One kind of events in life happens spontaneously, unplanned, powered by intuition, and seeming random. Calling a friend, buying a chocolate bar, or sitting down on a bench at a fountain doesn’t require special preparation.
Another kind of events requires making hard decisions because of the urge to gain something huge or the risk of losing something important. In those cases, it’s better to get prepared.
In life, as in nature, everything happens in cycles. Previously I introduced you to the cycle of long-term success as I saw it at that moment. Today, I have refined the mentioned cycle, and now it consists of these 5 steps: research, prioritize, plan, act, reflect.
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. – Zora Neale Hurston
First of all, before taking a measured action, you would need to find out what your choices are today. You can use a search engine, Wikipedia, references, podcasts, magazines, books, or anything else that provides you with information that you could utilize in your field of focus. Gather information with the intent to incorporate it into your activities.
“If everything is important, then nothing is.” – Patrick M. Lencioni
There are several ways to set priorities for your activities. You can use the flexible and mighty prioritizer “1st things 1st”, decision matrices in Excel sheets, Eisenhower Matrix on a piece of paper, or maybe just selecting the first several priorities intuitively.
If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. – Jim Rohn
Put your most important activities on the schedule. You can use Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, monday.com, any other scheduling app, or even an analog calendar on your wall or in your Moleskine. Try not to have more than 3 activities in a day. Book yourself or your colleagues for the vital work to do.
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. – William James
Now it’s time to do what you have planned. Have a necessary meeting or a zoom call, speak, write, or perform what’s on your list today this hour.
It is only by reflecting on the past that one can create a better future. – Rithy Panh
If you got positive results, celebrate the wins. If you failed, see what you can learn from your mistakes. The next time will be better. Now go back to the first step and do the new research.
If you master the cycle of long-term success, you form a habit of success. Whether you win or lose, you gain experience and become excellent at what you do.
At some point in my life, I used to ask myself: if I am the most important person in my life, why would I ever need a role model to follow? People are faulty, make mistakes, sometimes have hidden agendas, and manipulate others; sometimes, they wear masks. Why would I need to follow someone else? Can’t I be the best version of myself just as I am out of my own character and personality?
The problem is that if you just concentrate on yourself, you can quickly lose focus of the big picture, become too narcissistic, and be blind to your faults. You don’t see yourself from aside too well and don’t have enough insights into which of your parts to improve. There is no limit to perfection and excellence. And no one has achieved it all.
Life is a journey of ups and downs. Sometimes you can go on your own. Sometimes you need help to stay on track. Different high-achievers have gained lots of experience and can teach you things you have never thought possible. You don’t have to accept everything a role model teaches you. You can filter the knowledge by what resonates with you. Grow, become the best authentic self, and pass the knowledge and tips to the younger generations or other less mature individuals.
Today I have several role models in my life and will introduce you to my top 3 ones. I don’t know too much about their biographies besides what they share online or in their books. But I like their achievements and points of view.
“Genius is less about your genealogy and more about your neuroplasticity. Masters are made, not born.” – Robin Sharma
Robin is a humanitarian and leadership missionary. He wrote several best-sellers like “The 5 AM Club”, “The Monk who Sold his Ferrari,” “The Leader Who Had No Title,” etc. Besides helping leaders from all around the world play the A-game, he motivates people of any profession to become the best version of themselves.
Robin Sharma is a master of words. He talks about leadership with swiss-army-knife preciseness. His books are full of classical wisdom and thoroughly thought through methodologies.
“Be radically proactive about any behavior that pays off in 10 years.” – James Clear
James is best known for his best selling book “Atomic Habits” about building good habits and his insightful newsletter 3-2-1, where every week he shares 3 personal ideas, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question for the reader.
James Clear digs deep into human psychology and makes his messages very concise and up to a point.
“Don’t attach your happiness to your goals. Be happy before you attain them. You’ll find attaining them much easier when you make the journey and not the destination the key to your happiness.” – Vishen Lakhiani
Vishen is the founder of Mindvalley, a company that aims to transform the conventional education system. His company brings the knowledge of the best mindful people in the world in online courses called quests. Vishen is also the author of two transformational best sellers, “The Code of Extraordinary Mind” and “The Buddha and the Badass.”
