
Whatever this dream is of yours, I believe that if you master meta-learning techniques like the memory Palace you will get there much faster. And getting there means that you have more time for the things that really matter.

Our lives are the sum of our memories. How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by.. not paying attention? Joshua Foer, former Us Memory Champion

Call to action

  1. Build your first Memory Palace!
  2. Take a picture of every Loci inside your Palace and create a flashcard at tinycards.com with the different locis inside your Memory Palace.
  3. Walk physically through your Memory Palace and put sticky notes with numbers on each loci. Rewalk the route until you mentally walked 10 times -mistake-free- through your memory palace.
  4.  Now its time for a game: In Germany, we have a game that is called ” Ich packe Meinen Koffer” which means translated I pack my suitcase. You play that game with a friend and you mentally pack your suitcase, each person gets to chose one random item. Let’s say the first Item is : shoes. Then you start the next sentence with: I pack my suitcase, and I put in shoes and then right after you get to chose another random item. You play until one of you guys misses out an item or messes up the order in which you put it in your suitcase. With the Memory Palace, you should from now on win every game with ease!
  5. Now put your Memory to the Test click here to get to a random word generator and practice using your palace.

Want to read more? Sources!

  1. https://litemind.com/memory-palace/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mnemonic
  3. https://www.fluentin3months.com/memory-palace/
  4. https://litemind.com/improve-memory-speaking-minds-language/

How to Heal Yourself from Fear, Shame and Guilt — The 7 Chakra Meditation

 
Warning: In this article, imma go all spiritual on your ass!
In my pursuit of becoming the best version of myself, I studied conversations, interviews, books, podcasts, and habits of ultra-successful people. My Idea was that if I identified patterns, and habits and routines of the successful I might become successful myself. And one habit was popping up over and over again: Meditation. It seems that most of the super successful people in the world have some sort of meditative practice. To name a few: Katy Perry, Madonna, Hugh Jackman, Clint Eastwood, Nicole Kidman, Oprah, Kobe Bryant, Arianna Huffington,  Jerry Seinfeld and many more. 1

I normally do my mindfulness exercises in the morning. It’s the first thing I do when I get up. I find that to be the best way to start the day. It gets me in balance before the busyness and hecticness of the day kicks off.” Kobe Bryant

I started my search for mindfulness in a period of my life where I was not as happy as I wanted to be. But I thought that if I would just plain model my behavior after the habits of happy and successful people maybe I would get similar results. I thought that if they can do it, so can I.
So I started with a guided meditative practice from Mindvalley which is called six phase meditation. I wrote a fairly short article about it. Click here to read it
.
 
The 6 Phase Meditation is a very positive meditation, it focuses on gratitude and future visualization. It is like a best of mash-up of all the best-guided meditations. But Something was missing, it somehow felt incomplete to me. In my opinion, in order to really heal ourselves, we must go beyond the positive. Only by confronting our fears and letting go of our blockages we can truly move forward. Questions like: What are you most afraid of? What do you blame yourself for? What are you ashamed of? What are your biggest disappointments in yourself? What are you sad about? What lies do you tell others and yourself? What are you attached to? I hope that after this article and doing the suggested meditation that you will be able to answer these questions for yourself. And with that free yourself.
After some research, I found out that there is a guided meditation that deals with this blockages: the 7 Chakra meditation.
..so what are the 7 Chakras

What is Chakra?

Chakra is Sanskrit and it stands for “wheel circle”. It is believed to be a psychic-energy center in the esoteric traditions of Indian religions. 2
Think of it as wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine and go all the way up to the head. Imagine a swirling wheel of energy where matter and spirit and consciousness meet. This invisible energy is called Prana, it is the vital life force, which keeps us strong, energetic, happy and alive. In the video below you hear a guru explain the Pranic System and the 7 Chakras.

 
What are the 7 Chakras
One of my favorite cartoons is Avatar, the last Airbender. The show plays in a fictional alternate world where people are able to manipulate the 4 elements ( earth, water, air, fire). The protagonist Aang, a small monk boy is the avatar which means that he is the only person in the world who can bend more than one element, in fact, he can bend all 4 of them. And with this power, it is his destiny to bring balance to the world.
Why am I drifting off and writing about a cartoon?
Because there is a beautiful and fairly accurate description of the 7 chakras in the show. In the video below a guru explains Aang how to open all of the 7 Chakras. Watch it now :

Have you watched the video?! No? Damn you are even lazier than me, now watch the video then continue reading.

1. Muladhara or Root Chakra

The Muladhara Chakra is also called the Root Chakra and it is located at the base of the spine. This Chakra deals with survival and it is blocked by fear. In order to cleanse this Chakra, you have to face what you are afraid of the most and let it go. Please watch the video below.

The scene above is from the movie the empire strikes back. Luke Skywalker trains with his master Yoda and is sent into the “Evil Cave”. In this Cave, Luke has to confront what he is most afraid of. So in order to cleanse this Chakra, you have to face your biggest fear, or fear itself.
Personal note: Caution soul striptease ahead.
I believe that everything we do in life is either to gain pleasure or avoid pain. Fear itself is a survival mechanism that’s sole purpose is to protect us from pain. In my opinion, Depression( which I struggled with from time to time) is an overreaction to fear. You and your Brain have together decided that everything in this world brings you pain, therefore it is only logical to not get out of bed anymore for example. This of cause is a wrong conclusion and is called psychological terms a wrong neural association. I think therefore it is important that we at a certain point conquer the fear of survival itself, and show our brain that we are in charge. In order to fully conquer this fear, for example, I jumped out of an Airplane although I’m afraid of heights (which is funny fear to have when you are a 2-meter tall giant). I wanted to show my brain and myself that I’m in charge and that I act in spite of fear. So ask yourself what are you most afraid of? What would you encounter in the evil cave? 

2. “Svadhishthana” or Sacral Chakra

The second Chakra is located at the center of your lower belly. This Chakra deals with pleasure and is blocked by guilt. In order to cleanse this Chakra you have to confront yourself: what do you blame yourself for?
Did you let somebody down? Did you hurt someone that was close to you? Did fail your parents or your spouse?
In order to cleanse the Sacral Chakra, you have to accept that these things happened. And that you need to let go and forgive yourself.

Case Study: Peter Parker ( secretly known as Spiderman)

Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and developed super-Powers. Shortly after he participated in a wrestling event which he won. The Prize Money was 2000 $. The organizer of the event was a crook and he did not want to give Peter Parker the full prize money. Peter was very angry about this of course. Peter walks out of the door. 5 minutes later another guy walks in and robbed the organizer with a gun, and although Peter Parker could have helped the organizer he does not because he wronged him. Later that day that same criminal kills Peter Parkers Uncle. Now Peter blames himself for the death of his Uncle. Peter becomes all depressed which messes up his superhero endeavors and even his relationship with his beloved mary jane. In the video below you can see how his aunt tells him that he needs to forgive himself.

 

3.“Manipura” or Solar Plexus Chakra

The third Chakra is located in the stomach and deals with willpower. And it is blocked by shame.
In order to cleanse this chakra, you have to ask yourself “what are you ashamed of? And what are your biggest disappointments in yourself?
In order to open this Chakra, you need to love and accept all aspects of you, not only the good ones. Your mistakes also made you who you are and you can not escape this darker part of you, even if this part is not pretty at all. You are human and therefore you make mistakes.
We all fuck up, and some(like me for example) more than others. Since time machines are not yet available(Hurry Elon!) we can not travel back and change the things that happened. We can not undo things. But what we can change is our relationship towards the things that happened.
In my opinion, one of the biggest differences between successful people and unhappy people is their approach towards problems. While depressed people, for example, focus on the problem, successful and happy people focus on the solution. Reflection is important, yes, but reliving your failures over and over again only brings out self-punishment in my opinion.
 

4 “Anahata” or Heart Chakra

The fourth Chakra is located in the heart, and it deals with love, and it is blocked by grief. In order to open this Chakra, you need to lay out all your grief in front of you. What are your losses? What are you sad about?
Dealing with loss is a hard thing to do indeed. But the eastern spiritual tradition believes that love is energy and that lost love is reborn in form of new love. Ask yourself what is the deepest, most painful loss you ever experienced? A loss of a job? A loss of health? A loss of a friend? A loss of a family member? A loss of your beloved?
How did you ever get over it? Are you maybe still holding on to it?
Loss is something everybody has to deal with. Click here to read my article on how to turn trauma and loss into your own superpower.  The following case example is a story that shook me to my core but also inspired me and showed me that we as humans can overcome anything.

Case study: Irina Lucidi

Both daughters of Irna Lucidi were kidnapped in 2006 by Irenias Husband. They walked out of the door in order to get to their school and this was the last time she saw them. Her Husband kidnapped the two daughters and later committed suicide. So it is unknown if the two daughters are still alive or not.
How as a human can you deal with such a loss? Irena, of course, was torn and she went through all the 4 stages of grief which are

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Sadness
  4. Fear

I believe that we as humans need to have a sense of control in our life in order to feel happy. This, in my opinion, is one of the reasons why it is so hard for traumatized persons to be happy. Irina lived in a constant state of fear. The fear that something unpredicted would happen to her again. And she asked the question: Why me?

But then she did something that inspired me to no ends. She had a vision of her children in the darkness and she wanted to bring them to the light. She changed the question. Instead of asking why me? she asked herself: How can I use this devastating tragedy to make the world a better place?
In consequence of this changed mental approach, she founded the Missing Children Switzerland organization. Click here to see the website and to donor to their cause.
To use something this tragic and turn it into something that made the world a better place is in my eyes truly inspirational. And if she can do it, so can you.
 
 
 
5 “Vishuddha” or Throat Chakra
The fifth Chakra is located in the throat and deals with sound Chakra. It deals with Truth and it is blocked by lies. Lies that we tell ourselves and lies that we tell others. What part about yourself are you in denial in? What lies do you tell others and yourself?

Case study: Disney’s Gaston /Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Gaston is a fictional character from Walt Disneys ” Beauty and the Beast.

He is a guy who is completely focused on impressing other persons. He does this because his own true view of himself is that he is not enough. He does everything that he can in order to convince and distract others from what he believes he really is, which is that he thinks he is nothing. In order to compensate this feeling of inadequacy, he plays a huge charade to convince others constantly that he is someone. He has become the manifestation of lies that he is telling himself. 
Click here to read my article about the psychological mechanism of feeling not enough.
In order to open the 5th Chakra, you have to face your lies. You have to accept your true self and love it unconditionally.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky,

6 “Ajna” or Third Eye Chakra

The sixth Chakra is located between the eyes and it deals with insight and it is blocked by illusion. In yogic metaphysics, it is believed that one of the biggest illusions humans have is the illusion of separation. The illusion that we are separated from the rest of the world. Because in fact, we are all one. In the video below the third Eye is explained by a spiritual master from India who is called Sadhguru.

If you open this chakra it is said that you can see everything clearly, everything that is inside you and everything that is outside of you.

7 “Sahasrara” Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra is the seventh Chakra. it is located at the top of the head and it deals with pure cosmic energy and it is blocked by attachment.
In order to open this Chakra, you must let go of all earthly attachment. What are you attached to? Money? Prestige? Love? Sex? It is said that in order to open this Chakra you need to let go of all earthly attachments.
Click here to read more about the Crown Chakra. One of the ways to heal and open the crown Chakra is a part of the 6 phase meditation. Click here to read what the 6 phase mediation is about.
In the six phase meditation, you imagine a golden or silver bright light that illuminates the crown of your head. This light is supposed to reconnect people with themselves and to the world and their spirit.
 
 

Call to action

  1. Click on the video below and Unblock all 7 of your Chakras with the guided Mediation.
  2. Write down on a piece of paper: What are you most afraid of?
  3. What do you blame yourself for?
  4. What are you ashamed of? What are your biggest disappointments in yourself?
  5. What are you sad about? What were your losses?
  6. What lies do you tell yourself and others?
  7. What are you attached to?
  8. Now take all your notes and burn them in order to free yourself.

 

Want to read more about the 7 Chakras? Sources!

  1. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/14/famous-people-who-meditate_n_6850088.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chakra
  3. http://www.chakras.info/7-chakras/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Alessia_and_Livia_Schepp
  5. https://www.missingchildren.ch/
  6. https://www.mindvalleyacademy.com/blog/open-your-crown-chakra

 
 
 
 

The Habit of Asking Good Questions

“Albert grunted. ‘ Do you know what happens to lads who ask to many questions? ‘
Mort thought for a moment.
‘No,’ he said eventually, ‘what?’
There was a silence.
Then Albert straightened up and said, ‘Damned if I know.
Probably they get answers, and serve’em right.'”
— Terry Pratchett, Mort
 

My life’s mission right now is to dissect and investigate the routines, habits, and characteristics of successful and happy people. And through countless hours of studying books, documentaries, interviewing high achievers in person I was able to identify some of the commonalities among them.
Clinical psychology always fascinated me, especially mood disorders, or in much more casual terms; unhappiness.
I constantly try to find patterns, habits, rituals, and strategies that lead to happiness and stay away from habits that will lead to unhappiness eventually. So I asked myself what is the difference between a happy and successful person and a person who suffers from depression for example?
One glaring thing I have found was that successful people ask themselves different questions. Instead of asking “why me”, they ask themselves “how can I use this problem to get stronger” for example. They all seem to possess the habit of asking good questions.
One of the differences between happy and unhappy people lies in the quality of the questions that they ask themselves.
If you ask yourself the right kind of questions every situation becomes a growing experience and you will find yourself constantly in learning mode.
And for me, I feel most happy if I get better if I grow because for me growth equals happiness. This is why I created this website, to constantly improve and change for the better and share my findings with the world.
 

