Not knowing enough: how to take action on limited information

Is information ever too much?

Imagine this: you have to change a lightbulb, and you have no idea how.

You type “how to change a lightbulb” into Google.
You read one (let me guess, wikihow?), then you do it.
You turn the light off, and as soon as you start unscrewing the bulb, you notice that…the replacement bulb doesn’t look the same. Back to Google. Ah. It’s a whatever-type-you-have-in-your-house bulb. Back to practice.
Eventually, you change your lightbulb, flip the switch and…voilà. Let there be light.

Now, there were two key parts to that story.
First, our imaginary you looked for information. How to.
Then, ‘you’ used that information and learnt that…there was more that‘you’ needed to know.
A case of not knowing what you don’t know.
So back to more information, this time more specific. What type.
Then, our imaginary you went back to applying that information.
Information + execution = light bulb moment. (Some times literally, other times figuratively.)

too-much-information

You can apply this formula to anything.

Simple?
Maybe, but when things get more difficult than changing a light bulb when tend to drift away.
Instead of matching information with action, we look for more information. We try to prevent any future challenges, without really knowing what those challenges could be.
It’s like painting a patchy wall in the dark.
Not only we fail to turn information into experience, this search for more information doesn’t let us fully engage with what’s already in front of us. Like a serial dater with commitment issues, our eyes stare at a page, but our mind is already thinking about what’s next.

There’s so much to be known, no time is left for execution.

A game you’ve lost from the start

Whether it’s music, articles, podcasts, books, audiobooks, films, social media updates and texts from friends, there is more information you’ll ever be able to consume.
Literally.
1.97 million blog posts written every day.
6,000 tweets a second.
95 million Instagram photos a day.
Over 100,000 music albums a year. And counting (that was a few years ago).
Around 1,000,000 books published each year.

The conclusion?
It’s impossible to keep up. If you’re looking to reach 100% knowledge, good luck.

You will alway feel like you’re missing a piece of information, and that’s part of the game.
Take action instead.

The only alternative is to get lost in quantity over quality. To spread yourself thin over lots of theory without even engaging, knowing that you won’t take action anyway. To keep looking for the golden nugget but refuse to reach for it when you see it. Because that’s when the real work starts.

How to find your light bulb moment

A couple of times a year, I do an information purge.
I list the blogs that I follow. The podcasts I listen to. The people I look up to. The kind of books that I read. Even the people I hang out with or follow on social media.

Then I ask myself “is this relevant to my current focus? is it supporting the person I want to be?”

This is fundamental to differentiate between just in case information and just in time information: the former supports my actions and progress, the latter just throws a complicated spanner in the works.

This time, I took it a bit further.
I decided that for the next 3 month I will only read books I already read. This way, I’ll know I’ll be reading a great book, I’ll get fresh insights from a new point of view, and I’ll be able to apply the lessons that escaped me the first time around.
I’m giving myself more room to take action and get real insights.

It doesn’t just apply to books. Articles I saved, movies I enjoyed in the past but didn’t quite remember, courses that made a difference. That’s why they deserve more action.

Whatever your strategy, go ahead and do your information purge today.
Make sure you stop drowning in information, and give yourself enough time and headspace to take intentional action.

That’s how you turn information into transformation.

— Matt

PS: don’t know how to decide? Learn the dangers of saying ‘yes’ too lightly.

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Needy productivity: the cost of working on the wrong things

Productivity can be such a fuzzy word.
Most people associate it with doing more of what they already do, without ever questioning what that is in the first place.
No matter whether it’s an effective method, or even the right direction, just do more of it.
Cram your day with more work that has zero impact.

Instead of teaching how to run, traditional productivity advice just tells you to crawl faster.

I remember when I worked in a big corporate office. Productivity meant being the last to leave the office.
In the startup world, too often productivity means being the last to go to bed.
Other times, productivity is just saying yes and pleasing everyone.
In all these cases, productivity is just a fancy word to hide peacocky behaviour: spreading out drafts and showing off colourful spreadsheets to catch other’s approval.
It’s not productivity, it’s neediness.
It’s being seen as the hardest working.
It’s being accepted as a useful cog in the machine.

This kind of “productivity” focuses on perceived output, rather than…the actual output. Much to your health’s detriment, your perceived output is actually based on your input. So you’ll have to keep (appearing) doing more.

Needy productivity brings all sorts of dysfunctional behaviours.

Doing more vs doing the right thing

We all add a few extra todos to our list that have zero impact but take up all of our time.
Usually, it’s a fear response called procrastination.
Needy productivity goes one step further. It celebrates and rewards the very thing that procrastination is made of: useless work.

Doing more makes you feel good in the moment, like you matter.
Doing the right thing requires patience, like what you create matters.
Doing more is easy: all it takes is saying yes to anything.
Doing the right thing is hard: you must dance with your fears.

Crawling faster vs learning to run

The focus on doing more ignores an important tool in your arsenal: learning.
Taking time off to improve your processes and learn new skills is critical to doing better. It also allows you to be more efficient with your processes, and be enriched by external experiences.

Again, this requires long-term thinking. The trust that, if I invest time in myself, it will come back manyfold in the form of extra time and extra impact. It requires embracing your fears.

After all, would you rather be a slow runner or a faster crawler?

Quantity work vs quality work

Quantity work is the lovechild of the two points above.
When you don’t focus on doing what really matters but just doing more, and you don’t invest in your own skills, you are commoditising your output.

If you do what many others can do, the same way other do it, the only differentiation is the quantity of your output. Since we all have 24 hours a day, we all have the same, natural cap to how much we can produce per day. This means that, unless you have a time machine or a cloning lab, doing more is a losing strategy by definition.

Instead of creating something meaningful and learning unique skills, you max out your 24 hours, just like everyone else. Average strategy, average results.
Not only this translate in less meaningful work, it also has a monetary consequence: the more commoditised your output, the less you will be able to charge for it.

The paradox is that, by focusing on quantity, you’re actually putting a cap (24 hours) on your impact AND how much you can charge. It’s a losing strategy short and long term.

Productive productivity

The other day, I was having a chat with a friend.
Over the fizzy noise of sparkling water and the jazzy sound of music in the background, we ended up talking about…work that matters. (We are that cool).

Maybe it was all the bubbles in the water, but as soon as the word “productivity” was spoken, I had a sudden epiphany: the familiar bond with the word “product”, “to produce” echoed in my head like the sweet words of a nerdy angel.

