3
Jun

11 Ways Emotionally Intelligent People Overcome Uncertainty

Our brains are hardwired to make much of modern life difficult. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with uncertainty. On the bright side, if you know the right tricks, you can override your brain’s irrational tendencies and handle uncertainty effectively.

Our brains give us fits when facing uncertainty because they’re wired to react to it with fear. In a recent study, a Caltech neuroeconomist imaged subjects’ brains as they were forced to make increasingly uncertain bets—the same kind of bets we’re forced to make on a regular basis in business.

The less information the subjects had to go on, the more irrational and erratic their decisions became. You might think the opposite would be true—the less information we have, the more careful and rational we are in evaluating the validity of that information. Not so. As the uncertainty of the scenarios increased, the subjects’ brains shifted control over to the limbic system, the place where emotions, such as anxiety and fear, are generated.

This brain quirk worked great eons ago, when cavemen entered an unfamiliar area and didn’t know who or what might be lurking behind the bushes. Overwhelming caution and fear ensured survival. But that’s not the case today. This mechanism, which hasn’t evolved, is a hindrance in the world of business, where uncertainty rules and important decisions must be made every day with minimal information.

As we face uncertainty, our brains push us to overreact. Successful people are able to override this mechanism and shift their thinking in a rational direction. This requires emotional intelligence (EQ), and it’s no wonder that—among the 1 million-plus people that TalentSmart has tested—90% of top performers have high EQs. They earn an average of $28,000 more per year than their low-EQ counterparts do.

To boost your EQ, you have to get good at making sound decisions in the face of uncertainty, even when your brain fights against this. Fear not! There are proven strategies that you can use to improve the quality of your decisions when your emotions are clouding your judgment. What follows are eleven of the best strategies that successful people use in these moments.

They quiet their limbic systems

The limbic system responds to uncertainty with a knee-jerk fear reaction, and fear inhibits good decision-making. People who are good at dealing with uncertainty are wary of this fear and spot it as soon as it begins to surface. In this way, they can contain it before it gets out of control. Once they are aware of the fear, they label all the irrational thoughts that try to intensify it as irrational fears—not reality—and the fear subsides. Then they can focus more accurately and rationally on the information they have to go on. Throughout the process, they remind themselves that a primitive part of their brain is trying to take over and that the logical part needs to be the one in charge. In other words, they tell their limbic system to settle down and be quiet until a hungry tiger shows up.

They stay positive

Positive thoughts quiet fear and irrational thinking by focusing your brain’s attention on something that is completely stress-free. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. When you’re stressing over a tough decision and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a challenge. In these moments, think about your day, and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small. If you can’t think of anything from the current day, reflect on the previous day or days or even the previous week, or perhaps you’re looking forward to an exciting event. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative due to the stress of uncertainty.

They know what they knowand what they don’t

When uncertainty makes a decision difficult, it’s easy to feel as if everything is uncertain, but that’s hardly ever the case. People who excel at managing uncertainty start by taking stock of what they know and what they don’t know and assigning a factor of importance to each. They gather all the facts they have, and they take their best shot at compiling a list of things they don’t know, for example, what a country’s currency is going to do or what strategy a competitor will employ. They actually try to identify as many of these things as possible because this takes away their power.

They embrace that which they can’t control

We all like to be in control. After all, people who feel like they’re at the mercy of their surroundings never get anywhere in life. But this desire for control can backfire when you see everything that you can’t control or don’t know as a personal failure. People who excel at managing uncertainty aren’t afraid to acknowledge what’s causing it. In other words, successful people live in the real world. They don’t paint any situation as better or worse than it actually is, and they analyze the facts for what they are. They know that the only thing they really control is the process through which they reach their decisions. That’s the only rational way to handle the unknown, and the best way to keep your head on level ground. Don’t be afraid to step up and say, “Here’s what we don’t know, but we’re going forward based on what we doknow. We may make mistakes, but that’s a lot better than standing still.”

They focus only on what matters

Some decisions can make or break your company. Most just aren’t that important. The people who are the best at making decisions in the face of uncertainty don’t waste their time getting stuck on decisions where the biggest risk is looking foolish in front of their co-workers. When it comes down to it, almost every decision contains at least a small factor of uncertainty—it’s an inevitable part of doing business. Learning to properly balance the many decisions on your plate, however, allows you to focus your energy on the things that matter and to make more informed choices. It also removes the unnecessary pressure and distraction caused by a flurry of small worries.

They don’t seek perfection

Emotionally intelligent people don’t set perfection as their target because they know there’s no such thing as a perfect decision in an uncertain situation. Think about it: human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently, instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.

They don’t dwell on problems

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people don’t allow themselves to become preoccupied with the uncertainties they face. Instead, they focus all their attention and effort on what they can do, in spite of the uncertainty, to better their situation.

They know when to trust their gut

Our ancestors relied on their intuition—their gut instinct—for survival. Since most of us don’t face life-or-death decisions every day, we have to learn how to use this instinct to our benefit. Often we make the mistake of talking ourselves out of listening to our gut instinct, or we go too far in the other direction and impulsively dive into a situation, mistaking our assumptions for instincts. People who successfully deal with uncertainty recognize and embrace the power of their gut instincts, and they rely on some tried-and-true strategies to do so successfully:

They recognize their own filters. They’re able to identify when they’re being overly influenced by their assumptions and emotions or by another person’s opinion, for example. Their ability to filter out the feelings that aren’t coming from their intuition helps them focus on what is.

They give their intuition some space. Gut instincts can’t be forced. Our intuition works best when we’re not pressuring it to come up with a solution. Albert Einstein said he got his best ideas while sailing, and when Steve Jobs was faced with a tough problem, he’d head out for a walk.

