Minimize watching Television

Socrates believed that knowledge and morality were one. In other words immoral behavior is due to a lack of knowledge or understanding. If you’re aware of all the facts of a matter — the real facts, not the assumed ones — you could expect to behave morally and rationally. To Socrates immoral behavior was caused by ignorance.

You can get a lot of mileage out of Socrates’ idea, whether you fully agree with it or not. Sometimes if you simply assemble all the facts in one place, that’s enough to give you clarity.

Bert at Open Loops made a post about reducing TV watching. If you feel that TV viewing might be hurting you, a good place to start is to get the facts. Find out exactly how much TV you’re watching and what you’re getting in return for that investment. When you see a whole month’s worth of your investment in one place, it’s easier to decide if your investment is a sound one.

Take a TV Fast

Go without watching TV for 30 days, and use this time to gather data on your viewing habits.

If you have a digital video recorder like TiVo, use your DVR to record all the shows you would have normally watched — not just the shows you intend to watch in advance, but your best guess as to all the shows you would have actually watched if you weren’t on the fast. If this project would max out your DVR’s hard drive, then you really ought to leave your cave on occasion.

At the end of the 30 days, review your recorded listings and see what you learn. Add up all the time you would have spent watching each TV show. Get clear on what value you could have expected from those shows and what else you might have done with your time. Most likely, you’ll realize that some shows aren’t worth your time. Their entertainment or educational value is too low for how much time they take to watch. Once you see this information in front of you, consciously decide what you’ll continue to watch and why.

In her book Brain Building in Just 12 Weeksalt , Marilyn vos Savant (the woman who holds the Guinness record for the highest IQ) suggests that TV reduces your capacity for rational thought. One reason is that TV oversimplifies reality. You’re presented with subjects in a matter of minutes where everything is nicely wrapped up at the end. Reality is reduced to labels like good or bad, funny or serious, smart or dumb. This harms clear thinking by conditioning you to expect that most problems have a simple, clear solution (and if not, then it will be an overly dramatic solution). But real people and events defy labels. Real life weaves a much richer tapestry than TV, and too much TV viewing can make it hard to see and appreciate that tapestry for what it is. TV skews your map of reality.

As you go through the fasting period, think about alternate ways to invest your TV time. If you weren’t watching TV, what else could you do? Be creative. What could you do for your health, relationships, family, work, education, etc?

Question why you watch all the TV you do. Is it simply a habit? Do you watch TV by default because you haven’t consciously allocated that time to anything else? If TV is your default filler behavior when you have nothing else to do, switch to a different default behavior like reading or talking to actual human beings or hobbies like music or drawing.

If you watch TV when you’re too tired to do anything else, then go to sleep or simply lie down. If you need to rest, then rest.

What would happen if you increased your TV viewing? If you’re getting such a good value out of it, then why not do even more of it?

This is a post written and publicly released by StevePavlina.com. Copyright information for this article is found hereSteve Pavlina Releases his Work to the Public Original title of this is "Reducing TV Watching".

