That said, I expect it to be useful to about 10% of you, and for those 10% it will be life changing.
As for the other 90%, there are two things that might happen:
- You’ll dismiss everything I say completely, think I’m a quack and move on
- You’ll find some credence in what I discuss, but do nothing actionable about it (which has the same end result as the previous bullet point)
It’s taken me a long time to actually sit down and write this post, but I’ve realized lately that much of my success can be directly attributed to the things that I will write about below. These are very tangible and real concepts that I’ve used to not only maintain a positive attitude in all that I do, but also to experience a certain level of success in everything I’ve done as well.
Even coming up with a title for this post was difficult for me, and then it finally hit me. By a long shot, the two most popular posts ever on this site have been “How to Become an SEO Freelancer in 48 Hours” and “How to Build a Membership Site in 48 Hours“.
I love the idea of this 48 hours series. The idea of rapidly building skills and becoming a modern day renaissance man (or woman) of sorts is really cool to me.
I’ve had dozens of other ideas for the 3rd iteration in the series, and then I decided that it was very fitting for this to be the next. While this post won’t be as specific as the other two, the concepts discussed have even more potential to be life changing if you can embrace them.
Let’s face it, most of us are lazy. Implementing some of these concepts takes a certain level of discipline and willingness to think outside the box, that’s why I’m guessing it will only be useful to a small minority of you.
That said, I’m pretty excited to jump in, so let’s just get started shall we?
The Power of the Mind
Your brain is far more powerful than you even realize. Take whatever you think your mind is capable of, multiply it by 100, and then we might be in the right ballpark.
All the time I hear people making various excuses in their life. Some examples:
- “I’m not smart enough to do that”
- “I’m not a morning person, I could never get up before dawn”
- “I’m don’t think like that, it’s not how I’m wired”
We all fall into this trap from time to time. Over the last few years I’ve come to the distinct realization that it’s all bullshit. You have the power to change any of these traits you don’t like about yourself, and we’ll delve into how later in the post.
Recently I was talking with a friend who was discussing the idea that you can change your genetics. The idea that you can rewire your brain and actually change the way you react to certain things was pretty mind-blowing to me. What’s even more startling is that these changes can then be passed on to your offspring later on in life.
Think about that.
Maybe your whole life you’ve lacked self confidence, and have found a way to rewire yourself to be the most confident dude around. Your children can inherit those positive changes you created in your life.
This was an eye-opening moment for me, and for more details about the idea you can start your education by reading this Time magazine article called “Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny.”
How to Make Yourself Smarter – Literally
Ok I recognize most of this so far has been pretty intangible. Let’s look at something very tangible. What if I told you that you could improve your IQ by 10 points in a matter of a week?
I first read about the benefits of the N-Back training exercises at the Bulletproof Executive (well worth reading his site btw). The concept was pretty simple, you have a grid that looks like a tic-tac-toe board. Every 3 seconds a box shows up in one of the areas of the grid and at the same time a letter is spoken.
In the test, you have to recall whether or not a specific box was shown or a specific letter was spoken at various points.
What does this do for you? The greatest benefits are that it improves your working memory, creativity, and problem solving. The greater these two skills are, essentially the smarter you become. There are tests to prove it.
Dave took IQ tests before and after starting these exercises and found that he improved by TWENTY IQ points over a period of time. Pretty remarkable.
I’ve been doing these for about a week, and have already noticed a marked difference between when I started and where I’m at now – stuck at 4-Back.
I highly recommend you download the free, open source software called Brain Workshop. Try it for 20 minutes a day for a week, and let me know how you’ve improved.
Not smart enough is no longer an excuse.
Brain Enhancement and Speed Reading
On a similar note, I also decided that I wanted to learn how to speed read. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve been doing a lot more reading, so it seemed like an obvious skills to try and learn.
Teaching yourself to speed read is actually a similar process to what N-Back tests teach. Along with building up your eye muscles, you’re actually training your brain to process information much more rapidly. In the future, I’ll do a more in-depth post on strategies for doing this, but in the meantime, I’ll say that in about two weeks I’ve more than doubled my reading speed on a consistent basis.
A couple of the speed reading resources I use are:
- EyeQ: Very dated and expensive, but it’s the best program I’ve found for tracking your progress and daily repetition.
- Accelareader: A free tool that allows you to paste content into their program, and tell it how fast you want to read. If you want to read 600 words per minute, it will then display the content at the appropriate speed. This free tool, is a great way to force myself not to get lazy after the EyeQ tests.
- Scientific Speed Reading: Posted on the 4 Hour Work Week blog a few years ago, this provides a great overview for how to get started speed reading.
- Typeracer: Not exactly speedreading, but they go hand in hand. If you’re looking to increase your typing speed, this is the best (and most fun) way I’ve found. I’m averaging right around 80wpm.
- Lumosity: An awesome site that allows you to enroll in training programs like “attention boost” and “memory boost”. Tracks all of your progress, and does it through fun games. Eventually, you have to pay for long term access, but its nominal at like 6 bucks a month (and Google for promo codes if you decide to buy).
- Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, and Study Yourself Failing: A great video on why most people just stop at “ok” and how you can push yourself to be better.
- Brain Workshop: Same N-Back Test as I mentioned before.