They build a track record. People who deal well with uncertainty take the time to practice their intuition. They start by listening to their gut on small things and seeing how it goes so that they’ll know whether they can trust it when something big comes around.

They have contingency plans . . .

Staying on top of uncertainty is as much about planning for failure as it is about hoping for the best. Experts at handling uncertainty aren’t afraid to admit that they could be wrong, and that frees them up to make detailed, rational, and transparent contingency plans before taking action. Successful people know they aren’t always going to make the right decision. They know how to absorb and understand mistakes so that they can make better decisions in the future. And they never let mistakes get them down for too long.

. . . but they don’t ask, “What if?”

What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, and there’s no place for them in your thinking once you have good contingency plans in place. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend focusing on taking action that will calm you down and keep your stress under control. Successful people know that asking “what if?” will only take them to a place they don’t want, or need, to go to.

When all else fails, they breathe

You have to remain calm to make good decisions in the face of uncertainty. An easy way to do this lies in something that you have to do every day anyway—breathing. The practice of being in the moment with your breathing trains your brain to focus solely on the task at hand and quiets distracting thoughts. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing. Close the door, put away all other distractions, and just sit in a chair and breathe. The goal is to spend the entire time focused only on your breathing, which will prevent your mind from wandering. Think about how it feels to breathe in and out. This sounds simple, but it’s hard to do for more than a minute or two. It’s all right if you get sidetracked by another thought—this is sure to happen at the beginning—and you just need to bring your focus back to your breathing. If staying focused on your breathing proves to be a real struggle, try counting each breath in and out until you get to twenty, and then start again from one. Don’t worry if you lose count; you can always just start over. This task may seem too easy or even a little silly, but you’ll be surprised by how calm you feel afterward and how much easier it is to let go of distracting thoughts that otherwise seem to lodge permanently inside your brain.

Bringing it all together

The ability to strategically manage ambiguity is one of the most important skills you can cultivate in an increasingly uncertain business environment. Try the strategies above, and your ability to handle uncertainty will take a huge step in the right direction.

3
Jun

7 Mental Shifts That Allowed Me to Become a Millionaire at 22

7 Mental Shifts That Allowed Me to Become a Millionaire at 22

Things are very good — but the future wasn’t always so bright.

When I finished graduate school, I moved to California’s Orange County to launch a new office for my family’s commercial real-estate business. The first couple of months were brutal, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the success we’d have (if any) would be astronomically more difficult than I could ever have imagined. Despite being an overachiever all my life, I found myself wondering how to truly excel in the real world when it all finally mattered.

After reinventing the wheel for myself time and time again I’ve come to realize that the secret to millennial success in the business world is a combination of grit and creative thinking. Here are the seven mental shifts I implemented to turbo-charge my growth.

1. Age is just a number.

Embrace your youth wholeheartedly. If you spin your age as an asset, which can be done in a variety of ways, it can be an extremely powerful differentiator. The moment you begin to give yourself an excuse for not being successful is the moment of almost certain failure.

If you believe you can really make it then you will make it. Besides, there is nothing people want to see more than a hard-working, intelligent and dedicated young professional who succeeds. Create a snowball of momentum that makes people want to be a part of your life.

2. Reinvest in yourself.

The safest investment I’ve ever made is in my future. Read at least 30 minutes a day, listen to relevant podcasts while driving and seek out mentors vigorously. You don’t just need to be a master in your field, you need to be a well-rounded genius capable of talking about any subject whether it is financial, political or sports related. Consume knowledge like air and put your pursuit of learning above all else.

I also believe that it is critically important to spoil yourself to a healthy extreme in order to reward your hard work and avoid burnout. Consider splurging on memorable experiences and luxuries that will enhance your lifestyle. I get a weekly massage like clockwork, and it is one of the best productivity hacks I employ.

3. Avoid decision fatigue.

Attention is a finite daily resource and can be a bottleneck on productivity. No matter the mental stamina developed over time, there is always going to be a threshold where you break down and your remaining efforts for the day become suboptimal.

Conserve your mental power by making easily reversible decisions as quickly as possible and aggressively planning recurring actions so you can execute simple tasks on autopilot. I know what I am wearing to work and eating for breakfast each day next week. Do you?

4. Build a resilient mind.

The biggest differentiator between mediocrity and meteoric success is the ability to work productively for hours at a time. These long stretches are when important work is almost exclusively completed. Focus is paramount and, without intentionally developing mental stamina, you won’t be able to effectively compete with those who have systematically built up their endurance over decades in the business world.

Fast track your skills by being mindful of distractions and recognizing when you begin to wander out of focus. Perform a thorough analysis of your daily activities each night and aggressively seek opportunities for improvement.

5. Think big. Be big.

The science behind goal setting and its remarkable ability to accelerate success is infallible. If you don’t already have your one-, five- and 10-year goals written out and visible to you on a daily basis, do so right now. I read mine the second I wake up every single morning. Now ask yourself, what would have to happen to accomplish your 10-year goals in just one year?

The inherent power in maintaining consistency with your acknowledged goals can work both positively and negatively, and is cause for concern if you anchor yourself to a slower timeline of achievement. Be mindful and diligent in charting an optimal path that pushes you to your limit.

6. Be methodical.

Plan your work and then work your plan. Perhaps my biggest breakthrough was large-scale automation of my marketing systems. I created a process that allowed me to quintuple my marketing output while increasing my conversion rate considerably.

The simplest way to put your own content plan in motion is to create a multi-step campaign that touches a prospect through a variety of different mediums every week for at least a month. Follow a logical order and craft your content in a persistent way, while never becoming annoying.

Not in a sales role? You can take a similar approach to any analytical, creative or administrative position by developing rigid organizational systems that help improve your efficiency when faced with repetitive tasks.