30 day break-in period for self-improvement

This is a post written and publicly released by StevePavlina.com. Copyright information and other details is found at the end of the article.
A powerful personal growth tool is the 30-day trial. This is a concept I borrowed from the shareware industry, where you can download a trial version of a piece of software and try it out risk-free for 30 days before you’re required to buy the full version. It’s also a great way to develop new habits, and best of all, it’s brain-dead simple.
Let’s say you want to start a new habit like an exercise program or quit a bad habit like sucking on cancer sticks. We all know that getting started and sticking with the new habit for a few weeks is the hard part. Once you’ve overcome inertia, it’s much easier to keep going.
Yet we often psyche ourselves out of getting started by mentally thinking about the change as something permanent — before we’ve even begun. It seems too overwhelming to think about making a big change and sticking with it every day for the rest of your life when you’re still habituated to doing the opposite. The more you think about the change as something permanent, the more you stay put.
But what if you thought about making the change only temporarily — say for 30 days — and then you’re free to go back to your old habits? That doesn’t seem so hard anymore. Exercise daily for just 30 days, then quit. Maintain a neatly organized desk for 30 days, then slack off. Read for an hour a day for 30 days, then go back to watching TV.
Could you do it? It still requires a bit of discipline and commitment, but not nearly so much as making a permanent change. Any perceived deprivation is only temporary. You can count down the days to freedom. And for at least 30 days, you’ll gain some benefit. It’s not so bad. You can handle it. It’s only one month out of your life.
Now if you actually complete a 30-day trial, what’s going to happen? First, you’ll go far enough to establish it as a habit, and it will be easier to maintain than it was to begin it. Secondly, you’ll break the addiction of your old habit during this time. Thirdly, you’ll have 30 days of success behind you, which will give you greater confidence that you can continue. And fourthly, you’ll gain 30 days worth of results, which will give you practical feedback on what you can expect if you continue, putting you in a better place to make informed long-term decisions.
Therefore, once you hit the end of the 30-day trial, your ability to make the habit permanent is vastly increased. But even if you aren’t ready to make it permanent, you can opt to extend your trial period to 60 or 90 days. The longer you go with the trial period, the easier it will be to lock in the new habit for life.
Another benefit of this approach is that you can use it to test new habits where you really aren’t sure if you’d even want to continue for life. Maybe you’d like to try a new diet, but you don’t know if you’d find it too restrictive. In that case, do a 30-day trial and then re-evaluate. There’s no shame in stopping if you know the new habit doesn’t suit you. It’s like trying a piece of shareware for 30 days and then uninstalling it if it doesn’t suit your needs. No harm, no foul.
Here are some examples from my own life where I used 30-day trials to establish new habits:
1) In the Summer of 1993, I wanted to try being vegetarian. I had no interest in making this a lifelong change, but I’d read a lot about the health benefits of vegetarianism, so I committed to it for 30 days just for the experience. I was already exercising regularly, seemed in decent health, and was not overweight (6′0″, 155 lbs), but my typical college diet included a lot of In-N-Out burgers. Going lacto-ovo vegetarian for 30 days was a lot easier than I expected — I can’t say it was hard at all, and I never felt deprived. Within a week I noticed an increase in my energy and concentration, and I felt more clear-headed. At the end of the 30 days, it was a no-brainer to stick with it. This change looked a lot harder than it really was.
2) In January 1997, I decided to try going from vegetarian to vegan. While lacto-ovo vegetarians can eat eggs and dairy, vegans don’t eat anything that comes from an animal. I was developing an interest in going vegan for life, but I didn’t think I could do it. How could I give up veggie-cheese omelettes? The diet seemed too restrictive to me — even fanatically so. But I was intensely curious to know what it was actually like. So once again I did a 30-day trial. At the time I figured I’d make it through the trial, but I honestly didn’t expect to continue beyond that. Well, I lost seven pounds in the first week, mostly from going to the bathroom as all the accumulated dairy mucus was cleansed from my bowels (now I know why cows need four stomachs to properly digest this stuff). I felt lousy the first couple days but then my energy surged. I also felt more clear-headed than ever, as if a “fog of brain” had been lifted; it felt like my brain had gotten a CPU and a RAM upgrade. However, the biggest change I noticed was in my endurance. I was living in Marina del Rey at the time and used to run along the beach near the Santa Monica Pier, and I noticed I wasn’t as tired after my usual 3-mile runs, so I started increasing them to 5 miles, 10 miles, and then eventually a marathon a few years later. In Tae Kwon Do, the extra endurance really gave a boost to my sparring skills as well. The accumulated benefits were so great that the foods I was giving up just didn’t seem so appealing anymore. So once again it was a no-brainer to continue after the first 30 days, and I’m still vegan today. What I didn’t expect was that after so long on this diet, the old animal product foods I used to eat just don’t seem like food anymore, so there’s no feeling of deprivation.
3) Also in 1997, I decided I wanted to exercise every single day for a year. That was my 1997 New Year’s resolution. My criteria was that I would exercise aerobically at least 25 minutes every day, and I wouldn’t count Tae Kwon Do classes which I was taking 2-3 days per week. Coupled with my dietary changes, I wanted to push my fitness to a new level. I didn’t want to miss a single day, not even for sick days. But thinking about exercising 365 days in a row was daunting, so I mentally began with a 30-day trial. That wasn’t so bad. After a while every day that passed set a new record: 8 days in a row… 10 days… 15 days…. It became harder to quit. After 30 days in a row, how could I not do 31 and set a new personal record? And can you imagine giving up after 250 days? No way. After the initial month to establish the habit, the rest of the year took care of itself. I remember going to a seminar that year and getting home well after midnight. I had a cold and was really tired, yet I still went out running at 2am in the rain. Some people might call that foolish, but I was so determined to reach my goal that I wasn’t going to let fatigue or illness stop me. I succeeded and kept it up for the whole year without ever missing a day. In fact, I kept going for a few more weeks into 1998 before I finally opted to stop, which was a tough decision. I wanted to do this for one year, knowing it would become a powerful reference experience, and it certainly became such.
4) More diet stuff…. After being vegan for a number of years, I opted to try other variations of the vegan diet. I did 30-day trials both with the macrobiotic diet and with the raw foods diet. Those were interesting and gave me new insights, but I decided not to continue with either of them. I felt no different eating macrobiotically than I did otherwise. And in the case of the raw diet, while I did notice a significant energy boost, I found the diet too labor intensive — I was spending a lot of time preparing meals and shopping frequently. Sure you can just eat raw fruits and veggies, but to make interesting raw meals, there can be a lot of labor involved. If I had my own chef, I’d probably follow the raw diet though because I think the benefits would be worth it. I did a second trial of the raw diet for 45 days, but again my conclusion was the same. If I was ever diagnosed with a serious disease like cancer, I’d immediately switch to an all raw, living foods diet, since I believe it to be the absolute best diet for optimal health. I’ve never felt more energetic in my life than when I ate a raw diet. But I had a hard time making it practical for me. Even so, I managed to integrate some new macrobiotic foods and raw foods into my diet after these trials. There are two all-raw restaurants here in Vegas, and I’ve enjoyed eating at them because then someone else does all the labor. So these 30-day trials were still successful in that they produced new insights, although in both cases I intentionally declined to continue with the new habit. One of the reasons a full 30-day trial is so important with new diets is that the first week or two will often be spent detoxing and overcoming cravings, so it isn’t until the third or fourth week that you begin to get a clear picture. I feel that if you haven’t tried a diet for at least 30 days, you simply don’t understand it. Every diet feels different on the inside than it appears from the outside.
This 30-day method seems to work best for daily habits. I’ve had no luck using it when trying to start a habit that only occurs 3-4 days per week. However, it can work well if you apply it daily for the first 30 days and then cut back thereafter. This is what I’d do when starting a new exercise program, for example. Daily habits are much easier to establish.
Here are some other ideas for applying 30-day trials:

  • Give up TV. Tape all your favorite shows and save them until the end of the trial. My whole family did this once, and it was very enlightening.
  • Give up online forums, especially if you feel you’re becoming forum addicted. This will help break the addiction and give you a clearer sense of how participation actually benefits you (if at all). You can always catch up at the end of 30 days.
  • Shower/bathe/shave every day. I know YOU don’t need this one, so please pass it along to someone who does.
  • Meet someone new every day. Start up a conversation with a stranger.
  • Go out every evening. Go somewhere different each time, and do something fun — this will be a memorable month.
  • Spend 30 minutes cleaning up and organizing your home or office every day. That’s 15 hours total.
  • List something new to sell on ebay every day. Purge some of that clutter.
  • Ask someone new out on a date every day. Unless your success rate is below 3%, you’ll get at least one new date, maybe even meet your future spouse.
  • If you’re already in a relationship, give your partner a massage every day. Or offer to alternate who gives the massage each day, so that’s 15 massages each.
  • Give up cigarettes, soda, junk food, coffee, or other unhealthy addictions.
  • Become an early riser.
  • Write in your journal every day.
  • Call a different family member, friend, or business contact every day.
  • Make 25 sales calls every day to solicit new business. Professional speaker Mike Ferry did this five days a week for two years, even on days when he was giving seminars. He credits this habit with helping build his business to over $10 million in annual sales. If you make 1300 sales calls a year, you’re going to get some decent business no matter how bad your sales skills are. You can generalize this habit to any kind of marketing work, like building new links to your web site.
  • Write a new blog entry every day.
  • Read for an hour a day on a subject that interests you.
  • Meditate every day.
  • Learn a new vocabulary word every day.
  • Go for a long walk every day.

Again, don’t think that you need to continue any of these habits beyond 30 days. Think of the benefits you’ll gain from those 30 days alone. You can re-assess after the trial period. You’re certain to grow just from the experience, even if it’s temporary.
The power of this approach lies in its simplicity. Even though doing a certain activity every single day may be less efficient than following a more complicated schedule — weight training is a good example because adequate rest is a key component — you’ll often be more likely to stick with the daily habit. When you commit to doing something every single day without exception, you can’t rationalize or justify missing a day, nor can you promise to make it up later by reshuffling your schedule.
Give trials a try. If you’re ready to commit to one right now, please feel free to post a comment and share your goal for the next 30 days. If there’s enough interest, then perhaps we can do a group postmortem around May 20th to see how it went for everyone. I’ll even do it with you. Mine will be to go running or biking for at least 25 minutes or do a minimum 60-minute hike in the mountains every day for 30 days. The weather here in Vegas has been great lately, so it’s a nice time for me to get back to exercising outdoors.
Copyright information for this article is found here — Steve Pavlina Releases his Work to the Public
Original title of this is “30 Days to Success”.

Colleague Corporate Hijackers

DC Comics Joker

Corporate hijackers are everywhere and we become victims more often than we realize. Most of the time a superior is the corporate hijacker simply because they have balls and authority to do it intentionally or unintentionally. We write an email to a group seeking for help and a few emails back and forth and someone has just controlled and stirred the conversation elsewhere, email just got hijacked. Below are some of the common corporate hijacks courtesy of your superior colleague:

1. Lunch time – you’re eating at your work area with a fellow colleague and a superior drops in yaps, & yaps until the whole lunch time have passed

2. Elevator – you are catching up with someone during an elevator ride when a colleague steps in and starts his own conversation

3. Restroom – this is a personal time and your boss goes in and asks everything about your current project, issues, etc, etc.

4. Meetings – the sharks are out and both superiors and subordinates simply want to hijack and get their face in front of everyone.

5. Team Buildings – this is commonplace like meetings. Someone just wants to get the attention of everyone else.

6. Colleague Treats/Birthday Parties – this is the most annoying. I have had the unfortunate experience of attending birthday parties invited and paid for by the celebrant when a superior suddenly turns the party into a general assembly meeting. If I were the one who paid the bill, I would consider reimbursing that as a team meeting expense.

The above list are some of the many instances that colleagues try to hijack something from a fellow colleague. Small talks in the elevator and restroom are fine as long as they are during office hours. During lunch time, and outside of working hours, I would suggest to think twice before hijacking something from a colleague.

What are your experiences with a colleague? How about with a superior?

Shred the Additional Pounds Gained over the Holidays

Post Huge Juggernaut

I and people around me were diet conscious before the holiday season knowing the number of parties to attend, the amount of food ready to be chowed, and the number of calories to be gained over the two week holiday sprint. The holiday season isn’t supposed to be the time to go on a diet especially when the food were prepared by your loved ones. While you are not supposed to “pig” out either, I would expect people gaining a few pounds here and there.

I weighed myself in on January 2 and found out I gained additional 8 pounds over two weeks. No regrets here, it was well worth it. Now that the holiday season is over, it’s time to get in the mood of losing weight again.

Having eaten more lately than I should, have increased my appetite and if I don’t get this in control I would continue increasing my appetite until I lose control. In my previous article, I talked about starting the year on fire, and getting back in shape shouldn’t even be in the list but something you do outright.

Below are three simple things you can do to get back in shape:

1. Go back to work – going back to work, getting in the work mode, and doing your previous routine should help you kick-off the campaign

2. Forget the food – forget all the goodies you ate, you are back in your usual routine and eat the foods you ate when you were lighter

3. Share the gifts – you might still have a few more pastries, cakes, candies, wines, liquor you got from the holiday. Knowing that some of these would expire soon doesn’t mean you have to eat all of them. Share them with your friends.

I think holiday is one of those exceptions throughout the year that you shouldn’t be thinking of dieting. With the Christmas and New Year season behind us, let’s go back to our healthy mode and get those pounds off again.