Too often productivity is seen as “doing”, not producing.
As doing more, regardless of the output.
But the word is staring in our faces all along.
Produce. Make. Ship.

Real productivity is selfless: the focus shifts away from the maker and onto the creation.
We ask how much did I do?
How many hours did I work?
How long is my todo list?

Focus on the final product instead.

Not how much time you put in, but how much value you push out.
Not how long have you spent on it, but how much closer to completion your product is.
It’s not the quantity of your input, it’s the quality of your output.

Productivity is making, not doing.

– Matt

PS: stop sweating the small stuff by learning the ancient principle of sailing through life.

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Take action now: a simple way to stop over planning

Have you ever done so much planning that, instead of making things simpler and easier to action, you actually got lost?

(I know you have).

Don’t get me wrong. Planning is good.
Especially if you want to achieve something specific, mapping out how to get there is important.
But at some point, too much planning gets in the way. Instead of sticking to your goal, you start sticking to the plan.
Over-planning is a great way to sabotage your efforts and not have to deal with those scary unknown changes that…taking action would actually bring.

I’ve done it too.

When I first started this blog, I created a 4-tab spreadsheet that told me exactly how I was going to grow its traffic over the next year. It was really, really detailed. In fact, you could say it was nearly a piece of art.
It was definitely a Picasso though. The plan was way too complicated. I added tons of variables and different milestones, without actually knowing what I was talking about: I had never done it before!

Say it with me: “Planning is good. Over planning is bad.”

So let me introduce the other end of the spectrum: not planning at all.
This is the usual playbook: 1) set a goal, 2) take (random) action, 3) see no results, 4) give up. Repeat.

Again, this is a great way to sabotage your efforts and not having to deal with scary unknown changes. It’s also pretty frustrating.

Classic examples are: dieting, language-learning, going back to the gym…you’ve seen before.

This approach ignores all obstacles ahead, while also giving you zero tools to be able to see any result. It confuses movement for action. Just like you won’t learn to swim by adding another column to your spreadsheet, you also won’t learn to swim by jumping in a pool blindfolded.

stop over planning

Enter Winning Actions.

How to start taking action

Whether you want to meet more people or how to speak a new language, big objectives are not going to happen overnight.
The challenge is that, even if your goal is super clear, it can feel pretty daunting to decide what to work on each day. Especially if this is the first time you work towards a particular something.

If goals and milestones are a metric for progress, Winning Actions are a metric for movement (in the right direction).

Whether you set monthly, yearly, or longer goals, the only way to measure your progress is by looking back at what you’ve accomplished so far. Are you any closer?
This is important to learn and adjust, but it doesn’t help on a daily basis.

For example. Say that I wanted to “run 100 miles in a month”.
I can check in mid-month to see whether I’m any closer.
I can even do it weekly (or wait until the end of the month).
In the meantime, a big slice of the month has gone: what to do if you’re behind on your progress?

Winning Actions are simple, specific, and repeatable actions you can take towards each of your goals. They are not results, they are actions.

To run 100 miles a month, for example, your Winning Action could be a weekly “run 12 miles every Thursday and Sunday” or “Run 3.5 miles a day”.
Just by sticking to your actions, you will accomplish the final goal…automatically.

External variables (and examples)

Let’s make things more complicated and introduce an external variable: other people.
Certain goals depend on others’ behaviour, like increasing traffic, meeting new friends, finding more clients, getting comfortable with talking to men/women, you name it.
Here Winning Actions become even more valuable, as they allow you to isolate what you can control, and do more of it instead of waiting for someone else’s results.
The key here is to decide on an action which is completely under your control and adjust for external behaviour.

Let’s take a few examples.

Meet 2 new interesting people next month.

This is dependent on…people meeting you.

Once you have determined the best avenues to meet likeminded people you enjoy hanging out with, spot a single action you can take.
For example, it could be “reaching out for an introduction” whether this is a cold or warm intro. Then, set some assumptions, how many people do you need to contact to actually meet someone interesting? Let’s say it’s one person met every 5 reach outs.
2 people in a month = send 3 introductions a week.

Increase traffic to your website 30%.

This is dependent on…people visiting your website.

What has worked in bringing visitors so far? What can you do to maximise it?
At the end of last year, I noticed that I was getting a good portion of blog visitors from Quora. So I decided to increase my answers on Quora to one a day for a whole month.
The Winning Action was simple: write one Quora answer (daily).
Halfway through the month, I had accumulated enough data and experience to be able to improve my answer selection and the position of links back to the blog.
The result? I saw a spike in traffic that continued well beyond my month experiment.

Go on three dates next month.

This is dependent on…people wanting to go on a date with you.

The Tinder route. Let’s assume you’ve already optimised your profile and pictures. How many swipes does it usually take you to get a match? How many matches do you turn into a conversation? How many conversations into dates?
Let’s assume it’s 40 swipes (left or right), half turn into conversations, and a quarter of those turn into dates.
That will require 320 swipes for each date, or 32 a day to get your three dates.
I’m not a fan of Tinder: you can apply the same principles “offline”.

winning actions: take action now

So how to create your own Winning Actions?

Create your own

Here’s the step-by-step guide to setting your own Winning Actions, and make progress towards your goals every day (or every week).
You can also download the template to create your own actions here.

Step #1: Set a measurable goal

If you set a generic goal like “lose weight” or make more money, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Winning Actions won’t work because there is nothing to get you closer to.
Check out my guide to SMART goals here, and make sure you set objectives that are measurable.

Step #2: Brainstorm actions that would get you closer

Ok, now that you have your goal clear, jot down a list of actions that would take you closer to it.
No rules here, just write down as many as you can.

Step #3: Select an action that is 100% under your control

Take the list from the previous step, and cross off everything that requires external input.
For example “meet 2 new people for coffee every week” isn’t totally under your control. “Email 2 people a week to grab coffee together” is.

Step #4: Create assumptions and calculate frequency

How often do you need to take your Winning Action to get the result you want?
Multiply your action by that factor, then spread it over time. Make sure you make your Winning Action daily or weekly, otherwise it won’t work (you’ll procrastinate).

Step #5: Keep track of your actions

Keeping track of your actions has many benefits:
– Have a special ritual for your actions
– Create a visual chain of actions taken, which will be difficult to break: you’ll keep the streak going.
– Share your actions and results with someone else for extra accountability.
– Give you data to look back and learn how to improve your tactics.
(You can grab the free template here.)