7. Believe in yourself.

If not you, then who? Someone has to make it, and nothing is stopping you from being the person who accomplishes your wildest dreams. Nearly every person who has ever failed has had an excuse. Successful people have stories of the challenges that they overcame with creative solutions. The moment you confidently feel that there is nothing you can’t learn or develop to solve the most complex of problems is the moment of guaranteed greatness.

If you still aren’t sure how to begin, start with a promise to work towards the achievement of consistent excellence each moment of every day. This is the basic building block and mentality with which I am building my career.

Keep it simple and remember that success is not an entitlement. If you really want to excel, you have to get out there and earn it every day for the rest of your life.

3
Jun

6 Skills of Self-Made Millionaires That You Should Be Using, Too

Heed the advice of those who have reaped success. Here are six skills used by self-made millionaires that you should be using and building upon each day.

1. Be able to identify fruitful opportunities.

Carlos Slim Helu, Mexican business magnate and philanthropist, said, “When there is a crisis, that’s when some are interested in getting out, and that’s when we are interested in getting in.”

Learn to identify open doors when they appear, then consider the risks and weigh them against potential benefits. An opportunity can be a great one regardless of whether no one or everyone is rushing to grab it — if no one is, that’s your cue to move forward; if everyone is, that’s your chance to prove you’re better than the rest.

2. Focus on actions over words.

“Actions speak louder than words,” supposedly, and the late Andrew Carnegie agreed. As his career grew, he said, “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

Understand that a shining business plan or investment presentation means little when you don’t demonstrate the ability to carry out your ideas well. Customers and clients want to see flawless application of your company’s core values and mission statement. Keep this formula in mind when seeking out employees, as well. A perfect resume doesn’t necessarily constitute a perfect employee, if that person can’t properly act on his qualifications and intentions.

3. Maintain a clear vision of success.

“Vision is perhaps our greatest strength… it has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries, it makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.”

Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-Shing, the richest person in all of Asia, believes in vision as a motivational tool for success. What does success look like to you? If your answer is just “a lot of money,” this may not be the article for you.

Many people envision success as finally seeing their product on store shelves, making up for initial overhead costs, gaining a certain following or changing the community in which they live. In order to stay on track toward fulfilling your goals, it’s important to maintain a clear vision of what that goal is — and what things will look like once it’s achieved.

4. Never stop learning.

Entrepreneurs who don’t acknowledge the need to constantly learn new things are denying themselves and their businesses the chance to grow. Even once you achieve some degree of success, understand that those around you (even those who are less successful) know something you don’t.

Listen to what others have to say about their experiences. Learn from their achievements and their mistakes. If you don’t want to base your development on other people, try taking a step back and exploring the areas of entrepreneurship you can still improve upon. Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, says “that’s the single best piece of advice — constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

5. Get the job done.

This one sounds simple, but you’re likely procrastinating without even knowing it. Those who spend an immense amount of time marketing a business before there’s even a business to advertise are putting off actually building a brand. The same goes for those who spend time attempting to perform Web or graphic design themselves, obsessively organize finances and legal paperwork, and so on.

Even as an entrepreneur, you can’t wear every hat, and it’s often smart to assign tasks that aren’t immediately related to building your business to someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a small team of employees or some remote freelancers if it means you’ll be able to turn your company into everything you dreamed.

“Getting the job done has been the basis for the success my company has achieved,” said Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur, investor and former mayor of New York City.

6. Only hire rock stars.

You can’t exemplify greatness if the people who make up your company aren’t great, too. My brother Matthew and I have always made a point of carefully selecting those we hire on to our teams, even if it takes a little extra time. We like people with a heavy determination to GSD (Get Stuff Done).

As we have such grand expectations for our employees, we always make sure to treat them as more than just that. Matthew and I strive to take care of them as we would with family. Matthew and I also allow our employees the flexibility to work from anywhere and provide bonuses from time to time to thank them for their trustworthiness and flexible capability. The extra appreciation certainly goes a long way in enhancing work ethic and promoting remote teamwork.

3
Jun

8 People Just Like You Who Made $1 Million

8 People Just Like You Who Made $1 Million
Image credit: Rosanna Pansino | Facebook

The World Wealth Report 2015 has determined that a “strong economic and equity market performance helped create nearly a million (920,000) new millionaires globally in 2014.” That trend is likely to continue in the foreseeable future, but do you, the average person reading this post, have a chance to join this exclusive club? Absolutely. And, here are eight ordinary people who have accomplished this feat.

1. Alicia Shaffer sold products on Etsy.

Image credit: ThreeBirdNest

Alicia Shaffer, you average mother-of-three, was able to successfully turn her hobby into a million-dollar business. The California resident began selling her knitted wares and handmade goods on Etsy in 2011 and in under three years she was averaging $80,000 a month. Her Etsy marketplace, which is called ThreeBirdNest, receives more than 150 orders per day.

2. Johnny Ward started a travel blog.

Image credit: OneStep4Ward | Facebook

Johnny Ward came from a single-parent family in Ireland. His family didn’t have enough money to travel when he was younger, but after visiting the U.S. and Thailand following graduation, Ward was bittn by the travel bug and began blogging about his adventures — which has since made him a millionaire.

Ward has said: “I have a popular travel blog which generates a normal Western income through ads and affiliate commissions, in which I get a cut if one of my readers clicks through a link and makes a purchase, and I could live from that if I had to. However, having learned about SEO [search engine optimization], online marketing, corporate blogging, content creation and social-media management, as my blog grew more and more popular, I used my new skills to found a digital-media company which manages all those aspects of a company’s online presence. Now I have a team of people who manage that for clients around the world.”

3. Sara Blakely invented Spanx.

Image credit: Sara Blakely | Facebook

Sara Blakely was an average fax machine sales person with just $5,000 in her savings account. One day, while getting ready for a party, she cut the feet out of a pair of pantyhose so that she could wear a pair of pants more comfortably. Blakely knew she was on to something special and worked tirelessly to make her invention a reality.