Successfully Start New Year 2011 on Fire

altGreetings and Happy New Year to everyone. The Year 2011 has landed and with anything new, it brings joy, excitement and above all “Hope” for everyone. On the television, radio, internet, newspaper, I could find a column or advice from someone about making a list of their New Years’ resolution.
Through the years I have managed to make a number of lists but unfortunately I would be excited early on and tracking of this list fades through the months.
Starting last year I decided to make things simple and set goals one at a time. With this strategy I get myself excited through each goal until I see it to completion. I am not doing anything different this year and instead of having a list I decided to focus on one goal for now that I want to see completed on the first month of this year. I am starting the New Year on fire with a specific goal and having a single goal keep things simple, the goal grabs my full attention which increase the chances of success.
This isn’t for everyone as a lot of people I know gets boosted by posting ton load of goals in front of them to start the New Year. If are comfortable with this approach and have come out completing each one of them throughout the year, then continue doing so.
I am on the other side of the fence, taking one goal at a time, starting and ending on fire for each goal, putting up additional coal to start burning the fire for the next goal.
While I have a number of things I want to accomplish this year, I am only thinking of one at the moment and that is to get momentum on “Professional Blogging”. I have been a Problogger for the last 4 years earning twice compared to my full-time job as a SharePoint Architect. I have semi-vacationed as a Problogger when I got married in November of 2009 and at the same time moved out of B5Media.
Other than the professional goal I am working on for the start of the year, I would continue doing my best on my current full-time job, and my greatest as a husband and father.

Steve Pavlina Releases his Work to the Public

Post Gambit MarvelSteve Pavlina, a personal development author I have been following for the longest time has decided to release his work to the public. His site is getting 9-10 million visitors a month but he feels he can reach more people by releasing his work to the public domain for anyone to republish or create an ebook about it.
He reminds his readers that we no longer have to ask his permission on republishing his work as it would just add email work on his part.
His post read as follows:
I hereby release my copyrights to, and place into the public domain, all of the following:
the 1000+ articles I’ve posted to my Blog and in the old Articles section (all are linked from the Archives page)
the articles I’ve published in my Newsletters
the podcasts I’ve posted in the Audio section
the Videos I’ve posted to YouTube
the articles I posted on my old computer games site that I wrote from 1999 to 2004 (site is no longer online)
the compilation of tweets I’ve posted on Twitter and the status updates I’ve posted on Facebook
the forum posts I’ve written (just my posts, not the ones made by other people)
I estimate that the article collection alone is around 2-3 million words of content, enough to fill about 25-30 books. So this is a lot of material.
Unless I explicitly state otherwise, all future content I personally create and publish shall not be copyrighted and shall instantly be placed into the public domain. This includes future blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, ebooks, etc. If I decide to copyright something new, I’ll include an obvious copyright notice. Otherwise you can safely assume it’s in the public domain.
This does not, however, apply to my book Personal Development for Smart People, which shall remain copyrighted for the time being. The book is still actively published by Hay House and other publishers in various languages.
What Does This Mean?
It means that I no longer “own” this work as my intellectual property. You now have as much right to it as I do.
Here are some of the things you can do now with the content I created if you so desire:
Repost it on your own website as much as you want
Translate it into other languages
Transfer it to different media (articles-> audio, books, etc.)
Make money from what you create (sell it in ebook form, post it on your website and make money from advertising)
Create derivative works based on my content (i.e. books, movies, software, etc.)
Here are some more specific examples of what you can do:
Package the polyphasic sleep articles into an ebook, and give it away free or sell it
Create a website to share my content in another language, translating as much of it as you desire
Include some of my articles in your company newsletters
Turn my subjective reality articles into an audio program
Turn 1000 of my Twitter/Facebook updates into an iPhone Daily Inspiration app
Develop a workshop or seminar based on my productivity content
Permission
You don’t need to ask my permission to do this. You can simply go ahead and do it now.
I’d rather that you not ask me permission anyway. I don’t need the extra email.
If you’re not sure about something, consult your inner guidance and make whatever decision you believe is right. Or talk to a lawyer if you’re concerned about legalities.
Definitely don’t ask me to do anything that would involve lawyers, contracts, exclusivity, or obligations.
Attribution
Attribution is a fancy word that simply means giving credit to the original author, such as noting that “Steve Pavlina wrote this…” when republishing one of my articles.
There’s no legal requirement to give attribution, but I’d still encourage you to do so. It’s good form, and if you don’t give attribution, it could create headaches for one or both of us down the road, such as either you or myself being accused of plagiarizing the other. I’d prefer to avoid that.
If you do give attribution, I’d appreciate it if you’d include a link to my blog or mention the URL www.StevePavlina.com. Partly this is so that people can find the full body of my work, including my latest creations, all in one place. And they can connect with the awesome community here too.
If you create a book or product based partly on my content, use your best judgment as to whether or not you feel I deserve a co-author credit for the content you used. Whatever you decide is fine with me.
Use Good Judgment
I’d love to see you do something creative and expansive; however, please exercise good judgment. Don’t create headaches for me by doing something sketchy or deceptive.
For example, don’t make it look like I’m recommending or endorsing a product when I didn’t explicitly do so. Don’t quote me inaccurately. Don’t get me banned from China.
Years ago an author included two of my copyrighted articles as chapters in his book without permission, and he even modified my personal stories to try to pass them off as his own. People emailed me to ask if I had plagiarized him, or if he had plagiarized me. It was easy for me to prove that I was the original author, so I contacted the publisher and we worked out a settlement whereby the other author could keep pretending that my stories were his. This sounds like it’s right out of a Seinfeld episode, doesn’t it? I’d prefer not to deal with nonsense like this again, so please don’t try to appropriate my personal history, even if my stories are in the public domain now.
Another headache would be if you released a piece of software based on my work, but you packaged it in such a way that people mistakenly assumed that I wrote it or endorsed it, and this resulted in lots of people coming to our forums asking for tech support.
If you create a headache for me, you can generally expect that I’ll do something about it, which may include leveraging my network to open a can of whoop-ass on you till you do the right thing and correct the problem. That said, you have plenty of leeway to be creative here, and if you do create a problem by accident, I’ll probably contact you about it first and give you a chance to fix it before I go looking for the tweezers and blowtorch.
Making Money
You can make money off my work if you so desire. I expect that over the next several years, millions of dollars in revenue will be generated for people as a result of this decision. Consider this my personal economic stimulus package.
My website gets a lot of traffic — I expect 9-10 million page views this month — but there are still billions of people worldwide who haven’t been exposed to some of the most basic personal growth concepts like taking 100% responsibility for their lives or focusing on their dreams and desires. If you can help expose more people to ideas and information that will benefit them, I see no reason why you shouldn’t be compensated for your efforts.
I think there’s an especially great opportunity here for people who want to create hubs for this content in other languages. I’ve received many requests to that effect over the years, so there’s no reason to hold back any longer.
You might even consider doing something creative with an extra SBI subscription — their two-for-one offer is good for 10 more days (it expires Dec 25th).
If you make money from my work, there’s no obligation to pay me a portion of what you earn. However, if you feel good about doing so, I’d very much appreciate it if you’d share some of the earnings, either on a regular basis or as an irregular donation, which you can do via my donations page. This makes it easier for me to sustain what I’m doing and to expand this work in new directions. You’re free to decide what feels right to you.
Coordination
If you have some ideas and you’d like to discuss them, or if you’d like to coordinate something with others, please don’t email me about it personally since I don’t have the capacity to serve in that role. Instead, use the Steve Pavlina forum to share what you’re doing, recruit helpers, brainstorm ideas, inform people about product releases based on my content, etc. If that particular forum gets too cluttered, I’ll spin off a dedicated subforum just for people who are working on projects related to this.
It’s my hope that people will choose to collaborate on some projects to avoid duplication of effort, especially when it comes to translations. You could even team up with others who are looking to translate articles to the same language as you are.
If I see something really cool being developed (based on my subjective judgment), then I may even help to promote it if I feel it would strongly benefit people. Just don’t expect me to agree to anything in advance before you actually do the creative part.
Why Am I Doing This?
I like helping people. I like the idea of removing all barriers to sharing. And this is something I want to experience as part of my own path of growth.
Questions
If you have questions, please post them in the Steve Pavlina forum, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Give me some time to remove the copyright notices on the site. I’ll replace them with links to this post.
You are loved. Merry Christmas! 🙂

