What stories have you been telling yourself?
The story of “I’m too young,” “I’m too old,” “I’m uneducated,” or “I don’t have enough experience”? You will live whatever story you tell yourself, so make sure you’re telling yourself an inspiring one. Stories express meaning stronger than logical arguments and lawful formulations. Stories are the vehicles people use to give meaning to their experiences. And how you give meaning to or interpret your experiences will direct your life. No matter what you set out to do, achieving your goal will require stories. The key is to create positive and productive stories in line with your new direction in life. Your aim is to align your story with your priorities and purpose.
You will never fulfill a good purpose by living a bad story. Not only can you program your mind with a story—you can program someone else’s mind.
You will never fulfill a good purpose by living a bad story. Eventually, I recognized the bad stories playing in my head and decided to create a new story: “You are new and fresh to this field, which means you have more enthusiasm and can think outside the box more easily. Every question you don’t know the answer to is a chance to learn and enhance your expertise. You are already successful in this situation.
Not only can you program your mind with a story—you can program someone else’s mind. A study at Princeton University found that when two people communicate through storytelling, neural activity becomes almost synchronous: the listener’s brain activity mirrors that of the speaker’s brain with a one-second lag.11 Another study from the University of Missouri has shown that storytelling improves communication skills and prevents disease progression in patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Storytelling is also used as a form of psychotherapy called narrative therapy.13 It’s based on narrative psychology, a viewpoint asserting that human beings shape their lives with stories. Narrative therapists work with their patients to develop better stories. In this process, a narrative therapist asks a patient questions to generate vivid descriptions of the patient’s life events. The key is that the therapist will only ask questions that prompt positive descriptions not currently included in the plot of the patient’s problematic story. This process helps people increase happiness and improve self-confidence by giving them happier, more empowering stories to live out. Narrative therapy has been shown to effectively treat a variety of psychological disorders, including major depression and anorexia.
Achieve your biggest goals in life by being the hero of your story, not the spectator, loser, or victim. Instead of seeing yourself as a grunt struggling uphill against the world, start seeing yourself as an adventurer, teacher, and connector of ideas and people. Actively choose the stories influencing your life and be the hero.Be aware of what stories you identify with and how they may be influencing your own. If your story is not inspiring you, it’s time to change it.
Seize the pen. It’s time to get real. It’s time to write a new story for your life. This story will be something that generations of people will read and be inspired by. This story will be bold, strong, and meaningful. This is your story.
Before you begin, find a place where you can be completely alone. You need to be alone so you are not influenced by any feelings of guilt, insecurity, or embarrassment. Realize other people’s expectations can limit you mentally, even from a distance. When you are ready, start reflecting on the times in your life when you felt the most inspired.
Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives
Journaling is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to discover new truths. By getting your thoughts out of your head and putting them down in writing, you’ll gain insights you’d otherwise miss. While some people use journaling merely to record their thoughts and experiences in a “Dear Diary” fashion, the real power of journaling lies in its ability to help you move beyond sequential thinking and examine your thoughts from a holistic, bird’s-eye view. Use this tool to solve tricky problems, brainstorm new ideas, bring clarity to fuzzy situations, and evaluate progress toward your goals. Instead of a mere record-keeping tool, your journal can vastly accelerate your personal development if you devote it to that purpose.
Many people use paper journals, others prefer a word processor, and some like special journaling software. I used paper journals for many years, but in 2002 I switched to journaling software and never went back. The advantages are numerous. Typing is faster than writing; your entries are stored in a secure, private database; you can use the built-in search feature to instantly find old entries; you can assign entries to categories for better organization; and you can easily make secure backups. The more robust programs even allow you to insert images, audio recordings, videos, spreadsheets, files, Web links, and more. Once you try journaling software, you’ll never want to go back to pen and paper.
Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth by Steve Pavlina
"Do not fear going slowly; only fear standing still.'' Chinese Proverb
I am an avid follower of the kaizen philosophy of making small incremental changes that add up over time. These changes are not going to take huge amounts work, but once you get the momentum going, the returns will be great. It is all about getting the momentum going for you. Even though it might seem like a little work in the beginning, you have to see this process as an investment in yourself and understand that the longer you stick with it, the easier it is going to get.