How do you get better?

I only know of one way to get better; to learn.
But how do you learn?
In my mind, there were only two possible ways of learning.

  1. Try to find the solution by yourself
  2. Find people who already have the answer to what you are looking for and ask them.

Being the lazy bastard that I am, the decision was utterly easy for me. Option B it was.
When I was working in a psychiatric facility I investigated the problems of people and the causes of their unhappiness. And one of my personal takeaways was that peoples problems are not as unique as you might think.  With that realization in mind, my own problems became less special, I started to look for patterns, habits, rituals that one should avoid at all cost. A receipt for unhappiness so to say.
I thought that there have to be people who struggled with the same demons as I and who successfully mastered their problems. My answer to this problem was to surround myself with a network of mentors.
Very early in my childhood, my mother gave me very demanding and sophisticated books to read. While other kids my age were playing with pokemon cards I was reading Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Viktor Frankl.
Later in my life, I discovered that she did this to install a mental framework of mentors in my brain.
To me, reading was taking advice from the greatest minds in history. Advice that was bitterly needed, because I was failing on every level imaginable.
When I was a teenager and I struggled with self-pity she gave me a book from Nelson Mandela. When I wanted to become better at basketball she gave me a book from Michael Jordan. When I had problems with woman and love my mom gave me books from Shakespeare. And so on.
To me, all those authors became like guides and teachers for me. If I was in a quarrel, I asked my self for example ” what would Michael Jordan do right now?”
But Books also have their limits. I needed to ask real questions and get answers from real persons.
This is when I decided that I needed to find mentors and ask them how they became successful or happy, or muscular, or spiritual enlighted.
But what do you do if you find them? How would you dissect their knowledge? How do you ask better questions? How do you interview them?
In order to learn how to ask questions, I investigated the best psychotherapists, journalists, interviewers in the world. From James Lipton to David Letterman, to Tim Ferris. If you are interested in asking yourself and others better questions than stay with me here.

Who is Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris is an American best selling author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed”human guinea pig”. He is most famous for his self-help books. You might have heard of his book “The 4- Hour Workweek. But what he is most famous for is his Podcast the Tim Ferris show which has over 80 million downloads. In his Podcast, Tim Ferris interviews world experts and masters of any field imaginable. Guests like Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, Dave Asprey and other incredible high achievers. What has this to do with questions?

„ The older I get the more time I spend – as a percentage of each day on crafting better questions. In my experience, going from 1 x to 10 x, from 10 x to 100x and from 100x to 1000x returns in various areas has been a product of better questions.“Tim Ferris

It is Tim Ferris mission to decode human greatness. He interviews high achievers of any kind in order to find emulatable commonalities among the top 1%ers of the world. He does so by asking questions. Coming from a psychological background listening to his podcast was a true game changer for me. For me, interesting people are case studies. And up to this point, I only knew about case studies that were in the unsuccessful part of the spectrum. Tim Ferris gave me 280 amazing human brains to dissect. And he did so by asking them questions. His questions were so good that he was called the “Oprah of Audio”. If you haven’t checked him out, stop reading this article right now and check out his blog. Click here to see his blog.

How to ask questions like Tim Ferris

In the following short video, Tim Ferris gives tips on how to ask questions better.

 

Here are his 5 bullet points

  • The question has to be answered quickly

If you are dealing with highly successful people time matters to them. If your question cant is answered quickly, change it. Questions like ” How can I be successful” are terrible. They don’t have the capacity to be your personal life coach.

  • Build up from easy questions

It is important not start right off the bat with the most difficult questions. Most of the times the first part of the interview is like warming up before the game. A show that is very famous for its high-quality questions is inside the actor’s studio with James Lipton.
In this show, James Lipton interviews the most successful actors in front of young aspiring actors in order to deconstruct their greatness. It’s a great show you should binge it. Guest include; Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, Robert Deniro, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams and many many more. At the end of the show, James Lipton asks every guest the same questions. Let’s see how they are structured. The Questionaire was originally used by Bernard Pivot who many people consider the greatest talk show host ever.

  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What is your favorite curse word?
  6. What sound or noise do you love?
  7. What sound or noise do you hate?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?


As you can see James Lipton starts with asking very easy questions that are quick to answer. In the end, the questions become really complex and philosophical. If you want to ask those important questions you have to build up to them.
 

  • Give Examples

Very often the guys that you interview won’t have a quick answer when they are fishing for words its important to help them and give them an example.
Let’s see how Tim Ferris does this in his new book tribe of mentors.
Question from his book Tribe of mentors: What is one of the most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? Then he gives examples ( could be an investment of money, time, energy etc.)
Remember, these are some tough questions to answer and if you don’t want to experience awkward silence all the time it is important to help.

  • Don’t Ask Questions Google Could Answer

If you want to interview someone, you have the intention in mind that you want to acquire some sort of knowledge or information that in your opinion will help you and add value to others. It is only logical that you first do your homework and see if the person has answered the same question in the past. Again if you are interviewing highly successful people, you don’t want to waste their time or yours.

  • Don’t Ask Broad Questions.

Your questions should be as specific as possible.
Questions like “How do I get rich? ” are horrible questions. A better question would be: ” What three things/resources would you give to a young entrepreneur who is struggling with getting stuff done?. Or ask ” If you could give advice to your 30-year-old self, what would the advice be?
 

How to Ask Yourself Better Questions – 3 Personal Takeaways

 

The older I get, the more time I spend – as a percentage of each day- on crafting better questions. In my experience, going from 1x to 10x, from 10x to 100x, and from 100x to ( when Lady luck really smiles) 1000 x returns in various areas h
as been a product of better questions.” Tim Ferris

1. Before Asking Others, Your Frist Need to Ask the Questions Yourself.

There is a part of Tim Ferris new Book Tribe of mentors that really struck me. It deals with questions you should ask yourself. It is not enough to ask other people question, first you need to ask and define the questions for yourself. If they can not be answered then you go out and ask experts. Many people are aiming for mentors just because it is a thing right now, but you should define first what kind of problems you have and what kind of questions you can not answer by yourself or via google.

If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution “. Albert Einstein

If you want to have a major breakthrough, and you want that your career really to take off, if you want to become the 2.0 version of yourself, you first have to define how that vision, that breakthrough, that career, that 2.0, that next level would look like for you personally. One of the questions that Tim Ferris asks that helps here is :

“When you think of the word successful what Person comes to mind?” Tim Ferris

If you want to read a full article on asking yourself good questions from Tim himself click here.

2. Ask Specific Questions

Whether you ask yourself or an expert a question, your question should be as specific as possible. Let’s say you have the dream of becoming rich. The Questions how do I become rich is not a good question because it is too vague. Rather ask yourself what kind of person do I have to become to become financially independent. Be also specific about your goals, determine what financially independent is for you. What exact income do you need to become financially independent? Write the amount down to the penny, and now ask yourself, what 3 actions can I do today to get closer to this goal.

Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask”. Tim Ferris

3. Why Make it Hard When You Can Make it Easy

Since I was little I was always a grinder. My special super power is that I can work longer hours than everybody I know. For example when I played basketball my way of getting better was just to put in double the hours that everybody else on the team was putting in. And it worked, to this day I’m still known as a gym rat, which is a term for a basketball player who is always in the gym constantly working on his game. 
I was working hard, not smart. One of the side effects of working too hard, and not smart is that at a certain point you link pain to what was originally pleasure for you. I started playing basketball because it was my passion and I loved every second of it. But after some years of sickening work in the gym, basketball was more pain then it was fun. I was missing out on a lot of things, I suffered socially and educationally. It got so bad that I needed to stop playing for a while. Remember our brain does everything to avoid pain, and everything to get pleasure. Click here to read my article about conditioning.
To this day I feel that if I have not completely burned the candle from two sides I wasn’t working hard enough.  Tim Ferris asked himself the same thing. One question from him changed my approach here.

What Would this look like if it was easy?”

What if my unending-working-hard-in-the-salt- mines approach was not the way to go?  I began to link fun and easiness to my obsession towards work and progress. I was first fearing that I would lose my edge, that I won’t be able to grind as long or heavy if I would be completely happy and easy while working. But the opposite happens, I could work even more because being happy while working actually helps with procrastination. Why should you avoid for example learning if it was fun? Why should you skip a workout if it was easy and hilarious? So you should ask yourself from time to time :

Am I Making this Harder than it Needs to Be?

For example, I love learning languages, and it is one of my personal goals to become fluent in 3 new languages every 6 months. One of my takeaways from this is to make things that were hard before. When I started playing basketball I did not even consider it sports. I could play all day and would never consider it a workout. I wanted to transfer this approach towards learning languages.
For example, I’m learning Japanese and Spanish right now. Instead of only memorizing the vocabulary in a loveless cold way. I started watching my favorite anime “one piece” with Japanese dub and Spanish sub. With this method, for example, I have some quality time for myself and learn 2 languages at the same time.
 
 

Call to Action

  1. Define your 3 biggest Problems in your life. What Problems do you need to solve in order for your health, career, happiness to really take off?
  2. If you would be given 1 billion dollars by Bill Gates, what problem would you conquer that in your opinion would benefit the human race as a whole the most?
  3. If you could only work 2 hours a week on your projects, what would you focus on?
  4. Imagine you have an interview with an all known wizard, and you could ask him anything, what 3 questions would you ask him?

 
Sources :

  1. Tim.blog
  2. www.theactorsstudio.com

The Habit of Making your Bed — 3 Lessons I learned from Navy Seal Admiral Mcraven

Before I write about the importance of the habit of making your bed I want to share a basketball story with you that captures the essence of what this habit will give you.
There is a story about the Basketball coaching legend John Wooden. It captures the essence of why making your bed boosts your self-discipline and why the small things matter. John Wooden has won with his teams 10 NCAA Championships and many people consider him the greatest basketball coach of all time. He is the author of many bestsellers such as Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Succes.
One of Wooden’s most famous players, Bill Walton replayed how it was to play under Coach Wooden.

“You know, basketball is a game that’s played on a hardwood floor,” Wooden said. “And to be good, you have to … change your direction, change your pace. That’s hard on your feet. Your feet are very important. And if you don’t have every wrinkle out of your sock…”
Wooden paused and looked at Robert: “You washed your feet, I see.”
The coach then took a black athletic sock and started to put it on Robert’s foot, asking the boy to complete the task.Wooden: “Now pull it up in the back, pull it up real good, real strong. Now run your hand around the little toe area … make sure there are no wrinkles and then pull it back up. Check the heel area. We don’t want any sign of a wrinkle about it … The wrinkle will be sure you get blisters, and those blisters are going to make you lose playing time, and if you’re good enough, your loss of playing time might get the coach fired.”
To audience laughter, Wooden pulled out an athletic shoe.
“Now put it in wide, now pull it up,” he told Robert. “Now don’t grab these lines up here, go down, eyelet by eyelet … each one, that’s it. Now pull it in there … Tie it like this… ”
The coach teased Robert gently as he explained why this was so important.
“There’s always a danger of becoming untied when you are playing,” he said. “If they become untied, I may have to take you out of the game — practice, I may have to take you out. Miss practice, you’re going to miss playing time and not only that, it will irritate me a little too.”
The coach talked Robert through double-tying his shoelaces so they wouldn’t come undone. Then he talked him through taking the shoes off by untying the strings, eyelet by eyelet.”You gonna remember that?” Wooden asked Robert. “I hope you never get any blisters.”

What has getting the wrinkles out of your socks to do with becoming more disciplined?

So what has making your bed or getting the wrinkles out of your socks to do with developing self-discipline?
How you do anyhing is how you do everything. T. Harv Eker
This quote captures the essence of that story quite well and it is one of my favorite quotes. As a basketball player myself, I was always taught in a way that emphasizes that if I want to make the big things right, it starts with the small things. Before learning the complex things like dunking, or shooting a 3 pointer I had to learn the little things, the basics.
The following article is about my first-morning habit, the habit of making my bed.
I came in contact with this habit when I was searching for routines, habits, and mental patterns of successful people. In my work in psychiatric facilities, I learned about the habits of people with mental disorders and cross-compared them with successful, happy people. One of the things that fascinated me was discipline. I was interested in discipline because I was struggling with it from time to time.  I was always late, missed deadlines, and at a point, it got so bad that I got expelled from school and university. I needed to do something. In psychiatric facilities, I observed that one of the common demeanors of depression, for example, was the lack of discipline. People with depressive symptoms often appear to be lazy, and undisciplined. They are often late or don’t show up at all. It is because they think subconsciously that going outside into the world means only pain for them.
After learning that, I was curious to find out how the other side of the spectrum looks.
I wanted to understand the disciplined. In order to do that I first needed to identify who they were.
Who are the disciplined? I was looking for a certain group of people who have the reputation for being extremely disciplined. The first thing that came to mind was the U.S Navy Seals. Navy seals are notorious for being disciplined, they get up super early, swim through ice water, run towards danger and they jump out of airplanes. I decided that I wanted to investigate their psychology and dissect their habits. I wanted to know why Navy seals are so disciplined.

How do navy Seals think about Discipline and the habit of making your bed?

