Don’t Worry – Everyone is Hardwired to be Miserable

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The latest research on happiness is a real punch in the gut. According to David Buss, psychology professor at the University of Texas, we are hardwired for unhappiness. And we have evolution to blame.

It turns out emotions like unhappiness, jealousy, distress and disgust spurs individuals to improve their conditions in order to return to a state of happiness. Unhappiness drives us to make necessary changes in our lives.

And what may be even worse, happiness is hardwired to be temporary. The purpose of this little evolutionary slap in the face is to prevent humans from becoming too complacent with their happy lives so that they will continue to do things to improve their lives in an effort to chase happiness.

No matter what amazing good things happen in our lives that make us happy, we always revert back to our happiness baseline. That’s why the happiness that results from some good fortune like winning the lottery or inheriting a million dollars or the happiness that we experience from buying something new, doesn’t last very long. If it did, humans would fold up their tents and stop trying to improve their lives.

Being hardwired for unhappiness is why we compete, why we chase dreams, why we go to college, why we start new businesses and why we sacrifice for something better down the road. This very unique, hardwired human trait, drives us to do things that will make us happy.

So, if you’re unhappy with your life, there’s a good reason. Life is screaming at you to grow and improve. It wants you to become a better human being. It’s time you listened to that voice.

 

Who Are Your Top 5 People?

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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Over the course of the average month, there are 720 hours. If you sleep seven hours a day, like most, that’s 210 hours, leaving you 510 hours.

Out of that 510 hours, who do you spend the most time with?

If you want to be successful, or even rich, you probably should find out.

The process to find out who you are spending the most time with is really very simple:

  • Create a spreadsheet with 31 columns. In column 1 the header should read “NAME”. In column 2, the header should read “DAY 1”, column 3 = “DAY 2”, column 4 = “DAY 3” and so on.
  • Each day, under column 1 write down the names of the people you interact with every day. This interaction can be physical or non-physical. Physical means being in personal physical contact with a person. Non-physical includes talking with a person on the phone, via email, texting, Skype, etc.
  • Each day, under columns 2 – 31, write down the time you spent interacting with each person on your list.
  • At the end of the thirty days add up all of the time you spent with each name on your list.
  • Put a Plus Sign (+), Minus Sign (-) or Equal Sign (=) next to each name on the list. A Plus Sign is the designation you give to upbeat, optimistic, happy, positive people. These are your Rich Relationships. A Minus Sign is the designation you give to gloomy, pessimistic, negative people. These are your Toxic Relationships. An Equal Sign is the designation you give to those individuals who are in the middle; neither a Rich Relationship, nor a Toxic Relationship.
  • List the top five people you spent the most time with.
  • How many of those top five people you associate with are Rich Relationships?
  • How many of the people that did not make the top five list are Rich Relationships?

Take a good, hard look at your list, particularly those Rich Relationships who did not make it into your top five. Those are the people you should be spending more time with.

Lastly, how many in your top five were Toxic Relationships? Those are the people you should be spending the least amount of time with.

Now you have awareness, thanks to tracking. This process helps you identify who you are associating with the most. If you are associating with too many Toxic Relationships, your odds of being successful are not very good.

Life is a Blank Canvas

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The circumstances you were born into do not define your future.

When Michelle Phan was six years old her father left. She and her Mom were forced into abject poverty. She couldn’t invite friends to her home as her home was a single bedroom they rented in another family’s house. Her bed was a sleeping bag and her dresser was a cardboard box. Her Mom worked 14 hour days, every day, just to afford that single bedroon.

At age 26, Phan found her superpower – makeup. Phan was able to build a multi-million-dollar beauty and lifestyle empire reportedly valued at $500 million. The day she launched her cosmetic empire, Phan called her Mom and told her she didn’t need to go to work the next day.

J.K. Rowling was so poor, her home was her car. Homeless and with a child to raise, J.K. found her superpower – writing. Her Harry Potter books have sold more than 400 million copies, making her the first billionaire author in history.

It doesn’t matter where you start. What matters is what you do with the blank canvas each of us is given in life. Those who find their calling in life, fill the canvas of their lives with amazing dreams – dreams they transform into reality.