After being rejected by a number of hosiery mills, she found one that was willingly to take a risk on her idea. Today, Spanx is a multi-million dollar company.

4. Julie Broad and Dave Peniuk invested in real-estate.

Image credit: Dave Peniuk | Facebook

With just $16,000 to their names, Julie Broad and her husband Dave Peniuk purchased their first piece of property. In just seven years, the couple were able to become millionaires. According to Julie, this is possible for anyone to accomplish.

“If you have $16,000 to invest (which is what I started with seven years ago), you can buy $16,000 worth of stocks and bonds,” she says. “But, if you buy real estate, you can buy a property worth $160,000 (which is exactly what I did). While some stock investors are able to buy on margin (when you only put down a portion of what the stock is worth), this is a sophisticated and high-risk move that only experienced stock investors typically make.

If your stocks go up in value by 5 percent, you’ve made $800. But if your property goes up by 5 percent — you’ve made $8,000! This is on the same $16,000 investment. This doesn’t even take into account the other ways you can make money from real estate.”

The couple has since started the website Rev N You and are helping others achieve their dreams of succeeding in the real-estate market.

5. Rosanna Pansino turned her baking hobby into a YouTube sensation.

Image credit: Rosanna Pansino | Facebook

Rosanna Pansino was taught how to bake by her grandmother, and it’s been a hobby for her ever since. As an aspiring actress, it was suggested that she start creating YouTube videos to practice being in front of a camera. Rosanna then created the “Nerdy Nummies” baking site. The popular YouTube channel eventually lead to Rosanna releasing her first cookbook, The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook, in November of 2015. Rosanna is the one of the richest YouTube stars in 2015 after she earned around $2.5 million.

6. Deanna Jump sold lesson plans online.

Image credit: Deanna Jump | Facebook

Deanna Jump was a kindergarten teacher in Georgia when one of her colleagues suggested that she put her lesson plans on the site, Teachers Pay Teachers. When Jump first started in 2008, she only made $300 for the entire year. At the encouragement of her husband, Jump stuck with the program and has has since become a millionaire in doing so.

If you’re interested in becoming a member, you can visit Teachers Pay Teachers or follow Deanna’s blog to learn more.

7. Tim Grittani cashed in on penny stocks.

Image credit: Tim Grittani | Twitter

In 2010, Tim Grittani took his life savings of $1,500 and invested it in trading penny stocks — which are trading the stocks of small companies usually valued under $1. Grittani told CNNMoney in 2013, “”I’ve been trading every single day for almost three years, and it’s been a slow, day-to-day process.” He also added, “investors in penny stocks should be prepared for the possibility that they may lose their whole investment.”0

For Grittani, however, he was fortunate enough to turn that initial investment into a multi-million dollar portfolio. Today, Grittani shares his knowledge and advice on his blog, Trade the Ticker.

8. Paul Scolardi traded his way to millions.

Image credit: Paul Scolardi | Facebook

Paul Scolardi spent most of his career working a typical nine-to-five day job in corporate finance until he decided to take a leap of faith and pursue his passion. He had always dreamed of become a self-made millionaire in the stock market, so he quit his nine-to-five to perfect his own trading strategy — which has now earned him millions of dollars. But Paul didn’t stop there. He then launched Super Trades, LLC to teach his strategy to others who were struggling for financial freedom.

3
Jun

Act Like a Millionaire. Seek Opportunity, Go Against the Grain and Do Imperfect Things.

Act Like a Millionaire. Seek Opportunity, Go Against the Grain and Do Imperfect Things.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com

The way you think shapes the world you will create. Successful people (aka millionaires) think differently than most people. I am not saying that you aren’t a success if you aren’t a millionaire, but looking at those who are struggling to pay the bills will only show you what not to do.

Why do millionaires think differently than you?  Because they know other ways don’t work.

Here are the five shifts to your thinking that can help you produce more value in the world and, therefore, add more wealth to your bank account.

1. Growth versus fixed

When you are set in your way of thinking, you believe you have it figured out. You exist on a fixed mindset. You tend to do what you have always done. You don’t see the benefit of learning more and lack curiosity to seek new ways.

Growth thinking is when you are constantly learning. It is similar to professional athletes who are top in the world yet still practice and work with coaches to continuously fine-tune their game. Growth thinking is the basis for new approaches and keeps you continuously striving for more impact and value.

Making the shift is to seek a path of mastery instead of complacency. Mastery is the decision to learn more — and be more.

2. Abundance versus lack

Focusing on what you don’t have is lack thinking. Seeing that you have to grab it all and hold on tight is also “lack” thinking. When you see opportunities as limited, you are focused on what you don’t have.

Abundance thinking is opposite and allows you to go beyond the norms. When you have an abundance mindset you don’t see competition — you see the opportunity for all.

For example, there are those who constantly think, “I don’t have the money to…” This is about the lack in your life. Those who think in abundance, however, ask themselves, “How can I make this happen?”

Making the shift to abundance starts by changing your point of focus. Thinking about what you don’t have will only get you more of that. Thinking about the opportunities available to you will make them more attainable.

3. Create versus wait

Waiting for it to get better is not going to get you what you want. Waiting for the economy to turn around is frankly lazy. Waiting for referrals to come to you is not predictable nor is it going to give you the massive growth in wealth.

Millionaires create what they want. They see opportunity and figure out a way to do it.

Take Elon Musk, who has created massive developments with Tesla Motors over the last few years to create more powerful batteries that have changed electric vehicle viability. Tesla was the first production electric vehicle with a range greater than 200 miles (320 km) per charge. Elon didn’t wait — Elon created.