Let’s take Jocko Willink as a case study. Jocko is a retired United States Navy SEAL who received the Silver and the Bronze Star. He is a podcaster, author, and martial artist. And he lives his life on his own terms; to me, he is the definition of discipline. He wrote the book extreme ownership.
The short video below will show you what his ideas are on discipline.

Let’s dissect his morning routines. Watch the video below to see what Jocko does every morning.
In the Interview, Jocko opens up about his morning Routine.
In the interview, he says that he gets up at 4.45! Man, that is freaking early. He immediately starts working out and goes surfing right after. In this interview, he does not mention that he makes his bed because the habit is so automated for him that he does not consider it a habit anymore. But on other occasions, he mentions the importance of the habit of making your bed.

Why do you become more disciplined by making your bad? Whats the psychology behind it?

Maybe you are asking yourself what difference does it make if make my bed in the morning or not? In my opinion all the difference in the world. The psychology behind it is very simple and very powerful. Navy Seal Admiral McRaven gave an epic commencement speech at the University of Texas.
As the title says the the most famous promoter of the habit of how the habit of making your bed can change the world!

McRaven is a former Us Navy Admiral and was in charge of  United States Special Operations Command. He is also the author of the bestseller ” make your bed” which I highly recommend.
The Psychology behind it is very simple. If you wake up and make your bed every morning, you have your first accomplishment. You just succeeded in the first task of the day. This will give you a sense of pride and you will be encouraged to do another task and another task. The habit of making our bed will show you that little things matter in life and that if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

 3 Lessons I learned from the habit of making your bed

  • If you want to do the big things right, do the small things right.

As simple as this sounds, making my bed has changed my life. As a lifelong student of human behavior I have found that it is not so much the actual results that determine whether you feel like a winner or not, but our self-perception of ourselves. And by starting the day with a small, conscious win you gain a mental edge. And the habit of making your bed delivers this winners mindset. And I believe that if you feel like a winner you will win eventually.
As a child, I  asked my father how I can build a house, and before he answered, he took a deep zip out of his cigar and told me “you start with one brick, and you lay it as perfectly as possible”.
 

  • If you want to reinvent yourself, start with one habit at a time

So where do you start if you want to become a new person?

You start with your habits. For me, my first step in order to turn my life around was to implement this habit of making my bed. Through it, I understood a big of part behavioral psychology. I successfully implemented the habit of making my bed.  With this I found the blueprint for adding habits to myself, this meant that I could add other habits. Just like my father told me how to build a house with habits you can build the persona you want to be.
And although this may seem like a small discovery, looking back at it it is almost ridiculous at what a different place I am two years later in my life. The quality of our habits determines largely what kind of person you are. And just like other people are collecting baseball cards I collect habits from amazing people. From Meditation, to exercise, to learning languages to journaling each habit that you implement is a brick that will ultimately change how your persona will look like. Do you want to be a person who is happy? Maybe then you should accumulate healthy happy habits like working out, making your bed, meditation.
If you want to build a shitty persona you need bad habits like doing drugs, isolation, and junk-food. What I am trying to say is that habits are the building blocks at our disposal to build ourselves. And if you want to start building the person you desire to be,  start in the morning, with making your bed.
If you want to know more about habits click here to read my article about habits.

“It is easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. It is easy to think that where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further from the truth. The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness: Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, and—Moki Martin. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up as a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!”
― William H. McRaven
 

  • If you win the morning, you win the day

For me personally, starting my day off with success is of great value to me. The fact that I make my bed to me means that I care about my bed and that I care about myself. I believe that if you live like a pig you don’t truly respect and love yourself. So to me, this became a daily reminder that I care about me. And this simple habit of reminding me that I care about me has helped me to get rid of many other destructive habits such as overeating, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs. I believe you are only able to have those destructive habits if you don’t really respect, love and honor yourself. Otherwise, you couldn’t do it to yourself. I know have around 6-morning routines that I have build on top of the habit of making my bed and if I manage to accomplish on 4 of them I consider my morning a win, and I will most likely win the day as well.

Discipline equals freedom.”
― Jocko Willink,

 

Call to action 

  1. Write down what your morning routines are, what do you do in the first 60 min of the day?
  2. Create the habit of making your bed
  3. Write down 10 things in life you are missing out on because you are not disciplined enough
  4. Watch this Interview of General Stan McChrystal to learn more about Navy Psychology

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts{Book Review}

One of my favorite movies of all time is Oliver Stone’s Wall Street with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. In this movie Charlie Sheen, a very promising talent in the stock market told his girlfriend about his dreams and why he is hustling on wallstreet so much.
“I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and I can get out of this racket, and I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China”.
This scene to me very much captures the essence of how the western world sees long-term traveling. We see travel as some kind ultra luxurious recurring dream that is only reserved for the ultra-privileged. Rolf Potts makes a brilliant calculation in his book Vagabonding. He shows that if Charlie Sheen would have cleaned toilets for 7 months he could have made his dream a reality and have enough money to start his adventure. And with 3 months more of cleaning toilets, he would have enough money to buy a new bike as well.
How is that possible?
We believe that long-term travel is something that we can only do after we have become super successful. Coming from a psychological background, I have a natural curiosity to find out what people really want to do and why their behavior differs so much from what they want. One of the questions I’m Asking people a lot is : “If you would be given 2500 $ every month of passive income, what would you do with your life”?
The answer that I got most often, is that they would quit their current job and travel the world. Growing up in Europe this mental fallacy is most manifested in our view of retirement. We kinda believe that we have to work our behinds off until we are 65 and then we can do whatever our heart desires. The idea that you invest and sacrifice the most valuable years of your life in order to do what you really want, in the least valuable years of your life is just a bad idea. If you are sick and tired of waiting for your life to start, then this article is for you.
As simple as this sounds, this really rattled my cage. The dreams of most people are accessible today! If you are resourceful enough and don’t mind eating some beans from time to time then traveling is constantly available for you. As a broke student, I managed to travel to travel to 50 plus countries so far, and I had a kick-ass adventure on every continent. And if I can do it, you can do it too. So who is the author of Vagabonding?
 

Who is Rolf Potts?

Rolf Potts is an American travel writer. He is best known for his Book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel which was translated into several foreign languages, and Marco Polo Didn’t Go There ( Tavelers Tales, 2008). Potts rarely stay long in one place. He feels at home in Bangkok, Cairo, Pusan, New York or anywhere on the six continents. He is a true traveler and I highly recommend that you check him out. Click here to get to his blog

“The value of your travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home — and the slow nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty countries.” — Rolf Potts
 

 

Whats does Vagabonding mean? What is the book about?

Vagabonding is a term for taking time off from your normal life,even from yourself, this can be 4 weeks, or four months or four years. The goal is to discover the world on your own terms. A Vagabond is not a tourist but a traveler. It is a philosophy of life that you are a curious observer who explores whatever is desirable to you.
According to Rolf Potts Vagabonding consists of 3 things.

  1. The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time.
  2. A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, good humor and the growth of the spirit.
  3. A deliberate way of living that makes the freedom of travel possible.

 

A tourist does not know where he has been. A traveler does not know where he is going” — Rolf Potts

Watch this video to get a short summary of the book.

In the book Vagabonding Potts writes about :

  • financing your travel time
  • determining your destination
  • adjusting to life on the road
  • handling travel adversity
  • coming home from travel and re-assimilation back into ordinary life.

3 Lessons I learned from reading Vagabonding

  • Become a stoic

Being a Vagabonder starts a long time before you reach the airport. It starts at home. Every trip starts at home. If you have declared to yourself that you want to travel long term it starts with changing some of your habits. In the video below Tim Ferris explains how to apply stoic philosophy to your life.       
 

From this hour I ordin myself loos’d of limits and imginry lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searcing, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself
of the holds that would hold me.
— Walt Whitman

  • Stop expanding.

There are only two ways to have more money. First is to earn more and the second is to spend less. If you radically reduce what you are spending, you will earn the required money for your trip much faster. I started, for example, to stop buying new clothes. I have 8 jackets, I don’t need a 9th one. It is ridiculous how much people are obsessed with making more money and how little they care about handling the money they already have. Click here to read my article about money management. 

  • Start saving.

Instead of going to the club every weekend, stay at home and have an amazing time playing games with your friends. Instead of being lazy ( and unhealthy) and ordering a pizza, cook for yourself. For example in Germany ordering a pizza costs about 15 euros. For that amount of money, you could live for 3 days if you cook yourself some minimalistic food. Make some sacrifices that enable you to live your dream. Find out what you spend your money on, and cut out some of the bullshit you don’t need. Sell everything you don’t need. Old video games, old clothes that second laptop you are never using.

  • It changed how I viewed work

As a student, I had a lot of shitty jobs. Working in construction, distributing pizza and so on. By far the most shitty job I ever had was a job for the biggest Bank in Hamburg as a mascot. I was dressed as a mouse and needed to dance for children in this costume. Being a 2-meter tall giant basically, every child was afraid of me. My coworker was an old Chinese hag that continuously gave me hell that I need to dance more and better. Looking back at it it was hilarious, but at that time it was the worst!
But what kept me going, and motivated me was that I had booked a flight earlier that month to Asia. So that humiliating job was the first part of my adventure, and viewing it as such made it not only bearable but also fun for me.
This is why I believe that everybody should have a Why. And if you why excites you enough you can do bear almost any how.
I believe that in order to grow, travel is a necessity. Humans are explorers, and I believe that the world would be a better place if we all would travel more and explore the world, and within that explore ourselves.
So start vagabonding!
 

Call to action

  1. Create a Bucketlist with 25 things you want to experience in the world
  2. Identify 3 areas in your life where you could save money.
  3. Write down 5 things that you could make money within a different county.
  4. Write down 3 things that you would do if there would be no money in the world?
  5. Write down 5 positive things that might happen to you if you start vagabonding.

How To Use Pain As Fuel — The Deck of Cards Workout

I Write Mostly about Psychological topics, Why Write About a Workout Method?

I believe in order to improve our state and wellbeing we need to improve holistically. This means that we need to become the best versions of ourselves in mind, body, and spirit.
When I was researching the clinical depressed in psychiatric facilities I noticed that it was mandatory for the patients to take long walks and participate in sports classes, because sports boosts serotonin and mitochondrial function for example.
One of the commonalities among patients was that they all had either no gym routine at all or a bad one. On the other hand, I found that successful people all had some kind of exercise regiment.
If you want to improve your brain, you also need to improve your body. Think of your brain as the driver, your body is the vehicle. If you are motivated and you have goals in your life you do not want the ford fiesta, you want the fucking Ferrari.

 

Who is Ray Lewis?

Ray Lewis is a former American football player who played 17 years for the Baltimore Ravens in the Nfl. He is arguably the best and most feared linebacker of all time. When I was researching the habits and routines of successful people, I looked at Ray Lewis workout routines and tried to emulate them. 
I was particularly interested in Ray Lewis because he had a very troubled childhood. I always look for people who seem to be self-made. I believe you can steal more habits and routines from them than for example from someone who was born with all the resources in the world.
I look for people who succeed despite their circumstances and not because of circumstances. Ray Lewis developed the deck of cards workout when he was a child. His mother was constantly abused by other men. In order to protect his mother from the brutal beatings of his stepdad, he started working out as a child. I was particularly interested and fascinated by athletes who used sports as an escape. To use the pain that they had in their life as fuel.
They somehow find a way to tap into pain and trauma and use transform it into drive. Click here to read my article on how you can you can turn your Trauma into a superpower.
There is this upper echelon of pro athletes and high achievers with troubled backgrounds who all seemingly have something dark in common when it comes to their relentless drive.
They do not only seem motivated by external gain, but also by an inner escape forwards. A fight inside that is invisible to the outside world. When Ray Lewis took his deck of cards as a child and worked out it was to get stronger in order to protect his mother from his abusive stepfather. He worked out so he was strong enough to save his beloved mother.

“My Step Father hit my mother so hard that she would bleed from her eyes, and I remember looking at him with this rage in my eyes. I could not help here because I was not strong enough. So I went to the next room and grabbed my deck of cards. I was training because I was sick and tired of what pain and powerlessness feels like”. Ray Lewis

So What is the Ray Lewis Deck of Cards Workout?

