7 Ways to Get What You Want From Life

Call me a Pollyanna, but I believe you can create the life you want (within reason). I don’t believe in magic or pseudo-science, but I do know what has worked for me, and I’ve studied what works for others.

7 Ways to Get What You Want From Life

1. Set Goals – This is fundamental. But you know what? Huge numbers of people fail to do it and they wonder why their lives have no direction. You need to give yourself direction by pointing the ship of life toward your new world. You are never going to get anywhere unless you decide where you want to go. Put your goals in writing, post them in plain view, and read them frequently.

2. Visualize – Use your creative imagination. Imagine what life would look like if you had already reached your goals. Imagine in detail. I’m not talking about living in fantasyland where your dead mother comes back to life or you have magical powers which turn lead into gold. Imagine what is possible for you. No one can say what is possible for you, except you. Maybe you’ll own a graphic design company or build a successful relationship. Maybe you’ll build a dragster or ride a motorcycle across Russia. Maybe you’ll start a new political party or build a homeless shelter. Visualize your future as if it were happening right now. Visualize it in detail. This has worked well for me: Create the future you want in writing. Write it in a first person present tense narrative. Include every detail you can imagine. When I look back at my writings, it is uncanny how much of it has come true.

3. Act – Sitting in an armchair imagining a wonderful life isn’t going to make it happen. After setting your goals and visualizing the end result, your first action should be creating a plan. Planning is the bridge between creative imagination and implementation. You have to act on your ideas. The homeless shelter isn’t going to build itself. The girl of your dreams is not going to walk in your front door. If you want a new relationship, get out and meet some people. You might have to read Dale Carnegie or join Toastmasters International. You might have to attend conferences, join a church, or get a job. It all depends on what you want. Become a planner and a doer. Create a plan, write it down, and act on it.

4. Accept – Don’t be stubborn and rigid. Don’t try to force life down your specific path. Things will not be easy and they won’t go as planned. Be flexible and ready to change. This might sound contradictory to previous points, but it isn’t. Set your goals, visualize them, act on them, but be willing to accept that the journey will pull you in different directions. You may find, over time, that you no longer want the things you thought you wanted. Let’s say you set a goal to make millions selling software to Apple Computer, but after a few years your company is evolving into a service company which maintains cloud computing infrastructure. You and your partners find this new direction rewarding both financially and personally, so you chop the software piece of the business and alter your plan. Also, if you have big goals in life, you need to delegate portions of your current responsibilities and that takes trust and acceptance. Other people will take you in directions you hadn’t imagined before. Accept others and their plans and it will help you reach your goals.

5. Learn From Others – I hate to tell you this, but you don’t know squat. None of us do. We all lie to ourselves, telling ourselves we really know what is going on here, but we don’t. Maybe the lie keeps us sane. So be humble, because even if you are the smartest person on earth you don’t know .0001% of what is happening on this planet. You know even less about what is happening in the universe. But collectively we do know a lot. That’s why we need networks and communities. To get what you want from life you need the help of others who have achieved the things you want. I used to think ‘not knowing’ the answer was a weakness (a stupid idea we all learn in school), it isn’t. Not knowing is an opportunity to learn. I also thought I had to do all the work myself (another stupid concept stressed in school), I don’t.  Remember, most people love to talk about themselves and they love to help. Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. The bigger your goal the more help you’ll need.

6. Be Persistent – Get rich quick schemes are a scam. It is rare when life yields quick easy results. Life rewards inner strength. It rewards determination. It takes years of trial and error, multiple-failures, and major setbacks for most people to get what they want. And most people quit just before they are about to realize success. If you’ve ever lived in a northern climate, you know winter doesn’t feel as cold in December as it does in March. Every March I complain and contemplate moving to Texas. It always feels coldest just before spring.  Each person I’ve met who has realized their dreams had very dark moments through which they persevered. Seth Godin calls this The Dip. It creates scarcity because few people make it through The Dip.

7. Learn to Disarm Your Inner Critic – We all have this little voice inside our heads which criticizes us. Some people’s critics are stronger than others. Your Inner Critic can stop you before you get started or sabotage you along the way. This is the part of you that says you aren’t worthy of success. It is the part that makes you feel guilty when you win. It is the part that protects you from anxiety by preventing you from facing your fears. But to succeed you must face your fears. It judges others who are successful and finds fault with them. It creates excuses. It tells you why you can’t, but never tells you why you can. It says you don’t really want success, because the trade-offs are too great. Your inner critic shreds your self-esteem.

So how do you disarm your inner critic?

It is too complex to explain in this post so I recommend you buy this book, Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning (Hat Tip to Chris Brogan). It’s a must read for anyone living a conscious life.

“I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.

.      .      .      .      .      .

“For Life is a just employer;
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

“I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.”

Jessie B. Rittenhouse

This post has been entered in the Killer Titles – Group Writing Project at Problogger.net.

