Tag Archives: Choices

The More Clearly You Define Your Destination, The Quicker You’ll Get There

Do You Know Where You Are Going?

I remember once me and a friend of mine decided to go hitchhiking. Neither of us had ever hitchhiked before, and we thought it would be fun to go camping that way. We both lived in the dorms, and our college was about fifteen miles away from the coast. Between the college and the coast were several businesses, industrial and residential areas. But on the other side, it quickly turned into pretty much nothing. A few rolling hills here and there, and small pockets of residential neighborhoods, and then desert.

Our plan was to hitch hike east until we found a place that didn’t have very many houses, and then camp out. Of course we prepared ourselves with plenty of water, food that didn’t require cooking. And beer. Lots of beer. After about three hours of hitchhiking, we finally found a suitable place to camp. Or drink until we passed out. Our only requirement was that it was relatively flat, and that it was far enough away from any houses so nobody could see our campfire and call the cops.

I took this seminar once on a weird type of speed-reading. It was called photoreading, and it taught you how to read an entire book in about 3 or 4 minutes. You slowly flipped through all the pages, and let the information soak into your brain without consciously reading it. Of course, you weren’t reading it consciously; you were reading it with your unconscious mind. Then later you could dig into your unconscious memory and pull out any required information that you needed. This was particularly useful for studying, or reading a bunch of books to do a report on something.

One of the things we needed to learn was to state a clear purpose for reading a book.

“I want to read this book to learn specific skills to improve my public speaking.”

“I want to learn specific techniques to nineteenth century Spanish architecture into my building designs.”

“I want to improve my fluency with daily use of French verbs.”

That way when you photoread the book, the elements that addressed your particular needs would stick better, and be easier to retrieve later when you needed them.

A particularly useful skill that we learned was photoreading a bunch of books on one subject, and then allow your unconscious alone to figure out how to incorporate those skills into your daily life. You never had to go back and try to “activate” some of the information if you were going to take a test or write a report. The new skills and behaviors would kind of just “show up” wherever you needed them.

There were a few people at the seminar that were repeat participants, and had used this technique with wild success. One lady photoread a bunch of books on painting techniques, as she was a beginning painter. After that her friends started commenting that her paintings were looking much better, and assumed she was taking lessons, or learning some advanced technique from some master or something.

In reality, all she was doing was photoreading a bunch of books on painting techniques, and the new techniques were just showing up in her paintings. She merely continued to paint as she felt, and the results spoke for themselves.

But before we learned how to do any of this stuff the instructor told us the importance of setting your intention before reading a book. What most people do is they read a book with only a vague hope that it can help them some way. It’s no wonder they have trouble applying what they read. They don’t really know what they were after in the first place.

He told us a funny story to emphasize this point.

There used to be this airline that was really cheap. You didn’t need reservations, and the planes always had seats available. They had several flights a day, so you could pretty much hop on a flight whenever you wanted. They were more than willing to sell you a ticket. The only problem was you never knew where they were going. The reason the tickets were so cheap was that the airplanes navigation systems were messed up. The pilots didn’t know how to program the destination. They sort of fiddled around with the buttons, and hoped they ended up somewhere decent. Sometimes they did, but other times they ended up in the middle of nowhere, and the passengers were left stranded on some frozen cornfield.

Of course, the airplane is you, and the pilot is your goals and choices. If you sort only know where you are going, with some vague hope that it will turn out ok, then maybe you’ll be ok, or maybe you’ll end up stranded on some frozen cornfield. Which we can all agree would pretty much suck.

I learned a lot from that seminar. They do have a book you can get at Amazon, called “Photoreading,” or you can get the home study course from Learning Strategies Corporation. Or you can take the whole seminar, like I did. It cost about three or four hundred bucks, but it was well worth it. Once you take it, you can take it as many times as you want after that, for free. If you Google “Photoreading,” you’ll find lots of pages to help you.

And probably the coolest thing about my hitchhiking camping trip is that after we finally got to our spot, and camped out without any problems from the cops, we started hiking back towards the highway to see if we could hitch a ride home. And this guy in limo picked us up. No joke. He had just dropped off a client, and was driving his limo back to his shop, and picked us up along the way. That was a fun trip. You never know how you’re going to end up with you start out like this.

You Have More Choice Than You Think

This one or That one?