Ray Lewis workouts are intense, but not scientific. They are born out of necessity. They are as simplistic as they come.        
What you need: A Deck of Cards with 52 Cards. That’s it.
Manual :
Shuffle a deck of cards. Then pick a card. If you draw an 8, for example, you do eight pushups. Any face card was worth 10 pushups, an ace 25 and a joker 50. That’s it. Repeat until you have gone through the deck.
In Ray Lewis NFL Days he went through three decks of cards for each exercise. That’s a shit ton of pushups! You can do the Deck of Cards workout for sit ups, pull ups and whatever area you want to stress. If you are not strong enough yet, start with a personalized version of the workout. If you are a beginner than instead of doing 10 push-ups to 3 push-ups.
As a Digital Nomad, I love the Deck of Cards workout, because you can have an amazing workout anytime and anyplace and you do not need anything else but your body. For me, it motivates me a lot to know the history of the workout and visualize Ray Lewis doing the same workout that I do every morning. One of the main pillars of my philosophies is that if we start doing the things successful and strong people do we eventually will get the same results.
If you want to develop the habit of insane work ethic stay with me.
Why do I write this article
Caution Soulstriptease ahead: This dark escape forwards was something I did not need to emulate. I already possed the ability to use pain as fuel. It was already eternal in me. I grew up in a rather rough neighborhood under very simplistic conditions in a single parent household. Rich in spirit, but rather poor economically. In my neighborhood, you had a lot of tough, violent kids. I was rather soft at that time, and I was skinny as hell (about 40 pounds underweight). I was interested in poetry, arts, and basketball. As you can imagine being a bookworm when you grow up in an environment full of sharks wasn’t the cool thing to be. In consequence, I was laughed at, and they beat the living daylights out of me daily. It was bad. Sensing that something was off, my amazing mother bought me a basketball.
And with it an escape, a way of channeling all the accumulated pain and leave it all on the court.
Suddenly It was not only cool to be a skinny tall kid, but it was an advantage. I was hooked immediately. I began practicing every day, all day. I became known as a gym rat. Working out longer, and harder than others. In Basketball weight Training is kinda mandatory. Turns out that if your hobby is to push other 2 meter tall dudes around day, you get strong rather fast. The next time the school bullies picked on me I fought back. The bullying stopped.
There is a scene in the beautiful movie “moonlight”.
The movie is about a young gay kid who grows up in a ghetto who is constantly bullied and beaten. Until he loses it, fights back and becomes a bully himself and invents a completely new persona which he calls “black”. I don’t want to glamorize violence in any form but I believe we must make use of all of our resources. And if we have pain in our life we might as well use it to move forward to a more safe place.

Although I was completely safe afterward, the habit of working extra hard and using pain as fuel still resides in me to some extent.

What is the Psychology Behind Escaping Forwards?

I believe that the habit of escaping forwards is exactly that: a habit.
All automated behavior patterns work after the same principles. Click here to read my article on how habits work.  Let’s dissect Ray Lewis behavior.
There are 3 Rs that are important according to Charles Duhigg.

  1. Reminder
  2. Routine
  3. Reward/Punishment

Ray Lewis reminder was that his mother was beaten. His Routine was the deck of cards workout. His Reward was that he felt 1 % closer to protecting his mother. Now that is intense behavioral psychology. Pain can be an incredible motivator.
Working out was his coping mechanism. So through years, he automated his Routine of extreme work ethic.
After Ray Lewis stepped up and protected his mother from his piece of shit Stepfather what do you think happened to the habit?
That’s right it remains.

Did you ever ask yourself why successful people don’t stop after they made it? It is because of Habit.
After some Years Ray Lewis was a millionaire and his mother and his family were put. How come that he still continues to work like he hasn’t made it? It is because of habit. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Habits do not care whether you have made it or not. Ray Lewis installed by accident this relentless work ethic software in his brain.
If you break automated habits, you also take the automated reward away. After enough repetition, you are addicted to that reward. And eventually, we do things just because we do them. Breaking that habit would mean crazy discomfort for Ray Lewis. Because he has linked pleasure and the feeling of security to his crazy workouts. Also, we do things out of familiarity. And we feel discomfort towards behaviors that are non-routine. 
Also when it comes to habits, people are much motivated by pain than by pleasure.
If you have a negative, pain causing variable in your life you will pay almost any amount to get rid of it. This effect in my opinion far outweighs the psychology of gaining something positive.
Our brain is wired to protect us. Almost everything we do is in order to avoid pain.
Working out for Ray Lewis meant that the physical abuse of his mother would stop, this neural association was ridiculously powerful. To me, this somehow explains his insane intensity on the football field. While to us as observers he is only playing football, to him it was internal. A fight nobody knew about. What is your inner battle?
We all will have pain in our life, it is unavoidable. What we can choose is the way we can cope with it. We can use bad habits, such as drugs, avoidance, procrastination to deal with our pain. Or we can use pain as fuel. To use the bad things that are given for us as a resource and transform it into something beautiful, working out, dedicating ourselves to our craft, learning, traveling.
The habits that we choose will eventually determine what kind of person we become.
Are you going to use your pain? Or are you going to let your pain control you?
I made my choice.
 

Call to action

  1. Buy a deck of cards
  2. Do the Ray Lewis Deck of Cards workout.
  3. Write down 5 coping mechanisms that you have
  4. Circle the one that benefits you the most
  5. Circle the coping mechanism that is most destructive for you ( smoking, overeating etc)

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How To Use Electro Shocks To Get Rid Of Bad Habits

 
Do you struggle from time to time with bad habits? Do you want to quit smoking? Do you hit the snooze button when you wake up? Do you eat sugar? If you are the kind of person that wants to get in charge of his life and his habits, then the gadget that I am presenting in this article might be of value to you
We humans spent more than 50 % of our lives on autopilot. Or as I prefer to say inhabit. Whether we have good habits or bad ones determine what kind of person we are. Think about it. In my opinion, the difference between a millionaire and a broke person lies in their different habits.
 
I think of your brain as your iPhone. Habits are apps that you can download. If you have too many bad apps on your phone, your iPhone becomes slow and dysfunctional. If you have good apps on your iPhone your phone becomes an amazing device that is capable of helping you in major ways. A good habit could be for example the habit of learning languages daily, or an exercise regiment, or a meditation practice. This would be the equivalent of a good app such as Evernote or Duolingo
A bad habit could be for example the habit of smoking, or overeating, procrastination or doing drugs. This would be the equivalent of bad apps. It robes your iPhone of its precious memory, that you could use for something productive.
Therefore it is essential that you learn how to delete bad apps from your brain phone and replace them with better ones. I wrote an article about habits.

 We are what we REPEATEDLY DO. Succes is not an action but a Habit ” Aristotle

I am a bit geek when it comes to behavior-changing technology and biohacking devices. The following article shows you one gadget that helps you to get rid of bad habits. Humans are horrible when it comes to self-discipline. We all know that smoking is not good for us but we do it anyway. We know that snoozing is a bad habit to have but we do it anyway. We all know that procrastinating with social media robs us of precious time but we do it anyway. We all want to go to the gym daily but we dont do it.
As a behavior designer, it is now the focus point of my work on teaching people how to design against undesired behaviors. Relying on willpower and motivation is not enough, because if that would be the case we all would have 6 packs and would speak 8 languages. Somehow our lazy brain always goes the most comfortable way to immediate gratification. We must actively design our environment against behaviors and habits that we don’t want to have and we must change the very things that we link pain and pleasure to. Our brain will always want to get pleasure and avoid pain. If we hack this pain and pleasure system we can guide our behavior and become the person that we want to become. So what is pavlok!

What is Pavlok?

Pavlok is a biohacking bracelet that you wear around your wrist that is designed to help you break bad habits. It does so by giving you mild electric shocks when you perform a behavior that is undesired.  First, you identify the habits that you want to break. This can be for example that you have the bad habit of smoking. Every time you succumb the temptation of a smoking you receive an electric shock from the wristband!

  1. First, you identify the bad behavior that you want to eradicate
  2. Then, Pavlok will monitor your behavior. It monitors your behavior with sophisticated sensors and algorithms.
  3. Now when you perform the bad habit, Pavlok will give an electric shock/ Or you give yourself a shock with pavlok.

Pavlok also has automated features where you combine for example a plugin for your browser with pavlok. And every time you go to facebook you get zapped.
 

If you want to buy the device click here 
If you want to know more about the product click here

Whats the theory behind Pavlok?

The device was named after a Russian physiologist who was mainly known for his work in classical conditioning of the most famous and important psychological contributions ever made. 

So what is classical conditioning?

You might have heard of Ivan Pavlov as the crazy scientist who trained his dog to produce spit overtime his dog heard a bell.

The idea is easy: to create an intended response, pair it with a trigger and repeat it until the stimuli alone creates the response.

In his experiment, Pavlov rang a bell and gave his dog some delicious dog food.

And the dog produced saliva. After some time the dog began to salivate when Pavlov entered the room. The Dog was anticipating the delicious dog food and produced salvia in advance. Amazing right?!

In order to test the theory, he created an easy experiment. To prove that the dog was producing salvia in anticipation of the food, he rang a bell every time he gave his dog some delicious dog food.

After a while, he rang the bell without giving his dog the food. 

And the dog produced salvia just as a result of hearing the ring!

Pavlov and his experiment with his cute salvia producing dog are way more than just a classical psychology lesson. Classical conditioning can be used as a tool to get rid of undesired behavior. 

Remember Operant conditioning is best suited for forming new habits. Meaning that our brain wants to repeat what is rewarded. 

Classical conditioning is there to get rid of bad habits. By pairing a behavior with a negative stimulus( pain or discomfort for example) you can weaken bad habits.

Do you have bad habits like eating junk food? Skipping workouts? Being depressive? Playing video games instead of following your dreams? You can weaken them all!

So whats the link between bet classical conditioning and getting rid of bad habits?

I mentioned earlier that in order to create a new habit it is best to add a reward at the end of the behavior.


If you want to get rid of a bad habit that alone, I found adding a reward is not enough. You have to add a negative stimulus to the bad habit. A tiny punishment.

In psychology, this is called aversion therapy. It means that you add a negative consequence to your behavior. 

It is a famous practice in the military. If you are interested in that you should read the book „ Living with a Seal: 31 Days with the toughest Man on the Planet from Jesse Itzler and Tony Goggins. Click here to buy the book

Think of your brain as your dog. And that you train him either by giving him food or punishing him a little bit. If your dog pees on your couch again and you immdiatly show him that you are not happy with his actions he will link discomfort to that behavior and will try to avoid it. Humans and animals learn very simular when it comes to behavior.

3 Takeaways from the Pavlok

It is fast

Pavlok promises that with their device that you can break a bad habit in 5 days, in only 5 minutes. It forces you to basically zap yourself everytime you want to have a cigarette. After only 5 days your brain does not link cigarettes to pleasure anymore. Your brain associates the cigarette with the electric shock. This may sound crazy and radical, but the speed is amazing.
Yes, training your brain by inflicting little trauma is extreme as well, but so is smoking for years. If you can stop a bad habit like smoking and you manage to substitute the emotional reward that you were getting in a healthy way you have won.

 Pavlok uses aversion therapy

Pavlok uses proven psychological mechanisms out of Aversion therapy that was developed in the 6o-90ties. It sounds super harsh to use punishment as a form of changing your behavior. But the makers of Pavlok have found that even minimal punishment works. And it works ridiculously good. Due to social reasons, punishment and aversion therapy have a bad reputation. But I am quite the extreme guy. And I understand the concerns. It is basically training the dog by kicking him. But the pain that one receives from pavlok is so minimal that it does not cause any harm.

 It is expensive

170 dollars is a fucking lot. But in my opinion, it is a worthwhile investment. Think of the possibilities you have when you are in charge of your behavior. Let’s say you have the bad habit of Netflix binging. Think of the time you save if you could eradicate this habit in 5 days. Let’s say for example you want to stop smoking. With this device, you not only prevent yourself from getting lung cancer thing you save a whole lot of money because you don’t have to buy cigarettes.. 170 is a lot yes. But the possible return of being fully in charge of your life is a bargain in my opinion.

Lifehack: What do I do if I don’t have 170 dollars for buying Pavlok?

I totally get it, 170 dollars for Pavlok is a lot. And if you are not a psychology geek like me you will probably hesitate. If you want to condition yourself; starting today I would recommend that you use a rubber band and snap it every time you succumb to the bad habit.
 

What I don’t like about Pavlok

The idea that habits simply can be broken sounds almost too good to be true. And in my opinion, it is. Just using aversion therapy is not enough. Each and every behavior that we have has an emotional reward that we get from performing that behavior. If we take a bad habit away we must first analyze what the bad habit was giving us. What was the reward that this behavior was giving us, or what was the promise that this habit was making?
Identifying the reward can be a complicated process. But in order to really change our behavior, we must also look at the needs of humans. Let’s take for example the bad habit of smoking. We want to quit. And with pavlok we will be able to run the fun in smoking and we will stop eventually. But smoking was important for us because it was giving us relief, and company and coolness even maybe. Often we are not even aware of what a behavior is giving us. In order to completely get rid of a habit, we must find a habit that gives us the same kind of emotional reward. A habit that gives us what the previous habit was giving us but in a more healthy way.
If smoking was giving you a stress relief you can, for example, form a meditation practice. If drinking gives us self-esteem than maybe an exercise regiment can boost our self-esteem in a similar way. I think pavlok does not emphasize enough that there are reasons why we have bad habits and that we have to substitute in order to fight them.
If you break a bad habit but you don’t substitute for it the person will find a different behavior that is scratching the itch. It is essential that we face what our true needs are and what pleasure we are getting out of a bad habit.
Also, I think it is understated that in order to design against undesired habits we must change our environment.
We are all products of our environment and if we want to form positive habits it is essential that we don’t live in toxic environments.
Finding an environment of hungry, inspirational positive people is key. It sadly also works the other way around if you are surrounded by toxic people you will most likely learn their dysfunctional habits almost by accident.
Call to action
1. Get a rubber band that fits tightly around your wrist.
2. Now take a piece of paper and write down 10 habits that you want to get rid of.
3. Make a circle around the habit that you believe holds you back the most.
4. Now every time you perform the bad habit, snap your rubber band.
5. Write down daily how often you snap the rubber band. In order to see your progress.
6. Tell everyone you know that you have stopped with the bad behavior, this can be for example that you tell all your friends that you have quit smoking.
 