The Success Stew

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There are many ingredients that make success possible:

  • Added Value – You must bring to the table some added value. Whatever product or service you are selling must be just a little bit better than the competition.
  • Slight Edge – You must have some slight advantage over the competition. Your slight edge could be anything: a superior skill, superior knowledge, better product, better service, stronger work ethic, better habits, more creativity, more powerful contacts, etc.
  • Expert Knowledge – You must know your industry, company, competition, or field inside and out. You must be an expert in your knowledge.
  • Expert Technician – You must have skills that set you apart from your competition; skills you have honed for many, many years.
  • Strong Work Ethic – You must be able to put in the hours. A strong work ethic means, on a daily basis, you devote many hours to your craft.
  • Intense Focus –  You must have the ability to focus, single-mindedly on one thing for many hours, many weeks, many months and many years until you successfully complete that one thing. Every dream, every goal, every project must have your undivided attention.
  • Power Relationships – You must forge relationships with individuals who can open up doors for you.
  • Apostles – You must have apostles for your cause. These could be individuals you hire (employees or contractors), or they can be fellow dreamers – individuals who share your dream and your vision. When you have a team of apostles, pushing the ball up the hill is much easier.
  • Persistence – You must possess the mindset that you will never quit. As Elon Musk famously said, “I would have to die or become physically disabled before I quit.”
  • Good Luck – Perhaps the most important ingredient to success is good luck. Without some good luck, success is virtually impossible. Good luck only visits the relentlessly persistent. If you keep at it long enough, you will eventually get lucky.

 

Gain Through Subtraction

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When you do things wrong, too often, those mistakes can offset all of the good you’ve done. Mistakes set you back. If you make too many mistakes it can lead to failure. 

One of the keys to success, therefore, is to minimize mistakes. Making fewer mistakes allows you to keep moving forward in life.

There are specific Rich Habits whose purpose is to help you avoid making mistakes:

  • Study the Experts – There are two ways to learn: learn by doing (school of hard knocks) or learn from the experts. The school of hard knocks is the hard way to learn. In the school of hard knocks you learn by making mistakes. The problem with the school of hard knocks is that by the time you figure out what to do and what not to do you could run out of time and money, resulting in failure. When you study what the experts in your company, field or industry do, however, you learn without the heartache and without the loss of time and money. Reading books, reading industry trade magazines, reading blogs related to your field or reading any articles related to how you make a living will save you from making costly mistakes that can set you back.
  • Practice – Practicing over and over again, when no one’s watching or when it doesn’t matter, allows you to perfect your skills without being under pressure to perform. This is one of the many reasons I am so big on volunteering and interning. Volunteering or interning at an organization that allows you to practice new skills or develop your skills will help you become an expert technician without having to worry about getting fired for making too many mistakes. Non-profits are always looking for volunteers. Many large companies offer internship programs. Volunteering or interning at a big company gives you a lot of rope to make mistakes, without those mistakes destroying your career.
  • Find a Carer Mentor – Career mentors have knowledge, experience and wisdom. When you find a mentor they can share with you that knowledge, experience and wisdom. The few who find mentors, learn what works and what doesn’t work. Finding a mentor is the fast track to success. 

Since mistakes set you back, making fewer of them through the strategies outlines above, will help you gain through subtraction.

Make Each Week Matter

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You cannot change without first recognizing the need to change. Awareness, therefore, is the precursor to change. It sets the table for change to occur. And only through constructive change, will your life improve.

By understanding ourselves, we come to grips with our strengths and our weaknesses. Only by looking in the rear view mirror is that possible. We need to reflect on our actions, behaviors and decisions in order to truly grasp which actions, behaviors and decisions are moving us forward towards growth and success and which ones are dragging us down in life. But how?

Through weekly analysis. At the end of every week, spend some time asking yourself questions that will help open your eyes:

  • What went right last week?
  • What went wrong last week?
  • What did I do very well last week?
  • What did I do very badly last week?
  • What did I learn last week?
  • What book(s) did I read last week?
  • What good did I do last week?
  • What bad did I do last week?
  • Who did I help last week?
  • Who did I hurt last week?
  • How much money did I spend last week?
  • How much money did I save last week?
  • What would I have done differently last week?
  • What should I have done last week that I didn’t do?
  • Was I happy last week? Why? Why not?
  • Did I exercise enough last week?
  • Did I eat healthy last week?
  • Did I drink too much last week?

There are obviously many more questions that could be asked. The point is to start asking yourselves questions. Every week. Your answers to your questions will help make you aware of your actions, behaviors and decisions. They will help open your eyes and raise your level of awareness about exactly what you are doing that is helping you or hurting you. Everything you do matters. It either helps move you forward or it drags you down in life. Make each week matter.

Believe in Luck

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If you’re going to have any beliefs at all believe in luck. One of the fascinating things I discovered in my research was the fact that every self-made millionaires, at some point, got lucky.

