Motivation – Litemind https://litemind.com Exploring ways to use our minds efficiently. Mon, 01 Jan 2018 20:43:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 50 Ways to Get Your Life in Order https://litemind.com/life-in-order/ https://litemind.com/life-in-order/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 12:20:13 +0000 http://litemind.com/50-ways-to-get-your-life-in-order/ Unexpected challenges are what make us stronger, so don’t avoid them. Keep in mind the following 50 tips and you’ll be able to streamline your life and get back on track with your life whenever you need.

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50 Ways to Get Your Life in Order

This is an article by guest writer Mark Foo, author of The 77 Traits of Highly Successful People.

There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of chaos in your life. As Albert Einstein once stated, “Three rules of work: out of clutter find simplicity, from discord find harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Unexpected challenges are what make us stronger, so don’t avoid them. Keep in mind the following 50 tips and you’ll be able to streamline your life and get back on track in the New Year.

  1. Recycle old papers that are filling drawers in your house. If you’re anything like me, you have drawers overflowing with old receipts, junk mail, records, and notes to myself. Get rid of all of this. Invest in a paper shredder to reduce clutter and maintain privacy.
  2. Mentally prepare yourself for change by visualizing your ideal self. Who do you admire the most? How do you envision yourself in the future? Who do you want to be? Visualize yourself to be that person.
  3. Realize that unexpected events can be a good thing. As the Dalai Lama once said, “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
  4. Ask people you admire how they got where they are today. I’ve always admired my grandfather. Learning more about how he started up his business, dealt with difficulty throughout his life, and maintained grace throughout it all has helped me in my personal endeavors.
  5. Cut back on alcohol, cigarettes and other vices. These can be crutches that cloud judgment. The money saved by not purchasing or cutting back on this type of material can then be put into something rewarding such as a vacation.
  6. Remove elements of negativity from your life, be they people or a job you don’t want to do. If you have friends who are bringing you down, there’s no need to keep hanging out with them out of obligation. Cut your ties and cut your losses.
  7. Start each day with a clear to-do list along with your cup of morning coffee. Knowing what you need to do in the day ahead helps keep you on track.
  8. Clean your house from top to bottom and throw away anything outdated. Not only receipts, as mentioned above, but any old junk that should be donated to charity or sold in a garage sale.
  9. Institute a clear filing system for your personal records. Investing in a simple filing cabinet and folders with labels is something you don’t need a personal secretary for and makes your life much easier when you are looking for a specific item.
  10. Do your grocery shopping for the week on the day it’s most convenient. Make a list, budget, and get only what you need to save time and money.
  11. Take a career test that will help you identify your strengths. If you are unhappy with your career but don’t even know where to begin in the process of moving on, this can be a good way to identify strengths and new possibilities.
  12. Meet with a professional counselor if there are issues you need to discuss. Many people are struggling with dead weight from the past or emotional baggage that is holding them back. Deal with them and move on with professional assistance.
  13. Go through cabinets and throw out expired medications or food items. The last time I did this, I found everything from 3-year-old curry powder to 5-year-old aspirin. Throw them out.
  14. Make a clear diet plan with an emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet plan has a tremendous effect on your overall energy levels.
  15. Add vitamin pills to your daily diet. Vitamin supplements can help reduce the possibility of cancer and osteoporosis, among other disorders.
  16. Work out a clear exercise plan with an activity that you enjoy such as dancing or biking. My girlfriend loves yoga, and I am a soccer enthusiast. As long as it’s active, it counts.
  17. Set appointments you’ve been putting off. It’s easy to put off going to the doctor or dentist until we are sick, but preventive care is extremely important in overall health levels.
  18. Take up a mental exercise. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or other word games along these lines are more than just a good way to pass time. They have been shown in studies to help improve overall mental capabilities.
  19. Publish your own book. This is easier than ever before with Internet publishing. You can get your ideas out there and start making money from them. I’ve published my own eBook, The 77 Traits of Highly Successful People, check it out.
  20. Make a reading list and join a book club. Most people state that they want to read more, but without an actual plan you may not make the time to do this. Joining a book club not only serves as a social activity but also keeps you up to date with your own reading list.
  21. Spend time with yourself each day. Susan Taylor states that “spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”
