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Failing to achieve is not failure(DW# 842)

ambitious goals selfgrowth Nov 17, 2020
If our goals are ambitious and truly outside our comfort zone, we will not achieve all of them.

That is the bad news.

The good news is that persevering towards ambitious projects is valuable for our growth, regardless of whether or not we achieve the specific goals.

I love how Ben Franklin puts it:

"Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it."

This is the key: that we will be better and happier human beings for having attempted ambitious self-development goals whether or not we achieve our goals.

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Goals versus systems(DW# 841)

Here is your daily dose of Wisdom for Living Your Best Self!Benjamin Franklin set up a system whereby he continued to work on his endeavour of achieving moral perfection.

The way his project was set up reminded me of what Scott Adams says in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big is a great book with lots of wisdom which we shall perhaps explore at another time.

For today, I want to focus on what he says about setting up systems rather than focusing on goals:

"You could word-glue goals and systems together if you chose. All I’m suggesting is that thinking of goals and systems as different concepts has power. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of...

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Set lofty goals(DW# 840)

It is interesting that Ben Franklin set himself a goal that was, almost by definition, unachievable.

 

Given that we are human beings, it is (highly!) unrealistic to believe that we will ever achieve Moral Perfection.

 

And yet we must die trying.

 

Our goals must be ambitious, lofty and inspiring in order to propel us towards action.

 

Otherwise we will get too comfortable in our comfort zone which is not where progress or development happens!
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Focus on the journey rather than the destination(DW# 839)

A concept which we discuss repeatedly in DW, is to focus on the process rather than the outcome, the journey rather than the destination.

 

And this is what Ben Franklin did as well.

 

By focusing on practicing the virtues repeatedly over the course of the years, he recognized that this was a life long journey or "jihad" – that he needed to focus on the journey of self-development rather than wait to arrive at the destination of "Moral Perfection".
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Rinse and repeat(DW# 838)

Once you have established habits and know what you want to grow within yourself, what do you do next?

 

Simply "rinse and repeat".
 
For how long? Forever.
 
In modern times, we have come to believe things should be easy, that growth and self-mastery "should" be easy and effortless.

 

There is no evidence to support this.

 

Rituals, habits for personal effectiveness are practices, not projects.

 

(Of course, once we work to develop good habits, they can, to an extent, run on auto-pilot)

 

The good news is that when we practice them, we will live powerfully.

 

The bad news is that we will never be exonerated from doing the work.

 

When we consistently practice working out, we will be healthy. And when we stop, our health will decline. Not immediately perhaps. But certainly in the long run.

 

It appears that Ben Franklin recognized this.

 

He planned to work on his virtues one at a time, for 13 weeks and kept repeating this cycle...
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Write it down(DW# 837)

As we have been discussing, Ben Franklin had written out in detail what he wanted to achieve and grow within himself.

He was onto something.

 Researchers have found again and again that those who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them (between 1.2 and 1.4 times more likely!)

 Writing down goals (rather than trying to commit them to memory)  has immense power because:

1)   Once goals are externalized and written down, they act as visual cues, they can be reviewed and accessed at any time (even if your brain is distracted by other things).
2)   if you just THINK about one of your goals or dreams, you’re only using the right hemisphere of your brain, which is your imaginative centre.

On the other hand, if you think about something you want to achieve, and then write it down, you also tap into the power of your logic-based left hemisphere.

 3)   By involving both hemispheres of the brain,...
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Acknowledge your wins(DW# 836)

focus meditate selfgrowth Nov 09, 2020
"What good have I done today?"

This is the question that Ben Franklin asked himself every night before bed.

For some of us this will be challenging. We do not like to think about how we have succeeded because we fear this will make us arrogant.

We prefer to focus on our challenges instead, ways that we need to improve, to do better.

Here’s the thing though:

What psychologists have discovered is that we can only perform as high as our self-image allows. If we continuously bring ourselves down by focusing on how we have fallen short, how high is our self-image likely to be?

So consider this:

We may want to practice noticing and acknowledge times when we did, in fact, live up to our best self.  Each time we succeed at something, we need to affirm that by making micro imprints in our consciousness that we can do this – that we are up to the task.

There is a really simple way to do this: Simply say to yourself:  "That’s like me!!!"

"That’s like...

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Start and end the day with reflection(DW #835)

The next lesson from Franklin will be familiar to many of us in the Muslim faith who practice daily accountability for ourselves and our actions.

He started each day with reflection about how he wanted to show up in the world and ended each day with examining whether or not he lived up to his intention from the morning.

He asked himself simple questions to initiate the process of intention and accountability:  

In the morning he asked himself: "What good shall I do this day?"

And at the end of day this question:: "What good have I done today?"

So simple right?

I would add though, that it might be helpful to be slightly more specificin our daily intention and reflection.

For example:

Morning: What specific act of kindness shall I do today? To whom? How? At what time?

Bedtime: Did I do at least one act of goodness/kindness today? To myself, the family, my community, the world?

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Develop daily rituals(DW #834)

One of the virtues that Franklin valued and continued to work on was the virtue of "Order". And this included order in his surroundings and how he spent his time.

 

This is what he said about valuing time:

 

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." Benjamin Franklin

 

And so Franklin meticulously planned, tuned, worked and reworked his schedule to structure his days to fit in everything he wanted to achieve.

 

"The precept of Order requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time…"

 

"Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."

 

Many years later, time management experts believe that adopting daily rituals and habits is key to success in many areas of our lives.

 

So what do your daily rituals look like? What do you do in the morning? What is your bedtime rituals.

 

Developing and adopting rituals is a powerful way to...
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Time tracking(DW #833)

Yesterday we talked about how Ben Franklin accounted for every hour of his day.

 

If we are like most people, when we want to get control of our calendar, we start by planning our time.

 

Peter Drucker, who is considered the father of modern management, believes that this is a mistake.
 
He explains that while most people start time management by PLANNING their time, this is not the most effective way to do it. He recommends instead, to start by TRACKING our time. Before planning, we need to get more clarity on where our time is currently going.

 

(As we have discussed before, the simple act of tracking ANYTHING immediately improves the performance of that activity. So it makes sense)

 

So, if you are brave enough to confront how you are actually spending your time, take a few days to account for your time moment by moment. I do this every few years or so and it is SUCH an eye opening exercise.

 

(The last time I did this was before I got on Instagram...
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