The other day I was walking down the street, minding my own business. I had forgotten my iPod, so I was just lazily listening to the everyday sounds drifting around as I slowly made my way towards wherever it was that I was going to end up. I wanted to take the train downtown, but since it was Saturday, they only run every hour. I had just missed the last one, so I had an hour to kill.

Eventually, I knew I was going to end up back at the strain station, but between now (which was really then) and then I had an hour to kill, and a couple of internally accepted restrictions.

A word about restrictions. OK, maybe a couple words about restrictions. Basically there are two kinds of restrictions. Internally imposed, and externally imposed. Most of the restrictions are internally imposed. Now, before you click off to another blog describing something easier to stomach, allow me to explain myself.

If somebody points a gun at your head, and says “you’re money or your life,” (Henny Young man jokes notwithstanding) you’d likely see this as an externally imposed restriction. Not entirely. You still have the choice to give the other person your money (which in this day and age may not buy you much), or go simply give him the finger (which would most certainly not lead to a happy ending).

Yea, but that’s stupid. Who would choose death over life? What good is a choice if one of the choices is so incomparably stupid that it doesn’t even count as a choice?

Well, believe it or not, this is an extreme case of a decision, or choice that we make on a daily basis. Most of the time we make our decisions unconsciously, and mostly in line with decisions we’ve made before. We like what’s comfortable, so what we chose yesterday, is most likely what we chose today.

Think of the structure of the gunpoint choice. Choice number one is to remain hold on to your possessions at all cost, hold on to your ego of giving into a mad man, and accept the consequences. Because the consequences are so immediate, and so obvious, it is hard to not feel their weight. So most people would choose (hopefully you’ll never have to make this choice) choice number two, which is go give up your possessions, swallow your pride in hopes of holding that which has suddenly become more important, in the moment at least, than either of them.

Your life.

But what if the choice isn’t so cut and dried? What if the negative implications of a choice aren’t so obvious, and aren’t so immediate? Everybody knows that smoking causes lung cancer, which in turn causes death, but still millions of people still make the choice to smoke a cigarette several times a day.


The short-term benefits outweigh the potential long-term detriments. For the smoker, the pleasure they get is more than the pain they will experience in the present when considering the long-term downsides.

Now, most people who don’t smoke can’t imagine how anybody could come to this conclusion. It is obvious that smoking causes lung cancer. It is obvious that smoking causes poor health. It is obvious that smoking causes bad breath. So why in the world would anybody choose to smoke?

What about other choices, like to eat ice cream instead of a bowl of oatmeal? Surely we are aware that ice cream is not as healthy as oatmeal, right? Here is where it gets interesting. The way we trick ourselves around this is by saying that “it’s only just this once.” Surely we aren’t planning one eating a bowl of ice cream every single night, right? By telling ourselves that “it’s only this once,” we allow ourselves to significantly minimize any negative feelings we might experience in the moment when considering any long-term downsides.

How many times have you heard a smoker say the say thing?

I’ll quit tomorrow.
This is my last one.
This is the last pack I’m ever going to buy.
After next week I’ll never smoke again.

What about the flip side. We can that by tricking ourselves, we can minimize any future negative consequences of our actions, and making the present moment more enjoyable, regardless of any objective evidence to the contrary.

What about doing something that we know will benefit us in the future, but we don’t do it because it causes negative emotions in the present?

Did you exercise today? Why not? Surely you are aware of the long-term benefits of exercise right? Well, the same mental trickery works here as well. Either in the form of excuses, (to minimize the present negative emotions) and in from of promises about the future.

I’m too busy today.
I have too much to do.
I have a bad hip/shoulder/leg.

I’ll start after the holidays.
I’m going to start next week.

The human brain is a fantastic machine that can use many forms of lightening speed shell games to hide reality from us. We minimize the potential negative outcome to better feel good now. We minimize the future benefits to better feel good now. When we have a gun pointed at our heads, when there is only NOW, all the mental trickery collapse into single choice.

Life, or death.

So what do you choose, life or death? When you decide to smoke, or yell at your husband, or eat a bowl of ice cream, or go to or avoid the gym, how are you tricking yourself? What are you doing to convince yourself that the future won’t be so bad if you keep doing what your doing? How can you convince yourself that you’ll start doing whatever it is you know you should be doing today, tomorrow?