The Best of the Internet 8-25-08

I haven’t done an internet round up in a while, so here is some of the best stuff:

  • Tina Su quit her day job. Read about how she made her Dream a Reality. Congratulations.
  • Clay Collins is starting a new project to help you finance your freedom. Clay has guts. Now he is going after the biggest problem facing people – trying buy back their freedom. I look forward to his new project.
  • Chris Brogan writes about the importance of being funny. I like funny. I’ve been warned not be silly with this blog because it hurts my credibility. Is it ironic that the word blogger looks like booger or that the word blog sounds like something you should have surgically removed? Like, I just had a blog removed from my abdomen. Not funny? Lewis Black said blogging is just mental masturbation… Enough?
  • Louis Gray tells us what we need to know to avoid social media overload. Like nearly all Louis Gray’s posts on Web 2.0, it’s golden. I’m overwhelmed, but I’m not, because i just need to manage myself better. I’m also overwhelmed trying to understand what’s available and what’s needed, this post puts it all in perspective.
  • Another article from Charles Murray on how college prolongs childhood. If any of you have read Peter Drucker, you may remember that he didn’t want to enroll in the university, but his father insisted (he wanted to go directly into business). When he did enroll it was nearly free (not because it was government funded) and he didn’t have to attend a single class. That was in Austria in the 1920s. It was a place to grow your mind, not a factory to create degrees.
  • Matt Cutts at Google give us three tips for “company blogging.” I like his last one – Don’t Post When You’re Angry. That’s why I don’t post as often as I should, I’m angry all the time 🙂

College Overrated? Dare I Say More?

Heresy, right?

The reason I write posts like this is not to trash college but to challenge the conventional mindset that college must be purchased regardless of any cost benefit analysis. I write to give you a different perspective and I write to ask these questions,

  • Is it possible that the current post-secondary educational system is causing social damage to our nation and our world?
  • Is it time to reinvent the entire concept of post-secondary education?

At the macro level most statistics point to a favorable economic outcome for college graduates. But at the micro level, there is little evidence college graduation will produce individual economic advancement. Many students leave college buried in debt without meaningful employment.

Money Magazine asks, “Is College Still Worth the Price?” Tuition is rising twice as fast as inflation while salaries for graduates are falling.

In general, college appears to be a good economic investment, but it may be a poor investment for you.

Charles Murray is one of the few who are saying this. In The Wall Street Journal he writes “For Most People, College is a Waste of Time.” From the beginning he makes a point which is difficult to counter:

Imagine that America had no system of post-secondary education, and you were a member of a task force assigned to create one from scratch. One of your colleagues submits this proposal:

First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn’t meet the goal. We will call the goal a “BA.”

You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that’s the system we have in place.

Is it also possible that the current system is injuring our moral foundation and our society as a whole?

I hope I don’t offend anyone with this analogy, but I believe it is entirely accurate. In fact, it isn’t just an analogy; these institutions (education and racism) were closely related through much of their history. Simply removing the racial laws and regulation has not solved the problem, because the institutions were designed to forcibly segregate and assign artificial value to groupings of human beings with the purpose of creating a manageable orderly society. They are still functioning as designed. At the top end we have the Ivy League, at the bottom the prison system.

When Mr. Murray says, “stigmatize everyone who doesn’t meet the goal” he is referring to what I call intellectual apartheid, a system which segregates vast swaths of our society, not by true ability or potential, but by their ability to perform for the bureaucrats who manage institutions designed to create artificial scarcity. Our current educational system was developed when scientific racism was the norm. It was a time when the elite believed (and some still do) in the scientific management of people and social interactions.

Mandela said,

The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity – Nelson Mandela

The greatest damage is done when the oppressed begin to believe they are inferior and when the oppressor believes they are superior. These beliefs are then reflected in our actions and persist for generations after the damaging institutions are removed.

Isaac Asimov in 1982, Scarfman, and the Exatron Stringy Floppy

More OG (Original Geek) stuff today. I love this Radio Shack advertisement for the TRS-80 Pocket Computer with Isaac Asimov from 1982 (click for a larger version):

Isaac Asimov TRS-80

How about these Arcade clones Defense Command (Missile Defense), Scarfman (Pac-Man), Super Nova (Asteroids), Cosmic FIghter (Galaxians) for the TRS-80 sold on cassette tape for $20.00. I had all these games when I was kid. I think my dad pirated them for me.  I doubt he ever spent $20.00 on a game (click for a larger version):


Here is the Exatron Stringy Floppy alternative to cassette and disk storage. This was available for the TRS-80, Apple, and the PET. I never had one, but I dreamed of having something 15 times as fast as cassette (click for a larger version):


Overcoming Fear – The Courage to be Creative

Jeff Jarvis writes, “we are shifting, too, from a culture of scarcity to one of abundance.” While we live in a world of potential abundance, there are obstacles to realizing this abundance. It requires that we accept change and become willing to relinquish control of others. To realize your creative abundance, you must have the courage to confront your own fears and the fears of others. Jeff Jarvis writes…

So let’s assume that instead of a scarcity there is an abundance of talent and a limitless will to create but it has been tamped down by an educational system that insists on sameness; starved by a mass economic system that rewarded only a few giants; and discouraged by a critical system that anointed a closed, small creative class. Now talent of many descriptions and levels can express itself and grow. We want to create and we want to be generous with our creations. And we will get the attention we deserve. That means that crap will be ignored. It just depends on your definition of crap.

