Monday, 12 January 2015

Goals are for Losers. Systems are for Winners.

I've been meaning to write this blog post ever since I finished reading this spectacular self-help book about success last week, but due to a sudden illness, I could only do the things I most hate doing: sleeping 16 hours a day, being heavily medicated, and eating soft food.

But now that I'm feeling well enough to actually use my brain, here I am!

This post is going to be based off a few things I learnt from Scott Adams' popular book, 'How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big'.
Disclaimer: This isn't a book review (I've already given it 5 stars on Goodreads - do read it!).

Now, I'm going to share with you some really brilliant points from the aforementioned book. You may think some of these are obvious or stupid or not realistic enough, but Scott Adams himself tells you he's no expert. You need to implement his ideas to know whether they work, instead of just trusting him blindly. I'm also quoting his book at the end of each point, so you have a clearer picture.

1) Priorities and Energy:

Everyone's always telling you to prioritise. Everyone says that people make it big in life because they have their priorities straight. But do we really understand what our priorities are or should be?
Scott's idea is simple: prioritise the things that make you feel alive and energetic, and don't choose the things that make you stressed or drained. Once you prioritise the right things, your health, mood and focus will be on point, making your family and friends happier, too.
"Right choices can be challenging, but they usually charge you up. When you're on the right path, it feels right, literally."
"Priorities are the things you need to get right so the things you love can thrive."

2) Illusions:

 Albus Dumbledore once said, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget how to live." While that's correct, it is important to dream big, because dreaming big gives you the power to make those dreams come true.
Possibly the most common question asked in interviews is this: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" And most of us don't know, because we haven't thought that far. But in order to achieve what you truly want, you need to see yourself achieving.
Yes, this may mean that you have to live in a world of illusions - but to get where you want to go, you need to imagine yourself there already.
As I'm writing this post, I know realistically speaking that maybe about twenty people are going to read it. So a thought might pop into my head: "Why am I spending so much time writing and editing and GIFing just for those twenty random people? Instead, I could be watching Castle."
But if I imagine thousands and thousands of people reading this post, then reading Scott's book, then implementing his ideas, and then making it big in life... my entire perspective changes. Now I know that every word I write on this page has the power to help people. And that motivates me to write my best.
"Free yourself from the shackles of an oppressive reality. What's real to you is what you imagine and what you feel. If you manage your illusions wisely, you might get what you want, but you won't necessarily understand why it worked."

3) The Power of Praise:

We all know that there are two types of motivation: positive and negative. Scott believes that the power of praise is much greater than the power of criticism, that validating a person is one of the best things you can do for his or her personal development.
Imagine this scenario, taken from his book: you're afraid of public speaking, but you have to deliver a five-minute speech in front of the entire class. You stutter and stumble your way through the words, you make no eye contact, and you're shaking the entire time. Now the teacher and your peers have two choices: they can either berate you for your lack of confidence, or they can praise you for your courage.
If they choose the second option, you would actually be eager to talk the next time an opportunity arises, because you now associate public speaking with positivity.
"Positivity is far more than a mental preference. It changes your brain, literally, and it changes the people around you. It's the nearest thing we have to magic."

4) The Power of Affirmations:

What you think is what you become. This is a fact that has been tested many, many times, and you've probably experienced it, too.
Ever remember walking on to the stage in school and thinking, "I'm going to trip!!" and then actually tripping? That's how affirmations work. The moment you declare something, you start to focus all your energy on that thought only.
This isn't to say that if you think, "I'm going to be a billionaire!" and sit around waiting for it to happen, it will. Obviously, affirmations aren't magic.
But when you express your dreams, again and again, your brain gets rewired into believing that you can actually do it. That's when you'll get ideas and strokes of genius and master plans that will help you reach your fullest potential. I don't know how this happens, but it does.
It's all about self-motivation. So once you're done reading this post, take some time and repeat to yourself what you really want. For example:"I, Ash Ketchum, will be the greatest Pokemon master... of all time!"
"My point is that you don't need to know why something works to take advantage of it. My perception is that affirmations are useful and I have no idea why."

5) Goals are for Losers. Systems are for Winners:

Ah, finally, we come to the most important part of Scott's book. In today's world, being a goal-oriented person is considered a very good thing. When you have goals, you're focused. You know what you need to get done.
But when you have systems, you're already getting things done.
Let me first explain the difference between 'goals' and 'systems'. A goal would be wanting to lose 3 kgs. A system would be getting fit. Once you lose those 3 kilos, you'd return to your normal routine. Or if you didn't happen to lose weight, you'd feel demotivated and go back to your previous routine anyway.
But a system cannot be measured. You just know that you have to get 'fit'.You start to go for walks more often. You switch to brown bread and fruit juice instead of white bread and Diet Coke. And slowly, this becomes your new routine. You're winning in life every single day. And all this, because you switched from goals to systems.
So I'm not going to command myself to write 500 words every day or to post two times on the blog per week. I'm simply going to write every day, without counting the minutes or the pages or the words. And that's what will make me a successful writer.
"If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realise you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or set new goals and re-enter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure."

There are many other things I've picked up from reading his book that I can't explain here, so do give the book a try if you can. Scott Adams, being a cartoonist, is naturally witty and humorous, and that shows in his writing. I guarantee you'll enjoy all 300-something pages of it.

What do you think about Scott's method of success? And if you've been successful in any part of your life, do tell me how you achieved it. I want all the advice I can get!



What's on your mind, Geeks? Let me know! :)