Once you have enough data, you can then compare your actions with the results you got: that way, you’ll be combining your metrics for movement (Winning Actions) with your metrics for progress (milestones and goals), so that you can adjust the effectiveness of your actions.
It’s important you don’t tweak your actions too regularly: wait until you have some actual data to base your decision upon and learn.

Winning Actions for teams

You can use Winning Actions to learn a language, cook at home regularly, find new clients, …you name it.

It’s also a great tool for team goals and team communication.

In fact, if you already have yearly goals or quarterly goals for the whole team and sub teams, it’s time to set some shared Winning Actions. When I say shared, I mean they should be individual but visible to the whole team, and working towards a common aim.
Remember rule #3: they need to be 100% under one person’s control. So what is one action each team member should take every week, that would inevitably get you closer to your shared goals?

Go through the step above and start setting some. Make sure you don’t overdo it: start from one action per team member.

Take action with your team

Next, use the template (it also has a team tab for you to use) and create a shared spreadsheet. Create a regular follow up every week to check in on the team’s Winning Actions, and help each other keep the streak alive.

What next

Whether you want to use Winning Actions for yourself or your team, it’s your turn.
Make sure you follow the 5 steps, and create your own. Remember: start small, keep the streak alive, and use data to learn every month or so. Take action now.

👋

– Matt

PS: enjoyed this post?
Check out this simple strategy to get unstuck when you really don’t know where to start.

Take action today.

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Overcoming procrastination: 6 common causes and 10 ways to stop

In Latin, the word for tomorrow is cras.
The combination of the prefix pro- (forward), and the suffix -crastinus (until the following day), make up our word procrastination.

Procrastination is the tendency to avoid taking meaningful action, usually way beyond “the following day”.

We all experience procrastination in some form.
Sometimes it’s particularly evident, like playing video games instead of working on a particular task.
Other times it’s much more sophisticated, like making over-complicated plans on how to tackle a particular task.
Don’t be fooled: inaction and unnecessary action are forms of procrastination, just under a different guise.

“Never confuse movement with action.”
— Ernest Hemingway

In this post, we look at the most common causes and forms of procrastination, and then list the most effective solutions to overcome and stop procrastination. (Click the links to navigate).
causes of procrastination

Causes of procrastination

What causes procrastination?
Hundreds of studies have been done on this phenomenon.
Here are the most common sources.

Past failures

Past attempts can set expectations for future ones.
If you’re working on something that…wasn’t very successful in the past, you likely have a negative association with actually completing what you’re working on. As long as you keep it “work in progress”, you’re in a safe place away from further failures.

For example, this could be…a bad experience giving a talk or sharing a presentation in the past. The longer you can drag preparing the new presentation, the longer you can avoid facing that fear.

Bad past experiences also set low expectations (“it won’t work anyway”), which can be pretty demotivating.

Poor focus and bad habits

Your ability to concentrate and give your attention to one thing at a time for…a sustained period of time it’s something we train through our everyday choices.
However, in today’s world most people train themselves to have very poor mental performance, accepting interruptions and doing multiple things at once.

This is a recipe for disaster. Studies have conclusively shown how multitasking is a lie: the brain keeps switching between tasks, losing power and effectiveness in the meantime.
By accepting distractions in your life, you are actually training yourself to have a world-class short attention span.

Unsupportive peer group

As the saying goes, “hang around four serial procrastinators, and you’ll become the fifth”.
Yes, I just made that up.

But the people around you have a massive impact on the standard you expect of yourself.
They will show you what’s possible and what’s acceptable.
Not only that: the wrong people will actually want you to get as little done as possible, just so they don’t have to question their own performance and feel bad.

Unclear goals

Having unclear goals like “change” or “…not my current situation” or “lose some weight”, are very difficult to be motivated towards, and are also…difficult to start.
Make sure you set clear long and short-term goals, and make them actionable.
You can start from here.

Unactionable goals

Big goals are great, but unless you break them down into milestones, they can be incredibly daunting. This can make you feel so far away from your destination, unable to take action: not only you don’t know where to start from, but the outcome feels so big and distant that we tend to overestimate the chances of failure and…decide not to do anything instead.
Make sure you break your goals down, then celebrate your achievements to keep momentum up.

Low energy levels

Having low energy levels doesn’t help when it comes to taking action.
Feeling sluggish can be due to a variety of factors, the most likely ones being…your nutrition, your fitness levels, and…your sleep.

If you feel sluggish, check your sleep first thing.
Sleep deprivation reduces your mental performance, your body’s ability to recover, and causes an overall reduction of glucose going to the pre-frontal cortex and parietal lobe. In other words, you become more emotional and less capable of rational thinking. Being less effective means that you need more time to get things done, and take even more time away from sleep.
This starts a (very) negative sleepless warp.

Taking a nap and giving yourself permission to sleep is totally cool, and it will help you work on what really matters.

Ultimately, procrastination is a form of fear.
Whether you are afraid of taking action and failing, or taking action and succeeding (and therefore having to deal with change, new unknown problems, but also with the possibility to lose what you have worked hard for), fear is fastening you to your current situation.

This isn’t bad news. It’s good news. Fear tells you what’s important to you.
Important enough for your emotions to be stirred up. It’s a compass for what matters.

Fear is good. It’s avoiding that fear that causes problems.

So how can you identify fear and…face it instead of avoiding it?
Here are the most common flavours of procrastination.

procrastination over time

Different ways to procrastinate

Sometimes, procrastination can be tricky because…it hides behinds a useful-looking activity.

Sometimes it’s planning, other times it’s quitting. It can even be…taking unnecessary action.
Sure, a few times these are actions are actually good and positive signals: it’s up to you to become a productivity samurai and recognise the difference.
But when in doubt, let me tell you…you’re procrastinating.

Here’s a list of the classic forms of putting off taking action, so you will never be fooled again.

Postponing things

This is the most common and expected form of procrastination.
“I’ll do it later…”, “I have a lot on…”, “One day…”
These are all forms of procrastination we expect.
Instead of taking action now, however small, we postpone it to a later, undefined time.

At least this one is honest and transparent.

Working around things

This is a trickier manifestation of delaying things.
Instead of working on things, we work around things. Usually, this happens in one of two ways: overplanning and prepping other things that “somehow” will make the main thing easier.

Overplanning is a classic. Spend hours or days creating and action plan. Then tweak it. At the end, it’s so perfect it has become a piece of abstract art: a beautiful but only symbolic representation of reality.

Overprepping is another one. Working on lots of small things that will eventually make working on the main task easier.

