Our working memory can only process a small amount of information at a time. If we need someone to understand us, then we need to break down concepts, into easily digestible bits that will fit through the small-holed funnel that allows new information into our brain. If the receiver of the information is already familiar with the subject we are trying to explain, then they will be able to tap into their long-term memory to help them decipher what we are saying. Anything new, however, still has to go through that very small processor, called short-term memory. That’s why it’s important to selectively choose what we say, and prioritize the key concepts, over all that we could, or want to say. Focus on the quality of information over the quantity, and ensure it’s suitable for the listener’s level of understanding. Note how a ‘Ted Talk’ is only 18 minutes, purposefully kept short since the concept being explained is new to the audience. If it were longer, listeners would lose attention, and the message would be received in a fragmented way, instead of fully understood. Plus, associating the information with something that is already in the listener’s long-term memory will help, such as using a metaphor or an analogy. The long-term connection will act like a magnet and pull the new information through that processor funnel.
Take action: If explaining something new to someone, try breaking down the topic into chunks of information and only delivering what they need to know for the immediate future. You can always return to the subject once the first part has sunk into their long-term memory and they are ready to start processing again.
Inspired by Cliff Atkinson’s book, Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire.
It’s so easy to get caught up in tasks that we think we need to accomplish to reach goals, and make those actions our focus. We say things like, “I want to have $1 million, so I need to get a high paying job, work really hard, scrimp and save, and invest wisely.” Alternatively, consider the mindset of someone who says, “I want to be wealthy, so that I can feel secure, take care of my family, experience the world through travel, and control my own work schedule.” Focusing on ‘what to do’ is not so inspiring; in fact it sounds somewhat dreadful. The latter focus, ‘who we want to be’, evokes more positive emotion, and is open to many different ways to achieve it. Having an image of our ideal self as our objective, will be far more meaningful than just a set of tasks, and will help keep us motivated to become it. If we focus first on, ‘who we want to be’ and set that belief as our goal, we can then start to figure out the “why” part of it, and use that as inspiration as we do what’s required to get there. Otherwise, we’ll limit ourselves to one path when there are actually many possibilities.
Take action: Start with an easy aspect of who you want to become. Let’s say you want to be a good friend to someone you care about. It will make you feel upstanding by being caring and supportive. Then think about how to achieve that, there are lots of ways. Do not limit yourself by setting a path for the “how” first, nor by getting stuck on set tasks. If one action doesn’t work out, find another that is also in line with being a good friend.
Inspired by Sonia Ricotti’s webinar, The Six-Step Simple Formula to Remove Your Hidden Money Blocks and Quickly Manifest Great Financial Abundance into Your Life!
There are no 100% true facts; there’s always an alternative possibility. There’s a factor of uncertainty that comes with all knowledge, even if it’s a very small component, and it’s that possibility that keeps scientists forever questioning an exploring. Instead of knowing something to be true, scientists and experts often refer to a very high level of probability. Uncertainty means that there is always a propensity to continue exploring, researching, experimenting and expanding our knowledge. We can learn a lot from these analytical principles, and apply it to our own lives. Just as social norms have grown past old “scientifically proven” facts –the world is flat, or the sun revolves around the earth – other social norms will in time, also be disproven. It’s not easy to differ in opinion from what’s common thought, but it’s important to continue to question the norm. It’s also very important to question what we are told if it doesn’t seem right to us, even if the so-called facts come from an authoritative figure. We need to challenge the status quo to progress, and sometimes to protect what’s important to us. Common thought often supports powerful groups with self-serving interests, cloaked as best for everyone. Dig deeper to find the probability level and trueness of so-called facts and explore alternative possibilities.
Take action: Don’t believe everything you hear, question the motives of the source of the information, and find out if there’s another point of view. Think for yourself, make your own decisions, and be like a child, continually asking, “Why?”.
Inspired by John Brockman, Khristine Huambo, and John Allen Nelson’s book, This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking
Habits, reps and sets, rituals – the things we do on a daily basis, are the actions that define who we are. These actions are so completely integrated into our lives that they become ubiquitous and are often overlooked. Or because they can be small, they seem insignificant. However, since we do them repetitively, they are central in shaping who we are, who we become, and our overall identity. For example, a health enthusiast’s morning routine may include gulping down a glass of water, grabbing some protein and doing some exercise. A family person might wake up snuggling with kids, and follow that with jumping on the bed or a pillow fight. A businessperson might grab a coffee, check the stock market and read the news. It’s these daily routines, not just in the morning but through the whole day, that add up to our identity. So who do we want to be? What characteristics do we want to use to describe ourselves? Once we determine that, we need to make sure that our rituals match our self-characterization, and ensure that what we do consistently, lines up with our values and goals. If who we want to become is really important to us, and we adjust aspects of our daily rituals to align with the attributes of our ideal self, we’ll eventually be that version of us.
Take action: In general, what is your daily routine? Write it down and compare it with others. Find people who you want to emulate and get familiar with their rituals. Even see if you can spend some time shadowing them, and then take the aspects that fit your ideal self, and adjust your habits to head in that direction.
Inspired by Tony Robbins video, New Year, New You (2017 Motivation).