  22. Practice breathing exercises or meditation. Stress can have an overarching effect on our overall productivity levels. When stressed, I personally forget to breathe at times. Take the time to take deep breaths and improve oxygen flow to the brain.
  23. Speak and act with honesty. Are you able to stand by what you do and say? If not, it may be time to reexamine your own words and learn to articulate your thoughts in an open, honest way. This helps eliminate mistakes down the road.
  24. Learn from past mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Usually, we make a lot of them during our lifetime. As long as they aren’t repeated too many times, and are looked at as a learning experience, they can in fact be a good thing in the long run.
  25. Volunteer to help others in your community. Helping others is a rewarding way to get your own life together.
  26. Take up a new language or hobby.
  27. Read inspirational biographies. For new ideas, find out how others got their lives in order.
  28. Talk to a stranger. Unplanned conversations can be surprisingly inspiring.
  29. Reconnect with friends and relatives who live far away. Call those people you miss but keep putting off calling. With the Internet and Skype at your disposal, even an online chat can help you reconnect.
  30. Change your toothbrush. It can be a hotbed of bacteria.
  31. Take more naps. Sleep is often sadly underrated in its ability to boost energy, mood, and keep reaction times sharp.
  32. Drink at least 6 cups of water per day. Staying hydrated helps keep energy levels up.
  33. Organize your photo collection. Get both digital files and physical printouts in albums. If you’re anything like my family, your photographs could be sadly sitting tucked away in shoeboxes in the closet, taking up space.
  34. Take an interest in art in your community. Visiting galleries can help introduce you to the artists in your community and help stimulate thinking.
  35. Join a hobbyist club. My friend decided to learn more about building model airplanes and was so deeply into it that he recently obtained his commercial pilot’s license. You never know where a simple hobby can lead you in life.
  36. Keep a calendar with commitments. Having a visual reminder in front of you can be extremely helpful. We are all different types of learners.
  37. Don’t put off difficult conversations. Deal with problems directly and immediately. This will result in a much lower level of anxiety for all involved.
  38. Make a list of priorities and do what makes you happy. If you have lost touch with your own priorities lately, it can be beneficial to take the time to sit and think about what actually makes you happy. Work toward achieving this as much as possible.
  39. Spend more time outdoors. Nature has an ability to help soothe a troubled mind and clear your thoughts. Taking a walk in the woods or climbing a mountain, at any level of difficulty, gives a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  40. Attend lectures. These could be science lectures or other types, but it’s helpful to keep up-to-date on what’s going on in the world and plan accordingly. Keeping the mind active helps you in all aspects of your daily life.
  41. Take the time to stretch muscles. Get a massage to improve muscle tone and circulation, then use this new energy and apply it to your work routine.
  42. Make laughter a priority. Hang out with some of your most entertaining friends for a good laugh, or simply sit back with some favorite old comedies. Laughter counts as exercise and has been shown to expand your life span.
  43. Clear some time each day to do nothing. As a child, I remember that we had “free time” scheduled into our school activities every day. This could be used for reading, drawing, or simply staring into space if that’s what we felt like doing. What a novel idea, and one that keeps the brain at ease.
  44. Schedule a much-needed vacation.
  45. Learn new tips for entertaining. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to throw a great dinner party, and learning how to be a host or hostess with minimal effort can give a big boost to your confidence levels.
  46. Throw out old clothing that doesn’t fit. Too many of us are squeezing into outdated clothes that are doing us no favors. Look and feel your best with clothes that are tailored to fit.
  47. Live in the present, not the past. The past is over. Move on and enjoy every moment as it occurs. Take stock of what needs to be accomplished and move forward with this information.
  48. Learn from past mistakes and move forward with your life. Get your life in order by looking forward, not back.
  49. Get your car checked up. You go to the doctor to have your body checked up. Don’t wait until it is too late to perform maintenance on your car. I once got stuck on a road trip to Ipoh (Malaysia) as a result of this oversight, and it wasn’t pleasant.
  50. Budget for possible home repairs. Set aside some money in the proverbial cookie jar to keep home maintenance within the realm of possibility in this coming year.

Do you have a tip to help us get our lives in order? Please share in the comment section below!

About Mark Foo

Mark has brought together 48 personal development bloggers and writers to co-author The 77 Traits of Highly Successful People eBook that spells out all the secrets of very successful people. This eBook is available to you FREE. Grab your copy now at http://www.77SuccessTraits.com.