Read more about Pavlok

  1. https://pavlok.com/
  2. https://blog.bulletproof.com/heres-how-to-change-your-habits/

Stephan R. Coveys "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" {Book Review}

The book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-development book by Stephan R. Covey. In his book, Covey Identified 7 Habits that world-class performers have that in his opinion are responsible for their effectiveness. It was sold more than 25 million times and is one of the most influential books in Us history. To this day this book helps millions of readers to become more effective in their personal and professional lives.
This Book was recommended by presidents, CEOs, educators and has helped people all over the world to improve their business.
 

Who is Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012) was a world-renowned authority on leadership and family relations. He held a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah, an MBA from Harvard, and a Ph.D. from Brigham Young University. Dr. Covey served as Vice Chairman of FranklinCovey Co. and was an in-demand speaker, teacher, and organizational consultant. Throughout his career, Dr. Covey brought new insight and understanding to millions of readers and students. (1)

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a self-development book. It is written by Covey’s Idea that we there are universal patterns and commonalities among highly successful people which we can mimic.
 
A habit is a routine or a ritual, a pattern of action or thinking, a behavior that do over and over again. By observing highly effective people Stephan R Covey identified habits that are responsible for their effectiveness.
In my opinion, it is also a book about effectiveness and it could easily be labeled the 7 habits of highly ineffective people. Because while reading this book you will catch yourself totally doing the opposite and you will deconstruct in many areas why you are not as effective as you want to be.

Why did I read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The focus point of my interest right now is to find habits that lead to happiness and success and habits that one should stay away from.
One thing that in my opinion is a major contributor to unhappiness is to be ineffective. Progress and growth equal happiness in my opinion. Conquering the dreams and visions is mandatory to create a compelling future and gives us a sense of movement and control. People who are highly effective are in charge of their lives and they possess something that is necessary to be happy and successful: self-efficacy.
On the contrary, in my investigation of unhappiness, I tried to deconstruct the habits and mental pattern of unhappy people and people with mood disorders in psychiatric facilities. Also, I had huge academic problems because I was constantly not getting the results that I wanted.
One thing that unhappy people and people with depression have in common is that they all seem to have very low self- efficacy. They don’t believe that they have the means themselves to change their situation and because of that, they lose faith in their future. If you lose the ability to change and to grow than if you experience pain, this pain feels like it will last forever and you will lose all hope and you become lethargic.
People who are successful and happy on the other side seem to get the things done that are necessary for them to become the person that they want to be. They maximize their resources and they have high confidence in themselves and in their ability to find the answer to whatever problem will face up.
Yes, this book is called the 7 Habits of Highly effective People but if you think one step further it is also a guide on how to “not” do things. And how to be unsuccessful and ineffective.
I am interested right now in comparing extreme spectrums of human behavior with each other. I believe that often people who are outliers when it comes to happiness or unhappiness do almost the opposite.
For example, people with depression seem to avoid things while happy people more often face their fears and act in spite of fear. While successful people have a system that does the thinking for them unsuccessful people seem to be really disorganized.
I believe that nature is fair if we mimic the habits and mental patterns of highly effective people we will eventually get similar or at least better results. This was one of the reasons that I created this blog. I wanted to have an excuse to become a full-time student of human behavior and deconstruct the habits of people who are kicking ass in life and mimic my behavior after them.

What are the 7 Habits of highly effective people?

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

The Book starts with an explanation of how many people who are successful still struggle with an inner need for developing personal effectiveness and creating a balanced life where they have happy relationships with other people.
He believes that the way we view the world is based on the perception of ourselves. In order to change how we see the world, we must change.
It is not about finding shortcuts to success and finding short-term solutions, it’s about changing our values and becoming the person that we need to be in order to constantly create the results that we want to have and be in the mindset of our choice.
Covey calls this a paradigm shift. We not only change our behaviors on the surface but we must change ourself fundamentally.

  • Habits 1-3 are focused on moving from dependence to independence.
  • Habits 4-5 are focused on collaboration and creating a network around you with the necessary communication skills and moving from independence to interdependence
  • Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement (2)

Habit 1: Be Proactive

The first habit of the 7 habits of highly effective people is being Proactive. This means that highly effective people have in common that they don’t just sit and wait for problems to happen. They are in control, and if they want something they don’t just wait till the universe magically gives it to them. They make it happen. This habit for me means taking ownership of your life. When I worked in a psychiatric facility I analyzed the language of people with depression in order to find patterns to stay away from. One of the commonalities that I have found (in other patients and myself when I was depressed) was the lack of ownership of your own life and destiny.
From unsuccessful people, I often heard sentences like
“There is nothing I can do”, “That’s just the way things are”.
They feel like they are not in charge of their life. Their self-efficiency is super low. They are not proactive. Humans need a sense of control in order to feel happy. If you live in a mindset where you believe that life is happening to you and not for you, you think there is nothing that you can do. You don’t think solution orientated, every problem that you have seems to be final. I think humans need the illusion of being in control over their future and that things are going to get better because of the effort that we put in. Losing this hope for the better results in my opinion that we give up universally. Because we are subconsciously resigning from the fight because we lost so many times that at this point all we can do is to lay down in defeat and wait for another catastrophe happening to us. Of course, this is no place to stay in. I am not saying that horrible things happen to people but I have found that people who are happy and successful focus less on the problem and more on what they can do about it. Even if something horrible has happened to you in the past, you still have the options of how you deal with that traumatic event. Will you let it burden you or will you free yourself from it and maybe even transform it into a resource?
Now let’s look at the other extreme. How do successful people see this?

“any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”  Jocko Willink

Jocko is a retired United States Navy SEAL who received the Silver and the Bronze Star. He is a podcaster, author, and martial artist. And he lives his life on his own terms; which is my definition of being successful. He wrote the book extreme ownership. And he is an example that people who are successful are proactive and take ownership of their life. He does not wait for other people to hand him everything. He wants to develop a plan and he has trust in himself that he is able to solve whatever obstacles the world is putting in his path.
 

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Envision what you want to have and who you want to be in your future and plan towards it. Now ask yourself daily, how can I make this future a reality? What can I do today to become the person that I want to be?
Critically analyze what you do. We are often so trapped in the matrix of staying busy that we don’t realize that we move in a direction, and become a person we don’t want to be.
Once you created a vision, a dream, a compelling future for you want to make it a reality. I think one of the most important ingredients for happiness is the Idea that things are going to get better in the future. When I was investigating unhappiness and I was interviewing people with major depression one sentence often popped up: “Things are never going to get better”.
From personal experience, I can tell you that it is really dangerous and unhealthy to play with those kinds of thoughts. When you are in a bad place and you feel like the pain is leaking out everywhere one thing that determines in my opinion whether your symptoms are going to get better or worse is the anticipated quality of your future.
I think that if you have a why that is big and compelling enough you endure almost any how. No matter how shitty your day is, or how tough the circumstances are if you have a why you say to yourself “yes this is a bad day, but my life is not bad, things are going to get better”.
On the other hand, the most extreme form of internalizing that things are never going to get better is to commit suicide. One of the driving forces in my opinion of ending your own life is the perception that things are never going get better. If you are always in pain than ending your life is a logical self-protecting mechanism. A mental fallacy that in my opinion is only in the rarest cases true.
So get yourself a dream. It can literally save your life.
Once you have a dream you want to adjust your life according to making this dream, this version of you a reality. You want to activly design your life. How do you do that?
 
What really helped me to implement his habit of Beginning with the End in Mind was to journal. I believe that questions are the best tool to guide or focus. And what we focus on we become.
I use a personalized variation of the five-minute journal, in which I start each day with a question:
1. What can I do today to make my dream future a reality?
2. And what can I do today to become the person I want to be?
3. What should I avoid today, what action would sabotage my mission? Click here to read the article.
This habit will change your life. Because you consciously understand that you are the engineer of your life. One of the biggest enemies of happiness is the realization that your life is not yours. That you are trapped and your life is not going anywhere. To go to a job you don’t like, so you can buy shit that you don’t need in order to portray a person that you are not really are.
Covey states that it is also important to identify our center. Our center is the source of our perceived security. Another antidote to feeling unhappy is to feel safe. The more insecure we feel the more anxious we are. Covey differentieates different sources of security.
 
7-habits-highly-effective-people-center-summary-sidekick-content-1.png
3
It is interesting to see what center you fit in. I believe that the most dangerous, unhealthy source of security is when you gain security and happiness from external validation. When you are money-centered and possession centered you are going to feel strong ups and downs. There are always people who have more, people who are better. Over the years and through my basketball upbringing I was being taught that being the weakest person in the room was a good thing to be because then you learn the most.  My big brother who was a basketball professional always used to tell me that if I am the best player on my team, I am on the wrong team.
 

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Covey here states that there is a difference between what is important and what is urgent. Think of important as something that is bringing you closer to your long-term goal. Urgent is, for example, something that is is important for you in the short term and may not be important for you in the long term at all!
Covey says that you should first focus on :

  1. Whats important- and urgent
  2. Whats important and not urgent
  3. Not Important and Not Urgent
  4. Not important and not Urgent

time-management-matrix-7-habits-highly-effective-people-summary-sidekick-content.png
Quadrant 1
Here you focus on managing a big crisis, problems, and issues that if you don’t treat them right now they just gonna snowball into something bigger. Not handling your pressing problems is a psychological catastrophe because you at a certain point problem create other problems and in no time you catch yourself playing whack a mole when you attack one problem another one pops up. Killing problems in their early stages when they are still manageable is key here. It is similar to treating depression for example. If you don’t take a look at the causes and unsatisfied needs of a person you find yourself only treating the symptoms and the person is not going to get better.
 
Quadrant 2 
If you focus on Quadrant 2 you are at the center of personal management. Here you focus on dealing with building connections, planning, exercising, preparation the things we know we should be dong but very rarely actually do. We don’t give as much time to these things because they are not urgent. You do not have to spend quality time with your family, your friends, your teammates, your spouse but if you neglect those things for too long you will be unhappy. Life is not all about work guys. We are humans and we need our tribe and connections are just as important as business and thriving.
 
Quadrant 3
In this sector, you focus on things that are neither urgent nor important. This is the area that is the enemy of productivity and happiness. We live in a world now where we want to constantly react to everything, our emails, our Facebook feed, Instagram… the list is long. We can spend literally our entire life on Facebook, for example, the feed will never stop. Always ask yourself when you get distracted by meaningless things if there are more beautiful and important matters that you could direct your focus on. Otherwise, you might never be able to achieve anything because you are constantly out of flow and sabotage your own endeavors.
Quadrant 4
If you are living you need to get your shit together. In here you focus on time wasting activities. Netflix binging, endless youtube marathons, mindless scrolling through facebook are all wrong to focus points that you can find in this quadrant. At work, you focus on trivial business work that won’t help you win in the big picture. Also, you focus on sensations seeking because your life because of your terrible priorities is not enough for you. Focusing on neither urgent nor important matters is a safe formula for feeling unfulfilled but being busy enough so that you won’t be able to take care of the important relationships and connections in your life. If you focus too much on this quadrant you are wasting your life, in fact even worse. You do a disservice to humanity because you don’t capitalize on the incredible potential that was giving to you. If you catch yourself fall. into this behavioral pattern get up and live the extraordinary life that you were born to live.
 
 
This habit has helped me to not get caught in the busy trap. Humans are wired to react to matters that are urgent, even though often urgent matters are not important. The problem is that there are often so many urgent things that you never get to the matters that are really important to you. Remember the second habit? Begin with the end in mind?
This habit is about deciding what you focus on. Often I ask myself in my journal was I busy today, or productive? This quadrant system has helped me to understand what I should focus on.
One of the biggest problems with today’s world is that there are endless possibilities to get distracted and waste your time. We all can spend an entire day only checking emails.
For example, I am writing a book at the moment. When I am in flow and my phone is ringing technically I could afford the time to take the call, however, what I can not afford is the distraction.
If it is some random call that is just interrupting my flow I am not taking it.
 
Again it is all about focus.

The key is not to priotize what`s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephan Covey

 

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Good deals and agreements in relationships should be of value for both parties. For me, this habit is more of a way to go through life. If one party loses while making a deal, that person will feel ill towards you. So you may have gained something in the short run but have lost a human in the long game for me. In order to be happy, we must create long-lasting interdependent relationships that are win-win orientated.
Most people go through life with a scarce mindset. They think that life is a game and that when somebody wants to win somebody else has to lose. If you get it, its gone, therefore I can no longer have it.
Having a win-win mindset will not only allow you to be successful because you crush your goals, but you help others to success aswell and on the way you form powerful and fruitful connections.
If you are making business with someone and you make an unfair deal with that person yes you technically win, but you lose a future partner, customer, friend maybe even spouse. I suggest that you focus on business that you emphasize that you are in the building connections business.
Having the win-win mindset will help you to overcome every obstacle because your network is constantly growing and getting stronger. So even if you don’t know the answer to a problem, people around you might. And if treated them with respect they will surely help you out.
So having a win-lose mindset is only good for the short term. But eventually, your way of going through life is going to catch up with you.
Imagine you are a Ceo of a big company, you have everything in life from the outside, money, status a high position and you conquered your dreams.
However, your entire career is based on doing win-lose deals. You are not well respected and liked by your employees because you climbed the ladder of success at the cost of many other people. Eventually, you will be not only unhappy because you will experience loneliness but you will also be fired out at some point because you represent the wrong values for the company. We are humans and not machines. Creating nourishing connections with people who work with you and creating an environment where you grow together is a necessity for happiness and progress.
Covey has defined that there are six paradigms of human interaction: 

  1. Win-WIn: Both people win. Agreements and solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying to both parties.
  2. Win- Lose. ” If I win, you lose.” Win-Lose people take advantage of people and play their position, status, and personality to get their way, and only their way.
  3. Lose-Win: “I lose you, you win.” Lose-Win people seek harmony and quick appease because they seek social validation and seek credibility to social acceptance.
  4. Lose-Lose: Both people lose. When two Win-Lose people get together and both want to have their way, without the other one getting what he wants their ego will make sure that the deal will result in a lose-lose.
  5. Win: People with the winning mindset don’t care about if somebody else has to lose or win, to them it is important that they win first and foremost.
  6. Win-WIn or No Deal: If you can`t reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial, there is no deal.