Making the shift to “create” is making the decision that you are in control of your future. You want to find the way to make it work.

4. Against the grain versus with the pack

You see this in business all the time. Business owners start businesses and tend to mimic their competitors. They strive to stand out by being a little bit better or working to have lower prices as a way to compete. But staying with the pack is not going to give you the financial break through to new levels.

Millionaires tend to think differently by going against the grain.

Look at what Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp did in 2009 when creating Uber. They looked at an industry that had not progressed in decades. They saw an opportunity and took action to create a powerful and disruptive new solution to getting from point A to point B.

Making the shift to see opportunities against the grain means deciding to focus on creativity and innovation.

5. Imperfect action versus waiting for perfection

Perfection is a trap. Seeking perfection is what keeps you stalled. Perfection is not the opposite of action, but those who strive for perfection in everything they do tend to over-think everything in their journey to success.

Those who are willing to embrace imperfect action are much more likely to fail, learn, fail some more and learn some more. This pattern is what makes achievement possible.

Shifting from perfection to action is deciding that now is the best time to share your ideas and get feedback from your market. Taking imperfect action is what will give you the feedback to continuously improve.

If you want shift your mindset, you have to be willing to distinguish between your story (or your truth) from “the” truth. And make a committed effort to see the world differently.

3
Jun

3 Actionable Ways to Become a Millionaire

3 Actionable Ways to Become a Millionaire

1. Invest in yourself.

The old phrase “knowledge is power” is not one to be ignored. If you want to be a millionaire, then you need to really be able to invest in yourself and to educate yourself. How do you start and what do you educate yourself with? Start by writing down all of your hobbies and favorite things to do. From there, choose two or three that you want to dedicate yourself towards mastering within the next five to 10 years. The mastery of any one given subject is the key to making millions down the road.

Make sure you don’t just pick one hobby because you may not like it as much in the future as you do now, so you need to have a couple of safety options as well. As you start to educate yourself, you can then refine your skills based on what subjects you enjoy and what you have the most talent in. Really finding your niche and learning to master it is the key to getting started, and it is a real action step that you can actually take.

2. Learning how to budget and manage expenses.

If you have this skill early on, you can really go a long way on your road to becoming a millionaire. It isn’t a hard task to learn if you are willing to put some time into really honing your management skills. Read up on budget management or take an online course. From there, start tracking all of your spending. It doesn’t matter how much you are making, it matters that you are able to control what you are spending and what you are saving. There are so many people today, even celebrities and famous athletes that make hundreds of millions of dollars and they eventually go broke, it is because they don’t know how to budget. Learn this skill and you are setting yourself up for success.

3. Commit to learning about the business world.

You need to take the time to commit to learning about the business world and about investment opportunities. If you have a base knowledge of these key factors, you can really go far on your quest to become a millionaire. This means a real overall knowledge of real estate, mutual funds and stocks. Take the time to read up on guides likes these from Entrepreneur and ones like this one I created. While it may not be the most interesting thing in the world to learn about, it is important that you take your time to really immerse yourself in this world… think of it as your second job.

Once you have mastered this and learn how to invest conservatively and responsibility, you can have your savings work for you, while you sit back and do nothing. Passive income is really fantastic, and while it may not seem like a lot in the beginning, it can really add up over time.

If you really want to become a millionaire and want to be able to have the financial freedom you have always wanted, then you need to be willing to take action and make strong moves that will actually lead you towards the financial success you have always wanted.

3
Jun

5 Ways You Can Use Mindfulness to Fix Your Brain, Decrease Stress and Improve Performance

5 Ways You Can Use Mindfulness to Fix Your Brain, Decrease Stress and Improve Performance

There’s no shortage of advice out there claiming to make you better, but mindfulness meditation is the rare, research-proven technique that boosts your performance by physically altering your brain.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia recently pooled data from more than 20 studies to understand how practicing mindfulness affects the brain. While the researchers found significant changes in eight brain regions, there are two regions that are of particular importance to you.

In these brain regions, the simple act of practicing mindfulness increased both brain activity and the density of brain tissue:

  1. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is responsible for self-control. It enables you to resist distractions, to focus, and to avoid impulsivity in order to work efficiently and make great decisions. The ACC is also responsible for flexibility, and people who have problems in this brain area are known to stick to ineffective problem-solving strategies when they should be adjusting their approach.
  2. The hippocampus, which, among other things, is responsible for resilience in the face of setbacks and challenges. The hippocampus is readily damaged by stress, making it a need area for most people. The hippocampus is red/orange in the image below.

Mindfulness is a simple, yet effective form of meditation that enables you to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness are more focused, even when they are not meditating. Mindfulness is an excellent technique to reduce stress because it allows you to stop feeling out of control, to stop jumping from one thought to the next, and to stop ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, it’s a great way to make it through your busy day in a calm and productive manner.

Just as doing curls increases muscle density in your biceps, practicing mindfulness increases the density of brain matter where it counts. Mindfulness is perhaps the only technique that can change your brain in this way, which produces a ripple of other positive effects. Thankfully, you can reap the benefits of mindfulness in as little as a few minutes a day.

Gandhi was once with a group of followers who inquired about his schedule. He told them, “I need to set aside at least one hour each day to meditate.” They were vexed by this and told him, “There’s no way you have that much time!” He responded, “Well, if that’s the case, then I need to set aside two hours a day to meditate.”

Like Gandhi, you’ll soon find that mindfulness is one of very few things that are well worth your precious time, and the busier you are, the more important it is to have a clear mind if you want to be productive.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to take place in the mountains of Nepal or a weekend retreat under a vow of silence. The beauty of the technique is that it’s so simple you can do it anywhere and just about anytime.