Doing small tasks first is another shade of this: wasting time on safe, insignificant wins, so you don’t have to take any risks, nor make any actual progress. For example…starting from replying to all emails, when what you really needed to do was writing that big presentation.

Leaving things unfinished

Never finishing things and putting things on pause is often a way to…avoiding problems (like a big deadline looming) and dodge responsibility. For now.
At least you got started.

Starting tons of things at once

Another sophisticated form of procrastination is…starting tons of projects at once.
This is just a way to stay in your comfort zone and ultimately…sabotage your efforts. Instead of pushing through your “comfort ceiling” and grow (by making mistakes), you start another task or another project. Because you start from scratch, you can remain comfortable and go through the same initial phases you have learnt to deal with in your previous endeavours.

Usually, the old project is used to justify the new one.
“Doing this first will make it easier” or “I put the other on pause for now, it just made sense.”.

External blame

Looking for external excuses (“there are no x available” is a classic one.) is a great way to put off taking action. Instead of accepting what’s not in your control and changing your action plan to influence what you can control, blaming circumstances is a great way to delay having to take things into your own hands.

overcoming procrastination

Overcoming procrastination

So what is the antidote to stop procrastination?
First of all, it’s important to set expectations: things won’t change overnight.

I like to say we’re always training.
If you’ve been training to accept procrastination for years, you’ve likely become a world champion.
The good news is that you can change your performance by changing your standards, but it will take time and disciplined training to become a master anti-procrastinator. Here are 10 tools and practices you can use from today to step up your concentration game and get stuff done fast.

I have listed these in order of mastery: start from the top ones, and make your way down. As you become better and more focused, these will help you to keep stepping up your game.
No more letting fear make you run around in circles.

Reduce distractions

The first step is to reduce external distractions.
From intrusive people to pinging apps, make sure your environment does not provide you with excuses to postpone action until…later.

You can detox your phone from distracting apps and notifications by following this step-by-step guide.
Setting expectations by letting other people know you are going to immerse yourself into deep work will also help you prevent interruptions.

Have a dedicated space

The name of the game is to eliminate distractions instead of avoiding them.
Avoiding distractions is…a distraction. And distractions eat away at your willpower.

Don’t work or study where you play or sleep. That will ruin both.
Instead, have a dedicated space for doing your best work and taking action. For example, I love to write from a certain bar. I only go there to write. Nothing else.
Equally, I have a no-laptop-in-my-bedroom policy, which makes sure I get the best sleep and…I don’t procrastinate when it’s time to get some rest.
Avoiding distractions is…a distraction. Click To Tweet

Pomodoro technique

I wrote a guide to using the pomodoro technique to train your focus: you can find it here.
Essentially, using a timer to force yourself to concentrate on one task at a time (after having eliminated all distractions) is a great training ground to improve your concentration. Read the full guide.

Get enough sleep

Making sure you get enough sleep, and enough quality sleep, will make sure your mind is sharp, and perform at your highest level.
Tiredness and sleep deprivation result in slower execution, a 12-14% reduction in the amount of glucose transported to the most rational region of your brain, and a decrease in short-term memory and reaction time comparable to that of having drunk over the legal limit for driving.

Getting enough sleep will make sure you are more effective and faster, supporting the quality as well as the quantity of your output. Sleep also helps replenish your willpower, making sure you can overcome the temptation to “do something else” and choose the right thing to work on.

Create a supportive peer group

We like to lie to ourselves and pretend we’re immune to the environment around us. But, just like where we work has an impact on our performance, so does who we have around.
In fact, the people you surround yourself with set the example you will follow. They set the standard you will expect of yourself. They judge your performance. They even impact your own biochemistry.

Procrastinating friends will actually be invested in your worst performance, just so they don’t have to question their own poor performance. Make sure you have the right people around you to support your positive efforts, rather than entertain your hesitations.

Set simple metrics and milestones

Instead of creating over-complicated plans, set some simple milestones and metrics to measure your progress. This will also help you break down scary goals into smaller, defined steps.

For example, if you want to read 24 books in a year, break that down into…one book every 15 days. 16 pages a day. 6 books a quarter. Much more manageable, and…measurable, so you can adjust on the way.

Set winning actions

As well as having checkpoints and metrics, it’s important to set daily actions.
I call these Winning Actions (read the full guide here): small actions you can take every day to make sure you make progress on your goal without having to think about what to do.
These are forward-looking metrics, keeping up your momentum and propelling you forward before it’s too late.

Accountability partner

Having an accountability partner is the ultimate peer group hack (provided you find the right person to match your drive). Being able to share your goals with someone else, regularly check-in on each other’s progress, but also see that you’re not the only one working hard to achieve your personal objectives, makes such a difference.

First, you’re guilt-tripping each other into taking action, then you’re sharing the results and celebrations.
Click here to read more about finding your accountability partner.

Set stakes

Having something to lose is generally much more motivating than having something to gain.
We value more what we already have than what we might have.

Setting stakes uses this principle to spur you to take action.
To do this effectively, it’s much better to do it with someone else. You could decide that, if you don’t do something by a certain date, you’ll have to go without your phone for a week. Or you’ll have to buy an Amazon voucher for someone else.
Bonus points if it’s someone you would never want to give anything to.

Find a coach

This is the ultimate procrastination hack.
Having the right coach gives you extra commitment to your own goals, as well as having someone who keeps an eye on your short-term actions and long-term goals, every week.
You also access the insight and lessons learnt by someone else and…the other people they work with, accelerating your own growth and progress.

I am lucky to work as a coach with a few high-performance individuals, to push their expectations and keep their actions aligned towards a clear direction. (It’s awesome.)

What now

Ok. That was a long list. Well done on reading till the end without postponing. Or delaying.
Now that you know how procrastination manifests, what causes it, and what to do about it, you have no excuses. Let me be clear: you will still catch yourself procrastinating, and as you do, you’ll find more and more sophisticated ways to delay taking real action.

But now you can recognise real action from movement, and do something about it.

– Matt

PS: enjoyed this post?
Check out my favourite two questions to help you choose what to work on.



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Is time management a waste of time?

We have an odd relationship with the concept of time.

“How do you find the time to do x?”
is one of the most deceiving and disempowering questions ever.

We all have 24 hours a day.
No exception.

Time cannot be found, yet that very expression encloses the widespread expectation that time isn’t here yet. That we are still missing something.
That there is a golden pot at the end of the pendulum.

Future expectations forsake the present, until we’re forced to look back and regret the past.
This is the most stressful form of time-travelling.