A Look Into The Medium against The Message

This article is designed to get you thinking about your life from a new perspective. For the sake of clarity, we’ll focus primarily on your career, but by the time you’re done reading, you should be able to apply these ideas to other areas of your life as well.

Consider a physical recording medium like a CD or DVD. By itself it’s an empty vessel. The "message" is the information contained within that medium, whether it be music, a film, software, or some other information. The message is what provides the value — the actual recording medium is often inconsequential. You may pay $20 for a CD that contains music, or you may pay $300 for a CD that contains certain software. But the physical CDs are essentially identical except for the information they contain. This price difference isn’t due to a difference in the medium but rather due to a difference in the message.

Now let’s extend this concept of the medium vs. the message and apply it to your career (or any other part of your life for that matter). For example, in most cases your job title represents the medium of your career. Career media include being an attorney, a salesperson, or a computer programmer. Think of your career medium as the vessel through which you work.

Much like a recordable CD, your career medium is an empty container waiting to be filled. If you identify yourself as an attorney or a salesperson or a computer programmer, that doesn’t give you any sense of the value your work provides. Those professions are conduits for providing value, but they contain very little value in and of themselves. Some attorneys earn $100/hour while others charge $1000/hour. And you’ll find tremendous pay differences in other fields as well, even among people who appear to have the same job title, whether it be secretary or CEO. The medium of the career (i.e. the job title) cannot account for these differences.

It isn’t hard to recognize that the primary value comes not from the medium of your career (i.e. your particular job) but rather from the message of your career. The message is what you bring to your career. It’s what fills the otherwise empty container.

For example, I can identify my career as being a writer, blogger, speaker, web developer, entrepreneur, computer programmer, etc. Or I can more broadly say that I’m a communicator. But that would mean defining my career as a medium — an empty container. It’s like saying that I’m a microphone.

The message, as opposed to the medium, is what specific information I communicate through these various vessels. What am I saying? What information is traveling through the microphone?

In my case the message is that I’m here to grow and to help other people to grow. The media I use to convey this message will change and evolve over time, but the message is a constant. And the message is a much better description of my true career than the media that I currently use to express it.

Changing Perspectives

Chances are that you currently think of your career primarily in terms of the medium (i.e. your particular job) rather than the message (i.e. the unique value you bring to your work). I want to dive a little deeper into this distinction with you and show you some perhaps unexpected benefits that may arise when you shift your focus and begin thinking of your career primarily in terms of the message.

There are two significant risks that come from defining your career in terms of your primary medium (i.e. "I’m an attorney" or "I’m a programmer"). The first risk is that you’ll unnecessarily limit yourself. You will only recognize opportunities that present themselves in the form of a nail because you’ve defined yourself as a hammer and nothing more. You’ll fall into the trap of thinking, "Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!" As a human being, there are many ways for you to express and deliver value to others. The current medium of your career is only one of them. When you think of your career as being greater than any single medium, you’ll open yourself to new opportunities that lie outside your current primary medium.

The second risk is that by focusing too heavily on a single medium, you’re likely to lose sight of your message. Your message is far more important that any one medium, so by putting the medium first, you’re likely to suffer from a gradual decline in motivation regarding your work. You begin a new job, and it’s very exciting at first, but the longer you work at it, the less enthusiastic you become. Does this seem familiar at all?

For example, today you’ll find people who define their careers as professional bloggers (the medium), and so they blog about anything and everything. But after several months or perhaps a year of this type of work, it isn’t uncommon to see them becoming apathetic and even depressed about their work. Why? Because the medium (in this case, a blog) is hollow by its very nature, and something hollow cannot provide lasting motivation.