The gates of the creative kingdom have been guarded for far too long by a group of elitists who practice a form intellectual apartheid (albeit unknowingly). In the past, they, the guardians of taste and culture have prevented the great mass of humanity from participating in true meritocracy. In fact, the system was designed to convince us that we don’t deserve to participate. William Deresiewicz writes in The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

My education taught me to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League or equivalent school weren’t worth talking to, regardless of their class. I was given the unmistakable message that such people were beneath me. We were “the best and the brightest,” as these places love to say, and everyone else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic “Oh,” when people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I’d gone to Harvard, I would have learned to say “in Boston” when I was asked where I went to school—the Cambridge version of noblesse oblige.) I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of class. I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to college at all.

I also never learned that there are smart people who aren’t “smart.” The existence of multiple forms of intelligence has become a commonplace, but however much elite universities like to sprinkle their incoming classes with a few actors or violinists, they select for and develop one form of intelligence: the analytic. While this is broadly true of all universities, elite schools, precisely because their students (and faculty, and administrators) possess this one form of intelligence to such a high degree, are more apt to ignore the value of others. One naturally prizes what one most possesses and what most makes for one’s advantages. But social intelligence and emotional intelligence and creative ability, to name just three other forms, are not distributed preferentially among the educational elite. The “best” are the brightest only in one narrow sense. One needs to wander away from the educational elite to begin to discover this.

Now, due to ubiquitous technology and cheap access to the internet, no one can prevent you from floating balloons and discovering what rises. But there is another angle to this, the media consumer.

I hear average Joes (non-social media addicts) say they don’t understand blogging and all the fuss about online media. I hear, “every blog I’ve read sucks. How do you find blogs worth reading? How do you know if it’s accurate? How can you trust some blog?”

I reply, “Discriminate for yourself and find your information via news aggregation. Decide for yourself what is plausible, what is good.” In a diplomatic way, I’m saying, “Think for yourself.”

Invariably I am told, “Who has time for that!” Which I find a bit depressing, because they’re saying they don’t want to exert the effort to think critically about what the media says. It is an industrial age hangover.

A large percentage of media consumers were conditioned during the industrial age to have decisions made for them. They don’t want the freedom to decide for themselves what is worth believing, because then – they must take responsibility for what they believe. Now, they assume if something is written in a major newspaper that it must be accurate and trustworthy, and it makes them feel safe. They want editors to protect them. They want schedules, filters, and predictability, but they don’t want to be accountable.

This is the problem Web 2.0 entrepreneurs must solve. Digg tries to filter out the garbage and let the cream rise, but they fail by consistently suppressing great content via bury abuse. People bury ideas they disagree with, not just spam. Controversial political opinion is becoming harder to find on Digg. Reddit’s algorithm allows it to be overrun with redundant content. No one system has the answer, but the aggregators are improving, and we are getting more choices.

While Jarvis writes of the demise of the creative class, Dereck (I Will Not Die) asks if we are in the midst of a new class war.

Not rich vs. poor. I don’t mean the hordes of normal working people rising up hoping to slaughter all the landowners. What I have in mind is a new kind of class, a class that has crept up slowly, growing almost without being noticed until it’s big enough to be a major player in society. I mean a class of tech-savvy, scientifically-minded, free-thinking über-”geeks”. I’m guessing we now number in the millions, easily. Probably in the tens of millions though.

As I talk with people about new media and the changing economy, I run into people who ‘get it’ and people who don’t. Right now it appears to be nearly black and white. Of course there are those who think they ‘get it’ and don’t, and those who ‘get it’ and are trying to thwart it, like the Philadelphia Inquirer. The new class warfare Dereck describes is being fought between those attempting to preserve the past and those welcoming the future. This new class war, defies the political and social constructs of the industrial age. It is neither conservative nor liberal, rich nor poor, white nor black. It is about freedom, intellectual and creative freedom.

The old media won’t hold up economically or ethically. It will fall like all central control falls when it is confronted with mass technological and social innovation. It will fail because it doesn’t serve people, it serves itself. Preserving the past never works, because (as an old school genius wrote), Time Marches On and it doesn’t care about you or your fears.

Were You Born Free or Programmed?

A lot of you are geeks like me, so I am going to start posting some tech related stuff.

From a March 1984 copy of Basic Computing:

I’m a geek from waaay back! Here is the table in my room in 1978. The child in the picture is my nephew who is 6 years younger than me. I was 9 at the time and he was 3. Note the cassette player I used for loading and saving programs. Gotta love cinder block and lumber shelving!