Like a horse wearing blinkers, we focus on what’s ahead, when the golden pot is sitting next to us the whole time.

Future expectations forsake the present, until we're forced to look back and regret the past. Click To Tweet

Time is actually simple.

Every day, we move through space in 3 dimensions.
Walk to work, extend your arm forward, nip to your favourite coffee shop, lean to your right while you wait, go for a jog along the river. You know what I’m talking about: moving.

We also move through time.
The difference is – we have no control over speed and direction.
In other words, we can only move forward, and only at a constant speed of…1 minute per minute.

time management is a waste of time

The doodle is actually 2D.
We move through space in 3 dimensions (using some combination of left-right; up-down; front-back).

Time management: a collective delusion?

Time cannot be lost or found, nor stored up.

From President Trump to the Uber driver you spoke to last week, from the person sitting next to you right now to Usain Bolt, (passing by you and me), we all have 24 hours a day.

Here are the biggest time lies.

Managing time

Time management implies you are in charge of time. This sets your up for disappointment.
Time moves, whatever you do (or don’t do), at a constant speed.

What you can actually do, is manage yourself in relation to time. More on this below.

Finding time and losing time

If anyone ever succeeded in finding time, please let me know.
If anyone has ever lost any time, also kindly let me know.
Like a banknote forgotten inside the pocket of an old coat, I’d like to find it (and keep it).

Wait, would that be a waste of time?

Wasting time and using time

These two are spin-offs of time management.
Let me be clear: you cannot stop time. What you do with your present moment, is up to you.

Sure, waiting for the bus or for someone who’s late may feel like “a waste of time”, but only if you forget to experience that time. The feeling of wasting time comes from your expectation of reality following the plans you made up in your head.
What if that wait was a gift? What can you experience instead?

Making time

Email me, I’d like to buy some freshly made time from you.

Spending time

…as opposed to saving up time?

I don’t have time

This is a case of poor priorities, masked as an external problem. 24 hours, remember?

This matters, because the ways you talk and think about time determine your expectations and attitude towards it.

If you are convinced you can manage time, you condemn yourself to daily frustration and guilt. When there’s nothing you could have managed in the first place.
If you tell yourself (and others around you) you still need to find the time, you subscribe to a lifetime of helpless procrastination.

Sure, you can still use some of these expression out of social convention – just don’t believe a word you’re saying. When you’re honest with yourself about your powers and your limitations, that’s when you can take responsibility and move forward.

If time management is a collective delusion, what can we actually do?

Time strategies

I want to propose a different view.
Time isn’t found or lost. It isn’t used or wasted.
Time is experienced.

I don’t mean you should let go of future plans, big objectives, and a general direction. Blasphemy.
I don’t mean you should indulge in the present, letting go of the direction given by the future and the lessons provided by the past.

What I propose is a shift of focus.

Rather than obsessing about the quantity of time, obsess about the quality of time.
How do you experience it?

Rather than focusing on managing time, focus on managing your choices.
What do you choose to do? What do you choose not to do?

The future is shaped by your present action.
The past is given purpose by your present reaction.

The only way to manage time is to manage yourself in relation to time.

What you choose to include and what you choose to left out is equally important.

The only way to manage time is to manage yourself in relation to time. Click To Tweet

Over time, your present choices will add up.

Like the most beautiful natural formations are the result of daily erosions and constant small shift, so your present actions will add up over time and create impressive results.
Consistency and patience is key.

So take the long-term view.

You have 24 hours a day.
So don’t focus on hours. Focus on days. Focus on weeks. Focus on months.
Show up, and manage your choices.

The only time management is actually a time strategy.

What will you choose? What will you leave out?

– Matt

PS: check out my favourite two questions to help you choose what to work on.


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The Art of Sailing through life: Wu Wei

There are three approaches to life.

Chances are, you’ve used all of them as some point.
But you probably have a dominant way of navigating through life.

But before we jump into it, I want to introduce you to the Phoenicians.

Facing the Mediterranean Sea, Phoenicia was a federation of coastal city-states located along the coast of today’s Syria, Lebanon, and northern Israel. Phoenician city-states began to form over 5,000 years ago and dominated the Mediterranean coasts for over a millennium, establishing trade routes and spreading new commercial tools (like the first widely-adopted alphabet).

I digress.

The Phoenicians moved from a few coastal cities, and settled across Mediterranean Europe and Africa, traded across the whole coast, and even reached the British Isles and West Africa.

Fast forward 1000 years, and another sea-faring civilisation expanded its horizon, settling over most of Northern Europe, Iceland, the British Isles, Normandy (in Northern France), the island of Sicily and the south of the Italian peninsula, and going as far as settling in Greenland and exploring what’s now North-East Canada: the Vikings.

One more?

Fast forward another 500 years or so, and we get to 1522, the year in which Ferdinand Magellan‘s expedition made the first voyage around the world, circumnavigating the whole globe. Boom. It was the so-called Age of Exploration, marking the beginning of modern globalisation (as well as mercantilism and colonialism).

There are more examples, such as the Ming dynasty in China, the Chola empire in India, and the Polynesians. What links these extraordinary leaps in civilisation and human history?

The Art of Sailing.

Three ways of navigating

Whether you’re exploring continents or moving through life, there are three ways to navigate your way: drifting, rowing, and sailing.

Drifting is easy. There are no skills required. Drifting is total passivity.
Lie down. Look up. Eventually, you’ll find yourself somewhere else. Or in the same place.

Because drifting is easy, it is hard.

At some point, you’ll either regret not taking the more difficult choices, or have to compensate with a sprint to sort things out. To finally move to a better landscape. To avoid a waterfall.

Then, you have to row.

Rowing is simple. It requires brute force. Rowing is forcefulness.
Set a destination. Get rowing. Or look at at the waterfall. Start rowing away from it.
Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a different place. Will you keep rowing?

Because rowing is simple, it’s exhausting.

At some point, you’ll want to stop and take a breath. Stop rowing against the current. Stop focusing on avoiding the waterfall. Finally enjoy the scenery.

Or you can sail.

Sailing is effortless. It requires harmony. Sailing is dancing.
Set a destination, and let the winds take you there. Go with the currents, not against them.
Move with the obstacle, not against the obstacle. Observe, then learn.
Eventually, you will get to your destination. You were there all along.

And you’ll know that the journey is the best part.

Effortless action (Wu Wei)

There are a time and a place for each style.
If you’re close to a waterfall, row. Get out of there.
If you need a nudge to get you in the right direction, row. Do it.