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Overcome Fear of Failure, Part II — 6 Powerful Strategies You Can Use https://litemind.com/fear-failure-2/ https://litemind.com/fear-failure-2/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2009 12:46:51 +0000 http://litemind.com/?p=122 In the first part of this series, we focused on building an effective mindset for overcoming fear of failure. Now it’s time to get down to action: here are 6 powerful strategies you can use to conquer fear of failure right off the bat.

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Overcome Fear of Failure

In the first part of this series, we focused on building an effective mindset for overcoming fear of failure. Now it’s time to get down to action: here are 6 powerful strategies you can use to conquer fear of failure right off the bat.

1. Acknowledge Your Fear

There’s a good reason why acknowledgement is the first step in every 12-step recovery program: we can’t fight an enemy we can’t see. Unless we can fully acknowledge our fear of failure, the psychological armor we built against it won’t be of any use.

Acknowledging our fear of failure, however, is not always easy. Many times, fear of failure comes disguised in subtle forms like anxiety, procrastination and other forms of resistance.

One great way to expose fears is plain old journaling. Another technique that works wonders is chatting with a rubber duck: many times, verbalizing your problem is all you need to clarify it.

Explore the nature of your fear: What is it that you fear about? Is it what people will say about you? What exactly are you concerned about? Try to unearth as many details as you can: the more precisely you can define the reasons behind your fear of failure the better.

2. Take a (Tiny) Step Now

Once we have acknowledged our fear of failure no other strategy beats simply taking action. Taking action and seeing results is the best motivator there is. The trick here is that we don’t need to take bold, courageous action: tiny action works just fine.

Tiny actions bypass the automatic fear response in our brains. We may get paralyzed when tackling big challenges all at once, but not when concentrating on tiny actions. And as soon as we have our first small success we start building the confidence to go on.

Small actions also serve another very important purpose: they are excellent feedback mechanisms. Each small step can be used to correct your course of action. A plane is slightly off-course most of the time, but since it continually uses its instruments’ feedback to correct its route, it’s able to get to its destination with precision.

So, think of the tiniest action step possible in your project — one that you’re absolutely sure you can accomplish — and do it now. After you’re done with that, just get to the next one… then lather, rinse, repeat. The tinier the steps, the better.

3. Reduce Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a major source of fear and anxiety. Our fear usually manifests itself because there’s at least one aspect of the challenge ahead that is unfamiliar or unknown to us.

The problem is exacerbated as we usually don’t distinguish the known parts of the problem from the unknown ones: we just mix them together into a large blob of fear and anxiety in our minds.

Getting clear about which tasks create the most uncertainty helps boost our mental energy to deal not only with those tasks, but with all tasks in the project.

Many times we tend to reassure ourselves by doing the easy tasks first and putting off the uncertain ones — and that’s fine in the beginning to help us get going — but if you keep postponing the most uncertain tasks, they will not stop haunting you and sapping your energy. So, after we get a little momentum (by taking tiny steps), the most uncertain tasks are the ones we should go after.

Make a list of tasks in your projects identifying the ones that are major sources of uncertainty and then tackle them as soon as possible.

4. Batch Ideas Before Executing Them

Have you considered that fear of failure might be a signal that you may be approaching the problem from the wrong perspective?

If that’s the case, why not have more ideas before jumping into action, then? “Any idea is a bad idea if it’s the only one you’ve got,” someone once said — and I agree.

Having no options is frightening: we start believing ‘success is our only choice’. We believe that the single outcome we envisaged is the only way out, that we must get it right, or else… Obviously, the problem is in the scarcity of alternatives and the terror that this ‘all-or-nothing’ situation elicits.

The way out of this situation is to have many ideas. Lots of them — after all, quantity breeds quality. You’ll not only have plenty of alternatives to make yourself feel safer, but may also solve the problem using a much better idea than the original one.

Refuse to execute an idea if it’s the only one you’ve got. Use any one of the many idea-generation methods available — my favorites are lists of 100 and idea quotas.

5. Plan for Failure

As we discussed in part I of this article, failure is part and parcel of life. What does this mean? In a nutshell, if you are doing things right you wil fail. Often.

I roll my eyes when I see dialogue (especially in war movies) along the lines of “What’s the contingency plan?” and the reply is the clichéd “Failure is not an option here.” Guess what, no matter how important the outcome may be, failure is not only an option — but a very likely one.

