About four years ago I decided to read 100 new books a year. I’ve kept up that habit until recently.
I stopped reading two new books a week because I forgot almost everything I learned more than a year earlier. And there’s no way you can remember even a quarter of a book you read three years ago.
I made this discovery this year when I started worrying about random things in my life. I thought, “Didn’t I deal with this issue years ago?”
And I was right, I’ve read a lot about worrying, I’ve coached people, and I even wrote a book about it. But I’m not a machine—I’m not immune to the challenges that we all face. No one is.
I bet that you’re extrapolating your perceptions all the time. Let me give you a few examples and tell whether I’m wrong.
- “House prices will probably keep increasing.”
- “That person will never change.”
- “My business will keep growing.”
- “I will never learn from my mistakes.”
- “He doesn’t like me.”
We often have these type of thoughts multiple times a day. The root of this problem is our quick judgment.
Humans are very fast thinkers. But how fast do we even think?
Scientists have quantified the speed of light and sound, but when it comes to thoughts, it’s not that easily measured.
Your character is defined by values. And your core values are the result of your behavior. Aristotle said it best:
“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.”
For example, when you always tell the truth, you become an honest person. It’s as simple as that. And yet, we collectively underestimate the importance of values.
We think our values have everything to do with how we are perceived. But that’s not why values matter.
Values have a great impact on our inner world. They define us. They form the foundation of our character.
And since you have to live with yourself, your values should be one of the most important things in your life.
What makes a good decision? When I ask people that question, I often get answers like:
“When the outcome is successful.”
Why is it that we, as a society, romanticize outcomes? Only things and people that succeed are celebrated. Just look at all the articles and books that idolize successful people. And to a degree, that’s obvious.
But it’s also misleading. We tend to overlook cases that did not come with a successful outcome. And when we do look at failure, we are often quick to explain why things failed.
In hindsight, we can all look at mistakes and say that it was imminent. But if preventing mistakes is that easy, why are we still make decisions that we regret?
I want to ask you a question. How many hours per day do you think?
“I never thought about that.” So let me get this straight. You’re thinking all the time, and yet, you never think about how much time you spend thinking.
That sounds like an addiction to me. I know, because I’m addicted to thinking too.
- When I eat too much, I can say “I’m overeating. I need to eat less.”
- When I work too much, I can say “I’m getting burned out. I need to stop working.”
- When I drink too much, I can say “I need to stop. I need a bottle of water.”
But when I think too much, I can’t just say “I’m overthinking.” I need a different approach to unclog my brain.
But the problem is that we don’t consider overthinking as a problem.
Over the years, I’ve adopted many different “positive” habits.
To me, a habit is positive when it improves the quality of my life. A lot has been written about forming habits.
How hard is? How long does it take? What’s the best way to break habits? How do we adopt new habits?
My experience is that everyone can adopt any habit they want. There’s only one condition though: You need a good reason to make a change (I talk about that in-depth on this podcast episode).
And in 99% of cases, the reason to change comes from personal suffering, sadness, and hurt. At some point, you can’t stand your current behavior anymore.
I recently spoke with one of my students about her challenge to find a new job. Like you, she reads these types of personal development articles.
And she invests a lot of time in her own education. After speaking to her, I was convinced she would be an asset to any company that hired her.
However, she didn’t feel the same certainty as I did.
“But what if everybody else is trying the same strategies to get a job?”
Like many people who invest a lot in their education, she assumed that literally every single other person on planet earth is doing the same. And that her chances to land a great job diminished because of that.