Last week we explored the process of creating your future self. It all begins with using your imagination to visualize the specific person you want to be, instead of allowing your memories from the past to define who you are.
You then focus on the steps to get there while never losing sight of the ultimate destination. Problem is, it’s all too easy to get caught up thinking of the monumental amount of work it will take in total.
This happened to me over the weekend. My “job” is to essentially think in big picture terms about where I want to get with my business, and figure out the specific steps to get there — the same as with any other form of ambitious change.
And even though I know better, I started to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of everything that needs to be done. So my first step on Monday morning was to take a deep breath, re-gain perspective, pull out a spoon, and take another small bite out of the elephant.
From Elephants to SEALS
Navy SEAL trainer Andy Stumpf calls this the “small world” rule. Becoming a SEAL is a lifelong dream of some, and yet plenty quit for a fairly common reason — overwhelm.
The SEAL training program is a 180-day program capped by Hell Week, a five-day ordeal that becomes the defining event of the program. When you think about it as the hardest six months of your life just to then experience a nearly impossible five days, it’s easy to understand the overwhelm prospects feel.
So Stumpf advises trainees to simply think in terms of their next meal. The Navy feeds you every six hours, so all you have to do is what’s required until you eat again. This shift in mindset reduces overwhelm by focusing on a small achievable step instead of the entire arduous journey.
Small is the New Big
You may be familiar with the productivity philosophy of kaizen, which translates roughly to “good change.” In practice, it means continuous improvement through small adjustments.
Put simply, you commit to getting incrementally better a bit at a time. Combine this mindset with a quest to become the person you truly desire to be in the future, and you have a very simple philosophy for taking yourself further.
But what we’re really talking about here is altering ingrained habits and creating new ones. A methodical approach of successive small steps is easier to digest and often more effective.
This type of incremental progress is like compound interest, which Albert Einstein allegedly called the 8th wonder of the world. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but it adds up to a mind-boggling amount of change.
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Zero to 80
Eating to 80 percent full means you stop eating when you’re just satisfied. Not still hungry, but not stuffed or even completely full. You still get to be satisfied at meals, but over time, you’ll likely end up in a calorie deficit.
“When we get stuck in a venting session, it feels good in the moment, because we’re connecting with other people. But if all we do is vent, we don’t address our cognitive needs, too. We aren’t able to make sense of what we’re experiencing, to make meaning of it.”
Socially responsible investing means putting your money in companies that align with your personal beliefs — or are trying their hardest to do so within their business. This includes environmental impact, corporate governance, and social justice issues.
One way to not run out of money as we get older is to continue to generate income doing work we love instead of taking up golf or gardening. But it’s smart to protect our golden years in a multitude of ways, and here’s a smart one to consider.
One of our deepest desires is for freedom: to be free of stress, anxiety, a frustrating person, a difficult situation, financial struggles, health problems, the daily grind, distractions, feeling inadequate. That freedom is always available to us, in any moment.
By Trudi Roth
Recently I ran to the grocery store for two things. By the time I got there, I could only remember one item.
I know — that’s what grocery shopping apps are for. Thing is, I’d spaced on logging a list, and I’d forgotten my phone at home anyway.
The next morning, trash cans overflowing, I remembered: garbage bags.
This scenario happens to the best of us. Neuroscience shows as we age, pathways to the hippocampus — the seat of memory — degrade.
It’s critical, then, at midlife to reinforce our mental well-being by strengthening our resilience. So, while your body might be a temple, it’s time to think of your memory like a palace.
Give Recollection the Royal Treatment
To enhance recall, memory athletes use an age-old technique called “The Method of Loci” or “memory palace.” It’s a mnemonic device inadvertently discovered by Greek lyric poet Simonides of Ceos after he narrowly survived a banquet hall roof’s collapse and later used visual and spatial clues of the room from memory to identify his deceased dinner mates.
While this may sound like a lofty tool reserved for poets and performance mental athletes, new research suggests anyone can benefit from building a memory palace. After only six weeks of practicing the technique, regular people exhibited brain activity patterns similar to the pros and reported more long-lasting memories.
Who needs a password vault (or a grocery shopping app, for that matter) when you’ve got a brain hack that holds the keys to the castle of better mental retention?
Memory palace building blocks go back to toddlerhood when you learned to walk. Spatial memories — layouts of places and the placement of items in those spaces — helped you navigate the world. These impressions tend to persist over time.
Recollections of the past help you build a memory palace:
When we’re learning something new, it requires less effort if we connect it to something we already know, such as a physical place. This is known as elaborative encoding. Once we need to remember the information, we can ‘walk’ around the palace and ‘see’ the various pieces.
In other words, it’s a literal trip down memory lane. To encode new information, you place an oddball item for your brain to grab onto in that familiar place.
So, for example, I might picture my childhood bedroom and place a giant, smelly squid flowing out of the small pink wastebasket under my desk. Multiple sensory associations in a specific location helps make the mental reminder (i.e., buy trash bags) stick.
Don’t settle for letting memories light the corners of your mind. Instead, spark up your memory palace to illuminate associations that make life easier (with fewer trips to the grocery store).
The Method of Loci: Build Your Memory Palace (Farnam Street)
The Biz Never Sleeps, 1989
I vaguely remember singing appropriately out-of-tune along with Just A Friend on my final spring break of college (all of those memories are vague at best). RIP Biz Markie. (YouTube)
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Thank you for sharing Further!
Thank you for sharing Further!