How to make resolutions that actually work

The secret to making resolutions that actually work is also the secret to making a hit movie. So let me teach you how to make a hit movie.

At the start, our hero lives their ordinary life. We wouldn’t care to watch that for long, but fortunately all good stories push our hero through a door.

Door-1-1024x640The door is something irreversible; once you walk through, you can never go back. For the Matrix, it’s Neo choosing the red pill. For Gravity, it’s having your shuttle sliced to ribbons. In Shawshank Redemption, an innocent man is sentenced to life.

The door is where the story begins. It puts our hero on a path they cannot escape, and the tension compels us to watch.

Near the end of the story, our hero must pass through a second door. Again, the door is one-way. But this door demands a resolution. To pass through it guarantees a conclusion, whatever that may be. Our hero must fight their nemesis to the death, or chase their love to the airport, or stand before disapproving parents and dance for their hopes and dreams.

Door-2It’s the formula of nearly every story ever told, because it works. Once you pass through a door, you can never go back.

Door-3

Now let me tell you what isn’t a good movie.

Our unhappy hero wakes up one late December morning and stares at the mirror. “Oh god” he sighs, at his portly reflection. “In the new year, I swear – I’m going to lose weight!”

And then he updates his Facebook status, buys a copy of Runners World, and goes to the gym three times. The End.

Door-4If you want to make a resolution – a real resolution – you’re gonna have to walk through a door. The smart, resolute part of yourself might be in control now, but you know that’s not who will stop you. The lazy, stupid, reflexive part of yourself will be in control later, when the air is cold and you feel sort-of-ill-ish-I-think, and if you haven’t got something to drag that screaming brat out of bed you will fail.

You do this already, by the way. School, for example, is a door you can’t well choose not to pass through, which is why you attended it so successfully. Your job works in the same way, as does marriage and children. Doors are irreversible and non-optional, and our society is predicated on them.

So you really want to start your own business? Try quitting your job; that’ll take care of motivation. Want to lose weight? Sign up for a marathon in 9 months in an exciting foreign country, and book the non-refundable flights now. Or if that’s more than you can handle, start a scheduled team activity where if someone misses out, it hurts the others. Guilt will carry you when willpower fails.

Don’t jump on Facebook to announce your new resolution. It gives you a short term ego buzz now (“Look at me! I’m so awesome!”) but does zip to regulate your behaviour (few friends will remember your promise, or be so crude as to call you on it). By all means involve friends, but make your pressures real.

Most of all, don’t make the mistake of thinking wishful words alone will get you there. Nearly everyone fails their new year’s resolutions, which should be about as surprising as learning that the words “avada kedavra” don’t actually kill people. Just saying words doesn’t make a thing happen. Walk through a door instead.

Post by Oliver Emberton
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

To my shame, I have drastically reduced my amount of clicking over the year due to various circumstances and on-going happenings. 😦
This just made me realize I don’t remember capturing the small but much significance things such as joy. Well here is a photo of me with a friend who is cosplaying as b*tch from Breaking Bad at the Mumbai Comic-Con 2013. 😀

Image
So much joy in blue candy isn’t it? 😉

*Bat-like*

How to succeed when you have no special skills

main-qimg-bc7be76a735b8139f79ab12762a28a0b.jpgPost by Oliver Emberton

We’re forever being sold a lie on how to prosper in life: discover what you’re best at, work hard at it, swim in an ocean of riches and happiness.

That works brilliantly if you were born the best at something, but for everyone else, it’s kinda soul-crushing. What if you don’t have any world class skills? What if you’re just ok at lots of things?

The good news is, nearly everybody is like this, and that includes ultra-successful megastars. Very few successful people are actually the best at something. They’re usually a really effective mix of lots of things that matter.

Bill Gates is not the best programmer in the world, nor is he the world’s greatest speaker, salesperson, visionary or accountant. He’s good enough at these things though, and he’s learnt to weld his skills together into something far more valuable.

Will Smith doesn’t claim to be the world’s greatest actor or musician. But he’s coupled these skills together, combined with a charming personality, shrewd personal branding, and a die-hard work ethic. His whole is far greater than his parts.

Most such people would have made a terrible mistake had they solely focussed on the one skill they were ‘best’ at. Steve Jobs might have become a used car salesman.

Even when your skills are mediocre, an astute combination of mediocrity can turn you into something priceless.

Say you’re a passable tennis player. You love the game, but you know you’ll never be a world champion. By itself, this skill isn’t worth much. But you learn to combine that skill with the ability to teach well. Later, you figure out how to make tuition videos, and how to promote yourself on the Internet. You won’t be the best at making videos, or online-promotion, but even mediocre skills combined are unique. You could build a thriving online business doing what you love and yet all your individual skills never advanced beyond ‘good-ish’.

This works for any profession. An average businessperson who learns a bit of law, or body language, or programming, or design, or public speaking can assert a monumental advantage over their peers. Indeed, you might say what makes someone a great businessperson is a fusion of relevant skills, like psychology and self-discipline.

Individual skills are common. Combinations are rarer. If you want to raise your value, take a step back from your strengths, and consider building a broader combination of them.

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