Vishen Lakhiani is open-minded, rational, and spiritual. He urges you to think out of the box, give your intuition power, and listen to your soul.
Everyone is limited. But also everyone has lots of different experiences. If you want to grow, you need to decide for your direction where to grow. Having a role model is one of the ways to set that direction. And you don’t have to agree with everything he or she says. Just filter out what resonates with you, listen to your heart and your gut feeling. Then grow.
Here is a short list of habits that I try to practice every day for the sake of ecology. Let’s be more aware of our consumption and wasting behavior.
Keep the Environment Clean
Respect the work of street and environment cleaners. They won’t stay out of work if you resist throwing away cigarette butts on the streets, dropping plastic cups in the fields of festivals, or leaving the trash in nature.
I liked the Fusion-festival example with a garbage policy. Every person entering the festival had to make a 10€ deposit and got a huge bag for the garbage. After the festival, you could retrieve the deposit only if you brought back the bag full of trash.
Sort and Separate the Waste
Even if you have heard gossips that they dispose of the sorted garbage in the same scrap-heap, sorting waste forms a good habit for the times of improved infrastructure in your city. Also, gossips are not necessarily true.
Avoid Unnecessary Plastic
Don’t worry about using long-lasting plastic things like chairs, dishes, drinking bottles, sandwich boxes, or toys. But avoid single-use plastic things like lightweight bags, straws, or disposable cups. Plastic that gets out to nature over long years is dissolved into microplastic and eventually comes back to you inside the food.
Dismantle Carton Boxes Before Throwing Away
When you throw away any boxed packages like the ones from milk, juice, corn flakes, or tea, at first, dismantle the box. It will take less space in the garbage container, and in the long run, there will be less energy consumed for sanitation, as the garbage truck will need to come to collect the garbage less often.
Cut any Plastic Rings that are Used for Packaging
Plastic rings from beer six-packs, bottle stoppers, handles for cups, Tetra Pak stoppers, and others usually become a disaster for wild animals. Lots of birds, turtles, and sea animals get stuck in those rings and die suffering.
Before throwing away any plastic ring, cut it with a knife or scissors so that no living creature could get stuck in it.
Call to Action
What are your daily habits that help us save the planet? What new did you learn from this blog post? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
It’s 2020, and a lot of things happening now might seem very chaotic and confusing. Brexit inescapably happened. Man-caused global warming is changing landscapes. Oceans are flooded with plastic. The Covid19 pandemic brings risk to our lives and limits our mobility. Wildfires in Australia and the USA kill live beings. People are still experiencing discrimination and brutality because of skin color. Moreover, you might believe in some conspiracy theories that add to stress and anxiety about the current world situation. But do you want to stay under that stress, or would you instead want to have peace of mind?
First of all, what you can do is think about whether you can change any of that? Is it in your scope of control, or is it outside of your abilities? If you can’t control something, detach yourself from it. It is as it is. You have to adapt to it, but there is no necessity to keep worrying about it day after day.
If adversity happens to you directly and you are affected badly, you have to calm down and focus on what you can do to solve your situation. For example, if you lost a job due to Covid19, you have to find another one. Maybe even get some skills in another area than what you know already. Don’t panic. Clear your mind and surroundings at first.
If you have a chaotic mind, you probably also have a messy home. Start cleaning up your mind by cleaning up your home. Define places for each thing you want to keep. Get rid of or hide the things that bring you bad memories and emotions. It might take hours or days, but you will finally have a system for something you see every day.
Take a problem you want to solve and plan the way how you are going to solve it. Divide the path to the solution into multiple steps that you can take one by one. For example, you were in a restaurant business but decided to learn software development. So you will borrow some money, take online courses on some technologies, create a project for a friend, work on your LinkedIn profile, and apply for a junior position at a chosen IT company.