 

Habit 5: Think First to Understand, Then to be Understood.

Be empathic. Listen. There is much more value in what other persons have to say. The best way to really understand the person in front of you is to listen to them. If you only talk about yourself, for example, the other person will think you do not care about them. Also, highly successful people do not have the need to constantly talk about themselves. People who only talk about themselves have often a problem with their self-worth. They talk so much because they want to impress the other person and hide the fact that they think of themselves as not enough. Succesful people don’t talk endlessly, they listen more, and talk less. Also, you know what is inside your head, but by listening really. You constantly get new input and you can’t help but grow.
Before we tackle obstacles, we must first have a deep understanding of the situation. Before we give advice or suggestions, solutions we first must listen. Listening is part of the solution in my opinion. Also, empathy is such an underrated skill.
As a guy who studies behavior for a living this part was really difficult for me to understand. I am very quick when it comes to seeing pathological patterns in people. When friends of mine are unhappy you are always tempted to just vomit psychological suggestions on them and give them a formula on how to do things. But this very rarely helps as the first reaction. Often it is quite the opposite and people feel judged and they won’t open up again in front of you. If your strategy aims for validating yourself as the smartest person in the room this might be a good approach but if you want to deepen the relationship towards another human being listening is essential. First, understand then be understood.
Also, there seems to be something really healing and productive about the idea of a person telling you a problem and you listen to them without you rejecting them, judging them, or seeing the other person with different eyes. Were all afraid of rejection, and if you give a human the impression that their problem is stupid they will feel exposed because they are a person who cants handle such a stupid problem. And the next time this person has a problem they won’t seek your guidance because they are afraid of being perceived as weak or stupid. This is a sure way to implement very bad habits in companies and in relationships.
So Listen first, be emphatic, take people seriously and then speak.
Most people don’t listen at all, they wait till they can speak again.
 

Habit 6: Synergize

The true power of humans lies in their ability to team up. Team up with positive people so you can achieve bigger results faster. If you like Covey suggest become a proactive emphatic listener you have the opportunity to create synergy. If you start to work with amazing people and implement other habits and you, for example, want to start a business 2+2 becomes 5 suddenly. We humans are not made to create alone, our true power lies in our ability to cooperate with other humans in order to hunt great things.
Having a win-win mindset will encourage you to seek the psychology behind disagreements with other persons. What was the motivation behind the last confrontation? How can we as partners together overcome this obstacle? How can we learn from a situation and what can we learn about ourselves from this?
If you have any aspirations of conquering your dreams and making your vision come true you need people around you that help you and you need to help them. The quality of connections that we have in our life equals our happiness and our progress in my opinion.
 
 

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Create a lifestyle for yourself in which you improve yourself constantly. Work out, read books, go to seminars once a month, visit conferences twice a year. Try to get better physically, mentally and spiritually. Highly effective people sharpen their Saw. And their Saw is their Mind. Almost every successful person I met had the habit of sharpening their saw. There are studies which say that when you invest 90 minutes daily in your aspired field, that you will belong to the top 5% experts in the world.

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, i’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe — Abraham Lincoln

This was one of the reasons why I created this blog. I asked myself what would happen if you spend your entire time learning?  What if your job would be to learn? To get better, stronger, smarter constantly? Would you not be happier and be able to give more back?
The habit of sharpening the saw means that you understood that graduation never happens and that the more you learn the more you are able to contribute. And for now, this way of designing my way towards growth and working on my craft full time gives me a level of fulfillment beyond imagination.
I think humans have a deep need for security, and the habit of sharpening the saw gives you hope. Hope that even though your day today was total dog shit your life won’t be always like this. You start to believe more and more in yourself because you are growing. You start to process your traumas, and failures because you learned from your mistakes and you are laying the foundation that those things won’t happen to you again.
Lastly the habit of sharpening the saw will enable you to give more back. More money, more love, more happiness.
A metaphor captures the essence of this habit very well. When you are on an airplane, and the oxygen masks drop what do they tell you?
That is right, to put them on yourself first. Only then you are able to help the other passengers.
The idea is to get strong first, then have a bigger reach and then give back and contribute.
This is in my opinion where true fulfillment lies, in the realization that you are giving your all and that you are doing what you want and that your existence is good for others. That your life is amazing and that makes other peoples lives also better.

Sources

1.https://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful-ebook/dp/B00GOZV3TM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1527752746&sr=8-2&keywords=stephen+a+covey
2.https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/habits-of-highly-effective-people-summary
3. https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/habits-of-highly-effective-people-summary

Call to action 

  1. Write down where you would see yourself in 3 years if failure was not an option.
  2. Now Look what you have scheduled this week, is it serving your bigger goal?

 

How I Managed To Read 30 Books In One Month — The Speed Reading Habit

One of my favorite Movies of all Time is The Matrix. And one scene, in particular, stands out for me. The scene where Neo fights Morpheus in a Test Program. In the Scene Prior to that epic fight, Neo gets plugged in with a wire and one of the Techies on Board of the Nebuchadnezzar uploads a kung fu data in Neos brain. Seconds later the upload is completed and Neo opens his eyes and is a master in Kung fu and says „ I know Kung Fu“.


 

After watching that scene for the first me, I thought how badass and useful it would be if you could learn any skill that fast. To bad that it is impossible in real life. But is it really? What if we could 10 x or 100 x our reading speed? What would happen to our life if we could accelerate our learning exponentially? Isn’t the life that we are living right now a direct reflection of the things that we have learned up to this point. 

 

I always enjoyed learning. What I didn’t enjoy were the hours you had to put in to learn something complex.

Sometimes reading a book took me forever. Being the lazy bastard that I am I always look for shortcuts. Shortly after I found myself fascinated with accelerated learning and speed Reading in particular. If you have read my other articles than you know that I have the superpower to fail spectacularly. I got kicked out of multiple schools and I failed so many exams that at a certain point I began to question my very self. Maybe school just wasn’t for me. Maybe I was not smart enough. Luckily for me, I started studying psychology. I began to study the ways of how our brain processes information, how we store memory and how we learn. I also learned that our school system was founded like 100 years ago, and that during that time we know very little about how humans learn, and that the entire system sucks. 

This to me was a revelation and the lifting of a burden. It was not that my brain was not capable enough,  I was not too stupid, it was a combination of bad habits and a system that didnt understand really how our brain learns. We get taught basicly that and intelligence is a fixed entity. When I learned how our brain really works, I also learned that I didnt have to stay stupid. That I can get smart, and that I can get smarter fast.

In the following article, I describe an easy hack that allowed me to up my book total from 1-2 books a year to 200 plus. In my past, I had tons of learning disabilities and problems in general with my education. Eventually, I became tired of fucking up and started to really research what learning is about. I studied memory champions, speed readers and read tons of books about accelerated learning. Have you ever started a book and it took you forever to finish it? Then this article might be something for you.

 

The Px Project —How to improve your reading speed by 300% 

 
What is the Px Project?
The Px Project
is a cognitive speed reading experiment. It is based on the human visual system and works with mechanisms that eliminate eye movement inefficiencies that we have while reading. The improvement rate of this experiment is bananas.  In a 3- hour cognitive experiment the average increase in reading speed was 386%. I tried the method for myself, and within 20 minutes I doubled my reading speed. A 20-minute Investment and you read 100% faster for the rest of your life? Fuck Bitcoins, now this is what I call a return! Tim wrote an amazing article on the topic and highly recommend that you check his blog out. click here

Who is Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris is an American best selling author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed“human guinea pig“. He is most famous for his self-help books. You might have heard of his book „The 4- Hour Workweek. But what he is most famous for is his Podcast the Tim Ferris show which has over 80 million downloads. In his Podcast, Tim Ferris interviews world experts and masters of any field imaginable. Guests like Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, Dave Asprey and other incredible high achievers.

How Do we read?

We do read in saccadic movements. That means we read in jumps. I always thought for example that we read in a straight line, but that’s wrong. Our eye jumps to a certain point and stays there for a millisecond. Imagine your eye like a camera rather than a video recorder. Your eye camera takes different, separated pictures and your brains binds them to a holistic picture together.
 

So what are the 3 Bulletpoints of Speed Reading?

We must minimize the number of jumps and the duration of the fixations per line.
We do not read in a straight line.
 

  1. We must eliminate jumping in the wrong direction.
  2. if we increase our vision ( think of it as getting a better and wider camera objective) we can increase the number of words in our focus.

So speedreading is not about skipping content, it is about implementing information of how our visual system actually works. Think of your eyes as your car, and the word lines in a book are your streets. So far you always took the long route. Implementing knowledge about how our eyes move is basically taking a shortcut or the most efficient way to your goal.

Call to action

1. Hold your hand in front of your left eye, and now read the last sentence again. Now you can see how your eyes jump from fixation point to fixation point.
So what is the technique to double my reading speed?!

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it — Oscar Wilde

 

3 Steps Of The Habit Of Speed Reading–Self-experiment!

Have you watched Tim Ferris video? No? Here a short summary.
First, take out a book a book that is fairly standardized. Meaning a book that has mostly text in it and not many bullet lists for example.
 

Step 1 Determine your reading speed

First, we need to look how we can measure reading.

  1. Take out a book
  2. Now count all the words in 5 lines of your choice.
  3. Now divide this number by 5. This is your average number of words per line. In my case, I was reading a tony robbins book and I had 58 words/ 5 lines = my average number of words per line for this book is 11.6 ( round it up to 12)
  4. Next, count the number of the text lines on 5 pages and divide them also by 5. This is your average line per page.
  5. Now read with a timer for 1 minute. After 1 minute multiply the number of lines you have read by your average words- per- line. This is your reading speed. Your words-per-minute. Your wpm. Now write down your wpm!

 Step 2 — Pacers!

Awesome you have determined your reading speed. Now it is time for the second hack, and it couldn’t be more simple.
Now grab a pen. Take the pen and slide along the lines and focus your eyes on the tip.
The second enemy of reading fast is regression and back skipping. Have you ever caught yourself reading and then your mind wandered off and you had to read the line again? When you use a pen or your finger or a pacer you solve this issue.
It is super hard for our eyes to focus without a focus point. It is impossible for us to see words and not read them. By artificially creating a focus point with a pen we create the tempo of how fast we want to read and also we minimize back skipping, therefore saving tons of time. Imagine you are taking the bike to school and you have to write the way 3 times instead of one time only.
Speed Reading exercise 1 – Tracer 
You already know how to measure your reading speed. Now do it again but this time uses a pen. Underline each sentence with your pen, focusing your eyes on right above the tip. Take no longer than 1 second for each line! DO NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH COMPREHENSION AND RETENTION. This exercise is for your eyes to get used to reading faster. Do this for 2 minutes.
Speed Reading exercise 2 – MORE SPEED
Repeat the technique, but double the speed. Now you have half a second for one line. So 2 lines per second. Do not worry if you don’t comprehend anything, this is expected. You are training your eyes to become faster.
Our Eyes can be trained very quickly, and we want to focus our eyes to adapt and make our visual system more powerful
Focus on this exercise and try not to daydream while reading. Do this for 2 minutes.
 
 

Step 3 – Expand your vision  ( 9 mins )

The third step is about expanding your perceptual Expansion, meaning how big your focus point is. Focus on the middle of your computer screen, or smartphone, you can still see the sides of your screen right? You can train your eye to have a bigger focus point. Imagine that you are at the moment need 5 jumps with your eye to read a sentence. If you train your perceptual expansion you only need 3 jumps to read a sentence, hence you read faster.
Let´s illustrate this with a joke from Woody Allen:” I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes, it involves Russia”.
If you be able to start with your eyes at reading and end at minutes you would eliminate 7/17 Words. Almost doubling your reading speed. Combine this hack of starting at the 3rd word with using a pen for speed and you really accelerate your reading speed. Let’s put that to the test.

Speed Reading exercise 3 – Combine 
A) “Use the pen to track and pace at a consistent speed of one line per second. Begin 1 word in from the first word of each line, and end 1 word in from the last word.
DO NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH COMPREHENSION. Keep each line to a maximum of 1 second, and increase the speed with each subsequent page. Read, but under no circumstances should you take longer than 1 second per line.”
B) Begin at least 3 words in from the first word of each line, and end 3 words in from the last word. Repeat the technique, keeping each line to no more than ½ second (2 lines for a single “one-one-thousand”).1
C) Begin at least 3 words in from the first word of each line, and end 3 words in from the last word. Repeat the technique, keeping each line to no more than ½ second (2 lines for a single “one-one-thousand”). Some will comprehend nothing, which is to be expected. Maintain speed and technique-you are conditioning your perceptual reflexes, and this is a speed exercise designed to facilitate adaptations in your system. Do not decrease speed. ½ second per line for 3 minutes; focus above the pen and concentrate on technique with speed. Focus on the exercise, and do not daydream. 1

Now Calculate Your New Reading Speed!