Mindfulness is the simple act of focusing all of your attention on the present. This requires you to observe your thoughts and feelings objectively, without judgment, which helps you to awaken your experience and live in the moment. This way, life doesn’t pass you by.

I realize this might sound a bit abstract and complicated at first, but it isn’t. Here’s how you can do it, even with your busy schedule.

1. Focus on your breathing.

Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor, and spend a few minutes doing nothing but breathing slowly in and out. Focus all your attention on your breath. Feel the air travel into your mouth, down your windpipe, and into your lungs. Then feel your body shift as it pushes the air out of your lungs. When thoughts surface that distract you from your breathing, don’t worry. Just let them pass, and shift your attention back to your breathing. After some practice, you should be able to spend a few to several minutes doing nothing but immersing yourself in the act of breathing, at the expense of all the other thoughts.

2. Go for a walk. 

You can also meditate just by going for a walk. All you need to do is focus on each step. Feel your legs move and your feet hit the ground. Focus solely on the act of walking and the sensations of your surroundings (the cool breeze, the hot sun, or the dog barking in the distance). When you feel other thoughts creeping into your mind, focus even harder on the sensation of walking. Focusing on something that’s second nature is refreshing because it alters your frame of mind as you turn off the never-ending stream of thoughts that normally dominate your attention. You can do the same thing when you brush your teeth, comb your hair, or eat a meal.

3. Feel your body.

You don’t even need to stop doing what you’re doing to practice mindfulness. All you have to do is focus all of your attention on what you’re doing without thinking about why you’re doing it, what you should do next, or what you should be doing. Whether it’s the gentle stroke of your fingers on the keyboard or your posture in your chair, you can direct your attention from your thoughts to your bodily sensations at the spur of the moment.

4. Repeat one positive thing about yourself, over and over.

One of the main goals of mindfulness is to stop the steam of thoughts that cycle through your mind over and over again each day. Funnily enough, a great way to do this is to choose a short, positive message about yourself and to repeat it over and over with each breath to keep your mind on track. A great phrase of choice is “I am capable.” The simplicity keeps you grounded in the exercise and keeps other thoughts from taking over. The right phrase also builds a little confidence, which never hurts.

5. Interrupt the stress cycle. 

Any moment when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or stuck on something is the perfect moment to practice mindfulness. Just stop what you’re doing, let the thoughts go for a moment, and practice your favorite mindfulness technique (breathing, walking, or focusing on body sensations). Even a few minutes of this can make a huge difference in quieting your mind and reducing stress. You’ll be surprised how reasonable things look once you’ve taken a few moments to clear your head.

Bringing it all together

Nothing can improve your brain the way mindfulness meditation can. Give it a try, and you’ll be surprised where it takes you.

3
Jun

5 Decisions You’ll Always Regret

5 Decisions You'll Always Regret

Our days are filled with a constant stream of decisions. Most are mundane, but some are so important that they can haunt you for the rest of your life.

A recent study from Columbia University found that we’re bogged down by more than 70 decisions a day. The sheer number of decisions we have to make each day leads to a phenomenon called decision fatigue, whereby your brain actually tires like a muscle.

A new study from the University of Texas shows that even when our brains aren’t tired, they can make it very difficult for us to make good decisions. When making a decision, instead of referencing the knowledge we’ve accumulated, our brains focus on specific, detailed memories.

For example, if you’re buying a new car and trying to decide if you should go for the leather seats, even though you know you can’t afford it, your brain might focus on memories of the wonderful smell and feel of the leather seats in your brother’s sports car, when it should be focused on the misery you’re going to experience when making your monthly car payments. Since you don’t have memories of this yet, it’s a hard thing for your brain to contemplate.

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” –Stephen Covey

Some decisions are minor, such as what to eat, which route to drive to work, or in what order to tackle tasks; others are more difficult, such as choosing between two job offers, whether to move to a new city for someone you love, or whether to cut a toxic person out of your life. Regardless of the magnitude of the decision, our brains make it hard for us to keep the perspective we need to make good choices.

Bronnie Ware spent her career as a palliative care nurse, working exclusively with people who were 3 to 12 months from death. She made a habit of asking them about their greatest regrets, and she heard the same five regrets time and time again. By studying these regrets, you can make certain that you make good choices and don’t fall victim to them yourself.

1. They wish they hadn’t made decisions based on what other people think.

When you make your decisions based on other people’s opinions, two things tend to happen:

  • You make a poor career choice: There are too many people out there who studied for a degree they regret or even spent their lives pursuing a career they regret. Whether you’re seeking parental approval or pursuing pay and prestige over passion, making a poor career choice is a decision that will live with you forever.
  • You fail to uphold your morals: When you get too caught up in what your boss thinks of you, how much money you think your spouse needs to be happy, or how bad you will look if you fail, you are at high risk of violating your own morals. Your intense desire to make yourself look goodcompromises your ability to stay true to yourself and, ultimately, to feel good.

The best way to avoid falling prey to the opinions of others is to realize that other people’s opinions are just that—opinions. Regardless of how great or terrible they think you are, that’s only their opinion. Your true self-worth comes from within.

2. They wish they hadn’t worked so hard. 

Working hard is a great way to impact the world, to learn, to grow, to feel accomplished, and sometimes even to find happiness, but it becomes a problem when you do so at the expense of the people closest to you. Ironically, we often work hard to make money for the people we care about without realizing that they value our company more than money. The key is to find a balance between doing what you love and being with the people you love. Otherwise you’ll look back one day and wish you’d focused more on the latter.

3. They wish they had expressed their feelings. 

We’re taught as children that emotions are dangerous and that they must be bottled up and controlled. This usually works at first, but boxing up your feelings causes them to grow until they erupt. The best thing you can do is to put your feelings directly on the table. Though it’s painful to initiate, it forces you to be honest and transparent.