If you feel down, maybe you are lack of brain fuel. The human brain runs on glucose and needs at least 420 kcals per day to maintain normal function. That’s 42 grapes or cherries, 4 bananas, or 4 big apples a day. It can as well be more or less depending on your body mass and the mental work intensity.
To have a harmonious mind, make sure to spend time with people you care about. But also have some time alone. You need both: a feeling of connection and love; and time for meditation or prayer, journaling, and exercising.
When doing something, try not to multitask. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking brings you more stress and makes you less productive. If you have several or many things to do in a day, create time blocks for each of those things. For example, you will spend two hours reading and answering emails, one hour for the industry news, and one hour for an online meeting. Try to stick to your plan.
Simplify your life. It is recommendable to choose up to three most important tasks every day and only focus on them. Quality is more important than quantity. When you work a lot, you have a risk of mental burnout. That’s especially often in the tech industry.
Try to get information in your head classified. Either connect the points of knowledge in your head and group them into categories. Or read more about your interests and find some categorizations on Wikipedia or other resources. This gives you more trust in yourself and your opinions.
Get an essential objective in your life. It should be a big aim worth pursuing. Then make a plan for how you will achieve your dreams. And try to progress towards it. Know that failures will happen on the way. But focus on the process and enjoy the ride.
Whether your first name is James, Mary, or X Æ A-Xii, your name not only identifies you but also shapes your character and influences how other people will accept you. With the wrong name, you could have problems with being accepted by the society you are living in. With the wrong name, you can have difficulties getting a partner or job you want. With the wrong name, you can have a weight of associations that people bring to it. When you are about to have a baby, don’t give them the wrong name.
My wife and I are from Lithuania, and we are living in Berlin, Germany. Before the births of our kids, we did some name researches to find names that would be well accepted in Germany as well as being Lithuanian. I wouldn’t be a programmer if I wouldn’t take 500 most popular names in Germany and filter them using Python programming language to see the ones with Lithuanian word endings. From that point, we got just a handful of names and intuitively chose the ones that we liked most. I hope that Joris and Laura will enjoy the names they got at birth and will live integral and successful lives.
At 1st things 1st, you can evaluate anything (like first names) by multiple criteria (like aspects) and get calculated priorities. The workflow looks like this:
You define your criteria or aspects.
You list out your things, like first names.
You evaluate each name by each aspect.
You explore the prioritized first names.
Step 1. Define your aspects
Let’s brainstorm for some aspects that we can use to evaluate first names:
Both parents like it
Easy to pronounce
Easy to spell
Sounds good together with the last name
Doesn’t have negative associations
Has a nice meaning
Authentic in your native country
Doesn’t prompt negative nicknames
Doesn’t sound foolish for a middle-aged person
Some relative has it
A person you admire has it
A favorite book or movie character has it
I will choose the ones that are most important to me and enter into the prioritizer.
Both parents like it
Easy to pronounce
Easy to spell
Doesn't sound foolish for a middle aged person
Here they are all added to the tool:
Step 2. List out the first names
Now let’s list some first names that you thought could be good candidates, let’s say, for a daughter:
Step 3. Evaluate each name by each aspect
Then I go through the list of aspects and names and rate how each name matches each aspect.
Step 4. Explore the prioritized names
In the last step, I get all first names prioritized by how much they match all the aspects. “Laura” is in the first position with a 100% match. Other names got fewer points, so they are less recommended to choose.
If people call you by another name already or you want to start a new chapter in your life, you can still officially change your first name in some countries. But if you care about your kids’ well being, choose their names wisely as soon as they come into this world.
As I spend a lot of time at a computer solving technical problems, it’s no secret that I need to keep myself awake and focused for extended spans. One of the things I do to support my energy levels is drinking caffeinated drinks. This year I discovered a coffee-based drink that’s perfect for hot summer days, and I want to share a recipe with you. It’s called cold brew coffee.
For cold brew coffee, you need:
1 cup of ground coffee beans.
3 cups of cold drinking water.
More water, milk, or vegan milk alternatives.
Ice cubes (optional).