If you realise you’ve been rowing in the wrong direction, it’s ok to drift for a short while. Take a break.

But only sailing will take you to new horizons.
Only sailing will make you dance with the winds, not shiver.
Only sailing will let the currents help you, not fight you.

Wu Wei (无为), is a core concept in ancient Chinese philosophy.
Non (Wu) Forcing / Doing (Wei).

Action of non-action.

It sounds like a paradox, but it’s the art of aligning your actions with your environment.

It’s judo, not fist fighting.
It’s acceptance, not forcing.
It’s bigger picture, not short-term.
It’s dancing, not sprinting.
It’s talking, not picking up.
It’s appreciation, not expectation.
It’s enjoyment, not neediness.
It’s trust, not worry.

It’s sailing, not rowing.

— Matt

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Choosing friends: the 2.1 rule

How many times have you broken up with someone?
Or left a job? Or fired a flatmate?

These are awkward conversations. But they open a door to something better in the most important areas of your life.
So how come this doesn’t happen with friendships?

It’s rare to hear about friends “breaking up”.
When friendships don’t really work, they usually wither, are ghosted, or broken by events. They’re rarely stopped.
Usually, they coast along.

Levels of intensity

So, what triggers a break-up?
Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a client, or a flatmate, usually two things happen:

  • The level of pain we associate with continuing that particular relationship finally overtakes the pain we link to the actual break-up. The idea of not having that conversation becomes unbearable, and overtakes any fear of the change ahead.
  • Our expectations rise above the current situation. In other words, we feel like we’re missing out. Like quitting that job, firing that client, or quitting a relationship will actually make space for a better one.

choosing friendships

In short, the level of intensity of that connection is so strong, that we can’t bear coasting along.

Now, let’s go back to friendships.

The weight of friendships

Friends are probably the biggest influencing factor in your life: they form the largest part of your peer group, which we’re biologically wired to follow and conform to.
They show you what’s possible.
They set standards.
They set expectations.
They set boundaries.
They set rules and values.

Besides, friendships truly enrich our time.
They make us connected.
They make us stronger.
They show support and love.
They share a journey.

And yet, with such an important role, break-ups between friends are rare.

Most people feel a sense of obligation towards friendships.
Like they have to say yes. Like they have no saying in the matter. Like choosing friends isn’t an option.
The key here is to realise that cultural teachings and your own chemistry are taking over: back in the good old days, ‘choosing your tribe’ could cost your survival.
Once you understand you have the luxury to upgrade your friends, the next step is to realise that…if someone’s not right for you, you’re probably not right for them either. You’re following separant paths.

Let me be clear.

I’m not suggesting you turn your back on friends.
And I’m not saying your friends should all be the same either.
In fact, I am proud to be regularly in touch with friends that live in different countries, and to be surrounded by friends with different life experiences and ideas. They challenge my views and keep me growing, and make my life rich with their contribution.

Make sure your friendships add to your life rather than subtract, and that when you support a friend…they actually want to be helped. There are better and more meaningful ways to feel significant than martyrdom.

I call it the 2.1 rule.

The 2.1 rule

A couple of weeks ago, I was in London having dinner with a friend. While I was devouring the middle-easter starters, she told me about this friend who felt extremely drained every time she saw a particular person. Things were so extreme, a couple of times she even took medications to cope with the negative load.

“She needs to use the 2.1 rule” I said.

When you are on your own, what’s your base happiness and energy level? How do you feel when you’re in your own company?
That’s your baseline, 1.

Everyone’s baseline will be different, but it’s their 1.
Some people will be higher-energy, while others might have a low base happiness level when alone.

Together, if the sum of your friendship isn’t at least a solid 2, something isn’t working.
In the case of the person above, the sum was 0. She felt depleted every time she met with the other person.
Eventually, the level of pain and expectations will raise so much that she will break free of this negative connection.

The real danger are relationships that hover around or just above 1, because they make you settle: they’re not bad enough to trigger a break-up, so they coast along.

choosing friendships

As a mental exercise, I regularly check to make sure all my friendships are at least a 2.1. That is, the sum is greater than its parts, and we both become better people just from being friends, and the relationship itself is constantly strengthened.
That is a fantastic position to be in!

What to do next

It’s your turn to do a sanity check (and don’t lie to yourself) using the 2.1 rule.
Which relationships are holding you back and draining you? Which ones are just coasting along the way?

What to do next is simple.

Just spend less time on those relationships. Say no to that extra pizza night. Use the extra time on growing the most positive relationships.
If you don’t have any, meet-ups and social media are a great place to start finding interesting people in your city. Once you know one (or a few), it’ll be easy to introduce each other to more positive connections, and grow them into friendships.

Just don’t settle for 1.1. Or 0.9.

– Matt



Feeling stuck? Shift your focus, get unstuck.

When Police officers train for performance driving, they’re taught one simple principle.

When you’re speeding to an emergency or pursuing a suspect, anything can happen in the blink of an eye. If you lose control of your vehicle, you know to know how to get out of a tough situation, or you’ll crash.

The principle is simple, yet counterintuitive.
Focus on where you want to go, not on what you want to avoid.

Here’s a passage from a Police and Pursuit Driving manual:

“The key to performance driving is to look where you want to go. Don’t look at the obstacle or you will certainly drive right into it.”

Crashing into the wall daily

Have you ever felt so stuck and overwhelmed by your present situation, that you just couldn’t take action to make the future any better? Likely, you were focused on the obstacle.

When it comes to making change happen, we often get the formula the wrong way around: we think short term and we act long term.

We think about how to get to the end of the day, how to survive the week, and rarely look beyond that point.
We give 99% of our focus to what we want to get away from, and have nothing left for what we want to get closer to.

But here’s catch 22: by giving all your attention to the problem, you move towards it, rather than away from it.

Short-term thinking usually comes in pair with sporadic action happening in bursts. Instead of taking small action daily, we wait until a moment when we can take big action. In the end, we settle for the occasional space between a commitment and a firefighting, and use that to take some action.

This accomplishes nothing other than to make you feel even more guilty. You don’t make any progress, but you don’t let go either.

Feeling stuck? Switch your strategy

To get out of a rut, change your strategy: think long term, act short term.
think long term to get unstuck

Long term thinking…

Instead of focusing on what you want to get away from, focus on what you want to get closer to.

I learnt this the hard way.

Years ago, I spent months in a job that made me unhappy and unfulfilled. On some days, I’d have difficulties breathing. That’s how stifling it felt.
Things changed, and I decided to move on, once I switched my thinking onto what I wanted to create, rather than what I wanted to abandon.