“Like attracts like”, is a term used to describe “The Law of Attraction” and how energy moves between people, enhancing an existing state of mind in one person, by connecting it with others that are feeling similarly. Here’s a clear example of this energy enhancement that we can probably all relate to: Let’s say we’re at a live basketball game, instead of watching it on tv. It’s so much more exhilarating to be with a crowd, building up that energy together. We put out our own excitement and receive more excitement from others. Our internal energy is intensified by the energy of people around us. This same concept also works on a smaller, more remote scale. For instance, perhaps we’ve experienced thinking of someone, and suddenly they contact us. Or, we feared a situation and suddenly our fear manifests into reality. Our energy goes to where we focus, and our internal thoughts can be brought into existence through our subconscious, and by what we radiate. Some people say our energy vibrates on specific frequencies that can align with others’ frequency to make a match. We may not fully understand yet how this energy transfer happens, but knowing it exists means we should make it work in our favour. It’s worthwhile to pay attention to the kind of energy we are putting out, knowing that we will attract more of it.
Take action: Is your internal dialogue attracting what you want in life? Are you saying you feel tired, stressed and worried and thus attracting more of the same? Or, are you excited, appreciative, and confident, finding yourself surrounded by others who enhance what you want to feel? Choose what energy you want to attract, say it out loud, and let go of what you don’t want.
Inspired by Florence Scovel Shinn’s book, The Game of Life and How to Play it.
To a statistician, luck is merely a simplistic word people use when they should really be talking about probability. Chance is actually all about math, numbers and odds. Often probability feels like a strange series of coincidences because our brains are wired to recognize patterns: good/bad things happen in threes, our lucky number keeps appearing, superstition happens in sequence. These patterns stand out in our heads and can make us feel lucky or unlucky. Feeling lucky can be energizing, and that feeling can trigger action, but fortuity in itself is a matter of probability, not coincidence. Probability is about the odds of something happening. We can increase those odds by putting ourselves in select situations more often, with stronger, concentrated attempts. For example, we have better odds of getting the precise job we want, the more times we go after it, and the more prepared we are during those attempts. Our chance of accomplishment is increased by our selectiveness, number of tries, and quality level. However, keep in mind that the opposite is also true, our chance of nothing happening increases with the fewer number of tries. So we should choose carefully where we want our so-called “luck” to fall and then purposefully increase our odds of success for it.
Take action: Be aware of how often people talk about luck, coincidence or chance and start translating it into terms of probability and odds. This will start to shift your thinking from something you have no control over, to something you can greatly influence.
Inspired by David DiSalvo’s book, What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite.
Learning something new is hard and takes time and dedication; whether it be a new wellness habit, a baseball swing, or how to present well to a group. It’s tempting to compare ourselves to others who make it look easy, but we may only be seeing their polished abilities. We need to take into consideration what we haven’t witnessed – the hours and effort they’ve put into practicing and improving. This behind-the-scenes view is not commonly accessible, so many of us just ignore it and assume that others are just naturally good at things. But none of us are born an expert, we all have to put the work in. To learn a new skill, it helps to break it down into easy, manageable steps, and be patient with our selves. These stages should build on the previous and may require the help of an instructor, who can separate the process into learning blocks for us. Make the steps attainable with incremental measurements along the way. For instance, when learning a baseball swing, getting used to keeping our eye on the ball is a good first step. Once making consistent contact with the ball (the measurement), we can move on to learning to transfer our weight through our swing, while still consistently hitting the ball. Many experienced people who aren’t used to teaching, will call out multiple instructions all at once, so it’s important to plan out our learning steps before we get up to bat.
Take action: Take a learning goal you have, and mark on a calendar when you want to have accomplished each step towards it. Be sure to make the steps achievable and realistic so that the process is sustainable. Adjust the goal marker dates if a step is easier than expected, or takes longer to learn.
Inspired by Jenna Wolfe’s book, Thinner in 30: Small Changes that Add Up to Big Weight Loss in Just 30 Days.
How many times have we heard sayings such as, “You snooze, you loose,” “Early bird gets the worm,” and “Sleep is for wimps”? These ridiculous expressions are part of a societal pressure to attempt to be more productive, by cutting into our under appreciated sleep time. However, often the opposite is true and this sort of thinking can actually work against us. When we are sleep deprived, we make poor decisions, have less energy, and waste time on unimportant tasks. Yes, time management can be tricky, but it’s pointless to get on top of our time, if we ignore energy management, such as when a task takes longer than it should because we can’t focus, or when we keep stopping to snack for a sugar boost, or when we need to backtrack because we’ve forgotten something. This is how we could easily be losing an hour in our day that would have been better spent sleeping. Getting enough sleep is very difficult for many of us. Yet, figuring out how to make it happen is certainly a better solution than walking around like a zombie, in an effort to be further productive. We can definitely make a more positive impression, when we are fully awake at a few key events, than half asleep in a lot of places.
Take action: Make sleep a priority. Make it just as important as eating healthily and getting exercise. A simple web search will give you ways to help improve your sleep, but you first need to make the time for it to happen. Try scheduling it in by marking your calendar for starting your bedtime routine, or if possible, plan for a nap.
Inspired by Arianna Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time