This is how to make it:
1. Take 1 cup of ground coffee beans and 3 cups of clean drinking water. Pour them into a pot and stir them with a spoon.
2. Let the coffee grounds absorb the water for five minutes and then stir them once again. Put the pot into the fridge for 12 hours, and you will get the concentrate.
3. Use a paper filter to filter the grounds from the concentrate. Put a pot of clean concentrate to the fridge.
4. When you are hot and thirsty, mix one-third of the concentrate with two-thirds of water, milk, or vegan milk alternatives. Add some ice and enjoy it. You can have around seven glasses of cold brew coffee out of that concentrate.
You can try Cold Brew Coffee at Starbucks, Espresso House, Coffee Fellows, and some other franchise coffee shops. But if you spend a lot of time at home or office, why not make that type of coffee by yourself, especially when the recipe is so simple?
If you know me for quite a while, you probably remember how obsessed I was with game development culture. To me, game development had a significant influence since I played my first video game at 12 or so. I chose to study computer science to learn how to create games. Later I blogged about game development. I created a few small games (but usually I didn’t finalize them till polished projects). Also, I attended a few game development jams and other related events.
As I matured and developed my personality and self and global awareness, I concluded that video games are not an area where I want and need to spend the rest of my life. Yes, they were fun and challenging, but unfortunately too narrow, too fictional, and required a lot of mental power for short-lived results. Instead, I would promote searching for the truth and interconnectedness, finding your place in the world, and making a positive impact in your environment.
So the idea of “Make Impact” came to me. It encompasses many technical areas that are interesting to me: blogging, gamification, recommendation systems, social interactions, content creation, etc. It also has a noteworthy meaning: people are encouraged to donate to organizations of their choice to make a positive impact around them. The platform is in development, and if you want to have a sneak preview, drop a comment below.
After taking considerations of crowdfunding or venture capital, I decided to bootstrap another software project, so that I could fund the donation platform. I developed a commercial strategic prioritizer, “1st things 1st“. It lets you evaluate anything by multiple criteria and calculates their priorities. It simplifies strategic decision making and allows you to make more rational life choices.
I don’t abandon video or mobile games altogether. I still play some logical games on my iPhone from time to time to sharpen my brain and have some quality free time. I will create some casual games as a hobby in the future, probably when my children grow. But for now, I am concentrating on the realization of the strategic prioritizer and the donation platform.
What lessons did I take from game development?
Intuitive user interfaces are essential.
Games are safe simulations of the real world.
Although games usually don’t solve real problems, they stimulate the brain by letting you solve artificial difficulties, and you can use them for training.
Video games are some of the most sophisticated software programs. You can use the knowledge gained from various game development in mapping software, self-driving cars, accounting software, different simulations, and probably even rocket science (Although I have never achieved this level at game development).
Virtual and augmented reality are bringing game elements to the real world.
Video games let you test innovative logical and technological ideas.
It’s interesting to see how the development of interactive software will evolve in the future when we have even faster graphic cards, more capable smartphones, and snappier Internet connections. Be it games or other types of software. And I believe that the two projects I am building at the moment will add up to the greater meaning and sustainable progress. Let’s strive for a bright future instead of a Black-Mirror-like dystopia.
In my younger days, I was obsessed with finding the formula for happiness and success. Why do some people achieve more than others? Why do some people suffer when others enjoy their lives? What is the secret of some people’s advantage against some others? What do successful people do differently from the poor ones?
At some point, I realized that happiness and success are two different things. Happiness is something that you feel yourself, whereas success is something how others perceive you. There are happy people without significant achievements as well as successful but stressed and depressed people.
Success might be random, like a toss of a coin. That will likely be short-term. Have you heard that 70% of lottery winners spend all their money just in a few years after receiving the big amounts? There has to be something else. Something better than randomness.
As of now, I know that circumstances are one of the factors. But mostly everything depends on the mindset. A human being can change their mind and then be able to change the conditions or adapt to them.
Success happens through forming better habits and sticking to your goals.
1) Your luck (randomness). 2) Your strategy (choices). 3) Your actions (habits).
