When I come across an idea that strikes me as smart, I try to remember it and – at least to some extent – incorporate it into how I run my life.
Here are two of them:
I’d like to get better. Maybe you would, too. The problem is this: improvement necessarily involves change, and changes are hard to make. What’s more, big changes are much harder to make than small ones.
That’s why I find it very smart to think about making important and permanent changes in my work and my life largely in terms of consistency.
In my view, consistency is far more important than the size of the change. As long as I keep doing the new thing in place of the old thing, whether it’s a big change or a small change becomes far less meaningful. Even the smallest change – done many times over a long period – can lead to major improvements.
To boost my consistency in making whatever change I’m aiming for, I focus on several mechanical attributes:
- I make the change fairly easy to do,
- I concentrate on making the change at every single opportunity, even if this makes me slower than doing it the old way,
- I keep score, logging my success every time I do it the new way,
- I reward myself at specific milestones, such as: every full week or month of consistent change, every tenth time I make the change, or whatever scoring method seems most applicable.
- I make it harder to do the old thing. For example, when I started checking my email less often, I closed out my email software every time I finished working with it, requiring me to start it up again before I could recheck my email. This wasn’t a big barrier, but served as another deterrent to the old behavior I wanted to change.
Prepare to Be Lucky
A slogan that has stayed with me since the first time I heard it is: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
I find it to be true.
I’m the first to admit I’ve been lucky in my work and my life (yes, I consciously practice gratitude every day). But I’m also adamant that I’m not just gliding along. I’ve worked hard to prepare to be lucky, so when Fortune did smile on me, I was already smiling back.
Preparing to be lucky involves:
- Preparation: when I see an opportunity opening up, I get myself ready to take advantage of it. This may involve such efforts as: researching the opportunity, strengthening or expanding my skill set, psychologically gearing up for the changes, building more flexibility into my schedule, and so forth.
- Attitude: a positive mental attitude is crucial to success, particularly in uncertain and ambiguous situations, which is where change is most likely to happen. As Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Clearly, it’s important to think you can.
- Appropriate Action: Sure, sometimes Good Fortune taps you on the shoulder and hands you success. But far more often, you encounter only an opportunity. You get the success only after you take the correct actions, in the optimum sequence, at the proper times. Brush up on your judgment, decisiveness, and willingness to act so you’ll be ready for good luck when it approaches.
There are a great many Really Smart Ideas to help you increase your level of productivity and success. These are just the two I’m thinking about today. For more good ideas, search here to look through what I’ve written in earlier pieces, and stay tuned for what’s still to come.
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