Your life, all of it, is the cumulative result of all the choices you’ve made. If you are completely happy with your life, or completely disgusted, it’s all on you. People that are generally successful and happy realize this, and make changes along the way to improve their lot. Those that are generally unhappy refuse to accept this, and try their whole lives to find blame in somebody else, somebody outside themselves.

Kind of a heavy post to make, but one thing that you will always have and you should always use, is your choice. You can choose. No matter if you have a gun to your head, or a choice between the gym and the TV, you can choose.

So back to my story. My self-imposed restriction was that I wasn’t allowed to buy anything. Because then I’d have to carry it around with me all day after I made my way back to the station. And since it was only ten in the morning, that was too long to be carrying something that I bought on whim.

Unless I see something really cool, then all bets are off.

Tap Egyptian Power of Success

I was sitting in a bowling alley recently, waiting for my turn, and this guy sitting next to me started talking about the Egyptian Pyramids. He was explaining all the historical and political significance of them, which I had never really thought of before. When most people think of the pyramids, they naturally think of these giant structures that were built out in the middle of the desert, many thousands of years ago by a culture that we can’t begin to understand. Some even believe they had influence from alien life forms, as some of the structural mathematics matches up keenly with certain elements of our solar system and out galaxy.

This guy was telling me how it was a brilliant political maneuver by the government at the time. They were very dependent on the Nile for almost all of their food, and when the Nile didn’t provide sufficient water, many people suffered. Every year the Nile would flood, submerging many peoples houses and farms, so they were not only dependent on the Nile, but they had to live and move according to its behavior.

Having a whole people who felt they were at the mercy of the gods was not an easy people to govern. Any edict the Pharaoh would proclaim would always be conspired in light of the heavens and the forces of nature, and would consequently take a back seat.

Enter the pyramids.

Deciding to build the pyramids was a stroke of genius. It gave virtually every Egyptian a feeling of being in control of something, for the first time in their lives. They knew they were building a very large structure, and they could even imagine a point up in the sky that they were aiming for, and that they would one day reach. To go even further, the engineers designed the pyramids so that when they were finished, they would point to a certain and prominent star in the sky, so even at night the people could connect their daily activity towards a specific goal to a far of distant point of light in the mysterious night sky.

If you’ve ever taken the time to look at your goals, it’s important to have them defined in two different ways. One way so that you can determine exactly when you have accomplished them, and giving you a specific time and place to focus your attention. Keep your eyes and mind on the finish line at all time, so to speak. This way your brain knows exactly what behaviors to do and not to do in order to get you to your goal. Many people set goals and fail, not because they don’t want them, but because they are not set with enough clarity and specificity.

The other important factor is to set a goal in a direction that you want to go in. Once you achieve your goal, you are going to have to come up with another one. Resting on your laurels has long been known as a killer of motivation and success. When you choose a far of direction, like the horizon, or a star in the sky, you will keep on going in the right direction, and can keep your motivation when you stumble along the way.

When you set both of these with enough clarity and specificity, you will almost get to your goal automatically. Just like the pyramids, once they set the plans, gave everybody a clear idea of where the were going, the pyramids went up almost automatically. And anything you want to create in life will go up just as quickly and as smoothly.

One thing that did go very smoothly, was my bowling. It seemed that every time I released it, it would roll very smoothly straight to the gutter, and my friends very quickly erupted in laughter and told me what an entertaining bowler I am to watch.

Sail Your Way To Pleasure

I have a friend that has just been promoted at work. He works for a large, multinational company that designs, makes and sells many different kinds of consumer products. The company has been around for over a hundred years, and is pretty much a household name. My friend was just promoted to the regional distribution manager for the entire western United States. He is in charge of making sure that there is a clear connection and communication between the designers, the needs of the marketplace, the manufacturing centers around the world, and the end points of sales in various cities in the United States. He frequently flies all around the world in many capacities, and is well known in the industry as an authority in his field. Needless to say, he makes a ton of money, and gets a great deal of respect from those that he works with and even competitors in his field

It wasn’t always like this. I didn’t know this guy before he became successful, I only met him afterwards. We actually me at a seminar that taught different aspects of communication not taught in any business school. There was a huge range of people at this seminar. One of the great things about being able to meet so many people is that you get so many different ideas and viewpoints on the same things. And it really expands your mind to the idea that there are really many ways to look at one situation. Sometimes I think I learned more that seminar from the other participants than I did from the actual instructors. It wasn’t uncommon for several us to sit up until the early hours of the morning in our hotel lobby just talking different aspects of why we were there and how many different ways there were to accomplish what it is that you want to accomplish something.

