Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been” – Kurt Vonnegut
I’ve always been an advocate of learning from my mistakes and brainstorming about what I could have done better. This makes a lot of sense in many situations, as oppose to others where it doesn’t. Rethinking can easily become a sinkhole. It’s easy to get lost in it and lose the clear picture. Sadly, we lose so much time thinking about the past, that we lose perspective about the present.
I could tell some personal example related to that. I often think what could have been different. What would have happened I had followed my father’s advice to leave for a full summer abroad to learn English when I was 18-year-olds? What about if I had been more serious during my College years? What if I had started seriously reading books at 16? I can go on and on about the countless missed opportunities.
These are all possibilities that could have happened, but they didn’t. The result is done and locked in time. There isn’t anything I can do about it today. The only possible way to change things would be to travel back in time. You could dig your past for all these “what if” moment, but it won’t change anything. It’s a dead end.
Our thoughts should simply be where they should. Right here, right now.
“When you say yes to something you don’t want to do, here is the result: you hate what you are doing, you resent the person who asked you, and you hurt yourself” – James Altucher
Do you remember the goofy movie with Jim Carrey where he was saying “yes” to everything for a whole year? That movie is so far from reality. You would say “yes” to everything for a year and you would be crippled by hundreds of shitty obligations that would make you want to puke every goddamn day that you wake up.
A while back, when I was younger, I was still going to University part-time to get some knowledge on the side. I had a bit of free time and I wanted to get involved in my student association. I happily volunteered to help. The president of the association asked me if I wanted to be on the committee for the organization of the end of the year party, it would take three hours a week max. I thought at that moment that it was a cool involvement. So I said, “Yes”. It didn’t count the 10-12 emails I had to read and answer every day. You can guess that each email was asking people to do tasks. Since I didn’t want to look bad, I said, “Yes”. What started as a 3-hour gig a week for fun, ended up as 10-15 hours. It was like having a second job. It wasn’t something I wanted to do anymore, it was an obligation.
A quick example of how much we say “yes” is our email inbox. A snapshot right now of your inbox would probably show a good deal of publicity or subscription you don’t care about. I’m in the same boat. I saw a newsletter from Quora today in my inbox, I don’t even remember when I registered to that website (and I sincerely don’t know what it is). I’ve probably used it once 3 or 4 years ago and I’m still receiving newsletters from the website. This is crazy.
Saying “no” more often should be a daily practice. Look at your calendar or agenda for one moment and you’ll probably see a bunch of appointments that are purely obligations. If we want more time for the important, to the stuff that we really want to do, we must say not somewhere else.
That’s the problem with modern life. We have so many choices, so many possibilities, that we end up losing sight of what truly matter.
There is a reason why we have cook books. Someone with better knowledge laid out what needed to be done to make a succesful recipe. The problem is when we think we can alter the recipe without compromising the end results. Think about it, someone already made all the mistakes for you, the blueprint to success is already in your hands. This can be apply to anything: business, powerlifting/bodybuilding, diet, sports, trading or anything you can think about.
I just finished reading Mindless Eating It’s an interesting book about the psychology behind how we eat. Here are the key points about that book:
1. We make 200 Food decisions per day and we aren’t aware of it.
2. To eat less or more (or healthier), we need to control the different causes that can influence us.
3. Causes can be:
-The size of the package (Costco vs standard size). In other word, you will eat more chips if you buy a big bag vs a small One.
-The visibility/disponibility of the food…like the access to a coffee machine at your desk vs walking to Starbucks. You will drink way more coffee with the first option.
-The people you eat with will influence how you eat. If your co-workers eat at McDonald’s everyday, the chance you eat crap is higher.
-Your lifestyle will have an impact on how much or how healthy you eat (Ex: Watching TV vs doing sports).
”Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvator Dali
Before you start insulting me, let’s make something clear, I’m not talking about relationships. Let me explain myself. We all do things that doesn’t fit in our ideal life. The best examples are eating fast food, drinking alcohol, taking load of caffeine, watching TV, browsing the internet, playing video games or being lazy. The list could be longer, but you see the point. Tuesday, I’ve received my copy Fallout 4 by Amazon. For those, who don’t what I’m talking about, Fallout is post-apocalyptic video games. The game is huge and can easily suck you in for hours. I took my copy and put it aside. I wanted to make a simple experiment. I told myself that would only play saturday (for the whole day) if all the important stuff I wanted do would be done (gym, writing, reading and projects). Without committing myself, I would have easily spend all my free time playing and I’m not joking. To my surprise, I was way more productive that way. What I can see about that…
- My gaming experience was even better because I’ve delayed the reward. I was awaiting that moment all week.
- I wasn’t ashamed to play for my whole Saturday, because everything I wanted to be done, was finished.
- I did way more during my week by avoiding anything related to TV. I felt more satisfied about myself, therefore I was more happy and less stressed.
Cheating can also help you build habits. I love to drink Red Bull. I know it’s bad for the health. I remember in my college years, drinking 2 cans a day. Nowadays, I avoid it as much as possible. The best way that I used to stop was to let myself cheat once or twice a month. I’ve avoided the pain of removing what I like from my life, but at the same I’ve reduce so much the quantity I drink that it doesn’t have significant impact on my life.
Trying to be perfect is impossible. It’s a recipe for frustration. Let yourself deliberately cheat, not too much, but just enough.
”If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” – Neil Gaiman
Last monday, I finally had the chance see Spectre. I was astonished at how the critics were brutal with that movie. It’s a step down from Skyfall and Casino Royale, I admit it. But, it’s not worse than Quantum of Solace. When I look at the big picture, I remember the Pierce Brosnan’s years. Die Another Day is still a nightmare I want to forget. Spectre is a league above that movie. People forget fast, the James Bond’s franchise was down the sinkhole 10 years ago.
My goal here isn’t to talk about movies. I thought that the Bond’s example was perfect to make my point. Progression will never be linear. In whatever you’ll do, you will hit obstacles, plateaus and you will have set backs. The idea that your progression must be a straight line going upward on and on is simply not real life. A multitude of factors will always influence your performance. You can hit 70 push-ups as a record, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be at 80 next month. It’s possible that you’ll go back down at 63, before going back up again. The idea is that you keep doing it, keep trying.
You cannot have your best day everyday. It’s the same for the Bond movies. The next will probably be better. In the end, we must look at the big picture. Can we see a global improvement? That’s the real question that must be answer. The only way to make that question relevant is to at least attempt something.
”The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort
We always have excuses. Not enough money. Not enough time. Being too old. Being tired. Not having the skills. I could go on and on. I could find a thousand of bullshit excuses. During the last 4 months, I’ve postponed writing something for the simple reason that I was telling myself that I didn’t have enough time.
Really? In all honesty, I had time to watch tv, play video games and lose my time on internet. In the end, we choose what we really want. We choose that we are too tired. We choose that we don’t have the skills. The universe doesn’t use magic against us. It’s all us. It’s our damn choice.