The same happened with my fitness. I spent over a year wasting away, and not looking after myself. At the time, I hadn’t quite yet grasped the fact that nothing in life happens in isolation.
Getting my physical performance back boosted my relationships, mental sharpness, energy levels, clarity, which in turn all supported my physical fitness.
For months, I had focused on “I want to be less skinny”. Nothing changed.
Until one day, I browsed Pinterest and found a picture of what I wanted my body to look like.
Then I decided I wanted to be able to do handstands within 6 months. At that point, I knew.
Rather than hopelessly drifting away from what I didn’t like, I had a clear direction for my future.
In 10 weeks, I put on 5Kg (11Lb) of mass (having to eat that much isn’t something I wish onto anyone), and within 3 months I was able to hold a handstand.

Matt in Jordan

Whether it’s a relationship, fitness, your finances, work, skills, your own character and behaviour, or ANY change you want to create, focus on what you want things to be like, not what frustrates you.

This doesn’t mean ignoring your starting point and pretending things are different than they are.
That would be naive and get in the way of taking relevant action.
All you have to do is to shift your obsession. Instead of being obsessed with what you don’t want, become obsessed with your positive destination.

…short term action

Now that you’ve shifted your obsessive thinking, it’s time to take action and actually move closer to your destination.

Most often, our destination is so distant from the present, that we don’t know where to start from.
This is why I’m a big fan of monthly goals: once you know your long-term vision, how can you break it down and get closer every month?
Then closer to that every week. Then closer to that every day.

You see, it’s the domino effect.
A falling domino can knock down a block 1.5 times bigger than itself.

get unstuck with the domino effect

The key is constant progress, not odd bursts.

We often underestimate the impact of small action.
But, when taken daily, action compounds. Like a river eroding a gorge out of a rock, the effect will be very visible looking back.

Think long term, act short term. Click To Tweet

Your turn to get unstuck: take a pen and paper, think about the change you want to make happen, and then…write down exactly what they look now a year from now. Or five.
The longer your view, the more space you will give to your ambition.

– Matt



goal setting handbook

Availability Heuristics and Survivorship Bias: confusing visible for important

Why do flights seem scarier after the news of a plane crash?
Why do we get more cautious after we hear that a friend
…and why does starting a business seem easy?

Our brains tend to favour information that is easy to remember or carries a greater emotional weight.
This bias is called Availability Heuristics and is a common brain shortcut.
It may be effective at saving brainpower now, but it can turn into a costly irrational mistake.

Let’s explore it together.

Everyday Availability Bias

Look around you. What do you see?
Chances are, the scene around you is full of details.
People, conversations, colours, textures, movements, objects, smells, pathways, temperature, air pressure, noises, lighting…even if you’re staring at a blank wall, the richness of information is potentially overwhelming. And that’s just the room you’re in. Now.

Filtering and simplifying information prevents us from thought paralysis (and it’s also how the brain can work on “only” 300 calories a day).

Heuristics is just a fancy word for the simple rules the brain uses to constantly assess the situation around us. Availability Heuristics is one of the most common tools our brains use to evaluate our environment, quickly.

Essentially, information that is readily available carries more weight when evaluating the probability of something happening. Here’s what skews our judgement:

  • Ability to recall. How easy it easy to remember something.
  • Frequency and repetition. How much and how often we are exposed to something.
  • Emotional weight. The more graphic and emotionally intense an event or piece of information is, the more it will be given priority over the rest.

This built-in brain bias is a useful shortcut to make fast evaluations with limited information. However, because we tend to be unaware of it happening in the background we trust our perception blindly, turning a shortcut into a brainaccuracy *.

This has dangerous implications: whatever we are exposed to on a regular and intense basis, literally determines our perception and experience of reality.
This puts a lot of power over the quality of your life in the hands of the media and your peer group.

Your peer group (the group of people around you you actually listen to) determines your perception and sets your personal standards at a chemical level. They also decide which topics and point of views your conversations are going to focus on, shaping your reality through Availability Heuristics.

availability heuristics 2

The media, also has great influence over what information and viewpoints you’re exposed, deciding how often and at which intensity (often cranked up to capture your attention).
Like we will see in the next few examples, over time this shapes your perception of the world.
Whatever the media decides to focus on becomes the public’s concerns and priority, which in turn dictate governments’ agendas. Large scale brainaccuracies become reality.

availability heuristics 1

Examples and Studies

Crime rate: perception vs reality

Just before the last US election, 57% of voters said that crime had got worse since 2008.
When we zoom in on Trump voters specifically, that figure was 78%.
However, official government statistics paint a very different picture of reality, with violent crime falling by 19% and property crime falling by 23% between 2008 and 2015 (the most recent data yet available).

availability heuristics crime-rate

However, media coverage does not report the actual level of crime, but what’s “worth reporting on”.
2015 saw a minor blip in the overall downward trend (one of many), extensively documented episodes of violence happening in key cities like Chicago, and the Trump campaign repeating that crime is at a 45 year high triggered our good friend…Availability Heuristics.

Availability Heuristics

Personal safety and life decisions

Here’s a personal example.
On May 22nd, a terrorist attack happened in Manchester, not too far from where I live.
The next day, I had two conversations with people saying “I am considering moving abroad now”. Availability was skewing their perception of safety.
As distressing as that day was, you’re still twice as likely to die in an elevator than in a terrorist attack. When it comes to heart disease caused by poor diet and lifestyle, the odds of dying are over 100,000 times.
In fact, terror-related deaths in the UK in the past 17 years are at a record low: 36 times less than those between 1970 and 2000. A similar trend can be seen across the rest of Europe.

Gender balance

In a study, participants were read a list of personalities from both sexes.
Of the four possible lists, each included 39 names, read at a pace of one name every 2 sec.
Two of the lists included 19 names of famous women and 20 names of less famous men.
The two other lists consisted of 19 names of famous men and 20 names of less famous women.

The result?
More than 80% of participants erroneously judged the class consisting of the more famous names to be more frequent. Ability to recall and emotional weight skewed reality once again.

Everyday examples

More examples of Availability bias are: believing that divorces rates are going up after a few friends divorced; believing that shark attacks are deadlier than falling aeroplane parts; selling all stocks after a market crash; being worried about losing one’s job after seeing headlines of businesses closing down.
I’m sure you can add many more from your own experience.