This guy mentioned that he used to be unhappy. Although he had a pretty decent job, with decent pay, something was missing. He seemed to be just going along without any real purpose. When he was in college, he didn’t really know what he wanted to do, and he just kind of fell into his job, and slowly moved up the ranks without really paying attention to where he wanted to go.

Then one day he was in a bookstore, and for some reason he ventured into the area of the bookstore that he didn’t usually go into. I don’t know if you’ve ever actually counted the different sections in the bookstore, but there is a lot. He got a book on sailing. He had never sailed before, but for some reason he thought that sailing would be an interesting thing to learn. The book talked about how important it was to be able to read maps, and be able to use a compass, and how to properly steer the boat in the right direction. The book said that one of the biggest dangers was just kind of going in a direction that seemed to be ok, but after you’ve been traveling for a while, you realize that you are in the middle of nowhere. And if you end up in the middle of nowhere without any supplies, it can be pretty dangerous. So the book recommended that you choose a direction, and take your time choosing. And you make sure you know how to get there, and realize that you are likely to get blown off course, so make sure you have extra time planned on your journey to where you are going.

After he studied sailing for a couple of years, he really started to discover his passion. He went and talked to an HR manager at his company, and asked him about a possible career path. The HR manager told him that it was a big company, and there are many opportunities. You can choose whatever path you want, and if you do the proper training and build your skills, there is no reason why you can’t choose your own success. They both discussed what he needed to do in order to succeed, and where he needed to learn more skill and improve on the skills you already have.

That conversation took place about a year before I met him at that seminar, and he told us the story of how he was able to create his own success, simply by taking the time to choose a direction, a destination, and the proper tools that would get him there.

Focus on Actions, and Results are Automatic

So the other day I was out walking, like I do every morning. It was kind of cloudy. I’d been frustrated because I have this goal I’d been meditating on, and for some reason I had a funny feeling. Not really a funny feeling, kind of a disconnected feeling. Like when you shift a car into gear, and you shove the gear shift where it is supposed to go, and it feels like the proper pieces of machinery have engaged, but when you apply the gas, all you get is strange, unhealthy sounding complaint from the engine. So you have to stop, yank the gearshift back, and then put it back, only slightly different. Slightly different in position, and slightly different in results. This time the gear slides smoothly into place, and when you slowly release the clutch your car takes off smooth as silk.

I had formulated this goal several weeks ago, and had been meditating on in regularly, with positive intentions, proper visualizations in several different representation systems. But something switched, and I hadn’t noticed it. I had been visualizing the overall completion of the goal, which is about two or three months out, but I came to a significant milestone last week with regards to the short term completion of it. Something that placed the realization of my goal less in my hands, and more in the hands of others. Before last week, the realization of the goal was completely in my hands. When I achieved the milestone last week, I neglected to change the wording of my goal. Since last week, I was still phrasing my goal the same way, but was expecting others to do the work. Once I realized this while walking, I suddenly released all the frustration I’d been carrying around, and suddenly felt a surge of motivation.

The purpose behind visualizing and meditating on your goals is to give your unconscious mind a clear direction of where you want to go. So long as the result that you want is under your control, your unconscious mind will have absolutely no problem figuring out a way to get you there. For example, if you want to lose weight, and you visualize yourself slim and healthy, with sufficient motivation, you will get there, because your weight is completely under your control.

However, the mistake that many people make, especially when applying “The Law of Attraction,” is somehow expecting others to magically fill in the gaps where you have no control. For example, if you have a business, and want your sales to double in three months, you can approach in two different ways. You could focus on doubling your sales by other people magically discovering your business and making calls to you to buy your product. This puts the ball completely in their court, and you have no power over the outcome. By focusing on passively receiving an increase in sales orders, you aren’t giving your unconscious much to work with. This will increase your frustration and anxiety, which may cause you to give up trying to increase your business. On the other hand, if you focus on changing your behaviors so that an increase in business is a natural result, then you’ll have a much easier time. Your unconscious will then be able to feed your conscious mind ideas in the form of insight and intuition on what you can do specifically to increase your sales.