Especially when we’re doing innovative work, failure is not an ‘unlikely case we should be aware of’. Quite the opposite, it’s the norm. Expect failure and be prepared for it. Instead of pretending failure won’t happen, be prepared to fail intelligently — and learn from it.

Let’s be clear: this is not the same as setting yourself for failure, but simply not getting caught by (too much) surprise when it happens.

One thing you’ll notice is that — and this may sound counterintuitive at first — when you consider failure as a likely result, your rate of success will drastically increase. You’ll think more thoroughly about your problem and become more prepared and confident.

Before jumping to action and simply hoping that you won’t fail, stop for a moment and plan for what you will do when things won’t come through as expected.

6. Redefine the Game

We all want to be successful, but have you paused for a moment to consider what ‘being successful’ really means?

I could not finish this series without mentioning that we’re free to define success in any way we want. I know this may sound iffy, but the definition of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ are entirely up to you: you don’t need to adhere to any existing standards — really!

What if you measure success not by the usual notion of looking at the outcome per se but, for example, by how much fun you had along the way? What if you’re in for the learning? What about the excitement of trying new things? There are so many ways something can be successful that it’s really a pity to ignore them all and focus solely on how it can fail.

Let go of the idea that there’s only one successful outcome — and that all other alternatives, by exclusion, are failures: each outcome is successful in its own way. You may not have had the outcome you expected, but you may have learned something new about yourself. Or maybe you have developed your resilience. Or maybe you just had a good time all along.

By all means, be honest with yourself — don’t just pretend you don’t care about the outcome at all: this is not an attempt to fool yourself when you fail, but a genuine attempt to change your mindset and release yourself from the limitation of single outcomes.

Closing Thoughts

This ends this two-part series about fear of failure. As long-time Litemind reader ReddyK wisely pointed out, overcoming fear is part courage and part discernment. Hopefully, with the help from the ideas in this article (along with those in the first), you now have tools to better tackle fear of failure whatever the case may be.

Failure has become a dirty word when it shouldn’t be. Make failure your friend: unless you truly embrace failure, you will never really appreciate what it means to succeed.

Now it’s your turn: What strategies do you use to deal with fear of failure? Share in the comments!



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Overcome Fear of Failure, Part I — Building the Right Mindset https://litemind.com/fear-failure/ https://litemind.com/fear-failure/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2009 12:18:39 +0000 http://litemind.com/?p=120 Does fearing failure paralyze you? Learn how to create a first line of defense — a “psychological armor” — against fear of failure and stop being held back by it.

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Overcome Fear of Failure

Does fearing failure paralyze you? Of all the reasons for inaction, the strongest one is not lack of ideas, tools, time or money. Usually, the enemy is entrenched much deeper inside our minds. Unless we learn to tackle our fear of failure, we’ll never be able to get the most out of our lives.

In this first article of a two-part series, the focus is on how to create a first line of defense — a “psychological armor” — against fear of failure. Here are 6 ideas to help you look at failure from a different perspective and stop being held back by it.

1. Failures are just steppingstones

“There is no failure. Only feedback.” –Robert Allen

We give too much importance to failure, don’t we? We overemphasize it, seeing failure as the final result — as an undesired outcome of something we fought hard for. We miss the point, though, that failure is just part of a larger process — the process of learning and growing.

Have you noticed that some people — contrary to all expectations — seem to only become stronger when they fail? How do they manage?

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that they have developed a unique mindset: they realize that failing is an intrinsic part of succeeding. They know that every time they fail, they’re learning from their mistakes. A failure is a message that says that something could have been done differently — that there is room for improvement. And that’s why these people don’t seem to care much about failing: they never see the failure as an isolated event — but as part of a much larger process.

In life, failures are not end points: they’re steppingstones. They’re only as permanent as you allow them to be. They’re only final if you accept defeat and stop trying.

2. We can never be a failure

“Failure is an event, never a person.” – William D. Brown

At school we are ridiculed as we fail. As we grow older, the ridicule may become subtler, but it’s always present. That’s one reason fear of failure is so strong in us: failing undermines how we are recognized, accepted and validated by others.

For a long time, we’ve been conditioned to attach our sense of self-worth to the outcome of our actions. Every time one of our ideas fails, it is as though we allow our self-esteem to be eroded. We feel the failure deep inside: it’s almost like we were that idea that flopped.