Congratulations you have just found a gold nugget. If done correctly your reading speed has improved drastically, and all this without money or gadgets! All you need is a pen and a book.

Sources

1.https://tim.blog/2009/07/30/speed-reading-and-accelerated-learning/

How To Turn Your Dreams Into Goals — Smart Goal Setting

Deconstructing happiness and unhappiness has been the focal point of my interest for quite some time now. And in my investigation of happy and successful people, one pattern popped up over and over.

I observed that happy and successful people seem to meet their expectations. If they set a goal for themselves they either accomplish that goal or even exceed their expected goals.
This results in them experiencing security because they internalize that they can conquer any problem that is heading their way. Their belief in their own abilities to face problems and reach goals gets stronger. Self- Efficacy is the name for this phenomenon.
Unhappy people on the other side seem to chronically fail in meeting their expectations. They set out goals and dreams for themselves but they constantly don’t hit them.
This lowers their self-efficacy. They believe less and less in themselves. In consequence, they try less and less. Because why try if you know it’s not gonna work anyway.
This, of course, is a mental fallacy. A wrong conclusion. After enough failures, we eventually start to question our very ability. We start to believe that having big dreams is just not for us. That we are not smart enough, strong enough, creative enough. We start to think we don’t have the necessary resources to make our dreams a reality, while in reality, we are simply not resourceful enough.
So what is the difference between people who hit their goals? Who makes their dreams come true?
Are goal getters just carved from a different material? Is success maybe not for everybody?
The liberating answer to those questions is a simple no. Goalsetting is a skill. A learnable skill.
In this article, I am going to show you one Model that I have come across that is really simple and will help you to transform your dreams into attackable goals. So what is Smart goal setting?
 
 
 

What Is The SMART Goal Setting?

Smart is a goal-setting acronym I first stumbled over when I was working in a psychiatric facility. In Germany psychiatries, it is one of the first models that is being taught to people with mood disorders.

I believe however that everybody should know about smart goal setting and that we should not wait until people are in pain before we help them.

The smart Model has its roots in the clinical psychology branch. It was developed to help patients with their goal setting execution. It was developed by George T. Doran. It is a super easy model that to this day has helped millions of people. 

I was always a dreamer. I had super high Goals and dreams that honestly were not going anywhere. Consequently, I was living in constant state of failure. At one point I hit ground zero: I got kicked out of university temporarily. The realization that my dream of becoming a world-class psychologist was not going to happen anymore scared me straight. And I took a step back and critically evaluated why I was failing. And one thing popped up: My dreams were just that: dreams. 

I knew nothing about goal setting. My entire quest of making my dreams come true was based on sheer motivation and was unspecific as it could be.

The Smart model has helped me to transform my dreams into attackable, achievable projects. Instead of vague resolutions, my goals became projects with measurable milestones.

 

So What Does Smart Goal Setting Stand For?

• Specific

• Measurable

• Achievable

• Relevant

• Time-bound 

 
 
 
 

 

Smart Goal Setting: Specific

Your goals should as precise as possible. Formulate what you want to accomplish. The more clear your goal the more likely that you will achieve it. If your goal is to make more money, that’s awesome, how much exactly do you want to make? When you formulate a goal answer the „W“ questions in order to specify as much as possible. Clarity is power.

Our Goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must viorously act. There is no other route to success –Pablo Picasso

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources do I need in order to achieve this goal?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  • What are possible alternative ways of achieving the same goal?

Smart Goal Setting: Measurable

Your goals should be measurable. If you measure something you can track your progress and that motivates you. If you meet your deadlines you feel good about yourself and you develop the habit of executing.

For example, let’s say you want to learn Spanish. Learning Spanish is a horrible goal. Because it is super hard to measure. A better goal, for example, would be to learn at least 10 minutes of Spanish every second day. 

If your goals are not measurable you will live in a constant state of failure. Having measurable milestones like 10 minutes Spanish every day is much more realistic and you have a reason to celebrate every day a little bit and you gain more and more momentum.
 

Smart Goal Setting: Achievable

You should focus on setting achievable goals. They need to be realistic and attainable. Be honest and real with yourself. If your goal is to become a professional singer, but you cant even hit one tone in your local karaoke bar, even if your life would depend on it, then that’s probably not a good goal to have. 

Does that mean you should not shoot for the stars?
No! There are tons of examples of people who made the impossible happen.

But if you set out constantly goals for your self that are too difficult, or unrealistic you lower your own self-efficacy. Meaning your own belief in your abilities. Smart goal setting is about mindset as well. And if you want to accomplish extraordinary goals you need to extra specific and break them down into smaller goals. After all the world needs dreamers.

Questions you can ask yourself?

  • How Can I accomplish this goal?
  • How achievable is the goal, based on your natural abilities, financial factors and so on?
  • What 3 things can I do today to come closer to this goal?
  • What 3 things can I do this week to come closer to this goal?
  • How can I break this goal into tiny milestones?

 

Smart Goal Setting: Relevant

This step is about to make sure that your goal is important to you. Make sure that your goal is aligned with other goals of you. Also, make sure that it is within your own control whether you achieve your goals or not. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when forming a relevant Goal.

When you form a goal and you need to ask yourself why you really want to achieve this goal? What is the reward that you are hoping for?
Do you want to become a doctor because you want to help people or do you want to be a doctor to be validated by others? 
Often our goals and dreams are really misrepresentations of what we truly want to be. And if you want to be successful not because you want to be the best version of you but because you want to finally be somebody than this might be a wrong goal for you to have.
I believe that we always should start with the end in mind. Without why. Because often we take bizarre routes to our true needs. Becoming a doctor is a hard thing to do, it involves years and years of studying. If our goal is to be somebody than this route might not even work at all. Often we do things because we have a misconception that achieving this goal will give us a reward in form of emotion. The infantile belief that once we are somebody we will be lovable. But this, of course, is not how our mind works. By starting with the why we can save us years and years of working in the wrong direction. And it will enable us to do what we really want to do.

  • Is this goal what you really want to do?
  • Is it wise to attack your goal now?
  • Is it within my own control to achieve this goal?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?

Smart Goal Setting: Time-bound

Every goal needs to be time-limited. This can in form of deadlines. You set a goal for yourself? Great, until when do you want to achieve it? What do you have to do each day in order to make this happen? 

Creating realistic deadlines is very important. Again you want to protect your own self-efficacy.  Every time you set a deadline and you fail to meet your expected result you lower your own beliefe in your abilities. And you weaken your mindset. Having realistic expectations is very important because of that very reason. Happiness, in my opinion, has much to do with meeting or even exceeding our expectations.

Some questions that can help you form a timely bound goal.

  • When?
  • What do I want to achieve 3 years from now?
  • What do I want to achieve 1 year from now?
  • What do I want to achieve within 3 months from now?
  • What do I want to achieve this week?
  • What do I have to do today?
  • What do I have to do to achieve my goal in half the time?

 
 
 
 
 
 

Bonus: Smart Goals Setting + Habits

One thing that I think smart goalsetting misses out on is to emphasize the importance of habits.
Habits are behaviors that you do each and every day. The rituals and behavioral patterns we have determine ultimately what kind of results we are getting.
Smart goal setting is great to tackle goals. But it completely misses out on attacking the roots of a problem.
Imagine one of your goals is to lose 40 pounds. Smart goal setting is perfect for achieving this goal and help you to conquer this milestone. But what happens after you reach that goal?
For most people, they slack off then and regain the pounds. Why is that so?
In my opinion, because they do a bad job of implementing the necessary habits in order to change your behavior long term.
Another example would be the problem of having a messy room. Smart goal setting would be perfect for creating a plan to clean up this room. But after some while, it will get messy again because you don’t attack the habits that are responsible for you having a messy room. This can be for example that you tend to throw your jacket on the chair after a long day in the office instead of putting it on your wardrobe.
 
Creating new habits is a necessity if you want to change your life for the long term.
This is why I believe the smart goal setting strategy needs to be expanded.
Here are some questions that will help you to have long-lasting success.

  • What small thing if done constantly will have a big positive impact on your life?
  • What habits are necessary in order to reach my goal?
  • What habits are undermining my success?
  • What behavior do I need to stop asap in order to reach my goal?

Call to action

Grab a piece of paper, or create a new Evernote :

  1. Write down 1 goal you have struggled with in the past. Now use the smart model and formulate the goal again, but with the smart goal setting model.
  2. Answer the questions in the article for yourself

Richard Branson — Losing my Virginity {Book Review}

When do you think of the word successful what Person comes first to mind?
For me, success means that you live an extraordinarily adventurous life. A life on your terms. That you have successfully monetized your passion and that you add massive value to others while doing so. That you work with fun and amazing people and solve together big problems for the world.
To me, nobody else personifies these ideas more than Sir Richard Branson.

Who is Richard Branson?

Richard Branson is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today. He is the founder of the Virgin Group and with he has a net worth of over 5 billion dollars! Damn, that is a lot of money right?! Normally I am reluctant when It comes to equating networth with success. Think of bankers for example who are only in their office their entire life. Words like boring or clockwork come to mind.

Boring is a word you would never associate with Richard Branson. And he is not your typical billionaire(if there is anything as such).

Richard Branson was born in 1950 and he had a very happy childhood. In his book, he describes how his parents always challenged him.
Richard Branson Parents were in the upper middle class, so he was not born super rich.
In school, Richard Branson was everything else than outstanding. He was dyslexic and failed hopelessly in math and other sciences. However even there seemed to be an aura around him.
When Richard Branson graduated the school’s headmaster said to him: “You will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” Little did he know that he was right with both.
Branson’s first entrepreneurial endeavor was to create a student magazine that included interviewing Mick Jagger and John Lemmon among many others. One of the things that fascinated me with this magazine was that the goal was not primarily to make money but to have fun.
Branson gang of friends was obsessed with music and they decided to sell records via mail. This project later became Virgin music business.
The first singer Virgin signed was a young musician called Mike Oldfield. This was an odd choice because the Virgin music was a rock music label, and Mike Oldfield had no vocals in his album Tubular Bells.
This song was one of the biggest- selling albums of the 1970s. Later they collaborated with big bands like Sex Pistols, Phil Collins, Human League and many other stars.  They became really big and were floating in cash.
What surprised me was that he went form the music business into founding an airline.  He was always a big-time investor and eventually through some weird circumstances, he received a proposal to establish a new airline that would compete with British Airways.
So Richard Branson negotiated to rent a boing 747 for a year. This to me was crazy that he would try something this big on a whim without being afraid just to see if it works.
 
 

So why did I choose to make a book review about losing my virginity?

Being a millionaire with 22? Flying over the Atlantic in a balloon? Being knighted by the Queen?  Buying your own Island? Trying to make free wifi for the entire world? Writing a bestseller when you are dyslexic? Founding “Virgin Interplanetary” in order to make space travel possible for everyone? Those are all crosses on his Richard Branson’s bucket list.

For me doing a book review about losing my virginity was a must. He personifies the perfect case study for success in my opinion. The sheer amount of impact that he had on the world, the brave business endeavors that he started, the adventurous expeditions that he undertook is just mindboggling.
And it deeply inspired me and showed me what is possible inside of one life on this planet.
As humans we have a beautiful ability that is unique to our species: We can read a story and relive the adventures and experiences in our head like we were the protagonist.
I think to soak in Richard Branson life journey is a must for every hungry men or woman. And to me it was super fascinating to see how different he thinks towards business, traveling and trying new things.
One of the cornerstones of my philosophy is that when you start to think like people with extreme results it will eventually rub of on you and you yourself will get better.
Emulating the thinking patterns, habits, tools, and life hacks from highly successful people is one of the focal points of my work right now.

3 Takeaways from Richards Branson’s Autobiography

  • Problems are gold nuggets

In his autobiography, you can see that Richard Branson thinks in a unique way. For him, problems are gold nuggets. He searches for markets that need a shakeup. Is there a way to do it better or cooler or more customer orientated?
This was the Idea behind virgin Airways. He did not like the way British Airways were exploiting their monopoly position. The prizes were going up for the customers and the quality and comfort was going down. Richard Branson saw this problem as a business opportunity. I believe we all should think this way.
What does the world need? Where does a shakeup need to happen? In which market do people deserve better? Where is my expertise needed the most?
Ask yourself bevor starting a business if this endeavor is scratching your niche only or if you are actually are adding value and creating something new for other people.
Fusing a problem with your own talents will bring out the best in you in my opinion because you are driven by more than your personal needs. You think that the thing that you are building has to exist. And that people deserve better and that if you don’t do it nobody else will, so you almost have no choice but to create this startup, company or product.
 

  • Follow your dreams.