It’s fairly straightforward to do this. Simply choose an outcome that you want, and then focus on what behaviors will create this outcome. If you are not sure what to do exactly, look around and find people that have done what you want to do, and just copy them. The great part about this is once you focus on your own behaviors, it doesn’t really matter if you get it right the first time. As long as you stay focused on the outcome that you want in terms of your own behavior, you can easily adjust your behavior along the way. If you try something and works a little, try something a little bit different and see what different results you get.

It’s like playing golf if you aren’t very good. Sometimes you hit the ball, and it goes too far to the left. You observe where the ball went, and adjust your next shot accordingly. You keep adjusting your swing and aim until the ball is in the whole. The cool thing about setting goals is that you don’t need to keep score. Just keep adjusting your behavior slightly until you get where you want to go. Then simply move on to the next thing you want to create.

Beware of believing in magic. It seems like a great idea to be able to create something simply by wishing for it, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. When you realize that a strong desire of an outcome, coupled with an intense drive to get there solely on your own behavior, you will be able to achieve anything. Focus on the action, and the results will be automatic.

Are there Donuts in Your Future?

The other day I went looking for a new pair of shoes. I don’t own very many pairs, and I don’t particularly like shopping for shoes, so when I do go and look at shoes I want to make sure that the pair I buy is going to last a long time. It’s amazing how important a good pair of shoes is. I remember several years ago I was having some insoles made. I have a bit of a fallen arch and I needed to have some extra support. It’s always nice to feel support whenever you need it. While I was waiting for the foot specialist to see me, I couldn’t help but read all the newspaper clippings on the wall. The particular “foot specialist” I was waiting for had come highly recommended by several doctors and sports trainers. As far as getting someone to look at your foot, and your gait and everything else foot specialists know about, this guy was king.

As I was looking at all the articles on the walls, I couldn’t help but wonder about all the important things that most people over look. Up until then, all I really cared about when I bought shoes was that they “looked cool,” and they didn’t hurt very much when I wore them. I didn’t realize that an improper fitting pair of shoes could cause so many health problems, including all kinds of back pain. It’s amazing the amount of effects we have on our future by the decisions that we make today. Just sitting there thinking how much health problems can interfere with an otherwise happy life made me a believer in really taking the time to buy the right pair of shoes.

I was listening to a friend tell me about this new diet program that she had started recently. She had learned it at a seminar that used self-hypnosis for the method to lose weight. I guess that is as good a method as any, and I asked her how they specifically taught her to eat healthier. She said the key was to train yourself to imagine three different futures when looking at food. Most people, when they look at that food only rely on their automatic response, which of course is to eat, and eat and eat. That was a fantastic strategy when we were cavemen and finding a donut was a once in a year occurrence, but when we are surrounded by donut shops, it doesn’t work so well. She said the trick is to imagine the future one hour, one week, and one year to help overpower that urge to eat eat eat. If you are looking at a piece of fruit, for example, you will imagine yourself light and energetic in an hour, perhaps having a deep sense of self control in a week, and in a year, feeling fantastic because you have a healthy diet that supports a nice body. You then take those three feelings into the present, which makes you really want to eat that piece of fruit. When you compare that to the jelly donut that is beckoning you with its Jedi skills of persuasion, you will imagine all kinds of “blech” feelings from the future, which will hopefully cause you to pass on the donut. The trainer said that takes time, but when you do this on a regular basis, you will be amazed at the results

It’s interesting when you really stop and think how your decisions will affect you in the future. Many people are unhappy today, and I think one of the reasons is that when we make our choices, sometimes we are only thinking of the short term. Not that the short term isn’t unimportant, but the long term needs to be considered just as much. One of the biggest regrets people have when they look a back and examine their lives is some of the bad choices they made earlier. You can easily avoid them if you imagine your future, as well, when you make choices. It only takes a couple minutes and can potentially have powerful life long results.

And I finally did find a fantastic pair of shoes. The shop I found them had to order them from another shop (It’s hard to find my size here) so I had to wait a week, but so far, they are really supportive and look really cool. And when you can find something that makes you feel really good, and look really cool, you’ve got a winner.