But you don’t need to think that way. If something you try doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you are a failure or a loser. It just means you’re actively experimenting, that you’re trying, and you’re learning as a result. In that regard, the expression to be a failure (or successful) doesn’t make any sense.

If people around you don’t get that and are still critical of you or your failures, it’s probably because they are the ones who do not get the idea about experimenting, trying, and learning. But don’t let yourself down by their negativity. As long as you keep an open mind to experimenting, don’t bother if you keep failing! The people who really care about you will always support you throughout your failures. They’ll never lose sight of the person behind your failures.

3. Failing is the only way to go far enough

“If you hit every time, the target is too near or too big.” –Tom Hirshfield

The only way to know that you’ve gone far enough is to go too far. And going too far is called failing.

That means that if you don’t go far enough — in other words, if you don’t fail — you’ll never know for sure where your limits really are.

Race car drivers know this to the bone. They even have a saying for it: “The one sure way to find out if you’re going fast enough is to crash”.

So if you decide to live a life of “playing it safe” — of avoiding failures altogether — you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll most likely accomplish your goal — after all, that’s a dead easy target to take aim at. Just bear in mind, however, that you’ll never be able to get the most out of your life acting that way.

4. Failing is part and parcel of innovation

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas Edison

As much as I like creative idea generation, if you want to achieve marvelous things, having ideas is seldom the bottleneck. Putting them to action is!

That’s the difference between innovation and creativity: innovators are not just people having great ideas in a room, they are the ones who have the courage to go out and test them! And guess what happens when they put their ideas to action?

Exactly. They fail. Most of the time.

But every time they fail, they take note of the lessons failure taught them, improving their approach to solving the problem in subsequent attempts.

One of 20th century’s most influential books (and one of my favorites), Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was turned down by 121 publishers before getting published. And that’s only one story of persistence in the face of failure among the many I’m sure you’ve already heard.

Consider this: If you eventually score one success, people will hardly remember your failures. So, even if you have not overcome your ego problem about failing (see point 2 above), you still have a chance: if you just keep trying and score at some point, all your mistakes will magically be gone. 😉

5. Failing is usually not as bad as we picture it

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes” —Oscar Wilde

OK, failure may not be so bad after all, but would I be going too far in saying that you can actually enjoy failure?

Seriously, there were times when I was so afraid to fail that when I failed — as expected — I felt immense relief. My biggest threat had been left behind as there was nothing to fear anymore: my mind was clear again. Failing can definitely set you free.

Have you failed before? Was it as terrible as you had anticipated? Well, here you are reading this article, so it seems you survived all right. Truth is, failure is almost never as bad as we imagine. Fear of failure is usually much worse than failure itself.

Too often, people who haven’t failed at anything believe that failing is a disaster. And because they’ve never failed, they believe they know it all. They refuse to learn. Every time you fail, then, look for the lesson behind it and take it as an opportunity to grow stronger, to grow wiser — to be a better person.

6. Everybody is afraid — everybody

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” –Ambrose Redmoon

Let me tell you a secret: the next guy is as scared as you are. We’re all afraid of failing. Yes, that includes even the most prolific geniuses you can think of — In fact, they seem to be the ones who agonize more about failing.”

There’s nothing wrong about it. Your fear is perfectly normal: if what you’re doing is at least minimally worth it, fear of failure will always be part of the process. It will never go away completely.

Achievers succeed not because they’re not afraid, but because they overcome fear. Every day. Over and over again. They know fear won’t go away, but they refuse to be deterred by it.

And that’s the fight worth fighting. That’s the never-ending practice we must engage on.

Final Thoughts

I first compiled the ideas in this article for my own reference. Although most of them may not be new, this is the kind of stuff I keep forgetting at the times I need them the most — and that’s why I decided to share them here. I hope you find them useful.

The 2nd part of this article is about specific strategies we can use to overcome our fear of failure: check it out!