For example, if you feel as though you don’t make enough money at work, schedule a meeting with your boss and propose why you think you’re worth more. As a result, she will either agree with you and give you a raise or disagree and tell you what you do need to do to become more valuable. On the other hand, if you do nothing and let your feelings fester, this will hinder your performance and prevent you from reaching your goal.

4. They wish they had stayed in touch with their friends.

When you get caught up in your weekly routine, it’s easy to lose sight of how important people are to you, especially those you have to make time for. Relationships with old friends are among the first things to fall off the table when we’re busy. This is unfortunate because spending time with friends is a major stress buster. Close friends bring you energy, fresh perspectives, and a sense of belonging, in a way that no one else can.

5. They wish they had let themselves be happy.

When your life is about to end, all the difficulties you’ve faced suddenly become trivial compared to the good times. This is because you realize that, more often than not, suffering is a choice. Unfortunately, most people realize this far too late. Although we all inevitably experience pain, how we react to our pain is completely under our control, as is our ability to experience joy. Learning to laugh, smile, and be happy (especially when stressed) is a challenge at times, but it’s one that’s worth every ounce of effort.

Bringing it all together

Some decisions have repercussions that can last a lifetime. Most of these decisions are made daily, and they require focus and perspective to keep them from haunting you.

3
Jun

10 Mistakes Intelligent People Never Make Twice

Everybody makes mistakes—that’s a given—but not everyone learns from them. Some people make the same mistakes over and over again, fail to make any real progress, and can’t figure out why.

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee

When we make mistakes, it can be hard to admit them because doing so feels like an attack on our self-worth. This tendency poses a huge problem because new research proves something that commonsense has told us for a very long time—fully acknowledging and embracing errors is the only way to avoid repeating them.

Yet, many of us still struggle with this.

Researchers from the Clinical Psychophysiology Lab at Michigan State University found that people fall into one of two camps when it comes to mistakes: those who have a fixed mind-set (“Forget this; I’ll never be good at it”) and those who have a growth mind-set (“What a wake-up call! Let’s see what I did wrong so I won’t do it again”).

“By paying attention to mistakes, we invest more time and effort to correct them,” says study author Jason Moser. “The result is that you make the mistake work for you.”

Those with a growth mind-set land on their feet because they acknowledge their mistakes and use them to get better. Those with a fixed mind-set are bound to repeat their mistakes because they try their best to ignore them.

Smart, successful people are by no means immune to making mistakes; they simply have the tools in place to learn from their errors. In other words, they recognize the roots of their mix-ups quickly and never make the same mistake twice.

“When you repeat a mistake it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho

Some mistakes are so tempting that we all make them at one point or another. Smart people learn from these mistakes and never make them twice.

1. Believing in someone or something that’s too good to be true

Some people are so charismatic and so confident that it can be tempting to follow anything they say. They speak endlessly of how successful their businesses are, how well liked they are, who they know, and how many opportunities they can offer you. While it’s, of course, true that some people really are successful and really want to help you, smart people only need to be tricked once before they start to think twice about a deal that sounds too good to be true. The results of naivety and a lack of due diligence can be catastrophic. Smart people ask serious questions before getting involved because they realize that no one, themselves included, are as good as they look.

2. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result

Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Despite his popularity and cutting insight, there are a lot of people who seem determined that two plus two will eventually equal five. Smart people, on the other hand, need only experience this frustration once. The fact is simple: if you keep the same approach, you’ll keep getting the same results, no matter how much you hope for the opposite. Smart people know that if they want a different result, they need to change their approach, even when it’s painful to do so.

3. Failing to delay gratification

We live in a world where books instantly appear on our e-readers, news travels far and wide, and just about anything can show up at our doorsteps in as little as a day. Smart people know that gratification doesn’t come quickly and hard work comes long before the reward. They also know how to use this as motivation through every step of the arduous process that amounts to success because they’ve felt the pain and disappointment that come with selling themselves short.

4. Operating without a budget

You can’t experience financial freedom until you operate under the constraint of a budget. Sticking to a budget, personally and professionally, forces us to make thoughtful choices about what we want and need. Smart people only have to face that insurmountable pile of bills once before getting their act together, starting with a thorough reckoning as to where their money is going. They realize that once you understand how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on, the right choices become clear. A morning latte is a lot less tempting when you’re aware of the cost: $1,000 on average per year. Having a budget isn’t only about making sure that you have enough to pay the bills; smart people know that making and sticking to a strict budget means never having to pass up an opportunity because they’ve blown their precious capital on discretionary expenditures. Budgets establish discipline, and discipline is the foundation of quality work.

5. Losing sight of the big picture

It’s so easy to become head-down busy, working so hard on what’s right in front of you that you lose sight of the big picture. But smart people learn how to keep this in check by weighing their daily priorities against a carefully calculated goal. It’s not that they don’t care about small-scale work, they just have the discipline and perspective to adjust their course as necessary. Life is all about the big picture, and when you lose sight of it, everything suffers.

6. Not doing your homework

Everybody’s taken a shortcut at some point, whether it was copying a friend’s biology assignment or strolling into an important meeting unprepared. Smart people realize that while they may occasionally get lucky, that approach will hold them back from achieving their full potential. They don’t take chances, and they understand that there’s no substitute for hard work and due diligence. They know that if they don’t do their homework, they’ll never learn anything?and that’s a surefire way to bring your career to a screeching halt.

7. Trying to be someone you’re not

It’s tempting to try to please people by being whom they want you to be, but no one likes a fake, and trying to be someone you’re not never ends well. Smart people figure that out the first time they get called out for being a phony, forget their lines, or drop out of character. Other people never seem to realize that everyone else can see right through their act. They don’t recognize the relationships they’ve damaged, the jobs they’ve lost, and the opportunities they’ve missed as a result of trying to be someone they’re not. Smart people, on the other hand, make that connection right away and realize that happiness and success demand authenticity.