I am going to suggest that you implement one new activity into your life and let it build momentum. This activity will allow you to start trusting your inner knowing and move forward in life with additional courage and passion. We will get to this particular activity later in this chapter. First you need to fully understand why you need to trust your inner knowing. There is no one else here on planet earth that has had the same experiences, thoughts, emotions, struggles and success that you have had up until this point. As a meaning maker, the meanings you create are completely unique and this gives you a completely unique perspective of life. This is why the path of self-exploration is ultimately one that you have to take alone. Sure, you can have friends who support you or join a spiritual community. However, you are the only person who knows exactly what you need and when you need it.
The Mind-Made Prison: Radical Self Help and Personal Transformation by Mateo Tabatabai
The thesis of this book is that what ails you and me has nothing to do with being sick or being wrong. What ails us is that we are living our lives as amateurs. The solution, this book suggests, is that we turn pro.
Turning pro is free, but it's not easy. You don't need to take a course or buy a product. All you have to do is change your mind. Turning pro is free, but it's not without cost. When we turn pro, we give up a life with which we may have become extremely comfortable. We give up a self that we have come to identify with and to call our own. We may have to give up friends, lovers, even spouses.
Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work by Steven Pressfield
Schedule Time for Writing
Hopefully by now you’ve figured out that you need to make time to write instead of winging it. That means you’ll choose a specific time to write each day and then commit to it. This daily time commitment is the first of the building blocks to creating a successful writing routine. I like to write in the morning, a half hour after I wake up. I devote an hour to writing, five days a week, taking weekends off. This works for me.
You will want to play around with times of day until you figure out what works best for you.
You’ll want to try writing at different times of day. Later on, we’ll talk about the importance of tracking how much you got done and how you felt about your writing. This will help you determine what time works for you. You may have to work around your work and personal schedule (kids, relationship), carving out time that works with the other demands in your life. This requirement may override your personal preference for writing. Take all of these factors into account as you choose a time .
Once you’ve determined what time of day works best for you, you will need to set aside a specific time slot for writing each day. I suggest you reserve an hour each day, but you may need to set aside more or less time, depending on how much time it takes you to achieve your daily word count goal. Once you’ve determined how much you can achieve in a set amount of time, you will want to add this to your daily schedule.
Habit 4: Track Your Writing Routine Good writers work in blocks of time, refusing to be distracted while they are “on the clock.” They also carefully track their time, occasionally evaluating what environmental changes influence their ability to produce quality material at top speed. To do this, you will want to master two writing habits:
Writing in blocks of time and daily tracking your writing word count.
Writing Habit Mastery - How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer's Block by S.J. Scott
My new rule for wealth:
I am wealthy when I can maintain the life quality I currently have for 12 months without having to work.
I am wealthy when I have the time to travel, exercise, study and meditate without being limited by a steady job.
I am wealthy when I am healthy enough to exercise 4 times a week and do the things I love (martial arts, yoga, dancing) without any physical restrictions.
I am wealthy when I have at least 2 ideas I can work on in the areas of life I am passionate about.
I am wealthy when I express my love to my family and friends whenever I speak to them.
When I first did this I suddenly realized that I was in fact already wealthy. I also had the realization that even if I suddenly won the lottery, my life really wouldn't change that drastically! When I changed my rules in the area of wealth, it also became a lot easier for me to acquire additional wealth. Since I was already wealthy, I was behaving and feeling like someone who is wealthy. Do you think it is easier to acquire wealth when you already know you are wealthy?
All of my rules are constructed in a way that I am in control of whether or not they are fulfilled. For example, one of my criteria for wealth is: ''I am wealthy when I express my love to my family and friends''. I am in control of whether or not I do this and it is important that you set your criteria in a way where you are in control. If my criteria was: ''I am wealthy when my family and friends love me'', I would be setting myself up for failure because now the control is no longer in my hands. What if my friend was angry and yelled at me one day and if my rule for love stated that someone who yells at you doesn't love you? I would mistakenly come to think that he didn't love me. At this point I will not only feel my friend doesn't love me, but I will no longer feel wealthy either. This is the power of rules and it is important that you set them up in a way where you are in control. I once heard someone's rule for success, which I immediately adopted.