Defining your career in terms of some arbitrary medium, like being a professional blogger, is like a garage band saying, "Yeah, man, it’s all about the CDs."

So what happens when you put the medium before the message? You define your life in terms of the container instead of what fills that container. You put emptiness before fullness. And this can lead to procrastination, lack of motivation, and low energy. How motivating is it to define your career as being a professional blogger (or any other arbitrary job title)? On a scale of 1-10, maybe it would start at around an 8-9 the first few weeks, but where will it be after five years? Probably a 4 or 5 at best. But by defining your career as the message instead of the medium, you’re probably in the range of 8-10, and five years later you can still be up there. In my case the message of personal development is indeed a 10 for me. My level of enthusiasm for writing, speaking, blogging, or programming waxes and wanes over time, but my interest in personal development remains perpetually high.

The feeling of being driven comes from the message of your work, not the medium.

When you wake up each morning, how do think about your work? Do you say to yourself, "Today I’m going to write something (medium)?" Or are you thinking, "Today I’m going to improve the human condition in some small way (message)?"

Which perspective do you think is more intrinsically motivating?

Certainly both the message and the medium are each an important part of your career, but with the rapid pace of technological advancement, your medium is likely to be far less permanent than your message. Notice that medium-based work is highly subject to automation. A salesperson is replaced by a web site. A secretary is replaced by a PDA. A PR firm is replaced by a blog. But automating the message that’s provided by a conscious human being, now that’s a lot tougher. How would you automate the message of personal development, for example?

Finding Your Message

Now how do you identify your message? Your message is essentially your purpose, which I’ve addressed many times in various blog entries (see the Purpose category on the blog for details). But here’s yet another way to discover your message:

Think about what you bring to your job or career (or even to any random task or project) that’s different than how the "average" person would do it. What’s different about your approach to your work vs. how other people would do the same job?

For example, when I primarily worked as a computer programmer, I was extremely aggressive about improving my skills, and I’d enthusiastically share what I learned with other people. In building my games business, I did the same thing. You can put me in virtually any job, and I’ll bring these same qualities to it. I’ll aggressively strive to get better and better, and I’ll share with
others what I learn along the way. That’s the "message" that’s uniquely me.

Imagine yourself working at different jobs and in different fields. What qualities would you bring to your work that are uniquely you? Do you spread good humor, harmony, or passion? Do you provide analytic depth, intuitive insight, or a rational outlook? Do you bring loyalty, teamwork, or honesty to your workplace?

You may find it helpful to try to define yourself in terms of a metaphor. Are you a rock? An eagle? A storm?

If you have trouble figuring this out for yourself, ask people you know for their opinions. (You may want to have them read this article first, so they know what the heck you’re talking about.) Often other people can see us more clearly than we see ourselves.

Embracing Your Message

Once you develop an understanding of your own message (and your understanding will surely evolve over time), you can begin to express that message more consciously. You can redefine your career in terms of that message. Believe me — this is likely to feel very awkward at first. But over time if you can overcome the social conditioning that tries to pigeonhole you into a single medium instead of embracing your message, I think you’ll find it a much more fulfilling way to think about your career.

In school we mostly learn a medium. In high school I learned the medium of writing. In college I learned the medium of computer programming. In Toastmasters I learned the medium of speaking. And from other bloggers I learned the medium of blogging. But the message that I bring to these multi-media isn’t something I learned in school. The message is something that’s been a part of me since childhood, although my awareness of it has certainly increased as I’ve grown up.

When I switched careers from game publishing to working in personal development, it was more than just a job change. It was a shift from medium-based thinking to message-based thinking. Writing and speaking and blogging are better media for my message than developing computer games. And as technology continues to evolve, I have the flexibility to embrace any new media that arise. The media are just empty containers. The message is what fills those containers.

Once I began defining my career in terms of the message instead of the medium, I felt much more in tune with my work. Sometimes I tell people I’m a writer or a blogger or a speaker — all of those are true for now. But internally I feel that any one of those containers is too small a description of the real work I do. Have you ever felt the same way… that your job title is too small for you? How do you feel when you say, "I’m a _____" (fill in your current job title)? Say it right now, and notice how it makes you feel. Does it really describe the totality of the work you do?

How could you give yourself a more expansive message-based career name? Instead of thinking of yourself as an attorney, for instance, how about giving yourself the job title of "Peacebringer" (someone who resolves conflicts and restores peace)? Or instead of being a salesperson or a computer programmer, try adopting the job title of "Problem Solver." Wouldn’t that be more accurate? How would you react if someone handed you a business card that said, "Jane Smith, Peacebringer?" I’m sure some people would give more credibility to a card that says "Attorney at Law," but I’d rather hire the Peacebringer, since that title tells me this person understands that the value of their work extends beyond any single medium.

What does your business card say? Does it only list the medium of your work, or does it convey the message? What would be a more appropriate job title for you?

Beyond Career

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you can apply this concept of the medium vs. the message to other parts of your life beyond your career. I’ll leave it up to you to think about how you might differentiate between the medium and the message in terms of your health, your relationships, your spiritual beliefs, and so on. And for another perspective that overlaps this one, you may enjoy reading this blog post: End Goals vs. Means Goals.

Copyright information for this article is found here — Steve Pavlina Releases his Work to the Public

Original title of this is "The Medium vs. The Message".

Marketing From Deep Within Your Conscience

Years ago I learned a simple yet powerful marketing secret: You must become so convinced of the benefits of your product or service that you feel you’d be unjustly depriving people by not doing everything in your power to get the word out.