Visualization and Why It’s Essential to Success
Alright, now here is where I may lose some of you, but oh well, your loss 🙂
My whole life I’ve been familiar with the concept of visualization. I played competitive tennis my entire childhood, and my mom would constantly be telling me to “visualize the win” and would make me sit there for 10 or 15 minutes at a time and simply visualize myself hitting specific shots, and winning matches.
I thought she was a little crazy at the time.
Now years later, I still find myself visualizing just about every aspect of my life. Anything I want to accomplish I’ll spend a few minutes each day visualizing what it will look like when I achieve that goal.
The bottom line is, if you can’t see yourself actually achieving the things you want, how can you expect them to happen in real life? There’s all sorts of examples of how this has been a primary reason for the success of many people.
This article from Psychology Today discusses it from the perspective of a professional athlete.
Grab a copy of Think and Grow Rich and you’ll see dozens of incredible examples of this from some of history’s most successful business people.
The main premise of this book is that you need to use auto-suggestions on a daily basis to convince your subconscious that whatever you want is actually true – in the case of the book, to get rich.
I’m about 3/4 of the way through the book, and while it’s not the easiest read ever, I’ve found it eye-opening in the sense that it’s the first time I’ve read high-level examples of stuff I’ve been doing for years.
It seems overly-simple, which is why so many people dismiss it, but taking a few minutes each day to train sub-conscious to believe the things you want it to believe can be life changing.
Let’s look at an example from my life that I haven’t talked much about publicly.
It was July of 2008 when I first told myself that I needed a change in my life. That’s when I realized that my job wasn’t fulfilling and I wasn’t moving forward as a person.
For those of you who have been paying attention, you know that I didn’t actually leave until October 2009, or more than a year later.
In the summer of 2009 I started thinking more seriously about my inaction, and why I hadn’t been able to act on making the leap. One of the first things I realized was that I couldn’t really imagine what leaving looked like. I couldn’t visualize it.
So I started trying. I set aside time to visualize every aspect of my departure and how it would come about. It didn’t take long before leaving became an inevitability, because my sub-conscious now knew it needed to happen.
This set off a pretty rapid series of events which culminated in my becoming unemployed. Did it look anything like I’d visualized?
Not at all, but the fact remains, the outcome was the same.
If you can embrace the idea of visualization in your life, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll be able to accomplish.
Here are some of my favorite resources for getting started:
- How to Visualize Your Success: A pretty good overview of what happens when you start to put visualization practices into your life
- Think and Grow Rich: It was mentioned above, but this is the epitome of all visualization resources.
- Creative Visualization: A good overview of how to actually go about putting these things into practice.
Taking Visualization a Step Further: Self-Hypnosis
Ok if I haven’t lost you yet, maybe you’re willing to venture a little further down the rabbit hole.
All through life you kind of grow up thinking hypnosis is a bit of joke. We all picture the same thing: some wack-job with a swinging pocket watch who can force you to do whatever he wants you to.
I still remember the first (and only) hypnotist show I’ve seen. It was at my orientation for my freshman year of college. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. Watching the stuff these people were doing – it had to be fake. There was no way this could be real.
But then for a second, I started thinking, well what if it is?
I didn’t do much with the idea for a few years, but it was always in the back of my mind.
Inherently I knew how powerful the concept of visualization was, so why wouldn’t I be open to the idea of really tapping into the power of the brain and the subconscious.
I went out and grabbed a book on the subject, and with an open mind I decided I would give it a shot. There were all sorts of things I wanted to improve in my life, so I decided I would start with something that would be immediately beneficial: focus.
I was in school and having a hard time staying focused while studying, so I went through the steps (see links below, if people are interested I can elaborate more on exactly how I do it in a future article), and after a few tries I was able to get myself into a relaxed “trance” state.
Wow, I feel really “new age” actually writing all of this for public consumption, but the bottom line is, after about a week of doing this for 20 minutes a day I could sit and study for hours on end with no other influences.
Over time I stopped practicing, and since my focus has dwindled again, but I was shocked at just how well the concept of self-hypnosis worked.
If you have an open mind, and really want to make it work, I don’t think there’s any better way to improve just about anything in your life you’d like.
Here are a couple resources I recommend if this is something you want to learn how to do:
- How to Perform Self-Hypnosis: This is a quick guide from one of the main resources on the topic online. They have a bunch of stuff for sale, but this brief rundown is pretty much exactly how I do it. If absolutely nothing else, this is a great exercise in relaxation – something none of us truly do enough of.
- Self Hypnosis Scripts: These aren’t free, but if there’s one specific thing you want to change they are like 8 bucks a piece, not a bad deal. You can also find a collection of free scripts here.
Combining Everything Into a Daily Ritual
Any number of these things on their own can be really beneficial. However if you can use them as part of a daily routine or ritual, the effectiveness will shoot through the roof.
Some of the most successful people I know, don’t do any work at all for the first two hours of their day. Instead they focus on all of the things that they should do, that most people never make time for. You know things like exercise, breakfast, meditation etc.
If you want to experience the full benefit of the concepts talked about here, as well as basic good daily habits, form your own routine that you do every day upon waking up. Make it into a habit, and over time you’ll be really glad you did.
I realize that many of you aren’t going to run out and grab a book on self-hypnosis after reading this. However, if you can open up, even a little bit, to the idea of brain training then this was a successful post.
As you grow older, all of the brain functionality you take for granted will begin to dwindle, so why not future-proof yourself and boost your quality of life in the process?