Hear the naysayers

In life hacking blogs I often read that you should avoid negative people. Lately I read such a recommendation again at Life Optimizer. The last paragraph states:

15. Get rid of naysayers

While gathering around enthusiastic friends can energize you, gathering around naysayers will do the opposite: they will take away whatever positive energy you have. So avoid them at all costs. Of course, sometimes you need to reach out to them, but be sure that you energize them and not they take away your energy. You should always be open to constructive criticism, but avoid people who just make you down without giving constructive feedbacks.

I say: Hear what the naysayers have to tell. Let them draw the worst case scenarios for you. There are three reasons for them to be negative:
  • They locate problems and pitfalls - they see difficulties achieving the particular goal.
  • They fear the results - they worry about the changes that your actions may bring.
  • They want to achieve the goal themselves - and they want to make you down because they want to get to the goals earlier.
You can benefit in all three cases:
  • You can rate the probability of problems at the particular locations and do something to avoid the problems.
  • The naysayers are most probable not alone with their fears - you can do something to make them feel more secure. This will attract even more people to your solutions.
  • Envious people are a sign that you are aiming for valuable goals - working on them seems to be worth it also for others.
Sure, stubborn pessimism can be exaggerated and there is a time when you should prefer the presence of more positive people. But you are not sessile - you can move on.


Success with optimism AND pessimism

The problem: You want to be positive and optimist but you fear failure.
In the past some friends have seen me as a pessimist and I was convinced that a pessimistic view is more realistic than an optimistic view. When reading life hacking blogs it looks like successful people should avoid every form of pessimism and negative thinking people. Trying to surf on the wave of optimism and positive thinking you feel fears and worries about possible failure.

The reason: Missing union of positive and negative aspects.
You might have heard about or seen a lot of people failing in their attempts to achieve big success or even people that are successful in general had their very bad periods. You try to be positive and optimistic but somewhere in your mind you know of the dangers and risks and you fear that as soon as starting full of enthusiasm you rush and fall into the first trap.

The solution: Integrate positive and negative aspects into your success plan.
If you want to be a successful person you commit to set actions achieving it - you want to get things done. Acting means effects. And effects may be different from your expectations and desires. So there is the possibility of negative effects or failure as well as the possibility of success or positive results. This is a fact and is a neither positive or negative view. Everything is possible.

Without the possibility of positive results you wouldn't start working so having positive effects and results in mind as a goal and motivation for moving on is important.

Be positive when thinking of your goals:
  • Trust in the possibility that the world can be improved.

  • Trust in your power being able to contribute to a better world and happier yourself!

  • Assume that all other creatures have the same desires of being happy and therefore will benefit from the positive things that you do.

  • Trust in your ability to be able to learn everything necessary to achieve your goals.

  • Be happy about the success already accomplished. So moving on is a chance to repeat the good feelings.

On the other hand be pessimistic in your concrete planning of your way to success:
  • Get aware of everything that could go wrong to identify the biggest pitfalls and the highest risks. The benefit: You can do something to prevent from the risks with the heaviest impacts.

  • Do not assume or hope for the help of others or in other words: Do not expect that others are doing their job accurately, attentive and carefully. Search for help and accept every helping hand but don't rely on it. The benefit: Being double attentive prevents from errors. Humans do fail (that does not mean they always fail) - double checking is precaution. Especially when you have a management job it is required that you ensure that everybody is doing well his part. When many work together then the probability that somebody fails at some part is quite high.
  • Assume that you are not knowing important facts. So get aware of the holes in your knowledge. The benefit: More attention makes you watch out for additional knowledge which helps preventing from problems and increases your competence - knowledge is power!
You see that the pessimistic view of the future has several benefits helping you to rise the probability that you succeed. To protect yourself against the biggest troubles that may come out on your way to your goals is as important as working on the main goal to get the positive effects. The negative assumption should not exclude that you accept helping hands or be happy if a highly probable problem did not occur. Pessimism should just be your assurance against disillusion.

After you have imagined some worst case scenarios you can better rate your plan for the way to achieve your goal(s). You can evaluate different solutions/plans and choose the best way to success.

Regarding the Anxiety:
Take your fears and worries as a warning of possible traps and holes in your plan to success. Fears and Worries are warning signs to be attentive - not more! If you are aware of the risks and decide whether to do something to reduce the probability or accept the risk. If the remaining risks in your opinion are too high in relation to the possible positive results then you still do not need to drop your goal(s) completely. You can also search for an alternative way with less risks.

It is clear that some chance to big success also comes along with higher risks. Some people like it hot and want to take the risk. Others prefer the sure and easier way. It depends on your priorities, character and desires. It is simply your decision how much risk you want to take.

Remember that the slower way with a lot of small steps into the correct direction to meet your goals do often bring the better long-term results than the fast and big success.

Related posts: Positivity barricades, Focus on strengths, Being positive, When to criticize, Optimist meeting pessimist, Living your opportunities.


Direction over goals

A lot is talked about the importance of goals. And further people who don't reach their goals perhaps are treated either as losers. Not reaching a goal however is seen as something negative in most cases and therefore it happens that people either get fired when not reaching the goals that they were forced to set.

But when setting the goals in many cases problems are already programmed by
  • focusing on the positive effects when the goal is achieved and not thinking of probable negative ones.
  • setting a goal too high by not seeing the stones and traps on the way (which is not necessarily a fault but only the fact that you and maybe nobody else either have tried the way before).
  • not calculating changes of the environment and the effects on your goals.
After goals have been set decisive people often do (nearly) everything to achieve their goals. But the path to a goal might be long and take several years. Some people after years still try to achieve goals although their costs turned out to be far more than the benefit.