Only 2 of the 3 are under your control.
But if you master those 2, you can improve the odds that luck will work for you rather than against you.
Did you notice that in life, everything happens in cycles?
I want to introduce you to the cycle of long-term success as I see it today.
Everything begins with prioritization. It can be some productive work using mind mapping, TODO lists, decision matrixes, and other tools. It can be something that you do intuitively or meditatively in your head. Or it can be something that your managers and bosses do for you.
Then there is planning. It’s dividing big tasks into small ones, assigning time for different tasks, deciding who will do what, choosing appropriate tools. Maybe you’ll also be using Trello, Monday, or Clubhouse, to name a few.
Now it’s time for action. Do what you have to do to move towards your goal. Try to make progress. Try to fit the timetable. Remove all the bottlenecks. Make that call. Write that email. Create that masterpiece. Travel to that destination.
The last step of the cycle is celebrating your successes. Or, if your actions failed, you have something from what to learn and improve for the next time.
Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Masterclass, Mindvalley, edX, FutureLearn, Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, and so on and forth – with so many online learning platforms and their offerings, it is not so trivial to choose the right online course for you. What if I say that there is a rational way to make the right decision? I will show you how I did that with my online-course preferences.
A great opportunity to study
Coronavirus lockdowns forced us to spend more time at home. The lucky ones got possibilities to work remotely while saving commuting time. Many others were forced to stay at home without work, and that opened even bigger time slots to learn new skills.
I am not an exception. While staying home, I noticed that there is a little more time and decided to build up my skills. For quite a while, I’ve had a dream to learn the basics of piano, I wish to learn more about digital marketing, I want to improve my memory, and I think that machine learning skills could be beneficial in my professional life.
Over time I collected a list of courses that I would like to take:
“Piano for all” by Robin Hall on Udemy, because it teaches different genres of piano music, not just the classical, and should be fun to learn.
“All Access Pass” on 42courses, because all of those courses look very lively and modern, and teach different kinds of marketing skills that I would use for my company Websightful.
“Applied Machine Learning in Python” by Kevyn Collins-Thompson on Coursera, because one day once and for all, I want to have a good understanding of Machine Learning and be able to solve real problems with it.
“Copywriting secrets” by Len Smith and Sean Kaye on Udemy, because I want to improve the writing skills that I will use in this blog, the 1st things 1st website, and elsewhere to create content that persuades and sells.
1st things 1st is an online tool to rate anything by multiple criteria and calculate total priorities. You can prioritize anything in these 4 steps:
List out things (such as online courses)
Evaluate things by each criterion
Examine the priorities
Let’s have a look at how I prioritized my selected online courses to find out the first one to study.
⚙️ Project setup
I added a new project to my personal account. From the project templates, I chose “Online Courses”. The same project template exists at an organizational account too.
The project creation wizard guided me through the essential questions:
1. The project title and description – I was alright with the defaults, so I immediately went to the next step:
2. Then I had to decide how to name things. The preselected values suggested evaluating Online courses by Criteria. That sounded pretty good to me. Next!
3. Then I could choose up to 5 criteria. I took the three ones that resonated with me mostly.
Now when I created the project, let’s explore the main steps of prioritization.
🧭 Step 1. Review and edit criteria
In the first step of prioritization, I could edit the list of criteria and change their importance or evaluation types. The default importance for all of them was 100%, and the evaluation types differed depending on the context.
For example, this is how I set the criteria for online courses:
Improves skills for personal mission because the mission itself is what defines my future.
Self-paced course because I don’t want to be bounded to specific times of the day and week for studying.
Entertaining because I like edutainment, not just dull streams of information.
Needed soon because I want to apply the knowledge gained as soon as possible before it is forgotten.
Low-cost because currently, I have other critical expenses that I need to cover.
All of those criteria mattered to me, so I set the 100% importance to all of them.
Your criteria and their importance would depend on your attitude and perspectives. For example, maybe these things mattered to you: the authority of the lecturer, the popularity of the course, direct contact with the teacher, or the certificate after the successful completion.