Survivorship bias

Availability Heuristics gives birth to another dangerous brainaccuracy: Survivorship Bias.
This is the shortcuts to notice people or things that made it past a certain selection process, and ignore those that did not.

The classic example is business success.
Since successful companies get far greater exposure than those that do not succeed, information about successes is much more available and richer in detail. As a consequence, the perception of the difficulty of starting a business is heavily skewed, and often ignores and hides the very weak points that make most companies fold.

The same happens with famous entrepreneurs and personalities: from “Train like Andy Murray” to “Drop out of school like Steve Jobs”, survivorship bias ignores those that follows the same path but had opposite outcomes. It also assumes that these people succeeded because of a particular, decontextualised choice rather than in spite of it.

survivorship-bias

One of my favourite examples comes from the military.
During World War II, the Navy examined where US bombers were hit most often, in order to determine where to reinforce aircrafts and reduce losses. Initially, the initiative had little success.
Until the Navy realised that they were only assessing bombers that returned safely, ignoring those that were fatally hit.
The programme started to disregard the areas that were heavily hit, since the carriers were able to take damage in those points and still make it home, and started reinforcing the points that remained unscathed on surviving planes.

Through Availability Heuristics, Survivorship Bias makes it easy to misestimate the likelihood of something succeeding, and may actually hide the steps necessary for it to happen.

Now you know

Although the true probability of something happening is unknowable (especially in real time), being aware of what goes on in the background will help you balance Availability Heuristics and make better decisions every day.

In the next post, we are going to talk about why shortcuts and brainaccuracies are a thing in the first place.

— Matt

Now check out what’s the worst time of the day to make a good decision.

*Yes, I made the word ‘Brainaccuracy’ up (and now it’s miiine).



Learn to say NO to say YES

How good are you at saying NO on a scale from 1 to 5?

If 1 was a total people pleaser, unable to let go of the smallest opportunity (even when it’s not that interesting), and 5 was a laser-focused NO-ninja, ready to say no to protect a greater vision, what would your dial look like?no-ninja

Whether it’s to a person, to a skill, to an experience, or to an opportunity, saying no isn’t easy.
Will this opportunity ever come again?
Will the other person take offence?

Because we decide not to travel a certain road, we will rarely (if ever) be able to see what was waiting on the other end. Saying NO is a decision that never shows a clear outcome, unless we make one up.

To complicate things as usual, in come all sorts of cognitive biases to cloud our judgement.

Fear of Missing Out is the fear of having made the wrong decisions on how to spend time, and typically manifests in constantly contemplating how things could be different, and a need to stay connected with other people’s activities. Though the person doesn’t commit to a single decision, it can vicariously “access” several scenarios through other people’s experiences. It’s the ultimate yes-hemorrhage.

Loss Aversion is the tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equal gains: in other words, we cling to what we already have more than to what we want to have. It’s better not to lose $5, than to gain $5.
Saying NO closes an opportunity window you already have. No matter whether you would have sought that opportunity out in the first place, loss aversion will make it difficult for you to let go.

…finally, our good friend Decision Fatigue joins the group, making our ability to say NO dependent on our energy and what particular time of the day we have to make a decision.

Focus on a higher purpose

NO is the friend of focus.
NO is the friend of results.
NO is the friend of purpose.

Whenever you align your decisions towards a higher purpose, whether it’s a big personal change, helping someone else, or completing your personal mission; NO becomes easy.

It becomes your shield to fend off distractions on your way to your greater goal.

Better relationships, health, learning, personal growth, excellent work, tripling your output, all require laser focus. Which is a synonym for NO.

Set a clear vision of where you want your life to go, and then use NO to make it happen.

'NO' is a shield to protect the 'YES' that really matter. Click To Tweet

Don’t underestimate impact

Sometimes, it’s tempting to take a lot on.
Why not learning three languages instead of one?
Or start writing AND playing guitar. You just can’t help it.
Or take on as many business projects as you can so…at least one will succeed. Right?

Errr. 🚨

Having a clear vision of the future will allow you to identify which possibilities actually align with your purpose. And say NO to everything else.

Whatever’s left, prioritise you must.

You see, you don’t have to do everything today.
Seneca said it best, in 49 AD:

“Life is long, if you know how to use it.” — Seneca

What commitment will have the greatest impact on everything else?
Often, we look at the future without imagining it. We forget that circumstances will change as a result of our present decisions.
Find the commitment that will impact every other sphere, making it easier to take on the next challenge.
Whether it unlocks time, relationships, or resources, be strategic with your YESes, and you will make progress on everything else, automatically.

Fear opening another door

Whenever I catch myself being lavish with my ‘yeses’, I do a fear check.
Usually, it’s one of two fears that turns the yes tap on.

Fear of rejection

Fear of rejection is one of the deepest human fears, as we are biologically wired to seek belonging to our peer group.
The inability to say NO is often triggered by the fear of being judged and excluded by others.
Or a projection of the fear on the other person. That is, if you are particularly sensitive to being rejected, saying NO to other people and commitments will make you empathise with that same uncomfortable feeling. So you won’t do it. (That’s how a people pleaser is born).

learn to say no - rejection

Fear of change

Fear of change is a feeling of anxiety about the unknown.
It’s clinging to certainty, to what we already know, no matter how negative or boring it may be. It’s the root of self-sabotage.
Opening many doors and taking on new commitments all the time is a classic manifestation of this.
Whenever your reach your comfort threshold in any given activity, instead of grinding your teeth and pushing through to the next level…you can just take on a new commitment and start from scratch, so you’ll stay in the comfort zone. Easy right?

say-no-comfort-zone

Fear of change is really a form of fear of failure, which is ultimately…(you guessed it) fear of rejection.

No in disguise

Whenever you say yes, you’re actually saying many nos.
Your time, energy, focus, resources, all have a limit.
Whenever you say yes, you become unable to say YES to something else. Therefore, at some point, you have to say no. Sometimes with words, other times with actions. Or inaction.
No. Even though it was more important. Even though it was aligned with your purpose. Even though it would have had a larger impact.

Don’t say yes. Say NO.

Saying NO is saying YES to what really matters to you.

Learn to say NO

To become a NO-ninja, you have to start small and train yourself to say NO.
One does not go from NO-apprentice to NO-sensei in a day.

Check in with yourself: is this aligned with my higher purpose?
Check in with yourself: am I being guided by fear?

NO is the friend of focus.

Remember that every yes is actually many nos, and that saying NO is saying YES to what really matters to you.

NO. The new YES?

— Matt