His rule for success was: Everyday alive and breathing is success. Talk about setting yourself up for SUCCESS! What happens if something in the external world happens and my rules for wealth are no longer fulfilled? Well, I just go ahead and change the criteria I have for that given rule. I am an expert meaning maker and I play in the world of meaning in whatever way will give me the most positive emotions and the highest quality of life.
The Mind-Made Prison: Radical Self Help and Personal Transformation by Mateo Tabatabai
In advocating spontaneous composition with little or no revision, Kerouac was demanding more discipline, not less; the writer ...
In advocating spontaneous composition with little or no revision, Kerouac was demanding more discipline, not less; the writer, like the athlete or the jazz musician, was to commit himself to daily and endless practice in letters, journals, and “sketching,” as Kerouac called his fast-as-hands-can-print transcriptions of his immediate surroundings, all training for the moment of performance.
The skills of improvisation, devalued in the modern industrial West, were to laboriously unlocked, like prisoners buried in a cave led by a perilous route back into the light. Nor did the fact that Kerouac’s work was openly, unabashedly autobiographical, that he staked everything on an ethos of almost physical intimacy in which the somatic self’s fluctuations defy the censorship of the mind, bringing the narrative “I” as close to himself as possible and abolishing the traditional distance between author and reader, mean the result was life, not art.
The true story of postwar America in all its speed, tomfoolery, and sorrowfulness, Kerouac believed, could only be told as interior monologue and confession.
Buddhism promised Kerouac a world where wanderers could fashion their own religious order, one more ecumenical than Christianity ever devised, a special form of the gathered church, “big wild bands of holy men,” in Kerouac’s words in The Dharma Bums, “Zen lunatics” bringing the “vision of freedom of eternity” to all creatures and sanctifying a way of life fast disappearing in America: the way of the vagrant, the hobo, the bum. The “Dharma” in Kerouac’s title meant “truth,” but the word “Bums” held an older and deeper It summoned up the Depression images of his boyhood Kerouac loved, men traveling “with nothing but a paper bag for luggage,” as he put it in Desolation Angels, “waiting in line for coffee and donuts…forag[ing] in riverside dumps looking for junk to sell,” an image with a long pedigree in American life and popular culture
The Dharma Bums (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Jack Kerouac
Someone just wrote me, for instance, and said they want to write a novel (they have the idea) but don’t know how. The answer is really simple: first practice staring at a blank screen for 20 minutes a day. Then start writing 500 words a day. A novel is 60,000 words.
500 words a day is 180,000 words in one year (and that assumes breaks for 5 holidays). 500 words is only 2-3 paragraphs. So you can write 3 novels in one year. Or one good, highly edited novel. And that’s if you limit yourself to 500 words. With practice you’ll go up to 1,000 words, 2,000 words, etc. Any small improvement (staring at a blank screen to get used to the idea of writing) will add up to success beyond belief (who would think you can do 3 novels in a year so easily?)
Walter Mosely (one of my favorite mystery writers) has written that if you just write 500 words a day (three paragraphs) then in 100 days you have 50,000 words. Which is roughly the length of a small but publishable novel. So you can write 3.5 novels a year. Or write one really good one that you’ve rewritten quite a bit. Try it.
Faq Me by James Altucher
You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium.
You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium. You might as well start now and get the necessary work done. For I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality. How so? Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come. All arts, big and small, are the elimination of waste motion in favor of the concise declaration. The artist learns what to leave out. His greatest art will often be what he does not say, what he leaves out, his ability to state simply with clear emotion, the way he wants to go. The artist must work so hard, so long, that a brain develops and lives, all of itself, in his fingers.
He left me where he found me: the balcony of my mother’s apartment with the smell of adobo wafting in from the windows above, my sneakered feet dangling off the edge. His cape fluttered in the breeze and disappeared over the apartment building across the street, its jagged hem just barely missing a satellite dish.
Read more from the superhero breakup
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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