💡 Step 2. Add online courses
In the next step, I had to list out the courses.
I clicked on the button “Bulk add online courses” and pasted this list:
As a result, my online courses were created at the prioritizer:
🎚 Step 3. Evaluate courses by criteria
Now it’s time to evaluate all online courses by all criteria.
For example, learning piano didn’t follow my mission, but learning marketing skills did. All of those courses happened to be self-paced. The machine learning course was probably not entertaining, but the others were. Some of those courses were very affordable or even free, and some of them were very expensive.
📊 Step 4. Examine priorities
The prioritizer showed calculated and sorted courses grouped into the ones:
to choose for sure,
to consider, and
For me, the first course to take was about copywriting secrets: it supposed to move me towards my mission, it could be interesting to study, and it was very affordable. I took it without procrastination and completed it just a few hours ago.
The other courses were also quite high in the priority list, and I would take the opportunity to study them sooner or later.
Only learning piano could wait until I reach my primary goals.
Use your intuition when selecting a list of online courses, but evaluate them rationally if you want your life to lead you somewhere day after day.
Earlier I described how people are different by finding meaning either in having, or being, or doing. And then, I introduced you to the Ikigai concept and ways to figure out your Ikigai. This time I want to explore more of the territory of meaning. You shouldn’t necessarily have one true calling, monetized, and useful for others, to live a meaningful life.
Care about yourself
It is challenging to be happy with your life if you are always disappointed about yourself and your achievements. You have to love yourself and not attach your happiness only to success. Life is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But you must try your best as much as you can.
Take care of your health. The life will be more fulfilling if you are fit and healthy when your body is sound, and your mind is clear.
Save some money. Have some savings at least for half a year of expenses. You never know when you might need to spend extra.
Learn to understand yourself at your deepest. Learn to control your attention. Calm down the storms in your head. Live life as peacefully as you can. You can!
Travel. Visit galleries, museums, theaters, and movie theaters. Browse exciting information online. Try foods and drinks. Explore nature. Get hobbies.
Challenges and adventures
From time to time, try doing something that you haven’t done before. Visit a new country. Sing karaoke. Try a new sports activity. Speak in front of a group of people. Challenge yourself doing something for 30 days to form new habits.
Clean up the mess at your home. Make your bed in the morning. Clean up your desk. Don’t keep things that bring you negative emotions in front of your eyes, but gather things that bring you joy.
Care about others
Being content with yourself is crucial, but even more important is what you do interacting with others while being self-contented.
Family and Relatives
Respect your parents and elders. There were lots of times when you got help from them. There will come a time when you will have to help them. Call or visit them regularly. Keep contact.
When or if you have children, love them and be a role model to them. They are the ones who will continue the circle of life.
Don’t waste yourself. Try to find meaningful relationships. And when you do, cherish and appreciate the moments.
Once in a while, meet your friends. Party together, have in-depth conversations, travel as a group. Show them your most authentic self. Keep their secrets. Support them in difficulties.
If you choose to have a dog, a cat, or a chinchilla, you must take care of them no less than of your other family members. Provide food for them, take care of their health, allow them to live a joyous life.
Know and respect your neighbors. Keep your stairway and yard clean. Participate in the events of the neighborhood. When you party, inform your neighbors in advance about the possible noise. If they party, be the last one to call the police.
Be a member or a board member of your local, regional, and global communities of interest. Provide help when you have time and resources, or money otherwise.
Whether you care about human rights or animal wellbeing, local communities or remote disaster relief, arts or sport, science achievements or religion; there is always some organization that acts in that area and needs your financial help. Donate some money now and then to support your cause.
Help communities and organizations with make-impact.org
You will be able to choose an organization of your interest and support them financially at user-centered donation platform make-impact.org. Until it is ready, you are welcome to do that through other channels, like their direct websites, Facebook fundraisers, or crowdfunding platforms. Use your chances to make a positive impact around you.
Do I live my full potential? I don’t get or experience everything all at once. But I try to seize the day as much as possible. If not now, then when?