You should be flexible. It is not bad in general to set goals but while on the way you should look around heading for slightly different destinations that - while on the way - may turn out to be more attractive or bring you around a big rock that lies on the straight path to your final goal. I am not talking about the many little goals that you set to motivate yourself on the way, I am talking about the big "final" goals.

For me personally when looking for possible goals I find a lot of uncertain properties or only vague benefits that might come along with the reached goal or not. The real feeling and benefit for you personally after climbing on a mountain top cannot be exactly determined before you have been there. Maybe once there, you discover that the efforts were not worth it. Or better:

How much required effort is still ok for reaching a goal with uncertain benefit?

Well, while on a path that you never walked before you should continuously check the situation. While on the path you collect experience and therefore get more know-how about the area you are walking on. This also improves your ability to set realistic and appropriate goals.

In project management the goals are sometimes seen as a "moving target". So during a long term project according to a lot of possible changes in environment, side effects and desires you should review your goals and change them if adequate. So I would say goals are not only a moving target they are also a "changing target". But is a target that continously changes really a target?

I do prefer to set a direction rather than a goal. While walking I can change my direction at any time without trying to find long definitions on my final provable goal.

A direction is more important than a goal.

Related post: Focus by decision, Principles over rules
, The main purpose, Living your opportunities, The golden rule, Replace constraint with freedom, Considerations on decisions.


Get organized your refrigerator

The problem: Old food in the refrigerator gets mold.
It happens that some food gets hidden behind newer things and only when the refrigerator gets quite empty by accident these things appear again.

The reason: It is easier and faster to put new things in front of the things that are already there.
When coming home in the evening with a lot of bags full of content to be stored in the refrigerator you probably want to quickly put everything away. Everything is stuffed in the refrigerator quickly to get you bags empty and move on to the next action. Along with this older food slightly shift to the back. Getting older the family members focus on the newer things before needing to examine the older food in detail if still good. And so older things get older and finally begin to mold. Then either a long time can pass until found and thrown away.

The solution: Always fill your refrigerator using a system.
I do organize the refrigerator in the way that I can use the items in the same way as reading a book: I use items from top down and from left to right. So I put new items on the right or below. Where possible I leave a little space to fill newer items behind older ones (especially for yoghurt). Exceptions are only vegetables that usually go down into the vegetable drawer.


Like what is need to be done

The problem: It happens that there are things to be done but you don't like to do them.
If this happens often in your job than you should consider the following:
  1. Are these things part of my job (description)? - If not, why are you considered to do these things?
  2. Are these things a general part of the business branch I am working in? - Or is it only the particular company you are currently working at?
  3. Do I still like to work in this business branch in general?

The reason: Missing flexibility or missing knowledge of the branch you are working in.
ad 1.: If you face work that is not part of your main or defined job then take into consideration that there are two possibilities: Either the company size does not allow to see your job in such a narrow view or you are really making a step out of your kernel work. In case you are stepping out of your job bounds then consider that it is not necessarily a bad sign as your role in the company might slightly change.
ad 2.: If you are facing work that somehow belongs to your job and you don't like that parts but they come along with the business you are working in then you probably have a general motivation problem or you are not flexible enough to adapt your way of working to the need of what to be done in this branch.
ad 3.: If you don't like your job any more but motivated in general to do something of need and worth then you should consider a bigger change of your job.

The solution: Find the proper job and accept the side effects it brings
Finding the proper job is not done only once in a lifetime. It is a continuous operation. As world changes continuously people and companies have to adapt all the time. So you should be flexible in your job. But you are changing also. According to change of things it might happen that you and your job do not fit together completely any more. In that case you should consider finding a different job. When considering a job change then you should think of the properties that the branch your are working in brings along. If you want to stay in your branch - or don't have a lot of other choices (yet) then you should accept the side effects of your work. There is nothing good without negative side effects and nothing bad without positive side effects.

In the case you do not feel (yet) that you cannot manage bigger changes although you are not satisfied with your current work then get aware of the fact that there are things at your work that are important to others and someone should do these things. Somebody should keep the electrical power plants working, somebody should keep the trains going, somebody should take care that food gets delivered to the people, ... - be glad about your possibilities to contribute to the community.


Personal hygiene

The problem: Transmission of diseases.

The reason: Too less hygiene.
There are the following ways how diseases are transmitted:
  • Drinking contaminated water.
  • Eating contaminated food.
  • Breathing contaminated air (max. approx. 3 m distance from contaminated person).
  • Touching contaminated surface.
  • Through contaminated body fluids (saliva, blood, ...).

The solution: Adequate personal hygiene
There are several quite easy methods to reduce the transmition of bacteria and viruses:
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wash your food.
  • Avoid public transports at rush hour especially in the seasons of flu.
  • Avoid giving hands.
  • Wear gloves when working in places with higher risk of contaminations.
Unfortunately I do recognize that a lot of people don't wash their hands after been on the toilet. By not washing their hands they distribute bacteria either through all the door handles they touch and when giving their hands for greeting. A minimum hygiene that everybody should do automatically.


New year...

...does not start on first of January - no, new year starts when you are beginning to plan it!

In my case it was around end of November if I remember right. So when you want to schedule new year resolutions you are maybe good starting before the 31. December. Remember that the effects of your activities turn out later - the fruits of hard work are sometimes reaped a lot later. So if you scheduled new year resolutions don't get discouraged too early.

But what I am facing now: The effects of my plans for the new year from November already begin to show effect - I already think that I have planned too much for the new year. ;-)