8. Trying to please everyone

Almost everyone makes this mistake at some point, but smart people realize quickly that it’s simply impossible to please everybody and trying to please everyone pleases no one. Smart people know that in order to be effective, you have to develop the courage to call the shots and to make the choices that you feel are right (not the choices that everyone will like).

9. Playing the victim

News reports and our social media feeds are filled with stories of people who seem to get ahead by playing the victim. Smart people may try it once, but they realize quickly that it’s a form of manipulation and that any benefits will come to a screeching halt as soon as people see that it’s a game. But there’s a more subtle aspect of this strategy that only truly smart people grasp: to play the victim, you have to give up your power, and you can’t put a price on that.

10. Trying to change someone

The only way that people change is through the desire and wherewithal to change themselves. Still, it’s tempting to try to change someone who doesn’t want to change, as if your sheer will and desire for them to improve will change them (as it has you). Some even actively choose people with problems, thinking that they can “fix” them. Smart people may make that mistake once, but then they realize that they’ll never be able to change anyone but themselves. Instead, they build their lives around genuine, positive people and work to avoid problematic people that bring them down.

Bringing it all together

Emotionally intelligent people are successful because they never stop learning. They learn from their mistakes, they learn from their successes, and they’re always changing themselves for the better.

3
Jun

8 Ways Intelligent People Use Failure to Their Advantage

8 Ways Intelligent People Use Failure to Their Advantage

One of the biggest roadblocks to success is the fear of failure. Fear of failure is worse than failure itself because it condemns you to a life of unrealized potential.

A successful response to failure is all in your approach. In a study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers found that success in the face of failure comes from focusing on results (what you hope to achieve), rather than trying not to fail. While it’s tempting to try and avoid failure, people who do this fail far more often than those who optimistically focus on their goals.

This sounds rather easy and intuitive, but it’s very hard to do when the consequences of failure are severe. The researchers also found that positive feedback increased people’s chances of success because it fueled the same optimism you experience when focusing solely on your goals.

The people who make history—true innovators—take things a step further and see failure as a mere stepping stone to success. Thomas Edison is a great example. It took him 1,000 tries to develop a light bulb that actually worked. When someone asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

That attitude is what separates the successes from the failures. Thomas Edison isn’t the only one. J. K. Rowling’s manuscript for Harry Potter was only accepted after twelve publishers denied it, and even then she was only paid a nominal advance. Oprah Winfrey lost her job as a Baltimore news anchor for becoming too emotionally involved in her stories, a quality that became her trademark. Henry Ford lost his financial backers twice before he was able to produce a workable prototype of an automobile. The list goes on and on.

So, what separates the people who let their failures derail them from those who use failure to their advantage? Some of it comes down to what you do, and the rest comes down to what you think.

The actions you take in the face of failure are critical to your ability to recover from it, and they have huge implications for how others view you and your mistakes. There are five actions you must take when you fail that will enable you to succeed in the future and allow others to see you positively in spite of your failure.

1. Break the bad news yourself

If you’ve made a mistake, don’t cross your fingers and hope that no one will notice, because someone is going to—it’s inevitable. When someone else points out your failure, that one failure turns into two. If you stay quiet, people are going to wonder why you didn’t say something, and they’re likely to attribute this to either cowardice or ignorance.

2. Offer an explanation, but don’t make excuses

Owning your mistakes can actually enhance your image. It shows confidence, accountability, and integrity. Just be sure to stick to the facts. “We lost the account because I missed the deadline” is a reason. “We lost the account because my dog was sick all weekend and that made me miss the deadline” is an excuse.

3. Have a plan for fixing things

Owning up to a mistake is one thing, but you can’t end it there. What you do next is critical. Instead of standing there, waiting for someone else to clean up your mess, offer your own solutions. It’s even better if you can tell your boss (or whomever) the specific steps that you’ve already taken to get things back on track.

4. Have a plan for prevention

In addition to having a plan for fixing things, you should also have a plan for how you’ll avoid making the same mistake in the future. That’s the best way to reassure people that good things will come out of your failure.

5. Get back on the horse

It’s important that you don’t let failure make you timid. That’s a mindset that sucks you in and handicaps you every time you slip up. Take enough time to absorb the lessons of your failure, and as soon as you’ve done that, get right back out there and try again. Waiting only prolongs bad feelings and increases the chance that you’ll lose your nerve.

Your attitude when facing failure is just as important as the actions you take. Using failure to your advantage requires resilience and mental strength, both hallmarks of emotional intelligence. When you fail, there are three attitudes you want to maintain.

6. Perspective

This is the most important factor in handling failure. People who are skilled at rebounding after failure are more likely to blame the failure on something that they did—the wrong course of action or a specific oversight—rather than something that they are. People who are bad at handling failure tend to blame failure on their laziness, lack of intelligence, or some other personal quality, which implies that they had no control over the situation. That makes them more likely to avoid future risk-taking.

7. Optimism

This is another characteristic of people who bounce back from failure. One British study of 576 serial entrepreneurs found that they were much more likely to expect success than entrepreneurs who gave up after their first failure. That sense of optimism is what keeps people from feeling like failure is a permanent condition. Instead, they tend to see each failure as a building block to their ultimate success because of the learning it provides.

8. Persistence

Optimism is a feeling of positivity; persistence is what you do with it. It’s optimism in action. When everybody else says, “Enough is enough” and decides to quit and go home, persistent people shake off those failures and keep going. Persistent people are special because their optimism never dies. This makes them great at rising from failure.

Bringing it all together

Failure is a product of your perspective. What one person considers a crushing defeat, another sees as a minor setback. The beauty is that you can change how you see failure so that you can use it to better yourself.