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Boost Your Brainstorm Effectiveness with the Why Habit https://litemind.com/boost-brainstorm-effectiveness-why-habit/ https://litemind.com/boost-brainstorm-effectiveness-why-habit/#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2007 11:44:40 +0000 http://litemind.com/boost-brainstorm-effectiveness-why-habit/ If you’re stuck trying to find ways to achieve a goal or solve a problem, there’s a quick analysis tool that can put you back in perspective and save you hours of frustrated brainstorming. It’s as effective as it’s simple: all it takes is asking ‘why’… Finding Your Motivation Behind every goal you set or […]

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Boost your Brainstorm Effectiveness with the Why Habit

If you’re stuck trying to find ways to achieve a goal or solve a problem, there’s a quick analysis tool that can put you back in perspective and save you hours of frustrated brainstorming. It’s as effective as it’s simple: all it takes is asking ‘why’…

Finding Your Motivation

Behind every goal you set or every problem you’re working on there’s a motivation. Even though the reasons we’re doing something are usually clear, next time you’re brainstorming solutions for a challenge you’re facing, take a few seconds and deliberately ask yourself:

“Why do I want this?”

Knowing your motivation is the most fundamental step before taking any action; after all, if you don’t know the reason for doing something, why do it in the first place? While this may seem blatantly obvious, the truth is that we often don’t consciously clarify the reasons for our actions beforehand.

Suppose you have the goal “Get more customers to my business”:

“Why do I want to get more customers to my business?”
—”To increase sales” you may say.

Don’t try to be particularly clever about your answer: just give the first and most evident reason. While you may regard “to increase sales” as the most obvious of the possible answers, consciously bringing it to light accomplishes a lot: it gives you a fresh new perspective about your challenge.

That simple answer gives you an entire new dimension of brainstorming possibilities: if what you really want to accomplish is increasing sales, you don’t necessarily need to get more customers — What about making bigger sales each time? What about making your customers return more often?

Focusing too narrowly on a goal or problem without understanding your underlying motivations prevents you from coming up with many creative and effective solutions.

Motivation Comes in Layers

You can extract full benefit from this technique by realizing that your motivations are layered: each motivation is a way to fulfill a higher-level one. To find out upper levels of motivation, all you need is to keep asking ‘why’. In our example, the exercise could unfold like this:

—”Why do I want to get more customers to my business?”
—”To increase sales.”

—”Why do I want to increase sales?”
—”To expand my profits.”

—”Why do I want to increase my profits?”
—”To retire earlier.”

—”Why do I want to retire earlier?”
—”To spend more time with my family.”

Working the motivation ladder in this manner is a great way to find the perspective you’re more comfortable working with. You may be paralyzed about “getting more customers”, but brainstorming ways to “spend more time with family” may be much more appealing to you.

The trick is to find the motivation layer that resonates better with you and then work from there. When you purposefully think in terms of motivations, problems become multidimensional: you can always choose more effective approaches to get unstuck immediately.

More surprisingly, each level of motivation can bring you new insights that may drastically change the direction you approach your goal. In the example above, consider the high-level motivation “to spend more time with my family”: blindly tackling your lower-level motivation of “getting more customers to my business” may force you to spend even more hours at the office — which is the exact opposite of what you really want, isn’t it?

5 Main Benefits of Asking Why

There are many more reasons why considering your motivations can make all the difference in a brainstorming session. Here are just a few:

1. Multiplying your Creative Output

If you were stuck with only one goal to go after, now you have many more to choose from: that means that if you could accomplish it in a hundred different ways, now you can do it in five hundred ways or even more.

2. Bringing a Sense of Purpose

Even if you end up choosing the original challenge you had at hand, you’ll now work on it with a clearer purpose in your mind. This may give you just that extra enthusiasm boost that you need.

3. Spotting Misalignments

Just like in the example of discovering that ‘getting more customers’ really meant ‘spending more time with family’, you may find that a lower-level goal is misaligned or conflicting with a higher-level motivation. In this case, simply drop your lower-level goal and approach your objective from a higher-level one instead.

4. Finding broader solutions

Brainstorming at higher levels of abstraction can give you solutions that encompass multiple areas of your life and address many issues in a single blow.

5. Uncovering Personal Values and Mission

If you keep climbing the ‘why ladder’ as high as you can, you’ll notice that soon enough you’ll inescapably uncover your core personal values — and ultimately your life mission. This is an extremely simple and practical “bottom-up” approach to understanding what really matters to you.

It’s a Habit

We’re so used to just spitting out solutions to problems that, more often than not, we just get into auto-pilot mode — forgetting to connect with our underlying motivations. But asking ‘why’ is nothing more than a habit. In fact, it’s so simple and effective that all you need to do is to just get started.



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