I was infected by this attitude from Jay Abraham. Jay has an absolutely brilliant way of thinking about marketing. For example, if you’re an accountant, and you’re skilled at saving people money on their taxes, Jay might ask how much you save your average client. Say it’s $500 per year. And then Jay would ask how much you charge. Say it’s $200. Then Jay might take you through a conversation like this:

Jay: So it’s costing people a net $300 per year not to do business with you.
You: Yes, that’s fair to say.
Jay: How long does your typical client stay with you?
You: About three years.
Jay: So that’s a total of $900 then. People are effectively being charged $900 not to work with you, $900 they would have otherwise been able to keep.
You: Alright.
Jay: So if you meet someone and don’t tell them about your service, you’ve just cost them $900.
You: Hmmm…
Jay: You have a duty then to share this knowledge; to do otherwise would be irresponsible.
You: That’s a strange way to think about it.
Jay: What’s strange about it? If you have the ability to save people $900, then you’re costing everyone $900 they could have saved whenever you don’t tell someone about your service. Don’t you have a moral obligation to save people this $900 if you can do it? Wouldn’t it be unethical not to do it?
You: How is it unethical?
Jay: You’re cheating people out of $900 you could have saved them. All you had to do was speak up – or at least try. What might that $900 mean to certain people? You’d be costing people a great deal of additional enjoyment, education, retirement income, vacations, etc. I consider that kind of negligent behavior unethical. Don’t you?
You: I just never thought about it that way before.
Jay: Start thinking about it that way then.

In other words, if the product or service you provide is truly of benefit to others, then marketing becomes a duty. Not spreading the word is irresponsible and unethical.

Of course, the opposite is also true. If you have a product or service with no real benefit, then to actively market it would be irresponsible as well. If deep down you have doubts as to whether what you’re providing is of real value, you’ll probably sabotage yourself in your marketing efforts. I see this all the time among small business owners — they often don’t believe enough in their products to aggressively market them. So they hold back and fill their days with non-marketing activities instead. Doing too much marketing makes them feel uncomfortable.

I’m not advocating trying to fool yourself into believing in your product/service when you don’t. I’m suggesting you consult your conscience to see what you already believe. If you run your own business and don’t market it very well (a common situation), is it possible you don’t really believe in the benefits you provide? Or if you feel you’re ready for a better job but don’t go out and apply for one, could it be that you secretly feel the potential employer would be better off hiring someone else?

How well do you market yourself in other areas? Do you hold back from pursuing new friendships or relationships because you don’t believe enough in the benefits that others would experience from your companionship? What would happen if you truly believed in the benefits you can provide?

When you find your conscience is holding you back from effective marketing, don’t try to squash that inner voice. Listen to it. Hear what it has to say. Are your products just wasting people’s time? Are your services pointless? Would an employer be better off hiring someone other than you? Would a friend be better off without you in their life?

Your conscience can point you in the direction of greater internal congruence, allowing you to market yourself very naturally and eagerly. Sometimes this involves recognizing the genuine benefit that’s already there, such as with the accountant example at the beginning of this article. But other times it requires changing the offering to create a new benefit that really matters to you.

When I started StevePavlina.com, I had to remember this powerful lesson: marketing must align with conscience. I can tell I’m congruent in this area when I’m eager to do marketing work instead of wanting to put it off. If I feel a desire to procrastinate on marketing, I know something is wrong. So I run through one of those imaginary Jay Abraham conversations in my mind to see where I stand. What is the real benefit I’m providing? How can I quantify it? What will I be costing people if I don’t market to them? Why do I have an ethical duty to market this information?

Be careful not to confuse this with vanity, which is self-directed. This type of motivation is directed outward. It’s not about telling yourself how great you are. It’s recognizing what you can do for others that really, truly benefits them. If I think about myself being a great writer or speaker, that isn’t going to help my marketing. In fact, it will likely hurt me by injecting too much ego into the message. But if I think about what real benefit I can offer someone, that is very motivating. My understanding of this benefit must be rooted in the facts, not on a fictionalized exaggeration. Recognize and acknowledge the real, down-to-earth benefits and what they can actually do for people. And if the benefits are too weak to give you the feeling that marketing is an ethical duty, then stop your practice of junk marketing, and listen to what your conscience has been trying to tell you all along.

What kind of product or service do you feel you really should be marketing and selling? What skills do you need to develop that would make you an intelligent choice for your preferred employer to hire? What do you need to change in yourself to make it genuinely beneficial for others to befriend you?

By creating and acknowledging the real benefit that you actually believe in, you accomplish two things. First, your feeling of certainty will move you to action. You’ll become driven to market yourself, your product, or your service because that’s the right thing to do. Secondly, you’ll actually be providing something of value that genuinely helps others. And together these two results will create a positive feedback loop where the more aggressively you market and sell, the more people you help, and the more certain you become that you’re doing the right thing.

Acknowledge the real benefit you provide. Don’t fall into the ego trap by exaggerating your impact, but don’t minimize or deny the positive benefits either. Find the truth of the situation. Is your conscience congruently committed to the belief that you’re marketing something of real value, or have you been lying to yourself? And if it’s the latter, how can you correct it?

When your marketing message is congruent with your conscience, your motivation for promotion won’t be restrained by hesitation. When you believe that marketing is simply the right thing to do, you’ll do it eagerly, not for your own gratification but because you know you’re genuinely helping people.

Copyright information for this article is found here — Steve Pavlina Releases his Work to the Public

Original title of this is "Marketing From Your Conscience".

Strange Secrets of Personal Development

For at least a decade now, I’ve been an avid devourer of personal development info. I literally have it for breakfast, since I often listen to audio programs while eating. One audio program I recently picked up from the local library is Earl Nightingale’s The Strangest Secret. I own a number of Earl’s audio programs (Lead the Field is my favorite), so I really enjoyed this one too. It can take a while to get used to Earl’s extremely deep voice, but I like his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is style. The Strangest Secret is from 1988, but I found that most of the ideas are timeless and still apply today. The “secret” is simply six words: We become what we think about.