  • 84% attributed their good luck to their daily habits
  • 87% said they were lucky
  • 92% said they created their own luck

The rich do not believe random good luck plays a role in wealth creation. They believe, however, that you create your own luck. There are many ways the wealthy create their own luck:

  • Pursuing a dream. Luck visits dreamers who act on their dreams.
  • Forging habits around your dreams. Good habits are like snowflakes on a mountainside. You don’t notice the accumulation until there is an avalanche. Good habits create an avalanche of good luck.
  • Building relationships with the right people – success-minded people who can open doors for you through their relationships. Good luck likes to associate with positive-minded people.
  • Learning new things opens your eyes to opportunities. Opportunity is the home good luck lives in.
  • Taking calculated risks. Calculated risk is a type of risk that requires you to do your homework. Good luck finds the prepared.
  • Finding a mentor. Mentors open up doors for you and steer you down the right paths in life. Good luck will find you if you are on the right path.
  • Being a mentor. Mentees eventually become experts themselves. Like mentors, your mentees can open up doors for you. Good luck is often found behind closed doors.
  • Staying upbeat and positive. Negativity shuts down part of your prefrontal cortex and effectively blinds you to opportunities. Good luck always finds the optimist.
  • Staying focused allows you to accomplish and learn things quitters never accomplish or learn. Good luck always finds the most focused individuals.
  • Persistence. Devoting yourself to one thing for many years forces you to become expert in that one thing. Good luck always finds the persistent.

Dream Habits

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Pursuing your own dream is, according to my research, the most common route towards accumulating riches. But you need to develop Dream Habits in order for your dream to become reality.

Dream Habits are specific habits you create around your dream. They make success possible because they put you on autopilot for success. Dream Habits process success.

Dream Habits are specific repetitive actions you take every day that are directly related to your dream. Their purpose is to help you increase your knowledge, develop or improve your skills and help move you forward every day towards the achievement of the goals behind your dream.

Overview of Dream Habits:

  • Dream Reading – This is reading you do every day that gives you the critical knowledge you need in order to make you more expert in whatever industry or field your dream falls into. The typical self-made millionaire dreamer in my study devoted at least 30 minutes every day towards Dream Reading.
  • Dream Practice – Every dream requires that you become an expert technician. When you pursue a dream it forces you to develop specific skills that are related to the dream you are pursuing. Those skills need to be practiced every day in order for you to develop and perfect them. Every dreamer is an expert technical in whatever industry or field their dream falls into.
  • Building Dream Relationships – No one succeeds on their own. We all need apostles, individuals who buy into and participate in the realization of our dream. Finding those Dream Relationships is hard work. It requires that you become expert in building relationships with like-minded, success-oriented people. Finding the right individuals and building relationships with them needs to become a daily habit.
  • Dream Promotion – You must promote your dream every day. The objective is to create enough buzz around your dream so that others will know about it. Eventually, your habitual promotional efforts will pull others into your orbit. These individuals will be the ones who not only buy whatever it is you are selling, they will also be the ones who promote it to others.

Good Habits Make Success Easy

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On the face of it, running three miles is nothing special. What makes it special, however, is when you run three miles every day for, say twenty years.

There was a famous author who was asked about his daily routine. He said he woke at 5 am every day and wrote 500 words, which took him an average of about three hours. Barring his famous vacations and fishing excursions, he did this every day, every weekend, on holidays and even on his birthday. That author was Ernest Hemingway, considered one of the most prolific writers of all time. His books are legendary: Old Man and the Sea, Farewell to Arms, A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls are perennial classics that fill libraries and bookcases around the world.

His three hour a day writing habit doesn’t seem that extraordinary. In fact, many reading this probably work far more than three hours a day. Yet, that one small daily habit, performed relentlessly over the course of Hemingway’s lifetime transformed him from ordinary to extraordinary.

That is the power of habits. Just one good habit can transform your life. It can take you from ordinary to extraordinary. And the beauty of habits is that they are not work. They do not require some exceptional discipline or unimaginable willpower to force their engagement. Because they’re habits, you just do them, without thought, every day.

Success is a process. And by developing a few good habits, it’s a process that doesn’t have to be excruciatingly hard. Habits put success on autopilot. They make success easy.

 

Fitting in Leads to Mediocrity

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“You can change the world or you can worry about fitting in, but you can’t do both.” – Robin Sharma

There is nothing special to be gained by fitting in. Those who seek to fit in, rise and fall along with their particular herd.

If you study millionaires and billionaires as I do, you’d find that the one common characteristic they all seem to share is a desire to do something that separates themselves from everyone else. They seek to differentiate themselves from others in some way.

It might be doing something unique in their field – developing a niche. It might be pushing the envelope in their careers by taking on higher-risk responsibilities or projects. Or it might be learning a new skill that can help them become more valuable down the road.

Successful people fight the urge to fit in. Fitting in will only make you as successful as the person standing next to you, doing the same thing. Those who excel in life take paths that others won’t take. They take risks others avoid. They do things others are not doing that enable them to grow their knowledge and improve their skills.

Those who refuse to fit in, change the world. Be different. Don’t be like everyone else. Being like everyone else will only lead to mediocrity.