As cheesy as this sounds, one of my major takeaways was that you need an exciting vision for your future. A dream. Something that you never get tired of talking about. A vision that keeps you up late at night and wakes you up early.
In order to become successful, let alone a billionaire you need to excel in your field of expertise. You won’t get there if you don’t feel fun and excitement for the thing that you do. If your dream is as big as becoming a billionaire you gotta eat it, sleep it, breathe it and develop a total obsession that you love it.
I believe that what is rewarded is repeated. And if you associate sacrifice and stress and discomfort to your work you won’t be able to put in the extra hours. On the other side if you love what you do then why should you stop after 8 hours? This enables you to work longer and harder than someone who has to do it.
I believe having a dream is a necessity for humans in order to be happy. A compelling goal that gives us a goal that requires our absolute best version of yourself. I found through my investigation of unhappiness that people who have depression, for example, don’t see a future for themselves at all. They think that they are going to stay in this painful place forever. This, of course, makes the situation worse.
Having a compelling future and a dream gives us the impression that even though we may have a shitty day, our life will not always be shitty. This gives us the courage to move on and take the next challenge because our dream is worth not giving up. Furthermore, a dream stops us from sabotaging ourselves in my opinion. If you want to become big in any niche it is much harder, in my opinion, to get shit faced every weekend because you are directly sabotaging your dream.
So find something that deserves your absolute best version of yourself.
What job would you want to have if you would not need a job?

  • Don’t give up

Again this sounds cheesy. But one of my personal takeaways from Richards Branson’s Book and other super high achievers was that they share one habit in particular: The habit of Perseverance.
They all seem fucking batshit crazy when it comes to giving up. There is something infectious about just going through hardships in business or Life. The ability to push through no matter what the odds are and no matter how unrealistic their dream is.
To me, it seems that super high achievers seem to live in their own world sometimes. And that they have the ability to march forward even if they are laughed at or ridiculed. They don’t give up, and this enables them to inspire others to march with them. I believe that the combination of kindness and sheer strength is something that is important for people when they choose their leader. and Richard Branson personifies both traits. I don’t think it is a coincidence that amazing people share around guys like him. Richard Branson is so outspoken about what he wants to do that people get caught up in his dream as well and they start to collaborate and make things happen. Big things.
 

  • Don’t Give A Fuck

Richard Branson seems to have the ability to be less stressed than others even in the face of extreme pressure or uncertainty. So there seems to be something crazy involved in the way he perceives things. To keep your cool even in the face of extreme situations is really a skill for itself. Being threatened by entire countries because he flew accidentally with his ballon over a war zone or being sued for millions by British Airways or founding an airline or trying to make space travel affordable for everybody are just project normal persons would never attack. Richard Branson however just simply does not seem to give a fuck about what is normal or not.
To have this playfulness when it comes to thinking big and actually going out and trying new things that are totally not in his expertise is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why he is successful. Sometimes in life, you just need to throw things against the wall and see what sticks. I think one of the best ways to live a boring unhappy life is to stay always in your comfort zone. By constantly tying big things you fail a lot, yes, but failing also brings opportunity with it, after all without trying you newer realize what you are capable of.
So I would encourage you to be delusional and unrealistic sometimes and shoot for the stars and try adventures or business endeavors that might 100x your life, even though you might fail hard.
 
 

On every adventure I have been on — whether setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon or racing across the ocean in a boat — there have been moments when the easy thing to do would be to give up,”

 
 

My personal Take Away from the Book

I was fascinated with Richard Branson’s personal journey. Starting at age 17 with a student Magazine and being 6 years later a millionaire and 20 years later a billionaire. And that he had a shit ton of fun along the way doing so! I loved the fusion of business and adventure that Richard Branson embodies.
 
My biggest Take away from the book was that I needed to think bigger. Like a lot bigger. Most of my dreams were centered around me. Things I wanted to have. Milestones I wanted to achieve
Richard Branson thinks of Problems in the world as potential business opportunities. And that you should choose a market that is fun and brings you joy and that is compatible with your skills. He believes that you get rich by solving peoples problems. And the more problems you solve the richer you get.
So I asked myself :
What major Problems do we have in society?
Are there some big problems that I could help solve?
My expertise lies in clinical psychology and behavior psychology meaning that I help people to form new behavior and get rid of undesired behavior. A psychologist normally works with one person at a time. So being inspired by Richard Branson habit of thinking big I thought of ways how to help more persons.
So did two things after reading this book:
1)I multiplied the number of people that I wanted to help by 100. I asked myself how can I help 100 persons at a time instead of only 1? So thought about scaleable ways to create behavior-changing products like books, masterclasses and writing articles, creating a podcast and generally helping people at scale.
 
2)The realization that If I wanted to contribute on attacking big problems such as depression and addiction I needed to become an expert in those fields first. Otherwise, I would not be adding value. This was a big part of deciding that I wanted to become a nomadic psychologist and professional learner. The Idea of traveling the world and interviewing outstanding scientists, spiritual leaders, biohackers, successful entrepreneurs in order to find habits, patterns, behaviors, tools, and hacks that make other people better became a necessity for me. Also, I needed to create a system around myself where I am constantly forced to stay in learning mode. I believe that the more I learn the more value I am able to give.

If people arent calling you crazy, you arent thinking big enough — Richard Branson

Call to action

Grab a sheet of paper and write down

  1. If failure were not an option where would you be in 3 years?
  2. What amount of money do you want to make then?
  3. Now Multiply your dream and your dreamed income by 10 x!
  4. What would you have to do if you want to achieve that 10xed dream and income in 6 months? Write down 10 answers
  5. What can you do today to make your 6-month plan a reality?
  6. If you die tomorrow what would be things that you would regret the most? What Ideas would die with you?

 

The Five Minute Journal

Why Journaling?

As a student of human behavior, I am particularly interested in what behavior results in happiness, and what behavior creates stress and worry.

One of the focal points of my interest right now is to find tools, tricks and ways to guide our mind away from stress and anxiety and towards fulfillment and happiness.
But how do you direct your brain? What habits create worry and what habits help us to guide our mind towards gratitude and joy.
What habits create worry?
I got this part covered. Since I never shied away from failure and fucking up in a big way I by accident made my Ph.D. in how to feel like horsecrap.
My monkey mind was non stop in problem-solving mode. Always stressed, super imbalances and totally not happy. This provided me with a manual on how to feel worried all the time. This in combination with me being a psychology student put me In a perfect position to deconstruct unhappiness and chronic stress.
After spending years on finding patterns, mindsets, and behaviors that resulted in worry, anxiety, and depression I got curious about what the opposite would look like.
What was the opposite of worry? Of anxiety? I needed a group of people who did things radically different. So I looked at the other side of the spectrum of happiness. Of people who were kicking ass in life.

What were the habits, routines, and patterns of pro athletes, stars, millionaires or even billionaires? Are there commonalities to be found among them? 

I was curious what would happen if one straight copied the behaviors of successful people. What would happen to a person who was prone to despair and depression if that person started to emulate habits of high achievers and happy people?
Would this result in them getting better results and more happiness eventually?

Sounds easy right? Wel,l there was one problem.

As a broke psychology student, I didn’t know many millionaires.

This is when I stumbled over the Tim Ferris Podcast.

Tim Ferris is a silicon valley Tech entrepreneur who made it his life mission to deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business etc).

He does so by interviewing high performers in order to extract the tactics, tools, routines, and habits of the super successful.

This means that he asks them about their favorite books, their morning routines, exercise habits their time- management tricks and so on.

His Guests include people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Edward Norton, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel. 

This show for me was A good nugget. And as you can hear I am a big fanboy of this show. Since at that time I didnt have enough leverage to interview successful case studies myself this show was the next best thing for me.

One habit popped up over and over: journaling.

Apparently, the perfect antidote to stress and worrying is to take our thoughts and put them on paper. There seems to be something highly therapeutic about guiding our brain by asking the right kind of questions. Our brain is, in my opinion, a big, grey answering machine. It can not help itself but answer the questions we ask ourselves.

But I was not into writing at that point, where do I start when I want to implant the habit of journaling?

Tim Ferris pitches a product that is exactly that; journaling for starters.

The Five Minute Journal. 

 

So what is the Five-minute Journal…

Morning Routine

The first part of the Five Minute Journal is about your Morning Routine. The first few minutes after waking up are crucial.

“If you win the Morning, you win the day” Tim Ferris

You have the chance here to prime yourself positively for the rest of the day.

Best way to finetune your brain is by asking quesitons.
The quality of questions that we ask ourselves on a constant basis decides about our mental state more than anything else. Click here to read my article about how to ask questions better.
 
 

The morning section asks you 3 questions.

  1. What are you grateful for …
  2. What would make today great …
  3. Daily affirmations, I am …

 
 
 

Gratitude

Starting your day with gratitude is a habit that I heard many high achievers mention. I believe that happiness is a habit as well. Click here to read my article about gratitude and meditation.

One thing that unhappy people have in common is, in my opinion, their inability to see the small good things that are in our life. I believe that humans are first and foremost designed to survive. Happiness is secondary. Our brain is hard-wired to look for danger, and in my opinion, it does not give a fuck about happiness. We can hack this by asking our brain questions consciously in order to guide our emotions. It is very hard for our brain to separate words, thoughts, and posture from emotions. When we jump around and think about the awesomeness of life, it is much harder to hold depressing thoughts and vice versa.

Starting to ask yourself what you can be grateful for, emphasizes that there are amazing things around you. This can be as big as having a loving family or as small as seeing a bird that you like or feeling a cold refreshing breath on your face.

Happiness is a learnable skill. Gratitude is training that very skill, by giving us conscious control over our perspective. I believe achievement is overrated and that it is really about how we experience, and perceive achievement and our pursuit of the things that matter to us.

“The first thing I do every morning is make my bed. It gives me closure from the night before, and starts my day off in a clean, tidy and organise

d way. The second t

hing I do is an affirmation of gratitude, whether it’s for my immediate fortunate surroundings [such as] family, friends, health, home or gratitude for unknown people and unforeseen situations that come my way. Every person that enters your life and everyt

hing that happens to you has some greater meaning. It’s up to you to dig deep and ask why.“

 

—Angela Mavridis, founder and CEO of Tribal Foods, a company that produces organic grass-fed protein patties.

What can I do to make today great?

In this part, you basically force yourself to think about what you need to do today in order to feel like crap in the evening. What tasks have I been postponing that will cause me guilt today when I am in bed?
What do I have to do in order to feel tonight that this was a nice, productive, fruitfull exiting day? This means for everybody something else. For me, it is here about balance. I need to have the feeling that I got holistically better. This can mean for me going to the gym and lift heavy, or go to the library and work on my dream.
It also means doing something that is fun. Have an exciting date, make the life of someone around you a little bit better. It also means doing something just for you. Maybe watch a movie, get a fly new shirt. The idea behind this questions is to feel out what your idea is of a perfect day and how you can design a life that aligns with your true values and wishes.
 

Daily Affirmation

In here you write down how you are. What are you feeling, what is going on inside your brain? In my opinion becoming an expert on your inner life is a necessity when you want to achieve anything and if you want to have the chance of living happily.
Beeing unclear about why you do things, will result in you doing completely the wrong things. For example, if you feel undervalued, and un appreciated you might take completely different career choices.
Maybe you become a doctor in order to become validated by society and not because it is your heart’s desire, instead of doing pottery. The point I am trying to make is that by listening closely to your emotions you are able to avoid habits and decisions that are bad for you.
Not listening to your pain and your needs makes you very vulnerable to bad habits such as alcoholism, avoidance, or distraction. If you face your true feelings however you can maneuver your behavior consciously and you can make conscious decisions for your life.
Also, a great advantage is that you can look back in your journal to darker, or happier times and reread what you did differently back then. Either to realize what new behaviors are not good for you or to see what you have stopped that was giving you happiness and fulfillment.

Night routine

What was awesome today?

The night section asks you to reflect on 3 things that were amazing that day.

Again life is not so much about actual results, but about perception in my opinion. The amount of what we have and what we are is less decisive than in what way we evaluate our pursuits. Forcing yourself to write down 3 things changes your perception of your life, each day, a little bit.
In our society, we are motivated to only pride ourself with big achievements. But celebrating even the tiniest of our successes results in my opinion in much more happiness.
Often people with depression think they have nothing good in their life. Here you are forced to write down three things. This can be as small as that you saw a nice butterfly or even that you made your bed. Click here to read my article why making your bed results in more happiness.
Furthermore, you are asked about something that you could have done better.

Two things that The Five Minute Journal helps you to do in the evening.

  1. You end your day with positivity.
  2. You evaluate your day

Often we are caught in the business of life, without really moving forward. The feeling of being stuck, of not moving is a sure ingredient of worry and unhappiness.
This part of the five-minute journal forces you to think about the positive things that life gave you this day, and also lets you think about ways to make it better, more richer, more fun and more productive.
For me this part was important. I think I am naturally a very motivated person. That’s great. But also very dangerous. Because when I don’t keep it in check I work for months in the wrong direction, inefficiently without a plan or strategy. Asking myself every night, how I could have given more, planned better, enjoyed more fully lets me go to the bed with the feeling that tomorrow is going to be even better.

Final Note

I am always on the hunt for behavior changing products. I believe that this product is really great when you want to start to journal. Later you can create your own journal with questions that are more fitting to your personal unique values.
But for starters this is a beautiful product that will train your brain to become more aware of all the little beautiful things in your life.
I have been journaling for about 2 years right now, and I can honestly say that this habit has made me happier and more productive. And if you don’t want to spend the money, just create a journal for yourself. But the simplicity, and that it only takes 5 minutes makes it perfect to implant it into your schedule, and then later build more positive rituals on top of it.
 

Call to Action

  1. If you want to check out to check out the five-minute journal on Amazon? Click here!
  2. Write down 3 things that you can be grateful for
  3. Write down 3 things that are amazing about you
  4. What is one area in your life that is still holding you back?

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