This certainly isn’t a new idea. In fact, Earl clearly admits that he learned it from Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich. And it isn’t a unique idea either. There are plenty of other books that have expanded on the concept, such as Marc Allen’s The Millionaire Course or James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh(later retitled As You Think).

Nevertheless, the idea is a profound one.

Few people would argue that our thoughts control our actions and that our actions (largely) control our results. If you think about going shopping and decide to follow through on that thought, your body follows suit, and pretty soon you acquire the results of going shopping. It all begins with a thought. But what people often fail to realize is that we have the power to consciously choose our thoughts. Instead of just letting our brains randomly cycle through the same thoughts over and over, we can start choosing to spend time thinking about different things. And if we do that consistently, we’ll shift our actions in new directions and thereby acquire new results.

Thoughts are like seeds. If you want different results in life, you have to figure out which thoughts are capable of growing those results and which aren’t. Then you have to consciously fill your mind with the correct thoughts and weed out the incorrect thoughts.

For example, if you want to start your own business, I can tell you which thoughts are the right seeds and which are the wrong ones. Among the wrong seeds, you’ll find the following thoughts:

  • Starting my own business is very risky. I have a family to support.
  • There’s a good chance I’ll go broke.
  • I don’t have enough money yet.
  • I have no idea how to start my own business.
  • I’ve got a safe, secure job. Why would I want to mess that up?
  • I’m not ready to start my own business just yet. Maybe next year.

Note that I’m not saying that these thoughts are objectively wrong… just that they’re the wrong seeds for the potential result of starting your own business. In other words, the result of starting your own business isn’t going to grow in the soil of the thoughts above. But these are the right seeds if you don’t want to start your own business; these seeds will grow the tree of being a lifelong employee. So chances are that if you harbor thoughts similar to those above, you find yourself an employee right now. Nothing at all wrong with that if it’s what you want. On the other hand, if you’re an employee right now and would like to start your own business, but your predominant thoughts about the idea are similar to those above, then you have a problem. Those mental seeds simply won’t grow a business. If you retain those thoughts, you’ll never run your own business, just as if you plant tomato seeds, you’ll never grow a watermelon.

So what kinds of thoughts are the right seeds for starting your own business? Here are some of them:

  • Sure it’s a risk, but I believe in myself, and whatever obstacles come my way, I’ll overcome them.
  • I’d rather spend my life working hard to build my own business than to build someone else’s. If I’m going to build a business no matter what, it might as well be my own.
  • The freedom of being my own boss is extremely attractive to me. Imagine being able to decide how to spend my time every minute of every day.
  • I can only get so far income-wise as an employee. If I want to hit it rich, I need to go into business for myself.

Now even though thoughts like those above might be the right seeds for starting your own business, that doesn’t mean that planting the right seeds is sufficient to grow the whole plant. Just as plants need water and sunshine, it takes a lot of hard work to build a business. But the right thoughts are the first step. I’m just using the starting of a new business as one example. I could have just as easily used quitting smoking, losing weight, getting married, etc.

The main point I’m trying to make is that if you find yourself in a situation where you want new results in your life (i.e. something other than what you’re currently experiencing), then the first step is to examine your dominant thoughts to see if they’re the right seeds to grow the results you want. The odds are probably better than 95% that if you’re not making progress, then you’re probably thinking the wrong thoughts and need to replace them with new ones. For example, you won’t become a nonsmoker by thinking thoughts like, “Quitting smoking is hard.”

A key concept to understand here is that shifting your thoughts is a conscious and deliberate activity. You don’t just say to yourself, “Ok, I’ll think about starting my own business. Sounds good. Next….” You have to be a lot more proactive than that. You have to set aside an hour or so to be totally alone, sit down with pen and paper, figure out the correct thoughts/seeds you need to be thinking, and then consciously ram those new thoughts into your head, over and over again until they become dominant over the old thoughts. And if you’re trying to make a big shift in your results, then this is something you’ll need to do every single day.

You might find the above exercise really difficult at first. When you start thinking new thoughts, the most common initial reaction is that you’ll feel a great deal of doubt about them. So if you start thinking about running your own business, your initial images probably won’t seem too attractive. Then you find yourself thinking about quitting your job, the negative reaction you’ll get from coworkers, the office politics you have to deal with on a daily basis, and you suddenly realize you’re back to thinking the wrong thoughts again. That’s normal. But use your imagination to push past the doubt and keep working on it. See that new reality working out beautifully, even if you have no idea how it could possibly work in the real world. It’s going to be sloppy in the beginning, but it will get easier over time. After about 2-3 weeks of this, you’ll start to actually believe in those new thoughts. And that’s when you’ll feel the urge to start taking action. But in the beginning, you’ll still be too full of doubt to act. That’s fine — it’s important to reach the point of belief first. So just be patient with yourself, and let your imagination guide you. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Copyright information for this article is found here — Steve Pavlina Releases his Work to the Public

Original title of this is “The Strangest Secret”.

Spain Celebrate 25 Years of Coke Light via 15k Bottles

Coca-Cola Spain 25 Years Coke Light Anniversary CelebrationI have written about Coke Monopoly recently and now have found another interesting article about Coca-cola. Coke is close to my heart as this is my first employer right after College.
Spain is celebrating 25 years of Diet Coke/Coke Light by building billboard made up of 15,000 limited edition Coca-cola bottles. The billboard is shown at Oscar Room Mate Hotel in Madrid.
You can view the story video here — 15,000 Bottles Make A Billboard
You might also be interested to read a similar massive number of items to make up a giant visual design. In this case its 21,000 photos. — “Mario Lemieux Mosaic built using 21,000 Fan Photos

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